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Old 10-01-2016, 01:15 AM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Axis 24.1
State: North Carolina
Posts: 28
THOR #5526
Driving up steep hills

I'm planning a trip and there are some steep hills on interstate roads. I'm wondering what the best procedures to use to go up the hills. I have a 2016 Thor Axis 24.1 on an e450 chassis and a v10 8.6l engine. I will not be pulling a toad on this first trip. My instincts based on my driving experience is to downshift and watch the rpm's and water temp ( I don't have a transmission oil temp) and take it slow. -40 mph or whatever feels comfortable. I'd appreciate any info on what has worked best for you on driving up long steep hills.

Going down hill may be even be more of a chalange. I usually downshift to about the same gears I used going up. The ford transmission also has a transmission lock button on the shift lever but I have not used that before.

Any information on procedures that you have used and found useful going up and down steep hills would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Sli22sli
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Old 10-01-2016, 03:58 AM   #2
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State: Texas
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THOR #2121
Interstates are not really all that steep compared to some secondary roads, so you shouldn't have any problems maintaining a safe speed while climbing. Your Axis has far more power for its weight than loaded-down trucks so you'll be passing many of them while climbing.

I've driven across the Rocky Mountains many times in different E-Series motorhomes roughly the same weight as yours, all with same Ford 6.8L V10, and it was never an issue at all.

First, I stay to the right so I don't interfere with faster car traffic (unless passing slow trucks). I also take motorhome out of cruise control so I can control speed and power directly.

I prefer to use the tachometer to keep engine around 3,500 RPMs. For motorhomes in 12,000 to 14,000 pound range that yields adequate speed going up 6 to 7 percent grades. I just downshift as needed until I can hold +/- 3,500 RPMs at about 75% throttle. I don't ever floor it because I'm on vacation and not in that big a hurry. As long as I'm not holding up traffic what's an extra minute or two?

Going down on Interstates usually isn't that difficult because wind drag helps a lot at highway speeds. On the other hand curvy secondary roads can make it tough to find the right gear to provide enough engine braking.

Sometimes I've had the engine go up to 5,000 RPMs due to engine braking, which was too high to downshift -- yet it wasn't enough to slow motorhome enough for road conditions. In that case I use the brakes to slow quickly (so as not to overheat them) and then shift to a lower gear. If that lower gear isn't enough to provide enough engine braking, I then apply brakes again until I can shift to next lower gear, etc.

In my experience with similar size motorhomes Interstate highways are fairly easy to drive on. The only time I had a problem with overheating was climbing out of Death Valley going east (not an Interstate). On a loaded E-450, speed was only in the 20 to 40 MPH range, making it difficult to find the right RPM and gear combination. That was with older 5-speed where 1st wasn't fast enough and 2nd was too tall. With newer 6-speed transmission, finding the right gear should be easier (I hope).
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Old 10-01-2016, 06:20 AM   #3
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Model: Axis 25.3
State: California
Posts: 442
THOR #2526
Can't get out of Southern California without going thru a mountain pass. She goes right along at 45-50 with jeep in tow and just over 55 without. Never a problem - V10 has lots of power for this size/weight of RV. Off Interstate and on steep grades just slow down - over heating should not be a problem. I have not read of a thread here on that problem but I may have missed it.
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Old 10-01-2016, 10:31 AM   #4
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Model: Entegra Accolade 37TS
State: Virginia
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THOR #1469
Have taken my coach through the mountains here quite a few times. Going uphill I tend to take the coach off cruise control. This allows me better control over when the coach will downshift. When I get to the crest of a hill and start going down I will again resume cruise control and make sure tow/haul is engaged. Having cruise control engaged going downhill allows the coach to downshift to maintain the speed thereby minimizing time the foot needs to be on the brake. Using tow/haul allows downshifting one gear with the tap of the brake again allowing for engine braking going downhill.

Never had an overheating issue with the engine or trans.
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:27 AM   #5
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Axis 24.1
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THOR #5526
Thanks for the information and your experiences were similar to mine in many ways. I've never driven a ford v10 8.6l before and I'm glad to hear they pull well up hills and don't heat up. I would agree that interstates are usually not that steep. I usually use an app called TopoProfiler to check the grades on my route for planning purposes. But there are stretches that go up to 7.5% grade or so for usually only relatively short distances.

Sli22sli
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Old 10-01-2016, 02:51 PM   #6
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THOR #1150
Temp is never really an issue--look at the size of the radiator.

In our Axis if I'm not towing anything I just leave cruise on. It's much lighter than some of the other combos we've had with a V10.
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Old 10-02-2016, 12:55 AM   #7
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Model: Hurricane 32A
State: Florida
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THOR #2829
With heavier Hurricane (F53 chassis) and same V10 - I typically leave it on cruise on the interstates... I definitely see a difference in downshifting uphill when the 3500 lb Jeep is along for the ride - but still maintains speed.

I do use tow/haul when towing the Jeep - and it does a good job of engine braking on the downhills to keep to set speed.

The engine does wind up over 4700 at times.. and my new toy (OBD2 wireless adapter and Torque Lite Android app) shows the instantaneous gas mileage dip below 3mpg... but we just made Michigan to Florida in 2 days driving...

Never seen the engine or transmission temp gauge even budge off normal...
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Old 10-02-2016, 01:17 AM   #8
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Model: ACE 29.3 (2016)
State: Montana
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THOR #4032
In our 2016 Ace, I never use cruise control on grades, and going down steeper grades at slower speeds I always push the "tow" button which downshifts when you touch the brake. On ours it works extremely well. We live in Wyoming and have crossed some very steep mountains with it without a problem. On the interstate we found if we used cruise control when climbing the transmission would down shift way too soon and to a gear lower than needed. The cure was not use the cruise control and not use a heavy foot. It has worked will for us in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Nevada.
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Old 10-06-2016, 10:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dstankov View Post
Have taken my coach through the mountains here quite a few times. Going uphill I tend to take the coach off cruise control. This allows me better control over when the coach will downshift. When I get to the crest of a hill and start going down I will again resume cruise control and make sure tow/haul is engaged. Having cruise control engaged going downhill allows the coach to downshift to maintain the speed thereby minimizing time the foot needs to be on the brake. Using tow/haul allows downshifting one gear with the tap of the brake again allowing for engine braking going downhill.

Never had an overheating issue with the engine or trans.
This is probably pretty good advise. You need to avoid staying on the brakes when going down steep grades. Brakes can get overheated and fade. When they fade you have much less braking power.
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