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The Dieselfication of Coach 1046
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2011-01-05 2:11 AM (#1311)
Subject: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

The time has come!

As a number of you know, I have long felt that if an FMC is to be converted to a diesel engine today, the best engine to use is the GM Duramax 6.6L turbo diesel along with the Allison 6spd double overdrive transmission.  Some indepth discussion of what engine to use has been discussed in other threads.  To my knowledge, only one coach has been so converted to this point in time.  Conversions done in the 1980's and 1990's did not have this engine as a choice as it wasn't manufactured until 2001. 

FMC's did not have a diesel originally as the smaller diesels that would fit into the coach at that point in time were "dogs" as the former FMC Motor Coach Division Sales Manager has stated.  They would not provide the performance characteristics the designers were looking for so the Chrysler 440-I was the engine chosen.  It was a good engine then and it continues to be a good engine to this day.

Converting a coach is not a small undertaking!!  It is inappropriate for the vast majority to even consider.  They should just drive their coaches and enjoy!  For a few though, the positive features of a good diesel conversion outweighs the cost and trouble of going through the conversion process.  Personally, I have been balancing on the edge for some time.  I have reached the point in my life where I needed to either do it or abandon all thoughts of doing it.  I tipped over to the "do it" side!

At present, the coach is still in my driveway and the donor vehicle (pictures in the album section) is in Gilroy at a fellow FMC owner's home.  He has a larger driveway!  As some of you suspect, the person who so generously is helping (leading?) the way in this project is Eric Whedon, #587, and he is also host of the Northern California Work Days (you need to seriously consider being at the next one!).  His expertise in electrical and computer control systems in addition to his mechanical abilities is what is going to make this project doable as this is a computer controlled engine and a computer controlled transmission.

I want to stay away from cost issues during the project, but will be maintaining a detailed cost and labor record so at some point cost figures will become available.  We also intend to keep a detailed photo and written record of the what and how of what we do.  This will also be available later to help guide someone else should they want to follow the same path.

For now, wish us luck and stay tuned!!!

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denshew
Posted 2011-01-05 9:08 AM (#1312 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046


Veteran

1002525
Location: Canton, (Sixes) GA
Stephen – WOW. You have done your homework so should be a great project. My mind is flooded with a hundred questions and suggestions but will just say good luck and wish I was there to lend a hand. Eat the elephant. Denny
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andy1canada
Posted 2011-01-05 9:27 AM (#1313 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046


Veteran

100100
Location: Victoria, BC. Canada
Good luck Stephen! I'll be following this venture with the utmost interest.
Question: If you compared the overall length/weight of the stock 440/727 driveline to the Duramax/Allison setup, what would the differences be?

Thanks,
Terry
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2011-01-06 12:30 AM (#1314 - in reply to #1313)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

andy1canada - 2011-01-05 9:27 AM Question: If you compared the overall length/weight of the stock 440/727 driveline to the Duramax/Allison setup, what would the differences be? Thanks, Terry

Terry, the transmission adds a couple of hundred pounds fairly close to the centerline of the rear axels.  The engine adds 100-150 lbs further back.  The overall length is about 1-2 inches longer than the stock setup.  The replacement radiator should be lighter than the stock one and will counteract some of the weight increase.  This is particularly good since that is weight that is further back and has greater positive or negative effects.

This setup has a lot of aluminum in all of the components so it is the lightest diesel/transmission combination that is available.  For comparison, the DD 8.2TD with transmission adds about 800-1000 lbs. In my specific case, I already switched to the AT545 transmission from the 727 a number of years ago and gained that weight at that point in time. 

My new transmission and bell housing will actually be lighter than the one I am currently using.  So in my specific case, I may have an actual net reduction in weight after the radiator is also taken into consideration.

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andy1canada
Posted 2011-01-06 8:04 AM (#1315 - in reply to #1314)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046


Veteran

100100
Location: Victoria, BC. Canada
This is getting really exciting Stephen. May as well add wings while you're at it cause she's gonna' fly!

Couple more questions if I may:

1) I know there are two computers at play in this set-up (1 for the mill/1 for the trans), what forward (drivers seat) electrical upgrades will need to be done or is it all controlled by the trans with the shift linkage?

2) Keeping with shift-linkage, with a couple more forward gears your stock shifter won't cut it any more. What's the plan here, loosing that cumbersome dash-shifter for a B&H floor shift or the like?

3) With the added weight and somewhere around double the torque of the stock mill, are any frame/chassis strengthening upgrades planned? If so, could you share it with us?

This chassis/frame upgrade stuff really interests me because although I'm quick to understand the usefulness of the alum/shearplate (gusset-like) application, I'm not yet convinced this is the 'only' way to beef up the chassis for more weight & torque.

Looking forward to the pics as you go with this. Jerry's post of his re & re was awesome and I look forward to the conclusion of that chronicle.

Stephen: I smell a new 'Motorhome Land Speed Record' in the offing with this project! (If I'm not mistaken, you only need to better 106/mph!)

Thanks
Terry
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2011-01-06 11:00 AM (#1316 - in reply to #1315)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

andy1canada - 2011-01-06 8:04 AM This is getting really exciting Stephen. May as well add wings while you're at it cause she's gonna' fly! Couple more questions if I may:

 1) I know there are two computers at play in this set-up (1 for the mill/1 for the trans), what forward (drivers seat) electrical upgrades will need to be done or is it all controlled by the trans with the shift linkage?

This can all be done with minimal upfront changes as the transmission computer is controlled by cable from up front.  The throttle has to switch to an electrical sender. This could be placed in the engine compartment and operated by the standard throttle cable but we are transplanting the electrical throttle pedal and sender.  In this case, we are also transplanting the entire gauge cluster to get those benefits. 

 2) Keeping with shift-linkage, with a couple more forward gears your stock shifter won't cut it any more. What's the plan here, loosing that cumbersome dash-shifter for a B&H floor shift or the like?

Go sit in a new vehicle with the six speed.  The shifter has PRNDM1.  The same number of places as our stock shifter.  When you put it into "M" (which stands for Manual), you now use the momentary switch (will be moved) on the gear shift lever to electronically move up or down through the gears.  With the dash/gauge cluster, the gear display switches to a six gear display and tells you what gear you are in.

3) With the added weight and somewhere around double the torque of the stock mill, are any frame/chassis strengthening upgrades planned? If so, could you share it with us?

 As I have pointed out above, there will be minimal weight change with this conversion.  That is a major reason for using this engine vs some other engine that may be easier to install but weighs 400-700 lbs more.  Yes, there will be significant maximum torque changes, but the amount of torque actually applied is controlled by the position of the right foot pedal.  No discussable plans at this point.

This chassis/frame upgrade stuff really interests me because although I'm quick to understand the usefulness of the alum/shearplate (gusset-like) application, I'm not yet convinced this is the 'only' way to beef up the chassis for more weight & torque.

 Neither am I.

Looking forward to the pics as you go with this. Jerry's post of his re & re was awesome and I look forward to the conclusion of that chronicle.

My pictures are/will be in the Album I have started on this site of the same name as this thread.

Stephen: I smell a new 'Motorhome Land Speed Record' in the offing with this project! (If I'm not mistaken, you only need to better 106/mph!) Thanks Terry

In stock configuration, the top speeds with the six speed transmission are computer limited in 5th and 6th gears.  Who buys the 100+ mph rated tires?

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andy1canada
Posted 2011-01-09 10:49 AM (#1317 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046


Veteran

100100
Location: Victoria, BC. Canada
Wow. This power-package sure is lightweight (LBZ + Allison 1000 = approx. 1200/lbs) for the big whallop it packs.

http://www.duramaxdieselspecs.com/allison_transmission.html

I emailed a guy down your way some months back who had a take-out Duramax/Allison that he measured end-to-end for me and came up with 70-inches OA and about 66-inches without the fan.

Can you confirm this Stephen? Does that number wash out to 1 or 2-inches longer than the 440/727 like you said?
Got to measure my driveline...
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andy1canada
Posted 2011-01-10 9:24 AM (#1319 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046


Veteran

100100
Location: Victoria, BC. Canada
Just got a reply back from a guy who had a take-out 440/727 (1975' that he measured for me: approx. 64-inches (front of fan to end of e-brake).
Does this # jive with being 1 or 2-inches less than your D/A unit Stephen?
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2011-01-10 11:20 AM (#1321 - in reply to #1319)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

andy1canada - 2011-01-10 9:24 AM Just got a reply back from a guy who had a take-out 440/727 (1975') that he measured for me: approx. 64-inches (front of fan to end of e-brake). Does this # jive with being 1 or 2-inches less than your D/A unit Stephen?

Close enough for me.

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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2011-01-15 12:16 AM (#1325 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: RE: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

Time for an update. 

The 2006 GMC HD shop manuals with the diesel supplement and the corresponding one for the Allison transmission arrived and are being reviewed to analyze the wiring system of the donor.  This will help ensure that all goes well when the actual movement of the components is started.  It is also allowing us to evaluate which of the features of the dash module to retain and which ones to eliminate.  I don’t need it to tell me when the door is ajar or to put on my seat belt. 

Also the mechanical vacuum pump from a 2002 LB7 Duramax has arrived.  A different alternator mount bracket will be needed to mount the vacuum pump as the pumps were no longer used after 2003.  The pump will provide the vacuum for the brakes.  A second electrical vacuum pump may also be installed inline as backup. 

I am also in the process of attempting to secure a second alternator as this engine is setup for an optional second alternator.  With two alternators, one will be tied into the automotive system and the other one will be tied into the house system so each battery system will have its own dedicated alternator.  I already have a mechanical crosstie between the two systems if it is ever needed.

After many discussions and consideration of various factors, the decision has been made to use the Allison from the donor vehicle and its control module. It will not have the wider ratios for the first couple of gears that my current Allison 545 has, but I can live with that.

I have confirmed with the Allison technical advisor of Allison West that the GM 1000 can be converted from a 4 wheel drive unit to a 2 wheel drive with provisions for the standard driveline brake.  This is a requirement in this case. He will be researching the part numbers to pass along. The transfer case will be removed and the correct tail housing and tail shaft will be installed. He may also have a buyer for my transfer case!

... to be continued ...

 

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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2011-02-28 3:25 AM (#1368 - in reply to #1325)
Subject: RE: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

Since my last posting, work has continued with interuptions for family matters and weather as we are working outside.  We are ensuring that we properly identify everything that is removed or disconnected so that anything that is to be reused will be clearly identified.

I have posted more pictures in the album section with descriptions of what is being done.  The engine's actual removal from the donor will happen in a couple of weeks, weather permitting.  Then it will get even more interesting.

 

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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2011-03-13 3:58 AM (#1382 - in reply to #1368)
Subject: RE: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

The work progresses.  The transmission lines, driveline, etc. have been removed.  We then moved up into the cab and finished removing the interior stuff such as seats, center console and floor mat all of which have been sold.

That opened it up for the disassembly of the dash to begin so that the guage cluster, throttle pedal assembly and body control module could be removed.  More pictures have been added to the photo album.

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andy1canada
Posted 2011-03-13 10:05 AM (#1383 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: RE: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046


Veteran

100100
Location: Victoria, BC. Canada
Been following your project with great interest Stephen; the pics are great. This is so exciting and you sure are lucky to have a guy like Eric to help you out here.

One question: It seems you are toasting most if not all of the original dash/instrumentation for this retrofit. I understand the need for the throttle sensor and control module, but other than that imperative could a guy do this swap and keep the original dash/gauges intact for the most part?
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2011-03-13 8:15 PM (#1384 - in reply to #1383)
Subject: RE: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

andy1canada - 2011-03-13 10:05 ... could a guy do this swap and keep the original dash/gauges intact for the most part?

Yes.  

We are doing a "full swap" to the extent possible in this case.  You could do a "minimal swap" which would not involve the dash cluster, etc. and with that swap you would retain the original guages/dash.  We are doing it as the full swap so that the benefits of the full guage cluster and the Driver Infornation Center (DIC) would be retained.  This includes cruise control.  The exisiting systems on all non-computer controlled engines will not work as there is no linkage for the cruise control to attach to.

An example of the two levels of conversion are like what we are involved in right now when it comes to the engine fan.  The donor fan will not work as it is a puller and not a pusher fan.  It also has an ambient air (exiting the radiator) thermal viscous clutch to control fan speed which also will not work as the air is going the opposite direction and will never engage the fan.

The simple solution would be to just remove the clutch and bolt the fan, by using an adapter, to the idler and have the fan operate at engine rpm the same as our fans do on the 440, 8.2, 5.9 etc.  The drawback to that simple solution is that the fan is always drawing full horsepower for the given rpm and, therefore, energy and fuel.

In an attempt to improve on that situation and have the fan only operate at the speed needed for conditions, we are currently looking for a fan clutch/controller combination that will electrically control the fan speed via a viscous coupling based on engine coolant temperature.  When cruising on flat land in cold weather the fan could operate at significanlty less speed than what is needed on a hot summer day if we find the right combination.  Given the amount of air that the fan will be capable of moving, the difference can be significant over a number of miles.

Stay in touch as we work our way through this project.  Your questions/sugggestions are always welcome.

 

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andy1canada
Posted 2011-03-14 8:10 AM (#1385 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046


Veteran

100100
Location: Victoria, BC. Canada
Thanks Stephen. Sounds like you're going to build her to the 9's.
I think you've already touched on the reinforcement of the chassis issue and if memory serves you said that because the weight difference - between the stock mill & the Duramax - is minimal, that you're not planning on beefing up the chassis. If this changes during the project, could you please also include updates on that as well.

Can't wait to hear the results on performance and fuel economy on this baby. You'll need to find a set of Pirrelli's for her.

Give'r Buddy!
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2011-03-14 9:44 AM (#1386 - in reply to #1385)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

andy1canada - 2011-03-14 8:10 AM ... if memory serves .... you're not planning on beefing up the chassis. ![/QUOTE]

 

If you refer back to message #1316, the response was "No discussable plans at this point.".  That has not changed to this point.

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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2011-04-02 11:45 PM (#1408 - in reply to #1386)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

We we haven't made much progress lately as we are working outside and it has been raining every weekend here in Northern California.  The mountains have 165% of normal snow load!  That has given us time to debate another conversion issue/question.

The question is: Should we move the donor steering wheel and upper steering column as well as the dash instruments to the FMC from the GMC Sierra? 

Changing the column would add the complications of doing that transfer, but would simplify the wiring as the four radio control switches, two DIC switches, shifting switch, tow/haul switch and cruise control switchs would no longer be needed to be rewired or moved to dashboad switches.  The steering wheels themselves are within 1/4 inch diameter of each other.  It would also be nice to have all of those controls on the "smart" steering wheel with the factory lighted rocker switches and their symbols.

Eric and I were fortunate to have Harry Day (and his wife, Sandy) stop by on their way south so that we could visit and debate the steering column question.  After that discussion, I believe we will be adding that change to the list of changes.

My coach will move to Eric's next weekend.  In the following weeks the engine and transmission will come out of both the donor unit and the FMC.  At that point, more pictures will be posted and we may have some more issues to solve. 

See the "For Sale" section of this site for things I no longer need and you may want.  I will be adding things over time.

 

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Bair
Posted 2011-04-08 8:04 PM (#1413 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046


Regular

252525
Location: Santa Cruz, Calif.
So now all you need is a "F" to paste over the G in GMC on the wheel. ;-}
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2012-04-22 1:11 AM (#1583 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR
With my stove project almost done (pictures to follow), we are back to the engine. Currently removing all of the misc stuff to prepare for engine removal. I have posted a few pictures in the photo album - see page 4.
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2012-04-29 11:18 PM (#1585 - in reply to #1583)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

The project continues.  Pictures and commentary continue into page 6 of the album.

http://www.fmcowners.com/mbbs22/photos/photo-thumbnails.asp?albumid=77&Page=5&sortdir=asc 

That link will take you to page 5 where we finish the preparation and start the actual extraction of the engine and tranny combination.

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andy1canada
Posted 2012-04-30 12:35 AM (#1586 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046


Veteran

100100
Location: Victoria, BC. Canada
Way to go Stephen! Thanks for the running commentary and the great pics which will remain forever as good-as-gold in the FMC archives.

Give'r Steve, can't wait to see what this baby will do when she's done.

Terry

#846 - Future candidate for an 8.1L GM LPI Vortec/Allison conversion.
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2012-05-13 8:27 PM (#1593 - in reply to #1586)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

Thanks Terry!

Work has progressed and now the engine is out and the firewall has been cleaned up.

Pictures of the clean engine firewall are on page 7 of the photo album: http://tinyurl.com/7xt6pro

I also removed the unused Thermosan waste disposal unit and it is pictured there as well.  There is now a lot of nothing in the engine compartment.  The next step will be the lining of the existing firewall with sound suppressing material and then relining the firewall with a new layer of aluminum.

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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2012-06-11 2:05 PM (#1617 - in reply to #1593)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR
The TURNING POINT has been achieved!  The installation of the first of the new things has started.  While more things (throttle cable, wires, center section of dash, etc.) still have to be removed, the lining of the engine compartment has started.  It is rewarding to be putting something into the coach instead of taking something out.  I have started the installation of the FatMat sound suppression material which will be followed by 1/4" small cell foam board and by 1/8" sheet aluminum.
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2012-07-15 9:17 PM (#1634 - in reply to #1311)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR
Progress continues. Here I am putting in some of the last of the approximately 75 rivets that hold the new engine compartment liner in place.
http://www.fmcowners.com/mbbs22/photos/show-album.asp?albumid=77&ph...
The next photo shows the finished firewall before anything has been attached to it. Attaching things will be the next phase after we finally remove the new engine from the donar vehicle this next weekend. We have left the engine just sitting in the donar vehicle to this point as it was secure there and we did not need it to be out to this point in time. It will still be awhile before it gets put into the FMC as there is still a lot of prep work to do to the FMC and I need to take the transmission in to have the tail shaft and housing changed to convert the transmission from 4-wheel drive to 2-wheel drive and to provide for attaching the driveline parking brake.
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BigRabbitMan
Posted 2012-09-29 11:47 PM (#1675 - in reply to #1634)
Subject: Re: The Dieselfication of Coach 1046



Elite Veteran

500100100100
Location: Cottage Grove, OR

Donor engine extraction has happened!  The following link goes the first of the new pictures:

http://www.fmcowners.com/mbbs22/photos/show-album.asp?albumid=77&photoid=2068

There are a couple of pages of pictures with comment.  You end up in the driver's seat.

Enjoy,

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