I like a little head of steam prior to a climb too. What I was going to add though, was regarding going down. When I see one of those steep down grade signs, I start slowing right then. I find managing my speed on the steeper and/or longer down hill runs MUCH easier to manage when starting out at the top at a lower speed (45mph vs. 65mph for instance). The engine does a much nicer job holding speed on steeper grades at the lower speed - and I don't have to worry about cooking the brakes getting down to that lower speed if I'm already there at the top starting into it. Maybe that's just me though...
The main thing to remember in descending, be it gas or diesel, is not to ride the brakes.
Start down at a target speed below your comfort level (say 45), let the speed increase to your comfort level or just above (say 55 to 60), then apply the brakes relatively hard to get back to the lower target speed. Then you let the brakes cool as speed gradually builds to your max point - then repeat.
If you have to use your brakes to slow your descent, use them to slow enough to shift to a lower gear if you are gaining speed.
Why let your speed build back up just to use your brakes again ???
Start down the grade at the speed dictated by the grade. If you are gaining speed, downshift when you use the brakes to slow.
I use overdrive like another gear on descents.
Actually two reasons: in some configurations you cannot hold a lower gear; and, second, with a manual trans attempting to downshift on a steep downgrade is dangerous - the last thing you want is to be stuck in neutral going down.
That's why they have runaway truck ramps.
'99 Volvo VNL610 - 425 HP Volvo; Super 10 Spd
'11 smart fortwo on Volvo
'05 Newmar Mountain Aire 35 BLKS
Trailer Saver; Bigfoot; Pressure-Pro. Our Travel Blog - A New Adventure
Depending on the road,I drive the MH (460 Ford)like the semi truck I make a living with. Its not how fast you get up the hill.. OD is off on hilly roads where my speed is less than 40 to 45 mph. Maximize torque up hill without overworking motor and tranny and same way down hill with minimal braking. Just remember this, You are only gonna go down a hill/mountain once too fast.
II have a 2004 W22 workhorse and I find that if I build a little speed it helps on climbing the hill but when going down I always downshift to lower gear and even then I find I have to use the brake to keep engine RMP from going to high. I don't lie it to go much over 3000RPM. So I just tap the brake when it gets to high. So far this has worked for me.
2004 Gulf Stream 36 ft Sun Voyager triple slide
Workhorse W22 8.1
2004 Saturn VUE w/stowmaster towbar
Two Ole Pharts & One Little CocaPoo named Cuddles
When doing hills (up or down), it is a good idea to activate your 4-way Hazard Flashers if your speed drops down to 40 or below. Signals other drivers that you're ok, but you are going to require a little more time than a lighter vehicle. You're saying "Hey, I know I'm slow but that is what I must do with this rig." and the 4-wheelers seem a little more tolerant.
What gets me, though, many 2-lane roads in the mountains do NOT have turnoffs constructed for an RV pulling a toad. 1st they appear with NO advance notice, 2nd they seem constructed only in the middle of a steep grade (how about at top or a flat spot so it is possible to get started again after pulling off to let others by?), 3rd some are totally unsafe because they have so much slope (ok for a car, not for a MH), and 4th they are not long enough to let a MH + Toad to get completely off the road! I never mind pulling over to let a line behind me pass, I just need a place to do so safely.
2005 Sightseer with Workhorse, ReadyBrute Elite towing 2003 Honda CRV
Map below shows states where we actually camped.....
When doing hills (up or down), it is a good idea to activate your 4-way Hazard Flashers if your speed drops down to 40 or below.
Good advice UNLESS you have a towed braking system that is activated by the brake lights/hazard lights! Verify this before using them or you could be applying/releasing the towed vehicle brakes in time with your lights on/off cycle.
In my opinion most do not use the horespower that is available to them when asending a grade. The peak horsepower is around 4200 RPM so why not use it. The ECM will not let the engine over rev. I just step on the gas and let the engine and tranny do their job. Kind of fun when I pass a DP with a gasser and give then a thumbs-up.
When decending I shut the OD off and utilize the grade brake.
That sounds like the way I drive mine. We live in Eastern Ky, if we go anywhere we have mountains and hills to get out of here. I use the grade brake, and try to save the service brakes all I can. I do try to keep the RPM'S below 3900 but sometimes they get to 4100. I don't check gas mileage, Thats the reason theres one or three on ever corner or ever exit, Gas stations that is!!!
I lost my brakes on Hwy 68 down grade just east of Laughlin/Bullhead city coming over from Kingman. I did get stopped in the truck runaway lane, but I did boil the brake fluid. Had to get towed because the cops would not let me stay in the runaway lanes.
So this is a real issue for us +35foot gassers, pre grade-brake models. If I was going to buy again, it would only be with the grade brake or a DP, for one reason only. Stopping. Especially for us that pull toweds.
This happened on my maiden voyage and I was very unfamiliar with the coach. It was a used coach that I bought from a private party and nobody mentioned the OD. So after a $800 tow, and they had to have another tow truck for my dolly because I did not have a hitch on my towed, we had the front pads replaced and new brake fluid.
I learned quickly that you let the transmission do all the work. First take the OD off, then start dropping gears so that you can go down without touching the brakes. Don't let the speed build up, the trans will hold the correct speed for you. That is how I have done it for the last 11 years and never another problem.
Don't worry about slowing the traffic behind you. You are protecting the traffic in front of you.
You do not say what year, or which Allison Tranny you have. If you have the 5 speed, you can downshift a half gear at a time when descending hills. If you have the grade brake, you can engage it on the downhill side, tap the brakes and the engine will help slow you to a manageable speed.
If you do not have the grade brake, you can manually downshift the tranny yourself.
We came from Mesquite, NV through Salt Lake City and now in rock Springs, WY. climbed to 7700 feet, and down the other side with no problem.
Just use common sense and don't over use the brakes, or let the speed get too high on the downside.
Darryl, Carole & Buddy the Wonder Dog
2005 Sea Breeze LX 8375 37' w/3 slides
"The Grand Hotel West"
2008 Saturn VUE, Towed
GS-25512187 FMCA-355241 Dolphin-1901