As I wrote in yesterday’s blog, I was a bit apprehensive about tackling the steep downgrades along Interstate 70 as we headed toward Denver. The exhaust brake on our Winnebago diesel pusher just doesn’t have the same effect as the Jake brake did on our MCI bus conversion.
Dennis Hill from the RV Driving School e-mailed me to say “Keep the RPM’s high, no matter what gear you are in. The exhaust brake works best at high RPM’s. Shift down often – the transmission won’t let you go into too low of a gear. Apply the brakes very firmly and slow down at least 5 MPH when you use them.”
I followed Dennis’ advice, and we had no trouble at all. The mistake I was making in the past was expecting the exhaust brake to give me good braking power at about 1500 to 1600 RPMs. By downshifting and keeping the RPMs up to about 2200 – 2300, I saw a tremendous difference in efficiency. Thanks, Dennis! Even an old dog can learn a new trick now and then!
We pulled out of River Dance RV Resort in Gypsum, Colorado a little after 9 a.m. and headed east, passing lots more beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery all the way.
How would you like to have this for a view every day?
By the time we reached the summit of Vail Pass, at over 10,600 feet, our Cummins turbo diesel was working hard, and about all I could get out of it was 40 miles per hour.
Then we began the downhill run.
Some sections weren’t too bad, but others really made the exhaust brake work.
All too soon we were climbing up again, to Eisenhower Tunnel, at 11,158 feet high. The tunnel was long, but well lit and easy driving.
We passed more great scenery, including these old mining buildings.
The worst of the downhill run was between Eisenhower Tunnel and Denver, and the closer we got to the big city, the steeper the downgrades got. They have lots of signs warning truckers not to get careless.
We even passed through another tunnel somewhere along the way!
There are not a lot of places to get diesel along Interstate 70 in Colorado, especially when you are driving a 40 foot motorhome, towing an extended length cargo van. By the time we got to Downieville, at Exit 234, we were getting really low, and when I saw a small truck stop on the north side of the highway, I stopped and filled the tank.
We passed Lookout Mountain and Buffalo Bill’s grave, which we covered in one of our earliest issues of the Gypsy Journal, and soon we were hitting a lot of traffic as we entered the Denver metropolitan area. We got onto Interstate 76 and scooted around the northeast side of the city, and soon came out into agricultural fields.
It is amazing, that coming into Denver from the west, we were crawling down steep mountain grades, and less than 30 miles east of the city, we were out on the open plains, with few trees, and mostly flat terrain.
Interstate 76 had some rough patches, but we rolled along, making good time, and eventually crossed into Nebraska, where the highway ended at Interstate 80. Another 75 miles or so east brought us to North Platte, where we pulled into the Flying J about 5:30 local time.
We topped off our tank, had a less then mediocre meal at the restaurant, and parked for the night. We covered 391 miles, and we still have about 560 miles to go, to get to Forest City, Iowa. We’ll make that easily by sometime Thursday, so we can get our name on the list for a service spot at the Winnebago factory. It’s worth pushing to get there, and then be able to get our work done, before we continue on to Michigan for Terry’s annual medical appointments.
Thought For The Day – Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet, and they’ll forward junk e-mail to you forever.