Fiberglass: gas vs diesels - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-22-2007, 02:23 PM   #1
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Every "gas vs. diesels" debate I've seen elsewhere online ALWAYS ends up favoring diesels for three reasons I've taken for granted. I don't dispute any of those advantages. However, after listening to fiberglass owners here, I'm starting to wonder whether they apply--aside from any other risks to your vehicles--to folks here.


Diesels Do Get Better Mileage Than Gassers BUT...?


I like what I've read about diesels. However, I've got to keep reminding myself that it takes a long time to make up the premium in the price of a good diesel.

Let's assume that a heavy gasser averages 12 mpg and a diesel averages 18 when not towing. If you'd put 12,000 miles on either vehicle and gas averaged $3 a gallon, you'd spend 3 K per year on the "gas hog." The diesel would cost only 3 K a year for 12,000 miles. Thus the real saving is only 1 K (less if interests calculations are included.

It's easy to forget two other things that change the picture substantially.

The above calculations side too heavily with the gasser by not taking into account the fact a substantial part of the diesel cost is often recovered upon resale (or so I'm told).
On the opposite side, if you want a diesel tow vehicle at present, it's got to be a pickup and perhaps a bigger one than you'd like. You pay for something you'd otherwise not buy (as in some cable TV "packages"). That money won't be as easy to recover upon resale.
That problem will disappear only when and if smaller diesels appear in SUVs and small pickups.

As other posters here have made me aware--aside from overkill--some of the big diesel tow vehicles can damage small fiberglass trailers.


Diesels Do Tow Better on High Mountains BUT...?


For owners of small fiberglass trailers whose tow vehicles are limited to 3,500 pounds capacity might find diesels superior here. But do they make much difference for someone towing such trailers with a mid-sized SUVs rated to tow 5,000 pounds or the older Tundras (7,500 pounds towing capacity?) or newer Tundras (10,000 pounds towing capacity? My guess is the answer is "no" but those with experience can say for sure.

Diesels Do Last Much Longer BUT...?

You have to consider age here. Is there any sense in paying more for an engine whose lifetime will excede the number of years you can expect to be able to drive long distances without problems?

At 65 (soon) I'd like to sunbird and might consider fulltiming for awhile in the future (if the wife goes along, but realistically I'm not sure how far I'd go or for how long. I gather that lot's of older folks seem to prefer moving to smaller when it comes to size.
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Old 03-22-2007, 03:19 PM   #2
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Diesels, to me, have one very large drawback. Noisy. I've driven most of the brands at one time or another and they are all noisier than gas engined vehicles. The decibal comfort level on trips can be very fatiguing. You spend 4 hours in a diesel truck and you are ready to stop! Diesels make sense for hauling heavy loads, even trailers larger than the largest fiberglass rigs can be comfortably pulled with gas engined tugs. The quitest of the diesels I've driven, FWIW, is the GMC/Chev version. Still would opt for gas if I could. Dave
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Old 03-22-2007, 03:20 PM   #3
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Frank, I've read tons of the "gas-diesel" discussions on various forums over the years as well. I guess I've come to the conclusion that the key when deciding which is "best" from a financial standpoint is total-cost-of-ownership per mile. That takes in initial purchase price, insurance, depreciation, repairs, fuel, tires, and projected residual value at trade-in time.

Unless you need a diesel for torque, you're writing off a lease against business income, or have some other real need for the benefits of a diesel, a gas engine truck is probably less expensive to own per mile. That depends, of course, on the term of ownership, which engine has a better resale value, and a whole host of other factors.

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Old 03-22-2007, 03:49 PM   #4
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I agree with Roger, except for the torque part.

In addition, I would caution against falling into the assumption that a diesel is more reliable than a gasoline engine. Sure, a 300 hp Cummins ISB truck diesel is more durable than a typical 300 hp passenger car engine, but it weighs twice as much. Compare apples to apples (one commercial-duty engine to another, or one light passenger car engine to another) and the situation changes. In the same vehicle, if the diesel option is more reliable, it is probably also more expensive and heavier.

I see two reasons why diesels are not more common among our tow vehicles:
  • the total cost issue when used for towing for only a small fraction of the vehicle's life, and
  • lack of suitable diesel choices (because of lack of demand, see the first point...)
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Old 03-22-2007, 04:00 PM   #5
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You need to consider the fact that there is relatively no tuneup involved.
I just had to change oil,oil filter and fuel filters for 10 years.
That's it.
I guess if you wanted to you could have "minor" adjustments made ( so called tune up)
But I never needed them. I changed the glow plugs at 110,000 just because the manual said to but they still worked just fine.

I had to change the steel fuel line at 120,000 because it developed pin hole leaks which caused hard starting ( fuel leaked back to tank so cranking had to bring it back up to the engine. This is very bad in cold weather as you need the battries to crank twice as fast as a gas engine to start. After replacing line all was well again.

Chevy 6.2 liter, very quiet inside a Suburban, good insulation and really only noisy when cold.
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Old 03-22-2007, 04:19 PM   #6
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Yes, Pete, but that's the same maintenance for a gasoline engine. The days of adjusting ignition breaker points for dwell and setting the timing are long gone. My 1984 Toyota Tercel (gas engine) went 17 years and over 350,000 km with absolutely no ignition repair or even maintenance other than spark plugs - and plugs now have an expected lifespan of over 100,000 miles (much like the glow plugs).

You're not going to save a dime on tune-ups by choosing diesel over spark-ignition (gasoline), and with the 2007 standards, you're even going to have catalytic converters in both cases.

I'm not anti-diesel, just pro-reality.
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Old 03-22-2007, 06:29 PM   #7
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I've got two diesel Land Rovers - 4 cylinders both - one is normally aspirated with 67 hp and the other is a turbodiesel with 112 hp. Towing my Boler and staying under 65 mph I get 22.5 mpg (just under 20 mpg at 65 but the Land Rover has all of the aerodynamic qualities of your average barn). The reason I bought a Boler was to get something light enough to tow with these vehicles. I can run biodiesel or regular diesel and the engine noise on the turbodiesel is barely audible at 60 mph. I like them - one reason is I tend to drive slower and be more relaxed and enjoy the scenery when I'm behind the wheel of my Rovers.
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Old 03-22-2007, 07:22 PM   #8
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Big-pickup diesels have gotten much quieter in recent years.

Diesels have a reputation for long life because most were commercial and built to last, just like the truck bodies they were in compared to consumer automotive. Also, because of the internal forces and vibrations, diesel engine construction tends to be quite robust.

Any economic comparison of gas to diesel has to keep the rising costs of both kinds of fuel in mind -- A friend of mine bought a Dodge diesel several years back and did a mileage break-even comparison which he had to toss out the window when the price of diesel went significantly up compared to gas.

Also, economic comparison should reflect not only the initial higher cost of the diesel engine, but its usually higher value at resale time.

Lower maintenance costs for diesel are offset in part by much larger engine oil capacity and the reality that if something does go wrong with a diesel, its lots more expensive to fix.

There may or may not be a future for fuels like biodiesel, but the reality is that local/state/federal gummints will quickly figure out a way to tax it -- I recall a big test in Florida where someone rigged up outboard motors to run on LP, at considerable savings compared to gasoline, until someone pointed out that all boat fuels are taxable in FL and they hadn't included the taxes in the comparison.
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Old 03-22-2007, 08:31 PM   #9
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Any economic comparison of gas to diesel has to keep the rising costs of both kinds of fuel in mind -- A friend of mine bought a Dodge diesel several years back and did a mileage break-even comparison which he had to toss out the window when the price of diesel went significantly up compared to gas.
Today, at my local ARCO/BP:
87 octane regular (unleaded) gasoline: [b]$3.089
#2 diesel fuel: [b]$2.859

The relationship between the two has completely reversed in the last 6 months.
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Old 03-22-2007, 08:58 PM   #10
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As other posters here have made me aware--aside from overkill--some of the big diesel tow vehicles can damage small fiberglass trailers.
huh? How does the fuel of choice for the TV cause damage to the trailer?

Why diesel? In my opinion, and in no particular order:
*Torque
*Fuel economy
*Safety (diesel is far less flammable than gas)
*Torque
*Biodiesel - a "real" alternative fuel, unlike ethanol
*Decreased service requirements
*Torque
*Emissions - diesels are cleaner in all aspects than a gas engine with the exception of 2 things; NOx and particulates. Both of these are being worked on and the introduction of ultra-low sulfur fuel like Europe has will help immensely.

Did I mention torque?

If Toyota would sell the diesel version of the Tacoma that the rest of the world gets, I'd be standing in line at the dealership for one tomorrow.
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:07 PM   #11
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In North Texas diesel costs $.40 more per gallon than regular gasoline.
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Old 03-23-2007, 12:25 AM   #12
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I had to hunt a lot to find diesel fuel stations for my Mercedes 300D .That was in the urban and buburban areas. I don't think I would like franticly looking for stations on a camping trip.
Biodesel? Where do you store the 55 the gallon drum?
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Old 03-23-2007, 05:10 AM   #13
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In an emergency you could bum/buy diesel at any farm or any large facility that has back up generators. Or even used donut oil would work. Strained through cheesecloth.

I read a story about two women that crossed the country on used donut oil.

With a 40 gallon tank and 22 miles per gallon I'm sure I could find a diesel station before I ran out. I never had to worry about it.
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Old 03-23-2007, 07:48 AM   #14
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huh? How does the fuel of choice for the TV cause damage to the trailer?
Why, Lee... EVERYBODY knows that diesel exhaust fumes melt fiberglass trailers!

No, the discussion in another thread was about the significantly stiffer suspensions of one-ton trucks and the potential damage that can occur to a light weight trailer frame from jarring at the hitch ball without using an air-suspension hitch.

On the maintenance issue, a Ford 6.8l V10 gas engine has a recommended oil change interval of 5,000 miles and takes 6 quarts of oil and a filter. The 7.3 V8 PowerStroke diesel engine has a recommended oil change interval of 10,000 miles and takes 19 quarts; a difference in cost of 7 more quarts of oil, but one less filter per 10,000 mile interval.

Roger
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