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GM 454 Vortec vs. 8.1 Workhorse


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8 replies to this topic

#1 BarbRN

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 08:57 PM

OK, I'm just a girl but I am looking at a motorhome with this GM454 in it, a 2002 Winnebago. How does that engine differ from the newer 8.1 Workhorse engines that are on the newer models? I don't need a lot of detail because I wouldn't understand it. Is it a dinosaur? Will it pull the MH and tow vehicle? Only has 18,000 on it.
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#2 hermanmullins

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 11:29 AM

Nurse Barbara, the 454 and the 8.1 are built on the same block. I am not sure but I beleive the 454 is a throttle body injection and the 8.1 is a multi port injection. And yes either one will do well on a coach up to 34 or 35 feet. more then that you not preform too well.
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"Fair winds and Following Seas"

Herman & Bobbie Mullins
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#3 BarbRN

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 01:09 PM

Thank you for that reply. You are the only one who knew that much. The salesman says it's a tiny bit better on gas mileage than the newer ones. I don't always believe salesmen. Do you agree?
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#4 OkieDave

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 02:50 PM

Hi Barb,

I chose to get the 8.1L because it has greater torque (torque is what turns the wheels, not HP) at a lower RPM. What that means is that you will not be downshifting every time you go up a small hill. I don't like a lot of downshifting because of the noise of a racing engine.
At 60mph the engine is running at about 2200 rpm. Then if it downshifts on a hill, it only goes up to 3300 rpm which is its best torque rpm.
Hope this helps.
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David & Liz Schmees and Missy the dog.
2001 Winnebago Adventurer 32V
Workhorse Chassis - 8.1 Vortec
Towing Isuzu Rodeo 4 down with Blue Ox

#5 kalynzoo

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 01:37 AM

I've owned both, and I have very little technical background in engines. But I have RVed for over 30 years. Your profile does not give a location. So, if you live out West and need to travel over the mountain the newer Workhorse or Ford V10 give alot more power on the mountains. With my 454 in a Holiday Rambler 36ft, traveling over the Grapevine (a long hard mountain climb leaving Los Angeles on I-5) would drop us to 25 or 30 mph. With the previous Ford and the current Workhorse I can make the grade at 50 t0 55mph without difficulty.

Traveling on the flat midwestern plains, I don't think you will find much difference. Gas mileage is similar, seldom reaching 8mpg. Both will tow a light car without difficulty.

Things to think about. Even though the MH has very low mileage, it is still a 2002. The tires are probably original, and therefore way past the 5 to 6 year safe age. So plan on new tires right away. Also have a qualified mechanic check out the belts and hoses, all will age without regard of mileage. Also, check the generator, which may not have seen much use, but should have been run periodically. Just things to look out for, and all things that are expected.
Enjoy, and Happy Trails.
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Cookie & Gary Kalyn
2005 Adventurer 38ft
Saturn VUE
Rving over 30 years

#6 pattexaco

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 06:04 PM

Hi Barb,

I chose to get the 8.1L because it has greater torque (torque is what turns the wheels, not HP) at a lower RPM. What that means is that you will not be downshifting every time you go up a small hill. I don't like a lot of downshifting because of the noise of a racing engine.
At 60mph the engine is running at about 2200 rpm. Then if it downshifts on a hill, it only goes up to 3300 rpm which is its best torque rpm.
Hope this helps.


I also have the 8.1 in a Winny '06, 33' Voyage, towing a '10 CRV.

Traveling 58 to 60 mph on flat highway getting about 7.5mpg. What is your average mpg @ 60?

Would appreciate your input.
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#7 DickandLois

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 10:18 AM

Just some personal side notes on the 8.1 and 454's, They do use the same block,but that is where it ends.

The early 8.1 engines had an issues with Cam and Crank sensors. There was a recall from NTSB regarding these issues.Most where in the large work trucks and GM did not want to include engines that where outside there recalled VIN. numbers !! I have not heard of any problems with the engine with the up graded parts, because the sensors where improved.

The 8.1 will run well on Reg. gas, 454's like the middle grade,but will run on Reg. and they get about the same millage in regards to weight ratio.
The 454 engines tend to have more mechanically set ignition and timing then the 8.1. Just the difference in the level of ECM control on the newer engine.
The mechanical portion of the 8.1 was built to run 300,000 miles if all service intervals are met and the rpm's are not pushed. Deliver companies do run engines hard and long!

These engines are built for torque not high RPM numbers They are not warranted for 300,000 miles though!!!
There have been some check engine codes set,due to the O2 sensors, and it is an intermittent issue,that in most cases just requires removing the ECM code. The problem can pop up on any given day or even every other year.
The 8.1 oil capacity is seven quarts with filter change and there are two different sized filters for the engine if one prefers a larger filter. The change oil light will come on at different millage points depending on the driving conditions encountered between oil changes. Interesting point for one who keeps a maintenance log.

Also! like most Big Block engines, one should check the oil level at around 1500 miles. Big engines do use some oil and that is not really a bad issue, when one considers the heat generated. Oil and filters are cheap compared to what it cost the repair them.

R.M.
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#8 Sundancer268

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 09:01 PM

For a Chevy, the 454 was not a bad engine. There was a lot of exhaust manifold problems in the class A motor homes with that engine and was probably due to the tight installations and heat build up. Father-in-law replaced two sets on his Bounder. Other than that, the engine performed quite well. Horse power is what you make of it. Some people can not stand to go one tenth of a mile per hour under the speed limit and no one makes enough horse power for them. Others like my self just get into the right hand lanes and let the world go by. If on a two lane road, just keep an eye on the traffic behind you and when three or four vehicles build up behind find a place to pull over and let them go by.
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#9 LinRon

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 07:04 PM

Lynn

I am looking at a 2010 with Chevy Workhorse engine /Allison transmission. I need some feed back should I or should not.
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