440 to diesel conversion: Pros & Cons?

Started by Firemansred, July 11, 2012, 10:03 PM

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Sent: 3/30/2005 2:31 PM

Someone here had done an A518 conversion awhile back.... I wonder how it held up???


Sent: 3/30/2005 2:15 PM

It's called the "veggie Van"

See it here:

Go to the link on the left column for the "Veggie Van"

But they do refer to it as the "Green Grease Machine"

Remembering My 72 D20RG Brave "Smurfbago" The old girl never let me down, and she's still on the road today. quick! get out the Camera... I spotted another junkyard full of Winnies...


Sent: 3/30/2005 2:07 PM

No A518 trans here, just the fuel injection, intake computer, wiring, dash, other stuff...
The A518 is by no means as strong as the old A727... it just looks like it!

Better still.... the donor van was free!

Now if it'll just stop raining.......I can get down to serious work, or I'll be tenting it at the Jams!

But to answer the diesel question:


If you've got more money than you know what to do with, and can stand the noise of a cummins graveling beneath your feet and a stinky cabin... sure.... go ahead....

Bio-diesel... fuel made from French fry oil.... I like it! There's actually a LeSharo (yeah, it's a Winnebago!) running around the US that runs on Bio-diesel called the "Green machine". They do have to tow the fuel conversion tub around behind them!
Be VERY careful of what people call "Bio-diesel" Some of this stuff is not tested, and has cetane ratings so low, that the average diesel vehicle motor will not run. There's a story about bad bio-diesel on the "Green Machine's" website.
Oh yeah, that's a renault diesel in a LeSharo.... not a Cummins.. BIG difference.

Remembering My 72 D20RG Brave "Smurfbago" The old girl never let me down, and she's still on the road today. quick! get out the Camera... I spotted another junkyard full of Winnies...


Sent: 3/30/2005 11:54 AM

OK Denison! Here we go, locking horns again!...lol

Denison is a great friend, but he and I disagree on diesel engines!

You will be happy to know that I will not suggest a diesel conversion in this thread. While I love diesel engines and feel that are superior to gas engines, I think that in this case, there may be a better and cheaper way to increase overall fuel economy.

I have done research on diesel conversions and have found that the average cost when doing the labor yourself would be around $4000.

The main advantage to doing a diesel conversion would be the use of bio-diesel. http://www.biodieselnow.com/  Bio-diesel is "Diesel fuel" made from vegetable or soybean oil, etc. Bio-diesel costs about 30 cents a gallon compared to $2.40 or so at the pump. For the sake of argument, lets forget the bio-diesel for now.

I would guess that a 5.9 Cummins diesel conversion in a Winnebago would improve fuel mileage into the 12-14 mpg range at a cost of around $4000.

On the other hand, if you already have a healthy gas engine, a better alternative may be to convert to an overdrive transmission with a lockup converter and fuel injection.

In a recent thread, Slantsixness (Tom) was discussing taking the fuel injection components from a donor vehicle (late 80's or 90's Dodge van or truck) and installing it on the motor home. If you were able to get a donor vehicle that was equipped with fuel injection and the A518 transmission ( A727 with an overdrive and a lockup converter) you would probably be able to boost your gasoline engines fuel mileage into the 12-14 mpg range for slightly more than the cost of the donor vehicle.

I am not sure that the A518 would hold up in my Apollo motor home because of the total weight. Pulling my toad, my total weight is around 19,000 lbs compared to the 10,000 lbs or so of a 20' Winnebago.



Sent: 3/30/2005 7:14 AM

     There was a guy on the mytravco.com site, who reported pretty well on the gas-to-diesel conversion he did to his Travco - which was on a Dodge M400 chassis, having a 413 engine and 727 transmission.    Mytravco.com can be a slow loading site, but after the links on the left appear, click on “forums”.   Then choose the forum about “engine - non dodge”.   The guy who did the conversion is enamed michigandon, and the last time I checked he has an msn group with good pictures and text on what he did:   groups.msn.com/michigandonstravco (still a good link, but will change in Feb. 09).
    The URL: www.turbodieselregister.com    might also be relevant.
     The discussion on the mytravco.com site includes mention of the drive shaft speed and what might be done about it.  Unless you change the rear axle ratio somehow, the drive shaft in an M400 is turning fairly fast for a diesel engine.  My 72 drive shaft, with the usual 4.55 rear axle ratio is turning 2780 rpm at 60 mph.  If you don't have a lock-up type torque converter, that means engine rpm is about 3000 rpm on level ground.     
    I cant recall on which forum I saw it, but I remember reading that he was pleased that the whole conversion cost had been within his budget estimate of $10k.  He was also pleased with the results after driving it a couple of thousand miles. 

   I don't personally have any interest in changing to a diesel.  I don't have $10k either.    Their advantages are clear if you drive Many miles.  But....... since we only do about 4000 miles annually, and my engine at 96k miles has never needed rebuilding and isn't worn out yet; I don't think I need more reliability.      Nor do I care for that high pitched noise.
     It is common to read about how reliable the diesel engine was in some pickup or delivery truck that is driven 300,000 miles in 4 or 5 years, but how good would that reliability be after 30 years?   Especially if it would be sitting unused for months at a time?
   My Winnebago is 33 years old.  I have owned it for 14 years, and put 46,000 miles on it in addition to the 50,000 it had when I bought it.    Aside from needing its ignition points replaced in Houston one day, it gave me “underway” engine trouble only ONCE in that time, when a push rod that had been making a tick noise for years wore in two.  Its the only time we have had it towed.  At home I found the engine had suffered no damage as a result of the push rod failure, and that I could have kept on driving it the 200 miles home on 7 cylinders.
            [ Replacing the ignition points in Houston took 15 minutes, and I didn't even get out of the vehicle. ]
     I would be glad to hear from someone who had been running a diesel powered motor home (that was over 20 years old and which they had owned for at least 10 years)  to learn if it was as trouble free and easy to maintain as my 413 engine is. 


Sent: 3/29/2005 3:55 PM

I noticed several older discussions about this conversion...

1. what are the results positive and negative??

2. how difficult is the swap, (bolt up-custom fit)??

3. is the MPG and extra power worth the cost??

If anyone has tried this conversion and it has worked for you please reply... Thanks, Matt