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Detroit 8.2L Fuel Pincher advice requested
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Picture of Bob Kopicki
Location: Massillon, Ohio
Member Since: 07-10-2014
Posts: 21
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Hello all,

I own a 1972 Newell Coach with a 1980 vintage Detroit 8.2L Turbo Diesel engine. I'm looking to communicate with ANYONE who has experience with this engine and is still operating it. I found the Barth website during a search for information.

I've seen a bunch of people write that the engine is a POS or a throw away. This isn't exactly helpful since it is the engine in my coach and will be until it blows up. I'd like to know how to avoid blowing it up in the first place. I've also seen a few people speak positively about the engine if it is operated and maintained properly. Some have said it makes a great marine engine.

Our Newell is just over 19,000lbs with an Allison MT43 transmission and a 2 speed differential. Sometimes we tow a 1981 Honda Accord behind us on a tow dolly. The engine runs GREAT and I'm very happy with how it pulls. I get about 10 to 12 mpg depending on terrain.

This said I get nervous reading all of the negative posts about this engine. Why do the head gaskets fail? Is it due to overheating? Is it vibration? Pushing the engine too hard? Maintenance?

MTU America owns the rights to the engine now, but there are no engineers left who are familiar with the engine. I communicated with them with questions about re-torqueing head bolts and using Dex-Cool coolant as preventative maintenance but really ended up at another dead end.

Are there any Barth people that are willing to communicate their experience with this engine?

I'm also looking for the injector height tool to keep on hand (just in case I find it necessary to change a head gasket).

Thank you so much for your time and advice.

Sincerely,

Bob Kopicki
Massillon OH
Picture of madrone
Location: Texas
Member Since: 11-26-2008
Posts: 69
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Bob,

I would suggest that you join the various Bluebird forums, they were powered for many years by the 2 cycle Detroit Diesels and you will find a great deal of knowledge about the engines there. Although I don't own one of the engines I have read that they are very sensitive to coolant chemistry and you must test and keep the correct additive level. This may very well be related to head gasket failure. In their day they were the highest specific output diesel engines available and that is the reason they remain popular in marine applications. I have read that when Detroit Diesel still belonged to GM millions was spent to try to modify the engines to meet the oncoming emission regulations but the program failed.

Steve (not a Barth owner but I like the forum)
1995 Winnebago Luxor one of only 14 built on the Oshkosh four wheel steering chassis Cummins C8.3L
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 2/16
Captain Doom
Picture of Rusty
Location: Brooker, FL, USA
Member Since: 09-08-2005
Posts: 8200
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Welcome to the forums!

The GM 8.2L appeared in the 35' Barth Regencies in the early to mid-'80s. From what I've heard, this engine does NOT tolerate overheating, so the first order of business is keeping it cool.

I'm aware of 4 Regencies which had major issues or failures, and another that is basically limping. This engine was not GM's Finest Hour.

However, your Newell is much lighter than the 35' Regencies, and the 2-speed diffy allows keeping the engine lightly loaded.

I STRONGLY recommend a boost gauge and an EGT gauge (if yours is turbocharged). EGT should never exceed 1200°F.


Rusty


MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP; built-to-order by Peninsular Engines:  Hi-pop injectors, gear-driven camshaft, non-waste-gated, high-output turbo, 18:1 pistons.  Fuel economy increased by 15-20%, power, WOW!"StaRV II"

'94 28' Breakaway: MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP

Nelson and Chester, not-spoiled Golden Retrievers

Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not.
In either case the idea is quite staggering.
- Arthur C. Clarke

It was a woman who drove me to drink, and I've been searching thirty years to find her and thank her - W. C. Fields
Picture of Bob Kopicki
Location: Massillon, Ohio
Member Since: 07-10-2014
Posts: 21
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The Detroit 8.2 is not a 2 cycle and I have conducted a search of the Bluebird forums. I am not aware of any Bluebirds with this engine.

I did conduct the search of this forum and read just about every post that I could find concerning this engine. It is very clear that overheating is bad. I've replaced my radiator, hoses, thermostats and coolant. The engine runs cool and I'll be sure to keep it that way.

As I mentioned in my original post, I was hoping to discuss with other owners of this engine their experience such as...

What coolant do they use?

Have they ever re-torqued their head bolts?

If they blew a head gasket, was it during normal operation or did the engine overheat?

Does anyone have an injector height tool?

Thank you,

Bob

I will re-post the original message under some other brand.
Picture of Bob Kopicki
Location: Massillon, Ohio
Member Since: 07-10-2014
Posts: 21
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I would just like to find some other people who are operating or have operated and maintained this engine.

It doesn't matter if one is a Barth owner, a Bluebird owner or a Newell owner. If we own a vintage motorhome we're in it because we like vintage machines. I'm not looking for advice relating to my machine specifically, I'm looking for people to share their experience keeping these things running.

Considering that I asked a question about an engine that appears to have been fairly common in Barths and I was asking for people to share their experience with those engines in their Barths, I'm not really sure how that is a Some Other Brand question but I'll jump through whatever hoops are necessary to connect with people with this engine.

Thank you.

Bob
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 2/16
Captain Doom
Picture of Rusty
Location: Brooker, FL, USA
Member Since: 09-08-2005
Posts: 8200
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You're fine so far. If posts need to be moved or consolidated, I'll do it. As long as your concerns continue to be of general interest to owners of 8.2L-powered coaches, I'll leave the thread here.

Note that there aren't that many forum members that have 8.2s, and fewer still without major engine issues, so it may take some time for folks to respond.


Rusty


MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP; built-to-order by Peninsular Engines:  Hi-pop injectors, gear-driven camshaft, non-waste-gated, high-output turbo, 18:1 pistons.  Fuel economy increased by 15-20%, power, WOW!"StaRV II"

'94 28' Breakaway: MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP

Nelson and Chester, not-spoiled Golden Retrievers

Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not.
In either case the idea is quite staggering.
- Arthur C. Clarke

It was a woman who drove me to drink, and I've been searching thirty years to find her and thank her - W. C. Fields
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 01/08
Picture of Deb&Eds38
Location: Ortona- Turkey Creek Florida
Member Since: 10-04-2004
Posts: 321
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Bob:

I had an 8.2 in our previous 35' Regency. I had the Barth for 12 years with very few engine maintenance issues. I was always told never to let them run hot and it ran great. Not a power house but a good running engine. When it finally did let go it was because of a plugged radiator and I didn't notice it was overheating until to late. My fault.
The new owner had it rebuilt and it seems to be fine.
If I had it to do over again I would put an audible alarm on it to warm of a overheat problem.

Good Luck

ED.
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 7/17
Picture of Steve VW
Location: Kalkaska, MI
Member Since: 02-04-2011
Posts: 3217
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I believe Jim and Barb have a Regency with a rebuilt 8.2. It was for sale in Dec so I don't know if they still have it.

Apparently the early GM engines had head gasket problems. (Imagine that... so did the later 4,6 cyl gassers!) GM changed to larger head bolts and different torque specs in the later ones.

I am disappointed that a company with GM's experience can't seem to design an engine that doesn't tend to leak. (Reminds me of the 60's Harleys and English bikes.) They don't seem to be able to equalize expansion rates in the metal at the gasket interfaces. End up with cobble job fixes like the famous "torque to yield" throwaway head bolts. Too bad they don't have some Honda engineers around. I have never seen a Honda that leaked, even those with wet sleeves. Ever.

The 454 engine in the gassers tends to leak out the rear main seal. Not surprising considering GM used a 2 piece split main seal until the mid 90's, typical in the 60's but far out of date by the 90's.

They had a high temp starter solenoid fix by the mid 70's but never put the new part into production... I could rant all day about GM's reverse engineering mindset.

In your case, just be absolutely sure to never overheat it at all. There are some rebuilders who will still do them but they do the bolt mods, etc. in the process. You might check with them to determine what your engine has and what the Achilles heel will be.

The 8.2 seems a good engine when running right, just keep it cool. good luck. Thumbs Up


8607-3346-33TFPOB------9708-M0037-37MM-01
86 Regal SE 33 Tag axle--"98" Monarch 37
Chev P3(7) 454TBI--------Cummins 8.3 300 hp
400 hp fuel injected-------6 spd Allison, Spartan MM
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 4/08
Location: Minneapolis/Yuma
Member Since: 08-17-2006
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This is from a DD engineer that I met many a year ago.

At the time I had an 8V71 and we got to talking about overheating. He said it was mostly about vapor. Temp was not critical until you started making vapor and then you had problems. I know with the 8V92 I ran the temp up a mountain to about 240 with no problem. With a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze the boiling point is over 240 and with a 15 lb pressure cap it puts the boiling point over 260 if memory serves me right. Anyway the numbers might be off, but the concept is still the same.

My GUESS is the 8.2 is probably the same. Make sure you have antifreeze and don't create vapor.

A friend of ours had a Vogue for many years with the 8.2 and another removed a 440 dodge engine and stuffed an 8.2 into a Sportscoach. Both were happy with the engine and had no real problems. They were also used in a lot of dump trucks.

I also was aware of the head bolt change in later units, but not sure when that happened. Knowing the way GM worked it was probably after they got a really bad rep. Same thing happened to the Toro Flow, and the Olds 350D. Both engines ended up as pretty good units, but only after the damage was done.


'92 Barth Breakaway - 30'
5.9 Cummins (6B) 300+ HP
2000 Allison
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Picture of Bob Kopicki
Location: Massillon, Ohio
Member Since: 07-10-2014
Posts: 21
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Thank you to all who replied. I'm encouraged to hear heat seems to be the enemy. I do have an early engine with the smaller bolts and from what I learned it cannot be upgraded without pulling the engine. Therefore I'm going to be REAL careful about temp's.

I've already re-cored the radiator, replaced the hoses and belts and the coolant too. I even replaced the temp gauge to be sure. I'll just be real careful.

So 2 remaining questions:

Does anyone have an injector height gauge?

What are your thoughts on 50/50 Dex-Cool and distilled water for coolant in this engine?

Thanks everyone!

Bob
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 10/08
Picture of MWrench
Location: Los Gatos, CA
Member Since: 12-08-2005
Posts: 1893
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Dex-Cool is not going to do anything better than straight ethylene/glycol 50/50 distilled water mix. I also use RMI-25 cooling system treatment and can't say enough about how well it reduced my operating temperature issues on the 5.9L Cummins.

RMI-25

Not a commercial for them just my personal experience with it in a diesel rear radiator pusher.


Ed
94 30' Breakaway #3864
30-BS-6B side entry
230 Cummins, Allison 6 speed
Spartan chassis
K9DVC
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 7/17
Picture of Steve VW
Location: Kalkaska, MI
Member Since: 02-04-2011
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Red Line "Water Wetter" is another choice. It improves heat transfer between the metal surfaces and the coolant. Red Line products have been good to me.

I did not have a precise way to measure heat before and after adding so I can't prove it works better, I think it is similar to the RMI product and both seem better than coolant alone. Can't hurt and not too pricey. Thumbs Up


8607-3346-33TFPOB------9708-M0037-37MM-01
86 Regal SE 33 Tag axle--"98" Monarch 37
Chev P3(7) 454TBI--------Cummins 8.3 300 hp
400 hp fuel injected-------6 spd Allison, Spartan MM
Picture of Bob Kopicki
Location: Massillon, Ohio
Member Since: 07-10-2014
Posts: 21
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I really don't have any type of cooling problem now that I have a re-cored radiator. In fact, the engine seems to take quite a while to warm up. What I'm most concerned about is corrosion prevention. My cooling system has brass, copper, steel, cast iron and aluminum in it. I've used DexCool in all of my gas engines for years, one has 194,000 and the cooling system still looks brand new in it. I do change it every 4 years to keep it fresh. I've NEVER poured rusty coolant out of one of my vehicles with DexCool in it.

My concern about the 8.2 is that the head gasket or deck area will corrode with normal anti-freeze and cause a head gasket failure even under normal temperatures. I just don't know if DexCool is a problem with Diesel engines or not. I'm leaning toward replacing the Pink Diesel coolant that I put in last winter with DexCool this fall when I add a block heater.

I'll probably add something like Redline or RMI just to make sure I've done everything I can to keep things cool. Good idea!

Thanks,

Bob
First Month Member
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 11/13
Location: AZ Central Highlands
Member Since: 01-09-2001
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My take on this is that both Water Wetter and RMI-25 are surfactants, and lower the surface tension of the water, allowing it to make better contact with the block and heads, carrying away more heat. RMI-25 also cleans things up.

I am more recently using RMI-25 because of its cleaning ability, but prior to that, Water Wetter did a good job as is RMI now. I have not had overheating for years, so cannot provide any testimonials.

Be sure to use the right product for a diesel cooling system.


.

84 30T PeeThirty-Something, 502 powered
Location: TN
Member Since: 10-16-2013
Posts: 1
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Hello Bob,
I will provide my opinion for what its worth:
I can't help but be a little annoyed with all the negative publicity this engine receives. Understand it was introduced to be a better alternative to the big block gas engines in the early '80's. Many people were not familiar with the proper care and operation of diesel engines.Many problems resulted from abuse or operator error;so naturally people claim its a pos because it was not indestructible.I have owned these engines for many years. I have a GMC dumptruck so equipped still running the original 1981 205hp turbo. It has been re-built once and has a total of 400k miles.(not too bad huh?)I have always had good service with the engines. Here is what I do: Keep clean oil:shell rotella 15w40 and wix filters: clean fuel filters;and keep cooling system serviced. I have always used prestone and then switched to dexcool when it was developed. I warm the engine up and let it cool down before shutting down. I never lug it 2-3K rpm range is its peak range. I know of an excellent shop in east TN that actually likes and does an excellent job of servicing/repairing these engines. I can provide much more info for you. This post is a bit long so i'll end now. Msg me I you have further questions or just want to chat detroits and vintage coaches!
James
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