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Old 09-14-2020, 09:09 AM   #1
TJ1
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Help! Need a new engine for '09 Sightseer 35J

I'm hoping there is someone out there who has any information or can point me in the right direction here...I have a 2009 Sightseer 35J with Chevy Workhorse W22 chassis & 8.1L engine. Only 67,000 miles. Maintenance done religiously (bought it used with 40K miles on it). My engine went down while on a return trip from the Black Hills the end of July. Long story short, I was able to get it towed 200 miles to Sioux Falls where it is currently sitting at a mechanic's shop. I live in western Wisconsin just across the MN border. Being from out of state, trying to find someone to work on it was 1/2 of the problem. I had it towed to Billion GMC Truck dealership who thought they could work on it. However, after looking at the engine they said it would need to be replaced - was told it was in the lower end, possible rod or piston knock or wrist pin. Due to it's length, they can't get it into their shop so I now have it at a place the tow company referred me to call Precision Automotive - small(er) mechanic who does work on Class A's. Now to the issue at hand - the Mechanic is hitting dead ends trying to find a new engine. Chevy apparently doesn't make that engine anymore and the reman he thought was going to work came back and said they won't make it/warranty a new one because it's going into a motorhome. It's sucks not having my RV, but hearing that finding a new/reman engine is not looking good, I'm starting to panic a bit! Looking for any insight from anyone. Thanks!!
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Old 09-14-2020, 09:59 AM   #2
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It seems you’ll have to consider a used engine... even if it’s just to get the RV running so you can sell it or trade it. Visone RV grave yard has lots of engines stored in their sheds.

https://rvparts.visonerv.com/

Here’s a few Chevy 8.1 for sale:

https://rvchassisparts.visonerv.com/...ineengines.pl?
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Old 09-14-2020, 11:38 AM   #3
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Thank you for that information. I will look into it and let you know how it turns out.
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Old 09-14-2020, 12:47 PM   #4
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I'm curious what the rebuilt engine with no warranty would cost. The used engines are probably the better way to go. That is crummy that the original failed with those miles and a little surprising too.
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Old 09-14-2020, 01:02 PM   #5
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They had several on the site - there is a 2006 with 23,000 miles for $3200. Biggest risk is no warranty, but at this point after hitting all dead ends, it may be the best (and cheapest) option. I'm still in disbelief that the engine failed with those low miles! I'm the 3rd Owner, having purchased it 3 years ago with 40K miles. I've had the engine looked over and inspected and have been anal with maintenance since owning it. I did rent it out 4 times this summer, so could be someone drove it/worked it hard causing it to fail - which is something I could never prove, unfortunately. Can't tell you how frustrating it is!
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Old 09-14-2020, 03:49 PM   #6
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TJi, Visone's gets a lot of wrecked and burnt RVs so the engine maybe in really great shape and not seen any damage at all.

Many of the parts Visone's leaves on the RVs in the yard, but engines and transmissions they pull and store in a warehouse.

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Old 09-14-2020, 04:00 PM   #7
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Have you looked at what GM sells directly? This is a different engine, a 3.6, and I saw earlier a 350 for only about $3,800. Both are smaller than what you need, but I'm sure those are not the only two options.

https://www.gmpartsdirect.com/oem-pa...ngine-12679343
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Old 09-14-2020, 04:05 PM   #8
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Good to know - I was curious where they all came from. After watching the video - makes sense. I'm working with my mechanic on how to get a used engine from them. I think this will hopefully work out! Thanks again for the info - I'm glad I asked the question on the forum, but regret not doing it weeks ago!

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Old 09-14-2020, 04:08 PM   #9
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Talked to mechanic this morning about Visone. He was also talking to Chevy/GM about what engines they have available that might work as well.
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Old 09-20-2020, 06:24 PM   #10
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Look at Jasper. Essentially a brand new engine (it is rebuilt)
So far so good for mine. 100,000 mile warranty. Good luck!
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Old 09-21-2020, 01:11 AM   #11
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Here are a few more choices for you to check on:

https://www.autozone.com/powertrain/.../workhorse/w22

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/v...22?prefilter=1

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Workhorse-8...4383.l4275.c10

I lived in Sioux Falls for over 50 years before moving to Arizona. Nordstrom's Auto Salvage might be able to help you too and they offer a warranty.

https://www.nordstromsauto.com/

I also have a Winnebago Adventurer W22 chassis with the 8.1L engine and sometimes when I'm pulling a steep 6 to 8% grade at max weight with my towd behind and its screaming at 4400 RPM I think of what I'd do if it blew up. Being a hot rodder I'd start by looking for a wrecked 2020 Chevy or GMC 2500 pickup with the Duramax 6.6L diesel and the new Allison engineered ten speed transmission.

"Allison Transmission Holdings Inc., the largest global provider of commercial duty fully automatic transmissions, announced today, along with Chevrolet, the availability of a 10-speed, fully automatic transmission in the new Class 2/3, 2020 Silverado 2500/3500 HD trucks. Equipped with the Allison branded 10-speed transmission, the 2020 Silverado HD will debut in February 2019."

Although it would tough and expensive swap it would really pull that coach! My good friend has a new 2020 Chevy 2500 pickup with it and it pulls hard and hardly ever downshifts. Even swapping in the 6.6L Duramax to your present transmission would be an improvement. I have never been able to understand why Workhorse never offered this powertrain in the first place. They might still be in business if they had.
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Old 09-21-2020, 07:57 AM   #12
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If your Workhorse is like my 2005 w/ 8.1 engine is; the computer can display on it's little LCD screen some things that will surprise you. When I glanced at it, it told me the highest RPM it had run, the highest speed it had gone, and there were other things I don't remember. I remembered the RPMs as not excessive, and I think it's top speed was 76MPH. You might ether find piece of mind, or a smoking gun in there. I guess you could have had a bad component, but I was told there engines are rugged 200,000 mile engines. On a used engine you might consider paying for an engine oil analysis. You buy a prepaid envelope. Send in an oil sample, and they do a Spectrochemical Analysis, and send you a report. Good Luck.
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Old 09-21-2020, 10:54 AM   #13
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Better minds than mine here but isn't the 8.1 the same block as the 454?

I guess where I'm going is the 454 is plentiful parts wise AND if the motor mounts and bellhousing for the tranny line up... well?

Edit: I suppose it would have a better chance working on the W20 frame vs. your W22. Nevermind.
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Old 09-21-2020, 12:22 PM   #14
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No the 8.1 496 cube engine is not the same block. I only know this from reading how racers don't go after this engine because there's no great availability of performance components like intake and exhaust manifolds available. If it was a 454 block, that stuff would bolt on.
The complete replacement of the entire engine with a truck 454, with its accessories would be viable, but those older beasts would have a Quadrajet 4 barrel carburetor on the top too. Of the man suggesting something like a GM 350 engine, the poor little thing would be working like a dog, keep your foot to the floor a lot, and have a much shortened life. You'd hate it.
Then there's torque to to consider too. Torque is low in a small engine, and important under heavy steady loads. (In both trucks and boats.) The 454 has substantial torque, but the 8.1 is king here, and when you confront that long hill, it's torque that keeps your speed up.
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Old 09-21-2020, 01:35 PM   #15
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If it was a 454 block, that stuff would bolt on.
The complete replacement of the entire engine with a truck 454, with its accessories would be viable, but those older beasts would have a Quadrajet 4 barrel carburetor on the top too. Of the man suggesting something like a GM 350 engine, the poor little thing would be working like a dog, keep your foot to the floor a lot, and have a much shortened life. You'd hate it.
I really think the 8.1 and the 454 are the same block. The difference being the bolts on the 8.1 are all metric and it has a longer stroke. The 454 IMO is superior and does not require a carb as the last gen was a Vortec. My 93' has TBI.

On average, how many miles to you get out of an 8.1? How many miles have owners got out of a 454? IDK but I'm betting the higher average numbers are on the 454. JMO.
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Old 09-21-2020, 05:24 PM   #16
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I second the motion for a Jasper rebuild.

Used engines from a wrecking yard are dicey, at best.
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Old 09-21-2020, 11:34 PM   #17
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In my opinion the 8.1L is a huge improvement in both power and engineering. When GM designed the 8.1L they used the 7.4L as the foundation to start with but it was an entirely new design that greatly improved the 7.4L.

I've owned both. I owned a '99 Chevy Crew Cab short box with the Vortec 7.4L 4L80E trans powertrain. Fully loaded, pulling a 10,000 lb. Featherlite enclosed trailer, it worked very hard to do it. I made eight 3000 mile round trips with it just moving to Arizona from South Dakota and it never let me down. All I did was put gas in it, change the oil and put new tires on it. It was the best truck I've ever owned, with over 155,000 miles on it when I sold it. Over half of those miles, it pulled that trailer and the engine and transmission never needed a thing, except regular maintenance. The only things I ever had to replace was the starter and the in-tank fuel pump (probably because 26 gallon tank was empty much of the time!).

I've owned two motorhomes with the W22 Workhorse chassis with the Vortec 8.1L Allison 5 speed trans powertrain, one was a 2002 and one I have now is a 2005. I am always fully loaded at 22,000 lbs and pulling close to 4,000 lbs. That's 26,000 lbs, which is much more than the 16,000 lbs gross weight I pulled with the pickup. The 8.1L is a much better puller, even with the additional 10,000 lbs. It really has a lot more torque and to me it feels like the difference between a small block and a big block.

From what I found Jasper doesn't rebuild the 8.1L, but these people do, although some are listed as a 2002 to 2005, mainly because those were the years they were used in GM trucks but they're essentially the same engine. To my knowledge, all that changed in the W22 was the elimination of the EGR system in 2005 which requires a different ECM program. My earlier post listed the direct replacements for the W22.

https://www.powertrainproducts.net/P...YaAk8aEALw_wcB

https://usengineproduction.com/8-1-m...8aAjKcEALw_wcB

https://www.ebay.com/i/273289966915?...saAgxTEALw_wcB

https://www.ebay.com/i/283839170338?...saAt0aEALw_wcB

This one is an actual new replacement for the Workhorse W22 from a genuine Workhorse Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).

https://s1partscenter.com/brands/int...YaAlt1EALw_wcB

Here is a new, not rebuilt, high performance high output version that has 420 HP @ 5000 RPM and 505 lb-ft @ 4000 RPM!

https://www.eagleenginesales.com/new...oaAukcEALw_wcB
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Old 09-22-2020, 06:23 AM   #18
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I would have to say you are substantially right it seems. A new firing order, re-designed intake ports, and going metric might make it problematical for some things to cross over, but not a new engine.
Along this line of thought, I had a GM 6.2 diesel that was clearly a converted big block gas engine. They stuck a vacuum pump on the top of the still present gas engine's distributor shaft. It still drove the oil pump on the other end. This only came out when the heater/defroster quit directing air to the windows. Surprise, a failed vacuum pump I didn't know I even had.

"The GM 8.1L Vortec engine was the last of the GM series of big block engines. This V8 engine replaced the 7.4L Vortec as the high power option for the vehicles in which it was offered.

The bore was kept the same for the 8.1L engine, but the stroke was lengthened which provided the extra displacement.

Some other changes included new firing order, re-designed intake ports, and a conversion to metric threads throughout the engine, which no doubt had a major impact to tools required at the manufacturing plants as well as for mechanics who work on this engine."
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Old 09-23-2020, 05:46 PM   #19
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Along this line of thought, I had a GM 6.2 diesel that was clearly a converted big block gas engine. They stuck a vacuum pump on the top of the still present gas engine's distributor shaft. It still drove the oil pump on the other end. This only came out when the heater/defroster quit directing air to the windows. Surprise, a failed vacuum pump I didn't know I even had."
The 6.2 was not a gas engine. Ever. It was made by Detroit, and used in many marine applications. The Stanadyne DB2 injection pump on it was far more reliable than the later (electronic) DB4 pump. The displacement was later increased to 6.5L, and in '94 equipped with the DB4.
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Old 10-11-2020, 06:17 PM   #20
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does your mh have the allison trans/engine LCD dash display ?

there are metrics that measure for your engine & trans, such as total running hrs, highest speed, highest rpm (must be sustained for x secs to be registered as an 'event', depends on each reading) etc, all explained in the workhorse manual, likely can find manual in soft form on internet or buy one from some book supply.

so you 'could have' registered before renting out those metrics, even show to renter so they would know you 'are watching'.

those 8.1L engines should last at least 150k but more likely 300k before needing replacing !

but for such a large engine, rpms should be kept down to at most 3500rpm or so, do NOT let the hill assist crap over-rev the engine - brakes are much much much cheaper than engines & trans !!!!!!!!!

ps: i am sure ppl on here will not agree about that last bit, but less rpm is always a good thing - unless you LIKE replacing engines !
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