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Date Posted: 11/ 12/ 03, 6:58am
I disagree strongly with Mr. McGowan's opinion, and have driven several at well over the 100,000mile mark which were healthy and a fraction of the maintenance of the DD 92-series. There are many Cat 3208 turbos out there with more than 200,000miles and lots of life left, and lots of DD 92-series engines out there that died long before 100,000miles, for the same reason being neglect.
It is my experience that the 3208 Cat does not die, it is killed. It is however unusual to find a motorhome with over 250,000miles on an original engine, Wanderlodge or not.
In addition to being more efficient and cheaper to run and maintain, the 2800rpm 3208 has a more useable power band than the 2100rpm DD engine and therefore mates well to its 5-speed automatic.
Both engines need the same type of maintenance to live long lives, it just costs much more to keep the 92-series going than it does the 3208 and I don't feel like putting that many Iraqis through college.
Having had several 3208 Cats, 210hp, 250hp, and 300hp, they are great engines for motorhome use and will last hundreds of thousands if properly maintained. They should be driven regularly as should any engine, the oil and coolant must be properly maintained, and a diesel can not be driven without risking damage if it has a problem with oil, coolant, fuel, etc.
The 3208 can easily be rebuilt, main and rod bearings can be replaced without removing the engine and parts are around $250 from Caterpillar. Cylinder damage is an out-of-frame job though and sleeves are available, the more economic repair if you damage a cylinder however is to buy a remanufactured engine once the old engine is out.
The main killers of either engine would be:
Insufficient coolant or improper coolant (overheating, cavitation pitting, or corrosion) including running with a burst hose.
Running with a bad injector: Unlike the DD engine, the 3208 can run with one "dry" cylinder without damage, but an overfueling injector will overheat a cylinder in either engine and eventually destroy the piston/cylinder.
Abuse: Turning up the governor to overspin, turning up the rack to overfuel, or general hard-running when cold and lugging will certainly also shorten the life.
Preventative maintenance in a diesel includes periodic valve adjustments, a good time to have the injectors checked, have the timing and governor settings checked, and if smoke or low power is a problem having the rack set is also a good idea. I also believe in periodic oil analyses, the trend from these analyses will help to predict future maintenance.
On the wanderlodge.org website with about 800 members at the time, we did a survey into how many owners had suffered catastrophic failures of the 3208. We had around a dozen failures reported, the most common being fuel system problems in coaches which were left un-used for long periods (years in some cases).
Feel free to contact the owners on the wanderlodge.org website with the same question, we are almost 1,000members strong at this point and should be able to give a statistically significant number of responses. More important will be the previous owners' maintenance and the condition of the engine.
For me, I will continue to recommend the 3208Ta powered Wanderlodges as I feel strongly that they are more economical to own and operate if you don't need the additional power of the 8V92 engine. For full-timers who want or need the additional space of the tag-axle models, the additional cost of the big DD is necessary.
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