All About Cecil the Diesel!

March 5, 2016

The Old Trucker Finally has His DIESEL!2016-4-10c family fun

2016-4-4 coach at ShastaOur new-to-us ’04 Winnebago Journey 32! Ain’t she a beauty?!

I said for years that diesels just didn’t pencil out; the purchase prices seemed too high and the mileage was about the same or worse than gas coaches, and diesel often costs more than gas. But after more research I found that the shorter diesels, such as this 32 footer, powered with the 5.9 litre Cummins, can deliver around 11 MPG and have a 1000 mile range. Compared to the 7.5 – 8.5 MPG of our gas powered Big Blue and our prior coach, Ol’ Rex, the numbers began to make sense – especially with the miles I put on our rigs. A year or so ago I started looking for a 2004 to 2006 Winnebago Journey 32T. They are very hard to find. To my knowledge they have not made diesel pushers as short since 2006.

2016-4-1a Yreka Walmart morningOh, yes… Cecil the Diesel is a very serious Class A motorhome!

My search for the Journey 32 was for more than just economics. They have very adequate tank capacities as well as excellent mileage. Our ’04 carries 96 gallons of fresh water, has a 42 gallon grey tank, a 52 gallon black tank, carries 31 gallons of propane, and 90 gallons of fuel. Those are very large capacities for a 32 foot coach. I like to go for days without having to dump the waste tanks and load on fresh water, and with the new diesel I’ll be able to go even longer between dumps than we did with our gas coaches.

The interior layout of our new coach is very well executed. The living room has the table directly across from the couch as I wanted, the kitchen is huge for a 32 foot coach, and the bathroom is also large with a relatively roomy shower. The bedroom is very adequate as well, and with the slide out closet it has excellent storage. Also, the coaches of this vintage were built with carpet and fabric couches and dinettes. Today’s coaches all seem to have only hard floors and vinyl type upholstery. I much prefer the softer interiors of these older coaches.

In February of 2016 I discovered this beauty on Craigslist. She was in Visalia, about 150 miles away. I drove down with my buddy, John, and was very impressed with what I saw. She was a one owner with just 31,000 miles, less than half of what we have on Big Blue.

I put down a deposit the day I first saw her, then returned the next week with my friend John to complete the purchase. The drive home was a real eye-opener as the dash board trip computer indicated that I got 12.5 MPG! It was a rainy day and a strong south wind no doubt helped, but if that computer was right, I should get what I was expecting, about 11 MPG.

2016-4-28ee-living-area-kitchenThe interior living area and kitchen. Yep, that’s a four door fridge! 

2016-4-28ff-bedroomThe bedroom including walk around queen bed. How ’bout that ceiling fan!2016-4-28g bathThe large bathroom and roomy shower.

2016-9-12a-early-morning-dashDiesels generally come with a pretty serious instrument panel. And here’s a photo of it after installing a phone mount:

2017-4-15a Mounted cell phone.jpg

The very economical inline six cylinder Cummins 5.9 diesel, which was a must if we were to get a diesel, was standard on the 32′ Journey models. Our new coach was used as a show model before she was first sold, so she came with most of the available options. The options included full body paint, electric awning and a smaller electric awning over the door. She has the optional six speed Allison transmission, an option which included the beautiful 22.5″ aluminum wheels.  She also has the diesel generator instead of the standard propane generator. She has a large 90 gallon fuel tank, and with 11+ MPG her range is about 1000 miles. That’s nearly double our prior motor homes! She came standard with the much quieter chassis mounted central air conditioner instead of roof mounted.

When I first looked her over, she was lightly used and showed very well. She had just 31000 miles. The interior and most of the exterior looked nearly new. I checked that all the systems worked, and they did. Still, in the days after I brought her home I found a bevy of small items needing repair that took me some time to complete.

2016-4-10b water pump workCecil the Diesel was in very good condition when I bought her, but as shown here as I worked on the water pump to quiet it down a bit, there were a number of small items that needed attention. 

My first trip to my son Dean’s in Oceanside was a real eye opener as I discovered that I was able to “loop” the San Diego area – that is to say drive from home to Oceanside and back home – without having to fuel along the way, and even had a few gallons left in the tank! That is range I had only dreamed of in the past and now we have that 1000 mile range. And on that trip I calculated myself – not just the built in trip computer – that Cecil the Diesel really does deliver 11+ MPG. And that included mountain driving both ways!

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