Chevy 454 belt problem?

Discussion in 'General RVing' started by zigzagrv, Jul 5, 2004.

  1. zigzagrv

    zigzagrv New Member

    I have a 1985 Winnebago with 56,000 miles on it with a 454 engine. The belt that runs the alternator and air/smog pump keeps wearing out and breaking after only 500-1000 miles. I have replaced the alternator and air pump, checked pulley alignment, and have used two different brand belts with no improvement. I check/adjust belt tension regularly, but the belt squeal keeps getting worse and worse till it finally breaks. I've changed it so often, I can change the belt in 20-30 minutes start to finish, but it's not fun. :( Would appreciate any suggestions and help.
  2. Ed H.

    Ed H. New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    I had this problem on a 350 and it turned out to be the water pump. The bearing was gone and it caused the pulley to run in a different plane than it should have.
  3. zigzagrv

    zigzagrv New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    Thanks Ed, you got me thinking. I just returned from a trip last week and I noticed the clutched fan seemed to be louder when it ran. In fact, up till then, I don't recall really being able to hear it. I just attributed it to the heat at the time. It was very warm. I guess a bad wp bearing would cause that too. I'll definitely check it out before my next trip. Thanks again.

  4. fredman

    fredman New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    Let us know if that was it.
  5. zigzagrv

    zigzagrv New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    The water pump bearing is DEFINITELY bad. :( There is alot of movement on the shaft. I hadn't noticed it before when changing the alternator belt because the a/c belt had tension on the wp pulley.

    I'm accepting any volunteers to help replace it. ;) It looks like it's going to be a bear to change the water pump.
  6. habu72

    habu72 New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?


    My name is John Martin. I live in Harahan, La just outside of New Orleans. I just read the messages concerning the Chevy 454 water pump-alternator belt. I thought I was alone that had troubles with this. I have a 1987 Holiday Rambler RV with 102,000 miles that I purchased 7 years ago with 50,000 miles. It has the 454 engine and in the 7 years it has broken 7 or 8 belts, otherwise it has ben a very good performing engine. I have replaced both the alternator and the water pump during this period. It is again doing its bad thing. I have been unable to find anyone that has any clue what to do to solve this recurring problem. It has broken both on the road and near home. Belt alignment has been checked repeatedly and except for one time when the alternator froze and one time when the water pump just came apart, no one has been able to find a specific cause. If anyone has any suggestions , I would be very greatful.

    Thanks, ---- John
  7. zigzagrv

    zigzagrv New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    Hi John. Before I got around to changing the water pump, I also had changed the air/smog pump. Though that was not the problem on mine, perhaps that's your problem. The air pump turned freely when cold, but was told that they sometimes bind up when under operating temperatures. Another possibility is the clutched fan going bad, which will prematurely take out the water pump. Good luck, and let us know if you find the problem.

  8. habu72

    habu72 New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?


    Thanks for the fast reply. I know you aren't supposed to do this but I do not use the air pump. The belt doesn't include that pulley. I know it is supposed to reduce CO by adding unused O2 to the exhaust but I was struggling to gain a bit of both torque and HP plus improving mileage; so I removed the air pump, added a ram air intake, increased the exhaust to dual 3 inch pipes with straight through perforated mufflers, and changed the air filter from paper to oil coated cloth. Plus I added a gear splitter that produces 22% increase in drive shaft RPM from the transmission output. I have the 3 speed automatic transmission that does not lock up at drive speed so my gas mileage was very poor, around 4.5 to 5.5 MPG before the changes while pulling a 4,500 lb. trailer load. I had to floor the accellerator to get about 62 MPH on flat road and slowed down to 45 or less on hills. On a 7 % grade, I had a severe problem, often having to shift to first.

    Since the changes I cruise at 64 MPH at 2500 RPM pulling the same load on flat road. Climbing hills I have gone up a 6% straight road grade at 70 MPH just to test the operation of the completed work. Mileage averages between 6.5 and 7.0MPG I use 3000 RPM to climb steep hills, in the Rockies, and select the gear with the splitter on or off to give me the speed I want. I never get the accelerator anywhere near the floor. There is much power to spare. I can go wherever I want. In the rockies I have to back off to keep speed down to a safe level. Power is not a problem any more.

    I have had overheating problems which I thought could be a resule of these changes because the engine RPM and the water pump as well are turning 22% slower than the were before the changes for any given speed with the splitter engaged, which isalmost all the time. But, I have been told by both Gear Splitter and Banks that there should be no overheating problem. I am not using the Banks exhaust system , only the intake. I had belt breaks both before the changes and after. These changes didn't seem to make any differnce in that respect.

    Maybe I can reconnect the air pump. It seems that I have power to spare but I hate to fool with something that works so well.

  9. zigzagrv

    zigzagrv New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    John, I have a 1985 30' Winnebago with 56k miles and the engine is completely stock as is the 3 speed tranny. First, let me say, I am NOT a fan of GM products. The coach on this MH was too good to pass up even with a GM chassis. Except for the belt problems I had, (still not convinced it's fixed...haven't taken it out very much since I replaced the wp)I don't have any problems with power. I easily cruise at 65 mph getting 6 mpg, and at 60 I get 7 mpg. I'm not towing anything, but I have PLENTY of power to spare. I have a XLT Ford van with a 351 Windsor, and the MH is similar in power and pickup once I get over 35-40 mph. There was a time I might have gone to the trouble you have for more power ;) , but it's not my thing anymore. Took me years to get all the grease out from under my fingernails. :laugh:

    The only other thing I could think of is the double sheave pulley on the waterpump being bent or warped. It's pressed metal and not very stout. I have seen these crack around the mounting holes on other GM products of this vintage. I checked mine when I had it out and it seemed ok.

    Again, Good Luck and keep us informed.

  10. keetch

    keetch New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    Hi, I'm new to this forum, but, I have an '84 Allegro 27' with a GM 454 (chevy P30)--two weeks ago, I got stuck in Orlando FL, in the middle of Hurricane Charley, when the AC belt broke- When the AC belt broke, it took out the Hydroboost belt, (same belt?) and, I lost steering and brakes.. When I bought the thing, the AC compresasor wiring was disconnected, -I connected it back up, then the AC belt started to squeal, and, it lasted about 50 miles before it broke..Cost me $350 to get back home (70 miles) (roadside service)when the belts fell off the pulleys again.. Apparently, the former owner (deceased) had tensioned the AC compressor with tie-wraps..I have no idea what the correct bracket looks like or where to get one.. What I need to know is does anyone have a clue as to why the belts only last for a few miles?--I formerly owned a Winnebago (83) with the same engine, and, had no problems like this..Can someone tell me the correct part number for the engine belts?-The Water pump seems to be O.K., as does the Hydro pump, the AC works O.K. but, throws the belts off, (poss. due to the bracket missing)-- Junk Yard bracket? Just had a heart attack, so, I couldn't do it myself, I've spent literally thousands to fix this thing, and, I still can't leave the driveway..Wife is getting REALLY pissy.. Any ideas?? (regarding the RV!) ---Thanks in advance--
  11. zigzagrv

    zigzagrv New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    Keetch, sorry to hear about all your belt problems. I have a '85 winnie with the 454, so I would think they are pretty much the same. Soon as I get a chance, I'll give you some belt numbers. There is a separate Hydroboost belt, so I think the A/C belt probably took out the Hydroboost belt. For now, I would leave the A/C belt off, cause it sounds like pulley alignment might be the reason for destroying the belt. I'll get back to you soon as I can.

  12. zigzagrv

    zigzagrv New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    Keetch, I sent you a pm with the belt numbers.

  13. keetch

    keetch New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    zigzagrv; Thanks for the info, I have the belts I purch'ed with your info--still dodging the hurricanes here so, I have not yet put them on, I'm not entirely sure I can install them.. Had open heart surgery in March (suddenly) and, they cut you up through the breastbone to do it, I'm held together with a couple screws right now, you can picture the position you have to be in to install belts,-laying down on top of the air cleaner, right on the "sore spot" other than that; piece of cake.. I might add; that going over some past posts, I have no problem as well with power--This thing has the 454, is an '84 27 ft. with 40K miles on it..I had new exhausts put on, with headers, and straight-thru mufflers, I believe that I can do about 62 at 2500 rpm, right in there, power is not a problem, I believe it will pick up about as fast as my '99 Ranger PU with the V6 in it--Thanks/info
  14. zigzagrv

    zigzagrv New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    Keetch, good luck dodging hurricanes. I lived down your way many years ago and I don't miss it. ;) Was down there last November, but was very nice then.

    Anyway, what I do is put a pillow or two on top of the air cleaner to soften the pressure, perhaps that will help you. Hopefully, it won't take too long. I got real good at it from practice. ;)

    Good Luck

  15. keetch

    keetch New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    I guess my main problem now, is to find out how the belts are positioned--I called Tiffin MH in Ala. (Allegro) and, talked to the mechanic there,-he says he has no info on how to string the belts on a '84..I just found out today that the "Roadside Service" guy had the belts on wrong,, that's why he told me to "take it easy" and, I'd "probably get home" He must have found some belts that just fit somehow, and strung them on..I tried putting what I thought is the right belts on, and they don't fit, the way he had them..I went to the local library this afternoon, and, no dice there either..I saw another guy at the Garage with an '84 Allegro--had I known, I would have made a sketch of the belts, too late now..
    The layout is like this; looking at the engine from the front; AC compressor on upper right, Hydro-boost pump below at lower right, Alternator at upper left, and, of course Water pump in the center, crankshaft pulley below. There are three pulleys on the crankshaft, larger in the rear (I think) smaller (2) in front.. two pulleys on everything else but the Alternator.. I will pay mailing if someone can sketch the same layout, or maybe where to find a picture??--Thanks in advance
  16. zigzagrv

    zigzagrv New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    Keetch, let me give it a try. The first belt to go on is the belt for the Hydroboost, which should have two grooves. The belt goes on the innermost (closest to the engine) groove on both the crank pulley and Hydroboost pulley. The next belt goes from the middle groove on the crank pully, around the outer groove on the Hydroboost, around the A/C pulley, around the innermost groove on the water pump pulley. The last belt to go on goes around the outermost pulley on the crank, the outermost pulley on the water pump, around the Alternator, and this is where we might differ. I have an Air Pump on my 85, so the belt goes around that also. If you don't have an Air Pump, then the belt p/n 15495 will be too long. Can only guess what length that shoud be.

    Hope this helps.....Good Luck!

  17. RRitenour

    RRitenour New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    I too had heart surgery (quad) and definitely recommend you NOT try to replace those belts yourself yet. I did it about three years afterwards and it put lots of stress on the chest cavity. It's not only the positioning that's uncomfortable, it's the pulling also.

    Belt failure is a common problem w/454's. It is usually due to a bearing straining or complete bearing seizure. This causes pulley wobble, seizure and/or misalignment, either throwing or breaking your belts. Some bearings don't restrain or seize until they are warmed up or hot, so they are hard to identify. Most of the time it's the water pump pulley bearing. If your water pump has over 40K miles, replace it w/OEM. If you can't find the problem easily, I'd go to Napa and buy a lazer remote temp sensor ($80) and shoot each of the pulleys near the shaft when warmed up to find if one is heating up excessively. Also, a mechanics stethoscope is good for listening for the grinding sounds.

    I do have the pulley diagrams if you want them. To get to the belts easier, you should pull the doghouse, +50 #'s and awkward to move out of the way. Expect 4 hours to do the total job.

    Replace w/only OEM, NAPA or Gates hoses.

    Also, if you are not handy w/a wrench and have good tools have a competent mechanic do it for you. 35 years of RV mechanical experience talking to you here.

    Also, I have a list of resources where you can get all tha manuals you need for your chassis, coach and all assessories.

  18. Spender

    Spender New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    Since replacing all belts on my '87 GMC 454 I have had a constant squeal that belt dressing won't fix. I have retensioned the belts probably 10 times. After 1,000 miles I noticed the belt for the hydroboost pump is rubbing on the pulley directly above it. Could the parts place have sold me a belt that's SLIGHTLY too long? I think I will get the next shorter size to change the geometry and prevent the binding. Any thoughts here? THANKS
  19. zigzagrv

    zigzagrv New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    @Russ. I would like to get the chassis manuals for my '85 Winnebago. Would it be possible to post your resources? I'm sure those of us with older MH's would appreciate it.....Thanks

    @Spender. I would go ahead and get a shorter belt, myabe .5 inches shorter, just as long as it you can adjust the other belt that goes around the Hydroboost.

  20. RRitenour

    RRitenour New Member

    Chevy 454 belt problem?

    The list below covers all different types of RV related manuals you may need. Please peruse to find the sites applicable to your specific requirements.

    You should try to obtain the specific manual for each appliance. Go to their website, find their phone and/or address, contact them for manuals. Generally, the actual coach owner’s manual is not that helpful.

    For the motorcoach, you will have better luck finding manuals for the chassis model, (Ex: Chevy P-30) rather than the RV name, (Ex:pace Arrow).

    For the future benefit of other requesters, please let me know whether or nor this list helped you. If you find other resources for manuals I don’t have listed, please forward them to me so I can pass them on.

    Please contact me @ Russ748@Adelphia.Net if I may be of further assistance on any other RV resources or issues.

    Best Regards,

    Russ Ritenour

    General Applications - Buy Trailer Life Repair and Maintenance Manual sold VIA RVADVICE.Com. (A very good generic resource)

    E-Bay Key in RV manual in the search box, all categories.

    Motorhome Books-

    Call the manufacturer if still in business.
    Q:How do I obtain a Fleetwood Owner’s Manual and Chassis Manual for my motor home?
    A:You can obtain a Fleetwood Owner’s Manual by sending a check or money order for $8.00 to the address listed below. If you require a chassis manual, you can contact the chassis manufacturer directly.

    Fleetwood Service & Training Center
    PO BOX 1007
    Decatur, IN 46733
    800-325-6385 x5770
    Ph: 260-724-5770
    Also try 1800-444-4905
    Q:How do I obtain a schematic or service manual for my Fleetwood motor home?
    A: go to : Please enter your 11 digit serial number above and click "Ask Us". Enter the appropriate information and your request for a schematic in the question box, and we will send you an electrical or plumbing schematic accordingly. However, Fleetwood does not publish a service manual; we recommend that you contact your authorized Fleetwood dealer.

    I. Service Manuals
    Discontinued Brands-

    All RV’s


    A. RV Chassis-

    1. Find auto repair shops or auto repair manuals - World's Large...

    Helm Inc.Com (Ford & Chevy)
    Helm Publication Division
    14310 Hamilton Avenue
    Highland Park, Mi 48203
    (800) 782-4356
    (A great Resource)

    P.O. BOX 29
    MARSHALL, MI 49068
    PHONE 616-781-9068

    RV parts, manuals, surplus and salvage locations
    674 E. Highway 30 Mechanicsville, IA 52306 Phone: (800) 938 4936 Email : Buy, sell, trade, rebuild all parts for Vixen motorhomes ......
    Hard to find and obsolete RV parts & manuals; surplus and salvage locations.

    Manuals for Motorhomes Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels
    Sources for old RV owners, service & repair manuals

    B. RV refrigerators Service Manuals
    B.1. Non-Specific Manufacturers-

    appliance repair manuals ONLINE for do it yourselfers
    Online appliance repair manuals written ESPECIALLY for do-it-yourselfers, appliance parts, HONEST appliance repairmen, and other resources for home appliance repairs
    B.2. Specific Manufacturers-

    RV refrigerators Norcold manuals
    Sells rebuilt, gas, RV and cabin refrigerators, and hard-to-get Dometic, Norcold and Sibir RV refrigerator parts. Repairs Dometic, Norcold and selected other propane, RV refrigeration and cooling units. Located in Vallejo.


    C. RV. Generators--;jsessionid=CRPYRSMPWRWJICTFJMXSFEQ

    10191 Government Way
    Hayden, ID 83835
    Phone: 208 772-6581
    Email :
    A supply of new and obsolete Onan generator and engine parts, as well as manuals.

    D. RV's General-

    2737 W Lincoln
    Phoenix, AZ 85009
    Phone: 877 824 8242 or 602 272 0301
    New and used plumbing, cooling, lighting, appliances, windows, doors, holding
    anks, hubs,
    rotors, axles, running gears and rear ends. Vast inventory, will ship nationwide

    Many manuals for all types RV’s

    Manuals - Service, Repair and Sales
    Links to factory original and aftermarket service, repair and sales manuals.

    13906 W. Colonial Drive
    Winter Garden, FL 34787
    Phone: 800 654 8475 or 407 656 6444
    Email :
    Three locations with more than 1 million dollars in parts inventory. E-mail technical assistance online by RVIA-certified technicians. Hundreds of appliance manuals and service prints available.
    Coachmen dealer for more than 25 years

    Lloyd's Automobile Literature:Illustrated automotive online store for
    Illustrated automotive online store for truck and automobile literature and manuals, including shop or service manuals, parts books, owners manuals, sales brochures and other automotive ...

    Manuals for Motorhomes Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels
    Sources for old RV owners, service & repair manuals

    232 Britannia Road W
    Goderich, ON N7A2B9
    Phone: 519-524-5821
    (ask for Ken or Sylvia). Huge stock of antique manuals, original auto and truck literature, pre-war from 1902 and post-war to the late 1980s, and brochures for long-obsolete models. Reasonable prices and Visa accepted. Write with specific request and no need to stamp your return envelop
    RV.NET :: Serving Enthusiasts of the Open Road
    The Web's premier online RV network, with links to the Good Sam Club, Trailer Life, Woodalls, Camping World, RV Buyers Guide and other RV-related Sites manu

    RV's and Motor Homes - Books and Manuals from 451 Books
    RV Books and Motorhome Manuals from 451 Auto Books online

    Scavenger Website
    The RVers Corner - Maintenance and Repair Articles
    How-to-do-it-yourself RV maintenance and repair by an RV Technician.

    RV Owners Clubs and Associations - page 2 of 2
    Organizations and clubs which cater to owners of particular makes of RVs.

    E. RV's Specific
    Q: I need an owners and service manual for my Airstream. Where can I get one?
    A: The first owners manuals were published in 1964. Prior to that, the owner received a brown envelope containing parts lists and other helpful information on the accessories in his trailer. The VAC has started making these available in the Members Archive section. A service manual with instructions for performing service operations did not exist until 1972.
    You can get photocopies of owners manual (1964+) and service manuals (1972-1986) from:

    Helen Davis Secretarial Services
    PO Box 484 Sidney, OH 45365

    Prices are about $33 and $70 respectively. After 1986 the Owners Manuals included available service information.

    FMC custom acc. and manuals
    8301 Bolsa Ave.
    (714) 897-1926
    Midway City, CA 92655
    Phone: 714 897 1926

    116 Orval Street
    Sandusky, MI 48471
    Phone: 8007202227
    Email :
    All original GMC motorhome parts and publications are distributed under license from General Motors Corporation.


    Shasta Manuals:

    RVS CORP -- Recreational Vehicle Services
    10900 Monterey Road
    Morgan Hill, CA 95037
    Phone: 800 821 2266 or 408 779 3173
    Parts available for 1973-76 FMC 2900R; all molds, tooling, dies, fixtures, large parts inventory.
    Original parts and services and large collection of service manuals owner's manuals

    FMC-Parts available include FMC custom accessories, innovations and manuals.
    Manuals for Motorhomes Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels
    Sources for old RV owners, service & repair manuals

    GMC Motorhome Related Manuals
    1976 Palm Beach TZE166V100710 Home Owner's Manuals Norcold Owner's Manual Triad-Utrad Converter Brochure Converter Service Bulletins Jabsco Macerator manual Electra Magic Toilet Manual Care and Use of Your or For coach conversions

    Recreational Vehicle Range Todd Power


    GMC Motorhome Related Manuals
    The complete owner's manual for the Norcold refrigerator Owner's Manual that came with the 1976 Palm Beach. Plus the pages from the Motorhome Manual describing how to operate this appliance

    Toyota Vader Contact J74701@ SBCGLOBAL.NET

    Toyota Motorhomes

    Winnebago Motorhome Parts


    1655 E. 6th St.
    Corona, CA 91719
    Phone: (800) 458-2734
    Repair manuals, paint chips, owners manuals, sales literature.

    Dodge Manuals:
    14550 Watt Rd.
    Novelty, OH 44072
    (800) 544-3312, (216) 338-4811
    Owners manuals and shop manuals primarily for Dodge chassis motorhomes in the 1970s. Be specific when you call for info.

    PO Box 484
    Sidney, OH 44536
    Private individual has copies of owners manuals and shop manuals for models
    going back to mid-1960s and a few prior. Most are $35, plus postage.

    CAMPING WORLD - Hard to Find Parts Catalog, (800) 626-5944.

    Sportscoach page... has obsolete manuals available.

    F. 5th Wheel & Trailers

    Heart Inverter-Xantrex Technology at 360-435-8826

    Websites to post your request for help finding a manual

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