Tropical T351 Not what expected engine

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


Jun 12, 2005
Just purchased a Tropical T351. For the entire week of pre contract on this motorhome it was discussed the 350 Cat diesel that was in the coach. During this process of negotiating and dealing with the salesman, he gave me a brochure on the unit, marked on the brochure as a T350, and the brochure had only one engine in the specs, that was a Cat 350 HP.? I talked of it several times, but I cannot swear the salesman actually said it was a 350.? I mentioned it compared to the 300 HP in some motorhomes, the difference in power, etc. and he never corrected me that it was a 300. All through the week and all through the hour of contract signing I was completely sure of it being a 350.? I drove the unit home, and the next morning when I was taking the window sticker off, I noticed that it was listed as a 300. I was very, very disappointed.? I checked the brochure again, called Freightliner, gave the vin number, and low and behold it has a 300 for sure. Then I also, for reasons I cannot believe, I didn't see during the inspection the very large number on the back of the motorhome..."300 hp turbodiesel"? Now anyone will know from this, just how stupid and inattentive I was in this. In the excitement of getting this, I just simply somehow never noticed.? I have not a leg to stand on, it was on the sticker, and also on the unit that it was a 300. However, I had been told by a few people, (and I still do not know if it is true) but that I had 72 hours to return.? I purchased on Thurs. 3PM, and on Friday beginning at about 9AM I began calling the dealer, (who is 75 miles away) and leaving a message for a return call about the problem.? The salesman, nor the owner of the dealership would ever call back, (because I suppose that I had made the mistake of telling the person on the phone why I wanted a return call from the salesman) I again called on Saturday, with the same result of not being called back. Now it is Sunday, and if the 72 hrs thing is true, Sunday is closed.? What I would like to hear first of all...Does anyone know if I will be able to return or exchange at? this point? But, also, is there anyone who can encourage me about the 300 Cat diesel over the 350?? The price I feel was good, but maybe the 300 was the reason. Sorry, for this long one, but I am really "buyer remorsed" and would like to feel good about this whole thing. Thanks for any time from anyone.

Sorry about your dilema.

I'm not an attorney, but my course of action would be to prepare a letter detailing your dissatisfaction, find a notary public friend and have it notarized. Even if you can't get it notarized, drive to the MH dealer with a couple friends on Sunday, and post the letter in their mailslot. Almost every dealer has one; it may be a slot in the repair bay overhead door or somewhere else. Then have those friends sign an affidavit that they were there and saw you hand-deliver your letter before the 3 p.m. deadline, and that they read the contents of it and can swear to it in court if necessary. Give each of them a copy of the letter (signed by you and your wife - if any and if her signature is on any of the purchase documents. You may want to include a signed copy of the affidavit along with the letter you deliver. Make sure your friends read the letter and watch as you put the letter in the envlope, seal it, and post it at the dealership. Then find a motel and wait until Monday morning so you can be there when they open; then pursue it with the owner or sales manager directly; not just any floor salesman. IMHO the brochure with the 350 as the only option should give you pretty good leverage, as that is what you based your purchase decision on. Also, have your witness friends drive there in a car, not the MH, so there can be no question of it being "used".

Good luck, and I hope an attorney experienced in these matters will read this and offer better suggestions than mine.   
Not being a lawyer, my observation will be suspect. However, it is my impression that in some states the 72 hour rule does apply but is related to the contract. Once one has taken delivery, I think your past the point of no return.

The National RV web site does seem to confirm your story i.e. the only engine mentioned that I can see is the 350

With regard, to the 300 vs 350. The important difference is not the HP which is insignificant. HP is primarily a marketing tool and because of publics ignorance on technicals of HP vs Torque does arguably result in higher resale value for higher HP rated vehicles other things being equal.The important difference will be torque rise and these will be what I would call dramatically different between a 300 and a 350 with the 350 being the "best". I make this statement with a lack of real data since I can't find a 350 curve but based upon the difference between 300 and 330 this would be a correct guess. Torque rise permits higher engine RPM under load so one can get better performance on hills, passing, etc. However, this higher torque rise will result in added strain on drive train components and thus probably result in higher RV price as chassis manufacturer would have to supply a more robust drive train, the engine will be more expensive,  etc.

Bottom line would seem to be that if you can rationalize that you paid a fair price for the vehicle as equipped you might have less remorse but might not be a totally happy camper as your expectations are not really met.

In addition to Karl's advice, I would leave the MH on their lot if today is the deadline.  If their lot is locked up, see if there is a safe parking lot adjacent.  If not, have it at the gate 6 am Monday morning before they get there.
Interesting, that this is the second time within a week one of our forum members got the wrong engine delivered.  I believe Detroit John had a similar thing happen.  I better go out and look at my engine right now.

We have to do a little more digging first. What year is your coach? A Tropical with 300hp emblazoned on the back sounds like a 2000 model, plus or minus a year or two. CAT did not make a 350 hp horsepower engine back then, possibly a 330 but most likely the 300hp was it's main engine for that chassis.

The 350hp CAT engine has just started to be built within the last year. CAT has not produced an RV 300hp engine for a couple of years.

So if you just bought a new coach, it couldn't have the 300hp engine and if you bought a used coach it couldn't have the 350hp engine.

That said, if you have the 300hp engine you are not going to lose much in performance but will gain a lot in fuel economy. The later 3126 engines (predecessor to the 350hp CAT) and the 350 are fully desmogged with the resultant loss of power and economy.
Are you sure you have a 300HP Cat and not a 300HP Cummins? THey might have changed the T351 to a Cummins since it has only 2 slides.

You may need an attorney to clairfy but I do not think SUNDAYS (and possibly Saturdays) Count in that 72 hour period.

OF course what I think and (insert menu price of a cup of coffee + Tax & TIP) will get you exactly one cup of coffee

Note: There are two ways to rate an engine,  one is horsepower at the flywheel, the other is horsepower at the ground.

I can not speak about CAT but I do know of one company that 1: Changed owners and 2: Changed from flywheel to ground

This engine, by that one simple change, went from being one of the most aneimic of it's class to one of the best(Of course if you wanted a 300 HP engine, The old owner (Allison) would have provided a smaller engine than the new owner (Penskie) That is, of course Detroit Diesel,which is now Damler Chrysler if I'm not mistaken (And I may well be)

I was told my rig (It's gas, not diesel) Came with a Ford Triton V-10, turns out it's got a GM Vortex V* 8100 (81. liter, over 300 HP 455 Ft Lbs torque) the largest Ford Triton has more HP but not more torque, and.... The Triton they were using was the smaller one (Less power, Less torque) so, I guess I can't complain... I will though, still the engines are very close and I much prefer GM to Ford
[quote author=John In Detroit
Note: There are two ways to rate an engine,  one is horsepower at the flywheel, the other is horsepower at the ground.

Not in  my diesel experieince. HP at ground couldn't be predicted unless one knew the specific vehicle it was to be installed in; it would vary by every model. No way an engine manufacturer could come up with a value. Engines are rated bare i.e. without generator, ac, etc as tested. An SAE std governs the methodology.  One does lose a considerable amount of HP by tme its measured at ground.
If I read your initial statement correctly, you looked at a brochure for a T350 but bought a T351.  In that case, nothing in the T350 brochure can be said to apply.  However, the salesman may have misrepresented the T351 as being identical to the T350, but if so, why would it have a different model number?

I suspect your T351 has a Cummins 5.9L engine,  rated at 300 HP, rather than the Cat 350 you expected.  In the past, the Cummins 5.9 has been a lower-priced engine than other, larger engines and that might indeed explain the attractive price.  On the other hand, a Cummins 5.9 300 is an excellent engine.  However, the faqct remains that it is not quite as powerful as a 350.
The old owner (Allison) would have provided a smaller engine than the new owner (Penskie) That is, of course Detroit Diesel,which is now Damler Chrysler if I'm not mistaken (And I may well be)

Allison and Detroit Diesel (DD) used to be divisions of General Motors. Allison still is. GM sold DD  to Penskie but later DD was resold andDD is now a part of the Freightliner group of Daimler-Benz-Chrysler.

The National T351 in question apparently is on a Freightliner chassis and very likely has the Cummins 5.9L, 300 HP engine. Freightliner no doubt has a menu of engines available on their chassis and National RV selected fom the Freightliner menu when they ordered the chassis for this motorhome.

The T350 and T-351 were identical in 2005 except for number of slides. The T-351 was only 2 vs 3 for T350 and other models. This resulted in increased MCC and CCC for the T351 but  all other values remained the same. The engine was a 350 CAT C-7 
Look at the engine to see if it is Cat "yeller". I believe the 300 HP Cat is 860 ft/lbs of torque while the 5.9L Cummins is 1050 or so.
Jeff /Washington said:
Look at the engine to see if it is Cat "yeller". I believe the 300 HP Cat is 860 ft/lbs of torque while the 5.9L Cummins is 1050 or so.

Only wish the ISB couold hit 1050 ;D - max is 660 @ 2400 in an RV at 300 HP :'(
Jeff /Washington said:
I believe the 300 HP Cat is 860 ft/lbs of torque while the 5.9L Cummins is 1050 or so.

It's the Cummins ISC 8.3 that has can have as much as 1050.  The ISB 5.9 is only 660.

Green - I am interested in how this was resolved ?

Was this a new MH or used and did you ever determine if it was a CAT 300HP or Cummins 5.9 and what transmission, Allison 5sp or 6sp ?

If this is a new 2005 Tropi-Cal, the "on-line" brochure clearly shows the chassis and power-train as a CAT C7/350HP, Allison 6speed on an Freighliner WC chassis.

The 2004 and 2003 "on-line" brochure shows the Tropi-Cal came with a CAT 3126E with 330HP/860Torque and an Allison 6 speed.

I just took delivery on a new G.S. pusher a few weeks ago. We almost opted for the 2005 Tropical T351 but just before we went in to negociate the deal we saw the CAT 300 sticker on the back of the coach and opted not to buy it. We were suprised and found that the T351 with the scaled back engine is a mid-year addition to the Tropical lineup which is why there is no online brochure for it. 
dwrouff - Thanks for clearing it up how a 300hp CAT replaces an advertised 350 CAT !

I wonder how the buyer resolved the issue ?
Top Bottom