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Old 11-18-2009, 07:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
EcoModding Apprentice
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Austin tx
Posts: 114

vandle - '93 Ford E-350 Xlt
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hypermile homestead vehicle

Hi, first post, but have lurked for a while. I feel there is a need for a super efficient "real" 4x4 for people living off the grid on a budget, a.k.a. out in the boonies where the land is cheaper. I live in the largest city in Oregon and my wife and I own 12 acres 300 miles away and 5000ft up. It is accessable to commuter cars about 3.5 months of the year, the months which I am busiest with the big garden here in the city. 2 mountain passes have to be traversed, and the last 2 miles are snotty mud and slush, or deep snow. A hybrid 4x4 like a subaru just can't do it. I built an xfi with a full spandex boat tail stinger out the back like they put on recumbent bicycles now, custom hubcaps made by a friend who makes middle age armor as a hobby, and got low 70mpg's from it. I'm a great scounger, I swapped a $300 torch set for a running xfi with cosmetic front end damage. I wan't to do the same thing but be able to get to my land.

The goal, vehicle must be able to haul me, the missus, 1xst. bernard mutt, and ultralight backpacking gear(we pack light when we camp) out to the land
or take me, the fourlegged companion, and a load of dumpstered building materials out to the land.

I have not bought my base vehicle yet, because I wanted to have some smart folks like yourselves look over my fiendish plan first. I'll give point by point my mods and reasons, and any questions for those with more engineering experience than me.

Okay, perameters. 300miles there, 300 back. Last 2 miles in are aweful and beyond an old early 80's tercel 4x4 wagons ability to cope (too bad, they get 32mpg highway with 4x4!) It's so bad that even a stock "real" 4x4 truck without locked differentials can't do it. I'm not lazy, I backpack for fun and have walked that 2 miles hauling literally 600lbs in one day. But I don't trust the redneck tweekers to leave my vehicle alone if I left it out at the road, and I can build more on the cabin if I'm not busy hauling stuff in. Cheaper is better on the build, we are talking real economy hear, not just gas economy. Want economy and 4x4ability mods to not detract from each other if possible. must be smogable in portland OR, at least for now.

Here's the prototype idea

Suzuki Samurai, pre-1989 old fashioned gov mpg rating ( I find them closer to my light foot driving style than the new) of 29mpg highway. post 89 drops several mpg's.

It's a real 4x4, solid axel, lots of aftermaket parts that because of the low power 1.3 liter engine(same as the 4cyl geo) are cheap, they don't have to be as burly as for a big old v8.

Get's great mpg for class with truly terrible aerodynamics(means room for improvement)

It weighs 200lbs more than a geo metro, many owners talk about it floating over mud and snow rather than having to plow through like a larger truck jacked way up with huge tires. My gut is that huge tires are expensive and really bad for mpg, so this floating effect could be very good for my needs.

try to get a base vehicle with a low mile running gear

Pizza pan wheel covers

track lock locking differential in front. It is my understanding that in the front with the manual hubs unlocked this should not adversely affect hwy mpg at all while greatly improving my ability to get through the muck

full aftermarket exhaust aimed at torq improvement to delay downshifting

get a convertable model for weight savings over hard. Stage one mod get a "fast back" softop, a store bought part that looks surprising like some of the softop pickup bed mods on this sight. Stage two mod is to fold windshield down remove passenger seat, cut some doars in half from the wrecking yard, gangster my seat back a bit, and build a kind of toneau cover that goes from the front to the back of the vehicle with a little indie 500 hole for my head/seatback and stubby shelby cobra style driver only rollbar.

For 100 bucks I can put what's called a spool in the back, it essentially locks the rear differential all the time, I can't say good enough things about them off road, my question for the engineering types out there is, what do they do to mostly strait hwy mpg's?

front differential protector that is stronger and streamlined

grill hole delete whatever temp it will tolerate it at.

spare tire move o interior. If I have the volume I need.

some company makes aftermarket fender flares that are much smoother than factory, haven't been able to track them down yet, only scene theme in a picture.

vacuum guage, I own a scan gauge, but the samurai's that get the good mpg's are carbed.

aggressive tire chains to help make up for staying little with the tires.

some sort of removable cloth "boat tail" or "stinger" out the back, did this with my xfi with great results, built it in a day, and had it mount to a trailer hitch bikerack so it took 2 seconds to remove.

super bright headlights. If you pick right they draw the same watts but if I get into the land late friday night, good lights make trying to 4x4 in the dark a lot more fun :-)

Poly gas tank. lighter than stock. 150% stock capacity. hangs down .5 inches lower than stock, but has a smooth skid guard on it that is cleaner to the air than factory. Another engineering question, stock is 10 gal, poly is 15 gal, does the decrease in stops and starts for gas counter act the extra weight of the 5 gal of fuel, or should I keep it less than full except when venturing far off the beaten path?

skid guard. A company makes one that covers like 40% of the bottom in one smooth sheet of metal. Adds weight, but protects expensive stuff and smooths things up. One article said that if the bottom is smooth, higher off the road is more efficient. Don't have the math yet to know, but since I have to be up a bit for off road reasons, smooth would be better.

Rear seat delete. it's heavy, none of my friends are small enough to fit in it, not even my dog.

basic tuneup stuff. make sure everything is running tip top, so I have a chance of breaking factory mpg claims.

Mud terrain tires with the stock factory tire size, (may have to go a little bigger if I can't get in with them.) try to find which tire/wheel option is lightest

weigh front seats and see if one of the plastic racing seats is lighter.

carpet delete for roll in bedliner. have to do some calculations on weight first, but I know bedliner is lighter than wet carpet :-)

rock my ipod knockoff. delete factory radio and antena. weight and wind resistance.

make sure it dosen't have power steering.

bumpers. weld up some bumpers that flow better but protect better too.

Come-along instead of winch and big alternator and second battery.

Dynamic bead tire balancers. Suposed to work better for big 4x4 tires, and you don't have external lead weights to get torn off in the mud.

led lights to draw less from the alternator? haven't looked at the numbers, just brainstorming here. more waterproof though too.

Well that's what i've come up with in the last 2 weeks I've been thinking about this. Let me know what you think. I know you guys will come up with some stuff I have missed. I know those little metros are the best for highway flyin', but I think that this project could fill an important role as well.

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winkosmosis (11-23-2009)