The Makings of a Pickup Aerocap: T Vago’s Dakota

by Benjamin Jones on August 9, 2011

For the last several months, Ecomodder forum member t vago has been working on a custom aeroshell for his 2000 Dakota Quad Cab pickup truck. While many fuel conscious people will look down on pickup trucks as eminently wasteful, truck owners are a group that has uniquely embraced the spirit of ecomodding. After all, they represent one of the biggest opportunities for improvement in modern motor vehicles.

It’s true: trucks are by in large not built with fuel economy in mind. While this is lamentable, it does give ambitious ecomodders a great place to start. The most glaring deficiency of the pick up truck’s design (from a fuel economy point of view, of course), is the aerodynamics. This is where t vago’s recent efforts come in to play.

If you want the nitty gritty, you can take a look at the original thread, where t vago and others go over their plans in detail. Here we will take a brief look at the origins and progress of the project – a sneak peek into the large amount of time and effort that goes into designing and building an aeroshell from scratch.

In the next two pictures you can see t vago’s humble beginnings:

This original design was built with foam insulation and designed in Microsoft Excel (of all programs) using calculations from this paper.

Unfortunately, this original design was too weak and eventually failed, though not before t vago could quantify a 1 mpg gain.

Here are t vago’s mockups of his first, unsuccessful design, as well as his second design:



From there, in true EcoModder fashion, many other users chimed in with design advice as well as some of their own mockups. Here is just one example of the efforts put in on this project by user NeilBlanchard:

Though it took some time to get back on track, t vago was eventually able to produce a mockup of his next aeroshell:

Initial tests with the new aeroshell demonstrated significant gains over his truck’s previous configuration:

Eventually, the cap made it from foam to a more stable, stronger version as we can see here:

The cap is still in progress as just recently t vago has noticed some possible design problems:

A couple of nights ago, I was able to view the wake of my truck with the cap installed, in the rain. I noticed what appeared to be a couple of visible counter-rotating vortices right on either side of the back of the truck. From reading Hucho and looking at the pictures that Piwoslaw has in his album, it would appear the the inward-moving air stream at the sides of my aerocap are interacting with the air stream moving rearward on the sides of the truck. I think this is forming the vortices I’m seeing.

Hopefully we will be able to see a final version of this exciting project soon. In the future we will be talking more about these unique pickup-based modifications here on the EcoModder blog, so look forward to an update on t vago’s project in our next edition!

Popularity: 2% [?]

Comments on this entry are closed.