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Daox 11-24-2012 10:43 AM

Daox's Grey 2004 Prius
4 Attachment(s)

As I mentioned in the my black 2004 Prius build thread (which met an untimely demise :(), I replace it with a grey 2004 Prius that I picked up earlier this week. Thankfully, I was able to remove a bunch of the mods I had done to the black Prius, so it'll be a process to reinstall them on the grey Prius.

To facilitate that, yesterday I headed over to BenNelson's house so we could both do some winter prep on our Prii. His build thread is here if you're interested:

We got a few things done on his vehicle, and then we moved on to mine. We started by installing an OEM Toyota block heater for the vehicle. I don't really have any good images of it because all you'd really see is me laying on the ground with my whole arm stuck up into the engine bay. I couldn't even see what I was doing, I just had to feel around to get it done. But, I've installed four of these block heaters now (one on my Matrix, one on Ben's Prius, and two on my Prii), so it wasn't a new experience.

The next thing we worked on was grill blocks. We started out with the standard pipe insulation for the upper grill block. I had never previously done this, but it turned out quite well, and looks pretty decent on a grey car.

We also made a lower grill block identical to the one I had on the black Prius. It consists of two blocks of wood what are screwed together to pinch the grill. The only difference is we zip tied the ends of the grill block to seal things up better. Details on how I mounted the original grill block can be found here:

I DEFINITELY noticed the full grill block advantage on the way home.

On the way to Ben's house there aren't any roads where the speed limit is above 50 mph. The temperature was about 30F on the way out and 28F on the way back. On the way there I struggled to maintain 160F+ coolant temp. Every time I slowed down for a town or something I had to cut the heater fan back to low or off. If I wouldn't, the coolant temp just plummets. Then, while traveling 45-50 mph I was able to kick the fan speed up to max and get heat. With this, the car would just stay warm.

On the way home, I was easily able to blast the heat during the higher speed stretches (thankfully after a chilling day of working on cars heat is much appreciated). On the coasts through town, the engine didn't cool off nearly as much, and I was able to keep the fan speed higher.

I don't have the scangauge calibrated at all yet, so I can't give any mpg numbers, but it was a noticeable improvement.

There is still a ways to go before this car is up to the black car's specs, but this was a substantial jump forward to bridge the gap. I also never had the upper grill blocked on the black car (always planned to, just never did) and I can already see the advantage it is going to give me in winter.

bennelson 11-24-2012 02:02 PM

Wow, upper grill-block looks great in those photos!

I noticed the full grill-block made a big difference this morning when I was doing a test drive.

Here's several silly photos of Tim working on the car.

I was impressed at his triple-jointed skills of getting that block heater in with the car only raised about 8 inches off the ground on a pair of ramps.

It was nice having somebody else to work with on the cars (and some heat in the garage!)

For the foam of the upper grill block, we cut pipe insulation in half the long way, and then folded THAT in half. That put the radius of the foam on the outside and the foam is always trying to UN-FOLD itself, which pulls it IN to the grill. It really seems to hold well.

MetroMPG 11-24-2012 02:32 PM

Agreed - the foam pipe insulation upper block looks really good on the grey car.

Glad to hear it made a noticeable improvement too.

Daox 11-24-2012 05:00 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Another day, another mod put back on. This morning I installed an EV switch. I have my left over one from the black car, so it was mostly just a matter of getting a connector pin out of a connector and inserting it into the right pin on a different connector. The whole install is documented very well in this pdf:

Its simply a momentary switch and some wire.

You plug one end into the proper ecu pin, and the other goes to ground. Very simple.

I've also been tinkering around with a coolant temperature hack. I had this on the black car, but it never worked right. I made a few changes and it seems to be getting closer, but its still not working right...

Daox 11-25-2012 04:40 PM

Just wanted to stuff this in the thread. Ben made a great little video of us doing the grill blocking work to the cars:

mechman600 11-26-2012 12:00 AM

Great thread.

Daox 11-26-2012 08:34 AM

Thanks mechman. Its a fresh start and a chance to rethink and improve the original mods I did to the black Prius. Stuff that worked well I'll keep and hopefully even improve. The lower grill block is a good example. I reused the main design, but some brainstorming with Ben found a way to improve it in looks and usefulness.

Speaking of improvements, I was really able to realize the benefit of the top grill block this morning on my commute to work since its a much more familiar trip. Combined with a preheat of about 2hrs with the block heater, I was up to temperature almost as fast as summer! Within one mile my coolant temp was up to about 140F, and it was 25F out this morning. In summer it is up to about 155F at that point.

Daox 11-29-2012 12:57 PM

I'm finding that I like the full grill block so much that I'd like to keep it around year round. However, running a full grill block can definitely be a problem in summer. So, I've resurected my old thread on an arduino controlled automatically actuated grill block. The old design for my Matrix didn't work out. But, I think the new design is simple to make, scalable for whatever application, and cheap to make too. I have another thread started to show the progress on it here:

Cobb 11-29-2012 01:41 PM

I cant speak for the prius, but the Insight doesnt mind having 3/4 of its grill blocked even in 100+ degree weather with ac use.

Looks like a neat idea and way to make a few bucks on the side for others. :thumbup:

Daox 11-29-2012 02:03 PM

In previous years with my black Prius I just ran a lower grill block year round. It really does block a lot of area. However, I'm now seeing the benefit of the full grill block warm up times despite the cold weather. In summer it will be nice to have even faster warm up to allow engine off operation sooner.

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