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Old 02-07-2013, 11:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hello. Aero camper van

I am the new owner of a 1995 Dodge Ram conversion van. This is the first car I have ever bought as I have always relied on bikes to get around (and borrowing my wife's car... but I didn't BUY it) Anyway, we got this van so we can take long roadtrips in style. And I got it so I have an outlet for my need to fabricate cool stuff! I am looking forward to using the resources of this forum to help me as I modify this rig into a semi-self-sufficient aero life-pod.

Ideas I am especially keen about:

What are the highest yield changes I should make to start? (Aero vs. engine mod vs. driving habits)

For aero, what is highest yield? (belly pan vs. boat tail vs. wheel covers vs...)

For drivetrain (gas Chrysler 5.2l V8, fuel injection), what is highest yield? I have very little knowledge when it comes to engine mod.)

I just wanted to say and if anyone knows of threads relating to van modding or any other great threads/projects please point me there. In the meantime I'll be browsing the past...


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Old 02-07-2013, 11:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Slow is the word. Even if it were to be made "sleek", it has great frontal area.

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Old 02-07-2013, 11:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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All I can say is; do a lot of reading. You have great questions and there's a wealth of information to answer them far beyond what you had considered.
Welcome to the forums!

EDIT: Driving style is universally considered the biggest "mod" you can make to your vehicle. As Frank said, slower is better. With driving style alone (no engine-off coasting, mind you) I've never been within 5 MPG of my EPA estimate. Driving style goes a long way.

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Last edited by Flakbadger; 02-07-2013 at 11:27 PM..
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by rambeau View Post
For drivetrain (gas Chrysler 5.2l V8, fuel injection), what is highest yield? I have very little knowledge when it comes to engine mod.)
Camshaft profiling, EFI mapping, ignition timing, among other factors, have effects over the mileage, and matching it to an optimized gearing also returns some advantages. BTW have you never considered a Diesel engine swap?
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I cant say first hand on Mopar v8s but a comparable year Chev or GMC with a tbi 5.7 can range from a best of around 11 or 12 highway mpg (as my old van did) up to 17 or 18. I know of a gentlemen who claims 19-20 with his '93 g20 Chev conversion van. Thats just for comparison sake.

I guess I looked at it this way, my van wasn't my daily driver, but when I did drive it the money for fuel was well worth it considering the convenience that big van was to me. I could haul lots of cargo and/or people and tow. You can camp in them, live in them, and do lots of other things in them lol. My old full size van was more versatile than any car, including my old pick-up, I've ever had. I do miss it. I never did any ecomods to mine, just kept it in a good state of tune, and drove reasonable with it and I still only got 11 or 12 mpg. The original owner, whom I bought it from, only got 12-13 best ever and that was on a long flat road trip when the van was much newer.
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Old 03-30-2013, 12:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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We have a 1998 Dodge 1500 cargo van in our rental fleet with a 5.2L in it. Not really comparable for MPGs as ours is a big empty box half the time, where as yours is always full of all the furniture/appliances etc. The injected 5.2L is decent in reliability, but the first thing I would suggest doing is finding out what rear axle ratio is in your van. If it will only be used for highway trekking, then depending on what ratio you have now, it may be worth looking into changing it for something better suited to highway driving. Unfortunately the rear differentials in these trucks are prone to wearing out bearings, so if yours is already noisy, having the ring and pinion changed while the diff is apart for bearing replacement anyway would save you some cost on labor.

"Don't look for one place to lose 100 pounds, look for 1600 places to lose an ounce." - Tony DeFeo
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