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Old 08-26-2013, 12:33 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Hey gang,

Well I purchased a 1977 12 seat Dodge Sportsman the other day. You could say it was an impulse buy. We have been talking about getting a larger vehicle for years and I finally decided the time was right. The van had been sitting in a barn for over 12 years. It was a single owner van with only 56K miles on the drivetrain. I got it for $750 which is not bad considering the Dana 60 rear end can often fetch a higher price than that!

So after a solid hour playing with the carb my friend and I got the fuel up the lines and into the engine. Once we got it there the engine idled as if it was new off the lot. We opened up the valve cover to peer into the engine and much to our astonishment the engine was cleaner than just about any used engine we had ever seen.

So now that I got this 4,600lb beast what the heck am I gonna do with it?

Although this is not my ideal RV candidate it would make a solid family hauler for extended road trips. I have a good sized family and we often go camping so in this sense it makes for a great vehicle for my family needs. I did a little research and did come across several Sportsman RV converts so the RV possibility is there if desired. However the more I look at it the more I envision something completely different.

I tend to think the Sportsman makes a much better candidate for a modern streamliner than an RV! The thought of creating a modern streamliner with the ability to seat 12 comfortably is quite enticing to say the least.

The first modifications will most likely be an engine and transmission swap.

The stock engine is a 360 V8 with an A-727 3 speed transmission. This combo with the Dana 60 rear end nets a combined 12mpg!

If it was you what would be your engine and transmission swap choice for the Sportsman?

GH :-)

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Old 08-26-2013, 03:01 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenHornet View Post
If it was you what would be your engine and transmission swap choice for the Sportsman?
I'd probably get some.. guess what.. 4-cylinder turbodiesel

Either the Cummins 4BT or some Japanese one such as the Isuzu 4BD1-T, altough Hino also had some interesting engines into its cabovers. Regarding the transmission, I would probably not disconsider a manual 5-speed, probably an NV4500 if I couldn't get a ZF.
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:35 AM   #23 (permalink)
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JB3 is finishing up his diesel chevy Astro conversion. So far he's showing 7-10 mpg increase over what the gas v6 would get.
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:12 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Hey CR,

The 4BT Cummings would be interesting and keep it inline with Dodge fans. Being that its mechanical a swap would be a piece of cake so to speak. I think it weighs close to the 360 V8 but offers much more low end torque. I know the Dana 60 rear end would not have an issue with it. I would just need to find a suitable transmission. Peaking around the net a bit I found several in the 1,700-2,200 price range so not to bad on the wallet either. I think realistic fuel economy with this option would be somewhere around 28-30mpg if the aero was on point and the correct gearing is chosen. Not bad for a 1 ton 12 passenger van. I think my only complaint with the 4BT and this is common is the heavy vibration at idle these engines exhibit. Other than that I could definitely see a 4BT in the Sportsman Van.

GH
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:26 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Here are some Van Streamliner pics I ran across while surfing the net for body style ideas!
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:39 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasen View Post
JB3 is finishing up his diesel chevy Astro conversion. So far he's showing 7-10 mpg increase over what the gas v6 would get.
Hey Jasen,

I checked out JB3 Astro Van project and I think its great. I especially like the fact he utilized a manual T5 transmission with the Mercedes engine. I am a big fan of these transmissions and will utilize them in my TIGON hybrid car projects. With some tweaks he should be able to get over 30mpg soon. Thanks for introducing me to his project.

GH
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Old 08-26-2013, 11:01 PM   #27 (permalink)
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I wish there were a 2BT or 3BT cummins motor available in the states...

Has anyone ever though about chopping the top of their van and sloping it down to sort of boat-tail? I'd bet that one of the already-efficient sprinters would see a few more mpg by tapering the top down by a couple ft to the back. Not to mention wheel covers and underbody stuff.
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Old 08-26-2013, 11:21 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Yes as a matter of fact and that was one of the main reasons I chose the Dodge Sportsman. It is a body over frame design as such lends itself nicely to body modifications. Many different RV builds were designed off this chassis so lots can be modified here.

There is a smaller Cummings 4BT a little less known than the 3.9L it is the 3.3L. They are also making a 2.8L currently which is supposed to go in light duty trucks.
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Old 08-26-2013, 11:35 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a8ksh4 View Post
I wish there were a 2BT or 3BT cummins motor available in the states...

Has anyone ever though about chopping the top of their van and sloping it down to sort of boat-tail? I'd bet that one of the already-efficient sprinters would see a few more mpg by tapering the top down by a couple ft to the back. Not to mention wheel covers and underbody stuff.
I think a modern streamliner would be cool with a diesel micro hybrid drivetrain. Although I really want to put a Cummings in the Van I have all ready designed up a micro hybrid based 1.9L TDI for the TIGON project. If I modified the engine with a hybrid VNT turbo and some other mods I could easily surpass the stock 360 V8 torque and horsepower ratings. This engine design would easily push me over 30mpg and give me all the torque I would need for passenger and light duty towing scenarios. The engine also weighs much less at around 420lbs compared to the 750lbs Cummings 4BT. I could also use the T5 transmission which I have all ready and have planned to use with various TIGON models. The more I think about it the more I am tempted! With the TDI and T5 I could probably get the Van curb weight under 4,000lbs which would greatly enhance performance and keep it more inline with what the VW engine is more used to pushing around. It is hard to imagine a 12 passenger vehicle under 4,000lbs but it could be done with a composite shell and careful major component selections.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:28 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Last year I went to a New Holland tractors dealer and saw an engine that is basically a 3-cylinder version of the Cummins 4BT. Wouldn't be my choice for a Sportsman, but if it wasn't so high it could fit an Asian forward-control van nicely...


Quote:
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There is a smaller Cummings 4BT a little less known than the 3.9L it is the 3.3L. They are also making a 2.8L currently which is supposed to go in light duty trucks.
The B3.3 is actually a Komatsu engine, while both the B3.9 (4BT) and the ISF2.8 are real Cummins-designed engines. The B-series was co-developed with Case for use in agricultural machinery, while the F-series (both the high-speed 2.8L and the low-speed 3.8L) were co-developed with Foton and are made in China. The ISF2.8 can lead to a decent performance as much as a gasser V6 would, while the ISF3.8 is a better replacement for a V8 gasser. It's also lighter than a B-series.

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