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Old 03-17-2013, 03:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hybrid RV Ideas :-)

I was just thinking about how cool it would be to build a Hybrid RV :-)

My wife is always talking about how cool it would be to have an RV. I imagine that if the day ever comes where we can actually retire we will travel the country in one.

So in a way this thread is for fun but also to get ideas so that in the event I win the lottery or do retire maybe I will get around to putting all the ideas together and build a hybrid RV.

I did some initial research a few years back and came across the Vixen RV. They had a diesel model that got upwards of 30mpg. Now for a 20+ foot RV that is pretty amazing to me. My question was always could it be improved with a better diesel of today and hybridizing it. Or could I come up with a better design like something more inline with the Dymaxion but front wheel steering!

Well if you have ever thought about hybridizing that Suburban, VW camper or RV chime in I would love to hear your ideas!

Who knows maybe we could come up with a good game plan and in time build a really cool hybrid RV!

Here are a few links to the Vixen RV for reference = Vixen Motor Home | HomePage

Welcome to Vixen 21 Motorcoach Website.

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Old 03-17-2013, 03:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The Vixen used the BMW M21 Diesel engine

Here are the specs per Wikipedia

"The BMW M21 was a 2.4 L diesel straight-6 engine.

It was introduced in 1983 with the BMW M20 design as its basis. It was available with a turbocharger. It was also the last diesel sold in the North American market in the E28 before the reintroduction of a diesel by BMW in the North American market E90 in 2009, the BMW M57
Models Engine Displacement Power Torque Redline Year
M21D24 2.4 L (2443 cc/149 in) 85 kW (114 hp) @ 4800 210 Nm (155 lbft) @ 2400 5350 1983
85 kW (114 hp) @ 4800 220 Nm (162 lbft) @ 2400 5350 1983
63 kW (84 hp) @ 4600 152 Nm (112 lbft) @ 2500 5150 1985

Applications:

1986-1992 E28 524d/524td, E34 524td
1985-1993 E30 324d/324td
1984-1985 Lincoln Continental Mark VII
1984-1985 Lincoln Continental
1986-1987 Vixen 21 TD and Vixen 21 XC
1992 UMM Alter II (Very rare UMM model, only 4 were made)"

Not sure what the curb weight of the Vixen was but it had to be pushing 5,000lbs I bet so they really had that engine loaded well which would make sense why it did so well fuel economy wise.

What modern diesel engines would be the best candidate for a swap as far as fuel economy?
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I have had this same idea. I think hybrids make all the sense in the world in an RV application because it would eliminate the need to run a noisy generator when camped and in need of AC.

If that old beemer could get the vixen to 30 mpg, imagine what the same rig with a tdi 6 speed or dsg auto could get if you put a nice boat tail on it. The vixen is very clean aerodynamically up front, but, it is flat as a board at the stern. I would guess that such a vehicle could get to 35mpg, maybe a little better if hypermiled.

Another nice one would be a newer Rialta with the fwd VW chassis. Why in the hell they never put the TDI in this ecapes me. There is also the Lesharo. It came with a renault TD, but, it was a turd in that application. Some repower them with chrysler V-6 fwd successfully.
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Old 03-17-2013, 02:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hey Pete,

Those are some good thoughts you had on the TDI and transmissions. That was one area if I recall that the Vixen was pretty weak on. The Vixens gear ratios were not very well optimized for the weight and size of engine. It had over heating issues big time I guess as a result. The TDI engines although a fortune to fix are a nice compact package that would be a nice upgrade over the Beemer. The TD engines maybe the PD 1.9 would be even a better option as you can mod the heck out of them and you don't have to deal with all the electronics of the new TDI if you are not so computer inclined!

It is crazy to think that the Vixen with a 2.4L diesel could achieve 30mpg and here we are many years later still with cars that don't even get that! It makes me wonder what I was thinking working and promoting for GM all that time. I am a bit embarrassed actually, I guess we all live and learn.

A boat tail on the vixen, better engine, better transmission it would be very interesting to see just what these changes would make let alone hybridizing it. The 5,000lbs+ RV just might put many of our cars fuel economy to shame.

I am curious now what platform the Vixen used. I wonder if it was a donor chassis or scratch built? I am also curious how they built the body to me it seems like 5,000lbs is light for an RV, but honestly I really don't know much about them. What I do know is we have trucks and suburbans that weigh more than that so to be around 5,000lbs in something that big that is pretty impressive at least at first glance.

I will definitely look into the Lesharo and the Rialta. As I said I really don't know much at all about RV so everything will be new to me. I figure I had better start now though and prepare for the day if it comes :-) It would be awesome to travel Through the Americas RV style there is just so much to see and do. It would be even more awesome to do it with an RV that was modern, highly efficient and economic to drive.

I guess the first thing I need to look into is the chassis or foundation. You would need something solid that is for sure. I wonder if some RV share chassis platforms it seems like it would be the case.

Well Pete thanks for sharing your great ideas keep them coming my friend and I will do the same

Talk to you later,

Greenhornet
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenHornet View Post
I did some initial research a few years back and came across the Vixen RV. They had a diesel model that got upwards of 30mpg. Now for a 20+ foot RV that is pretty amazing to me. My question was always could it be improved with a better diesel of today and hybridizing it.
The current Volkswagen 2.0L TDI has more power and torque than the stock BMW 2.4L turbodiesel, and since it's shorter would be easier to assemble a custom hybrid driveline. If you could bolt the Volkswagen engine to a Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid transmission, which hardest part seems to be integrating the electronics from the transmission and the engine, that would be a good setup.

You could also look at this hybrid S10 conversion to get some ideas: http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthrea...uck-22080.html
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Old 03-18-2013, 03:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenHornet View Post
Hey Pete,

Those are some good thoughts you had on the TDI and transmissions. That was one area if I recall that the Vixen was pretty weak on. The Vixens gear ratios were not very well optimized for the weight and size of engine. It had over heating issues big time I guess as a result. The TDI engines although a fortune to fix are a nice compact package that would be a nice upgrade over the Beemer. The TD engines maybe the PD 1.9 would be even a better option as you can mod the heck out of them and you don't have to deal with all the electronics of the new TDI if you are not so computer inclined!

It is crazy to think that the Vixen with a 2.4L diesel could achieve 30mpg and here we are many years later still with cars that don't even get that! It makes me wonder what I was thinking working and promoting for GM all that time. I am a bit embarrassed actually, I guess we all live and learn.

A boat tail on the vixen, better engine, better transmission it would be very interesting to see just what these changes would make let alone hybridizing it. The 5,000lbs+ RV just might put many of our cars fuel economy to shame.

I am curious now what platform the Vixen used. I wonder if it was a donor chassis or scratch built? I am also curious how they built the body to me it seems like 5,000lbs is light for an RV, but honestly I really don't know much about them. What I do know is we have trucks and suburbans that weigh more than that so to be around 5,000lbs in something that big that is pretty impressive at least at first glance.

I will definitely look into the Lesharo and the Rialta. As I said I really don't know much at all about RV so everything will be new to me. I figure I had better start now though and prepare for the day if it comes :-) It would be awesome to travel Through the Americas RV style there is just so much to see and do. It would be even more awesome to do it with an RV that was modern, highly efficient and economic to drive.

I guess the first thing I need to look into is the chassis or foundation. You would need something solid that is for sure. I wonder if some RV share chassis platforms it seems like it would be the case.

Well Pete thanks for sharing your great ideas keep them coming my friend and I will do the same

Talk to you later,

Greenhornet
There is another option, the best option, IMO,which is why I have one parked in the yard, the Toyota pickup based C class. Actually, there are 2 in the yard, mine, a '90 V-6 and someone else's that I am working on, a 91 V-6 shortie (18 fter).

These are awesome RVs if you don't need a lot of room or beds for 6 people. I would recommend an earlier 80s model with the 22R/22RE 4 cylinder, which is quite possibly the best damn engine ever made.

The 4 cylinders can get an honest 17-18 mpg and with a 4 speed could easily be hypermiled into the 20s.

If you are interested in them, there is a very active yahoo group (toyota campers) and another very good website, toyotamotorhome.org.

The toys with their aerodynamically challenged C class layout will never meet the mileage of the vixen or lesharo, but, they are more livable inside (real bathroom) and they are approximately 1,000,000 times more reliable than the vixen or lesharo. And parts are as plentiful and cheap as any other vehicle, seeing as there are still millions of these pickups still rolling around.
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Old 03-19-2013, 12:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
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There is another option, the best option, IMO,which is why I have one parked in the yard, the Toyota pickup based C class. Actually, there are 2 in the yard, mine, a '90 V-6 and someone else's that I am working on, a 91 V-6 shortie (18 fter).

These are awesome RVs if you don't need a lot of room or beds for 6 people. I would recommend an earlier 80s model with the 22R/22RE 4 cylinder, which is quite possibly the best damn engine ever made.

The 4 cylinders can get an honest 17-18 mpg and with a 4 speed could easily be hypermiled into the 20s.
Those Toyotas are also a good option for a fuel-efficient camper project, due to their more conventional driveline layout being easier to work around
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Old 03-20-2013, 08:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The below is my opinion. I'm also a third generation owner of aluminum travel trailers and of other types (in our family it was also boats & airplanes, not just motorhomes, etc) over more than forty years.

One needs to define what is meant, personally, by a "recreational vehicle". For some it is some form of "camper" they take out a few weekends and week or two each year accummulating around 5k miles. But they really love it as college alum for tailgating at football games.

A motorhome, of whatever type, falls down pretty fast when it comes to space efficiency due to drivetrain constraints. Most of all, in capacities.

The functions of an RV (a camper) are:

1] All weather shelter

2] Potable water use (storage and interior/exterior distribution whether mechanically or electrically). Then, storage of contaminated water.

3] Propane. Really, a very close second to water. Heat for shelter, water & cooking plus refrigeration. If it weren't for the virtues of propane RV's wouldn't exist.

4] Electrical. What the uninitiated think of as almost primary is in fact optional. Not necessary outside of furnace blower and refrigeration temp regulation. As Americans seem unable to live without their Jesusphones and TV, this means extensive (heavy) solar and a fossil-fuel generator. Not one or the other.

Water capacity is the limiting factor for extended stays outside of the infrastructure grid.

Trailers nearly always have the edge when it comes to efficiency. One can always change the tow vehicle given emphasis on trailer aero exterior shape, low ground clearance, independent suspension, low center-of-gravity. Shape, not weight, is key.

So, when making comparisons of types (and further refinement in choices inside those types) be sure that capacities somehow match up with expected use.

I can find ways to do the same recreational traveling with an 11-mpg motorhome and use less engine fuel than with a 30-mpg VIXEN update. When water is the limiting factor, this is an easy case to make.

Engine fuel seems to be the limiting factor in travel. It isn't . . as it cannot be separated from other energy inputs required. These aren't cars. Moving one around is secondary to it's purpose, ironically.

"Travel" is defined as nights aboard on an annual basis over miles travelled. And around here one can find ways to minimize fuel burn for a given vehicle (trip plan).

Then, "Type" of travel is the place to start, IMO, before becoming enamored of a particular vehicle.

Most RV travel is of the shirt sleeve variety. Chasing nice temps in nice climates. No Minnesota winter or Arizona summer. Basically, above 50F and below 80F. At all times. And neither too dry nor too wet . . they also constitute significant challenges to the question of capacities. Pushing this envelope outwards is where the difficulties arise . . otherwise, tent camping would be on the menu.

So, refine what one feels is the travel goal with sensible parameters. Tackle the question of capacities inherent to a vehicle type or combination as corollary in thinking.

If one wishes to start from a general reference, I'd use one to three weeks at a given location and then moving 300-miles to the next. Graph it out this way as a default for looking at things like engine fuel burn.

The aesthetics of a vehicle[s] is the fun at this stage, granted.


Finally, make provision in feeling/thinking for illness & injury. If one is incapacitated for two weeks, how well will the thing work? As well, in fitting this purchase and ongoing expense into lifelong financial planning, how well will it substitute for what the RV'ers call the S&B (the sticks & bricks house) for when climate & weather or man-made problems make that uninhabitable, or it ceases to exist? After all, a well-chosen (well-designed & constructed) RV can be a life-long asset, not simply a luxury cost.

.

Last edited by slowmover; 03-20-2013 at 08:48 AM..
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:00 AM   #9 (permalink)
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As I recall from reviews of the day, the Vixen with the diesel and manual (!?) usually pulled away from the stop sign trailing the delicate odor of cooked clutch. Not brisk off the line, so to speak.

A few years ago I read a fascinating page by a guy called Mr. Sharkey who had a converted electric Rabbit, he wanted more range. He made a diesel powered pusher trailer from the front end of a diesel Rabbit with a manual transmission (!?) which he controlled from the front car via a confabulated array of repurposed devices (for instance, a remote operated cordless drill to activate the clutch, driving a jack screw to press and let up on the clutch pedal!)

His site appears to be gone but an archived websnap is here: Mr. Sharkey's Home Page | MrSharkey.Com

Fascinating stuff. He also used the diesel pusher to help along an ancient old RV that normally could barely sustain 45 motor down the road at a decent 55-60. If I can find more/better/more current details, I'll update this post.
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Old 03-21-2013, 12:39 AM   #10 (permalink)
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A few years ago I read a fascinating page by a guy called Mr. Sharkey who had a converted electric Rabbit, he wanted more range. He made a diesel powered pusher trailer from the front end of a diesel Rabbit with a manual transmission (!?) which he controlled from the front car via a confabulated array of repurposed devices (for instance, a remote operated cordless drill to activate the clutch, driving a jack screw to press and let up on the clutch pedal!)
According to his page, the transmission was a 3-speed automatic. Well, getting the controllers for the clutch and a manual shifter to work properly would be too much harder, and become even more dangerous in case of a failure.

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