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Old 10-26-2008, 03:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Introducing my newest old car

I have been getting the local hardware store to deliver for me for the last few years. I usually get so much stuff that they are more than happy to deliver for me free. But times are changing and they started charging me for delivery. So instead of digging my old jeep out and getting it back on the road where it would start breaking down all the time again I figured I needed something better to haul junk with.

I got a 94 Chevy Astro Conversion Van 5500lb towing capacity and a nice fancy interior I might actually use to haul lots of people places instead of taking multiple cars.







With the towing capacity of it I can pretty much haul anything I need now. And it won't break down every week like my old jeep. I have put 400 miles on it driving it home and just driving it around today running the old gas out of it and managed 19mpg. When I got it there was 3/4 tank of really old gas in it so I drove it down to half a tank then filled it up. I just ran that tank of gas out of it today and filled up at 427 miles. It is already a hypermiler without even trying or even having a proper tune up and a couple of low tires



Plans so far are just to tune it up and get it as good as I can stock then do some minor work maybe like put 3.08 gears in it and lrr tires. I probably won't really drive it enough to bother with really trying to push the mileage on it, not counting road trips it probably won't get 1000 miles a year.

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Old 10-26-2008, 03:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 10-26-2008, 11:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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House in the 'Burbs...

!!!OH CRAP!!!
A Minivan, nooooooooooooooooooo!
Now you'll be needing a wife
and kids
and going to soccer practice
and cutting grass
and.....


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Old 11-02-2008, 12:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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So it looks like this was a pretty good choice for the purpose I got it for. I have driven it 250 miles away to pick up a 16' car hauler and on the way there I got 21mpg and 18mpg on the way back. Today I drove it 150 miles round trip to pick up a motorcycle for a friend using a 5x8 trailer.

So I can beat EPA on it pretty easily and for the amount of use it will get that is really good enough for most people. To bad I am not most people

Not really sure what direction to go with this thing. I can't really do a grille block since it has a stock 4l60 trans and it needs all the air it can get across the 2 transmission coolers I will be putting on it shortly. So a permanent grille block is out. Wheel skirts are possible but with the tight gaps on the wheel wells they probably won't be much help. It seems like a perfect candidate for airtabs but so far nobody has shown them to be worthwhile. It already has a pretty low airdam and side skirts on it.

After driving it for a little while my current plans so far are minor. The tires are in good shape but are only rated for 36psi and it feels like it is floating at speed, 44 or 51psi tires will fix that and probably have lower rolling resistance. I will be changing to synthetic fluids and add a torque converter lockup indicator light. Changing rear end gears might not be good because it will end up killing the transmission from towing probably. Other than that I have no real plans for mods yet. Mostly I don't really think it will matter much since all the mods in the world won't help when it is towing a trailer with a car, tractor, or 6 atvs on the back, but I will still try them and see what I can get
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Old 12-16-2008, 12:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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So a bit longer term update on this van. I tried advancing the timing 2 degrees, It lost 2mpg It is a serious pain to work on so I haven't took the dashboard apart again so I can set it back to normal. I installed 2 transmission coolers, rear air bags, tach, MPGuino, and a torque converter lockup indicator light. I build a arduino based proportional trailer brake controller, I will post the schematics once I get it hooked up and working. I have a transgo HD2 shift kit and a corvette 2nd gear servo and billet 4th gear servo to install when the weather warms up.

Last week I took the belt driven fan off it and drove it to work and for the round trip the MPGuino was showing 3mpg better than normal. I had to put the fan back on it so I could haul some heavy stuff. I don't have all the parts I need to put electric fans on it yet but it looks like that should get me a couple of mpg at least.

Another interesting thing is having it in 3rd gear at 60mph gets only 0.3mpg less than 4th at 60. I am not really sure about why but I figure 95% of the engine load is aerodynamic drag so reducing rpms alone isn't going to show much of anything unless I can get the aero drag down some. Kind of eliminates the need to change from 3.73 gears to 3.08 if it is only going to show a 0.1mpg difference.

Apart from the minor engine stuff I can do like electric fans and underdrive pulleys I am mainly going to have to think up some aero stuff to do with it while still keeping it usable to haul and tow things. Anyone got any ideas for what mods to do to a box on wheels? I will try and put some better detail pics of the body shape when the weather clears up to help get some ideas on what can be done to improve it.
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Old 12-16-2008, 01:18 AM   #6 (permalink)
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lexan headlight covers?
smooth out front bumper.

awd version?
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Have you ever considered a T56 6-sp manual swap?

The Nissan Altima electric fans have a lot of flow. If the dimensions are right it might be a cheap upgrade.
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Old 12-16-2008, 11:33 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyote X View Post
Another interesting thing is having it in 3rd gear at 60mph gets only 0.3mpg less than 4th at 60. I am not really sure about why but I figure 95% of the engine load is aerodynamic drag so reducing rpms alone isn't going to show much of anything unless I can get the aero drag down some. Kind of eliminates the need to change from 3.73 gears to 3.08 if it is only going to show a 0.1mpg difference.
Are you sure it's being the engine is already operating as efficiently as possible as opposed to being because it's already operating as inefficiently as possible? What are the gear ratios/tire size/displacement?
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Old 12-16-2008, 11:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Headlight covers + smoothing the front bumper - Motion 2nded. Also look into underbelly smoothing if at all possible - vans like that tend to have some big rough areas.
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Old 12-16-2008, 11:42 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Had some fun road trips a similar Astro conversion van back when I was in Boy Scouts.

That bumper could use some help, maybe a lip for the wipers, but all in all it doesn't look like there's a whole lot aerodynamically to do unless you feel like altering the roofline...

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