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Old 03-30-2021, 09:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Matt Foley's worst nightmare - '09 Chevrolet Express 2500
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Living in a Van Down by the River

Hi!

I participated in the forum while owning a 1996 Pontiac Firebird, then a 2002 Madza Protege5.

I just bought a 2009 Chevy Express 2500, with a 4.8 L Gen IV V8 and 4L60E. It has 100k mi, part of a nearby municipality's fleet - it looks like it was babied.

While I'm not expecting miracles, I'm going to do what I can make this a little less of a hog. I'd love the community's input!

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Old 03-31-2021, 12:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Paint Freak_Andy on the side?
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Old 03-31-2021, 04:40 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Over-drive. or change the rear end ratio.
Tune. Econo cam.
Narrower, taller, over-inflated tires and/or LRR tires. Lighter wheels.
Aero mods. Boat tail, under-tray.
Weight reduction. (not going to have that much impact)
Alternator/accessory delete, under-drive, whatever.
Block heater, grill block, warm air intake.
Plug-in hybridize it?

More importantly...will you be camperizing it? daily driver? work vehicle? Off-road beast?
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Old 03-31-2021, 07:13 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Matt Foley's worst nightmare - '09 Chevrolet Express 2500
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freebeard View Post
Paint Freak_Andy on the side?
LMAO, took me a second. I was daydreaming of springing for a Matt Foley graphic

Quote:
Over-drive. or change the rear end ratio.
Tune. Econo cam.
Narrower, taller, over-inflated tires and/or LRR tires. Lighter wheels.
Aero mods. Boat tail, under-tray.
Weight reduction. (not going to have that much impact)
Alternator/accessory delete, under-drive, whatever.
Block heater, grill block, warm air intake.
Plug-in hybridize it?

More importantly...will you be camperizing it? daily driver? work vehicle? Off-road beast?
All great ideas Stubby, most I'm open to.

Part of me wishes I had sprung for a 2013 on the lot because by then they had a 6-speed trans and variable valve timing. That being said, while I don't necessarily care to break even on mods vs fuel-cost savings, it was hard to justify an extra $2k and +20k mi on the odo for those things, especially since I don't have a clear picture as to how much/often I'll actually use this thing.

I might be inviting wiring-gremlins, but I'm seriously interested in the idea of a 6 speed manual conversion. Although my old Firebird was a Gen II small block (and a whole lot lighter), I quite liked the T56 it had.

As for use, it's neither a daily driver or work vehicle. I'm a travel nurse, so my commute is potentially different every 12 weeks.

It would best be described as a camper/weekender - I've never been one to off-road, so that's not much of a concern either.
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Old 03-31-2021, 07:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Matt Foley's worst nightmare - '09 Chevrolet Express 2500
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stubby79 View Post
Over-drive. or change the rear end ratio.
Tune. Econo cam.
Narrower, taller, over-inflated tires and/or LRR tires. Lighter wheels.
Aero mods. Boat tail, under-tray.
Weight reduction. (not going to have that much impact)
Alternator/accessory delete, under-drive, whatever.
Block heater, grill block, warm air intake.
Plug-in hybridize it?

More importantly...will you be camperizing it? daily driver? work vehicle? Off-road beast?
My thought process is to first do some simple aero mods like grill block, front air dam, etc. I'm going to refrain from things like a belly pan until I get far enough along with camperizing it: I think I'll mount grey-water and/or fresh-water tanks underneath.

I do plan to spec-out some wheel & tire combos like you described, so when it's time to replace them that decision won't be rushed. Hopefully, before then, I'll have a better idea as to the vehicle's final weight and use-case by then as well.

I'll probably look at tune, cam, and final drive after a few thousand miles' use. I feel as though I should approach it's final weight first, to get a better idea of how much I can get away with.

As for weight - I'm going to start pricing out weight-savings options from day one. Since, sadly, the van as a camper will all but certainly end up weighing more than it does now - I'll be looking at weight-gain-avoided alongside lightweighting the vehicle in more typical ways. But yes, I agree, it's a lot harder to realize efficiency gains from lightweighting a vehicle of this size (rotational mass excluded).

Thanks again for your input!
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Old 03-31-2021, 12:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
LMAO, took me a second.
Thanks now I can be serious. I made this for another van owner:



The headlight covers were design to make a bellmouth to the radiator opening, but your model has severely rounded front corners so it needn't apply.

The swan-neck mirrors, air curtains and skirts and whatever that spoiler/Kammback/airfoil ring was intended to be may apply.
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Old 03-31-2021, 09:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Matt Foley's worst nightmare - '09 Chevrolet Express 2500
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Thanks now I can be serious. I made this for another van owner:

This is so cool! Thanks for sharing
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Old 04-02-2021, 01:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by livewire516 View Post
I might be inviting wiring-gremlins, but I'm seriously interested in the idea of a 6 speed manual conversion.
Isn't there any version of the Silverado fitted with this very same engine and a manual transmission? Could render the MT swap much easier even regarding the wiring issues.
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Old 04-02-2021, 10:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Matt Foley's worst nightmare - '09 Chevrolet Express 2500
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr View Post
Isn't there any version of the Silverado fitted with this very same engine and a manual transmission? Could render the MT swap much easier even regarding the wiring issues.
I just referred to Wikipedia and you're right! It looks as though it wasn't sold to the USA market, only in Mexico. I'm not sure if this still introduces any concerns related to wiring or the ECM - these are parts of modding cars that I've always steered clear of in the past, but I'd be willing to learn.

I definitely plan to look into this further though!

I've always preferred driving MT; If I were to optimize things with the auto, I'd have to teach myself all about torque-converter lockups, tune and/or mods to change shift points. It sounds interesting I would probably enjoy figuring all that stuff out, but at the end of the day I would still have an automatic transmission.
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Old 04-02-2021, 06:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by livewire516 View Post
It looks as though it wasn't sold to the USA market, only in Mexico.
Just remember there were different versions of the Vortec 4800, so I'm not sure if the one fitted to your van had ever featured a manual even in Mexico. IIRC the latest Silverados fitted with a manual in Mexico had either the 4.3L V6 or the 6.0L heavy-duty V8.


Quote:
I'm not sure if this still introduces any concerns related to wiring or the ECM - these are parts of modding cars that I've always steered clear of in the past, but I'd be willing to learn.
Sure it might be challenging to some extent, but not exactly rocket-science.


Quote:
I've always preferred driving MT; If I were to optimize things with the auto, I'd have to teach myself all about torque-converter lockups, tune and/or mods to change shift points. It sounds interesting I would probably enjoy figuring all that stuff out, but at the end of the day I would still have an automatic transmission.
For me it's quite surprising to see so many Americans actually enjoying the manuals, while automatics have been prevalent there.

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