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Old 08-06-2008, 06:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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A Pickup Truck Project

I’ve had a lot of success ecomodding my F-350 but my truck has a really exotic configuration these days: 4x2, stick shift. Maybe one in ten thousand pickup trucks fits this once-basic description. Most diesel pickups in this class are automatics and 4x4s, about evenly split between cab-and-a-half and crew cab bodies. A lot of what I’ve done is not applicable

I have put out a call on various pickup sites for somebody else (I have my own money and time pit, thank you) to ecomod a 4x4 automatic diesel pickup. In order to get the idea over I have posted my suggested project. This was written for a Ford truck site but the principles apply.

“Here is my suggestion, not meant to stifle anybodies creativity, but just something to describe the project.

Start with a bone stock 4x4 Super Cab or Crew Cab single rear wheel long bed pickup with a automatic transmission. It probably has 3.73 gears. These are very common truck configurations. Pre-2000 trucks might be better as they start out with single-shot injectors although a later model tranny may be better. Pay your money and take your chances.

For now, say the money limit is $8,000 over and above the cost of the truck. Maybe we can agree on a different number, but for now…

My initial thoughts for mods:

Gear Vendor Overdrive: $4,000 installed. Gives you the equivalent of 2.68:1 gears on demand. Good for 3 MPG.

Transmission Mods: $1,500 installed. Needed to tolerate the stress of prolonged low RPM (1,450 RPM @ 70 MPH) driving and to allow extensive on-demand coasting.

Soft flat tonneau. $500. Cleans up the aerodynamics a lot but is very flexible for bed loads. Good for 1.5 MPG unless you drive exclusively in the city.

Stock wheels with Mooneye covers. $100
BFG LongTrail Tires 245-75 aired up to sidewall max rating $1,200 BFG Long Trails are the lowest rolling resistance tires I know of in this size range.
Re-align front end to zero camber and toe-in. $100

Shorty air dam (to bottom of front axle pumpkin. $50

Pyrometer and AIC. $300 Helps adjust the nut behind the wheel.

Adjusting driving style. Free and priceless.

There you go, boys. $7,750 total. My guess is this truck will show a 5-6 MPG improvement over bone stock but is still perfectly usable for hauling (you may have to roll up the tonneau for the four-wheeler) and towing (shut off the GV on steep hills) operations. You still have the four-wheel drive when you want it. The truck has not been lowered. It will look fairly stock to the casual observer. The Mooneyes are a giveaway, but nothing else really shows. A 5 MPG improvement puts most trucks as described into the 20 MPG range.

My cost estimates may be off but I doubt if by too much.”

What do you guys think?

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Old 08-06-2008, 10:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think its a great setup. Only downside I could see is that some would say "$8k for only 5 MPG? Thats too much." Said by the same people who would drop that much $$$ for a lift kit and bigger meats.

Any responses on the other sites?
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Old 08-07-2008, 11:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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How would the GV unit work on a 4x4 truck? Those things were originally designed to let vintage hot rods and muscle cars with 4.56 gears and 1:1 top ratio transmissions operate in excess of 50mph without deafening anyone. All those vehicles had long-tailshaft transmissions and RWD only. Every 4x4 truck I know of has a short-tailshaft transmission going into the transfer case. Tacking the GV onto the rear output of the transfer case might cause some safety concerns while in 4wd.

Pretty much all the cost comes from the GV unit. I think you overestimated cost on the tonneau, the tires, the tranny mods and the alignment but underestimated the Mooneyes cost (since at above 15" size you have to screw-mount which requires modding your rims and re-mounting tires). Drop the GV and add in more gauges (the wheel nut wasn't tightened enough in your original project) you'll wind up with about the same mpg improvement with a cost of about $3000.

I hear you on truck configuration, mine's a 1/2-ton 4x2 V8 5spd. When I bought it at the tail-end of the 2002 model year there were only 2 in the state of GA where I lived at the time and only 5 more within a 1000 mile radius (including both 2002 and 2003 MY trucks).
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Old 08-07-2008, 12:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think the gearing and pyro are going to be your be payback items.

Mine has 4.10s and just by hypermiling, I'm getting 22mpg+. At 55 mph I'm at 1750 rpm - the "sweet" spot. If my gearing was higher, then I could idle around better. I already have a BTS tranny which can handle any horsepower handed to it. The gear vendors overdrive unit would be great to go between towing heavy loads and getting really good FE. I wouldn't think a stock transmission would have any issues with hypermiling at low rpms though even with the gear vendors overdrive. Just my opinion.

The pyro will let you know where you are wasting in acceleration. I keep mine at 600 degrees pre-turbo, while accelerating and steady-state.

Your aero mods might give you a bit more, but your driving style will be THE most return for your $$. I don't plan on aero-modding my old 96 F250 4x4 SC diesel. I have to tow with it, haul stuff, and be around my cattlemen neighbors - it just wouldn't fit in!

I think I'd start with a 2x4 shortbed diesel with an auto tranny (I would have to make one, I know). Get a lowering kit, pizza pans, chop the top, aero the bed, gear vendors overdrive, skirt the wheel wells, aero the front fascia, dam the wipers, open the exhaust and intake, burn an economy chip, remove the mirrors, add a nastruck air dam, add supper skinny bonneville salt flats tires... etc
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Old 08-07-2008, 10:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have gotten some response from other sites. The idea is way out of their comfort zone. They react the way guys here would react if I suggested putting a LS7 engine in a Metro.

What I'm trying to do is get some vendors interested. One or two project trucks is all I'm trying to get. The aftermarket has to be hurting, too. They need something new to stimulate sales.

The GV actually is easier to mount on a 4x4 than a 4x2. They have mass-produced adapters. Because the 4x2 is so rare, they have to use a "divorced" mount, not only shortening the prop shaft but making another. The 4x2 kits costs about $1,600 more than the one for a 4x4.

Chopping the top is custom coachwork, best done by a pro. Beaucoup bucks!
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Old 08-07-2008, 10:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Wow, 4k for gearing. To be honest, unless you use your truck for truck-only like 95% of the time, 8k would prolly be better to get a different vehicle? I guess that's not the point, but trucks are expensive enough as it is. People won't pay 2-3k for a hybrid civic to save gas, so I doubt they'll pay 8k more for a truck with more gearing. *shrug*
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Old 08-08-2008, 01:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It would be nice if SEMA would comp you the parts.You'll be investing enough heart and soul in the project.With the Red Baron under your belt they should see that you make things happen,and could indirectly bring business to their doors,if ither truck owners smarting at the pump catch on to where your going.My girly-man T-100 has won few converts,whereas a "normal" truck with 5 extra mpg ought,you'd think,to attract some "normal"truck owners.I know your willing to eat the whole cost,but it would be nice for some underwriters to step forward.
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Old 08-10-2008, 11:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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SVO Boy:

If one runs an economic comparison, the most economic course of action is to do nothing and just take their beating. The depreciation is so high on these things now that they will lose $12,000 to $16,000 in trade-in and then have a payment on a premium car. It would never pay off and they have a vehicle they didn't want in the first place.

Doing nothing simply eats you up on fuel.

An $8,000 dollar projrct will take 80,000 miles to pay off. It offers a way out for a high-mileage driver, and a middle course.

Aerohead:
I do wish somebody at SEMA would get interested.
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Old 08-10-2008, 04:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Dave View Post
If one runs an economic comparison, the most economic course of action is to do nothing and just take their beating. The depreciation is so high on these things now that they will lose $12,000 to $16,000 in trade-in and then have a payment on a premium car.
They could just buy a used car. You can easily find a 30 mpg car for less than $8k. Do the commute in that and save the truck for the weekends.

Mind you, I'm not opposed to truck mpg mods. I'm dropping a manual transmission and injected 4.9l into my '79 F250. It's cheap and should improve mpg and emissions a lot. But it'll still only run when the Civic can't cut it.
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Old 08-18-2008, 12:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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awesome ideas. The only difference being (and you mentioned it below)
Quote:
Transmission Mods: $1,500 installed. Needed to tolerate the stress of prolonged low RPM (1,450 RPM @ 70 MPH) driving and to allow extensive on-demand coasting.
...A balanced diesel. A v8 does better than anything in the history of diesel, all the way to 16 liters scania truck countries have already called a legend (all common sense to me, I have been tortured by diesels since I was a boy..I sure as heck know what I want. A v8 is pretty darn close to "as good as it gets.")

I love your project, difference bieng, a modern v8 diesel. It will be a modern legend. no doubts about it...

I almost took a v8 diesel project on as a teen..the sick joke was the injection (20 years ago). I never bought it. It was a gm/detroit v8 diesel however..I may seek a project out soon enough.I have seen several threads (this may be a cached repeat? my internet is a flunking tragedy) and all projects did something modernly phenomonal, including a drag car impala beating a lambo in a .25 drag race. I am not amazed. It is about time...

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