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Old 07-16-2008, 08:07 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Josie - '87 Toyota Pickup
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Big Van, I feel your pain.

I drive a few of these monsters at work, a Dodge Ram Wagon, essentially the same as yours but with all the seats in, and a Ford Club Wagon. Neither of these is the mileage champ unless you do the math for the Man-Miles per gallon. With a full load, it gets interesting.

The underside of your Ram - and I'm pretty sure that is indeed the 360, a great engine in my experience - is both wide open and very rough. It should be no problem to add a belly pan. You may have to build ramps to bring the belly pan to, but not in contact with, the rear axle. Also think about leaving an access hatch to the driveshaft and exhaust system, and maybe wrap the entire exhaust in high-temp insulation.

Adding a bellypan would also make your fuel system and catalytic converter harder to get to for thieves. This is a serious problem that is especially tough on folks with big vans like yours - there's lot of room under there, and you can pop the fuel filler pipe loose with just one screwdriver. On the basis of potential fuel savings (30 gallon tank!) and catalytic converter hassle avoidance, I'd say the bellypan is almost a mandatory mod.

Don't add anything to the roof. You can only add frontal area and won't change your wake size at all. I wonder if vortex generators might be a good idea though? Anybody want to sound off on that?

Being in a band, I reckon you've already pulled out all the seats so you've got as much space as possible. Well, that's it for weight reduction. If you started from the Ram Van, not the Wagon, that's pretty much all there is to remove before you start to peel out what little sound insulation there is. I don't recommend that. One of our vans here had its entire headliner gone and some of the roof bows bent; I called it the Thunderbus. Rattle a 6x15 sheet of steel and you'll see why.


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Old 07-16-2008, 10:08 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone, these suggestions are really encouraging. I was expecting people to tell me to sell the van and amps, buy a Prius, and learn to sing barbershop. Anyway, I'm off to the aero forums to learn what a diffuser is. Thanks again!

PS-Catalytic converter theft? What is this nation coming to?

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