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capturedbyrobots 08-27-2012 03:09 PM

Touring robot rock band challenge, please help.
Newb to the forums.
I have a rock band of robots (yes, real pneumatic robots) that tours the country. Been doing it in a short 19ft 72 dodge class C camper for the last 8yrs, yeah...ouch! Touring with vans before that for a total of 15yrs.
The gas is killing me these days at $4 a gallon. Most tours consist of about 10k miles, plus or minus. Travel at 60mph usually. So with a totally non aerodynamic camper, and a bunch of weight, I'm really just squirting out fuel to propel me forward.
I have a gear vendors unit, which I love, but this 360 and body style just can't give me the mpg I want. Looking for anything around 15plus if possible, or higher... That would double my mileage as of now.

The trick is, I'm cheap/poor as hell, but can really build some crazy stuff, and have all the time I need.
I'd be capable of stripping down the body of a vehicle and building something awesome in it's place, or doing engine swaps, etc.

Last time I weighed the robots and air compressors and amps, it was right around 1500lbs. Space to store them now is 8ft wide x 4ft and 6ft tall, though I could go lower. I ideally would like to be able to stand inside the vehicle, as I often have to use it as a dressing room, and I'd need a bed. I'm open to pop up if I can figure out a way to make it rigid (no tent style pop ups...too cold sometimes)

I'd rather have all the storage on the vehicle frame, pulling a trailer is tough for parking, and tolls....

I need something that is crazy reliable as well, haven't missed a gig with this camper ever. Ive done lots of roadside repairs, bit it just keeps going, and going, and fuel injected vans I had left me stranded a few times due to injector failure, sensor failures, etc..

So those are my issues.
Been thinking of going diesel, sprinters seem too expensive for me, but Im really just open to the most inexpensive, yet efficient,yet comfortable enough solution, I'd be open to adding a more aerodynamic box to a diesel pickup, or chopping and widening the body of an efficient van, whatever.

Oh, and I'd like to keep the length to 16ft if possible for parking and to fit in my driveway.

Geez, I'm demanding, huh?

Sorry for dumping all this info here, just been really thinking about it a lot. I really want to build the last touring vehicle I'll ever own. I figure you Eco geniuses could point me in the right direction, considering my insane needs.

Thanks a ton, I'll be studying the threads to see if I can find more answers there in the coming days.

Weather Spotter 08-27-2012 03:58 PM

do you have any instrumentation to give you MPG feedback?

next off read the wiki on mods:
Car MPG Efficiency Modifications Main - EcoModder
lots of ideas/ build threads, with your ability to build things this should give you a plan to follow.

Welcome to EM

capturedbyrobots 08-27-2012 04:41 PM

Well... cool!
I never thought about removing the fan, and swapping with electric.
I have no fan clutch, so I bet that's quite a bit of parasitic loss being that I'm usually at highway speeds. I bet I could pick up at least a few mpg by doing a few of those mods.

NachtRitter 08-27-2012 04:51 PM

Awesome! Would love to see a few pics (once you're allowed to post them)! Do you attend the Bay Area Maker Faire? I know my high school robotics team would be really interested in seeing what you've got going!

In any case, I'm biased toward Diesels so if you're willing to do an engine swap (and can find a good used diesel engine that will work with your drivetrain), then I'd go with that. As far as body modifications, there are a wide range that could help you streamline your camper brick enough to improve your FE significantly... from mild to wild... as most on this board will tell you, start with the rear (boat tail or something similar) and underside (belly pan) first and then improve airflow on the rest.

If you want to go all out, you could do something similar to the Texaco Doodlebug:

Obviously with smaller wheels/tires and maybe with rear skirts... :)

capturedbyrobots 08-27-2012 05:14 PM

Omg! I love the doodlebug!
If you want to see the bots, just look up my member id online with a dot com.

I don't have any methods of testing, no puter, no injection.
I know what I pay per 20ga, It gets me about 150 miles, approx.
Even a few mpg extra would be awesome for now, until I find a better donor or do a complete body swap.

MetroMPG 08-27-2012 05:44 PM


Originally Posted by capturedbyrobots (Post 324211)
Oh, and I'd like to keep the length to 16ft if possible for parking and to fit in my driveway.

Thanks a ton, I'll be studying the threads to see if I can find more answers there in the coming days.

Have you seen this thread?

You've probably done enough reading by now to know that the biggest savings are going to come by modifying the rear of a boxy vehicle - meaning tapering it down to reduce the size of the energy-sucking wake.

So if you need to keep to 16 ft, you'll need something foldable/collapsable.

Or start from scratch and do an entirely custom body, following as closely as possible the aerodynamic "template":

capturedbyrobots 08-27-2012 05:50 PM

Yeah, the boxiness would go. It's 19ft now, but a total redo is in order.
Body is sagging and bulging, and the rv body isn't so sturdy either, thank you very much, I'll be here all week...

I like the idea of that template. I could work on it all winter, and I'm touring next this coming spring, if the apocalypse doesn't take me first.

capturedbyrobots 08-27-2012 07:37 PM

So I've been reading and checking out various designs, templates, etc....
I'm thinking I could live with a body style similar to the dymaxion, or that doodle bug...though slightly taller if possible.
I could use the larger front driving area to convert to convertable sleeping quarters, since my overhead sleeper would disappear.
My question would be regarding the aerodynamics of those designs. Would you say that's a good design to attempt to copy? I'd never get it exact, but would work with what I had to attempt a conversion using the modified dodge van front...
Or replace the body if I could find an old airstream style body to mod to my needs and make that the new body.
I'd be cool with having a boat tail taper as well, maybe one which could hinge up and out of the way for easier parking.
Gosh, so many options....

freebeard 08-27-2012 09:20 PM

My reading is that the 8x4x6 block has the long dimension across the vehicle.

8' long, 4' high and 6' wide would be most aerodynamic (crosswinds); but enclose that in The Template and your up around 40' long (I'm guessing). Look at the M-B Boxfish

If you don't like canvas pop tops, look for the old Econoline top

The sides fold down and the top panels relax into the that frame that extends to the front and rear of the pop top.

freebeard 08-27-2012 09:46 PM

Oh, I forgot; about the Airstream:
Silver Streak on VW, but you get the idea.

And I see MetroMPG addressed the boat tail length. Consider the Rumpler Tropfenwagen:
Much easier to construct than the Dymaxion and it had a Cd of .28 (if you don't know what that is you will before you're done) in 1921.

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