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Old 08-01-2002, 01:00 AM   #15
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Brilliant and knowledgeable post John and several things I'd forgotten about building an engine for turbocharging; since my charged engine was a Corvair engine that started out as a charged engine and so was my Kawasaki charged bike.

I don't want to pay for the work on the engine I'd forgotten would be needed either. I agree with all your points but don't understand that about the transmission control... I didn't even know there was some sort of control for the automatic trans; what does it control? The only thing I can think of is the rpm at which a tran would shift.

I certainly agree about displacement and related torque and that size, thus torque are what I need to start with. Is there a better and bigger engine than the 5.9 liter Dodge and can it be easily put into the Dodge 3500 van?

Are there some reasons to consider another van, for my purposes, other than the Dodge 3500? I had been getting ONLY suggestions of the big Dodge from area mechanics, area trailer towing mechanics and I also had good experience with my old van but I didn't tow with it.

For instance; is the long wheel base Chevy or GMC van available with 454? Is the big block Ford a good choice?
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Old 08-01-2002, 06:00 AM   #16
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Diesel

You can wait and see if GM puts the Duramax diesel in a van body. I don't think they are doing it yet, but I am sure they will at some point. If not then your next choice would be the 8.1 L (496 C.I.) engine. This is a "refined 454". I am not sure if Dodge or Ford put their V10 in a van. The highest highway mileage I have gotten from my 454 is 14.75 MPG. The driver makes a big difference too. On that same trip we hit a low of 10.9 mpg, with the wife driving!
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Old 08-01-2002, 08:31 AM   #17
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Easy is a relative term. What you are proposing is not easy. I doubt if the manufacturers have experimental vehicles that will move the weight you propose and get the mileage you desire. The body, chassis, and drive train are completely separate systems. Any body will work, pick the one that is most aesthetically pleasing to you. For engines (I am a Chevy fan) go with the 454 or 502. It is tried and true, with a wide variety of relatively inexpensive parts available. They have been around for years, machining is a known quantity. In actuality, the same is true of the 460 Ford or the 440 Chrysler, but I still say go with the BB Chevy.

Swapping into the body of your choice is easy. You are going to fabricate so many parts that motor mounts are nothing. Throttle linkage will be dictated by the throttle body placement, will need to be fabricated any way, the same for cooling, wire harness, ac, oil cooling, etc. Once you have made the changes to the engine necessary for this quest, dressing it and mounting it are simple.

As far as I know all second generation engine management systems control the trans shift points and convertor lockup (unless shifted manually). This is what you need to do. It would probably be possible to use a stock system with modifications (my 1974 motorhome has a first generation GM ECM that controls a Holley throttle body). Take into account the pressurization of the intake when choosing sensors and the PROM is programmed. But you do need to let the computer control the transmission; it is much faster and makes better decisions than we can even when watching a vacuum gauge.

John
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Old 08-01-2002, 10:27 AM   #18
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John,

But you do need to let the
computer control the transmission; it is much faster and makes better decisions than we can even when watching a
vacuum gauge.

My experience is that generally the computer does a good job of selecting shift points, does so swiftly and unobtrusive. UNTIL you tow in hilly conditions. The computer will up and downshift my transmission right into oblivion, and burn the fluid in no time. That's why I recommend pulling down to the next lower gear to prevent constant up and down shifting, especially while towing.
The airflow issue is speed sensitive. I can darn near feel the trailer's wind resistance change with speed. I tow with a tallish 1 ton van, and at 40 I can feel the wind tug at the trailer. Going faster makes things smoother, and at about 60 it feels like the airflow is going very well past the van and over the trailer. I notice this especially whenever I forget to close the rear popout window. It gets quiet back there above 55 mph for some reason. Maybe I am imagining things, though. It is easy to feel this stuff with my underpowered van.
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Old 08-01-2002, 11:34 AM   #19
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Uwe

I couldn't agree with you more, the constant shifting will destroy the transmission. But in order to reach 20 mpg while towing, he will need to keep the trans in as high a gear as possible. That is why I suggested writing a new algorythm to control the trans, at least with this it would lock into one gear and stay. It might not be the best for mileage, but would not destroy the trans either.

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Old 08-01-2002, 11:55 AM   #20
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Pick- 14 mpg on a 454? How can I get near that? Was this equipped with the Banks Power Pack?
Great posts guys.....whatever happened to STP? Used to sell it and Marvel Mystery Oil at my dad's auto repair shop. I know Marvel is still around.
I have always been one to uce the best oil and change it and the filter come h or high water at 3000 miles or 3 months. Except in my Porsche which has a dry sump system with 12 quarts of oil in it. I let that one go until the oil starts to look dirty to me, or 5000 miles.
I am one who can't do the Banks system ,but will go for the Jacob's electronics unit, and maybe some decent headers.
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Old 08-01-2002, 02:35 PM   #21
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Mileage

Jody,

Q.. If you have done this before why are you asking us for tips?

Also, larger diameter tires and wider tires will go in the direction of poorer fuel economy.

Here is something to consider: If your towed miles is 20,000, and you are attempting to get 20mpg, at $1.50 a gallon it will cost $1500 for fuel.

VS: what I think you will get which is 10 mpg and for 20,000 miles of towing and that wil cost you $3000 for fuel.

So my next question is ... can you spend less than $1500 (the difference between 10 mpg and 20 mpg) to modify your truck to get 20mpg. If you could, is it worth the time and effort?

My feeling on it ... is why bother. That is part of the entry fee for having a 1 ton van. If you want something that gets great gas mileage, buy a sub compact car. Then tow with a rig that handles the load. Towing a travel trailer was not designed for fuel economy. However it is cheaper than buying real estate in your favorite destination.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Action
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Old 08-01-2002, 05:37 PM   #22
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Chevron Techron

I remember running across material about the Chevron Techron fuel system additive, I think on the www.pickuptrucks.com forum, where it was stated that it was the best of the additives on the market. My 8.1 (496) in my 2500hd gets 14.6-15.4 mpg on the highway without AC, 12-13 towing and 10 in town with AC on. While not near the new Duramax diesel, i'm still happy with my choice. The 5 speed Allison auto trans incorporates an external oil filter which makes it easy to change when you want.
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Old 08-01-2002, 06:39 PM   #23
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454 Mileage

ALANSD: All I have is a K&N filtercharger, and at the time a fresh oil change to Amsoil 0W30 Oil, plus I had just changed the rear end fluid to Amsoil. This was coming back up North from Florida, without a trailer. On the trip down we were pulling a Jeep Grand Cherokee on a towbar, with the transfer case and transmission in neutral, averaging 11 mpg. On our last trip to PA, as I had mentioned before, I had averaged 9.5 mpg pulling the Airstream. That trip had a LOT of hills and a lot of downshifting!
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Old 08-01-2002, 06:44 PM   #24
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Action,

I've NOT done this for towing and that, I think, may make a huge difference. Also, I've not done this in many years to the extent I am considering. In addition, I've found this forum to be wonderfully valuable because of the wealth or real-time, current, hands on experience. I am very much out of touch with what is current in the auto mechanicing business.

Also, some of the things that I DID know how to do fairly well may not be valid or workable these days, such as all this transmission stuff, with all the chips and computerized additions to what I worked with.

There were two very savvy custom hot-rod shops here and both of them also did a lot of fuel economy work on vans and motorhomes. They are no longer in existence so I don't have any local folks to bounce this off of.

In addition, over the years, I've forgotten a lot of stuff and this discussion helps. I'm really not trying, in any way, to be a smart alec. I do not have a lot of cash, I can't easily afford two vehicles, and I hope to be able to use one vehicle for my work and for trailer towing. My questions are honest and so is my interest. I really appreciate all this great discussion and there is no where else that I know of where I can get this sort of educated and experienced help, not even if I paid for it.

I'm sorry, but I am not able to pay for the normal entry fee to trailering as I am learning it here; which is to buy a big $30,000 to $40,000 truck or van.

Also, with the mileage that I drive for work, the mileage costs spread over about 50,000 miles per year of regular driving in addition to the towing. Some day perhaps I'll have a late model sedan for work and a big, fancy, new tow truck for the trailer or better yet a motorhome again. For now, that is not financially possible for me.

I hope you have not taken offense to my questions or my interests. None is meant.
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Old 08-01-2002, 07:15 PM   #25
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The tow vehicle

JH,

No offense taken or intended. However in my opinion your expectations are not realisitic for fuel economy.

And again you might find an older tow vehicle and go that direction.

I bought a 7 year old van for $5K. Cause I was not in the market for a nice tow vehicle. And drive my nice car on a daily basis. I figured if it lasted for 5 years I was doing rather well. That was 5 years ago. And it is still in decent shape. I put about 15000 mile in 5 years. Now I am going to sell it cause I am prepared to spend $20K to $22K on a 3 year old SUV.

I have done little to the van other than maintence, so I have had time to do other things. Like use my boat or silver bullet.

Cause after all your time is worth something even if you did all the work yourself. And even if you didn't, the down time when someone else is working on it means you are home not enjoying you silver bullet. (not to mention the cost)

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Old 08-01-2002, 07:30 PM   #26
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Jody,

I did the same thing as Action. Twice already.
Bought a E150 Cargo van 5 years ago, it was below $ 2000.00. When it finally ran out of it's seemingly eternal life, I sold it to a mechanic, and tooksome of th emoney and bought this Dodge van I am using now, bough tit for $ 2500.00, put a bunch of money in it right from the start and have been driving it for many miles now with only occasional trouble. So, to have anolder tow vehicle is ok, the cost is very low even if you have repairs. Yes, it is underpowered, clumsy and perhaps not very hip. But it tows very well, looks clean and I can use it for my business deliveries and home stuff hauling if necessary. I can take all 7 of my Grandkids to the beach in it, too.
Most people spend more money on sales tax buying a new car than I spent on the whole van, with repairs and all. What's 8% on 40 grand? Plus the initial depreciation once you roll it on the street.
I am not saying that new cars or trucks don't make sense, by any means. It's quite nice to have brand new car or truck or van, but for hauling and towing, it's just not my thing. I'd rather buy another vintage Benz or VW, ( or Airstream!)
So, don't be discouraged - where there is a will, there is usually a way.
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Old 08-01-2002, 09:12 PM   #27
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Thanks guys, I really appreciate your points of view... that is exactly WHY I am posting here. I may end up heading in a wholly different direction than I would have, if not learning here. After all, if I were going full speed ahead and damn the torpedos; I wouldn't need all this great advice.

Action, and Ewe, your points are well taken and starting to make a difference. Meanwhile, my auction broker is trying to take me UP in price and years even though he works for a flat fee... I'm just a student of those of you who have been and done. And, I'm learning and fine tuning my intention by the day. Thanks to all this great input.

One of the things I realize that I'm trying to figure in here is all the stuff I take with me every day, no matter where I go. I'm starting to think of just having it set up for a quick move from my Buick to the van, whenever I change over. That has simultaneously been a change of mind this last week as my Buick Trans is going down and in trying to use it less while waiting for a new trans to come in; I'm using my partner Kate's vehicle a lot and having to move all my stuff back and forth.

I may go back and forth a few more times and up and down in price a few more times as my considerations change and my data base grows and matures. Meanwhile, I'm still coming up to a better understanding of all this NEW data on towing which I've not been involved with ever before.
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Old 08-03-2002, 09:48 PM   #28
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First I would settle myself to get about 10 mpg at best no matter what you tow it with.
2nd you might consider you man at the auction look for a fairly new GM product. So you don't have any trouble in the future.
Remember ( under that pretty, shiny skin that van will still be a dodge):
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