Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Project MPG: An introduction and first steps...

Today I finally got around to starting a project that will most likely last me the rest of the summer, and perhaps even the next couple of years... What could possibly take so long? Well, its a long story that began about 5 years ago when I first got interested in alternative energy...  But that is a story for another day. :-) For now, we will stick with what this project is about:

The goal of this project is to improve the fuel efficiency of my pickup. A lot. Here is a run down of the specs as of this morning:
  • Year: 1998
  • Make: Dodge
  • Model: Ram 1500 Sport, 4X4
  • Engine: 5.9 Liter V8, Fuel Injected.
  • Transmission: 4 speed Automatic
  • Mileage: About 135,000
  • Current MPG at last check: 14.6 MPG (Mostly highway)
That should give you a pretty good idea of what I am starting with... I really can't complain as to the mileage I have been getting with it; I have actually gotten as high as 16.4 MPG on a long road trip, but it usually averages around 15.  Now for a few things I would like to point out, that may be affecting the fuel efficiency:

That visor/light bar looks really cool, but I am sure that it causes a little bit extra drag... (Bad)

LT 245/75R16 tires instead of P 245/75R16s.  LT stands for Light Truck, which is a heavier duty tire than Passenger... I run these at 55PSI. Higher tire pressures mean less rolling resistance... (Good)  While we are in the tire section, I would like to also point out that this is 4 wheel drive, which usually means decreased fuel efficiency vs. 2 wheel drive, because of the extra weight and mechanism to turn...

Here you can see an aftermarket throttle body spacer. This was installed on it when I bought the pickup, so I really don't know how much of a difference that makes.  I was also told when I bought the pickup that the engine has a performance cam in it. Weather or not this is true, i really don't know...

Ok, now on to what I did today:

Here you can see it in the shop where I am working on it. :-)

First thing I did was to replace the thermostat, as I believe the old one was faulty... The engine seemed like it took a long time to warm up, and maybe even ran a bit too cool, so I decided to go ahead and change it out...  Here is a picture of the old thermostat sitting on the box from the new one:

Next on the list was the Oxygen sensor, as the "Check Engine" light had come on a couple of days ago, and the code that the engine showed was related to the Oxygen sensor...  I was going to pick up a new sensor when I was in town the other day, but then I found out that there are actually two of them, and I didn't know which one was bad... After a little checking, I found I needed the front one, so Dad picked up one for me in town today.  Here is a picture of the old O2 sensor:

Now that the routine things were out of the way, I could get on to the actual modifications! The first thing I am going to try is a new set of spark plugs. But not just any plugs, these are called "Pulse Plugs", so named for the unique way they store the incoming electrical energy in a capacitor, then dump that energy across the spark gap in a much more powerful "Pulse."  This is supposed to ignite the fuel/air mixture more completely, thus causing a more efficient burn... You can read more about Pulse Plugs at the manufacturer's website: http://www.pulstar.com/  You can also check out this page over at FreeEnergyNews: http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Pulstar_Pulse_Plug 
 I am really expecting to see an improvement in horsepower and efficiency, partially because of the technology in the Pulse Plugs, and partially because the old plugs were in pretty bad shape. Here you can see one of the old plugs, which is pretty much corroded off!

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the Pulse Plugs before I put them in, but here you can see the plastic cases they came in (I just put the old plugs in them as I switched them around):

  That is all that I have done as of today. I have a couple of other things I would like to try as I get time and money, but I also would like to do things step by step in order to evaluate their effectiveness...  I will be reporting back with my results from time to time, so check back often! I thought about starting a blog dedicated to this topic, but thought I would get more exposure by just writing on here... What do you think?

 Best get to bed,
   Andrew B.


Cora Beth said...

Yep, I think you'd better get to bed too. ;)

It will be fun to see what happens with this interest of yours, Andrew! Want to work on my van (some more) next?


Patrick said...

Hello Andrew, Looks like you folks really had some wind! Once we had a really powerful wind at our farm in ND, it moved our barn part way off it's foundation and blew a grain bin into the trees. I slept through the whole thing!:)
Your truck project sounds interesting, I have a '95 Ford f250 with a 5.8L V8, and when these trucks were new they didn't get much better than 12 miles to the gallon, so your 15 miles to the gallon sounds pretty good to me!:)

Dawn Bornemann said...

Hi Andrew,
WHAT AN AWESOME POST! I feel like I actually know a little bit about what you did as it is so well spelled out for me.
I am thrilled to see that you now have time to pursue your interest in free energy. We sure could use some around here. :)
Love always,

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comments!
Patrick, Yes, we sure do get some large winds here in ND!
I have been very pleased with my pickup, but with the price of gas continuing to rise, it sure would be nice to get better milage!

Andrew B.

Anonymous said...

Hey Andrew,

I was reading this post this evening and I showed it to Sam (he's the mechanic in our family). He told me to ask you a couple of things about your truck...does your truck have a clutch fan? If you switch to a flex blade or electric fan it releaves engine drag and can increase your power and mpg. Do you have a cold air intake? Sam says it gets more cold air to the engine, and combined with the throttle body spacer (which you have) make a good combo to help increase hp, torque, and mpg.

I enjoyed chatting with you yesterday evening. We'll have to do it again soon.

God Bless,

Unknown said...

Hey Josh, (And Sam!)
Yes, my truck does have a mechanical fan/clutch... I have thought of changing over to an electric fan, but not sure if that will happen or not... It's on "The List" :-)
Not sure what you mean by "Cold air intake", if you mean that it draws air from someplace away from the engine, then I guess I do... It has ducting so it draws from the right front, kind of behind the headlight...
Good talking to you too! Fun to actually talk to somebody, rather than just writing all the time... :-)

Andrew B.