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MAB3L, the most reasonable truck on the road!


superj

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Vacuum guage & labor intensive is not a combination of words I think I'd ever read in the same sentence lol.

Let us know how the scan guage works out for you.. I've been considering getting one for the '96.
 

bhgl

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Vacuum guage & labor intensive is not a combination of words I think I'd ever read in the same sentence lol.

Let us know how the scan guage works out for you.. I've been considering getting one for the '96.
You're right, it's not a lot of work, but I just really don't want to take apart my dash, AGAIN, and running a vacuum line.

I suppose you could call it labor intensive in comparison to a scangauge which is simply plugging it into an OBD2 port by comparison.

With the age of the vehicle too, I'm always hesitant to modify vacuum lines and hoses, or touch plastics in general given how much they love to disintegrate.

I'll be sure to let you know how the Scangauge 2 works out!
 

bhgl

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Howdy folks, update on some of the work I've done over the last couple of days.

The accessory drive refresh is complete:

In all I put in a remanufactured 135 Amp Alternator, which is actually a Motorcraft unit! A new belt tensioner + Pulley, a new idler pulley, and of course a new belt. The old belt was actually in fairly good shape, albeit used, I'll be taking keeping it in the emergency parts box for any long distance road trips.

All in all, this was actually super easy to do, thanks to having previously removed the clutch fan. I was able to simply undo the 2 bolts that hold in the radiator shroud and pull it out giving me tons of space to work with, I was able to easily use an electric ratchet and overall the job took less than an hour, nice!

Misc other fixes:
  • Zip tie mod for the throttle cable, I didn't realize at first but there was enough slack that the pedal was actually bottoming out on the firewall before the throttle would be fully opened, we've now got more available power, and MUCH improved throttle response.
  • New Group 59 Battery installed, which I bought gently used for a steal at 25$!
  • New battery terminals, since the old ones were effectively a hodge-podge fix. Now we've got solid reliable connections.
  • Repaired the wires leading to the passenger power lock actuator, as they separated at some point thanks to my lack of tying them down.
  • Repaired the window crank on the passenger side, as it the screw holding it in snapped off. I had to drill out the screw and replace it with a random one that is much larger, it's not a perfect fix but now the crank is happily held in place.
  • Misc cable routing and clean up.
  • Further adjusted the door inward, as the wind noise was reappearing slighty. I've effectively moved the body-side latch as far inward as it can go. Now the door latches very firmly, road noise at effectively all speeds has been significantly reduced, but in particular over 120 KpH.
  • Thorough MAF and throttle body cleaning, and a quick vacuum of the air box and filter given how much debris was in there. The throttle body was FILTHY with accumulated dust and I assume particulate from the exhaust gas recirculation system.
The results:

No fuel economy data yet, but I do have a 1000KM+ drive coming this weekend, it's been some time since I've been able to do a drive this far, so it'll really be a moment of truth as to whether or not the work we've done so far has contributed to our highway fuel economy goals.

Today though, some things are obvious:

The most obvious, throttle response accuracy, and range is much improved. There's now more power to access now that the throttle body can be fully opened, the truck is noticeably quicker to accelerate.

It's also much easier to place the RPM needle where I want/need to, all while using less effort. If you've driven a car without cruise control for several hours, you'll know that your ankle will in fact start to get sore.

The minor fixes to the interior are much appreciated as always, the road noise and passenger door issues were very annoying to my partner and frankly myself as well. An added bonus however tiny is that with the doors now more tightly sealed to the body, we should have slightly better aerodynamic properties.

The vehicle now idles HAPPILY with no strange variations in speed, or occasional "lumpy" vibrations.

Previous to the new alternator, battery, and terminals, the vehicle could not charge itself with all of its accessories activated, even before the e-fan. With all the new components there is more than enough room to run everything from the wipers, interior lights, all the way to the E-Fan on constant, while still charging the battery.

Startup is much quicker thanks to healthier battery, the radio doesn't distort at higher volumes, and there's significantly less dimming when things like lights are the AC is turned on. With the addition of an electric power-steering pump coming soon, I'm quite confident that this alternator setup will be more than enough to power it happily, while also being more efficient than the belt-driven pump.

In theory, a higher AMP alternator should negatively affect fuel economy. However, given the fact that the previous alternator was constantly trying to generate as much electricity as possible while delivering fairly unreliable current, I think we'll see a boost in efficiency.

Conclusion:

All in all, I finally feel like MAB3L is in a solid place to stop modifying, and focus on maintenance. The airbag system is now fully functional (although the seat belt tensioners are still broken), the engine is running happily and is able to sustain itself reliably, the interior is quieter and has enough comforts like bluetooth, power locks, and extra usb charging.

If I was just building out a reliable, utilitarian daily driver, I'd be happy with the boosts in power, efficiency, and comfort we've gotten so far and call it a day.

Except we're not going to be doing that, with a few exceptions like brakes and seats, we're now into the nitty gritty and weird stage of the build.

With 6 months left in the year, I'm hoping to lower the truck, install the electric power steering pump, and the beginning stages of aero. As always any and all advice is appreciated.

PXL_20240401_183448359.PORTRAIT.ORIGINAL.jpg


Thanks as always for your help everyone! Stay tuned for the big mileage update coming early next week.
 

bhgl

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Howdy folks!

A general update, and a mileage update!

Over the last week and weekend, we've racked up just over 3000 KMs, with some travel for family and travel for work I've had lots of seat time in MAB3L.

MILEAGE UPDATE:
On our most recent 1100 KM trip, we encountered some VERY hot days in the city, so air conditioning was regrettably used. Something interesting I discovered was that when the climate control is set to blow via the windshield, with the dial set to any cold setting, the A/C automatically is activated. We ended up driving quite a bit with the air conditioning running unfortunately and this tanked our mileage. Over the whole trip which included quite a bit of urban driving, idling, but also long stretches over 100+KpH highway we achieved a pretty bummer 11.56L/100KM or 20.35 MpG.
---
Now with that knowledge, I've been driving to various locations for work, and the temperature has been cooler. Over the last 3 days I've racked up 1582 KMs, starting on a full tank, and refueling at the same station everyday on my way back home. This drive is effectively all highway, with some urban sections in part. The speed was kept to a maximum of 120KpH, which spins the engine at around 2750 RPM, which I believe is the most efficient speed for the engine as it sits. Without a clear indication of active fuel consumption via a Scangauge(on order) or a vacuum gauge this is still a guess.

I'm very VERY proud to announce we've achieved a whopping 9.66L/100km or 24.35MpG!

Compared to our previous best recorded at the start of the thread in February of 10.2L/100KM (which I'm now realizing was incorrectly calculated compared to the more recent trips), that's a 5.6% improvement!

Compared to our averages for the last 6 trips combined that I reported here of 10.58L/100KM, that's a 9.6% improvement!

Best of all, compared to the EPA estimates for this specific year and model of 11.76L/100KM or 20 MPG, we're at a truly awesome 21.7% improvement.

I did have some trips I didn't report that were 11L/100KM or more, but like the drive above they weren't exactly comparable to what we had previously done as they either involved a majority urban driving, significant use of AC, or other factors like excess weight/towing.

Considering most of the work that's been done has been strictly maintenance and tune ups. With the two biggest items being an upgraded ignition and installing a 2.3 Ranger's electric fan. These are some pretty great gains in terms of fuel economy, but also the truck's general driveability!

Other updates:
Seats/safety stuff:
-New seats have been installed with their included undeployed belt tensioners, and there are now NO AIRBAG LIGHTS! The vehicle's safety systems are fully functional!

-I had a minor mental breakdown after spending an entire day sanding/painting the rails, cleaning, and then finally installing the seats. I realized the already installed belts wouldn't latch in the new seat's buckle. Turns out the design for the belt side changed, I was pretty dismayed but after looking up the 2004+ buckle side I realized it was overall the same design simply with a larger hole. With some commitment and a dremel, I was able to widen the whole and it now latches securely, saving me a ton of time and money in sourcing new belts and tensioners!

-pulling the door latches in towards the body as far as possible has dramatically reduced wind noise, however the door is remarkably hard to open from the outside, and requires being slammed to be shut properly, this isn't the biggest deal since I slam doors anyways but I've already noticed I've left the door "open" more times than I'd like, leaving the interior light on. Thankfully the battery is very healthy and this isn't really a worry, but I should probably still pull the latch out ever so slightly at least on the driver's side.

-We've got a bit of a belt squeak going on unfortunately, it was somewhat present after I removed the clutch fan using the "shove as many screwdrivers as you can behind the water pump pulley" method, but after some corrective whacks with a hammer it did seem to go away.

I then installed the new accessory drive items and it ran fine without a sound until yesterday, hopefully it's just a bolt on one of the newly installed items that's loose and I can tighten it, otherwise I may have to look into electrifying some of the other accessories sooner so as to not replace parts that will be replaced or deleted later.


Thanks as always for the support, any advice as always is appreciated!
 
Last edited:

bhgl

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Folks, this may be my last update for a little while as I attend to my family, given that I've recently lost my father, he was always a huge inspiration to me to get into mechanics and a passion for cars.

Many of the tools I use everyday are from his snap-on/blu point collection from his time as a powersports mechanic in the 80s. He fought multiple sclerosis for more than half of his life, and always treated me and my siblings with love and respect, and supported us in whatever we did.

I did show him MAB3L and told him a few things about it in the last months he was alive, he seemed proud to know his tools were being put to work once again. I wish he was well enough, and had the strength for me to take him on one last drive.

As for the update:


On the last day of my work trip, I had the option of staying out of town and returning in the morning, or driving home after my appointments. Being so excited to see what my fuel economy would be, I chose to drive home and be with my partner for the night. I'm glad I made that choice, as I was able to be with my father in his last moments in the late evening.

We kept the speeds reasonable, the AC off, and acceleration gentle.

At the end of the day, we achieved a stunning 9.27L/100KM or 25.37 MpG. Higher than most any and all reported numbers on places like Fuelly.

I want to thank all of you for giving me this space to share, being supportive, and giving me the chance to connect with my dad one last time.

Don't forget to spend time with those you love, share with them the things you love, and don't be afraid to drive the distance it takes to be with them.
 

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My condolences. Glad you were able to make it for one last time.
Sounds like you've done good on the mileage!
 

superj

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I am sorry for your loss. I hope you and your family are able to have great memories of the time yall spent with him
 

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Sorry to hear about your father.
 

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Sorry to hear about your father.
 

bhgl

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Howdy folks, mileage update for the start summer!

First of all, I really want to thank you all for your well wishes, it's been a difficult few months but all in all as a family we're all doing well, all things considered.

Update:

Aside from an oil change, we've done absolutely nothing to MAB3L in the last month, and we've had 0 issues so far! Except for a very, very annoying squeaky belt. It does tend to go away after some heat gets into the engine, I've checked all the pulleys and haven't been able to find a single wobble, except potentially the main pulley, but it's truly hard to tell. I think the main issue is the fact I went with a notoriously squeaky Dayco belt, since it was the cheapest one on rock auto, I've since ordered a gates replacement, so here's hoping that fixes it.

Mileage:

Trip 1: We did a pretty typical highway run of around 402 KMs, on a cooler day in June, requiring no AC. I think we've really found the sweet spot for speed at 110 KpH, as we attained 9.69L/100 KM (24.32 MpG). We were running with a whack of things in the back, including almost 200L of fuel, a LARGE costco haul, and a dense maple night table. All in all, very proud of this run.

Trip 2: We drove 387 KMs the majority being on the same stretch as our previous drive, and this one was on one of the hotter days last week, meaning we had to run the A/C for pretty much the entire highway, and in town section. This time we were effectively unloaded, with only some luggage, and a little bit of shopping in the back totaling less than 100 lbs.

In all, we achieved 11.53L/100KM, which is 20.4 MpG. I know AC really cuts into fuel economy, but whether it's the inefficiency of the system, or it's age, I really wasn't expecting that significant of a drop.

Still, without any of the previous work I've done, I could've seen mileage as low as 17-18 MpG for this drive, so at least I can take comfort in that.

With a huge road trip coming for the end of the summer, I may in fact attempt to install the electric AC compressor sooner, rather than later, I've got a ton of research ahead of me, but regardless the amount of money that will be saved over the course of a 10 000KM road trip will be more than worth the expense, as long as I can get it running.
 

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Howdy folks, mileage update for the start summer!

Mileage:

Trip 1: We did a pretty typical highway run of around 402 KMs, on a cooler day in June, requiring no AC. I think we've really found the sweet spot for speed at 110 KpH, as we attained 9.69L/100 KM (24.32 MpG). We were running with a whack of things in the back, including almost 200L of fuel, a LARGE costco haul, and a dense maple night table. All in all, very proud of this run.

....

With a huge road trip coming for the end of the summer, I may in fact attempt to install the electric AC compressor sooner, rather than later, I've got a ton of research ahead of me, but regardless the amount of money that will be saved over the course of a 10 000KM road trip will be more than worth the expense, as long as I can get it running.
I'm impressed!

Please keep us posed on what you find out about electric compressors. I need to replace my compressor in a 3.0 engine but I've been putting it off. I live in Michigan, so I only need AC for a few months of the year, and it would be nice to get the pully disconnected from the engine.

I imagine I'd also have to find a new belt that fits my underdrive pully if I removed the AC compressor.

Question for you about fuel economy. If I'm on the highway driving about 55 mph I have a choice of using 4th gear at 3500 RPM or so, or I can use 5th gear at about 2200 RPM. Which is a better choice for fuel economy? I assume it depends on the engine to some degree, but I wonder if there is a rule of thumb that lower RPM = better fuel economy?

I
 

bhgl

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I'm impressed!

Please keep us posed on what you find out about electric compressors. I need to replace my compressor in a 3.0 engine but I've been putting it off. I live in Michigan, so I only need AC for a few months of the year, and it would be nice to get the pully disconnected from the engine.

I imagine I'd also have to find a new belt that fits my underdrive pully if I removed the AC compressor.

Question for you about fuel economy. If I'm on the highway driving about 55 mph I have a choice of using 4th gear at 3500 RPM or so, or I can use 5th gear at about 2200 RPM. Which is a better choice for fuel economy? I assume it depends on the engine to some degree, but I wonder if there is a rule of thumb that lower RPM = better fuel economy?

I
The electric AC compressor is going to be a bit of a faff I'll say that now, but I'm in a similar situation to you where I only need AC for those specific times of year where the weather makes it absolutely essential.

As for the belt you will absolutely need to get a different length belt, your other option is you delete the AC is to put in a dummy pulley in its exact place to maintain the same tension which isn't the worst option, but is just less efficient and takes up much needed space.

In general, lower RPM typically does mean better fuel economy, but with our trucks and their tuning I've found that below 2500-2750 these trucks are tuned really poorly and dump fuel.

1719503172139.png

Based on this graph from Da Silva racing from a long time ago, on a mostly stock 3.0. As well as my own driving with a basic OBD2 scanner monitoring fuel volume. This graph is old, and I had to find a lot of the information about the vehicle by reading forum posts, but it's a 3.0 manual, with an indeterminate axle ratio, but combined with other graphs made for the 3.0 vulcan, it shows the fuel mixture leaning out around 2750-3000 just before/during the peak power band.

Generally speaking however I get my best results keeping the truck as low as possible within the given range of 2500-3000 RPM.

Out of the two options you listed, 2200 RPM is probably more efficient, but there's so many other variables you'll get a better answer from doing some fuel economy testing yourself.

If speeding isn't a concern for you, by going a few MpH faster you might actually see some improvement in fuel economy by raising your rpm to the lower side of that range.
 

superj

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hills and wind will make that 2200 rpms feel like a dog and gas mileage go downhill. if its flat, downhill, or the wind is behind you, 5th is better. the opposite directions would be 4th gear being better.

thats in a 5 speed, 3.0, with 4.10 gears.
 

bhgl

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hills and wind will make that 2200 rpms feel like a dog and gas mileage go downhill. if its flat, downhill, or the wind is behind you, 5th is better. the opposite directions would be 4th gear being better.

thats in a 5 speed, 3.0, with 4.10 gears.
This is the right take if you can't go anything but 55. However, if you can keep the revs between 2500-3000 RPM in either gear by safely modulating your speed, you'll get better fuel economy. Just remember you're not saving if you save 5$ at the pump, and have to pay a 100$ speeding ticket.

One of my best fuel economy runs at the start of the project was done at an average equivalent speed of 68 MpH, with large sections being done at around 89 MpH. I wasn't aiming for fuel economy then, but that run made me investigate what was actually happening with my fuel consumption.

On that run we got 10.2L/100KM or 23 MpG, which obliterated all the other results I had before starting the thread, and that was with winter tires in February, and no e-fan, ignition upgrades, or anything.
 

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