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MAB3L, the most reasonable truck on the road!


bhgl

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Yesterday's trip:

Yesterday was a cooler day, around 7-11 Celsius varying throughout the day, with some light rain.

Overall load wasn't too big either, around 60lbs of tools for the trip there, and I'd say an extra 300-350lbs from picking up seats, brake discs, and other misc parts from the junkyard, and other shopping.

In total we drove 431.4 KMs, with around 100 KMs of mixed stop and go/urban highway driving and the rest all being highway, average speed for highway sections was just under 100 KpH.

Despite all of the urban driving, idling in drive thrus, accelerating from stop lights only to drive a few hundred meters to stop, and accelerate again. We achieved a surprising 10.63L/100Km or 22.12 MPG.
---
On our last trip, which was done before the tune up, ignition upgrades, minor weight reduction, and summer tires we achieved 10.52L/100KM, which is around 22.40 MpG over 640KMs of strictly highway driving.

Yesterday's trip involved more weight in payload for both legs, and quite a bit of stop and go traffic as I navigated busy downtown roads to visit different stores and appointments. Yet we achieved almost exactly the same mileage! I'd call that a win for sure.
---
Other observations:

  1. Acceleration has improved from the new ignition, it's hard to say how much but response is clearly better and as a result it's much easier to pass vehicles on the highway. The engine note is certainly more aggressive
  2. We encountered at least one misfire, one code reading specifically for cylinder 2 whether it's from the new wires, the coil, or the gapped plugs I can't be sure. I need to do a better job of routing and securing the spark wires to make sure they don't move as much while in motion. I cleared the code and drove another 240KMs without issue.
  3. A low vibration at idle is still present, and in fact maybe more noticeable following the ignition upgrades. It may be worth running compression tests to make sure everything is healthy.
  4. Firestone Destination LE3s performed excellent on the highway in rain even at speeds exceeding 100 KpH, I didn't notice a moment of hydroplanning and felt confident the truck was tracking true.
Overall I'm pretty happy with how the truck is shaping up, it's noticeably better to drive following the addition of new tires, and the upgraded ignition. There's more work to do, more things to fix.

With new seats I'm desperately hoping I can clear the last of the airbag codes, the last few that came up referred to seat belt pretensioners, which on these new seats are thankfully not deployed.
 


bhgl

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Well folks, I'm a bit frustrated.

General updates:
We did another 400 ish KM trip over the weekend, this time we took things supremely chill, and stayed at or just 10 kms above the speed limit for the duration of the highway drive, and had significantly less time in urban driving.

Unfortunately I had a pretty unsuccessful junkyard trip too, the Explorer front Sway bar ended up not being acquirable thanks to limit time, tools, and a perfectly circular bolt. On the previous trip we did get the E-Fan and shroud from a 2.3 Ranger, which I'm excited to install.

My calculations this time weren't perfect, but we achieved a pretty bummer 21.8 MpG, or 10.79L/100KM. I have to admit my numbers weren't the most accurate for today, I drove 20-30 kms before remembering to reset the GPS odometer which may skew things, I did add that 20 back to the odometer number, but unfortunately I have no idea how accurate that truly is.

The wall that is the 3.0 Engine, and its tuning:

This engine is tuned/built for longevity, after ford got into a bid of shit with it's Essex V6 motors. As a result it's a low compression, low rev motor built for the times of cheap gas.

With fewer supporting mods, we've been able to achieve 23 MPG on a long distance, high speed trip. I'm sure that with the new tires, minor weight/aero bonuses, and new ignition we could beat that number. But...

The problem is this engine DEMANDS to be driven at or near 3000 RPM to be anywhere near efficient, according to previous graphs I posted, the air fuel mixture only starts to lean out to a base level above 2750 or so RPM. Which in it's final drive ratio this truck will only do above 120 KpH, with the efficiency effectively peaking at the truck's limited top speed of 143-5ish KpH.

I would love to drive 120+ KPH on most every highway if I could, but over here in Canada 50 or more above the speed limit results in immediate suspension, and frankly, isn't always reasonable nor safe. An engine should, in most situations be more efficient lower in the RPM range, unless we're dealing with the American design philosophy of keeping consumer engines under-stressed and under-powered for longevity.

What to do about it:

First things first
, I'll be continuing with other efficiency related modifications, while these won't solve the low rpm inefficiency problem, they'll still help across the board. The E-Fan is next, and hopefully with a few dollars coming my way soon, lowering and general aero work too.

The second option we have is to try a similar 400 KM trip with Overdrive turned off. I know it sounds crazy, but I was experimenting with it on the last drive. Turning off overdrive puts the engine closer to its "happy" RPM range when at reasonable highway speeds (90-110KpH), if the efficiency curve theory is true. Then we should see somewhat better fuel economy, it will require some intervention from me at times when coasting.

Third option is to get a tune done, I'm not personally super excited about this option even though it may be the most effective. Mainly because I really do want this to be a reliable, long lasting motor, and the general expense of acquiring a tuner, or getting it done professionally. I don't need more power out of this motor in general, I enjoy the fact that this motor is happy to run in imperfect scenarios and conditions. When you're travelling long distances in rural areas, the wiggle room provided by a standard tune is very comforting.

The fourth, probably least viable/possible option at the moment is to increase compression ratios, or regretfully add some amount of boost. Either of these would also require a tune as well.

Raising compression ratios would involve either changing piston, head, or crank designs. We run into several issue here, namely being expense, time, and the lack of purpose-built parts known to work with Vulcan 3.0 motors. All of this may also too compromise the overall reliability and longevity of the motor. This motor is pretty inefficient in general at 9.3:1, so raising the compression ratios to something between 10.1-11.1 would clean up a LOT of inefficiency overall.

Adding boost to low compression motors really does seem to help in regards to efficiency, and for this application we'd be looking for the tiniest, fastest spooling, low boost providing turbo possible. I'm no forced induction wizard, but the goal here is to just move the engine to a leaner, while still safe fuel/air mixture. The rumour mill says the Vulcan can handle nearly 10-15lbs of boost before things start to go wrong, now I'd be looking for less than that, with as much boost possible being provided as low as possible in the RPM range.


I need some input here folks, let me know your thoughts and if you have some recommendations on how I can improve the engine's efficiency overall with as little capital as possible, while still retaining reasonable reliability.
 
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alwaysFlOoReD

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AFAIK, the 3 is a high rev motor, not like you mentioned at the beginning.
Maybe changing the rear end to get higher numerically ratio would get you into a higher rpm range when cruising.
I like the idea of turbo too.
 

bhgl

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AFAIK, the 3 is a high rev motor, not like you mentioned at the beginning.
Maybe changing the rear end to get higher numerically ratio would get you into a higher rpm range when cruising.
I like the idea of turbo too.
The 3.0 Vulcan isn't really a high-revving motor given its pushrod and economical design, at least by global standards for engines anyways. In application in the Ranger it doesn't even reach 6000 RPM before fuel cut off. It just so happens to make its peak power in a terrible spot for the application. Obviously it's more of a rev happy motor compared to diesels and other typical truck motors, but it's truly ill-suited for the job in this truck in my opinion, that being said I don't want to swap anything else in haha.

The SHO version was more of a revvy motor.

We're already at a 4.10 ratio for the rear I'm afraid, the only other way would be to in fact run it without overdrive and see if that helps.
 

Lefty

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AFAIK, the 3 is a high rev motor, not like you mentioned at the beginning.
Maybe changing the rear end to get higher numerically ratio would get you into a higher rpm range when cruising.
I like the idea of turbo too.
Anything over 21MPG is a win.

I think that any kind of boost needs some engine work too, maybe also a new fuel pump, maybe some exhaust changes. I don't know. I'm not a mechanic.
 

bhgl

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Anything over 21MPG is a win.

I think that any kind of boost needs some engine work too, maybe also a new fuel pump, maybe some exhaust changes. I don't know. I'm not a mechanic.
But Lefty, WE NEED MORE.

There's a gentleman on youtube who's been running a turbo'd 3.0 with almost nothing for supporting mods for some time. Granted I don't know if I'd do that little supporting work, but there's just so much extra fuel being dumped into the truck at the low end of the RPM range I think there's a case to be made for a small amount of boost.


I found the guy on youtube, he's been running an ebay turbo setup for at least 2 years without so much as a tune, and it seems like he's been having no issues.

 

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But Lefty, WE NEED MORE.

There's a gentleman on youtube who's been running a turbo'd 3.0 with almost nothing for supporting mods for some time. Granted I don't know if I'd do that little supporting work, but there's just so much extra fuel being dumped into the truck at the low end of the RPM range I think there's a case to be made for a small amount of boost.


I found the guy on youtube, he's been running an ebay turbo setup for at least 2 years without so much as a tune, and it seems like he's been having no issues.

A turbo might be good. I'm sure it can be done. No doubt a few of the members have. Personally, I'm not comfortable with doing this much retrofitting. I'm strictly a bolt-on kind of guy. I could never do all that work laying on my garage floor. I don't know if there is any mechanic in town who would put my truck up on his lift and take this on either. But that's just me.
 

bhgl

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A turbo might be good. I'm sure it can be done. No doubt a few of the members have. Personally, I'm not comfortable with doing this much retrofitting. I'm strictly a bolt-on kind of guy. I could never do all that work laying on my garage floor. I don't know if there is any mechanic in town who would put my truck up on his lift and take this on either. But that's just me.
I'm sort of in a similar place, I've got enough garage space, and life left in my knees/back I'm able to do most work, but I don't have a full lift at hand.

Turbo installs are surprisingly easy these days all depending on what kit you buy/what you're working with, definitely not a bolt on solution however.

I just really need to lean out that lower end of the rpm curve to get some better efficiency, with a turbo that might help keep me at lower RPMS, but won't really solve the issue that this ECU dumps fuel at the low end for whatever reason.
 

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I think shutring off the overdrive is worth exploring before you throw parts at it.

A manual transmission is a better match for this engine, that was originally designed to be in a car, since you can pick and choose when to shift as opposed to an automatic. I have heard of people being able to customize when their transmission shifts but I don't know if a Ranger transmission is a candidate for that.

Like mentioned before, 21-22 mph for a V6 powered Ranger is generally looked at as being pretty good. That fact that you've been able to eek out more on occasion is pretty good even if it hasn't been a regular thing.

It will be interesting to see what you come up with.
 

bhgl

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I think shutring off the overdrive is worth exploring before you throw parts at it.

A manual transmission is a better match for this engine, that was originally designed to be in a car, since you can pick and choose when to shift as opposed to an automatic. I have heard of people being able to customize when their transmission shifts but I don't know if a Ranger transmission is a candidate for that.

Like mentioned before, 21-22 mph for a V6 powered Ranger is generally looked at as being pretty good. That fact that you've been able to eek out more on occasion is pretty good even if it hasn't been a regular thing.

It will be interesting to see what you come up with.
Definitely don't want to sit around waiting/paying for more parts. I've spent a decent amount of money since getting the truck and I'm eager to just get some miles out of it and focus on other financial matters at least for a little while.

You're right in saying that a manual would be a better match, but finding a manual in good shape, the associated PCM, not to mention the clutch hydraulics, pedals, e.t.c. is just going to run up too much of a bill, and doesn't solve that main issue of the motor being so inefficient at the bottom of the RPM range.

If I have the chance, I'll try to do a drive this weekend on the highway with overdrive disabled and see where it gets us.
 

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Definitely don't want to sit around waiting/paying for more parts. I've spent a decent amount of money since getting the truck and I'm eager to just get some miles out of it and focus on other financial matters at least for a little while.

You're right in saying that a manual would be a better match, but finding a manual in good shape, the associated PCM, not to mention the clutch hydraulics, pedals, e.t.c. is just going to run up too much of a bill, and doesn't solve that main issue of the motor being so inefficient at the bottom of the RPM range.

If I have the chance, I'll try to do a drive this weekend on the highway with overdrive disabled and see where it gets us.
Some things that can help some, if you haven't donr so already. Run a tank of fuel with system cleaner in it. That will clean the injectors for an more efficient spray. That usually gives me about a 1 mpg gain. I run it twice a year and dump a bottle in the tank when filling up for a good mixing. Then drive it until the fuel light comes on. It's not much but it's something.

If your O2 sensors are over 10 years old or have 100,000 miles on them, they are worn out and not operating at proper efficiency. That will net about another 1 mpg gain. It may be more than that but I have not done a long trip since I changed mine but between the fuel system cleaner and changing the O2 sensors, I have bumped back up to aroung 18 mpg with local driving from the around 16 I was getting.

If you get the O2 sensors, make sure you get a thread chaser for the bung. The threads on a couple of them were pretty rough.
 

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since you mentioned tuning,,
I seem to remember a few years ago there was someone willing to tune factory 3.0 PCMs, but the specific details are a bit fuzzy now.
he may have been in Pennsylvania, maybe that sounds familiar to someone.
 

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The 3.0 Vulcan isn't really a high-revving motor given its pushrod and economical design, at least by global standards for engines anyways. In application in the Ranger it doesn't even reach 6000 RPM before fuel cut off. It just so happens to make its peak power in a terrible spot for the application. Obviously it's more of a rev happy motor compared to diesels and other typical truck motors, but it's truly ill-suited for the job in this truck in my opinion, that being said I don't want to swap anything else in haha.

The SHO version was more of a revvy motor.

We're already at a 4.10 ratio for the rear I'm afraid, the only other way would be to in fact run it without overdrive and see if that helps.
it also had twice as many valves and a fancy (for it's time) dual runner intake.
valve lift was only .335" & .315" I & E. the intakes on the 3.2 had .315" for the intakes and had more torque.
 

bhgl

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Some things that can help some, if you haven't donr so already. Run a tank of fuel with system cleaner in it. That will clean the injectors for an more efficient spray. That usually gives me about a 1 mpg gain. I run it twice a year and dump a bottle in the tank when filling up for a good mixing. Then drive it until the fuel light comes on. It's not much but it's something.

If your O2 sensors are over 10 years old or have 100,000 miles on them, they are worn out and not operating at proper efficiency. That will net about another 1 mpg gain. It may be more than that but I have not done a long trip since I changed mine but between the fuel system cleaner and changing the O2 sensors, I have bumped back up to aroung 18 mpg with local driving from the around 16 I was getting.

If you get the O2 sensors, make sure you get a thread chaser for the bung. The threads on a couple of them were pretty rough.
I did a seafoam treatment in the tank as well as the spray one, frankly I don't know how much it did for the engine overall. The engine and transmission is the one thing that I'm pretty sure is original and only at 81000 KMs so I don't know if there was just not a lot to clean up or what.

The o2 sensors though is a good call, that's something I haven't thought off. I'd imagine they're the originals from the truck, or whatever other truck they came from.
 

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