Send me a note:
darin AT metrompg D-O-T com,
Posted Thursday, August 16/07 in General
To the fossil fuel-powered car, that is.
I've actually been working on a variety of other vehicles, and in the spirit of the Blackfly, the common theme running through the entire fleet is efficiency. (Most of them even save fuel by replacing some dino juice driving.)
So here's where my tinker time has been going this summer...
Posted Wednesday, May 30/07 in Driving efficiently
In recent years, pulse and glide may have been popularized most by drivers of Toyota's Prius hybrid, partly because it's just so darned easy to do in that car. But contrary to a misconception held by some, this extreme fuel saving method wasn't developed by hybrid drivers, nor is it limited to hybrid cars. In fact, it has been used for decades by participants in extreme fuel economy competitions like the Shell Marathon for experimental vehicles.
A group of just such people - grad students and researchers at the University of California (Davis) - demonstrated the technique (calling it "burn-and-coast") to a writer from Road and Track in 1992. With some coaching, the writer pulled off 116 mpg (US) on a closed course in a bone stock Geo Metro XFi.
Posted Tuesday, April 24/07 in Mods & Tests
Is the camshaft a car's heart? Maybe that's the wrong metaphor - it could be the fuel pump. Oil pump? Hmm... Maybe there's no perfect camshaft bio-medical analogy. I came up with the heart comparison because I've had valves on my mind lately.
Valves were also on the minds of the engineers who designed the uber-efficient US-only Metro XFi. Their "economy" camshaft was one of several mechanical improvements that increased the XFi's EPA ratings by 15% (city) and 18% (highway) above its thirstier siblings (the garden variety 3-cylinder Metros).
In pursuit of better fuel economy, a few American TeamSwift.net members have already transplanted XFi cams into their regular Metros. Recently, I followed in their pioneering footsteps, thanks to a friend who performed a cam-ectomy on a junkyard XFi in Utah and sent the prize north across the border on a medevac flight... I mean UPS.
Posted Saturday, March 10/07 in Mods & Tests
Partly that's because I'm a lousy snowboarder. To keep from coming to a dead stop on the flat sections of the (easy) runs I tend to ride, I sometimes have to crouch way down low (minimizing my frontal area) to maintain to enough momentum to "coast" to where the run drops off again.
But mostly it was because of what I saw in the ski hill parking lot: a sea of roof racks and roof-top carriers. I wondered how many people were aware of the magnitude of the fuel consumption penalty they cause. I wasn't entirely sure myself, so I did a quick comparison and saw some dramatic results first-hand.
Posted Wednesday, February 21/07 in General
The ScanGauge has become such an indispensable tool for fuel efficiency enthusiasts that some people, when shopping for second-hand vehicles, have stopped considering pre-1996 models to ensure that a ScanGauge can be used.
In other words, it has quickly become the fuel saver's favourite gadget.
With this in mind, I set out to learn more about the history of the ScanGauge and its inventor, Ron DeLong. I recently spoke to Ron on a range of topics: his background, how the ScanGauge came to be, and some future plans for the magic little box.
Posted Wednesday, February 7/07 in Suzukiclone info
I like learning about other Suzukiclone owners who have been bitten by the efficiency bug. Not only is it a great opportunity to pick up new tips & techniques, but profiling them here has the added benefit of making me seem a little less, um, "extreme" by comparison.
With that in mind, meet Rick. Rick is a genuine motorhead - he's taken his considerable mechanical/technical experience honed on a fleet of traditional high performance cars and applied it to his 1993 Metro XFi to maximize its fuel economy performance for his daily commute. Thus he has also become an econohead.
When it comes to improving efficiency, Rick definitely leans more toward the "mods" side of the "mods + driving technique" formula. The fact that he's been able to average nearly 53 mpg (US) / 4.4 L/100 km / 64 mpg (Imperial) from his XFi, in hilly country, without using any "special" driving techniques is a testament to what he's accomplished mechanically.
Posted Thursday, January 25/07 in General
2006 was quite a year for MetroMPG.com. It was the first full year the site was up, and apparently (judging by the visitor stats), you efficiency nuts really like reading about driving techniques, mods and experiments on the Blackfly:
Here's a summary of the mods, driving techniques, and 2006 web stats, plus a preview of what's in store for 2007.
Posted Monday, December 18/06 in Mods & Tests
"Nerd gear" is the description my brother in-law and I came up with for the key feature of our ideal transmission: we decided that auto manufacturers should offer a much taller-than-usual top gear (a nerd gear) as an option in an otherwise "regular" transmission.
Why? Because too many small engines spin at 3000+ RPM at highway speeds, which we declared to be unnecessary and wasteful in the hands of an attentive driver.
It's true that a car with a nerd gear would see slower top gear performance (acceleration & possibly max speed), and it would require the driver to shift to & from top gear more often (depending on load/terrain). But if you're willing to tick the box labelled "nerd gear" on the option sheet, we figure you're probably willing to pay a little more attention to proper gear selection for the fuel economy payoff.
So I did it - or something very close to it: I swapped transmissions in the Blackfly, and was rewarded with a healthy improvement in fuel economy.
Posted Tuesday, November 14/06 in General
That's because driving techniques typically permit me to get higher fuel economy in sub/ex/urban driving than I get on longer (higher speed) highway trips. So every time I use my bicycle instead of the car for a local trip, the proportion of highway driving in a given tank of gas goes up, and my overall fuel economy goes down!
Posted Monday, October 23/06 in Mods & Tests
How much energy does a car's electrical system use? Would shifting the electrical load from the gasoline-driven alternator to just the battery return a measurable fuel economy improvement? Will a modern computer-controlled car even run properly off its battery alone? Inquiring minds want to know!
My curiosity about this topic was piqued when I read about a guy who installed solar panels on the roof of his VW bus, added a couple of deep cycle batteries, and ditched his alternator. Apparently, the panels and the extra batteries were enough to drive round-trip from Texas to Seattle.
So, I tried it (minus the solar panels on the car). And it turns out that not only does running without the alternator result in a real MPG gain, it turned out to be the largest single fuel economy improvement of all the mods I've tried to date. But there's a big caveat: the immediate fuel savings may not make financial sense in the long run when you consider the effect on battery life.
darin AT metrompg D-O-T com, or here