Since the IDI C6 VRV (Vacuum Regulator Valve) was discontinued years ago, they are becoming scarcer and scarcer. I’ve been working on developing a new IDI-Online VRV based on the old design for the 6.9 and 7.3 IDI, but with a few enhancements to make the part simpler and easier to maintain.
The older VRV is plastic and eventually breaks down. Since there are no replacement parts for sale, this leaves the IDI owner with a tough decision: either replace the transmission with the inferior E4OD or scrap the vehicle. My goal is provide a new VRV that takes the place of the older part.
I’ve been waiting to announce this for a few weeks because it required a lot of research to document everything, but I’m getting to the point where I feel I’m only a few weeks away from having a functioning prototype.
Ultimately, when this is done, I’m going to provide two types of products. First, I’m going to develop an inventory of replacement cams, cam links, covers, and parts for the existing VRV. Next, I’m going to provide finished product VRV’s, that are custom designed by me to eliminate some of the unnecessary components that either wear early, breakdown, or really don’t need to be included on the VRV for the IDI IP. I’m hoping to have functioning prototypes soon, and if all goes well, new IDI-Online VRV’s for sale by the end of summer.
If all goes well, I might develop an aluminum VRV, that should last substantially longer than any plastic part.
I’ll continue to post more information on my progress as things develop. I hope to have the first round of prototypes mailed to me in a few weeks.
I got all the stock parts modeled and prepped. It was a lot of work. I’m pretty happy with the detail I was able to model, including all the weep holes, notches, ports, etc. I was even able to get the housing completely designed in 3D, which was probably the most complex solid-model that I even built.
Using assembly design, I was able to virtually-test the model and its action. Everything pretty much worked out, except the castle nut and cam housing cover. I used the 3D clash detection to make sure everything fit just right, and made adjustments accordingly.
So far so good. After testing various mesh resolutions, I found a good balance of file-size and mesh detail. Checked it in another program before sending the files off for prototyping.
I chose three different types of plastic for the testing phase of this project. I’m going to make these in what-they-call “Professional Plastic.” They claim the nylon plastic is good up to 350 deg F, watertight, tensile strength (up to 6960 psi), and chemically resistant (to oils, greases, allphatic hydrocarbons, and alkalies). Ideally, I need these VRV Parts to be high-temp rated and have good abrasion resistance, but I ordered two other types of plastic that I’m pretty confident won’t work. I’ve done quite a bit of prototyping, and the cheaper plastics won’t hold up in an engine bay. But regardless, I ordered them just to see how they compare to the professional-style plastic prototypes. I’ll post images once they arrive.
If the prototypes work out, I’ll order a bulk shipment and begin the first phase of this VRV project. I’ll set up a store selling replacement parts for the VRV, like new cams, cam-links, housings, etc. Then I’ll work on new diaphragms for the VRV. Also, I’m doing some legwork for finding decent spring replacements. And ultimately, I want to get to work on my custom VRV design.
I’ve been working with another plastics supplier to figure out an alternative for the diaphragm setup on the stock VRV. We’ve narrowed it down to two types of plastics/resins, and we are developing a strategy to prototype an array of thicknesses to optimized the flexibility where it counts. Also, there are other factors in the prototyping process that make this really difficult to produce; like flexibility, durability, longevity, and rigidity. The sales rep and engineer at my supplier have been instrumental in making sure I can model up something that will suit my needs for the VRV.
I’ll keep on moving forward. This diaphragm resin is pretty expensive (along with the other prototype plastics), but I’m willing to make the investment to make sure I get a diaphragm that is the precise thickness to ensure 5 in-hg to 13 in-hg as per the service manual specifications.
The first round of diaphragm 3D models got approved, so I progressed with modeling an array of various dimension and shape diaphragms for prototyping.
Also, I’m still debating on how to connect the diaphragm to the camlink. I’m testing springs and different elastic plastics. I’ve been talking to a large spring manufacturer in the hopes they have something VERY similar to the stock spring already exists in their inventory. Maybe with a bulk purchase, I can make this assembly somewhat affordable.
With the latest prototyping processes, I can make pretty much any amalgamation I can think of. So to simplify the whole component, I’d like to explore concepts that reduce the overall count of parts in the VRV. Less parts usually means less possibility for failure.
Once I get more of the prototypes, I’ll learn more of capabilities of the plastics, and then I’ll keep progressing on IDI-Online version of the VRV.
The latest set of prototypes is “in production.” I snapped some photos of the facility’s mesh reading software….
Looking good! They estimate delivery of the rigid plastic prototypes around June 29.
Still no word back from the diaphragm plastic cost estimates yet. Their facility is a little smaller so I’m cutting them some slack. I run my own business and know how hard it can be to keep a balance of work-and-life. I’m hoping for the estimates any day now.
Some bad news. The diaphragm 3D model didn’t pass the more advanced examination. Something about the connection material was too small for the resolution of the printer. I’m not really sure how to resolve this yet, I’m brainstorming a new solution. I don’t have a lot of options, because the diaphragm diameter is really small, so extending it will mean creating a larger footprint, thus reducing the flexing capacity of the diaphragm plastic. Back to the drawing board.
As for the spring manufacturers, I’ve been going back and forth on that whole ordeal. We have tried to get some early cost estimation, but since the springs are so odd, they don’t have a good number yet. I’m currently at the point of modeling up the current springs and producing some drawings to aide their bidding.
Some set backs, but I’m going to keep moving forward. The first quote for the springs came out to $400-500 per spring. LOL.
I’ve been trying to make sure that all my products are American Made. So I’m shopping around for more spring manufacturers anywhere in the 50 states. Any suggestions, leave a comment below.
I’ve made the latest revisions to the diaphragm prototypes and sent them off for approvals. I have four different designs (2-way flat disc, 4-way flat disc, 2-way domed-disc, and wide slot flat disc). I’m still confounded on why the last two prototype meshes were rejected, and their explanation was really enigmatic. If they reject this latest design, then I’m going to have to talk directly with their production team, because the sales staff is giving me the run around. Also, I might have to move toward building my own metal mold and pouring my own diaphragm plastics/resins…. Until then here are some pictures:
The first round of prototype plastics arrived!
I’ll start testing the plastics for their longevity, durability, etc.