360 KidsCommunity October 5, 2016

Senior Projects 2016 – Friends, Family, and Efficiency


High School: The Sage School

Plans for next year: Gap year, then enrolling at the College of Idaho

 Project Title: Friends, Family, and Efficiency

Reide Whitehead worked with Dave Stone of Sun Valley Auto Club to make his Ford Truck more gas-efficient. At the end of Reide’s academic research phase, his thesis took the form: “Changing different products in my truck’s engine, will make it more environmentally safe, lower my carbon footprint, and increase my gas mileage by 75%.”

Excerpts from Reide’s project:

I’m Reide Whitehead, and I have a 1995 Ford f350. This was my dad’s first business truck he bought when he moved to Sun Valley. My dad hasn’t needed it so he has been letting it sit in the corner of his shop and rust for years. He didn’t want to sell it because it was valuable to him and the business. It has been through five different transmissions and 150,000 miles of plowing and towing since then. This truck has a lot of value to my family and a couple years ago I was in need of something different. I graciously was given the opportunity to do what I wanted with it. That’s when my new passion was formed. Over the many hours of sanding the three layers of paint I needed to take off, I started to become fonder of creating something where I had the control. I could have this truck represent what I wanted. I could have it represent me. I absolutely fell in love with this project and the potential it had. All summer I would work, just to make up the money to put into this truck. I loved it.

My truck is very important to my life and family. It helps me find my sense of self every time I work on it and do new work to it. Having that sense of place and community responsibility is exactly what this project is about. I understand that having a gas-guzzling engine is incredibly harmful to the environment and if I would like to keep driving, I needed to put an effort into making this truck more environmentally sound. I have put the research into exactly how harmful my truck is … I have also found what I can do to change it so that it gives me the sense of community responsibility and place that has been needed.

I have changed many parts within my truck’s engine to insure that it gets the maximum potential in efficiency. There are many different tricks to keep an engine performing the most efficient way possible. I have tested each product by itself to understand how it affected my engine’s efficiency. With the research I have conducted, my findings should help get your vehicle to use less gas and run more efficiently.

… I have decided to break up the testing in a couple different ways. The basis of every engine’s efficiency is the air it takes in. But the key to this is the type of air that the engine intakes, and also the difficulty of having air flow through the engine. I bought different types of air intakes to test out which one seemed to have the biggest impact on my truck, and also could potentially be used in anyone’s vehicle.

Next I decided to understand the fuel that the engine is consuming, a fuel filter, being the easiest to access and also a major factor in the quality of fuel that is going to be flowing through my truck. Then I moved to a different type of tires, oxygen sensors, fuel line magnets, and also a tune up. … My goal was a 75% improvement. That is 19 miles per gallon.

Before I started doing any modifications to my truck I needed to set a baseline for how many miles per gallon my truck got. I have a 7.5-liter, 460 horsepower Ford that was built to tow. It was by no means built for gas mileage. I knew my challenge and I decided to face it. To get accurate results in gas mileage I had to use the same gas pump, travel area, driving habits, and the also the same weather. My area of travel was the Bellevue Triangle. I started at Shell Gas station, then turned on to Gannet Road, then right on 20, then another right on 75. This was a total of 38.17 miles.

…Before I started this project, I went to a couple mechanics to ask questions about how I could get my gas mileage up. They would ask about the engine I had and I said, “Well, I have a 7.5.” That’s when they would say, “Oh, good luck” and basically walk away. With this drive to prove them wrong, I took on the challenge and succeeded.

The average 20-mpg car can give off around 9 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. My truck, before testing started, was giving off 15 to 17 tons of emissions per year. Now, with improving efficiency in my engine, I can safely say I am getting 17 miles per gallon highway and have decreased my emissions to around 10 tons of greenhouse gases annually. So, along with the 54 percent increase in gas mileage, I was able to decrease my emissions by 50 percent. I have had so much fun doing this independent trimester and I hope that you take a look at my blog, reideitri.blogspot.com, showing exactly how I installed each product. After all, almost all engines have the same general products involved.

This article appears in the Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.