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Pingo Domingo Rides Again! (A Microvan in the High Arctic)

Discussion in 'Microvans' started by EchoVictor, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. EchoVictor

    EchoVictor New Member

    It's been a long time since I've done anything more than a grocery run with my Domingo; my last adventure was the famous Ice Highway to Tuktoyaktuk, where I had lunch in the shadow of a pingo, a sort of thousand year slow motion ice volcano thing, the Big McLargeHuge version of a frost heave. Thus, mine is the Pingo Domingo.

    Last week my parents were in town so Dad and I took a drive down to Tsiigehtchic. I did this once before in November but the ferry was closed for the winter and the ice bridge not yet open, so my trip ended at the river.

    Domingo's little tires do fit very nicely into the ruts left by other trucks, and the gravel highway is in places very deeply rutted, but this is a problem I'm familiar with from my first generation Civic so no big deal. Still, one must be prepared to drive the road conditions and slow down when required. Domingo also has some aerodynamic issues, not at the front but at the back; within 50km, so much dust on the road was vacuumed up on to the rear third of the van that the windows were absolutely pitch black opaque.

    That's probably why I didn't notice the pickup behind me. And despite the fact that, on a particularly smooth section of road, I was doing 5 km/h over the speed limit uphill, Mr. Monster Truck felt the need to prove his manhood by passing the little microvan. And since there was traffic coming down the hill, Mr. Monster Truck had to cut in close in front of me, throwing rocks into my windshield.

    Less than three minutes later, he was stopped in front of me in the ferry lineup, so his aggressive driving style clearly paid off. No, I did not have words with him. Yes, I really, really wanted to.

    Didn't let that ruin a good drive, though. Played a bit with a Sirius satellite radio receiver until the free trial ran out; it does not work well if you stuff the antenna between the sunroof and its blackout panel, but if used as directed it works well depending on terrain. Met up with a bunch of Calgary YMCA kids doing a canoe trip down the entire Mackenzie River. Saw a fox that had just caught himself a rabbit. Domingo got 9.3L/100km (30.13mpg), which is respectable for gravel road. Good thing, too, at $1.69/L (US$6.47/gal) for mid-grade!

    And windshield rock chip repairs in Inuvik are cheap ($50).

    Next month I will be re-winterizing Domingo. I tracked down a replacement thermostat (I was sent Tama Enterprises W44SB-82, 82 deg.C, and gasket P701. Tama's website warns it is dangerous to play baseball using the thermostat) and I'll be replacing the battery terminals so I can drop in a battery with North American standard posts (the original having been repeatedly flattened thanks to the daytime running light kludge disabling the headlight buzzer; thanks Japanoid!).

    Attached Files:

    Acerguy likes this.
  2. Glasstech

    Glasstech New Member

    Hello Neighbor

    Good to see that their are still some Canadians that can still build their roads out of native materials, mud in the summer, ice in the winter. And if you don't have a camera you can show the neighbors where you've been.
    No chip seal for you guys!!
    Have a couple of questions for you since mine hasn't see it's first frost yet.
    Where did you order your thermostat from?
    Do you have a block warmer? I'm planning on using a magnetic one and hope it doesn't fall off.
    Did you find a small battery blanket? My battery is tiny, my motorcycle battery is bigger that that little bugger.
    How was winter starting?
    Thanks for your time.

    Attached Files:

  3. EchoVictor

    EchoVictor New Member

    Bah, there is very little good to say about the ice roads, and NOTHING good about a gravel highway across permafrost! It's only romantic for the first few kilometers, then you start daydreaming of beautiful smooth asphalt. :D

    As you consider winterizing your Domingo... I was told that Mitsubishi offers a "Harsh Winter Correspondent" Delica, which has an extra starting battery (I guess on the theory that two cold and poorly performing batteries will add up to one good one, for when you have to park without a plug-in), a tougher radiator and a thicker paint job. That's it. No block heater, no battery blanket, nothin'. So don't go nuts.

    I did have Japanoid install a freeze plug heater, I believe it's a standard aftermarket part for the Justy. I have never used a magnetic heater, but I never understood how it made sense to have your heater outside in the cold air when you're trying to heat the inside of the engine. Like the man says, your mileage may vary.

    Without using a block heater, Domingo starts just fine down to -10C. Beyond that he needs the heater. With it, Domingo will start with reasonable ease down to about -25C, will start with some complaining down to -30C, and the hard limit is somewhere between -32C and -37C. This is, in my experience, slightly BETTER than my company's shift change truck, a 2011 GMC Sierra.

    I do not have a battery blanket. I have strong opinions against battery blankets. A flexible mat of 120v heating elements in a vibration-prone area? No thank you! I work at the Inuvik airport, and last winter I was out doing a weather report at around 1am, noticed there was unexpectedly a lot more low cloud than the last hour... that's not cloud, it's smoke... coming from the six foot flames rolling out of a Jeep in the parking lot!

    But if you want a battery blanket, the battery is the same physical size as the one from a mid-90's Civic. It's actually the same battery with different terminal posts.

    I did install a 1.5A trickle charger and that seems to have kept my battery from freezing last winter. Actually, since I flattened the battery a few times I don't really trust it, so I've been using the trickle charger even in the summer... I'll stop doing that once I get the battery replaced.

    You want winter oil. Seriously. The manual for the 1996 Libero says the regular 10W30 or 10W40 is good to -10C, but from 0C and below one should be using 5W30. I've been using synthetic 5W20, that was a huge improvement vs 10W30 for the winter but it's a good thing I didn't do a lot of summer driving. When I get the thermostat done next month I'll be changing to the proper 5W30 for this winter, and probably 10W40 for next summer.

    I ordered my thermostat from Japanoid. I hadn't even thought about the gasket but they included one.
  4. anthill

    anthill Member

    Trickle charging the battery should warm it (especially once it's fully charged and the electricity has nowhere to go but heat).

    If you are concerned about the battery being too cold, you could always put a plain-old-blanket blanket around it to keep the trickle charge heat in. Biggest risk would be it getting filthy dirty.

    Oh, and Echo - don't blame Japanoid, as far as I can tell the Domingo has NO headlight buzzer! WTF! I've left the lights on a few times already....

    I've been meaning to go through my German wiring diagram and find the simplest/quickest way to get the drivers-door-open buzzer to trigger on (key-left-in-ignition OR headlights-on.)
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011
  5. Acerguy

    Acerguy Moderator Staff Member

    Awesome post, EchoVictor. Now I know what a pingo is! :D
  6. EchoVictor

    EchoVictor New Member

    Huh! Well that I did not know. Fair enough. My apologies to Japanoid, who otherwise really have provided me excellent service. :)

    When my van first came to town I had trouble getting it insured, so I ran it up once a week and certainly never drove it around the block uninsured. THAT'S when I left the lights on... so it drained overnight and stayed flat with the light switch still on for a week solid. Twice.
    fupabox likes this.
  7. fupabox

    fupabox Well-Known Member

    Great posts ..and your sig. is dead on:)
  8. Glasstech

    Glasstech New Member

    Good Day All

    Thanks for the reply EV. I have lots to do before winter.
    Does anyone know if Japanoid is still in business? I'm not getting any responces from E-mails or phone calls to either Shogu or the parts department.
    EV. Attached is a very simple door little buzzer circuit. The part marked coutesy lamp should go to the ignition circuit, the other end goes to the headlamp circuit.
    The buzzer can be anything that operates on 12V. Radio Shack sells a little Sonarlert buzzer, 273-059, that is not only loud but very irritating. A couple of rounds with this an you will never forget to turn the lamps off. The buzzer is like $6 at RS.
    The diode is any 1Amp rectifier diode rated at 50V or above. Any one doing any electronic repair probably has tons laying around. At RS the part # is 1N4007. Only problem is you have to buy a basket full. If your desperate I can put one in the mail for you.
    Anthill. Could you forward a copy of the wiring diagram to me? I want to do something fancey with my driving lamps.
    Is there anyone else out there someone could recomend a place to order parts from? I'm really pevved with Japanoid due to their not answering me.
    Keep the shiney side up and the dirty side down!

    Attached Files:

  9. Glasstech

    Glasstech New Member

    I finally got areply from Japanoid, I'm so happy.
    I'm trying to get a block warmer from Kevin but he has no idea which one of the 3 he has fits the Domingo.
    When they installed yours did they give you a part number of any kind?
    Thanks in advance.
  10. EchoVictor

    EchoVictor New Member

    No, I'm afraid I didn't get a part number on the block heater, though since it's a "frost plug" type heater, shouldn't it be the same as one for a Justy?

    If I did it again, though, I'd ask about the possibility of installing a circulating coolant heater (Zerostart). The "frost plug" type heater warms the engine up a bit, but the coolant in the radiator and the long hoses in between is still darn cold, and as soon as you crank the engine over, it's chilling the engine right back down again.
  11. Glasstech

    Glasstech New Member

    Thanks for the reply EV
    My Grasshopper lives in a garage most of the time so the plug seemed the simplest solution.
    I hadn't thought of the circulation heater but it sounds like a good idea.
    I'm used to fixing motorcycles, cars don't make any sense to me.

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