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Why Propane ??

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by mudslinger99, Jun 22, 2005.

  1. mudslinger99

    mudslinger99 1/2 ton status

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    It seems lately that propane is talked about alot.. So why would you want to run your truck on it ? How does it work ? What are the good points and what are the bad ?
    I remember a few years back it became popular with the diesel guys to boost H.P. and it was suppose to work just like nitrous on a gas motor.. But I have seen a couple people talk and the way they made it sound they changed the gas carb to somekind of propane carb and the motor is not run on gas at all anymore :confused:
     
  2. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    I have been looking into propane systems for the toyota buggy. Basically it has both the advantages of fuel injection (any angle you want baby!) and the advantage of a carb (super simple idiot proof system with no computers etc). If the engine is cam'd right for its use, you can get a good amount of power... and even better, it tends to burn really clean.
    yeah, propane injection for desiels is a whole 'nother ballgame. Most guys looking at propane now are looking at it to be their only fuel. It does require its own carb etc. Cool thing is, kits like you get from gotpropane.com are all inclusive and work with your factory linkages and stuff. Its basically plug and play... you won't have all the issues people seem to have trying to upgrade their old carb'd rig to EFI. In a sense its sorta like mechanical injection. Anyway, I wouldn't be interested in using it on my K5... but for a 4cyl buggy its definitely an option... especially considering the premium price FI'd toy engines tend to get. You can get a recently rebuild carb'd 22r dirt cheap by comparison and though the propane kit won't be cheap, the end result will be a lot simpler.

    The only real "downsides" or propane are fuel availability and the low energy nature of the gas. You wouldn't want to run a long bed 1 ton 454 dually on it... you'd need a giant azz tank of propane to have much range. But for a 4cyl engine or maybe a 4.3L v6, you can get decent range with the common size smaller tanks (like they use on forklifts etc).

    j
     
  3. mudslinger99

    mudslinger99 1/2 ton status

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    So let's say you got a stock 350 chevy motor that has alot of miles on it that you have been running gas in .. What has to be done to it to switch to propane ?

    Wouldn't it have to rebuilt to accept the new fuel ? Or at a minimum flushed to get the gas out ?

    You mentioned the cam had to be right so does that mean a stock 350 cam wouldn't work and you would have to get one designed just for propane ?

    What about performance if you switched the gas motor to propane would it produce more or less H.P. and torque then it did on gas ?
     
  4. sled_dog

    sled_dog 1 ton status

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    Peterson's did an article about his very topic a bit ago. They took an old chevy with a tired 350(may have been a 400) and put Propane on it. They gained HP and TOrque. However their experience is not common. My guess with them is that their fuel system was weak and in need of a rebuild and thats why they improved with propane. They went from worn out carb setup to a brand new propane setup. You could run propane on your stock motor no problem. It just won't get the max power from it. Propane has a higher octane rating then most pump gases(something like 105-110 rings a bell). Thus to build a motor to make power with propane, a nice torquey camshaft(less valve overlap), a low rise single plane intake, and high compression(11:1 or so) are some good basics. There are guys on Pirate making tons of power with Propane motors, and there are guys making less power then stock but they have the advantages of propane. You will likely lose power if your carb is in good condition, but may actually gain if you need to replace fuel system parts anyway. Biggest 2 issues I see with propane(and why I have almost ruled it out for myself)

    1) lack of fueling stations (I have never seen one LPG fueling station in PA, that I know of.) The fuel is not the same stuff you go to Walmart and get for your grill.

    2) When you run out, your buddy isn't likely to have a spare LPG tank in the back of his truck. Nor can you just grab the old red can and walk to the local filling station.

    Oh and to convert, you need the propane parts, no need to "flush". If you have gasoline in your motor somewhere(besides limited particles of it on your intake tract) you have a problem.
     
  5. shelbyfordgt

    shelbyfordgt Banned

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    walmart sells the same type of propane that you can use in combustion engines.


    Uhaul, and gas stations have large tanks where you can fill a vehicle.
     
  6. mudslinger99

    mudslinger99 1/2 ton status

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    I thought propane is what you run in grills, ovens and stoves in your house and some portable heaters... I know when I take my tanks for the grill to get filled the tank they fill them with says Propane.. When the truck comes to fill my tank outside for my gas stove it says Propane on the side of the truck.. I drove a forklift when I was a kid for a lumber yard and those tanks said Propane..

    So now I'm confused :confused:
     
  7. shelbyfordgt

    shelbyfordgt Banned

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    read what i typed above.

    what you said is true. forklifts use the same propane. It is all the same.
     
  8. mudslinger99

    mudslinger99 1/2 ton status

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    If you look we posted at the same exact time :D
     
  9. kgblazerfive

    kgblazerfive keymaster Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    Its the same fuel that you run in your grill and you can buy it a wally world. My truck I can run both so if I run out of Propane its not an issue I just switch it to gas. My motor is a stock 454 and it does have some power loss from the propane but not enough that I care. It tends to have less throttle response. I buy my propane from a local fuel dealer at $1.30 a GAL I am in the middle of figuring out how I'm do for mileage but it seems to be about the same. The only problem I see with propane on a DD is the lack of place to mount the tank, in a Blazer that is, a pickup no problem. I have a 100 gal tank and both the saddle tanks, so lots of fuel.
     
  10. shelbyfordgt

    shelbyfordgt Banned

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    and we're both from the east side like the Jeffersons :)
     
  11. mudslinger99

    mudslinger99 1/2 ton status

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    What kind of carb do you run that allows both propane and gas ?

    How or what do you have to do to switch from the gas tank to the propane tank ?
     
  12. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

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    Some good info here:



    http://www.propaneguy.com/


    In Canada about 20 years ago the federal government heavily promoted the use of propane power for cars. For many years the fuel was subsidized as was the cost of the conversion. In 1987 propane was selling for ~8-10 cents a litre or roughly 27 cents a gallon. My Dad had a '77 F-250 hi-boy with a 400M on straight propane. It got about 8 mpg running propane, but at the cost back then nobody cared. The only drawback was range. We had a 100 litre tank, but by law they can't fill it to more than 80% capacity. So, we had 80 litres or less at any givent time and an effective range of about 150 miles. As long as we were still in Canada it was never an issue because every second gas station had automotive LPG fill stations too.

    They used to sell and adaptor so you could hook up a BB-Q tank if you ran out...

    Advantages are that it runs really clean. Oil with 10,000 miles on it looks like it was just poured from the bottle. I never once saw black oil on the dipstick of that truck...it was always a clear honey color.

    It didn't make a ton of power, but the 400M was no powerhouse in it's best day, and with the stupendously low CR (~7:1) it sure didn't take advantage of propanes higher octane. A serious con IMO is that propane burns very hot, and in our case led to a burnt exhaust valve. We had hardened seats and valves installed after that.

    I did consider propane for my Jimmy at one time, but felt it would be a big PITA when i travelled to the US for wheeling or whatever. The fuel subsidy is gone now too, so propane is only somewhat cheaper than regular gas rather than substantially cheaper. My other 'cons' when i was thinking about it was the tank location. Reality says you're gonna need at least a 100 litre tank...and those are not small. A K5 doesn't have a seperate bed, so you're stuck mounting an LPG bomb or two under the truck. Lastly I would have had to rebuild my motor at the time, cuz it was tired and I figured it would be better to optimize the build for the fuel. When all was said and done it made a ton more sense to swap in a diesel instead. :)

    Rene
     
  13. mudslinger99

    mudslinger99 1/2 ton status

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    Thanks fellows for the replys and Jekbrown and tRusty for the links.. Good info

    I"m not really considering switching to propane I just like to learn and gain some knowledge on stuff that I don't know about.. Even though I can't never seem to remember what I learned when I need it the most :haha:
     
  14. cbbr

    cbbr 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    I really don't know much about it, but I have a friend who is going to run it and gas because of strict emmissions rules. He can't pass the sniffer with gas, but apparently propane runs clean enough to pass.

    He also hopes that it will work better off road b/c he has a carb. He is going to run a smaller tank for just off road and the sniffer.
     
  15. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Propane is a fad just like quarter elliptical, turbochargers on 4wds, et cetera.

    It takes 1.4 gallons of propane to equal 1 gallon of gasoline. With propane costs so high these days it actually costs the same (or more) to run on propane.

    You must use a propane tank rated for mobile use in order to run propane in a vehicle and it must be certified. IE: you won't be carrying a 20lb gas grill cylinder around unless you cage it. Not to mention a 20lb cylinder only holds 4 gallons of fuel. To run more than a 100lb cylinder, chances are your state requires you to have a placard.

    Even propane companies aren't running propane in their trucks. Between the cost of conversion and the cost of fuel... limited resale... not worth it. I'm talking about dual-fuel anyway. Nobody in their right mind just runs on propane. Carbureted propane never really works right either. One big giant piece of disappointment.

    You need a large cylinder so you don't burn all the vapor out of the tank if you have a motor larger than a weedwhacker (22R).

    You aren't going to get the performance out of propane either. You pretty much always run the same timing. When you switch to gasoline you rely on the EFI's knock sensor to retard the timing.

    Propane is for those guys that drive those tractor-trailers with the giant sticker on their 53' trailer... that drive all over the countryside to go wheeling in their $40,000 single seat buggy. Not real practical for those people that never shut off their vehicle, actually drive to the trail, or like to go camping/long trail rides. Or are worried about their safety.

    The day a propane injected vehicle beats a MPFI vehicle is the day I'll eat my words.
     
  16. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

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  17. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    lol, yikes, I didn't know there were any propane haters out there! ;)

    I think propane is a pretty cool way to go for 4 cyl engines. From what I understand you can pretty much "wheel all day" on one forklift tank of propane with a 22r, thats not bad at all. I was talking to my dad about running it (he was a research chemist, dealt with pretty much every common gas I can think of) and he was saying that the types of pumps needed to refill a propane tank aren't exceptionally expensive or rare. That got me thinking. The way I figure, I could mount a decent sized tank of propane on a trailer, use a forklift tank on the buggy and then when I come off the trail I can just fill it back up myself from the larger tank for the next day (or a night rum, woohoo!). That'd be cool, and pretty much eliminate the "this sucks, I can't find any fuel here!" issue for a trailered offroad-only rig.

    I agree on the timing issue... and as tR said, its gonna burn hot. Definitely down sides that have to be kept in mind. I think if an engine is built with propane in mind, it has less cons than if you just try to stick it on an engine designed to burn 87 octane gas. As someone who absolutely hates miles of wires, emmisions crap and vacuum hoses under my hood, propane gets lots of cool points from me for its inherant simplicity. No computers, no crazy emmissions poop to worry about and it works with stock carb linkages and such.

    Anyway, I haven't decided yet, but I am seriously considering running propane in my toyota buggy. Other people have done it with those 4 cyl and had good luck with them.

    j
     
  18. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Hey, if you tune the piss out of that LS1 on gas you'll get over 20hp more. I bet they didn't "not tune" the propane setup, did they? :whistle:

    The emissions are going to be better. Why not go hydrogen? More power and even cleaner than propane. Oh yeah... because it's not affordable. That's right. I forgot about that part. :thinking:

    It's bad enough that we're at the mercy of the gasoline distributors when it comes to fueling our cars, wouldn't it be fun to be at the mercy of the heating energy distributors as to how much it costs to fill your car? It's nothing for propane to get up to $1.75/gallon here... add taxes... costs more to go the same distance compared to gasoline. :yikes:

    Five years ago you could buy propane all winter long for $.80/gallon. You could buy it in the summer for in the $.30s/gallon. This past summer, my Dad and his friend bought an entire bobcat worth of propane between the two of them and paid $.76/gallon and that was a smoking deal.
     
  19. 6.2Blazer

    6.2Blazer 1/2 ton status

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    As already stated, propane contains less BTU's (energy) than gasoline, so in order to achieve the same power levels it requires a lot more propane and thus less mileage.

    Regarding more power, I also don't see how propane itself could supply more power by itself. If you specifically build an engine for propane I'm sure it makes more power than if you ran it on gas.............but vice-versa is also true (an engine built for gas will run better with gas).
     
  20. CyberSniper

    CyberSniper 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    I don't hate propane. It's just not realistic. It's kind of like quarter elliptical suspensions. Sure does seem neat but it's best left as a doodle on a napkin.

    Propane pumps are basically glorified water pumps. In fact, you don't even really need a pump if you've got a big enough tank to fill from. My Dad's best friend works at an industrial propane place that does service calls all over the state of Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. He's the one I get most of the information from.

    I burn 12-20 gallons of gasoline wheeling a day. I don't ever turn the motor off unless absolutely necessary.

    Fuel injection is pretty simple if you actually "get to know it". Emissions stuff can easily be eliminated if you send your ECM to somebody with the proper tools.

    Propane is rather dangerous. Nobody takes it seriously. Unlike gasoline, propane readily mixes with air to become explosive. It burns just as fast as gasoline when a line gets broken. If you have a leak, you might not notice it right away because the oil they put in the propane to make it stink isn't always that noticeable. Plus, propane is heavier than the atmosphere so unless there is a breeze to pull it off the ground it's going to sit as low as possible. Propane can also burn in two ways. First, there's the fire method. Second, there's the freezing method. Propane, when it squirts out, even as gas after a regulator, will burn your skin (freeze). This is especially true when you have a regulator that has enough flow to run an engine.
     

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