While the USA pays a lot of lip service to alternative fuels and cutting emissions, other countries are way ahead in their alternative fuel department. This will show you that a good ole Chevy truck (photo 1) can be converted to propane use and its components used in the system.
While this may not be a do-it-yourself-project, it can open the eyes of some Preppers into alternative fuel for both American and imported vehicles. This is a great system to have in a secondary car to have in your emergency preparedness kit. Yes, it is a little expensive, but a car that works without fuel is an invaluable asset in an emergency situation (as long as you stored enough propane as part of your emergency preparedness kit to power your system).
Why Propane you ask? Well numerous advantages of storing and using propane for a gasoline engine. As I have driven through the USA country side, I have noticed hundreds or rural homes with LARGE propane storage tanks already on their property. For these people, their 1000, 5000, and 10,000 gallon storage for their alternative fuel is already taken care of. Propane stores well for years, without additives like you need for gasoline. Propane would less likely be a target for thieves than gasoline. Propane will reduce the suit in your engine, thus extending your engine oil life in times of emergency.
An ADDED bonus is if you have a full tank of gasoline and a propane system, you can effectively DOUBLE your range without refueling. Propane prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years and there is no upside price shock as it is not sourced from the unstable Middle East regions, but from many places around the world. With it being harder to steal, cheaper, cleaner and cooler burning for your engine, why wouldn’t you want a propane system for your emergency preparedness kit and just to save money in the long run? Converting to this system saves you a ton per mile driven.
Start with the propane conversion systems largest component, the tank. Photo 3 and 4 show you the location of the tank, and the general shape that resembles a spare tire and is approximately a 20 gallon tank.
It is then fed from the tank’s integral regulator via tubing to what they call here the converter. Photo 5 shows the converter, unfortunately tucked deep inside the engine bay.
After the propane passes through the converter, it then goes to the injectors photo 6,7,8.
Each cylinder has its own dedicated injector that makes a light ticking/clicking noise. Photo 9 shows the tubing leading to the intake/cylinder head for delivery to the cylinder (not shown).
Last but not least, the “fuel gauge” shown in photo 1o.
Has several lights to indicate quantity (photo 10 shows nearly empty, but still running on propane) and if the engine is running on gasoline or on propane.
Filling up the tank is a touch more complicated and requires more precaution. If you have a large propane storage tank at home as part of your emergency preparedness kit, you can modify the piping to accept an adapter (preferably with a meter) as shown in photo 11.
Be careful, or have a professional do the modification. You can tell the professional that it is only to fill up your BBQ tanks as the adapter is the same for filling up propane bottles for your grill. For us, they have propane service stations here that resemble gas stations, photo12.
An added bonus to the already cheap propane is the fact that you are avoiding road taxes as well).
Pull up to the pump, unsecure the dust cover, thread in your service pipe to your tank, photo 13.
Fill her up! Unthread the service pipe, reinstall the dust cover, photo 4 and off you go. Pay attention to your gauge for your next fill-up, photo 14.
Photo 15 is a 90’s era Toyota fitted crudely with a large propane tank in the trunk.
The downside to this alternative fuel system is a small sacrifice in safety, performance, and engine longevity. Propane is dry, so it does increase cylinder wall and piston ring wear. Buy a high quality synthetic oil to help combat this problem. The fuel savings will pay for itself and the overhaul twice over. One added downside is the engine needs a small amount of gasoline to start, warm up, then auto switches to propane. The gasoline usage is very small, approximately 2 minutes.
There are many different vendors of these systems, but I understand the Italians make the better systems. As I write this, I am in the Dominican Republic, and the installed cost of this system is approximately 1,500, USD or under. About 1/3rd of the gasoline cars here are running on propane for more than a decade. Word of caution, propane service facilities in the USA may NOT want to service your car with propane without you having a HAZ MAT or hazardous materials placard/certification on your car. You may need to have special licensing and training to get this. Before installing this modification, check with 2 or 3 propane vendors for their applicable requirements if any. If you are just refilling at home from your own propane storage tank, you will bypass any problems with this. Your propane delivery truck driver will not know that you are refilling your vehicle with propane.
Check with your applicable state vehicle inspection requirements. You may have to de-modify/remove your tank, to pass inspection. I am not advocating breaking any laws and the reader is required to do their own due diligence on all applicable federal and state vehicular safety laws and regulations requirements for this particular modification. Cheaper alternatives are out there to fuel your car and having a secondary car running on propane for your emergency preparedness kit is an invaluable asset to have.