im planning on building 2 vehicles to run on propane only... a pinto with a 302 and a 78 ford 4x4 with a 460 stroked to 545... what would i have to do from a legal standpoint to be able to run it? im planning on doing all the work myself... but who do i have to certify it with? i live in fargo north dakota. also a question for those with dedicated propane systems- how cold can it get before you have starting issues... i know once it gets to -44 it wont vaporize at all... but what is the practical limit? the only reason i ask about inspection is im planning on taking advantage of the federal alternative fuels tax credit - its up to 500 dollars and available until the end of the year... unless they change the law again and extend it
The conversion of any motor vehicle to propane fuel must conform to the installation requirements of NFPA 58, which is an installation code rather than an emissions code. Although NFPA 58 ensures that LPG installations are safe, it does not ensure that it meets the emission requirements of the US EPA. I would check with the ND Department of Transport to find out what the state requires for propane-fuelled vehicles. My understanding is that the EPA requires that all existing emission controls remain in place and that the vehicle must be at least as clean on propane as it is on gasoline.
In addition to the federal tax credit, you might also want to check if there are any state incentives. I would start with the ND Department of Commerce for this.
As for cold weather operation, I have driven in northern Ontario during the winter with a 1978 New Yorker on straight propane. I don't recall how cold it got but it was definitely subzero and I never had a problem starting or running in extreme cold. Remember, as long as the converter can supply propane vapor to the engine, the engine will start. Whether your starter has enough juice to turn the engine over fast enough is a different story.
Although a block heater would be good idea, it still wouldn't help to improve tank pressure at temperatures approaching -44°F. As temperatures approached this point, the tank pressure forcing liquid propane to the converter would become less and less. This would only result in a reduction in maximum power as the temperature approached this point. I suppose you could insulate the tank and supply hot water to it from the heater return line if it really became an issue. You could use an inline coolant heater similar to the one the Calgary owner of a Dodge truck installed on his engine. How cold does it really get in Fargo?
Make sure that the fuel tank you use is an ASME motor fuel tank and not a DOT-style (lift truck) tank. DOT tanks are illegal and dangerous in automotive applications.
it gets to -44 almost every year... ive experienced -56 air temp and -92 wind chill... i remember back in junior high the governor called off school for the whole state because it was too freaking cold
While I do not doubt that it gets very cold in Fargo, I think that the extremely cold days you are concerned about are very rare. I checked the national weather service's climate data and the 30 year historical average low for Fargo is -5°F. As it is an average, there could easily be many days of extreme cold that you mention. Other weather-related historical sites you might find of interest are:
I posted a question about extreme cold operation on the propane forum and found that Canadians in the prairie provinces have not had any fuel-related problems running their vehicles during the winter. Remember that windchill has no effect on LPG and is an indication of how fast bare skin will suffer frostbite.
FWIW i live in Whitehorse Yukon Territories and we get down past -45. I run straight propane yr round and have never had a day i couldnt drive to work. I use a pan heater below -18 and after -10 i plug in my battery pad and block heater. Our shop truck is also on propane and it starts everytime, even if the temp drops overnitght an hour or so plugged in and ol blue fires right up.
Possibly. If the reason you're experiencing this problem is that the station's pump is worn out or its pressure bypass valve is out of adjustment, you might have a similar problem with a motor fuel tank. I've experienced filling problems a few times this summer and have had to switch to a different station. I know that the extra check valve in my remote fill line requires an additional 5 psi from the station's pump. Opening the tank's spit valve can help to start the fuel flowing if station's pumps are gutless.
I think the biggest thing when it gets cold is the operation of the vaporiser. The propane should supply sufficient pressure from the tank even at -45F. The vaporizer however might not be able to vaporize the fuel fast enough if the coolant were -45 too. I think that's why these guys have success when using a block heater.. it would heat up the coolant so it could do its job.
For places where the ambient temperature is regularly extremely cold during the winter, you'll also see most gasoline-fuelled cars plugged-in overnight. Having lived in Ottawa, ON for several years, electrical outlets for engine block heaters are very common in apartment parking lots.
Even the engine wasn't plugged-in on a -40°F night, gradually warming water from the engine's coolant ensures that vaporizer has enough heat to do its job. Insufficient water flow to the vaporizer is a cooling system problem rather than a propane fuel system problem.
Remember, when you first start a car (any car) at these temperatures, you never go to full throttle immediately after starting it. You almost always spend a couple of minutes scraping the windows and brushing off the snow while the engine is warming up.
I'm thinking that the the tanks will have to be tested and certified by a state licensed facility and the connections will have to be made by a licensed propane mechanic or gasfitter. I'd start with the yellow pages looking for a shop that does certifications, even just to ask a few questions and get some pointers.
My 460 would have to be plugged in if it got below -30F, or starting it could get tricky.
I've posted a video about starting my propane-powered winter car on a cold winter morning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74CqA71DmRA
It's not quite -44°F but cold enough to show how well a propane car starts in the winter. No matter how cold, I find that if it'll crank, it'll start.
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