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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Oakland, California
Posts: 32
Propane Gas propelled 914?

I have been debating whether Webers are better than Fuel Injection or viceversa. Since I do care for the environment I have been thinking about using carburators but instead of running on dirty common gasoline, doing a conversion to natural or propane gas which burns far cleaner.
Has anybody seen that done? Once I read a very convincing report on propane gas conversion for trucks and bused. In fact, years ago, I saw here in California a county agency vehicles running on propane gas.
Any comments from environment conscious 914 owners?
Old 03-20-2002, 08:28 PM
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I have a propane truck (no really!)

I have a '69 GMC pick-up that was converted to CNG (Compressed Natural Gas or propane) eons before I bought it. I used to live in Northern California and many of the farmers up there have propane delivered to their ranches and that makes it very convenient to have your beater truck run on the stuff. That way you don't even have to register the thing since it never leaves the property.

CNG is extremely cold when it hits the atmosphere (someone once told me that it was -44 degrees F, though that seemed unusually low) and therefore needs a pre-heater. In my truck the pre-heater uses the cooling system (hoses run off a T that comes off the heater core.) As you can see, that option wouldn't work for the air-cooled 914. Though I suspect an electrical version could exist.

I had also heard that propane usually results in an approximate 10% loss of power for equivalent displacement. That seems about right for my 350. 10% percent of next to nothing for a 914 is a really not much at all.

Additionally, the empty tank itself would be very heavy even before any fuel was added. And weight is the #1 enemy (besides rust) of our tragically underpowered cars.

Additionally, since there are no lubricants in the fuel, the valves can burn easily.

If you are really serious about keeping the 914 and being environmentally conscious and are planning on short range traveling, I remember once seeing an electrical version of the car on the 'net somewhere. I think there may even be more than 1.

CNG is used for about half of the city buses here in San Diego. The vehicles cost significantly more than the diesel versions but that is offset by grants and tax waivers. Also, the tour buses that ply the World Famous San Diego Zoo have run in CNG since I was a little kid. Many fleet vehicles run on CNG because in bulk it is a lot cheaper than gasoline (I have found a place that sells it for $1.09 a gallon) and if they have their own fueling station, it can be a worthwhile investment.

My $.02 is to restore the FI to perfect running order. It'll probably be the most fuel efficient and the cheaper option.
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Old 03-20-2002, 09:14 PM
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One simple trip to Mexico should answer that question.

tons of VW that run on propane. Why? It's cheeper. But man does Mexico traffic stink. If you looking to go real environmental friendly, you should think of an electic morot like herb mentioned, or go to an upgarded newer style motor. I.E. a complete 4 banger from an Escort, or something like that. Including exhast.
Old 03-21-2002, 04:43 AM
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http://www.electroauto.com sells complete electric conversion kits for 914ís. Itís not propane, but itís certainly environmentally friendly. Search Yahoo, youíll find tons on electric 914 conversions.
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Old 03-21-2002, 06:49 AM
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Go for it!

It is a near zero emmisions alternative to gas. That is how they can run propane in warehouses and Home Depot fork lifts.

Yes the power drop is about 10% with a stock motor. BUT the beauty of LPG is that the compression can be bumped up dramatically to like 15-18:1 w/o problems. Also the engine will last almost forever and the oil change life exteneded (and will come out clean as it went in!).

The issue is heating the gas like previously mentioned. In water coolers a "T" can be constructed to use the coolant, but in an air-cooler some electric heater needs to be used.

The Zimboni (sp) things at hockey games uses VW T1 engines on LPG so look into vendors for that and you will be all set!

Go fot it and keep us posted!
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Old 03-21-2002, 07:26 AM
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Find out how much the full tank of propane will weigh. Where you gonna put it? Front trunk. How will affect the handling?
Slow WAAAYY down for every corner.

If you want to help the environment, park the 914, buy a Honda. When you want to have fun, bring out the 914.

Trying to make a 914 into something environmentally friendly is like buying a Ferrari and saying, "but I want to be able to tow my ski-boat with it too"

It just ain't practical. Possible yes. Practical, No
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Old 03-21-2002, 11:03 AM
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Randy has a good point there...

The Toyota ultra-LEV Prius produces the same amount of polutants in 100,000 miles as my old truck does on 10 miles I hear the worst polutants are given off when filling the tank and the fumes escaping than actually driving the car!

Amazing!

The hope of a zero emmisions car is a joke I wish CA would wake up on that one. C&D did a great write-up on this a while back.

No one wants an electric or ultra-LEV car anyway... Look at all the SUVs being sold. Talk about slapping mother nature right in the face! All YUPPIE lip service.

(note I am not casting stones because I know my '71 truck, '79 911, and '66 bus are probably no posterchild for emissions)
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1971 Chevy C-10 w carb 5.3 LS swap
1948 Spartan Mansion 30' travel trailer
Old 03-21-2002, 11:13 AM
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If we just made everything that's out there run as clean as new or cleaner then we'd probably be better off than spending a lot of money on electrics (although I think the work on LEVs and ULEVs is very positive). Those gross polluters you can smell for about two miles before you pass them on the highway are really irritating. Note I said 'as clean or cleaner' as I have seen a few posts on this board where people wanted to put modern, closed-loop FI on their 914 but couldn't because of the California laws. All that really matters is performance, and that's what they should grade you on, but 'those who know better' want to be sure and dictate everything to you. A lack of that is one of the things I came to admire about Michigan when I moved here from NY. Anyhow, you could probably spend the same or less and fit that closed-loop FI system to your car, clean it up quite a bit, and also retain the original fuel tank and handling. Oh, and if you can add a cat converter when you go to the closed-loop and it will really help out. Maybe there's a setup from a late model air-cooled 2.0 Bus?
Old 03-21-2002, 11:29 AM
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I have done research on this. It really cant be done unless you make your own parts. I mean everything.

The shops only want to do fleets and the small suppliers all went under. No more aftermarket parts in the US.

The UK or AU have the only aftermarket suppliers anymore. LPG FI is common in those locations.

-Rich Hilgersom
Old 03-21-2002, 02:07 PM
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Electric car being zero emissions??? What about all the coal they had to burn to generate the power? Or the Nuclear plants needed to generate the electricity?

I think the real thing that would help is the Ford design that uses the braking action of a car to build up hydraulic pressure. The pressurized fluid is then used to propel the car.
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Old 03-21-2002, 03:39 PM
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I don't see what all this fuss is about. If you want to build a fast, efficient car, you give it an electric motor and a generator on each wheel. The faster you go, the faster you accelerate and since you are generating your own electricity, you don't need batteries, fuel or a fuel tank. I saw this setup advertised on AutoAtl****'s website but they needed cash up front for 500 orders before they could ship. Sounded fishy.

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Old 03-21-2002, 04:34 PM
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Hmm, it seams some of you are mistakeing a simple rule of life. It takes exactly the same amount energy to create energy. If that's not clear here is an example.

You use 100 watts of power turning the belt in your car to spin the alternator. The alternator will put out 100 watts of power (actually less but lets forget about deminishing returns for right now).

The generators on the rotor bit. Okay, you cannot create energy from the generators on the rotors from the energy you created on the rotors... This is difficult to explain. The generators require the power of the car tires spinning. So lets assume that the car is at least moving and we can start to generate power. The faster we go, the more amps we pull on the generators, the greater the strenght needed to ture the generator becomes. Now that you have created this power at the wheel you need to send it to your engine. The engine needs lots and lots of energy, not like an alternator for your battery, much much more. The car could never do it.

Makeing a 914 as environmentally friendly as possible. No problem, do all you can, and more power to you!
Old 03-22-2002, 04:28 AM
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Here is an even easier environmentally friendly fuel: Bio-diesel

Learn more through www.veggievan.com

There is loads of information on the web on how you can make it at home and it runs on ALL diesel cars. I keep having this pipe dream of picking up a M-B 240D and trying it out. Then I see gas so cheap and forget about it... My break down price might be $2 a gallon before I actually could justify wasting the time to do it
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Old 03-22-2002, 05:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Germain
Hmm, it seams some of you are mistakeing a simple rule of life. It takes exactly the same amount energy to create energy. If that's not clear here is an example.

You use 100 watts of power turning the belt in your car to spin the alternator. The alternator will put out 100 watts of power (actually less but lets forget about deminishing returns for right now).

The generators on the rotor bit. Okay, you cannot create energy from the generators on the rotors from the energy you created on the rotors...
I was kidding, guess it wasn't funny. Thanks anyway. But big fan driven generators on the top of the car would work right? Especially at high speeds?
Old 03-22-2002, 08:59 AM
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In a fit of insanity, we bought 40 used up Dodge stretch vans. with 318 V8s, that are CNG only. What we have found:

The system appears to be the same as gas, with the exception of the storage and feed.

System is pressurized to 3000 psig.

The tanks appear to be fibreglass and are the most expensive part of the system.

In a call to a firm in Atlanta (not AA), I was told the regulator conversion system was available for about $150.00 from a Japanese mfgr.

The same injectors as the gas engines are used.

The CNG is introduced into the engine fuel rail at the same spot as gas, but a pressure regulator is added.

Fuel is available through the "Gas Company". You need to get "certified" to fill at their locations (15 minutes of free training).

Very few commercial stations exist. Don't expect to take a trip out of a metro area and find a filling station. Even in a metro area, you won't find that many "fueling stations".

Most of So Cal Gas vehicles are "dual fuel" so they can get somewhere AND get back.

Our intent was to remove the systems on the dead vehicles and sell the parts. I was told that there was an extremely limited market for the parts (due to the cheap conversion). The tanks were the most sellable item, but the only market was out of the country.

My analysis - if I was in town all the time; it is feasible. The tree huggers will love you (at least in CA).

Personally, I would stick with good ol' gasoline and have a well tuned FI system.

Now, if I could just get my hands on a small nuclear reactor...........,
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Old 03-23-2002, 06:04 AM
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