Controversy #3 Propane Fuel Conversions

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by RickyDL77, Mar 13, 2012.

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Gas 2 Propain..good or bad?

  1. Propane is Good

    55.6%
  2. Propane is Bad

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Would like to know more.

    44.4%
  4. Who cares?

    11.1%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. RickyDL77

    RickyDL77 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 431

    :drinkup: The owner of this Company I work for wants to start converting the fleet of small engines over to propane. Anyone done this? Attended a seminar Monday with one of our local prpane distributers and a somewhat "new" conversion kit they want us to try. The name is AltFuel and can be found at
    AltFuelconv.com.

    The kit is simple enough to install and setup for a normal mechanic without much prior experience. It uses a plate that replaces the insulator and keeps the carburator so that it can easily be switched between the 2 fuels. Installs in about an hour with very "easy" adjustments. the following is a copy/paste of the email i sent to the company CEO and VP. Let me know your thoughts and whether you have used this or a similar kit. Thanks in advance. Keeps in mind we will have 112 Wright Standers, and about 300 other small engines that might be converted.

    Feel free to tear this thread a new one, it's a big change with potentially greater risks involved for a company that has never used propane. I myself did not know the first thing about propane before 3-12-12


    here is a brief description of what I gathered at the Seminar on Monday.

    Pros:
    1. Cheaper than gas, propane is going down in cost while gas is rising.
    2. Propane is mostly produced in the States.
    3. Potential for longer engine life, and the life of the oil (cleaner oil, less oil changes).
    4. Cleaner than gas for the environment (up to 90% cleaner) not entirely sure on this.
    5. Duel fuel capable, can switch back to gas whenever needed.
    6. Simple installation and setup once familiar with the process.
    7. Can be reused, taken off one engine and onto another.
    8. 1-1 conversion fuel ratio, usually greater fuel economy when using Propane.


    Cons:
    1. $500-$800 per machine for kits.
    2. Only recommended for engines between 25-500 hrs with like new compression. (only applies to V-twins)
    3. Tanks do not like inclines greater than 15*, anything greater can cause valve lock and possible damage to pump. (it’s a Vapor system, greater inclines causes the liquid to enter system)
    4. Needs Iridium spark plugs, about $20 a piece, 2 per Stander and hard to find. (normal plugs can be used with life expectancy of 3 months, chemicals in the propane erodes the metals used in most spark plugs...Platinum also seems to withstand the erosion with almost twice the life).
    5. Adjustment Valve is not tamper proof, guys could easily mess with it and cause engine damage.
    6. Is not EPA approved. This allows for the kits to be self installed, otherwise they would need to be installed by someone EPA approved, raising the costs well over $1000.
    7. Minor engine ailments now become more prolific, valve timing, leaky gaskets, burning oil…these things are more likely to cause greater problems(propane is more picky)


    Other thoughts if we try this route:
    1. Will need a trained employee to fill tanks each day, takes much longer than filling gas tanks. A&B Propane will set up a filling station and train someone to operate it.
    2. Doug at A&B will get us the kits with no markup in cost, they just want the business.
    3. All will not happen overnight, will take 1-2 years to convert everything to propane with the restrictions on older engines and the process of learning something totally new to this company. We could put the systems onto higher hour engines but the chance of engine failure greatly increases (this could possibly be done in a season).
    4. Would recommend converting 1 crew with all new mowers (or new engines) to get familiar with the new system and the new duties that will come along with it.
    5. These kits can convert all 4 cycle engines from 1-45hp, none fuel injected, so that eventually everything can be converted.
    6. I am going to work with Chris at Wright Mfg to come up with best way to install systems onto new machines as not to void warranty. Seen a Wright Stander already converted but it loses the Gas tank, the cylinder takes it’s place. Could install in 2 other possible locations allowing for the gas tank to still be utilized and a duel fuel system to be harnessed.
    7. Systems are warranted but has to be returned to manufacturer and a replacement sent out, none serviceable.
    8. It is estimated that the kits would pay for themselves in less than a year.


    Any other questions I might be able to answer, if not I will find out.
     
  2. RickyDL77

    RickyDL77 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 431

    come on....nobody has delt with propane powered mowers? any input would be nice
     
  3. pugs

    pugs LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,023

    I would try to get in touch with Jim Coker from Metro Lawn. He comes to the Kawasaki updates every year here. Seems pretty knowledgable. Honestly if I was going to do any I would go through him or whoever he recommends. Not all Propane systems are equal. The one you are describing doesnt sound like one he would recommend. I dont think they are a fan of any duel fuel nonsense. Either go gas or go propane. You should probably make a post in the Alt Fuel forum here if you havent already.

    I was just at a dealer meeting talking about the latest Kohler EFI system. Something about Propane not having as much energy as gas so you need to burn more of it kinda like E85. So now you are using more fuel but paying less so is it worth it? You would probably have to do side by side comparisons in the real world to figure it out.

    If I was going to switch over...honestly I would start by buying new equipment that comes as propane instead of converting stuff. Now you run alot of Wright and they dont offer any...In that case I would stick to converting new machines instead of all the old stuff. I just dont see spending all the cash to do it on old machines with old engines.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  4. ricky86

    ricky86 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,723

    I would entertain the idea only if I was going to sell propane
    also. It's not regulated, and that's scares me. Every one who
    sings the praises of propane seems to have something
    to do with selling it also.
     
  5. piston slapper

    piston slapper LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,240

    As Pugs said.....check the fuel usage expectations.
    The guy pitching these conversion kits is probably not an engineer or even a tech.
    I've met a few of them and their main goal is to get you to use (buy or rent)
    Their tanks and supply you with the fuel at a price that may or not be market price. I never got a straight answer to that question. And of course a delivery and setup fee. Their is a difference between LP and Natural gas in cost and fuel economy.
    Check the details before signing the dotted line.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  6. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,083

    I run three units one is a Wright sentar. After I seen two i installed the third one myself with a little supervision from a certified guy. The only difficutl part was the adjustment and that takes a little experience. I doubt you want operators filling tanks the tanks should be filled and the operator just
    puts it on. That takes a lot less time then filling gas tanks. By the way with tank on front of sentar and the regular gas tank left on the line of sight might be bad for mowing . I see no problem with steep grades I know it is better
    than gas since i had one cutting out with gas and after putting on propane it was better. I think you covered it pretty well. Our state provides about $1K per unit on units under 400 hours.
     
  7. RickyDL77

    RickyDL77 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 431

    the guys at the seminar mentioned something about some type of "green" refunds per unit but they would have to be installed by the propane company since they are certified installers of the unit.
     
  8. RickyDL77

    RickyDL77 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 431

    piston,

    as far as the fuel consumption they claim to be 1-1. and the 2 guys doing the seminar are actually the inventors of the kits, and are funded by some national propane orginization thingy. although they really arent the ones who built it, they seemed to know a hell of a lot about them. then again I knew nothing of propane so anything knowledge seems like a lot. lol
     
  9. laman

    laman LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 335

    I have read propane will make less horsepower than gas. We had a propane tractor for years but diesel with the same horse power was cheaper to run. Propane tractor we had used a lot of fuel....
     
  10. piston slapper

    piston slapper LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,240

    I remember reading about that somewhere.....
    Check the stoichometric of LP and NG..
    Kohler makes a turnkey LP conversion kit that comes with everything for about $300.. Might bolt up???
     

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