Propane Conversion for a Model T

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2018: Propane Conversion for a Model T
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Randy Stevens on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 03:40 pm:

I have a Model T with the Vaporizer type carb on it. It runs like crap and I can never get it to even out. After studying on the theory behind the vaporizer carb I wondered if anyone ever tapped it for propane. Seems like it would work with the proper connections. Since there's no accelerator pump and the engine runs off vaporized gas the way it is. Sure would make for a cleaner setup. No more gas odors in the garage from a seeping petcock that's 90 years old.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry VanOoteghem S.E. Michigan on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 03:50 pm:

I suppose it could be done, but I would be fearful of the hot-plate igniting the propane on contact. You'd have to check the flash point of propane I guess.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 04:20 pm:

Far from a expert,but usually propane engines have higher compression than gas engines?? Bud.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tim Rogers - South of the Adirondacks on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 04:21 pm:

Bad, bad idea. Why not Just fix what's broken or worn out?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Frank van Ekeren (Australia) on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 04:27 pm:

Many a fork lift run on propane and are just the old side valve continental engine, I wouldn't think that they would be too high in compression.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Val Soupios on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 04:38 pm:

After going through 4 vaporizers, three of which were professionally rebuilt, I gave up and put an NH on my car. Made all the difference in both starting and running. I am not saying they donít work as I have seem some that seem to run just fine but it isnít worth the effort as far as I am concerned.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 05:39 pm:

I quit the Vaporizer also on the '27 Tudor. Rebuilt it too. Never happy until I went for the NH conversion. Block had the hole in it and the valve cover did too. The gasket didn't. What luck!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 06:51 pm:

Many tractors in the mid 50's and early 60's ran on propane and they were usually higher compression! Many propane heads are sought after by tractor pullers!Bud.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Vern (Vieux Carre) on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 06:59 pm:

I remember when amateur propane conversions in the '70s and '80s were disastrous on modern cars but I say research it out and find out what they did wrong. Even though propane is a fossil fuel, it is clean and your T would be very unique. A slow turn from Bat to Mag might be interesting. There might be a legal problem with the propane bottle placement.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rich Bingham, Blackfoot, Idaho on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 07:30 pm:

Another wrinkle in using propane is the possible non-payment of road taxes that are part of the price of gasoline and diesel. Diesel is "color-coded" for farm use, woe betide ye if it's discovered in the tank of a road vehicle. The "powers" probably have this worked this out somehow for propane ?

I seem to recall hearing of some kind of "awful things" that happen to gasoline engines run on propane - ?!? Don't recall what, exactly, perhaps something that points to the higher compression in outfits designed to burn it ?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Strange - Hillsboro, MO on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 07:36 pm:

SA Books publishes an excellent book that covers propane conversions:

https://www.amazon.com/Economy-Performance-Propane-Conversions-Automotive/dp/093 1472121


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erik Barrett in Auburn Ca. on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 08:11 pm:

Propane engines are very hard on valves. Would be even worse in a flathead with no oiling.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By doug hauge upstate NY stittville 13469 on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 08:50 pm:

I worked as a fleet mechanic for a propane company back in the late 70s. all the propane bulk tank trucks ran on propane. my pick up truck along with many others I know run on propane. we could run our pick up trucks on either propane or gasoline. many of the employees converted their trucks because of the huge discount we got on propane as employees. we sold many school districts on propane and had fill stations right at their bus garages. many school busses run on propane. the chances of a propane tank rupture from an accident are slim to none, unlike gas tanks. most of the back up generators for power run on propane or natural gas. look at all the mobile natural gas fill stations. we have several here on the pan handle of florida. propane gives a little less power but longer oil life, no fuel (gasoline) to wash down the oil.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Andy Clary on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 09:21 pm:

A dedicated propane engine would have higher compression to take advantage of propane's antilock properties. As Erik said they can be hard on valves. It would be awkward to get heat to the regulator to prevent freeze up. That said, a properly built propane conversion runs quite well. Years ago I converted a couple 60's cars that were sent to Europe because gas prices were so high.

Andy


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Randy Stevens on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 09:46 pm:

I thought about the hot plate issue. I wish I had a vaporizer to disect. I would think if you spud it behind the butterfly in what we would call the throttle body and block off the bowl and hot plate. work out a metering valve where all you have is the propane inlet and butterfly and choke. I have a little generator that runs on propane and the regulator doesn't get any kind of warm water or anything to it. The generator runs fine and I know it's wore out with little compression any more. Anyway, it was just a thought. I figured sometime somewhere an old farmer might have tried this.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James A Bartsch on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 10:04 pm:

The mtfca Carb handbook shows "An LPG Carburetor" for the Model T on Pg 17, Figs 48 & 49. There are photos of the Carb and Regulator, Carb by Zenith (for Butane Gas?) and Regulator by 'Algas' Model 880. Stan Howe is the likely expert to consult on this. jb


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kurt Baltrusch on Thursday, January 04, 2018 - 10:34 am:

I will throw another wrinkle after being in the natural gas business for most of my career. We converted many vehicles to compressed natural gas which operates similar to propane and runs very cleanly. There was a considerable power loss, partly because of the lower heating value and partly because the engines were not designed for natural gas, and could not take advantage of the high octane. We would put in a different ignition curve when running on CNG. There are forklift carburetors (mixers)that will accommodate these conversions. While I would have liked to have tried a T on CNG, I have too many other projects. We had to pay road tax, but interestingly most states are not yet addressing that issue for electric vehicles.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By FreighTer Jim on Thursday, January 04, 2018 - 11:12 am:

I have heard that propane - introduced at the proper time & in the proper quantity - will finish the burn of an automotive diesel engine - resulting in more complete combustion & less deposit in the engine oil.

FJ


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Don A on Thursday, January 04, 2018 - 11:16 am:

Many of the comments are correct, but the complete story is not told. My dad converted most of our fleet to butane (later changed to propane) in the '60s. We kept some of the engines on straight butane and others could run either gasoline or butane. If an engine was "set up" for butane, it was hotter. We had a '53 Ford PU and the V-8 had high compression T-Bird heads. This engine was hotter on butane than when we switched over to gasoline. We put our '65 Ford PU with a 300CI six on butane and it was hotter on gas than butane. Butane (or propane) has oil in it and that helps with lubrication. We never had valve problems. Engines as a rule on propane will out last an engine running on gasoline. Dad put a new 4-cylinder flathead Continental engine in our well rig as a deck engine. It ran close to 24 hours a day and in 4 years running on gasoline it was shot. Required a complete overhaul. Ran the rebuilt engine for a week or so on gasoline to break it in and then converted it over to then butane. 19 years later we replaced it with a 6-cylinder Continental (big mistake, but a different story). Figured we had over 1,000,000 miles on that little 4-cylinder engine. During the gas embargo of the '70s, we converted a '58 Lincoln with a big V-8 and took out 2 thermostats as required. It ran great with the high compression; however, kept freezing up. We didn't realize that engine had 2 other thermostats! Our portable welder with a '37 Ford V-8 engine ran many years only on Butane and ran great.

With all this said, IMHO a Model T does not have high enough compression ratio to run propane without loosing power that a T really needs.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Conwill on Thursday, January 04, 2018 - 02:21 pm:

Sounds like a speedster with a SCAT crank, inserted mains, flat-top pistons, and a small-chamber head would be great on propane, though!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Frank Harris from Long Beach, CA on Thursday, January 04, 2018 - 02:37 pm:

I have a propane carburetor hidden someplace but I would have to dig deep to find it. Propane would not work on a vaporizer because it is a compressed liquid and when it is released it is a vapor or gaseous cloud of invisible explosive stuff.

My carburetor has a connection for propane. Many new four cycle outboard motors are currently being produced that run on a propane cylinder. They do this for safety on yachts.

Propane engines are similar enough to gasoline outboards that there are conversion kits available to switch smaller, gas-powered outboards over to propane use. Why do that? Propane burns 50 times cleaner than gas, it's domestically produced, and propane engines generally start more easily than a similar gasoline engine, because the fuel is pressurized. Propane is also easier to refuel than gasoline.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Davis on Thursday, January 04, 2018 - 03:56 pm:

Butane boiling point is 30.2 F. So using it on a car could be a problem in cold weather without preheating the gas, Boiling point for propane is -44 F, Rural homes used to use Butane but the tanks were buried to keep the gas above the boiling point, In Belize they use a lot of butane for cooking and heat but it never gets close to 30.2 F there. Texas has a Propane vehicle tax sticker, flat fee for the year, don't think they will checking Ts ?. most likely would use a 20 or forty pound, 5/10 gal tank which can easily be changed out. and it is a lot less volatile that acetylene many use on brass era Ts, for the gas lights.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Coiro on Thursday, January 04, 2018 - 04:39 pm:

Seems to me, you're trying to re-invent the wheel. -Converting to propane would have to be one heck of a hassle, one that might include unanticipated legalities at the DMVónot to mention the hazardous reality of sitting on a tank or pressurized propane in a car with zero crash protection. -The easiest thing to do is get an NH carburetor, bolt the thing on and be done with it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Frank Harris from Long Beach, CA on Thursday, January 04, 2018 - 05:24 pm:

There was a gentleman who drove a Stanley Steamer Touring Car all over the place. I will not mention his name but will send it to you if you P.M. me.

While at a local amusement park he was waiting for a parade to start. The Stanley used kerosene for the main burner; but he had a long small diameter propane tank in the floor of the tonneau for the pilot light. The tank was up against the back of the front seat and thus right over the cylinders. The heat of the engine warmed the tank and it started leaking and filled up the open touring car to the tops of the doors. That invisible vapor then spilled over the tops of the doors and dropped all around the car. When the vapors reached the pilot light the whole car exploded killing everyone aboard. That is why my propane carburetor is in storage.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tim Lloid on Thursday, January 04, 2018 - 05:45 pm:

I fought with a vaporizer for 2 years and even installed a professionally restored set up on my 27 but finally went to a NH set up and it runs beautiful now.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Randy Stevens on Friday, January 05, 2018 - 08:44 am:

I appreciate everyone's point of view and opinions. Didn't think I'd get so much feedback. I grew up on a farm where my dad used propane exclusively in his farm equipment. He liked the clean burning efficiency of it and it's low cost. I still have one of his tractors in the barn that hasn't run in 30 years or so. I would be willing to bet, if there's still propane in the tank, that I could put on a hot battery and polish the points and it would fire up.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By FreighTer Jim on Friday, January 05, 2018 - 12:17 pm:

Randy,

It is in the negative zone for most parts of the country.

You could have asked about two ply toilet paper & probably had the same response.

FJ


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Friday, January 05, 2018 - 12:40 pm:

You know it's a black and white thing with the Vaporizer. Hate it or love it. I've done plenty of carbs and I did the Vaporizer on the '27 too as I said but I was never impressed with the performance. The switch to the NH was an improvement and I really recommend that for Randy as opposed to a hit & miss or home made conversion to propane. I'll add that that was also my "buzz box" days. Before I was contacted, some years later with another car, by a friend from the Forum with an HCCT. THAT was the best performance upgrade ever.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Davis on Friday, January 05, 2018 - 03:51 pm:

The vaporizer may come into its own and shine when using alternative fuels, kerosene, casing head and other petroleum products, I would think if the fuel didn't plug up the carb, You could run on just about any combustible liquid You can pour in the gas tank ?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jon Bibbens on Friday, January 05, 2018 - 03:58 pm:

I I am new to the Forum I received this with some other parts was told it's for natural gas for Model T


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Randy Stevens on Monday, January 08, 2018 - 10:45 am:

This an interesting setup. K.M.C., I wonder if there's any literature on this thing on the web anywhere. Are you looking to get rid of it?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Randy Stevens on Monday, January 08, 2018 - 10:50 am:

Looks like this was a Kerosene setup. I was wondering why the dual inlets. One for gas and one for kerosene.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jay - In Northern California on Monday, January 08, 2018 - 10:55 am:

I have literature on the KMC Gasoline/Krosene unit over on the modeltfordfix.com discussion Forum. here's the link to the thread on Accessory Model T Carburetors.

https://modeltfordfix.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=97


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