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High gasoline prices , any savings with Propane ? 1966 Ford { Merc } 1/2 ton


1912Staver
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Like I mentioned on another thread , my 1966 Mercury { Canadian } 1/2 ton is currently under re - construction. A 1975 frame is the main change , but I am also strongly considering swithing the FE 360 to a 300 -6. The 360 is tired and a real gas hog. The good 300 I have at the moment is mid 1970's and a propane conversion engine. I also have a second one , but it has been sitting for at least 20 years and may no longer be usable.

Is anyone up to speed about potential fuel cost savings for Propane vs Gasoline these days ? I have everything but the tank. The only other concideration is the compression ratio. I am going to have to pull the head and see what sort of pistons are in it. The better propane conversions usually bumped up compression so I might have to swap back to a lower C.R.  Is it worth it to go to the trouble of keeping the propane ? Or should I keep the truck gasoline powered ? Light hauling , sometimes with my car trailer , but usually reasonably light cars. And not a huge mileage each year. Thanks !

 

 

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All I know is that there is a mileage and power loss when running propane. Like you said, you won't drive a lot so it might not be worth the trouble. You'll also need a tank and that will take up space in the bed. You might want to check your laws as well as you might have to pay extra fees and have inspections.

Edited by Bleach (see edit history)
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I can’t address the cost/savings question but I know from my experience from using propane that there is a noticeable loss of power while running on it. I could easily switch from gas to propane with my unit so you might not be inconvenienced by a lack of power. I used it for about four years on a mail route many years ago. I noticed very little economic advantage. Zeke

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My first question is how convenient is a propane filling station to you?   Locally to me, in Ontario we used to have a large number and now even spots to refill 20 lbs cylinders for BBQ's are getting scarce.  Back 15 to 30 yrs ago a lot of the police fleets in Ontario were propane but I think that there is only one department left now that might run some vehicles on propane.  The only advantage were some sales tax advantages on the vehicle purchase and the fuel itself.  Keep in mind those fleets have incredible idle hours so any small savings on fuel costs are huge, but in regular day to day use for the kind of use you would have, propane is not likely the answer.   Back in the late 80's my father-in-law had a duel gas/propane Ranger, going uphill on the 401 in eastern Ontario you would switch to gas just to keep the speed up.

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There is a propane station very close by. And not a fly by night operation, I expect auto propane will be available close to me for the forseeable future. But the power loss could be a problem. 

It's a more complicated swap but perhaps a later model 300 with EFI would be the best choice.

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Do you know who did the propane conversion on the engine?  If it was an after market conversion it is likely missing a propane camshaft which makes a major difference in performance.  

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Unfortunately I don't. It was sold to me as a good used engine out of a 4 WD  F150.  I may end up pulling apart the other one I have and see if a light refresh will return it to service. The other one was also a decent running engine , and out of about a 1974 Ford 3/4 ton. But it has been sitting close to 20 years. 

Between the two I can probably get one good gasoline 300.  The days of propane pickups seems to have passed from what I am hearing so far. It came from a friend who drove the truck for several months before deciding it had too much rust and junked it. He gave me the engine as even back then I knew the 360 in my 1966 was going to be a problem. I have owned the 1966 since the mid 1980's and really like it. A pretty decent, Victoria M 100 . Very little rust, but the years are taking their toll.

  And keep my eyes open for a cheap  EFI truck . I saw a few for very reasonable prices 3 or 4 years ago. But they all seem to have at least doubled in price lately. I can always build it as a carburetor vehicle for the time being and switch to EFI if the right parts truck shows up.

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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If you have all of the equipment (Impco?) you are a little ahead of things cost wise.  The tank is the most expensive part.  Tanks meant for installation in pickup boxes will likely be the cheapest, though.  Even so, you would have to put a significant amount of mileage on the truck in a short period of time for it to really be cost effective.

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I agree. I have everything but the tank. And my C30 has dual tanks so I could reasonably easily move one over to the Ford. But I don't think the truck will see more that a couple of thousand miles a year , if that even. All the years I have had it ,that's about the most it has been driven . Been sitting for the last 4 years after my wife badly overheated it. She can drive a standard no problem, but this was the first time with a 3 on the tree. Drove it several miles in first gear. I should have been more careful about making sure she could drive it. She had a flat tire on her regular vehicle when I was at work, drove over to pick up her father to change it for her. It still runs , but serious smoke.

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In the 80s and 90s BC had a pretty decent infrastructure of automotive LPG dispensing stations.  Today they are few and far between.  In the 90s I enjoyed the benefits of 29 cents per litre LPG as a young guy and converted my 67 Cougar and later my 76 Bronco and even a 73 Travelall.  It was the only way I could afford to drive “cool cars” but it had some limitations even back then that were a pain to deal with.  Mostly it was fuel range and of course that was determined by the size of the tank you could fit.  Next was having to wait for the counter person at the station to finish selling a lineup of customers cigarettes and slurpees so they could come out and grudgingly fill your tank.  Provided it wasn’t past 10pm, then you were outta luck.  Eventually I got a cardlock card and there were a couple places I could fill up on my own 24/7 so that improved things quite a bit.

Lots of run ability benefits to LPG I’m sure you know about but I don’t think the fuel cost savings is worth the range and refueling hassles today.  A friend of mine locally still runs his 65 F100 300-6 on LPG and it’s been his daily for about 30 years now, it’s had a few new paint jobs but still on the same engine.

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I have a Super Save station a couple of miles away. They seem to be the main supplier of auto propane these days. Head office is right here in Langley not that far from where I live. 

 But it is sounding like the cost saving has reduced to the point where there is not much of an advantage. I think I am going to stick with gasoline. 

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I have 2 motor fuel propane suppliers (Esso and Petro Canada stations) about 10 minutes away and a third (Superior Propane) about 15 minutes away, all in Surrey.  I usually go to the Esso station to refill the tank on my motorhome because getting to the motor fuel pump is easy with a 30 foot unit.

An upside to running on propane is that engine wear is virtually reduced to zero since there is no carbon in it.  When an oil change is done the oil coming out is almost as clean as the new oil.  

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