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Arctic Slalom

propane powered malibu?

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Arctic Slalom

i've got a 5.7 liter, carbed, chevy 350 merc.

the other day on the 'ethanol' thread some dude in the UK said they have been running their ski club boats on propane for several years!

i was doing a little web surfing and came up on this company:

http://www.technocarb.com/

a few thoughts to consider....

1.) my old malibu has plenty of room for a propane tank in the back

2.) the engine/carb are very accessible and the plumbing/brackets don't sound like they would be that tough

3.) i have more time than money to make the conversion

a few questions...

1.) what kind of power loss would I incur? Dontknow.gif

2.) how many pounds of propane would my boat use? Dontknow.gif

3.) will this damage the engine? Cry.gif

4.) will my family and friends all die in a fierce water explosion cuz i was trying to save a few bucks? :unsure:

does anyone have any experience in this type of conversion?

thanks!

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Arctic Slalom

thought i would add this (it answers a few of my ?'s.)

this talks about benefits and cost saving of propane as a fuel source:

http://www.npga.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=623

this one touches on the extraction and routing of propane from earth to you:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petrole...re/propbro.html

on a side note, how do I make the links 'cleaner' like a word, like the other crew members?

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chadwick02

Propane aint cheap!! Deff. check into the consumption and costs of the fuel.

We converted a forklift to propane a few years ago (since we sell propane fuel at one of our locations). I dont know much about the conversion, but I think the consensus was there was a loss of power. It is hard to estimate how much. In the end, I dont think operating costs are any cheaper either.

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electricjohn

One pound of propane produce 21,000 BTU's. See if you can find a convertion for BTU to HP

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Bobby Light
One pound of propane produce 21,000 BTU's. See if you can find a convertion for BTU to HP

You can't really convert the two accurately can you. A BTU is measured for a given amount of time like 1 second, hour, minute, etc.. How is horsepower measured?

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vette-ski

A couple years ago there was a member of TMC from Germany that was visiting the US, specifically MI. He wanted a pull so I obliged. In the meeting we discussed that their club boat was also converted to propane. In Germany, it probably makes some sense. Petrol (regular gas) is not as available as here. The norm is diesel. Propane for them may be cheaper then regular fuel. I don't know that we can say the same here in the US. I'm not sure there is any advantage to doing it.....yet.

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bigD

You'll probably need a tank the size of a 55 gallon drum to get the same time as a full tank of fuel. When I worked for an electrical contractor 10yrs ago some of the service trucks with 350cu carbureted Chevy's had the conversions,there wasn't much to them, a special carb and a regulator that had hot water hose running through it to keep it from freezing up and a BIG tank in the back around 70+ gallons. I remember filling up just about the same as the gas trucks.One thing is that the engines last a long time.

We have some CNG(compressed natural gas) trucks at work now and their tanks take up 1/3 of the bed (tool box sized )and underneath in the stock tank location and get TERRIBLE millage, maybe 150mile range and that would be pushing it.

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Bobby Light
You'll probably need a tank the size of a 55 gallon drum to get the same time as a full tank of fuel. When I worked for an electrical contractor 10yrs ago some of the service trucks with 350cu carbureted Chevy's had the conversions,there wasn't much to them, a special carb and a regulator that had hot water hose running through it to keep it from freezing up and a BIG tank in the back around 70+ gallons. I remember filling up just about the same as the gas trucks.One thing is that the engines last a long time.

We have some CNG(compressed natural gas) trucks at work now and their tanks take up 1/3 of the bed (tool box sized )and underneath in the stock tank location and get TERRIBLE millage, maybe 150mile range and that would be pushing it.

BigD,

We tried the CNG route at my work to, didn't work worth a crap for the same reasons you describe. In the US a propane conversion would not be cost beneficial. With propane at almost $5 a gallon most places what's the point. When gas prices go up it will go up to.

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Dave08'VLX

I think some states have state funds to off set the price that you pay at the pump for natual gas. In Utah it was 63 cents about a month ago because I paid like 8 bucks to fill his truck for a trip we went on with our dirt bikes. His ford f-150 had the CNG conversion and he doen't seem to notice any loss of power.

The tank did take up about 1/4 of his long bed.

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Arctic Slalom

i was doing a little more diggin on propane last night and found that a gallon of LP is around $2.25 in our area. If you buy bulk, it is even better.

another thing I noticed is that the peak demand for propane (jan-feb.) is the exact opposite of the ski/wake season; therefore, if you buy bulk in the early summer, you may be money ahead.

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Beau

Hank Hill here. I'm in the Propane business. We have several trucks (large and small) that run on propane and one auto. I pulled my 'Bu for years with a Z-71 (propane powered), I converted it myself. If the conversion is done properly and completely you should net a very small HP loss. The fuel tank is a pressure vessel, therfore is is HEAVY and expensive. The rest is positive, at least for me. I put 230,000 miles on that Chevy 350 before handing the vehicle down to our service department a year ago. It is still used every day. Exhaust components have never been replaced. Oil stays golden forever.....10,000 mile oil changes! That engine runs sooo clean. I might have changed the plugs three times. For me and our trucks Propane is very good. However.....I ran that pickup on dual fuel...when I was traveling far away...gasoline was more available and sometimes cheaper and basically more convenient. The tank was big, but who cares with a full size pickup? When going on long trips I would throw a few extra hyster cylinders back there too and had a travel range of 800 miles...to the beach and back.

Power loss is minimal on the big motors. I did not have the latest electronics so my loss was the equivalent of losing 2/3 of one of those eight cylinders. No big deal 95% of the time, but on occasion when pulling the boat I would switch back to gasoline ( on the fly, no less) for a long steep pull.

I think the tank situation would be kinda tricky for a 'Bu. Very costly (weight, $$, space and design). Fuel availability might be an issue. Truck stops carry it but mark it up a whole bunch and they have to add Road taxes. Here at the dealership, if a guy came in here today with a boat where there was no question about road use, I could sell him Propane with only sales tax and a little profit for me at somewhere around $ 2.15 per gallon.

Propane is safe if the system is properly maintained and all 'blower rules' are followed.

Bottom line: I've been in this business all my life, I'm 51 now.....Grandpa started it in 1926.....needless to say we know motor fuels. I run my 'Bu on good old gasoline and don't intend to change to propane.

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electricjohn
One pound of propane produce 21,000 BTU's. See if you can find a convertion for BTU to HP

You can't really convert the two accurately can you. A BTU is measured for a given amount of time like 1 second, hour, minute, etc.. How is horsepower measured?

1 horsepower is the power required to lift 33,000 lbs, one FOOT in one MINUTE

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electricjohn

OK, I did the math. At 7 mph my engine burns 1.5 gph gas which would convert to about 3 pph of propane.

17 mph = 4.2 and 8

30 mph =8.1 and 15

40 mph =14.2 and 27

46 mph =24 and 45

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Arctic Slalom

love the numbers...where does this put in terms of cost? Rockon.gif

17 mph = 4.2 and 8

30 mph =8.1 and 15

40 mph =14.2 and 27

46 mph =24 and 45

at 30 mph is (15) = pph of propane?

if it is, and LP is 4.24lbs./gallon, then at 30 mph, we are burning 3.54 gallons of propane/hour.

if propane is $2.50 a gallon (this is my local price) then we are at $8.85 and hour!?

if gas is $3.75 a gallon then we are at $30.38 an hour!?

so for a 100 hour season we are at the following:

$885.00 for propane?

$3,038.00 for gas?

is this correct? wow?

Edited by Arctic Slalom

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Arctic Slalom

another story:

http://www.roushperformance.com/news.cgi?t...ory&sid=208

this one talks about rousch performace converting a standard 5.4 liter f-150 to full propane.

the truck is yielding about 300 hp! they really don't talk about fuel economy.

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Bobby Light

Awesome article Arctic thanks for posting...

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obski

I believe that there are a good number of wakeboarding boats converted to propane in Europe where the cost of gasoline is much higher than it is here. I remember seeing some pictures of boats and a discussion about this in the past.

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uk_exile

Most ski boats in UK are converted to gas. It saves huge runnign costs. Becasue of the variuos rules most are commercial conversion kits,

Here's a link to NZ boat running a 350 / 383 chev and it has a bit of detail about costs, benefits etc

http://www.nzjetboating.com/lpg.html

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mrothwell

That looks nice. Good power, light weight, and quiet. When can I get something that will work in my VTX?

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Arctic Slalom

it's only a matter of time....for years they have been using a small diesel engine to run electric motors on city buses...

imagine how quiet that set-up would be? Thumbup.gif

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