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Old 12-12-2012, 03:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
Big Dave
Master EcoModder
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Steppes of Central Indiana
Posts: 1,319

The Red Baron - '00 Ford F-350 XLT
90 day: 27.99 mpg (US)

Impala Phase Zero - '96 Chevrolet Impala SS
90 day: 21.03 mpg (US)
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Forum Opinion: CNG Conversion

My read of the energy tea leaves is that natural gas will continue to be a bargain for at least the next 5-7 years.

One can again get a PHILL home gas compressor for about $4,700. For me, installation won't be too bad. I have a 240V circuit and a gas line handy in my garage. With projected residential gas and electric rate over the next 5-7 years, I could pump CNG for about $1.00/gge (gallon gasoline equivalent) which is less than a third of the price of RUG here.

I drive a good deal more than the average Joe - about 30,000 miles a year. I split between my F350 and my 96 Impala SS. the truck is mostly my cold weather vehicle. The Impala is a lousy snow vehicle and not Ziebarted so its afraid of the Midwest snow and gets parked in the garage mid-December to mid-March.

I like the Impala but simply cannot hypermile the darned thing. About 20 MPG is about all I can do with it. A full-on aero project might gain me a couple MPG and a stick might get me some more. But it already has reasonable 3.08 gears and I really don't see more than 25 MPG without converting it to a diesel.

I'm gonna do something with it anyway. The mid-90s electronics are buggy although the LT1 engine is OK. The 4E60E tranny is too frail. A very doable swap is a L92 (iron LS3) engine and a 6L80E transmission. Common truck/SUV drivetrain. The iron LS engine weighs about the same as my LT1 so it won't throw the weight distribution out of limits. The L92 has displacement on demand and variable cam timing. Six speeds gotta help MPG some. So this should get me at least 2 MPG improvement by itself. By doing this swap and a few other things, I've modernized the car for a fraction of what a new car costs.

BTW, a small car is simply out of the question. Aerohead (Phil) can confirm: I earn my moniker and prefer a big car or truck for very real reasons.

But why stop at a simple engine swap. I can get the LS engine converted to CNG for about $9,000 installed. At the rate I drive, it pays for itself in three years, including the PHILL.

CNG is much cleaner burning so maintenance is greatly reduced.

At this stage I'm thinking a bi-fuel conversion. If CNG gets more commonly available (for trips) I'll go fully CNG.

By getting a 10% increase in MPG and cutting fuel price by two-thirds I'll be driving for a little over a quarter of the per-mile fuel costs I have today.

Equipment is old tech and commercially available and not overly outrageously expensive. Project looks doable.

Forum opinions?

2000 Ford F-350 SC 4x2 6 Speed Manual
4" Slam
3.08:1 gears and Gear Vendor Overdrive
Rubber Conveyor Belt Air Dam
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