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Should You use L.P.G
on your VALIANT


OK…..straight into it (for the unitiated), just what the hell is L.P.G. ?

Yeah right, as if everyone reading this didn’t know that L.P.G – or Liquified Petroleum Gas – is the name give to the mixture of propane and butane gases which, when compressed, change from a gas to a liquid. It’s colourless and odourless and the only reason we can smell it is because they add a chemical which makes it smell like rotten cabbages – just so leaks can be detected. It burns easily in air and has a similar energy content to petrol.

Truth be told, L.P.G was originally considered just a by-product of the actual oil refining process, basically a waste product. Eventually it was realized that this form of gas could actually serve a purpose in the form of running motor vehicles.

Fast forward to today and we see many vehicles on our roads using L.P.G to get them around. There are L.P.G pumps at most service stations and as you would all know the Federal Government recently announced it was giving $2,000 cash-backs for anyone who wanted to convert their old Chariots to L.P.G systems.

Well, I’d like to tell you that from a personal view I will be accepting John Howards kind offer and GASSING my beautiful 1971 Dodge Superbee. Haven’t done it yet mind you…..I’m on a huge waiting list because they just can’t produce the necessary components quick enough. And how’s this for form – the Government had no sooner made it’s announcement, when the suppliers bumped up the cost of components by 7%. Mere coincidence I say, but there’s always those that think they’re taking advantage of the situation.

ANYWAY………I’ve already been abused for deciding to deface my mighty Dodge by butchering it with an L.P.G system. Well “sticks and stones” guys. I’m doing it. In all honesty, what am I actually doing to the Dodge which is going to be such a desecration ? At the end of the day, I’m adding some stuff so instead of running on petrol which is $1.50 per litre, I can also run it on gas at 55 cents per litre. So what are the things I’m adding and just how much butchering does it look like I’ll be carrying out.

Here’s the laymans guide to L.P.G installations (for my big Dodge anyway).

In the boot I’ll be getting a gas cylinder bolted to the floor via 2 attaching brackets. It’ll sit under the rear parcel shelf. They’ll also have to cut a hole in the floor for the associated filler pipe and actual fuel line to the engine bay. The filler point for the cylinder will be under my fold down number plate frame, so I don’t need any cutting there. The supply lines will run under the car to the engine bay where they’ll meet with what’s called the gas convertor. In my case they will be relocating my horns a few inches so the convertor can sit in a good spot, but again no cutting or disfigurement is required. There are various types of convertor, and the one I’m getting is called a 3 stage convertor. I know…..means nothing to me either, but because of the component I’m mentioning next, I apparently need a 3 stage convertor.

The MIXER……this is the thing which sits on the carby. Now, there’s a couple of types of mixers and generally people use one which requires a chrome type air cleaner to be used with the L.P.G mixer. I’m getting what’s called a Donut mixer. It’s basically a ring which has 2 “feeder” holes that supply the L.P.G into the carburetor. What makes it good is that you can still use your existing air cleaner. The mixer is fed by a line or 2 from the convertor. They may have to drill 2 holes in my air cleaner base pan, but that’s pretty much it. A standard type mixer just sits on top of the carby – a much for common application than the one I’ll be trying.

Aside from these components, there’s a little digital fuel guage which sits under the dash, and some other associated wiring in order for the system to operate. I’m opting for a dual fuel system, again much to the amazement of some people I speak to who reckon I should go straight gas. Dual fuel means I can still switch over to petrol should I need to, via a little switch activated mechanism that stops the gas and allows petrol to flow.

I’ve had 2 L.P.G cars in previous years – a 318 Chrysler CM and a 302 ZC Fairlane. Both cars ran great, and it’s on these experiences that I’ve decided to gas the Dodge. My main reason for gassing the Dodge is that I think I will get a lot more enjoyment from it because I won’t mind taking it out so often. At the moment, even a quick drive to Campbelltown has me thinking “Is it really worth taking it out just for a drive to grab a coffee”? The reason is the cost of fuel. With L.P.G on tap, I’ll throw a few dollars in her and take her out for a blurt.

So I suppose in terms of our 62 Vals, do you really think it’s worth doing it to your car ? My “S” is on club registration and there’s 2 reasons why I am not getting it gassed. Firstly, I just don’t drive it enough to warrant a conversion and even when I do take it out, it’s so rare that I don’t mind throwing $20 in for a while as this will get me a reasonable distance. Secondly though (and how ridiculous is this), because it’s on Club registration I’m not allowed to install an environmentally friendly, more economical L.P.G system. Oh no…..that’s not standard. God forbid petrol supplies dry up soon, because we just won’t be able to drive our cars full-stop……even if there’s an alternative fuel source around.

For the average “R” or “S” owner who does drive their car regularly, I would certainly recommend L.P.G as a possibility. Why not? They reckon you use something like 20% more L.P.G than petrol, but because of the cost of L.P.G you’re still saving heaps. And when people say “Yeah, they’ll jack the price up – you wait and see”, I can honestly say that they’ve been saying that for the last 10 years, and it still hasn’t happened. Sure L.P.G has risen in price, but nothing like petrol. It will incur a Government excise in 2011 which will add 2% per year for 5 years to the cost, but again it’s still so much cheaper than petrol. How much do you reckon petrol will be in 2011 ? With the excise added in 2011, let’s assume L.P.G is say 90 cents per litre. After the 5 years is up and the 2% per year is added, you’re still only looking at a rise of about 15 cents over the 5 years. This is a very rough estimate, but 2% of 90 cents in 2011 is less than 2 cents.

Look, I know anything could happen, but with the cash-back that’s being offered we’d be mad not to at least think about it. My conversion is supposed to cost around the $3000 mark, but with the cash-back I’m only forking out about a grand for a new L.P.G system.

It’s also true that older engines require a little lubricating of the upper cylinder head and as gas burns very dry this can be an issue, but if it’s a concern just discuss it with your installer or mechanic. I’m not here to say we should all rush out and get L.P.G, in fact, a couple of guys in the club have spoken to me and mentioned their valid concerns with L.P.G but I’m afraid I’m sold. It’d probably be good if there’s some of you out there who don’t like L.P.G to share your concerns via our magazine. I’m going by my own experience and what I’ve been told – I am certainly no “Gas Guru”.

For those of you on the internet, there’s a fair bit of comprehensive info on L.P.G at the following website :

http://www.lpgautogas.com.au/

I was in fact looking for a second hand system when the Government dropped their rebate bombshell. Whilst on that, it looks at the moment as though the rebate will work in the following manner. As of 1st October, you can apply for the $2000 rebate by taking your receipt for L.P.G installation to Medicare or Centre Link, and apparently it’s refunded via cheque to you in a matter of days. I’m pretty sure it must be a private vehicle, and it’s one conversion per person per 3 years. It’ll last for 8 years covering conversions carried out since August 14 2006.

So that’s it from me. I know this is an incredibly “basic” rundown of L.P.G conversions and I did plan on doing a huge gas expose with all the intricate details, but I just didn’t have time. This is just to let you know that I’m going gas, I’ve tried it before, and with the Govt. rebate it might be worth your considering also. Now I just have to wait till my parts come in……..hopefully before 2011.

Peter.

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