Troy Bilt tillerRuns on Propane

runswithscissors2010November 27, 2012

I recently bought a conversion kit to make my Troy Bilt Pony run off propane. The kit was AltFuel "Green Conversion kit for Small Engines Model 2." The company is in Toledo, Ohio, and you can find them online. There are other companies that you can google, too. Basically, it consists of 4 components: 1) a high pressure valve, to reduce the pressure from the tank, just like the one for your propane barbecue; 2) a shut off valve; 3) a low pressure demand regulator; (4) a conversion block or plate that goes between the carb and the engine intake port. Besides that, the only part that isn't an off the shelf item is the low pressure demand valve, which responds to demand from the engine. This demand is determined by the throttle. When you open the throttle, the engine intake vacuum increases, and the demand valve responds by delivering more propane. Just as the gasoline carb does when you open the throttle--it sucks more gas because you've increased the demand. The adaptor plate or block replaces the one on the Briggs engine, and is the same shape and size. It's machined out of aluminum. It has a port drilled and tapped in the side for the propane hose. This plate would not be hard to make if you had a chunk of aluminum. You might even be able to do it by drilling and tapping the plastic one that's already part of the engine, but I suppose there's a chance you might crack the plastic during the process. You do have the choice of drilling and tapping the carburetor itself, but that commits you to propane forever, as the carb is now ruined for gasoline. I opted for the other to retain the option of reverting to gas. I did remove the gas tank (easy to put back on if desired), and mounted the low pressure valve in its place. The kit is designed to use the throwaway bottles, but I already had a 5 lb. (1 gal.) tank which I can refill from my 20 pounder. Much, much cheaper and greener too! I had to get a different hose for that connection. Yesterday I tilled the garden to put it to bed for the winter. It worked great (except for a little tendency to pulse--haven't trouble shooted (shot?) that yet). The tiller started up pretty easily (quite cold, you know), and seemed to have all the power I needed. Why did I do this? Good question. Certainly not to save money. The kit was pricey, and there's no way I'll ever get my money out of it (but people buy expensive tillers all the time to grow $100 worth of vegetables). I mainly was just satisfying my curiosity. And now I won't have to do any carburetor rebuilds, worry about stale gas, and spew stinking gasoline fumes. So, has anyone else tried this? What problems did you run into? Would you do it again?

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Follow up to my own post. I think I misinterpreted the function of the throttle. It makes more sense to say it admits more air to the intake, which sucks more gasoline (or propane) in for acceleration. The governor, connected to the throttle also, does the same thing to maintain a constant speed. I do notice a lot of posts dealing with carburetor and gasoline problems. Many of the responses advise rebuilding the carb, using carb cleaner, cleaning jets, even getting a whole new carb, and throwing out stale gas. Also cited are possible seal deterioration from ethanol, and other problems/solutions. I am surprised more people don't try the propane option. By the way, there are several manufacturers of conversion equipment, some of them much cheaper than Altfuel. I only went with them because other websites were almost impenetrable to navigate, and confusing when trying to figure out whether their system would work with my situation.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 4:45PM
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Just thinking out loud here-
The only time I've seen propane powered "walk behind" equipment is for floor cleaning/polishing in large stores.

I would think in that application, the load would be pretty constant and thus no surging problem to speak of.
OTOH, tilling etc. would have a load that varies noticeably and I have a hunch the "demand valve" simply can't "track" the engine speed well enough.

Propane powered fork lifts etc. would be a different animal, since the throttle is controlled by ones foot.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 12:36PM
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IMO Propane will be the fuel in the future even in lawn equipment, it all ready showing up utlizing the two pound bottles. It burns cleaner with far less polution, little down on power compared to regular gas. Propane is win win fuel: cleaner, least maintenance, and equipment will as longer. Probably needs to develop recharge kit so you can recharge the two pound bottles off 20 or 40 pound propane tank like used in outdoor grills to be cost effective.

IMO Propane or natural gas could be the fuel boom in the future USA has abundance supply, but Big oil, lobbist, and usual cumbag policktision, and now green investors prevent natural gas from taking over which it should have 20 years ago if EPA would of done it job getting us off middle east oil. Still too much money in oil and bribes (lobbists) IMO

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 6:26PM
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