Two Letters Re Converting A Gasoline Engine Generator Set to Propane

Hi Jim,
Regarding the thread on converting generators to propane, last year I installed a tri-fuel conversion kit on my 7.5 KW generator, that has a Honda engine. [Since the conversion] it works perfectly and [the conversion kit] was very easy to install. If the [grid] power goes out, I can switch it to the piped-in natural gas and if that goes out, I can either use propane or gasoline.
I also got an inexpensive solar trickle charger and connected that to the battery, so that the battery is always fully charged. Best Regards, – Kurt

JWR Replies: I consider the small (5 watt) 12 VDC battery trickle chargers that you mentioned a must for every retreat. We have one for each of our vehicles here at the ranch. Keeping one of these connected to your backup generator battery is a great idea. They are available from Northern Tool & Equipment. (One of our Affiliate Advertisers.) At Northern Tool’s web site, search on Item # 339973.

Propane is a good long term fuel for home and engine use as long as “the system” continues to work. How long will you be able to maintain your power needs after the balloon goes up?
Things to think about, [are]:
What are the common failure parts in you genset and automobile?
What are your consumables, gas, oil, diesel, hoses, gaskets?
How long can you practically extend oil changes and not damage your engines?
Can you add a oil purifier to your engine?
Wood gasifiers are a proven and reliable source of fuel to run engines for the long term. As long as there are trees and shrubs then you have fuel.
The GENGAS web page has charts and plans for a stratified down draft gasifier that can run all manner of internal combustion engines including diesels cars and generators.

If you want to see the kind of engines that stand the test of time go down to your local farm and see how many of the old tractors are still running [that were made] from the 1940s to the 1960s.
I would be careful about spending money on conversions that will only be useful while the [modern commercial] supply system is running.

One other note: How safe is your fuel storage from fire and to incoming [small arms] fire? Large propane tanks can and have leveled city blocks when set on fire. In some locales underground tanks are illegal so a block house away from your main structure would be in order, and security for same must be reviewed.
Now think of your last power outage. How quiet was your neighborhood? How far does the sound of your genset carry?

Remember that needs and wants are a long way apart. Skills are cheap and you can accumulate lots of those and no one can take them from you. Goods cost money and they can be taken or lost. The short of it is: do not buy what you can learn to build or do without. In my humble opinion the best way to survive is to organize like a Special Forces team with overlapping skill sets. And never rule out mobility as strategically v have any choice. Learn all you can about it. Good reference books to have are the U.S. Army’s FM 7-8 on infantry tactics and battle drills and the Ranger handbook. A third “must have” is ST 31-91B US Army Special Forces medical handbook. As the motto [borrowed from the British SAS] goes: “Who dares, wins”.
Sorry for the rambling but I read your blog every day at 0400 and don’t get to write that often. so I start my day with a good cup of coffee and good friends. God Bless and Semper Paratus, – Mike H.