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Old 01-06-2020, 11:17 PM   #1
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Here I go again, 1997 E350 Window Van CNG

As if I don't have enough to do, I just bought (site unseen, just pics) a 1997 E350 EB Window Van 5.4 with a CNG conversion. 68,000 original miles. I currently have a 1997 EB Window van that's a beater. The new one is an XLT (power windows, locks, rear A/C) and it's clean. I don't even know if it's bi-fuel or full CNG. The Vin tag shows it as a bus (not school bus). It comes from a transportation agency and I have to go the Santa Rosa (from Dana Point) to get it. I'm thinking this is the van that I'm going to convert. Does anyone have any guesses about what CNG set up it might have? I pick it up in about 10 days and I'm going to drive it home, so knowing the fuel situation would be ideal. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-07-2020, 03:18 PM   #2
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I can't help you with your question but just wanted to say that this is going to be an interesting project to follow. Good luck.
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Old 01-07-2020, 03:34 PM   #3
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Post some pics (if you can) to help others identify it. I know they make bi-fuel and pure CNG conversions, the first allowing you to run on gas or CNG. If you have that one, then you don't have to worry about fuel.
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Old 01-07-2020, 09:26 PM   #4
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I talked to the guy who runs the fleet. It's a 100% CNG conversion, which means it qualifies for single occupant HOV lane use. It was part of a public transportation fleet but since it was CNG, none of the drivers wanted to hassle refilling the tank, so it barley got used. The rear most seat is gone since the agency had a 9 person limit. The passenger seat is also gone but I didn't ask why since I want to add seats that swivel and recline. I'mm very mechanical by nature, so i'm just looking for the ins and outs of CNG. I'm mostly curious about the range and how low I can safely let the CNG pressure get. YouTube here I come.
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:54 AM   #5
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Ten years ago I had a 70mi one way commute, and considered buying a used CNG Honda Civic, so I did a fair amount of research.



My workplace has/had several CNG fleet vehicles, you have to take a class on safe CNG filling, which means the the single fuel CNG trucks also rarely get used.



A home fill station looked to me like the way to go, as CNC doesn't have the same infrastructure as gasoline. I looked at my options along my route, and found a few helpful websites. It seems most stations are unmaned, and you need to figure out hours of operation, and it looked like a fleet credit card was a good idea.



If a guy could talk the fleet sales folks into topping off the CNG tank in Santa Rosa, (assuming 25-30gal tank) you could make 1 stop for fuel in Bakersfield, that's probably all you'd need.


Map of CNG fueling stations in California:
California CNG Stations for Natural Gas Vehicles



Interesting reading:
https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/natura...arest?fuel=CNG


hope that helps
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:17 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info. I talked to another guy who said the CNG stations are pretty much like regular gas stations these days. They take atm and credit cards. Regardless, I'm checking into videos about the whole CNG refilling process.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:22 PM   #7
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Old 01-12-2020, 02:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seapointejim View Post
As if I don't have enough to do, I just bought (site unseen, just pics) a 1997 E350 EB Window Van 5.4 with a CNG conversion. 68,000 original miles. I currently have a 1997 EB Window van that's a beater. The new one is an XLT (power windows, locks, rear A/C) and it's clean. I don't even know if it's bi-fuel or full CNG. The Vin tag shows it as a bus (not school bus). It comes from a transportation agency and I have to go the Santa Rosa (from Dana Point) to get it. I'm thinking this is the van that I'm going to convert. Does anyone have any guesses about what CNG set up it might have? I pick it up in about 10 days and I'm going to drive it home, so knowing the fuel situation would be ideal. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I had one of these a while back that I was thinking about converting. It’s 100% CNG. It will most likely have a tank behind the rear row of seats that is housed in a rectangular box around 1.5’x1.5’ that runs the width of the van. That’s pretty much the only difference internally. Most places to fill up are at Or close to airports, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself with all the places you can fill up. I think the 101 will probably be your way home down south, because hwy 5 didn’t have too many places to fill up last I checked. (I currently have a cng Honda Civic.) if you go 101, you can fill up at The San Jose airport and in San Luis Obispo. Maybe get the CNG Now app to see where all the spots are.

You can also get a card from PG&E to fill up at all their places, will will more than double the spots in CA that you can fill up, but they will want to inspect the tank and make sure it’s in compliance. My guess is that the tank is out of date, so you’d need to replace it to be in compliance. When PG&E said my ‘07 Civic tank needed to be inspected in order to continue filling up at their locations, I let my card lapse and stopped filling up there.

I really wanted to take it to a 4x4 conversion place and then to Sportsmobile to do the full Sportsmobile conversion, but I decided against it. I eventually sold that van to someone who ran a super shuttle type business. We now have an Airstream Interstate Sprinter van (that I want to convert to 4x4 because I’m a glutton for punishment).

Good luck! I hope you succeed!
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Old 01-12-2020, 09:52 PM   #9
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First things first, The back seat is probably missing because, since it is a bus, all the luggage use to be placed in the back.

Now CNG: home units are available but at a $4-5000.00 price ticket and they still will not hit the 3600 psi that most vendors are at. Although CNG stations have spread drastically there is still very limited stations outside metropolitan areas. Barstow has one then nothing to I don't know ville in Arizona. California is pushing green but it still very Brown if you get my drift. Most So Cal Gas and Natural Gas companies have facilities that have refueling capabilities. The city of Riverside has two locations and I pay $1.62 presently. CHEAPEST anywhere!

As far as the carpool one occupant, don't do it!! The law changed in Jan of 2019. 3 years or newer. Some Dickwad Senator or Representative in the San Fernando Valley area, had a bill passed to stop it. My assumptions were he was in bed with Tesla and Electric vehicle CEO's. I have the HOV sticker and it is useless! You will be cited $460.00!

Now the myth: many people say and will swear that you do not get the mileage that gasoline gets, FALSE. My F150 is rated at 16 mpg and I get 16 to 16.5 mpg.
The benefits of CNG are two fold for me. On top of spending half of what I would for petroleum gas a month, my oil change intervals are 10,000 miles between oil changes. When I change the oil I feel guilty, like I am throwing good oil away. It comes out of the pan the same color it goes in, no carbon!

The bad: Where are you going to Overland and refuel? You can't carry fuel cans, you could get a trailer and put a couple old Honda CNG tanks but where can you refuel between other trails? If it was bifuel you would be in great shape but the Fords had a lot of issues with the crossover valve and many people just left them as Gasoline units.

Just wanted to pass on what I know having had a CNG unit for over 7 years and being involved CNG locations.

Lastly, there is an APP called CNG Fuel Finder that may help you!
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:34 PM   #10
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Thanks for all that intel. I won't be doing too much overland travel so refueling shouldn't be a problem. This van was for people only-no luggage. It looks veryy clean in the pics. I'm hoping to pick it up Friday. I'll post more pics then.
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