Friday, October 4, 2013

I'm still here...not much accomplished since my last post a LONG time ago.  I did purchase a YOM plate, but I have yet to register the Buick in FL.  The plan will continue one of these days...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

License Plate

  My 56 Buick is still titled in Wisconsin, so one of the things I have to do is title and plate in Florida.  There are some interesting options to consider in addition to just an antique plate...plate it with an original 1956 Florida plate or a vanity plate.  Utilizing the Year Of Manufacture (YOM) rule I can buy an un-restored original 1956 Florida license plate, send it in to the state to get it approved as original, and put in on the car.  For the vanity plate option here are some of the options that come to mind first: MY56CNG, CNG4ME and CNG2GO.  These plates are available as of right now...checked on the Florida DMV website.
  I am leaning towards the YOM option, unless I can come up with a really cool vanity plate (suggestions are appreciated).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

  Watching Speed TV this morning and I came up with the realization that finding sponsors for my resortation effort will help immensely.  In addition to driving the car as much as I can around the local area, I would love to show off the finished product at antique car shows or any gathering about alternative fuel vehicles.  Some sort of tasteful listing of sponsors on the trunk lid could look nice.  I figure a good place to start would be the American Gas Association (advocates for natural gas) and then find one of the more respectable CNG vehicle suppliers. 
  Found a nice engine...I see GM has a CNG 6L Vortex V-8 for their fleet Savana cargo van.  This is just a bit bigger than the current 322 cubic inch (5.3L) V-8 currently in the car.  I will start keeping a list of the different parts I will be needing and a budget.  
 Here is one of my inspirations for this restoration...Jay Leno's 1955 Buick Roadmaster.  Jay has a lot of cars, but this 1955 Buick is the one he has had the longest.  The link has a video where you can listen to his story about he even slept in that car when he first went to California.  He kept the exterior pretty much original, but replaced everything under the hood to make it drive more like a modern car. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Time for a little past history...
  Back to 1983...I'm 16 and looking for my first car.  Not much money in the bank, just a few hundred dollars.  I was visiting my uncle in Port Wing, WI.  He owned a junk shop, did metal work, and made trailers out of the rear ends of pick-up trucks.  (I also remember he didn't have indoor plumbing so we had to use the outhouse...his favorite saying was "leave one, take two"...I think he was kidding.) He collected a lot of stuff and had a few old trucks and cars in the "back 40".  One car caught my eye, a pink 1956 Buick Special.  I asked him if it ran and he said it did when he parked it back there a few years ago.  He told me to check the fluids and put a battery in to try and start it. 
  Yes it was pink.  The original red paint had chalked up after years in the sun.  The fluid levels all checked out OK.  I put in an old battery, pumped up the tires, and sprayed some starting fluid into the carburetor.  It fired up immediately on the starting fluid and I remember the car rocked side to side as I pressed on the gas trying to pump some fuel into the system.  It didn't catch the first time, but when I tried the starting fluid again it roared to life.  I had to have her.  We worked out a deal and I brought her home. 
  There have been many times over the past almost 30 years I have come very close to selling this hunk of metal, but I am glad now that I didn't.  I still own my first car and she is a beauty (at least in my eye).  Many will tell you about how they wish they still had their first car.  Many fond memories of high school and college are contained in this hunk of metal.  I also learned how to fix anything that broke on it, usually with a lot of blood, sweat, and even a few tears.   I now have the opportunity to make Greta into the car I've always dreamed of. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

CNG fuel source

  Even before I start working on the car, I need to make sure I have a CNG source.  My nearest public "fast fill" CNG station is 61 miles away in Milton, FL.  Here is a link to great web page showing CNG stations both public and private.  This is one of the biggest problems with CNG vehicles...CNG vehicles need "fast fill" stations, but not many companies will build "fast fill" stations until there are a bunch of CNG vehicles.  As a consumer it seems our best hope is companies converting fleet vehicles to CNG and sharing their stations with the public.  Waste Management is doing a great job converting garbage trucks to CNG and installing fast fill stations open to the public.  I have heard rumors they will be converting the trucks serving Fort Walton Beach in the near future.  There is hope.
 Another option is to install a home fill station such as a Phill

The station is a compressor pump with an input of less than one pound of pressure and an output of about 3500 psi.  The flow rate is very slow at .42 gallons gas equivalent PER HOUR.  If I get home at night about 6 pm and leave the next morning at 7am, this unit will pump about  5.5 gallons.  This is definitely enough for most commuters, but if you forget to refuel you will have problems.

  Unfortunately my home does not have natural gas, so I have contacted Okaloosa Gas to see how much it will cost to install a gas line to my house.  There is natural gas main about a block away, so hopefully it won't be too expensive.  When we do install gas to the house, we also plan on installing a tankless hot water heater, gas stove top, and gas grill.  Living in a hurricane prone area, a natural gas generator would be nice, but due to funding limitations we will wait.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My first post...

So begins (or more accurately...continues) "My 56 Buick" journey.  My goal is to educate, motivate and possibly entertain through the adventure I will have restoring the first car I bought almost 30 years ago, a 1956 Buick Special, AND convert it to run on compressed natural gas.

First the background...
It was 1983, I was 16 years old, living in Wisconsin and eagerly looking to buy my first car.  Unfortunately my budget was not much because I was in high school and my only income came from my job at McDonald's.  As I tell the story of my quest for restoration I will give some flashbacks to some of the adventures I had finding and owning My 56 Buick.  To get quickly to the point here is a picture of me with My 56 Buick shortly after I bought it...
Don't laugh at the haircut and my sense of style and don't be fooled by the shiny paint and apparent good condition of the body.  The paint is actually a chalky pink, but looks almost red when wet.  The rocker panels panels are completely rusted away from the Wisconsin road salt and my leg is hiding a hole rusted in the bumper.  But at least it ran (with a little tinkering now and then.)

Where we are now...
Fast forward to 2010.  My travels with the Air Force have ended after 20 years and I am now ready to retrieve My 56 Buick.  "Greta", as I call her, has been waiting patiently in a barn in Wisconsin for all these years.  A good friend of the family charged me only $10 a month for storage, so the $2,000 invested is well worth it.  I am now settled in the panhandle of Florida so it is time to retrieve her.  Here is a picture of Greta pulled out of  the barn and rinsed off....
The paint is black primer and lots of mice had made it home for many years.  Notice the hole in the bumper is still there.

Where are we going...
I have no desire to restore My 56 Buick to original condition.  I just want to have it look nice and have fun driving it.  Silver is my favorite color.  A Google search has found an awesome picture of approximately where I want to go...a 1956 Buick Roush Special...

Now for the zinger...I want to use Compressed Natural Gas as the fuel source.  There are two main reasons motivating this change from gasoline: the high price of oil and my goal for energy independence. 

That is enough for my first get the gist of this story.
(updated 6/3 with hyperlinks)