These trucks are fairly common. I noticed one guy that replied worked for an upfitter that set them up. They were listed for several years in Ford’s F series brochures and came in F150’s and F250’s. I’ve seen some 650’s and 750’s running on propane as well. The local propane distributors just about all run their trucks on Propane. Schwann’s (The yellow trucks that peddle ice cream around the neighborhood) run on propane. Schwann’s advertises that it’s entire fleet is propane powered. Middlesboro, KY Coca Cola bottling plant ran it’s trucks on one of the two, I don’t remember which, for years, and I believe yet has some gas trucks.
For the F-series Fords, there were some that were propane and some that were CNG. Joe needs to make positively certain which he has. The 2 gasses aren’t compatible or interchangeable. For instance a Warm Morning gas stove can run on either fuel, but you have to change the orafice out to change fuels. The orafice is a ball stop in the line with a hole through it. The size of the hole varies between the 2 gasses and the size of the stove. I assume that in a vehicle, it’s likely not that simple, but the long and short is, if you put the wrong fuel in with the wrong system you’ll either create something that won’t run or will blow sky high from having too much fuel.
There are lots of vehicles that run on gas not to mention equipment (Most fork lifts are propane powered). The safety isn’t an issue. As was said, a typical gasoline tank is made with sheet metal while a compressed gas cylinder is 50,000 times stronger than that. Think of a dive cylinder v’s a typical gasoline tank. There’s no comparison in strength.
I actually thought seriously about buying one of these trucks once. (CNG Truck) A local dealer had one (96 model I believe) on their lot and had it discounted down in a big way because they were having trouble selling it. This truck was listed as an F150, but it was on the light duty F250 chassis that Ford made for 1 year before they came out with the current look F250. The advantage I had was owning a farm with a gas well on it. I thought I could hook a pump to my well and fill my truck up F.O.C. (free of charge). I got to checking on what would be required to fill the cylinder and at the time the pump was astronomical. It would have cost in the tens of thousands to set it up. No way to recover that much expense, plus getting it on the road away from the farm would have been an exercise in futility to find fuel.
The thing about it, CNG would be a much more practical option than the nutty ideas we keep coming up with like Bio Fuels that are doing nothing other than sucking up tax money in incentives to produce it not to mention driving the price of corn, soybeans, and other grains through the roof that will result in higher beef prices, higher cereal prices, and currently bio fuels take about 1 gallon of fuel to produce 1 gallon of bio fuel. Hence, we aren’t going forward.
The thing about Natural Gas is it’s plentiful enough to run vehicles on, vehicles can be set up to use either natural gas or gasoline, so it provides some hedge against oil companies artificially increasing prices. It’s cheap to ship, at least relative to gasoline, and wouldn’t require delivery trucks to haul it from terminals to stations. Likely the biggest problem is the government hasn’t figured out how to road tax it yet without taxing people’s home heating gas. Owning a farm with a well on it, I can say that in recent years, the Arabs have been buying up wells and systems throughout this area from the original developers. I suspect they realize the potential and plan to eventually cash in on it. One of my questions to the dealer was, “If I buy this truck do I have to buy a fuel user’s bond and pay road tax in some alternative method.” The answer at the time was “No”. At close to 50 cents a gallon in road tax on gasoline and diesel, the government is not going to be inclined to promote such a system until they figure out how to tax it like everything else.
I’m sure his truck is perfectly safe, although it’s likely not practical for an individual to use the CNG system. Gas utilities and propane distributors have the advantage of at cost fuel to burn plus the money to invest in the facilities to fill the vehicles, and their trucks generally don’t get more than a few miles away from their plant.