Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Old and the New

My grandfather started Baker Equipment in 1919 by converting Model-T Ford stripped chassis into flatbed pickup trucks. With Providence, our long-range CNG van might have a small place in automotive history.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Judd's Store at the Inn

What more could you want?

Green Gate Village Historic Inn - St George, UT

The Green Gate Village Historic Inn was selected for the one night accommodations. Behind the green gates are 14-buildings with nine faithfully restored homes, nestled in a garden-like setting around the "Village Green". This turned out to be a great choice!

Gauge Readings at St George CNG Station

We drove 160-miles from Fillmore to St George, UT and consumed 8.7-GGE of fuel, receiving a 3,150 PSI fill. That's a consistent 18-MPG reading. Cost to fill = $14.08. What a deal!

Waiting In Line at St George, UT Shell CNG Station

This Questar/Shell CNG station was busy on a Friday afternoon. The people in St George, UT know how to save money on motor fuel. The line moved quickly, with the drivers exchanging Q&A about their vehicles and MPG claims. St George is looking good for CNG.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Questar/Chevron CNG Station in Fillmore, UT

We stopped at Fillmore, UT to top off the tanks. This was a convenient rest stop and a fine Questar CNG station, offering a 3,300 PSI fill. We had traveled 170-miles from SLC, using 14.8 GGE, costing $21.70. Fuel economy is a better than it first appears, because we started out with only 3,000 PSI in SLC. Over the long haul, we are averaging 16-21 MPG on the highway.

CNG Station at Salt Lake City, UT

We are filling up, before heading out to St. George, UT. This is a well used, accessible Questar CNG station with a 3,000 PSI rating and $1.46/gal price. The Ford E-250 van is a 2,000 model year OEM van, with around 60,000 miles. The owner bought the van 1-year ago and has fully paid for the investment in the first year's fuel savings.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top of Guardsman Pass, UT

We drove our CNG van up Guardsman's Pass, a steep back country drive which connects Park City to the Salt Lake Valley. At the pass, the elevation is about 9,700 feet above sea level. This road is closed during the winter. A major summer storm broke out, making washboards in some areas. 'Good CNG driving performance. 'Not so good visibility.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Relaxing with the Wasatch Jazz Project Band- Sugar House Coffee, UT

The Wasatch Jazz Project Band is a 22-piece team of musicians who practice on Tuesdays at the Sugar House Coffee, near Salt Lake City. They play for public and charity events. Great band! That's Rick Oliver in the right rear, on base guitar. He engineers CNG vehicle components and conversions, by day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Baker CNG Van Fits in at Salt Lake City Airport Drop-off Area

We can easily drive under a 9-foot covering.... 13-foot at SLC Airport makes our van look small.

In Good Company - CNG Airport Buses

The Salt Lake City Airport runs many large CNG buses. One of the operators said that the public CNG station, where I filled up, is very active on the weekdays. Looks like SLC is a good market.

Fuel Gauge at SLC Airport CNG Station

Here's the dashboard gauge readings at the Salt Lake City Airport CNG station. Distance traveled was 195-miles, with 1,850 PSI remaining, consuming 12.7-GGE of fuel. Fill pressure was 3,300 PSI.

Public CNG Station at SLC Airport

This CNG station works well, but is very difficult to access, due to airport road construction. Navigate to Police Lot 13, from the terminal road, to get 24/7 ... MC/Visa accepted. The price is right at $1.54 per GGE, and that included a recent 50-cent/gallon increase!

Almost There - Salt Lake City Airport

Welcome to Utah!

"Life Elevated"

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rock Springs, WY CNG Station

This Questar public CNG station is 24/7 ... MC/Visa accepted. Although only 3,000 PSI, the price is right at $1.54 per GGE. Next stop - Salt Lake City, Utah

Rock Springs, WY Gauge Reading

Here's the dashboard gauge readings at the Rock Springs, Wyoming CNG station. Distance traveled was 349-miles, consuming 17-GGE of fuel, with 1,500 PSI remaining. As you can see, the dash fuel gauge has a conservative calibration. This gives drivers a built-in fuel reserve. It might be a little too conservative. We will discuss the gauge calibration option with each fleet manager and tailor the fuel reserve to their requirements.

The Wyoming Road

There's not a lot to see out here, traveling from Colorado to Wyoming. Better have plenty of CNG fuel on-board.

Vingtage 1990's Dodge CNG Postal Van

I haven't seen one of these Chrysler CNG vans in a several years. The US Postal Service is still running this 1990's vintage CNG van.

Clean Energy Fuel Station - DIA

Filled up with CNG fuel and ready to take off towards Salt Lake City, Utah

Denver International Airport - Final CNG Fill Stats

At this point, we have driven round-trip from the Denver Airport to Vail/Edmonds, let the engine run at idle for 8 more hours, and driven another 12-miles this morning to the CNG station. We had 1,500 PSI and 20 GGE of fuel remaining. This demonstrates the ample CNG fuel reserve that is now available for long-distance shuttle van operators.

CNG Fuel Pressure Gauge - Idling at 2 AM - Mission Accomplished

After the round-trip from DIA to Vail/Edmond, plus 8-hours of engine idling, our long-range CNG van has 1,500 PSI or 40-percent of its fuel capacity remaining. That's the equivalent of approximately 20 gallons of gasoline. That should be enough fuel to weather Colorado winter storms. Tomorrow will tell the rest of the story, when we fill up at the Denver Airport CNG station and see exactly how much fuel was consumed.

What's the significance of this test? It all about creating viable clean fuel options. Being able to confidently operate a dedicated CNG vehicle allows the vehicle owner the option of accessing thousands of dollars of federal and state tax incentives, which can help offset the incremental cost of conversion. 
Many thanks to the folks at CME for describing their severe winter driving conditions, which helped define this test.

Fuel Gauge at Denver Hotel - Idling at 2 AM

Last Check - Everything Still Looks Good

2 AM in Denver - 8-Hours of Engine Idle Completed

CNG Fuel Pressure Gauge at Denver Hotel - Idling at Midnight

6-Hours of idling has consumed only 200 PSI of CNG fuel. After the round-trip from DIA to Vail/Edmond, plus 6-hours of idling, our long-range CNG van has 1/2 of its fuel capacity remaining, or the equivalent of 21 gallons of gasoline.

Fuel Gauge at Denver Hotel - Idling at Midnight

All indications are good

Midnight in Denver

Friday, July 23, 2010

CNG Fuel Pressure Gauge at Denver Hotel - Idling at 9:00 PM

The CNG van consumed only 100 PSI during the first 3-hours of idling.

Fuel Gauge at Denver Hotel - Idling at 9:00 PM

Everything Still Looks Good

Denver Airport Hotel - Parked & Idling at 9:00 PM

Let's see how the CNG fuel is holding up, after 3-hours of idling

Taking it a Little Slower - Walking Back to the Hotel after Dinner

More of God's Creation on Display

CNG Fuel Pressure Gauge at Denver Hotel - Idling at 6:10 PM

More than 1/2 of the full CNG capacity remains

Fuel Gauge at Denver Hotel - Idling at 6:10 PM

Everthing looks Good

Back at Denver Airport Hotel - Idle Time Begins

Back to the long-range CNG van challenge...the route today began with a full CNG tank at the DIA Clean Energy Fuel station. Our long-range CNG van was then driven up the mountains, past Vail, to CME's HQ in Edmond, CO and back to the Airport Cambria Suites, just 11-miles from DIA. However, the van engine was never shut off. It is now idling in the parking lot, as if it were stuck in a snow storm and unable to move. Let's see how the remaining CNG fuel holds up,over the next 8-hours of idling...

Stuck in 5:30PM Denver Traffic

This delayed the return trip by approximately 30-minutes

Starting to Feel at Home in Colorado

"The Tunnel"

Checking the fuel guage - and Good to Go

Headed Back to Denver

Better have good brakes. The decline is approximately 3,000 feet!

Baker CNG Van - Visiting CME the Parking Lot

CME has a fleet of over 240 late model, well maintained vehicles including the 10-passenger vans seen here. The biggest challenge to their operation is winter snow storms. Although rare, it is possible for vehicles traveling to and from Denver to the ski areas to get caught in a snow storm and have to pull over and "wait it out." At that point, drivers need sufficient on-board fuel to keep the vehicle idling and the passengers warm, until the road reopens. This can be a challenge for clean fuel CNG vehicles, since there are less CNG fuel stations than with gasoline. Having the CNG equivalent of 42-gallons of gasoline, our van was put to the test. More about that later....

Electric Hybrid Vehicle Parked at CME

The people at CME think Green!

CME Vans Ready to Go!

Ski and snowboard racks are mounted on the rear door, for good weight distribution, ease of access, and safety.

Colorado Mountain Express HQ - Edwards, CO

Every year over 420,000 travelers choose Colorado Mountain Express (CME) for their airport ground transportation to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Aspen and Snowmass. CME offers both shared ride shuttle airport ground transportation and private car airport services from Denver International Airport (DIA) and Eagle County Regional Airport. A great company to visit!

Summer in Colorado Ski Area

It's a challenging uphill drive, but the view is excellent!

Upward to Vail

It's a long 3,000-foot pull up the mountains from Denver to Vail/Edmond.. No CNG stations out here.

July 23, 2010 Denver International Airport - CNG Roof Tanks are on Display

This is a well-utilized Clean Energy Fuels CNG station, at the Denver International Airport.  'Easy access and no lines. We traveled 155-miles in mixed city/hwy traffic and still had 2,000 PSI, or over 1/3 tank remaining. We filled up with  13 GGE at 3,500 PSI, costing $27.92. Open 24/7. Takes major credit cards.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15, 2010 - U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack at Baker Equipment in Richmond VA

U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack discusses domestic, clean fuel options with Phil Hodson of Red Top Cab, the provider of the first 50 cabs to be converted by Baker for propane operation in the Alexandria, VA area. 

July 15, 2010 - U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack at Baker Equipment in Richmond VA

U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack impressed the audience as a sincere and insightful public servant, with a deep passion to help make the United States become the world leader in alternative fuels and renewed economic development. It's happening!

For video and to hear some of U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack's remarks, during the VA Clean Cities Event, please click on the following link:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 8, 2010 - Denver Evening

I owed MaryLee a nice dinner out on the town. I didn't mind at all. This is Cru Restaurant, about 6 blocks from the Denver Convention Center. They offer an excellent menu, at reasonable prices. "Easy access and no lines."
We've been on the road for almost 5-weeks and have been given the opportunity to fly back to Richmond for a few days to host U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack at Baker Equipment. We will park the CNG van at the Denver Airport and return to continue our X-Country CNG Van Demonstration. Please join us then

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July 7, 2010 - Denver Hilton Conference Center Hotel - COGA Meeting Location

By coincidence, the Colorado Oil & Gas Association was having their Rocky Mt. Energy Epicenter Meeting on July 6-9, just across the street, in the Convention Center. There was a special Natural Gas Vehicle session, where they recognized that NGVs are getting increased industry attention as another way that their industry can contribute to energy and environmental solutions. This session provided a comprehensive introduction on the potential to grow the use of NGVs in Colorado. Mike DeArmond, with ATMOS Energy, was able to connect me with Lynn Lyon, at Pioneer Natural Resources, who provided some excellent local contacts. Much appreciated!

July 7, 2010 - Devner, CO - Getting Ready to Enter Downtown Denver

Getting faster at this...