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Propane and Natural Gas Fuel Delivery and Tuning Discussion about the care and feeding of Propane and Natural Gas Engines.

Propane and Natural Gas Fuel Delivery and Tuning

Natural Gas Engines in Cold Weather


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  #21  
Old 10-24-2018, 08:41:56 PM
cornbinder89 cornbinder89 is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

Most A/C vacuum pumps will not pull low enough to do it without adding heat or "sweep charges" of dry nitrogen. A lab pump or some A/C pumps that will pull to micron or torr rating will, but most common ones will not, their job is to remove non condensable (air) gas. At 29" water will not boil until 80 deg, and when it boils it absorbs heat and reduces the temp. You have to get up to 29.8" to get the boiling point down to where ambient temp will drive off most of the moisture, and most vacuum pumps built for A/C work can't come close to that.

---------- Post added at 07:41:56 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:35:10 PM ----------

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Originally Posted by Georgia SS View Post
Hey Guys
A couple of comments here not worth much.When changing semi truck tires you screw out the valve core, stand back and the stem will frost shut then thaw and shoot ice bullets, with enough velocity to be dangerous. In the late fifties I was a bit on the young side, a customer came into the shop and wanted me to help him build an air cond. system in his vehicle, he was going to use the gasoline from the fuel tank under high pressure through an orfice for the refrigerent and then send the gas back to the tank, at that time I was not interested in air conditioning, had never rode in a car with a.c. May have missed the boat.
Have A Good One
Jimmy
without going thru phase change from liquid to gas, it wouldn't work (or not enough to make any noticeable cooling. It is the phase change from liquid to gas and back to liquid that makes the system work. Otherwise we could just compress air and let it expand. The phase change of the refrigerant is what allows it to move so much heat. There are many substances that can be use as refrigerants, some can move more heat than others. Some of the best are hazardous, however, either flammable (propane for example) or inhalation hazard (ammonia, Sulfur Dioxide).
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Old 10-24-2018, 08:49:19 PM
cjjmw cjjmw is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

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Originally Posted by cornbinder89 View Post
Most A/C vacuum pumps will not pull low enough to do it without adding heat or "sweep charges" of dry nitrogen. A lab pump or some A/C pumps that will pull to micron or torr rating will, but most common ones will not, their job is to remove non condensable (air) gas. At 29" water will not boil until 80 deg, and when it boils it absorbs heat and reduces the temp. You have to get up to 29.8" to get the boiling point down to where ambient temp will drive off most of the moisture, and most vacuum pumps built for A/C work can't come close to that.

---------- Post added at 07:41:56 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:35:10 PM ----------


without going thru phase change from liquid to gas, it wouldn't work (or not enough to make any noticeable cooling. It is the phase change from liquid to gas and back to liquid that makes the system work. Otherwise we could just compress air and let it expand. The phase change of the refrigerant is what allows it to move so much heat. There are many substances that can be use as refrigerants, some can move more heat than others. Some of the best are hazardous, however, either flammable (propane for example) or inhalation hazard (ammonia, Sulfur Dioxide).

I do refrigeration as a hobby and my vacuum pump will most certainly go lower than 29.8". I can get down to 50 microns or so, or 29.91" hg. More so it's SOP to pull to 500 microns or better.

I try to get to 100 microns or lower on my stuff always.

I have 3 1930s monitor Top refrigerators that use methyl formate. One is running in my kitchen right now. It's from 1933 and it's evaporator runs close to 28"hg. The condenser rarely goes above a few psi above atmosphere.
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  #23  
Old 10-24-2018, 08:57:34 PM
cornbinder89 cornbinder89 is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

What are you using to measure the vacuum? Unless it is a electronic gauge I doubt the readings, a std compound gauge can't read accurately that low. Even 2 stage pumps don't do a good job of getting that low. A lab vacuum pump can get low but the ones sold for A/C work can't get much lower than 29" .

I too do A/C work, and have toyed with restoring a Monitor top. There is a good write up somewhere on this board, or at least a link to it, about restoring one of those.

---------- Post added at 07:57:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:54:39 PM ----------

you can prove it to yourself, make up a jar that can take vacuum, put some water in it an make up a fitting and see if it will boil all the water away.
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  #24  
Old 10-24-2018, 09:10:31 PM
len k len k is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

I also recharged A/Cs. When I replaced A/C evaporator in wife's car I didn't want to spend $$$ renting a good vac pump and vac gauge. I used pump from an old refrigerator and used a clear plastic tube with a few drops of water in it to conform pump could make a hard enough vac to boil water at room temp. I watched as water drops evaporated in ~ 30 seconds. Seemed good so I used pump to evacuate and dry car A/C system for ~ 20 minutes, added little R-12 , and repeated ( flushed it). Car A/C worked fine even 10 years later.

Just as a safety back up I put a 2nd refrigerator pump on outlet of first vac pump, just in case 1-st pump seals wore and bypassed from being hot from no Freon flow,
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Old 10-24-2018, 09:15:04 PM
cjjmw cjjmw is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

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Originally Posted by cornbinder89 View Post
What are you using to measure the vacuum? Unless it is a electronic gauge I doubt the readings, a std compound gauge can't read accurately that low. Even 2 stage pumps don't do a good job of getting that low. A lab vacuum pump can get low but the ones sold for A/C work can't get much lower than 29" .

I too do A/C work, and have toyed with restoring a Monitor top. There is a good write up somewhere on this board, or at least a link to it, about restoring one of those.

---------- Post added at 07:57:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:54:39 PM ----------

you can prove it to yourself, make up a jar that can take vacuum, put some water in it an make up a fitting and see if it will boil all the water away.


I use a Yellow Jacket electronic micron gauge. The compound gauge on a manifold set is useless.

Any good 2 stage pump is good to 50 microns or better with good oil. I think mine was rated to 20.
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  #26  
Old 10-24-2018, 09:24:05 PM
cornbinder89 cornbinder89 is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

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Originally Posted by len k View Post
I also recharged A/Cs. When I replaced A/C evaporator in wife's car I didn't want to spend $$$ renting a good vac pump and vac gauge. I used pump from an old refrigerator and used a clear plastic tube with a few drops of water in it to conform pump could make a hard enough vac to boil water at room temp. I watched as water drops evaporated in ~ 30 seconds so I used the pump to evacuate/dry the car A/C system for ~ 20 minutes. Car A/C worked fine even 10 years later.

Just as a safety back up I put a 2nd refrigerator pump on outlet of first vac pump just in case 1-st pump seals wore and bypassed from being hot from no Freon flow,
Unless a system is really wet, all you need to do is get the non-condensable out. the drier bed can take care of what little moisture remains.
I have just not found that common A/C vacuum pumps to be that good. I have a text book I got years ago that also confirms that, recommending sweep charges to clear a wet system.
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  #27  
Old 10-24-2018, 09:29:25 PM
len k len k is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

Chevy said I needed to replace $200 drier if I opened the system. Didn't want to spend that. So I plugged lines as soon as I opened them, and worked quickly in case weather air pressure increase. Go it closed up again < ~ 1 hour.

I didn't have any experience opening A/C systems for repairs. I was concerned about absorbed water vapor on tubing surfaces of new evaporator. It only had plastic push in "dust" plugs on connections. Figured new one might have absorbed humidity on the shelf, was humid summer.

For my vac pump I just bought a $10 crud Borne tube type vac gauge to check for GROSS failures of vac pump. And just hoped pump would last long enough to dry AC out, seems it did. Didn't want to spend $$$ on vac gauge as it was only AC I planned on opening. Figured I could have system hard vac pumped if found I had pressure fluctuations from orifice icing up/letting go. I ASSUMED it would do that before water made acids. Don't know if I'm right about that assumption.
.

Last edited by len k; 10-24-2018 at 11:00:49 PM.
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  #28  
Old 10-25-2018, 07:33:01 AM
cjjmw cjjmw is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

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Originally Posted by len k View Post
Chevy said I needed to replace $200 drier if I opened the system. Didn't want to spend that. So I plugged lines as soon as I opened them, and worked quickly in case weather air pressure increase. Go it closed up again < ~ 1 hour.

I didn't have any experience opening A/C systems for repairs. I was concerned about absorbed water vapor on tubing surfaces of new evaporator. It only had plastic push in "dust" plugs on connections. Figured new one might have absorbed humidity on the shelf, was humid summer.

For my vac pump I just bought a $10 crud Borne tube type vac gauge to check for GROSS failures of vac pump. And just hoped pump would last long enough to dry AC out, seems it did. Didn't want to spend $$$ on vac gauge as it was only AC I planned on opening. Figured I could have system hard vac pumped if found I had pressure fluctuations from orifice icing up/letting go. I ASSUMED it would do that before water made acids. Don't know if I'm right about that assumption.
.
You should always change the drier if the system is open.
There was no residual refrigerant in there once you released the pressure. The best you could've done is flowed nitrogen while the system was open to keep air from getting into it.

Monitor tops do not have driers, so proper dehydration is critical. The refrigerant also breaks down in the presence of moisture and formic acid can be very destructive.

It's best to pull down to 100-200 microns and then fill with dry nitrogen multiple times. This helps the moisture get to the pump faster. After pulling down you need to isolate the system from the pump and hoses and see how much the vacuum climbs. This gives you a good indication of any leaks or moisture in the system.

I believe my vacuum pump goes for around $350-$400 online depending on where you buy it. The micron gauge is around $300.

Like generators, good quality doesn't come cheap and it's hard to perform good work with cheap tools.
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  #29  
Old 10-25-2018, 08:29:03 AM
dkamp dkamp is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

Combined gas law: P-=V/T says it all. Change any one element of the formula, and one or both of the others must change in order to equalize.

The venturi of a carbeurator or mixer exists to provide a pressure change commensurate with engine fuel demand. Doesn't matter if the demand is liquid (pulling fuel up a main jet) or gaseous (drawing fuel from a negative-pressure regulator)... the venturi, however, is still there, and the commensurate change in pressure as air flows through, causes a temperature drop at that point.

Any moisture coming through that point will condense, and if cold enough, freeze.

Just so happens that liquid fuel engines can carry liquid contaminants (like water) at a fairly high volume. Ethanol is aggressively hygroscopic- it will absorb moisture from the air in large volumes under most circumstances... and while alcohol saturation in water results in anti-freeze, when you feed it through a fuel system, that moisture need only be separated slightly from the ethanol to yield water again, and it freezes very, very rapidly... causing genuinely dangerous results in things like piston aircraft.

As noted, gaseous engines are much less susceptible to it, because the only moisture is that which appears in ambient air, and of course, once the engine is warm, the intake manifold and air supply are generally sufficient to prevent further problems.

Per the OP's question, and commensurate with all the good answers, NG engines don't have Propane's vapor pressure issues- NG is gaseous to well, well below human operating temperatures... it's methane. It does have a different flame speed and brake-specific heat output (about half that of gasoline when no compression or aspiration modifications are done) and require a little ignition timing change (your engine's manufacturer probably has a spec for it). You won't have any problems getting it to run nicely (and it'll be clean).

If you're running on municipal natural gas supply, you WILL have to 'purge' the line every so often- maintenance service on the gas line will cause 'air bubbles' to appear every so often, which will give you stumbling, stalling, and no-start. Make sure you have adequate drip-legs in your piping so that any contaminants fall out of the piping before making that last turn to your engine's supply point.

DK ;-)
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  #30  
Old 10-25-2018, 08:38:41 AM
cjjmw cjjmw is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

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Originally Posted by dkamp View Post
Combined gas law: P-=V/T says it all. Change any one element of the formula, and one or both of the others must change in order to equalize.

The venturi of a carbeurator or mixer exists to provide a pressure change commensurate with engine fuel demand. Doesn't matter if the demand is liquid (pulling fuel up a main jet) or gaseous (drawing fuel from a negative-pressure regulator)... the venturi, however, is still there, and the commensurate change in pressure as air flows through, causes a temperature drop at that point.

Any moisture coming through that point will condense, and if cold enough, freeze.

Just so happens that liquid fuel engines can carry liquid contaminants (like water) at a fairly high volume. Ethanol is aggressively hygroscopic- it will absorb moisture from the air in large volumes under most circumstances... and while alcohol saturation in water results in anti-freeze, when you feed it through a fuel system, that moisture need only be separated slightly from the ethanol to yield water again, and it freezes very, very rapidly... causing genuinely dangerous results in things like piston aircraft.

As noted, gaseous engines are much less susceptible to it, because the only moisture is that which appears in ambient air, and of course, once the engine is warm, the intake manifold and air supply are generally sufficient to prevent further problems.

Per the OP's question, and commensurate with all the good answers, NG engines don't have Propane's vapor pressure issues- NG is gaseous to well, well below human operating temperatures... it's methane. It does have a different flame speed and brake-specific heat output (about half that of gasoline when no compression or aspiration modifications are done) and require a little ignition timing change (your engine's manufacturer probably has a spec for it). You won't have any problems getting it to run nicely (and it'll be clean).

If you're running on municipal natural gas supply, you WILL have to 'purge' the line every so often- maintenance service on the gas line will cause 'air bubbles' to appear every so often, which will give you stumbling, stalling, and no-start. Make sure you have adequate drip-legs in your piping so that any contaminants fall out of the piping before making that last turn to your engine's supply point.

DK ;-)

Thank you for taking the time to comment DK.
What is the typical setup for purging? This has been a concern of mine.
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  #31  
Old 10-25-2018, 09:30:59 AM
cornbinder89 cornbinder89 is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

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Combined gas law: P-=V/T says it all.
DK ;-)
Actually if we are gong to get that technical, it is PV=NrT where P is pressure, V is volume, N is number of "moles" (amount of atoms) and r is Rydberg's (sp?) constant, and of course T is temp. I can't believe I still remember that from High School chemistry!
As with anything, there are things that the "book" always say should be done, and you will not go wrong following the "book". Once you have enough experience, and you know what problems may arise, you can make your own judgments. If working for hire, and risking having to do the job again or worse damaging some other part of the system, then it is better to follow procedure.
Most procedures say change the drier and Tx valve when the system is open. I have never had to change a Tx and never had one stick. A system that had a slow leak, enough to trip the low cutoff but not completely empty will not ingest moisture, and if all was good before, you don't have to change the drier. It is a judgment call. If the system has sat empty but closed due to a leak for a long time, the heating and cooling of the ambient temp can pull outside air in, and moisture with it.
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Old 10-25-2018, 09:41:07 AM
cjjmw cjjmw is offline
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Default Re: natural gas engines in cold weather

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Originally Posted by cornbinder89 View Post
Actually if we are gong to get that technical, it is PV=NrT where P is pressure, V is volume, N is number of "moles" (amount of atoms) and r is Rydberg's (sp?) constant, and of course T is temp. I can't believe I still remember that from High School chemistry!
As with anything, there are things that the "book" always say should be done, and you will not go wrong following the "book". Once you have enough experience, and you know what problems may arise, you can make your own judgments. If working for hire, and risking having to do the job again or worse damaging some other part of the system, then it is better to follow procedure.
Most procedures say change the drier and Tx valve when the system is open. I have never had to change a Tx and never had one stick. A system that had a slow leak, enough to trip the low cutoff but not completely empty will not ingest moisture, and if all was good before, you don't have to change the drier. It is a judgment call. If the system has sat empty but closed due to a leak for a long time, the heating and cooling of the ambient temp can pull outside air in, and moisture with it.

As soon as you open the system the lack of moisture in the system will wick moisture in. Just like high pressure moving to low pressure.

And you said your self, when dehydrating a system with a vacuum pump it's impossible to get all of the moisture out. That moisture is bad news even with modern refrigerants and especially with POE oil.

At least, this is my understanding of it. I'm sure I still have plenty to learn and some things I believe are incorrect or only partially correct.
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  #33  
Old 10-25-2018, 10:07:39 AM
cornbinder89 cornbinder89 is offline
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Default Re: Natural Gas Engines in Cold Weather

All true and you will not go wrong replacing the drier. All I'm saying is with a little knowledge and some good judgement you don't always have too. PAG is more hydroscopic than POE.

Low temp (well below 32 deg) will be more likely to have a problem with even a little moisture.
Most automotive system use a large drier bed, they used to come with a moisture indicator.
Case in point:
I had one truck I bought that had no condenser and a bad compressor. it had sat that way for 2 years I could document and could have been many more. I wasn't about to put a new drier on a system that may have other problems, so when it was repaired, it was evacuated and charged with refrigerant I reclaimed from other system I worked on. Then the system was run for a few hour and it worked just fine, I found problems with lines that were leaking thru the barrier into the outer jacket. Once all problems were found and repaired new oil was put in the compressor and a new drier was installed along with virgin refrigerant. I truly expected a "freeze up" problem, but not only did it not happen but the Tx valve worked flawless and is still doing so today.
Would I take that approach on a customer vehicle that I was being paid to repair ? NO, but I was prepared to go back and replace anything that needed it and I also had the benefit of "sweeping" the system. The refrigerant I used for the initial charge was destined for recycling anyway.
Like anything, it is a judgement call, books will stress the way that eliminates any judgement if possible, and that isn't always a bad thing, but neither is thinking for yourself.
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  #34  
Old 10-25-2018, 01:10:50 PM
len k len k is offline
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Default Re: Natural Gas Engines in Cold Weather

No need ,just curious.

Any GUESSES about if acids won't be produced if there's not enough moisture in system to cause low side pressure fluctuations from orfice icing up then blowing free, and repeating. Experiences maybe??

My guess is they will, but real question is will there be enough to kill it. Seems acid will be consumed as it makes corrosion, so a little might not kill it.
.

Last edited by len k; 10-25-2018 at 01:52:04 PM.
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Old 10-25-2018, 03:42:06 PM
cornbinder89 cornbinder89 is offline
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Default Re: Natural Gas Engines in Cold Weather

Well, basically you have a large desiccant bed which its only job is to trap and hold moisture. Unless the moisture exceeds the capacity of the drier you are not going to have free moisture in the system. If you KNOW your system was dry before you started, and you are doing a minor repair, you will likely get by with just pulling all the non-condensable gases out and re-filling.
With small hermetically sealed like widow A/C or fridges, there is no drier used unless added after a servicing. On these just a little moisture can freeze and plug an orifice tube, so if you don't get it all out you can have problems.
From the standpoint of explaining procedure and training, there is no downside to saying change the drier each time the system is open.
On hermetic compressor acid is more likely to come from burned winding than moisture.
You have proved the point I'm making by the repair you did on your car. Non-condensable gas (air, etc) will cause more and immediate problems if you don't get it all out, but it doesn't take a real high vacuum to do that.
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Old 10-25-2018, 03:45:03 PM
cjjmw cjjmw is offline
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Default Re: Natural Gas Engines in Cold Weather

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Well, basically you have a large desiccant bed which its only job is to trap and hold moisture. Unless the moisture exceeds the capacity of the drier you are not going to have free moisture in the system. If you KNOW your system was dry before you started, and you are doing a minor repair, you will likely get by with just pulling all the non-condensable gases out and re-filling.
With small hermetically sealed like widow A/C or fridges, there is no drier used unless added after a servicing. On these just a little moisture can freeze and plug an orifice tube, so if you don't get it all out you can have problems.
From the standpoint of explaining procedure and training, there is no downside to saying change the drier each time the system is open.
On hermetic compressor acid is more likely to come from burned winding than moisture.
You have proved the point I'm making by the repair you did on your car. Non-condensable gas (air, etc) will cause more and immediate problems if you don't get it all out, but it doesn't take a real high vacuum to do that.
Acid can also cause copper plating which will often lead to seizing of the compressor.
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Old 10-25-2018, 04:05:57 PM
AngolaGravely AngolaGravely is offline
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Default Re: Natural Gas Engines in Cold Weather

Ford Black Death. Notorious for eating compressors. Mostly from shedding teflon seals but moisture/Acid is a big factor.
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Old 10-25-2018, 06:48:56 PM
len k len k is offline
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Default Re: Natural Gas Engines in Cold Weather

What's copper plating....... dissolve it from one place and deposit it on another ??

I'm curious what drives it. Can you tell me how it works please?

Only copper I can think of in system is in brass, suspect there's not much of that in system.
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Old 10-25-2018, 08:17:23 PM
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Default Re: Natural Gas Engines in Cold Weather

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What's copper plating....... dissolve it from one place and deposit it on another ??

I'm curious what drives it. Can you tell me how it works please?

Only copper I can think of in system is in brass, suspect there's not much of that in system.

Remember, most non-automotive systems are piped primarily in copper.

This explains it and shows what it looks like.

https://hvacrschool.com/ever-hear-of...he-compressor/
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Old 10-25-2018, 09:16:07 PM
len k len k is offline
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Default Re: Natural Gas Engines in Cold Weather

Yes lot of copper in homes systems, but was thinking about cars. In cars everything is aluminum (piping, rads, drier/receiver...) , except for maybe a little brass somewhere in pump, maybe. Copper windings have insulation coating that likely will protect them.

What's the failure mechanism in cars, maybe etching of valve seal surfaces, pump pistons, cylinders maybe?
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