Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The background is as follows. This trip was not a pushover no brainer trip at all. It took months of preparation. But because we were relying on web sites for CNG filling locations that may or may not be accurate we were taking a leap of faith that all the stations would be there when we needed them. They were not. Did we build in a safty net? Yes we did. Not only did we have the 30 gallon capacity in the Chevy pickup truck to refuel the GTO, we also stashed an identical setup of tanks in the front of the trailer that matched the GTO configuration of a 9 gallon and a 7 gallon dual tank. These were intended to not be touched and were a fail safe if plan A did not work. Little did I know what was in store for these duplicate fueling tanks.
First let me divulge that the trip was not as smooth as it appeared from the fun Tweets and Facebook posts. In Gallup, New Mexico the GTO basically baked its battery. We pulled off to refuel from the CNG Hummer's 50 gallon capacity and the ignition switch would not even turn the car over. The battery was dead. Not only that, it was almost too hot to pickup out of the car. The cells were completely dry. It was a 5 year old battery, but that was not the failure point. A new battery purchase and the GTO cranked just fine. We thought we were home free. But of course thats when we discovered the CNG Fusion had a slow leaking front right tire. The only place in sight was Bozo's Garage. Yes, from the name you can tell it was an experience. But one of the best experiences I have ever had at a locally owned garage. Bozo, his nickname, had his chief mechanic take the tire off and locate the puncture. Of course it was in the sidewall. This tire had already been plugged by my good friend Mark at Goodyear in Birmingham. So now the tire could not be helped since it was in the sidewall and a new tire had to be purchased. Bozo had one "1" tire left my size. Thank goodness. I quickly agreed and while it was being mounted Bozo talked about all of the hot rods and muscle cars he had in his Route 66 museum in Gallup. We had just left the museum so the memories of purple 70 Road Runners and Gremlin X's were fresh in my mind. He took us to see a current project which was a panel van custom hot rod painted John Deere Green. It was a fantastic work in project. Bozo gave me a great deal on the tire and we asked him to look at the CNG GTO. It was Bozo who noticed that the brand new battery had acid on top. He told us immediately that the voltage regulator was overcharging. Thanks Bozo, again. When we got to Tulsa, it measured 19 volts output. That is far over the 13.6 necessary to keep the battery charged. Tom Sewell fixed that regulator for us. Thanks Tom.
So you see that the mechanical and fueling on this trip was no cakewalk. Now with that mindset in place, when we got to Tulsa OK, we thought that the long stretches of wasteland and lack of fueling stops were behind us. I relaxed and so did Mark. Mark had pulled a heroic overnight drive from Flagstaff down to Phoenix to refuel the pickup truck tanks to bridge Flagstaff. We didnt think it could get any worse. Our new friends from Salt Lake City, John and Steven Mitton, provided a crucial fillup of CNG from the CNG Beast of a Hummer in Gallup NM. Randy Oldham provided a critical transfer in Amarillo and provided access to a private Apache CNG station that the general public would not have had. With all of this going for us we relaxed. Then the panic set in. From Tulsa to St. Louis, it became apparent that we were short AGAIN. Jack Mitchell with assistance from Mark McConvilles dad got a head start on the GTO and drove the refueling truck to St Louis, refueled and headed back to meet the GTO wherever it ran out. That trick got us to St Louis.
At our breakfast meeting on July 4th the reality set in. A critical filling station in Springfield that was in operation when we made our plans was NO LONGER IN SERVICE. It was on our planned map at www.route66goatgas.com but was gone from CNGPrices.com. What happened? We found out from Tom Sewell that the station was there but not being used. Our hopes of finishing the last day of the trip were dashed. I heard Mark tell Libby that she could go ahead and get ready to turn around and head back to Birmingham. I was sitting there in a tired kind of shock thinking about what we did wrong. How could we face everyone that helped us make it that close if we failed? What can we do outside the box to save the trip? Mark has a tremendous network of friends because of this. He was on the phone constantly. It was Sunday. It was July the 4th. We had enough real life data on hand to calculate that even if we had access to a public CNG filling station that a full fullup of every tank would not make it for us. Then Mark announced that someone with Laclede Gas Company was waiting at their pumps to fill us up. That would get us tantalizing close to Chicago, but still not enough.
When the CNG pumps fillup your tank, they check the pressure and the temperature. The pumps do a calculation and fill your tanks to a "safe" level allowing for expansion. This practically means that on our 16 gallon GTO tanks, we would get about 12 gallons of usable fuel.
But Tom Shultz at Laclede made something magic happen. He called his chief CNG mechanic Lee at 7 am on Sunday July 4th and asked him to come in and help us. Thats insane. Lee agreed. And with him came the knowledge and experience that we never dreamed of. He filled every one of the 6 tanks we had on the trip to exactly capacity. He overrode the automatic calculation and if the container said it held 9 gallons, then 9 gallons it got. It was the first time these tanks had ever been filled over 70% of their rated capacity. Of course it was completely safe to fill them to 3600 psi. We had been to the factory and witnessed pressure tests of 8000 psi.
And with that stroke of genius, we had a hope of making it to Navy Pier. We made it to Pontiac IL that night on the CNG in the GTO tank and one refuel from the pickup. EVERYONE we knew discouraged us from going to Navy Pier on July 4th night because of the 2 million people watching 3 fireworks shows. We held back and woke up early Monday morning July 5th for the final assault on Chicago. It was almost ritualistic the refueling that morning. We took every scrap we had learned about CNG and put it in work. The final refueling. Thirty miles from the finish line. The GTO had lost an oil ring either on the drive up from St Louis or with the celebratory triple donut after getting slammed tanks in St Louis and was smoking heavily out of the left tailpipe only. So we poured in a bottle of Bardhal Smoke Stop. And we began the ritual of the cascade fill. If you dont know what it is, look it up. We filled the GTO off the first tank in the pickup till it whined like a really high pitched baby. We shut it down with 1500 psi. We filled off the other pickup tank and it squeeled up to 1750 psi. Then to the trailer. The 9 gallon tank that was maxed out barely squeezed in another bit to get us to 1900 psi. Finally the 7 gallon small tank to top off the ritual. It almost got us to 2000 psi. Whew, it felt good to have that to make it into Chicago.
Mark and I rode the last 30 miles together in the car. We got off 55 North and turned north on Lakeshore. When we passed Jackson Street we both were relieved to know that technically we had driven the whole way. But we promised Navy Pier. It was up ahead. There was no fanfare like in Arcadia OK with AP and the TV stations. Because of the last minute change and near calamity of not having fuel, we didn't have time to arrange press. Thanks to the Fourth of July hangovers, there were no fireworks spectators in sight and we rolled right into the front gate, and parked the GTO in a gated driveway 25 yards from the security guard shack. We had no permits or paperwork. We were just there. The caravan was parked and we bailed out with cameras snapping that wonderful moment of success. I have some video and so does Libby with her video camera but we have not downloaded it yet. The Birmingham news is covering us with an update on Friday July 9th. The journy of 9 planning months and 2400 un-airconditioned miles was done. We made over a hundred serious new friends on the road. We spread the word about CNG and the potential future for a better America. But the real question is, did we inspire anyone?
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Friday started out in Tulsa with the largest press conference so far. We had a live broadcast on local Tulsa tv for two minutes. The camera crew spent three hours with us filming different aspects of the Goat Gas Project. Our camerman took a personal interest in the car and the story. It was his idea to mount a Hi Def camera on the hood of the car facing Mark. They drove the car from the site of the press conference at the historic Blue Dome filling station out to Tulsa Gas Technology offices. Just like Pops in Arcadia, Michael Wallis made an empassioned appeal to the huge group to get involved in Alternative Fuels and using Route 66 as the corodor for the testing. The whole group moved across the street to Dilly Deli and had a wonderful lunch together. Special thanks to Meredith Weber with Clean Cities Tulsa who made this whole wonderful event happen.
After replacing a broken voltage regulator and refueling the Goat at Tulsa Gas Technology, we hit Route 66 for a guided tour by local experts. We met at Rainbow Bridge for a photo shoot and hooked up with another fan who also has a Red 66 GTO. The two Goats traveled down Route 66 until we got to Four Ladies of Route 66, the home of the real Tow Mater. The owners are working so hard to keep the history of Route 66 alive and have started a Young Route 66 Association on Facebook. We followed the Route and our last stop was Gay Parita Sinclair Gas Station. We met Gary and had the best time exploring this amazing station. It is fully restored and has the most wonderful memorbilia. Gary gave us a Route 66 Pictorial and signed pictures of the station for all of us including each kid. Gary is a excellent example of the fact that Route 66 is really about the people you meet along the way.
We ended the day staying at the Rail Haven and eating at Georges Resturant next door.
Friday, July 2, 2010
After a wide open last hour of pushing towards Pops in Arcadia OK, we pulled into the parking to a huge crowd of people. It was the largest we had seen so far on the trip. The Associated Press had a staff there to cover the story as well as the local tv station. The interview went well and will be forwarded to Chicago for the editors to review and publish this weekend. The official program at Pops included the famous Michael Wallis as the main speaker, the mayor of Arcadia, and Mark and I were able to address the crowd and fire them up for taking action to end our dependence on foreign oil.
If you have never seen Pops, then plan a trip immediately. It is the most amazing stop on Route 66 so far. Thanks for all that the media department at Chesapeak did to make our stop at Pops the biggest and best yet.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Our days are falling into a pattern of waking up, doing a great breakfast at a local Route 66 resturant, driving to a series of classic Route 66 stops, meeting so many nice people that we just cannot tear ourselves away, eating lunch? at 3 or 4 pm, refueling the GTO from the fueling truck on the side of the interstate, making our destination city by 10 or 11 eating dinner at midnight and crashing for the night. It doesnt get any more action packed than that.
Tuesday Morning we met our long time internet supporter Dave Clements and his whole Natural Drive crew. We displayed Phill and two other CNG compressors on site at the Super Walmart. Lots of trailer signing and pictures made it the perfect morning. The travel during the day led us across the Arizona and New Mexico landscape to Albuquerque. In New Mexico we were welcomed by a huge party at Kellys Brew Pub just after dark and NBC www.kob.com was there to shoot a spot about us crossing country for the 10pm news. We owe Kellys Brew Pub a huge thankyou for the tremendous hospitality, the right out front parking spots, the delicious food, and for putting our story on the TV in the resturant. We stayed at the Hiway Inn right behind the resturant.
Wednesday morning we woke up and headed down the street a block to Mannys for breakfast. We made several trips to the Clean Energy station at the Will Rogers Airport to make sure every single tank was topped off. Our first order of business was to take everyone to the top of Sandia Mountain on the tram. If you have never experienced this place you owe it to yourself to go see it. The view is amazing. It was 10,000 feet and 45 cool degrees up top. We got down and headed towards Amarillo to see so many Route 66 sights they all started to run together. The CNG Fusion developed a slow leak in the right front tire and when we left the Route 66 Museum we stopped at Bozo's Garage. They jumped right on it and found the hole which was on the sidewall. Luckily he had one tire the exact size we needed and they put it on. We had a blast looking at the hotrods that Bozo was restoring while the tire was changed. Probably the highlight of the day was in Tucumcari New Mexico at the Safari Motel. The owners rolled out the red carpet treatment for us and we met tons of new friends. The trailer signing went artistic here with our first skull by a tattoo artist from Outlaw Tattoo's shop. We got pictures of the owners 1963 Galaxy 500 with the GTO. We took tons of pictures for twitter. We rolled into the Ambassador Hotel and ate at Fridays in the hotel at 11 pm.
I am up early on Thrusday morning to get the crew to meet Crocodile Lyle? in Amarillo.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
First let me tell you that all of our postings from the road have been primarily on Twitter. The iphones work with Twitpic the best on the road and on the fly. We have really done a good job with Twitter and it has the most current info. Go to our website for the link. Setup an account if you dont have one its really not that hard.
The Santa Monica pier sendoff was fantastic. We had experts from the pier and route 66 that allowed us to shoot video interviews. The car looked fantastic on the pier and I got to drive it off on the start of the trip. It was really exciting.
The fillup at Barstow went really good and we rode Route 66 all the way to the California Route 66 Museum. We had an amazing greeting party waiting for us. There were Hot Rod guys and Mrs Route 66 waiting for us there. We had a pizza party blast. We made many new friends here.
The rest of the day we traveled to Needles California and stayed at the Needles Inn. We ate at the Wagon Wheel Resturant which had a great breakfast.
We got up Monday moring and left for what turned out to be a jam packed day. We drove to Kingman and stayed at the Power House Museum for a couple of hours. We then drove to Huckberry General Store and the real Lizzy from the movie "CARS" in the garage. The next stop was the Road Kill Cafe near Williams. After Williams we drove the GTO all the way to the Grand Canyon. All of the buses in the Grand Canyon run on CNG!! But we were unsuccessful getting fillup for the GTO from this source. We got in really late almost midnight to Flagstaff.
Mark and Libby left for Phoenix to refill our refueling pickup truck and plan on being back in Flagstaff on Tuesday morning.
We refined our calculations for the CNG usage and due to the heat in the desert we are only getting 70% capacity fills. The refueling is working great for the GTO, We did a rough conservative calculation that we should be able to travel 378 miles from each filling station. What has really given us this range was the awsome work the IMPCO guys did with the tune up and the dyno work. On the highway we are getting 15 MPG or better. (not bad for 455 CI, 390 horsepower, 470 ft pounds of torque monster)
I hope it wont be this long again before I can update the trip.
REMEMBER FOLLOW US ON TWITTER.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Hope to see everyone down there.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
If Americans want to fix our nations dependence on foreign oil the quickest, they should join our group of followers, and spread the word to all their friends and family, that we have found the solution the Presidents has asked for tonight.
We were put in the right place at the right time for this perfect storm. Nine months ago we launched our effort to build a grass roots effort to move quickly to Compressed Natural Gas.
Everyone on the television is giving lip service to this idea.
But a handful of people are actually DOING something about it. That handful of people will launch a trip across America next Monday, June 21st from Birmingham, Alabama to showcase that CNG is a practical solution to our problems, that can be used by ordinary everyday people to end the madness of foreign oil and stop forever the calamity in the Gulf of Mexico from happening again.
Join us because Now is the time to deliver.
"One approach I will not accept is inaction" President Obama
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
This post is a huge thank you to Parker Fittings for being our official valve and fitting company and taking such excellent care of the Route66GoatGas Project.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Thanks to Courtney for the tour of her CNG filling station that is dedicated to the city vehicles, and supported by Phoenix Energy. I am sure I will need to update everyone about Trussville's plans for CNG as they emerge.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Thanks for the kind words. Just remember you guys had the guts to pull it off first, and were cool enough to document it and share it.
I remember the day I saw the first video. I was adding up the list of parts for the 455 I wanted to build, (doing the engineer thing, putting all the parts into excel and making a spreadsheet out of it). I was a little bummed about having to spend an extra $800 for custom dished pistons to lower the compression ratio for 87 octane gas to run the 670 heads I had done the year before. It was still lunch so I thought, hey lets goof off on face book. Then I saw the video of your 66 via a Pickens plan post, talk about a perfect storm. Multiple carburetion with a 66 tri-power manifold and CNG how cool is that???....click......search...click.... search. I found the YouTube videos that explained all the technology, awesome! Another search yielded two public CNG stations at sky harbor airport. I drove out to the airport the next day; its only 12 miles from the house, I usually just take the GTO out for joy rides anyway, so the plan was formed.
I told Chip just how much I appreciated what he was doing in an email and his reply was so inspiring that I wanted to post it here for everyone to read. He gave me permission.
See the next Post!!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I had plenty of coworkers, clients and friends call me to ask about the project and it was the first time many became aware. Another friend that caught the segment was Carl Cannova of Carls Car Clinic He called and invited us to do Carl Cannova's CAR DOCTOR SHOW on WAPI Radio on Saturday.
Here is the link to the Fox 6 story. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFukrnn1xrM
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Oh, by the way the GTO won its first car show trophy.
The photo shoot was rained out today but the photographer has asked about the possibility of doing a studio shoot Monday. That is the most exciting thing since the car was featured in a story on Barrett Jackson, Speed TV. I will keep you posted on that progress.
No post is complete with the FUN. This trip is no exception. Mark said the cruise in was AWSOME. Hundreds of car fans lined the cobblestone street in Kissimmee Saturday Night and cheered all the cars in the cruise on. He said the windows were down and people were begging him to race the engine. The GTO sounds fantastic and we are pretty sure that the slight whiff of burnt natural gas was a telltale sign that this GOAT was special.
As we are allowed to say more about the photo shoot we will keep you all posted.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Mark and I are beginning to plan for the CNG GTO appearance out at Barber Motorsports Park. Its a perfect venue to showcase the GTO and kick off the publicity for the cross country trip that is rapidly approaching. We have plans for many friends and supporters to join us in this fun time. I will keep you posted as more details are finalized.
Finally, Mark has the listing of all the locations along Route 66 that we hope to stop at and the days. On the web site we will setup another page of Public Appearances and get that information out to you soon so you can make plans to see us along the way!
Happy Valentines Day!!
Friday, February 5, 2010
The synergy with Chesapeake was amazing. They did us a huge favor and referred us to the organizer of the National Pontiac meet. He contacted us and wants the GTO to be in the national show in North Carolina. It will be immediately after out recordbreaking run across Route 66 so this summer is going to be the time of our lives.
We are happy to announce that we will be showing the GTO at Barbers Motorsport Park in March. The spring race at Talledega is another opportunity that has been extended by the Talledega Raceway Museum to show the car and meet thousands of more fans.
As you can see, so much is taking off for the effort that we are just floored. But one of the most rewarding things is the emails we are getting from our new friends who take the time to read up on our plans, get excited about the Drive to Inspire and offer to help make this dream a reality.
We are humbled by the offers of assistance and appreciate what everyone is doing to make our country free of foreign oil depencence. We have created a special place on our web site to showcase these sincere and greatly apreciated emails. We look forward to meeting all of you on Route 66 this summer. I can't wait!!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Thanks to Bridgestone for the opportunity to show the GTO at the Barrett Jackson car show.
We are setup across from the Speed Channel boom camera and we already have word that the GTO was shown on the show tonight!!!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
one of the trailer tires. By the time they got off it was shredded.
The floor jack wouldn't lift the trailer and car so they went to a
truckstop. One new tire later and they are back on the road.
Once the trailer was ready Mark drove the CNG GTO up the ramp and very slowly into the trailer. We tied down the car to D rings in the floor of the trailer with tie down straps. Joseph put the cover over and the cabinet doors were taped shut to be sure nothing came out. Mark got the tree boxes of Route66GoatGas shirts and put them in the trailer. Tools for the road were loaded. Earlier while watching the car run, we found a loose coil wire and got that thing tightened back up. It was making a blue spark and you could see the reflection in the chrome under the hood. Everything loose in the trailer we removed or secured. Mark left heading for Memphis and was on his way.
Listen to this fun! Patricks friend stored some furniture in the race trailer and wasn't available clean it out for the trip. He had to send a couple of his guys over to move the furniture out and bring the trailer up from south of town. We got the trailer around 5pm on Thursday, the night that Mark planned to leave out for the trip with the GTO. No one had seen the trailer in quite a while so it had a few problems. We parked across the street in a large parking lot and hooked the trailer to Patrick's Dodge Truck. But when we started to plug in the lights, someone noticed the wiring harness for the trailer had been cut due to the frame scraping on the ground. Me and Mark spliced the wires back while Patrick and the guys worked on wiring the 7 way plug. It was cold working out and it was getting dark. We plugged it in and nothing. We swapped some wires around and still nothing. So we got on google and found the wiring color codes for the 7 way plug for the Horton Hauler Trailer. We switched everything around per the schematic. Almost an hour later we were ready to try again. I could tell Patrick didn't want to look at the trailer while we plugged it in because he didn't have much hope. We pushed the plug in and the whole trailer light system lit up like a Christmas tree. Everybody was celebrating about getting that done so hard it brought people out of the house to see what happened. That was the last hurdle to cross before Mark could get on the road. It was an ordeal but probably just a little taste of the fun and challenges we will surely face on the road for our project.
Monday, January 11, 2010
If all of this wasn't good enough news, we got the official word from Talledega Superspeedway that the CNG GTO will be allowed to make a run around the track and may set the speed record for a Compressed Natural Gas powered car. (It will be the first CNG car to race on the track). That should qualify the car to go into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum.
The track management says that on race weekend there will be 10,000 people a day tour the museum. www.motorsportshalloffame.com
The only thing we are holding our breath on is the UPS delivery of our Ecopia Tires from Bridgestone!
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Plans are being finalized this weekend to take the GTO to Barrett Jackson! Bridgestone sent our tickets for every day of the event...THANKYOU BRIDGESTONE!! Hotel reservations are made. Patrick Small is bringing the trailer on Tuesday and we will get it ready to go for the trip. Mark has busted it hard to get the Tshirts finished for the trip. Yep. They will be for sale at the event. Marks dad and brother are going on the trip so this is turning into a fantastic family event full of fun and thrilling excitement. The anticipation is killer a week away.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Thank you Patrick for your generosity. If you get a chance to send Patrick an email of appreciation for his support of the route66goatgas project please send him one!!
All of our followers can't wait to see if these tires burn GREEN SMOKE.
Please stop by and see Mark and Keith at the show, or watch for us on Speed Channel which will be covering the event all week!! Woooohoooo.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Our Bridgestone sponsor is really coming through for us. They have matched the tire size for the GTO and have a "green" eco friendly tire that will fit. This should give us better gas milage which we desperately need with the 140 range on the CNG tanks as configured now. We need all the milage we can get! Thank you Bridgestone!
Its too early to say officially, but Bridgestone is working on arrangements for the GTO to travel to a significant large event and make its first showing in middle January. This is big news if all plans come together and it actually happens. Stay tuned for the announcement. I hope we get official word the first few days of January.
Mark has selected a shirt vendor and we should have some really nice black t-shirts with the Route66GoatGas logo soon.
Thats the quick update for now.