By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS, The Leader-Herald
Two Johnstown businessmen are hoping to expand their business, which installs propane-injection fuel systems for diesel engines, after an initial eight-to-10-month trial period has shown the system improves fuel economy, engine power and decreases wear and tear on engines.
George Kline and Brian Hanaburgh operate B&G Fuel Systems, a small business they hope to eventually grow into the surrounding area and even outside the state. The business installs a system for propane-injection onto diesel truck engines, which increases a tractor-trailer's mileage by about 20 percent.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Joe Crozier, fleet manager for Ace Service Center and SLA Transport of Mayfield, fills a propane tank attached to a truck outside the center’s garage Thursday. The fuel-injection system was designed by local company B&G Systems.
The system uses a computer to send a burst of propane into a diesel engine when the boost is needed. It gives the driver more power, so the truck does not need to be shifted as much, and also burns the diesel fuel more completely, resulting in less emissions, Hanaburgh said.
Kline said he and Hanaburgh wanted to work out the system's details before offering it to trucking companies on a wider scale. They worked with SLA Transport to perfect the system over an approximately eight-month period, and now have a product they believe could help trucking companies all over.
"The most important thing we wanted to do was lower fuel costs," he said. "Fuel is a huge expense for [SLA]. The volatility of diesel prices makes it difficult. Propane doesn't have that price volatility."
After several months of making changes, Kline and Hanaburgh found the system not only improved fuel mileage, but also gave truck drivers more power for going up hills. Less shifting means less wear and tear on the engine, Kline said.
"Everyone's been behind a [tractor-trailer] struggling to get up a big hill at 30 miles per hour," Kline said. "This system allows them to go over that same hill with the same load at 60 miles per hour."
Kline said the system kicks in when the engine needs a burst of power, and does not use any propane when the truck is idling. A propane tank is installed on the truck. Additional parts for the fuel-injection system are built on the engine of the truck. Propane burns more cleanly than diesel, he said, so the truck is "greener" as a result.
Kline credited Hanaburgh with working diligently on the engineering of the system until it was perfected. Hanaburgh said he has perfected the system to the point where he is confident he can install it on nearly any diesel truck.
"We can really get the optimum performance out of these trucks," he said. "We have real data that shows the savings in fuel costs."
Joe Crozier, fleet manager at SLA, said the $4,000 system pays for itself within a year.
"The savings is huge and there's the potential to save even more, depending on what we're hauling," he said.
Crozier praised B&G, and Hanaburgh in particular, for the customer service that the business provided.
"We had a few little hiccups, but I'd call Brian and he'd come up immediately," he said. "He's come to the yard at 2 a.m."
Crozier said on top of the fuel savings, the drivers who use the propane-injected trucks enjoy driving them more than the average tractor-trailer. He said the trucks are faster and more powerful and require less shifting when going up and down hills.
Richard Smith, owner of Robison and Smith, a dry-cleaning service in Gloversville, said his business uses one truck with the system on it and has had a good experience with it.
"We're happy with it and we'll probably put it on other vehicles," he said. "The increase in power is really remarkable."
Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.