Thursday, April 11, 2013
Veggie Vehicle Questions
Lately people have been asking me some questions about my waste vegetable oil van. There are some pretty sophisticated waste veggie burning systems out there. Mine isn't one of them.
Some systems switch from diesel to veggie automatically. There are sensors and electromechanical switches and some even have computer chips. All I have is a manual switch. I use the vehicle temperature gage as a guide. When the engine is warmed up, usually the veggie is hot enough to burn. That's when I trip the manual switch.
What happens if I'm too early and the veggie isn't quite up to temperature? Most times, nothing at all. Burning veggie that's a bit of cooler than ideal is no big deal. However, if it's really too cold, the engine will start to sputter. It could even stall out. What do I do if I've switched it too early? Switch it back to diesel for a few more minutes.
The first vehicle I converted to veggie used a 19 gallon marine tank. Since in had a sending unit for the fuel level built in, installing a fuel gage on the dash was no big deal. My current tank didn't come with one, so I do without.
It's really not that hard. I use a salvaged 12 gallon marine tank. It fits nicely in a side compartment. The van averages around 12 miles per gallon in normal mixed driving conditions. I've gotten as high as 18, but I can pretty much count on 12. After the veggie tank is filled up, all I do is set the trip meter to zero. After 100 – 120 miles or so, I stop and top off the tank again. Rinse and repeat. Yes, that's a lot of stopping on a long trip, but considering most of my veggie is free, it's a small price to pay.
Some people pay thousands of dollars for veggie conversions. Mine cost $250 and there's not a lot of things to go wrong. It's bone headed simple.