Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More veggie fuel stuff

My diesel to veggie conversion on my ambulance to motorhome conversion is finally starting to behave the way it should. A blown coolant hose was a bit of a setback. It has taken a while for all the air to work its way out of the coolant system. I never had to deal with so much air in the coolant system before and wasn’t sure what to do. The best advice I received was to drive up and down the mountains a few times. Since I live in the mountains, it was an easy thing to do. Now that most of air has been purged, the veggie fuel tank is finally getting good and hot.

That’s the key to a waste veggie conversion -hot vegetable oil. It lowers the viscosity and allows the veggie to burn properly in the engine. Some systems have fancy temperature gages and automatic switches that switch from diesel to veggie when conditions are right. My very simple system is a more of a seat of the pants operation. Eventually, I’ll learn from experience when it’s a good time to switch from diesel to veggie. It will be sometime after the engine has reached normal operating temperature. Soon after it does, I’ll flick the transfer switch.

What happens if I guess wrong and it’s too early? The engine won’t sound right and may even sputter. Then I’ll just switch it back to diesel for a few more minutes. No problem. It’s not a precise system, but it’s good enough.

Today I picked up over 100 gallons of free waste vegetable oil from a local restaurant. I’ve a long standing relationship with them and they give me the veggie for free. Of course I do make a point of eating there once in a while. With money saved from not burning diesel at over $4/gallon, I can afford to eat there pretty often.

The restaurant used to have a big oil bin behind their restaurant. It was ugly and messy. The company that was supposed to pick up the oil never showed up when they were supposed to. The bin would fill to overflowing. Bears were attracted to the smelly bin and made a nuisance of themselves.

Now what they do is they pour the veggie back in the 4.5 gallon containers it came in. They put the containers in a garage next to the restaurant and forget about it. All I have to do is go to the garage and load them up. When I’m gone on a long trip a friend of mine picks up the oil so it doesn’t pile up.

This is a totally informal, oral arrangement. No money changes hands. I get free fuel and a busy restaurant owner has one less thing to worry about.



  1. Those casual, friendly, helpful arrangements are some of the best.

  2. Sounds like a good deal to me. A man with a plan.

  3. Free enterprise at its best! Value exchanged for value. No middle men, no regulations... Just two people shaking hands on a mutually beneficial agreement. The way it should be!

    1. There are people paying a bit of money to the local restaurants now. My supplier doesn't want to be bothered. I'm reliable and they don't to take a chance for a few dollars.