veg oil... it ain't just for fryin' anymore.
Bigfoodie daddy is the guest poster of the day, blogging his might about our all "new" vegetable oil fueled car. a simple and relatively inexpensive process can save the earth for our kids/grandkids as well as saving our bank accounts. come on people, make a difference!
reduce, reuse, recycle!
What you are looking at is a well maintained 1984 Mercedes 300D Turbo Diesel in black. What may not be as obvious, but definitely more interesting, is the funny business going on under the hood. You see this little wonder has been converted from a stock diesel/biodiesel fuel burner into a WVO/SVO miracle machine. Well, maybe that is overstating things since the first diesel engines ran on peanut oil. Maybe we should call this is a return to roots for this machine with the added benefit of now burning a "carbon neutral fuel that emits no additional greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than it consumed while it was growing."
Some background on the decision. For years the issue of Global Warming had been on my mind every time I sat in the driver's seat. But, when faced with a daily 50-mile commute there is not much you can do to get around driving. This is when I had first heard about people using vegetable oil as a fuel for converted diesel engines. At the time gas pricing had not escalated to the stratosphere and my pockets were not exactly overflowing. still aren't, so it seemed like a risky endeavor. Then time passed and soon enough conversion companies began popping up on the internet and customers of these businesses began posting comments offering the cautious enthusiast some foundation for making the decision to go vegoil. So, after much trawling I made my decision, and might I add at a great time economically. I mean just look at the ridiculously high price of gas.
I went with a conversion kit from the much internet-maligned company Lovecraft Biofuels (www.lovecraftbiofuels.com), and had i installed by a gem of a Mercedes mechanic named Frtiz Stutz. Now here is some info on why and how I made my decision.
1. Price. Lovecraft are the cheapest around. $695 for a kit. Had I been made of money I would have went for another company's kit based on their rep.
2. Warm Climate. Cold starting is the issue for veggie oil users nationwide. This is the reason for two tank systems (one diesel for starting and warming, then one vegoil to be switched to when the car is at operating temp). The SoCal Coast never freezes so this was not a concern for me.
3. Lack of concrete negative examples. I read a lot about how bad the Lovecraft conversions and how as a company they provided lousy customer service and were fascistic about censoring their message board, but I never found anything in concrete and certainly could not find any conversion users negative comments. All i could find was hearsay or the ramblings of folks who ran other companies. And all of their negatives revolved around frozen oil and cold starting, which I doubt I will ever have to deal with.
4. Mechanic feedback. I spoke with a couple of Mercedes Mechanics familiar with the process and they were very positive about the conversion and the use of a single tank. One even went so far to say he would never think of doing a two tank conversion because of the extensive additions to the car. Better to keep it as close to original as possible. I agree.
How does it run? Well, we have had the car, Mr. Bentley, running for about 1000 miles and so far I haven't taken a performance hit. The power is the same. On diesel it was getting 26 miles per gallon and on vegoil I am getting the same. The largest difference I can notice is the aroma. Gone is the chemical burn of Diesel as the car smells like whatever was cooked in the oil. I call it eau de frenchfry. And get this vegoil is actually better for the engine. it lubricates as it burns. How cool is that?
Anyway, so far so good. We are saving money, burning fewer greenhouse gasses, recycling and old auto, extending the life of that car and best of all riding in comfort. Did I mention the thing glides on the highway? For us the positives outweigh the negatives by a landslide. Hustling oil may not be fun with a reported 250,000 of us frybrid/greasers taking to the street but at the end of the day it has been worth it. And maybe even a little fun.