Thursday, February 23, 2012


Welcome - Sticky

Yes, you can run WVO in a PD engine successfully without damaging your engine.
I know this because I indeed destroyed one engine and tried again and now have no problems and I'm proving it with my oil reports below. It's hard work but can be done. The initial system paid for itself in 2.5 years and then it took another 2 years for the new short block to be paid for. I've been driving now for 7 years on wvo and although saving money on gas is not my primary goal -- Finding a reasonable way to get off oil is.

Quick Summary of how I'm doing it:

1) I'm running a plantdrive system. Doughnut tank, on board filter etc.

2) I use Mobil Delvac 1 motor oil or Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck - same stuff.
Everyone will scream at you that this is not an approved motor oil for this engine. But when you look at the facts (oil reports) you'll see there are no problems. Castrol is not 100% synthetic and the hydrocarbons will mix with the veggi oil and will thicken the motor oil. Look at my early oil reports and you'll see the viscosity problem.

3) I turned off EGR. This will prevent excessive carbon build up.
Early on, two of my glow plug tips broke off into my cylinders when they were being changed. The excessive carbon built up in my engine fused them in place. This was the initial downfall of my first engine. Pieces of the tips bounced around the cylinders. Then I started burning lots of motor oil. Then I would run low on motor oil. Then the motor oil chain finally broke.

4) I filter down to at least 10 microns. I use two 55 gallon drums with two hand crank pumps. First drum has a 20 micron filter bag. Then I hand crank the filtered oil into a second drum with a 10 micron bag inside of a 5 micron bag.

5) I use diesel fuel instead of B99 as my start up and purge fuel. With B99, I was having some very bad start ups as the fuel in the doughnut tank got lower. I attributed this to the fact that my veggie system design allows for veggie oil to get into the doughnut tank during the purge cycle. Newer systems do not have this problem.

6) I change my motor oil every 3k!

You can read all about the rest of my journey over the years below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


50,000 miles on veggie oil

You'll notice high iron numbers for the last oil report. During that period I had stalled a hand full of times which requires 5-10 minutes of cranking the engine to get the air out. Turned out to be a bad hose letting air in. But the worst was forgetting to purge many times during that oil reporting period. The engine was not happy about that in the cold mornings and I think that combined with the fact that I went 4k miles on the oil is what really moved those Iron numbers up. It seems to be back under control though.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


31K oil report

Still looking good and with Mobil 1 5w/40 Truck & Suv

Thursday, April 29, 2010


28.5k oil report

Thursday, November 19, 2009


25k oil report

I've been changing the oil around 3k miles which as you can see keeps the engine very happy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


22k oil report

Thursday, April 30, 2009


19k oil report

Went 3k the last two times and all is excellent.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


16k oil report

Friday, November 14, 2008


Looks like 2,600 miles per oil change

Iron took a spike going an extra 253 miles since last oil change. However, I did forget to purge two times during this period and had to start the engine on a mix of cold veggie oil and diesel so that could have caused some grinding of iron. Regardless, next oil change will be around 2,600 miles.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


10,000 miles

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Humming Along

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Over 5,000 miles with Delvac 1

Delvac 1 is proving its worth and it's not even an approved oil for this engine.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Another Good Oil Report With Delvac 1

The people at Blackstone think it's pretty amazing how good the engine is wearing. Let's all thank the true synthetic Delvac 1 and frequent oil changes. I'm slowly pushing up the mileage between oil changes so I'll probably go 1,800 or 2,000.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Oil Report Looking Good With Delvac 1

Here is the oil report from Blackstone Laboratories. Lead was a little high but all the other metals are good. I also left in the old reports right before the motor oil pump died. Take a look at the old numbers for Iron, Aluminum, Copper and viscosity. Compare against the Universal Averages column. I'm going to do another oil change at 1,500.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Flipping The Switch Again

After the oil change, I flipped the switch on my dash sending veggie oil into my new engine. Yes, I was fearful that my new engine could succumb to the same fate as my last one but my fear quickly melted away from the joy of knowing that my gas money is not ending up in the pockets of the greediest companies on the planet.


EZ Lube

At 500 miles I went to EZ lube for my oil change. For diesels, they use Mobil Delvac 1. The best synthetic motor oil for diesels. The exact same stuff as Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck that I had tested that got an amazing result. I also found a $10 off coupon for the oil change when you use an American express card.


First 500 Miles

John and everyone else agreed that for the first 500 miles I should break the engine in with Delo Motor oil. So that’s what I did. I also only drove only on diesel.


Starting Fresh

It’s a good feeling starting fresh with a basically a new engine. Gives me the chance to start over and try to do this right from the start so I can avoid some of the problems that I had. For example, not using the Castrol “pretend” Synthetic and trying to go 4 to 5 thousand miles on it messing up my engine up. And not using B99 as my start up fuel.


EGR Delete

John and the guy who cleaned the head all agreed that deleting the egr would make a tremendous difference in my carbon build up. Lowering my chances of having a glow plug tip fusing to the carbon and breaking off.


Some Might Say I Should Have My Head Examined

So I did. It turned out that it was fine. Pressure tested and cleaned.
Injectors Ok.
Values Ok.
Barings Bad.
It also had to sit in the boiling heat tank for 3 days to get off all the carbon build up.


What Lurks Inside The Engine Pan

John took off the bottom of the engine pan. He told me he wasn’t expecting to find anything. But he was wrong. He found the oil pump tensioner, chain, and some other gear pieces that used to make the engine motor oil pump work. The fix: Buying a new short block.


Stop Engine: Low Oil Pressure

Occasionally, when I’m low on motor oil and I hit a hard turn I get this message. As soon as I get this message, I pull over and dump in another quart of motor oil and drive off a happy camper. (Remember, I’m burning motor oil because two glow plug tips broke off into my cylinders a couple years ago and bounced around and caused damage.)
Well, I guess I let this happen to many times, running low on motor oil, because this time when it happened the message didn’t go away. Not only didn’t the message go away but the car wouldn’t get out of limp mode. But it gets more exciting. As I was limping off the freeway, I heard metallic chain like sounds and air pressure popping noises. Definitely not good. So I had the car towed to Diesel Performance Shop so John could take a look at it.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Woo Hoo! 30,000 Miles

So I’ve traveled 30,000 miles using a 2005 TDI PD engine on soy Waste Veggi Oil (WVO) and still going...

But here are some of my mistakes that you should avoid if you try this at home.

1) You must change your motor oil every 1,000 to 2,000 miles. This is soooooooo important. All of my engine wear and tear (damage) has been caused because I was lazy and or pushed it too hard to see what would happen if I went 3k -4k miles on the same motor oil.

The excessive wear and tear on the engine happens because of Polymerization. Picture super hard plastic micro pellets being formed in your engine. They form because of the super hot heat in the engine mixing with the hydrocarbons from the motor oil and the veggi oil (soy being the most susceptible to this chemical reaction) And since Castrol Fully Synthetic oil, the oil that VW and the dealers tell you you must use, is not “fully synthetic,” which means it contains traces of hydrocarbons, you get this problem. By the way, in case you were wondering, super hard plastic micro pellets in your engine is not good for the turbo or the cylinders. Take a look at my turbo picture below (a couple posts back) Now all of this damage I believe can be avoided. But you must change your oil and use a real synthetic like Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel and Truck, which so far tests the best with veggi oil or you can use Canola oil which has a lower change of polymerizing. I’m currently testing Amsoil.

2) Your install should use two 3 port switches and a relay timer so the veggi oil doesn’t get into the start up diesel tank. My install doesn’t have this and so in the beginning, during the winter, I had some rough starts when I let the 5 gallon tank run low. Now I keep it full. Also, I should note, that my roughest starts were when I was running B99 as the start up fuel. The combo of veggi oil and B99 is no good for a morning start. To solve this, I have to use Diesel as my start up fuel.

3) Electric pump filter systems are a pain. Just use two 55 gallon drums to filter your oil with hand crank pumps. The first drum has a 10-20 micron filter bag. Then hand crack the filtered oil into the second drum which has a “5 micron” bag. But make sure your install has an on board filter/water separator.

4) Don’t run B99 in a car like mine. Your rear engine seal will become soft and you will start to leak oil and you will have to replace it. I used to use B99 as my primary fuel before the conversion and as my start up fuel after the conversion and this happened to me.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Slapped by Adam Smith's Invisible Hand

I went to my Thai restaurant today to pick up my free 10 gallons of oil like I've been doing for the last year and the restaurant owner tells me that there is now a company that will pay him 60 cents a gallon for his used oil. I wasn't very surprise at the news. I knew this day was coming - I just was hoping for it to be another couple years away. So I remind him that I'm not making any profit off it like the Bio Diesel guys and I get him down to 50 cents a gallon. I still get some free oil from the local sushi restaurant too but only 5 gallons every other week. And there's still the mammoth 100 gallon tank at the Chinese restaurant which will give it to me for free but I have to pump that stuff out and it's a hassle. Plus, it's much dirtier and a bigger pain to filter.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


My hero John Hamlin

My car started having loss of power problems and throwing tons of black smoke. I thought I was done for. My mechanic Dan didn’t know how to fix it and I dreaded going to the dealership. But then the universe blessed me with a diesel genius at Diesel Performance Shops. I dropped the car off and a day later he knew exactly the problem. Here’s what he found.

The vacuum pump nipple was bad.
Apparently these things are not designed well and they will crack and start spinning around and around making the vacuum pump loose pressure. This caused my turbo to only have 2psi.

My N75 switch/value thing was broken.
These things go out but usually not at 40k. Over time, having low vacuum pressure, maybe it could cause them to go bad early.

My EGR and Intake
John said it was “the worst carbon build up” he'd ever seen. "Carbon build up that you only see with 150k plus miles on them." More interestingly, the carbon build up he saw was of a SUBSTANCE he had NEVER SEEN. He called it “gummy carbon” Normally, carbon is super hard. But this stuff was like “sticky liquid paste.” John cleaned all of it. Most definitely from the veggi oil.

Number 4 Glow plug and why I’m burning oil.
John said that my #4 glow plug was bad. So I asked him to replace it. When he pulled it out the tip didn’t come out. It was fused to a bunch of carbon. John thinks some of the one inch tip broke off inside the cylinder and bounced around scrapping up the cylinder so the guides don’t seal right and oil now leaks in. I asked him why he doesn’t drill or tap it out. He said he’s never seen anyone successfully do it without getting stuff into the cylinder which causes damage and blow by. Well guess what? Dan replaced another glow plug a while back and had to tap and vacuum it out. And that’s probably about the same time I started really noticing the burning oil problem. But I didn’t get the connection at the time.

So now the car is running better then when I got it.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Something made something better

I got 30.8 mpg this morning on my morning drive today. I usually get 27 mpg.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


DieselPurge & Mobil 1 TDT

Ran two cans of DieselPurge through the engine to see if I could stop the burning of oil. (see last post) Then had Dan do an oil changed and started using Mobil 1 Trubo Diesel Truck motor oil which I bought from Autobarn. I'll start testing the oil again every 3,000 miles so I can compare it with Castrol Synthetic. Yes, it's true, Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck does not have a 505.1 rating. But what it does have are three really important words: Turbo, Diesel and Truck. Plus, it's not going to be any worse than the Castrol but we'll have to wait and see the oil reports.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Piston Rings Probably Just Not Doing Their Job

This is an email I received from Craig Reece that he passed along to a mechanic.
The mechanic responses are in blue.

CRAIG: The most probably reason for your car's using oil - with such low miles on the engine (well under 100K I assume) is that the incompletely combusted fuel (as indicated by the "white mist" problem you had prior to getting the MAF contacts working, and perhaps due to the faulty MAF, and/or perhaps due to the fact that the PD engine is not a good candidate for WVO) ran down the cylinder walls and caused coking and/or gumming of the ring lands - the grooves in which the piston rings fit.

MECHANIC: Which means they won't rock in the lands and scrape down/compress up

CRAIG: If the ring lands are gummed up or coked up, then the rings can't expand and contract as they're designed to, and they don't seal properly. The function of the top rings is to maintain good compression, and since diesels, lacking spark plugs, ignite the fuel due to the high temperatures created when you compress the air in the cylinder and the combustion chamber, good compression is vital for complete combustion. So, it's obviously a vicious circle.

MECHANIC: Top rings do the scraping by rocking to a different position on the down vs. up

CRAIG: The bottom ring or rings are the oil control rings, and their job is to scrape the oil from the oil pan, which by design is splashed up onto the cylinder walls, and prevents that oil from getting into the area above the top of the piston.

MECHANIC: Oil control ring holds oil to lube cylinder walls.

CRAIG: So, it's unlikely that your piston rings are badly worn, and much more likely that the rings are not doing their job in preventing the oil in the crankcase from making it's way into the combustion chamber and being burned. Burning oil shows up as bluish smoke in the exhaust, and of course low compression will show up via a compression test, which is why I've suggested you get one. The other possible cause of using so much oil could be that it's leaking, but you'd see that on your driveway. A final reason could be worn valve guides, and the traditional way to isolate this from rings as a cause is to first take a compression test, then, if it's low, squirt some oil into the cylinder, and if the compression numbers increase, it's a sign of worn rings, not bad valve guides, since the oil has sealed the rings and improved the compression.

MECHANIC: Worn guides usually show a lot of blue smoke on start and then go away or greatly reduce after start because the cylinders fill up at night. Unlikely he has bad valves guides or seals. Squirting oil in the cylinders is not recommended for diesel engines because of the fact that if you put fuel (oil) in the combustion chamber it might fire. Compression test should be done on hot dry cylinders.

CRAIG: DieselPurge *can* free up stuck rings or rings that aren't expanding and contracting as they should be burning away the carbon and/or gumming. And there are probably other strong solvents that could be used. Tom and Ray, the Car Guys, recommend Rizlone for this, and you might try that too.

MECHANIC: Just pull the glow plugs and dump that purge stuff in. Just pull the oil plug while you do it and then do and oil change after. Marvel Mystery, WD-40 sometimes also work for this.

CRAIG: And if you do in fact have stuck rings, and your oil consumption is due to your car's burning crankcase oil, you should remember that soy is not what you want to be running, since it has a polymerizing effect on the motor oil, and it's even possible that the fact that you used it as your main fuel source, and had (probably) incomplete combustion for a long time, did in fact thicken the oil and thus reduced it's lubrication of the cylinders, and even that some polymerized motor oil got into the ring lands of the oil control rings - and once again we have a vicious circle/downward spiral. Did oil analysis indicate thicker oil?

MECHANIC: Just change the oil more.

CRAIG: And it's because of the polymerizing effect of soy, and the fact that we can assume that some is still getting into the crankcase, that I wouldn't use it, and I'd also change your engine oil a twice the recommended intervals. And I'd use Delvac I or Mobil 1 "Turbo Diesel Truck Oil" (which is just rebadged Delvac 1 and which replaces "Truck and SUV Oil." (And I've gone half-blind reading many of the many threads at the Tdi Club Forum on which oil to use in the PD engine, and my vote is still with Delvac/Mobil 1.)

So, once again, here's what I would do, in approx. order of importance (and cost) - that is, most important and (more or less) least costly first:

1. Buy the DieselGiant VW Tdi DieselPurge kit with DVD and watch the DVD with your mechanic, then pay him to use DieselPurge. Buy enough to do it twice or more. I'd get 4 of the 500ML cans.

2. Try some Rizlone (most auto parts stores should have it.

3. Drive it hard 1x a week - WOT (wide open throttle up a long grade.) Aka an Italian Tuneup.

4. Change your oil if you haven't in the last 3000 miles, and do so every 3000 miles. Send a sample, every time, for analysis, and tell them you're most interested in viscosity. (Who do you use?) Use Delvac or Mobil I - and I know it's a drag to dump a quart of $5.99 oil into your car every 1000 miles, but that's only .006 cents a mile, and you're still getting over 30 mpg even if you're running diesel.6. Run diesel or pure Canola, not soy WVO or soy biodiesel (sorry.)

5. Get a compression test done. Have him squirt some of cheap non- snyth. oil down each cylinder, per the above.Let us know what happens.

And, once again, if it turns out (and the jury is still out) that the PD engine is not a good candidate forWVO: I'm sorry! (And even if it is a good candidate, I'm sorry you're going through this!)


Sunday, February 18, 2007


Can you say procrastination

Craig and Ed at Plantdrive have been very helpful.

Craig told me about this oil which will lower the changes of polymerization.

And I also have in my house 2 3-port switches.

I've had the switches for about a month now sitting in a box on my desk. I sometimes think just having them on my desk and knowing about this special oil will help my car. But then I realize that I actually have to do something like install the switches and order the oil to really make a difference. We'll see how long it takes me.

ps. the car has been running fine. I keep the 5 gallon tank filled as often as possible which lowers the concentration of veggie oil in the doughnut tank. But long term I must do the stuff I was talking about above otherwise the wear and tear will eventually kill the engine.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Piston Ring Comments

So my problem of deteriorating piston rings could be caused by many more things than just polymerization. Read the comments on the post below from other readers. All very interesting. I do have to say that the contamination of the veggie oil in the 5 gallon diesel tank is by far the one that I notice the most when starting the engine in the morning. As more and more veggie oil gets in the dougnut tank the morning starts are not as smooth as when there is a fresh five gallons of diesel in it. A slight rumbling engine can't be good. And when I was running B100 the starts were even worse. Bottom line: Make sure you have a two, three port switches that times the purge so you don't get any veggie oil mixed in with diesel. I have a one 6 port switch. Also nobody has commented on the follow: Look at the iron in the oil report and look at the universal average. It's supposed to be at around 35 and my last count was almost 10 times that. Iron is what the cylinders are made of according to the report. Exciting.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Good Bye Piston Rings

The theory is that when motor oil (hydrocarbons) mix with vegi oil (soy in particular) in high temperatures you get polymerization or in other words thickening of the motor oil. Thick motor oil is not good for your engine because you get lots of wear and tear. My car is now a real world example of wear and tear from the above conditions. Over the last couple of months, I’ve had to add a couple of quarts of oil to my engine. I know it’s not leaking so that means it’s burning. And if it’s burning that means my piston rings have worn out. Take a look at the oil analysis report and you’ll see how much Aluminum it takes to wear through piston rings. I can’t say I’m happy about this but when I started this journey I fully understood that bad things could happen to my engine. There are ways to prevent this. I could have changed my oil every 1000 miles. I could install one of those toilet roll oil filter devices. I could use only canola oil (apparently doesn’t polymerize) Since it’s a pretty penny to replace piston rings, I’m forced to keep driving and adding motor oil.


element meanings Posted by Picasa


oil analysis Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 12, 2006


17,000 miles

Things have been good in the veggi car world. No real issues. One important thing to note: I have started using diesel as my start and stop fuel to figure out if the B100 softened the rear engine seal I was talking about in my last posts. So far no oil leak but won't know anything for at least another 10,000 miles. My Mass Air Flow sensor seems to be bad again although this time there are no problems that I'm seeing with the car except that the engine light comes on. Other than that I'm in a nice groove. I collect waste oil once a month (35 gallons) and pour it into my 55 gallon drum. Pump from the drum through a 10 and then 5 micron filter directly into the car every two weeks. I haven't had to change any of the filters on the car since I started pre filtering to 5 microns.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Fixed My Oil Leak

Dan found my oil leak problem. He said it was really bad. And it was coming from my rear engine seal. He said the seal itself was soft. We speculated that the bio diesel or the veggie oil made it soft and the high pressure in the engine was pushing out the seal and leaking oil. He replaced it with another type of seal that he thought would last longer.


Uncle Andy Is Mad

So remember that oil leak I had. Well, it came back. I leaked oil on my uncle’s drive way. Seven small spots to be exact. I offered to clean it up but he already had.


Home Fueling Station

I got this great 55 gallon drum from So now I collect the oil in the 5 gallon jugs and pour it into this drum. I was told that the filter bag was something like 5 micron. No true because I pumped the oil from the drum into my tank and it clogged up my 10 micron vormax filter. It’s probably more like a 30 micron bag. So I still pump thru a 5 micron filter before I put the oil in my car.

55 Gallon Drum Posted by Picasa

Close up of Filter Bag Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 01, 2006


Coachella Music Festival

Drove down to the Coachella music festival. Round trip was about 300 miles. I could have made it on one tank but I carried 10 extra gallons of pre filtered wvo in the trunk just in case. The car performed nearly flawlessly and I got 28 mpg. It's all highway driving with moderate grades. The car had great pick up while I climbed the grades at high speeds and could have gone faster. However, during one part of the trip, as I was climbing a grade and let off the gas and then pressed on the gas again, the car lost power and wouldn't go past 60 mph. It seemed like it wouldn’t switch gears. I got off the freeway, stop the car for a second, and then drove off and everything was fine again. I think it’s a sensor/computer problem. I noticed that I missed putting some silicone dielectric in a hand full of sensors behind the coolant reserve tank. Putting the goo in those sensors might help.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The Wonder of Silicone Dielectric

My car is running amazing now. Better pick up and no puffs of smoke during acceleration. It's a miracle. And it's all due to putting this Silicone Dielectric stuff inside my MAF sensor. It helps with connectivity.

I found about this trick at the tdiclub

I bought the stuff at NAPA auto center. Silicone Dielectric Compound part# 765-1190
When you read the forum posts you'll see others have had the same amazing experience with it. I ended up putting it in all my electircal sensor connections.

Monday, April 24, 2006


San Clemente

I drove down to San Clemente this weekend with the wife. (about 250 miles round trip) She was very worried we were going to break down along the way and get stuck. But I assured her nothing of the sort would happen because I carry duck tape and a screw driver in car. I got 30 mpg.


10,000 Miles and still alive and well

There were a couple of moments when I thought I wasn't going to make it but all is well in b99 and wvo land. All these smoke problems were magically solved once I changed the MAF sensor. As far as the turbo going bad I have a feeling I screwed it up with the type of motor oil I had switched to. In short, DO NOT USE ELF EXCELLION DID when operating with SVO/WVO or b99 -- Stick with Castrol Syntec. I will post my Blackstone oil analysis reports that shows why in another 3,000 miles.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


New Turbo and MAF sensor

Things are much much better and the car is drivable now. It's still not perfect. Replacing the MAF sensor made the biggest difference with cutting down the smoke. The rest of the little smoke I see, Dan thinks, might be due to a timing issue so in a couple weeks I'll deal with that. As far as the hesitation of power from a stop, others have this same problem with this car.

Friday, March 24, 2006


turbo charger

Dan the mechanic says my catalytic converter is fine but that my turbo charger needs to be replaced. Something about it not spinning right. I have to get the part thru the dealer because nobody else has the part yet because it's still considered under warranty to third party part places. I called around to different dealers and got different wholesale pricing. Cost to the dealers is about $1,300 (one of the parts guys mistakenly told me the cost). List is $1740. I finally got one for $1451. Dan will install it, hopefully on Tuesday, when he gets the part.

Turbo Posted by Picasa

Degraded Turbo Fan Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006


Back From Vacation With A Fresh Mind

Sometimes I think just looking at the engine will help me fix my car. I use the force and bond with the engine. In my meditative state I noticed a warning on the oil cap that basically says DO NOT OVER FILL THE OIL OR YOUR CATALYTIC CONVERTER WILL BE DAMAGED. Oh, that's interesting. Guess what happening right before this problem started. Over filled the oil (the guy who filled my oil was compensating for the mysterious oil leak). Then I went to the manual to read about the catalytic converter and guess what else can damage it? Running out of fuel. That morning after the oil change I ran out of fuel and couldn’t start the car and had lots of misfires. So that’s where I'm starting folks - replacing the catalytic converter.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Mass Air Flow Sensor

From what I've been reading on the forums, it looks like my problem might be solved by replacing the mass air flow (MAF) sensor. I think I can only order this part from the dealer but there are some part places online that I'm checking.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Shocker! Dealer's IQ = 0

Tbe dealer had my car for 6 days. Each day I had to call them and ask them what was going on and each day they told me they were "running diagnostics." Well what about the oil leak I asked that's easy to see. "We don't see an oil leak," they said. What?! I have a stained driveway and a nice wad of newspaper soaked with oil. Well what about the check engine light. "The engine light is not on," they said. Steam was actually coming out of my head at this point I was so angry. I flat out told my representative that the mechanic must have reset the engine light, which I had done myself only a couple weeks ago after I cleaned out the air filter and watched the light come back on after a couple miles, because it had been on for weeks. The rep said he wouldn't have done that. I said, "well what about the acceleration problem." "The mechanic can't figure it out because there are no codes or engine lights." I told them, "You suck." And I picked up my car. The only good part of this story is that my rep decided not to charge me the $200 diagnostic fee after I repeatedly pointed out that they did NOTHING to diagnose it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


The Dealer

Dan the mechanic can't fix my car because he doesn't have any specs on it. So I took it the VW dealer and they told me they couldn't work on it either because they were not trained yet on the 2005 TDI engine. Remember I'm in California and new diesels haven't been allowed here for some time. So then I took it to this other VW dealer and they said it would be no problem. They also charged $200 for a diagnostic test where the other dealer charged $180 for a diagnostic test. See, it's that extra $20 bucks that gets you better trained technicians. So that's where the car is now. Oh, I didn't tell them the engine had been modified because it just seems to scare people. This second dealer just called me and said they are working on it right now and they didn't mention anything about the conversion. Since they've never seen a TDI before they probably think it's part of the car.

Thursday, February 23, 2006



After we reset the codes, I drove for a bit. Still smoking on acceleration. After one of the acceleration I got this code. And the "Emissions Workshop" light went on. This code must have been happening all along since my first post about the EW light.

P0101 code: Mass or Volume Air Flow Circuit Range/Performance Problem.
These were the numbers:
engine rpm 1238
TPS 95%
Eng Coolant Tmp 192
Speed 30
Load 0
intake air temp 100
mass absolute pressure 30.12
mass air flow 11.36

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Throwing Codes

Hooked up the car to an ODBC II unit and got these codes.
P2196 = 02 Sen Signal Biased/Stuck Rich B1S1
P0299 = Turbo Charger/Supercharger "A" Underboost
P0101 = Mass or Volume Air Flow Circuit Range/Performance Problem
And Throttle Position (TPS) was stuck at 95%

We then looked at the air filter and saw that the intake into the filter (a micro screen) was completely clogged with leaves and sand. Don't ask me how the sand got there. But it's probably been there since I got the car. Remember I got it used with 10k miles on it.

Cleaned out the micro screen, changed the air filter (which was very dirty) and reset the codes.
Started the car up and things were better but the TPS was still stuck at 95%. So now we are looking into how to fix this 95% Throttle Prosition problem.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Black Smoke and Loss of Power

Just when I was about to hit 10,000 miles and report back that all is well the car started to bellow black smoke with acceleration and now there is no power when going up hills. Sounds like injectors or seals. I don't think it's the filters. I'll keep ya posted. My mechanic is going to open it up.

Friday, January 06, 2006


5 micron vs 10 micron

I've been filtering my wvo to 5 micron before putting it into the car and I've been seeing better mpg -- about 2 more mpg. The engine also seems to be happier because for weeks I was driving around with the "Emissions Workshop" message hoping that it would go away like I talked about acouple post ago. The SVO I had been using during this time was gravity filtered for a week. Then I built my own filtration device and filtered 10 gallons down to 5 micron. Drove around for like 20 miles and the "Emissions Workshop" message turned itself off. I think it must have been the 5 micron oil because it was the only thing that changed.

Friday, December 23, 2005


My Leak

I heard from a reader of this blog, Bryan with a 2005 Passat, that VW "are having a systemic problem with the valve cover gaskets" and that they fixed his oil leak and it was covered under warranty with 37k. I'll have to give my local dealer a visit and see what they say.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Los Angeles Winter Fun

The winter is here and I've starting to see some interesting stuff with my car. First, I've stalled two times when switching from SVO to BioDiesel when coming off the freeway. The leading theory is that the computer is throwing a code that stalls the engine because the BD is to cold. Going from hot svo to cold BD could be a problem. At first that didn't make sense beacuse it was rarely happening. Then I realized that it was happening when I had about 1-2 gallons left in the BD tank. Less fuel in that tank means its gonna get cold faster. To solve that problem, at least in the winter, I'll be making sure I keep it somewhat full. Second, the other day I started the car cold at night and I started to drive but could not go over 30 mph. I drove about 30 seconds, stopped the car and then started again and it was fine. Ed Beggs of Neoteric said "Sounds like a viscosity-related computer issue. Went into limp mode from too-cold biodiesel. Key on/off reset it. By then it was warm enough." Sounds correct. He also said that there is a special chip that VW makes for people running BD. Seems like you gotta make the computer happy in the cold so I'm going to look into finding that chip. I'm also thinking about having the Vegtherm heating device be on when using BD and svo.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Look Holmes...A spot of Motor Oil

Today I found a spot of motor oil on my driveway. It's been 4k miles since my last oil change (I've been using the ELF brand) and so I brought it into Dan to do an oil change and check to see if we could see where the leak was. Oil pan and screw were clean. It's very hard to tell but Dan thinks its coming from the back engine seal. Not a good thing because it's like 8 hours of work to get to it and replace it. The car has 20K miles so it's not normal for an engine seal to be leaking already. Unless maybe that engine seal happens to be rubber and the owner uses bio diesel but who knows. So in Jan 06 Dan's going to replace the seal. Now some of you out there might suggest filling the car up with Diesel and trying to get this covered by the warranty and I've thought about it. But Dan can do this job in a day. The dealer is most likely going to take longer plus there's a chance that if the bio diesel did cause the problem then for sure it won't be covered and I'll have to pay dealer prices to put it back together again. The safest reliable bet is to have Dan do the work.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


6,000 Miles

The biggest problem I'm having is finding a good quick way to filter the used oil to 5 or 10 micron. My GreaseBeast is not doing the job. So I'm building my own improved filter Beast. I also changed out the two fuel filters. I have one for the bio diesel side and one for the veggi side. The BioDiesel one lasted about 5k miles and today I had Dan changed out the veggi one which lasted about 6K Miles. I could tell it needed to be changed because when I accelerated to quickly the engine would flutter. Other stuff I've learned: If you keep driving on a bad filter that restricts the fuel to the engine so that it keeps fluttering the "Emissions Workshop" engine light on the dash will go on. At first I thought I was doomed but after I replaced the filter and drove for another 30 miles or so the light turned itself off. This has happened three times to me. That's one of the reasons why I changed to the 10 micron filters. The 5 micron filters were not lasting long enough. So if you are running BioDiesel or svo and have this happend to you. Don't panic. Just fix the fuel restriction problem and light will go away. The on board computer and sensors really do work.


The GreaseBeast is No Beast

A couple weeks ago I switched to 10 micron filters for the vormax. My GreaseBeast is supposed to filter to 5 micron. Well, sadly, that's not the case becase my 10 micron filter is getting clogged.

Friday, November 04, 2005


3,000 Miles

Things are going well. I've become more bold (and want to conserve on biodiesel) and now after starting on Biodiesel I pretty much just switch right over to wvo without waiting for the engine to warm up and the car seems fine. Still waiting to see if the 5 micron filter in the vormax is gonig to last longer now that I am pre-filtering down to 5 micron with the Grease Beast. It might be that the Walbro suction is so strong that it's collapsing the filter over time and can only last about 1000 miles. If that is the case, I'll switch to 10 micron but still pre-filter. I want to keep the 2 micron fuel filter in the engine protected so it lasts a long time because it's a pain to change.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


The Grease Beast

I purchased this thing called the Grease Beast because I wanted to easily filter the oil to 5 micron and this thing does the trick. The first filter is a 20 micron then 5 micron then a water separator. Did about 40 gallons and had to change the 20 micron filter. I had to buy battery connectors and wire it up so it would work with the battery. The yellow thing is the pump.
The Grease Beast Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 24, 2005


Jacob Knows About BioDiesel

I meet Jacob who's been running his car on BioDiesel for a while. Here he is with his 55 gallons drums.
 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 06, 2005


2,000 Miles

I hit 1000 miles on the second 5 micron filter I’ve install. The Vormax filter indicator needle was beyond the red and almost pinned. I decide to drive until I notice a problem. It didn’t take long. At 17,180 (1,018 miles on filter) I felt a stutter in the engine. Twenty eight miles later, more stutters and loss of power. I pulled over at 17,208 and changed the filter. 1,046 miles total for that filter. I also found out where all the air goes in the new filter -- into the fuel lines and engine. After I screwed on the filter, I turned the inginition key half way and waited a couple minutes but I don’t think the Walbro filled the filter because after I started the car and went a couple 100 feet it stalled. It took about 5 minutes of cranking to get the air out of the lines for it to restart. If I would have filled the filter with fuel I might not have had such a problem. So lesson learned. The more important knowledge gained here is that even though my walbro pump is too strong for the Vormax restriction indicator, once the needle gets past the red and heads towards the pin the filter is going to need to be changed.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Good Canola is Hard to Find

I woke up this morning very excited to fill my tank with 15 gallons of canola oil. I started pumping and after a gallon the pump filter got clogged. There was this creamy waxy stuff all over the 70 micron wand filter. I couldn’t understand why. I had pumped 15 gallons of the same oil with no problem four days before. How could it have gotten this way? I was mystified. I thought maybe I didn’t clean the wand filter good enough. I went out and bought some degreaser and let the 70 micron filter soak over night. Next day same thing. The oil was definitely hydrogenating with time. Well guess what? It turns out the stuff was actually Partially Hydrogenated Canola Oil. Not a good oil to use. It's back to soy for me.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Changed 5 Micron Vormax Filter

The Walbro pump for the svo tank was making a louder noise than usual today. I opened the trunk to look at the status of the Vormax filter indicator. The needle had gone beyond the red and was pushed against the steel pin. Even though the indicator said the filter should be changed the car still had power. I suspect the power of the Walbro can suck past the filters indicator to measure restriction. I thought about continuing to drive until I lost power but then thought again as I didn’t want to possibly damage the Walbro pump. To change the filter I did the following steps: 1) loosened the drain screw at the bottom of the filter and let some of the oil pour into a small Tupperware container I had been carrying around for this glorious moment. I did this so when I unscrewed the filter the extra oil wouldn’t go all over the place. 2) Unscrewed the filter. 3) Twisted on a new one. One set of instructions said to fill the filter with new fuel. Another set of instructions said otherwise. I didn't have any extra fuel so I did the latter and just screwed on an empty filter. 4) I turned the key half way. I was told when the car is in this state the Walbro will fill the filter. I didn’t hear anything but I let it sit for a minute or so and then I started the car and drove away. It worked. I still don't understand where all the air went in the filter. Maybe I'll never know. But I bet someone reading this will know and will post a comment and tell me where all that air went. The filter costs $20 and I went 1,200 miles on it. Probably could have gotten better mileage out of it if I hadn’t accidentally pumped some unsettled oil into the tank.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Found Canola Oil

Eddie called and said he found a great Canola source. I drove over to his house and sure enough the canola was very clean. I pumped 15 gallons into my jugs with no problem and set them aside for settling. Eddie told me the guy he picked up this oil from didn't pay him. I said I'd be happy to pay him .07 per pound (his going rate) or 50 cents per gallon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The First 1000 Miles on Used Soy Oil

I've just passed the 1000 mile mark on SVO. Here's a day in the life with my Passat. In the mornings I start the car on BioDiesel. This comes from my 5 gallon doughnut tank that sits in my trunk inside the spare wheel. I have a red button switch on the front dash board near the radio. When the light is red I know I'm on the BioDiesel tank. I start driving. By the time I get to the freeway on ramp, in about 2 to 4 minutes, the engine is hot. When I see the temp gauge at 190 I flip the switch, I probably could do it sooner since I have the vegtherm device but I wait anyway, the switch light turns off, and the 6 port switch under the hood does its magic and switches the hoses to start pulling from the main tank and the engine starts eating svo. The vegtherm also does its magic and heats the oil before it gets to the injectors. Right before I get to my destination, if I know I'll be there more than 2 hours, I'll flip the switch again and purge the svo out of the engine.
The Switch Posted by Picasa This way, when I start the engine cold it will start on biodiesel and not svo. If its warm outside, 70 degrees or so more and I'm stopping for less than 2 hours I won't purge. I'll start the car on svo. I've noticed that if I miss judge the temp out side or wait longer than 2 hours than the car might not start on the first key turn but on the second turn it does. If that happens then I sometimes notice a cloud of white mist coming out of my tail pipe on start up due to the incomplete combustion from the cold start. This could also be due to some water in the svo. I'm still investigating. Other things I've learned The 5 gallon tank doesn’t have an indicator as to when it’s empty. However, I found a trick to know when I have to refill it. In the mornings, when the car doesn't start right away on the first key turn it's ready to fill. Why you say? Well it's because of the svo purge. Each time you purge, a little svo gets in the BioDiesel tank. As the concentration of svo builds up in the bd tank over time it starts to become noticeable because the car doesn't start on the first key turn as it always does when it's just biodiesel. This happened to me the other day. I looked in the bd tank and sure enough it was almost empty. After I filled it, the car started right away on the first key turn.


doughnut tank inside spare and vormax to the side Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Trip To Laguna Beach

I fill 5 gallons of the two day old settled oil into the car. The wife and I head down to Laguna Beach for a party and head back the same night. It’s a 160 miles round trip. This is the first time the wife has driven with me in the car since the conversion. I tell her all the things that could go wrong like the filter could clog and we could stall. She appreciates my honesty. I try to convince her to get a Jeep Liberty diesel and do the same thing as me but she’s not ready for such an adventure with the two kids. I show some people at the party the car. They’re amazed.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Dumpster Diving

Eddie's having trouble finding good canola oil. We think we have a good source but won't know until next week. I tell him I going to go to this one Sushi Restaurant next to me that's one of his clients and check out their oil. He's got no problem with me doing that because they haven't paid their bill. I park in the parking lot. I tell the parking attendant that I'm "just here to check the oil." I take out my pump and jugs. I check the oil. It's very clean soy oil. I pump 15 gallons. I bring it back to my garage for settling.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Fill up Dougnut tank

I fill up my doughnut tank with a couple gallons of biodiesel. This is the tank that has the fuel that starts the car and purges the car at the end of day.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


My First Jug of Used Soy Oil

I've burned thru all the new soy from smart and finale and now need to put the used soy into my car. I didn't put it in right away because I wanted to let it settle for a couple days. I should let it settle a week but I'm too excited, and the only thing that will happen if it's not settled enough is that my 5 micron filter on my Vormax will clog much sooner. I do a stupid thing and pour the first 5 gallon jug using a spout. I thought I could keep the sediment on the bottom but of course that's the first thing that shoots into the tank. I can tell because the spout is clear. Oh well. Vormax filter is defiantly not going to last as long now. I only pour 5 gallons in because again I want the other 10 gallons to settle some more.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Smart and Finale Soy Oil

On my way to work, I stop by Smart and Finale and buy a 35 lbs can of new vegetable oil. Cost $14. Comes out to be like $3.11 per gallon when you figure 7.6 pounds per gallon. Costco has it for $2.79 a gallon but I don’t have time to drive there. I get a call from Eddie the he has some good soy but no Canola. After work I go by his place and suck up 15 gallons of used soy in my jugs and put it in my garage to settle for a couple days.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Pick Up Car From Berkeley

I flew up on the first flight. Craig picked me up from airport in my car. I let him drive. On the freeway he proves to me the power of used vegetable oil and takes it 114 MPH for about 40 seconds. I'm impressed and scared for my life all in the same moment. We then go to the co-op to fill up on some more SVO for my drive back to Los Angeles. We talk with Shane and I tell them, "That they did a great job and if I get back to Los Angeles they did an excellent job." We go back to Craig's house. I realize I've lost my glasses on the plane ride here. The same glasses that I'll need to see while I drive at night back down to Los Angeles. This drives me crazy and I spend the next 15 minutes on Craig's phone calling Southwest to try to track down my glasses. No luck. I'll have to wear my prescription sunglass and drive down Jack Nicholson style. Before I take off, Craig and I settle the bill in cash and then he gives me some cool window stickers that say "Powered by Vegetable Oil" and "" He also shows me how to use the 12 volt pump and wand kit I bought to get the used oil into my jugs and car. I realize that this is a must if I'm going to really run the car on svo. I take off for Los Angeles at about noon. Before I know it, I'm cruising at 85 mph on the 5 on svo. A couple hours into the trip I get a call from Craig wanted to know how it was going. I tell him it's great and I think I'm getting 31 or 32 mpg. 1 or 2 mpg more than biodiesel. I make it back to Los Angles with no problems. Except one. I still need to actually meet Eddie, the render guy, and get a supply of used vegetable oil to make this car go. I call Eddie the Render, and tell him I'm coming over. I get to his house and we start pumping Canola oil, with my new pump, from a 55 gallon drum that came from this fancy French restaurant, into my 5 gallon jugs. The oil keeps clogging the 70 micron filter in the wand. Somethings not right. I call Craig and I describe to him the oil. It has this creamy swirl in it. He tells me not to use it. He says it's most likely hydrogenated. It turns out the French restaurant dumps all their extra wine and cream sauces in the oil. Not good. I dump the oil back into the drum and Eddie tells me he'll try to find something on Monday for me. I drive off wondering what I'm going to do on Monday.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Still Working

Craig drives it all day and it’s fine. I book my Southwest ticket for Sunday.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


It’s Alive

The car fires up and Craig and Shane take it for a spin. Craig says it purrs like a kitten but roars like a lion and tell me they took it up to 112 MPH on the freeway. Nice. I tell Craig to drive it around couple days because I want to make sure it’s all good before I fly up there and drive it down to Los Angeles.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Craig sends me some pictures

Vormax and doughnut tank Posted by Picasa

The Walbro pumps one for the SVO and one for the BioDiesel Posted by Picasa

Close Up 6 Port Switch Posted by Picasa

Engine Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 15, 2005


Hoses are Expensive

I get an email from Craig that things are going well but because I wanted all the hoses to be biodiesel proof it’s going to cost more. Meaning no rubber anywhere. Shane has to do a little more work with wielding connectors and such. Fine with me because I really want to be able to run biodiesel in the main tank if I have to.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Progress Call

Craig calls me and tells me that Shane has found an electrical pump in the gas tank. This was unexpected. Having this pump in the gas tank is not a good thing for the Vormax filtration system. Apparently the pump has to be after the Vormax. We throw around a lot of ideas like installing a huge 40 gallons tank in the trunk and using the main tank as my biodiesel tank for starts and stops. I say no to that option because I want my trunk space and I’ve already bought my bigger wheel for the doughnut tank that has already been made. We decide to take out the pump and they install another Walbro pump after the Vormax.

Friday, August 12, 2005


So My Wife Says…

You gave a guy you met on the Internet, a complete stranger, your new car and a couple thousand dollars in cash? “Yeah” I say. And she’s says, “You’re crazy.”

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Drop the Car off at Berkely

Drove up to Berkeley today, left at 11 am. Arrived at Craig Reece’s house at around 4pm. Btw, I got 30 mpg on Biodiesel. Meet a guy named Shane, he’s doing the physical install, he shows me his awesome truck that he personally converted to run on svo and I realize I’m dealing with a mechanical wizard. Craig shows up and we all talk about my car and what the plans are. Although they have done many conversions, they’ve never done a “pd” (the new 2005 vw engine design) before and they talk lot about Walbro pumps, filters and Viton hoses and other stuff I have no idea about but I pretend. Craig then drives me to the airport, in my car (he wanted to see how it drove before the conversion), to make an 8 pm flight. The airport is about 15 miles away but it takes us an hour because of the traffic. During that time, Craig and I talk, he’s lived at lot of life and is at peace with himself and has no time nor need for being dishonest so I’m completely at easy about leaving him my car for three or four days and completely trust it will all be good. I get home at about 1am. The Supershuttle screwed me so I ended up taking a taxi home from Burbank airport. Not so super Mr. Supershuttle.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Accountants are good for two things

Doing your taxes and hooking you up with a renderer. My uncle the accountant has a client who collects used grease. So I called him up and he’s going hook me up with used canola oil. THANK YOU ZACH!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


SVO supplier

Still trying to decided the best way to get SVO and the type of oil. I could collect it myself or just buy it. Smart and Final has fresh soy oil for $3 per gallon. I found a guy near me who will sell me wvo for $1.50 a gallon. But that's all different kinds of oil mix together and that could be a problem because some of those oils could have high Iodine Values which in high temperature compression engines could cause polymerization. You can read about that here I still have to research it more.

Monday, July 11, 2005


New Spare Tire for SVO Kit

Found an 18" wheel from American Tire Company with a thin high performance tire that will fit in the spare tire compartment. The larger wheel diameter will allow me to have a larger second tank for the SVO kit.



I started the car to go to an appointment today and couldn't go over 20 mph. Got to the destination and three hours later started the car and it was fine. Possibly the fuel filter got clogged with one of those large pieces like the one in the cup picture below. I suspect turning off the engine allowed it float to the bottom of the filter. I called Dan and ordered some more fuel filters just in case. Otherwise, the car has been driving great.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


The Conversion Kit

After much research, I decide today to purchase a two tank conversion kit from Neoteric Biofuels, Inc. You can learn about it here at I chose this kit because of their solid state Vegtherm heating unit and custom doughnut tank that sits inside of the hole of the spare tire. Great idea! This kit will enable me to run the car on SVO, B100 or WVO. I like to have options. And yes you can mix all three types. Nobody really has tried this yet on this new type of engine design because it voids the warranty. But I really don't care about that because nothing is ever covered under the warranty anyway when things break.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Second Bulk Fill Up

I drove up to Ventura Harbor Marine Fuel, Inc. - 1449 #C Spinnaker Dr., Ventura, CA 93001; (805)644-4046 and filled up the jugs. While I was up there, I meet Kent Bullard, he runs the user group I had to join, he's a very nice fellow with lots of passion for bio diesel and a self sustainable life style. He gave me some cool bio diesel bumper stickers.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Fuel Filter

I went to my mechanic Dan, Auto Master Care in Van Nuys, to put in the new fuel filter. I've known Dan for over 15 years and he's the best. I've driven about 1000 miles (11,875 on the odometer) on the biodiesel so I figured it was time. There were some air bubbles in the fuel filter after bleeding it so it took a couple cranks and stalls to finally get it started. Dan's going to buy a tool to cut open the fuel filter so we can see how dirty it was. I'm going to post the digital pictures of the filter as soon as I get them.


What a clean filter looks like. Posted by Picasa


Oil from the filter. There's a nice size piece of junk at the bottom of the cup. Posted by Picasa


Dirty water at the bottom of the filter. Posted by Picasa


The dirty fuel filter. Posted by Picasa


Dan opening the filter. Posted by Picasa

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