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.

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