Monday, January 23, 2006

So Much Things to Say Right Now, ya got so much things to say- the tails of the veggie car: Part 1

Yes, I do, I have many things to say and since it is so easy to post, I think I will say them. Ok, first of all, I drive a veggie car. This is a car that runs off of waste vegetable oil that I get for free from the back of restaurants. I actually put "vegetable oil vehicles" in my interests in my profile. I was adding stuff to my profile and I figured out that blogger automatically links your interests to all the other bloggers' interests in a hyper-link search. Anyway, I noticed that I seem to be the only person that has an interest in vegetable oil vehicles(i.e. I actually have one) in the whole of I find this hard to believe, but I will post about the car anyway. Right now, I am sitting here waiting for my veggie oil to cool, so I can put it in a plastic "cubie" and pour it into my tank for the commute tomorrow. See, I have heated the oil to burn off all the water, so none gets in the motor and now it is cooling. This is just one step in the glorious practice known as "sticking it to the man", or veggie car motoring. I guess I should start at the beginning and explain the gathering of the oil. In all seriousness, this is the most important thing to know about before you decide to convert your car to run on waste vegetable oil.

Who will help me gather the oil?

Ok, first and foremost you need to find a good restaurant. A good restaurant is one with clean oil. Generally speaking, the restaurants that have the cleanest oil are Asian food restaurants. Think Chinese take out. Now that you found a good restaurant, go find another and then one more. See, restaurants only use about 6-10 gallons a week, and I need 15 gallons a week. Therefore, you need to have more than one restaurant. Trust me on this, you gotta have a back up. Now that you have scouted out your restaurant, go inside and talk to them. The person acting as the host/hostess usually has the best language skills, so begin your speil there...

"Hi, how ya doing? I have kind of a funny question. Can I have some of your used vegetable oil in the barrel out back? See, it goes in my car." This is usually meet with a bit of confusion, as the person thinks that you actually want that crappy, smelly oil in the back. Once you explain, that yes, you really do want that used oil in the back, they are more than glad for you to go back there and get out of the way of paying customers.

Now that you are out back, with permission to take the oil, now what do you do? This is the part that you bust out your trusty pump. This pump has taken up countless pages on the internet with people's ideas and thoughts and visions and products, and everyone thinks their pump is best. I have seen some special pumps just for pumping veggie oil that run over $250 US dollars. I don't really know about that. I will tell you what I use. I use a Napa 730-5028 drill pump that I bought for $10 dollars from the local autoparts shop. A lot of folks will tell you that drill pumps don't work. Most don't because they are designed for water. The Napa drill pump is especially designed for pumping crank case oil out your dipstick tube. However, both ends fit a garden hose nicely, and one end goes in the barrel and the other end goes in the "cubie". Pull the trigger of your cordless drill, and you are pumpin oil! Fill up as many cubies as you can and get on out of there. Ignore the people in the parking lot that look at you funny. They don't exist... they don't exist...

Ok then, now you take your oil back home and dump it into a 55 gallon barrel and let it sit for two days to two weeks. This settles most of the food particles out. This step of the process is very important and will make your life easier. Unfortunately for me, I have not quite gotten this step down and I usually go from the cubie to the next step...

Filtering the Oil
This is the most important step, as it leaves you with the clean, recycled "liquid gold" that gets you to work on time and for free. You need somekind of filtering barrel. I will describe what I have, your results might vary. I have a 55 gallon barrel with three 6 inch holes cut in the top. I put bag filters in the holes so they are hanging down inside the barrel. These bag filters are 1 micron in size. People say that filtering the oil to anything finer than 5 microns in size is wasting your time. People can go to hell, as I filter my oil to 1 micron. I buy my filters at, part # 6835k11. Once the oil filters thru the bags, I heat the oil as to burn off any suspended water that is in the oil. This magical filtering barrel I have also has a built in hot water heater at the bottom. I plug it in and the hot water heater and it heats up the oil and burns off any water. After that, I have to let the oil cool.

This brings us to where we started this post, the cooling of the oil. The oil has to cool in the barrel, This takes a little while, and that is what I am doing right now, waiting. Soon, I can open the small faucet that is also built into the magic barrel, and drain the filtered oil right into the cubie. I take the cubie and, using a funnel, pour the vegetable oil right into my tank.

Wanna know how the whole thing works from there? Well, that is another posting, for another time.


At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for this post. I've been researching veggie driving for a while (driven by economics, not politics) and am now collecting the parts needed to do a conversion. After all the forums and websearches, yours is the best description I've seen of what it's like to actually do the oil collection, something I don't exactly look forward to getting started with. I think it's the narative writing style, I think (and the wit doesn't hurt).

At this point it seems that driving veggie is more like a lifestyle than a choice, with the collecting, the aparatus needed to filter and dewater, the knowledge needed to keep the car running OK (air in lines? - temp ok? filters clogged?)

I very much look forward to future installments!

Scott in Penfield NY

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