Friday, September 7, 2012

V Dubs from Utah

7 Years ago we bought are first VW.  Since then I have taken on the task of saving as many as I could from Junk Yards to fields.  Some would get full rebuilds with new engines and paint.  Others would be sold as shells for someone to start their own VW rebuild, moreover some would be turned into grease cars to travel the US.  To date I have saved over 20 VW's from either being crushed or parted out and the number is still rising!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Real Cost of Free Fuel

 As the saying goes, “nothing is free”, with our efforts in running our vehicles on grease/waste vegetable oil (WVO) it’s simply cheaper and less bad for the planet. 

To all of the “nay-sayers” as to whether or not using grease/WVO as a fuel source is damaging to your engine, we are not debating that.  We have owned several vehicles over the last six years that have run off of grease/WVO and have not had any problems because of this system conversion.  With this post we simply hope to offer insight and information about the process.

Our primary vehicle is a turbo diesel sedan (VW Passat); see the post (click here) for how we filter our grease/WVO at home with a centrifuge setup.  This system has worked great and saved us thousands of dollars over the years.  

We have spent four weeks in a diesel motor home with a grease car conversion kit in it on a road trip to Alaska and back. 

While on this road trip the grease/WVO was free, but there were still costs involved in running the system.

-Rubber gloves and paper towels

-Bag filters to run the grease/WVO thru to catch larger particulate before poring into the heated fuel tank

-Fuel filters in the engine to catch the finer particulate from entering the engine.

We collected about 600 gallons of free grease/WVO over the course of our trip.  It is important to note that two things drastically affect your bottom line.  1- Grease/WVO quality and 2- fuel filter choice. 
On a trip like that, where you were trying to acquire 100 gallons of fuel at a time, your instinct says take as much of whatever you can get.  While that may seem like a good idea at the time, ultimately it could be the demise of your fuel filters causing them to clog and need to be replaced more often.  We normally get our fuel filters from AutoZone, which are both cheaper and last longer.  On this trip we were forced to get our fuel filters from Napa Auto Parts, which did not last nearly as long and were more expensive.   We found that using the Napa fuel filters in conjunction with the bag filters (rather than a centrifuge) we were getting drastically fewer miles out of the fuel filters.*

Simple numbers break down:
Cost of diesel fuel about $4.30/gal
The motor home we drove gets about 10mpg diesel or grease/WVO
If we had driven 7,000 miles on diesel fuel alone our cost would have been about 43 cents per mile (total of $3,010).
Our actual end result in the motor home, with having to change the Napa fuel filters more often, as well as running on diesel more often because we didn’t have enough fuel filters with us, was about 20 cents per mile (total $1400).   

This process is not for the fast gas and go traveler.  This process can be slow and arduous in both collecting and filtering the grease/WVO.  There has to be a deeper desire to either “save” the planet or save money in your pocketbook. If you are considering using grease/WVO as a fuel source for your diesel vehicle, go for it!  You are sure to be and meet an eclectic group of people both in your town and in your travels while hunting for fuel for your vehicle.

*The oil we collected was free of both water and fine particulates and still it was clogging the filter much sooner than what would be normal.  We can only assume that the micron of the Napa filter was significantly finer than the micron of the bag filters allowing particulate to go thru and clog the fuel filter sooner.  Even still, we had cut our fuel costs in half from what it would have been to burn diesel for 6,000 miles.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summary of Our Grease Home Adventure to Alaska

It started with a conversation Russ and Sean had and it quickly became a reality.  We bought the 1977 Travel Queen with a 1993 Dodge Cummins diesel engine for $2,000 in January of 2012.  The remodel (interior pictures before and after) took over the next several months with final touches on the waste vegetable oil fuel system happening the day before we hit the road.  All of the stickers on the side are from the various sponsors that Sean and Mollie were promoting on the adventure (read Mollie's blog here).  The major sponsor being Goal Zero, a Utah based solar power equipment company that gave the Travel Queen her electrical power source, solar panels and a yeti generator and inverter.  
Sean, Mollie, Russ, Ava, and I (Brittany) set off on May 31, 2012 with a tentative itinerary and a lot of excitement, that was challenged but not conquered along the way with a variety of mechanical problems.
In the end we drove 7014 miles on waste vegetable oil.  We had a one of a kind adventure of meeting people along the way, talking about and living sustainability, and seeing the incredible landscape between Utah and Alaska.

Click on the following blue links to see each Picasa photo album:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

On Your Marks! Get Set!.....

School's out for summer!  We have a couple of faculty meetings Tuesday/Wednesday.  And then..... We're off!!!!
It has been a busy couple of months.  But it has been an especially busy couple of days.  The tentative plan is to leave Thursday and head north to Yellowstone...stop over in Whitefish, MT....then up towards Calgary and Banff...then diagonal up to the Yukon...over to Anchorage and then back.

Please send happy thoughts to all of the restaurants along our journey that they will want to give us their WVO (waste vegetable oil).  The Travel Queen loves her grease like the best of the fuel guzzlers out there.

Some updated photos of the TQ:

The water tank sits under the driver's side couch.  Storage under
the passenger.  Cushions came to us all the way from Jordan
(Thanks so much Kip and Kari!).  I sewed fabric, that Mollie found,
over the top to match the original drapes from 1977.
Free form table that Russ made and that we will add
stickers from our adventure along the way.

New if the kitchen is the metal back splash and thrift store spice rack.

Energy efficiency is important in the refrigerator.
Reusing is important at all other times, as found
in the storage bins below. (They were left in the dorms
after the students left for the summer.) 

We have four bunk beds in the back of the TQ.
Privacy curtains were Sean's great idea from a sailing
expedition he went on.

Sixty gallons of grease will be stored on the back of the home vehicle.
With Russ's welding skills, the hitch was extended a few feet
so we will still be able to attach the bike rack.

Fill 'er up!

Grease/Veg/WVO, whatever you want to call it, is then transfered
to the heated forty gallon tank at the front of the TQ to be used
by the engine.

In the cabin is this super snazzy computerized control panel that
tells you everything you need to know!  This pick was taken part
way thru the fill up.  We will leave town with 100 gallons
of waste vegetable oil!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fun Physical Preparations for the Alaskan Adventure

In addition to continuing remodeling work on the 1977 Travel Queen Home Vehicle, I have been happily practicing my slacklining skills.  Gibbon Slacklines gave us two lines for us to take on our Grease Home Vehicle (GHV) Alaskan Adventure!  I had never heard of a slackline before the super bowl halftime this winter and now I'm in love!  I practiced yesterday for an hour and a half and woke up this morning very aware of just about every muscle in my body.  I want everyone to know that this is HARD!!! But so much fun!!!!  I am excited for all of the slacklining that is in my very near future all on our drive to Alaska in T minus 3 weeks!  I also want to give a shout out to my incredibly comfortable Twist Tank Top by Lole in these pictures.
Don't look at the bottom of my foot.  Gross!
They say it is easier to balance with your arms up,
rather than out to the side.  Of course the dancer
that I am  has to make those arms elongated. :)
Held this just long enough to get the picture!
See Ava the doggy?  See the stick just below the
slackline that she really wishes I would throw for her?
For more information about our Grease Home Vehicle adventure here is a link to Mollie's blog.  She has also been doing updates about our adventure and will probably be more regular about updating on the trip.  So if you want to stay tuned along the way, I recommend you subscribe to her blog, too:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Grease Filtering System

I recently realized that I've never documented the process that we (mainly Russ) goes thru to make it possible for us to drive a car the runs on waste vegetable oil (WVO).  So here it is....
This system has evolved for Russ and his friend Alex over the years.  When we first started (and still when we are on the road) we have a sock-like filter that we poor hot grease thru to get the french fry crumbs out and then we put the WVO directly into the tank.  Similar to gasoline and diesel can put low quality fuel into your car if necessary, but the better the fuel the happier the engine.  This may make you think that we are crazy, why not just by fuel (b/c time is money-right?)  I don't feel that everyone needs to drive cars that run on waste vegetable oil.  I just feel that we all need to be doing something to help the world be a better place.  This is one of the ways that we choose to do our part.
Step 1: Using air compressor, make sure vacuum has
been created in tank that is hooked up to vehicle.
Step 2: Find WVO (waste vegetable oil- from restaurants that
use a fryer) and suck decent looking oil out of container. 
Step 3- transfer oil to barrel for stage 1 of settling.
The settling process is important to let
water/bad oil separate from the good oil.
Step 4: Transfer oil to stage 2 of settling.  The pipe coming out
the bottom of the barrel is to drain the bad oil (which is heavier
than the good oil) for disposal.  The tube coming out of the right
side is for transferring the good oil to the next step.
Note: In the settling process the good oil separates from
the bad oil.  What we see in this jug is the amber color
and the creamy color.  We want the amber color.
Step 4: Good oil (amber colored) is transfer to this barrel
where it is heated and sent thru the centrifuge.
This is the centrifuge.  The particulate matter that is in the oil is
spun out into a holding area letting only the good oil fall
back thru into the tank.
Step 5: The clean oil is then transfered to this
barrel for further settling.
Step 6: Final storage until it is needs to be used. 
Step 7: This is how we get it from the big tank to the
heated tank that sits in the trunk of our car.
If only that meant the process was done!  Step 8: All of the bad oil
has to be removed from the situation to make room for new WVO
to be processed.  So it is sucked into the trailered
tank to be disposed of.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Travel Queen Remodel Progress

Russ tore out the old kitchen and built a new frame.  
Mollie and I did a mosaic tile countertop for under $20.  
Russ will be putting in the sink, stove/oven, and cabinet doors in 
the next couple of days!

This view is from in between the driver and passenger seat.
We are still working out how to buy or make cushions at an affordable
price.  Under the bench on the right will be the water storage.
Under the bench on the left will be regular storage.
There will be 2 bunk beds in the back (4 twin size beds).  Our friend Casey,
says there is plenty of room for her on the bench on the left. :)

Notice the beautiful laminate wood-like flooring.
A custom table will be created for the space.

The curtain/blinds are in too good of condition to get rid of, so the
lovely colors for the space that we are working with are peach,
lilac, cream, white, and camel. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Travel Queen

Russ and I and our friends Sean and Mollie are now proud owners of a 1977 Travel Queen Motor Home with a 1990 Dodge Cummins diesel engine.  If you are a regular follower of our blog you can probably guess what that diesel engine means to us....
It will soon be converted to run on vegetable oil!
Enjoy the 1977 interior in the pictures alone because it has already been taken out as the remodel of the interior has begun.  We all know that Russ doesn't do anything halfway.  So very soon we will be traveling in comfort and in style.  I will update pictures throughout the process and details about the upcoming adventures we are planning to have in the travel queen!

Your eyes don't deceive you- that is a wood burning stove.
The man we bought it from also installed solar panels to
run all of the electricity.  It will be a grease solar machine!

The fishing fly wall paper is not going to last much longer.

It will soon have 4 twin size beds in this area.
In order to get the old and broken refrigerator out of 
the motor home Russ had to cut it in pieces.  He learned 
that freon is combustible. This video is not sped up...
He can move fast!!!!!!!