Friday, November 5, 2010
Friday, March 28, 2008
As you might have noticed by the dearth of content here, all my energy lately has been going into GreenOption's new biofuel and green car tech blog, Gas 2.0.
While I will continue to write about my personal adventures on VegTruck.com, Gas 2.0 will be where the breaking news is being discussed. From the latest on second-generation biofuels like switchgrass and algae biodiesel, to plug-in hybrids, electric cars, and all that other good stuff.
I've also tried to sum up a lot of my knowledge about biodiesel into a 'biodiesel guide', which should take you through all the steps from buying a diesel to finding a local source of the fuel.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Thursday marked the end of a 3 week surfing trip in Costa Rica, and after spending 24 hours in San Jose, I can't say I'd be real excited if we had more diesels here in the United States. Those familiar with Central American traffic know that it's noisy, congested, and dirty--really dirty. Diesels make up the lion's share of vehicular traffic in most other countries, and consequently have a substantial impact on local air quality. A permanent cloud of bluish smoke permeates the city streets of San Jose, making foot traffic extremely unpleasant and unhealthy. Additionally, meeting such a large diesel fuel demand with petroleum alternatives would simply be impossible, even if Costa Rica's entire palm oil operation (which is substantial) was diverted to the issue.
In other news, Seattle Injectors has informed me that my Toyota's injection pump is 'beyond salvage'. I've instituted a worldwide search now for 2LT diesel injection pumps, with limited success. While in San Jose, I did some research since I thought Costa Rica would be the perfect place to pick up Toyota parts. The Toyota dealership said 'sure, we can get one for 1,500,000 colones ($3000)'.
I also called Toyota dealerships in Vancouver B.C. and they told me this model pump has been discontinued, which doesn't come as much of a surprise, but means my truck is dead in the water until I can find a new one. Hit Google with a search for 'Toyota 2LT injection pumps' and you will now find multiple forum threads on the topic. I'm throwing out a broad net.
My best bet may actually be in Karachi, Pakistan. The administrator of the OFFROADPAKISTAN forum says I may be in luck. At the conclusion of this little adventure I'll be sure to post all forum topics and resources for those of you following my footsteps.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Goodbye injection pump. That's a hell of a way to end a day of surfing, but after some troubleshooting and another tow to the mechanic, we've discovered that my breakdown resulted from injection pump (IP) failure.
This is an excellent opportunity for anti-SVO critics to rail against veg. oil conversions. But I firmly believe the conversion is at fault, which once again amounts to operator error. Greasecar kits do not have a temperature gauge, which makes it impossible to maintain optimum fuel temps. What most people don't understand (and I'm not sure how you would know this without using a system with a temp gauge) is that SVO temp fluctuates wildly during normal operating conditions.
For example, draft a semi and your SVO temp will increase 20 degrees F. Pass that same semi and you'll see the temperature gauge plummet. It all has to do with the amount of air flowing across the engine and SVO lines. Temps can also change dramatically at the bottom of hills (inversions), and obviously fluctuate based on cruising speed.
So how the hell do you know if your Greasecar kit is up to temp?
I'd planned on testing the system by installing a digital temperature gauge right before the injection pump, and I may still do that. But I'm not sure I want to put it through any unneeded stress after the $500-$800 rebuild.
In any case, here are some forum topics about Toyota 2LT injection pumps:
1985-1987 Toyota diesel Trucks - Injection Pump Forum Topics:
Nissan diesel forum: Nissan SD22 or Toyota 2L?
1987 Toyota TurboDiesel 2LT Injection Pump Failure
Toyota Diesel Forums - needing a new lift pump
Specifications: the pump is a rotary, Denso model 096000-3210.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Make sure you buy towing insurance. It only costs about $10 / year, and it will save you a lot of money. In fact, I can't figure out how insurance companies can afford to offer this kind of insurance at all.
Last week, I was driving home from the coast when I lost power - the sort of feeling you get when a filter clogs or you run out of fuel - and switching back to the diesel system didn't solve the problem. The truck ended up spending the rest of the weekend in someone's driveway, until I could figure out what my towing insurance covered.
It turns out, that for a measly $5 / 6 months, SafeCo. Insurance will tow you to the nearest towing facility and pick up the bill. I decided to have the truck towed to my house (worked out to be the nearest facility for my repairs) to see if I could solve the problem without incurring additional mechanical expenses. The last thing you want to do is let a auto shop get a hold of your vehicle.
The towing bill came out to be a whopping $123.20. All I had to do was fax them the bill, and I had a reimbursement check within 3 days.
This is the second time I've had a major towing incident with old diesels (the last one cost me $90). Don't go out without towing insurance.
I received this question today from Shawn on Facebook:
Is there any local group/info for biodiesel and/or veg oil conversion?
I don't really have the option now, with a gas car, but hoping that my next will be a diesel.
There is one group on campus, the OSU Biodiesel Initiative.
About a year ago I worked with them quite a bit. We built a biodiesel reactor in the basement of Gleeson hall, and would have used it for converting cafeteria grease, but the local fire marshal shut us down.
The initiative's ultimate goal is to build a small-scale reactor facility and education center on campus. Join the listserv on the website to find out about meetings.
As far as veg oil, there are two companies in Corvallis: Enviofuel and Greaseworks. They sell conversion kits and work full-time converting vehicles. Nate at Enviofuel is typically more accessible for questions than Justin at Greaseworks, but both are a wealth of information. By the way - Greaseworks was one of the original biodiesel/SVO groups in the country as far as I know.
Beyond that, a few of us have batted the idea of a grease coop around, but I doubt that's going to happen anytime soon. It seems like there's plenty of oil to go around though, and I have a bit of a stockpile at the moment. If you need help with the process of getting a diesel or converting it, let me know. I'm trying to compile that type of information on my blog, and I've also written some things on GreenOptions.com, like the Biodiesel Mythbuster.
Let me know if you have more questions.
Friday, October 19, 2007
That's right folks, the VegTruck has been upgraded. While saying farewell to the old Datsun will be a bittersweet affair, I have to make room for something new: a 1987 Toyota Diesel Toyota Xtra Cab 4x4 with Greasecar SVO conversion.
You may be thinking:
"Where, for the love of God, did you find a Toyota Diesel?"
And I would have to reply: "Canada eh!"
Well, indirectly. I found the truck on the Toyota Madness Forum, which is obviously a good place to look for Toyota Diesels of Canadian Origin (Toyota made very few diesels for the U.S. market). This truck happened to be located in Bozeman, MT, imported to the U.S. by the previous owner. So I took a weekend trip to Bozeman and picked it up. The whole thing was a risky proposition, but the trip turned out to be a total success. Todd (the seller) was extremely helpful and hospitable, and it became evident that just about everyone in Montana had the same disposition. The local grease coop filled us up with 50 gallons of filtered, dewatered veg. oil, and we drove the more than 1,000 miles home all on SVO. I would at some point like to post some pictures of the *extensive* grease filtering operation they had there.
The upshot for the VegTruck Blog will be new posts on a different vehicle. I plan to run a few tests on the Greasecar system, especially system operating temperature (they don't come with temp. gauges).
This also means that the original VegTruck - of which, sadly, I haven't posted more about (yet), is for sale. It's a 1982 Datsun 720 Diesel King Cab with top-of-the-line Enviofuel SVO system installed, including a 36 gallon tank that gives it a range of 1000 miles. Let me know if you're interested.