Category: Grease car

Dec 01 2012

Sherman has been sold

I have been wanting to get rid of my 1981 veggie powered car for some time. I have found i really like driving my ’99 diesel much more than the old blue car. I am tired of dealing with the time and effort of collecting cooking oil. I just don’t drive that much any more since I have retired.

While visiting Gerhard today, he asked me if I still wanted to sell the car I said yes and a deal was quickly put together before I even had a chance to think about it.

Saying good bye to a really interesting project car.


The proud new owner.


Apr 14 2012

Sad day for the grease car

Tonight was tragic for me… I lost the grease car.

As I was traveling down the interstate in the high speed lane at 60 mph, a car entering from an on ramp traveled across three lanes of traffic into my lane without even coming up to speed. I had slowed down to almost 35 mph from 60 and she all of a sudden slammed on her brakes. I asked her why and she said “I don’t know”. WTF???

Of coarse I hit her from the back and a third car hit me. It was crazy that she didn’t use the merge lane (3 lanes in that location) to accelerate. The wild thing is the cop determined that I was the cause of the accident, because she was “established” in the lane. Apparently it doesn’t matter that she crossed 2 lanes at almost a 45 deg angle right into the lane of higher speed traffic… Apparently failure to yield to oncoming traffic doesn’t matter either.


I did some measurements and calculations and figured I was doing 35 mph or less when I hit her. The car seems to support the low speed of the impact.


Both I and the guy who hit me told the officer she hit her brakes first and I had no where to go, but alas it didn’t matter. The officer told me he only saw my skid marks and I skidded 105 ft. and there was no evidence of her skidding. It was dark by the time the officer arrived so it made visual identification of the skid a bit difficult.

I went to the scene today, and sure enough I measure my skids as 70 ft and her skid at 91 ft. Skid length indicates the my car was doing approximate 35 mph or less as skid friction is less than static friction.

Tomorrow I am going to the Highway Patrol Office to ask for a senior investigator to go to the site with me to check the evidence hopefully to get the veridic changed, but if nothing else to correct the record of events….

The only thing is the insurance company will probably total the car due to its age. I can’t see them paying $4000 for repairs if the car is only worth $4000. The car was in pristine shape, with a rebuilt engine. I was planning to sell it anyway, but hate to see our time together come to an end like this.

Apr 08 2011

Electric WVO Heater

Gerhardt wanted to filter some more WVO for our cars….  The problem is the waste oil is cold and my propane powered heater just didnt seem to work well.  The best I could get out of was 0.5 g/m.

I decided to try an electric heater instead.  Since the oil is non-conductive there is no risk of shock.

A quick trip to Lowe’s resulted in a $15, 1500 watt 120v hot water heater.  An old extension cord was sacrificed and in 20 minutes I built a electric tank heater.

 This showes the starting temp of the tank. 

In 24 hours we went from 65 f to 137 f.   I was able to pump 4.5 h/m through the filter with ease!  What a great system.  I was able to filter 300 gal in about an hour or so.  A quick calculation showed that at the current utility rate, heating up the tank cost about $4 which means the it only cost me about 1.3 cents per gal of oil to run my car. 

All that time I wasted with making the copper propane  heater…..oya what a waste.  Maybe I can use it to make some moon shine.

Feb 04 2011

1999 Mercedes E300 Turbo Diesel (#1)

I finally made the decision to buy a new Mercedes to replace my trusty old 1981 diesel.  I was getting tired of the creaks and groans of a 30 year old car.  Besides,  I wanted to be sure I had lots of safety features a any car I was driving.  I figured since I am retired and on the gov. dole,  I wanted make sure I have every opportunity to live a long, LONG life to get my more than fair share from Uncle Sam coffers.

I started looking on Craigs List specifically for a 1999 E300 Turbo Diesel since it is the absolutely last model I could buy which could still be converted to cooking oil.  I finally found one in Crystal River, Florida which was at the right price point and condition.  It had 249,000 miles and appeared to be in fairly good shape.  The interior and body was in terrific condition.  I talked the owner into holding it for me long enough for the weather to clear as I knew it would quickly sell.

Tony and I flew down to Florida, I checked the car out and bought it on the spot.  Tony drove it home on Wednesday.  The car wasnt driven at all on Thursday.  On Friday, after getting new tires, and on the way to the DMV, it caught fire and was totally destroyed.  I had a total of 18 miles driving it during the 2 days I owned i.    What fun it was driving it!  The acceleration was just fantastic!

I had flames coming from the center console to the ceiling.  Amazing!  Diesels are not noted for catching fire.   As I told the fireman, “that was the quickest $6000 I have every lost….except for the stock market!”  He asked if I had insurance….  I think I did as I had called USAA prior to the purchase and discussed it with them, but had not called to confirm the purchase…..

Totally trashed….   Can you imagine, I was driving the car with flames shooting up the windshield!

Fortunately, USAA said the car is covered completely!  They paid for all my costs so I am not out any money.

I have started my search on Craigs list once again for another 1999 Mercedes.

Jan 16 2011

WVO panel install

The car’s conversion to cooking oil is almost done.  This weekend, I found a reasonably good dash panel at the junk yard to modify.  I didnt want to mess up the good one in the car.  This way when I sell the car I can put the unmodified one back in, remove the WVO system and the car is stock again.

After designing the panel in Acad, I printed out the template and drilled the holes in the panel.

Next it is lettering the panel.

Finally it is installed in the car’s dash.  I really like the look.  Simple and unobtrusive.  It works great in all modes. 

The last and final step in the car mod (not really necessary but nice to have) would be installing water heated fuel lines and hooking up the tank heater to the car’s coolant system.  No hurry.  I’ll do it by next winter if I dont have a another car by then.  I am actively looking on Craigs list for a newer diesel.

Nov 22 2010

LED light tubes….awesome!

Doug bought over some more dirt today.  Four huge truck loads of fill soil to be spread out in the yard.  I am planning to use a rotary laser level to do the final spreading of the soil to make sure the slope of the yard is correct for good drainage which was why I couldnt use this part of my yard in the past.    The rain would collect in a low area and the ground would turn to mush.

Lots of work ahead!

I took my heater to Gerharts to try out.    Boo hoo, it didnt work exactly as planned.    I was focused on having lots of surface area (60 ft of 3/8″ tubing) to raise the temperature of the oil.  I found out the temperature increased nicely, but the second part of a good design is adequate flow rate.  I considered this, but thought the oil would get thin enough to easily flow through the tubing.   It doesnt. 

The flow rate is about 1.1 gpm with a 40 f temp rise.  The temp was fine if you want to spend a couple of hours twiddling your thumbs waiting, but I know I will eventually rebuild the heater using 1/2″ tubing to increase the flow rate (I hate when something is right).   Right now the overall system is good enough to last through the winter.  Next fall, I’ll tear the heater apart, sell the copper and change it over to larger tubing.

The panel is being reworked too.  I wanted each light switch position illuminated with a blue, green or orange LED.   In order to match the rest of the panel and since the LED’s are very small (T-1 type)  I decided to use light tubes with the LED’s positioned behind the panel.   Each hole had to be very carefully drilled on the milling machine.

A white LED light is shined behind the switch to see how they would look.   Awesome!

The panel will be sent back to Aerotronics to have the label replaced with a new one which corresponds correctly with the new LED lighting.

Nov 21 2010

WVO Heater

Today’s project was church, flying and construction of my WVO heater.   

It is getting cold in Charleston, and the WVO does not filter when the temperature gets below 80 f or so.  The fats in the oil coat the inside of the filter bag and flow drops to almost nothing.

Since we do not have 220v electricity in the storage shed, I decided to go with a propane heat.  Most of this project is made out of junk I had around the house.  The old crab cooker was sitting unused in the shed, the handles are made out of an old bed frame, bolt were from my drawer, the cover from some extra flashing.   

 The only thing of value was the soft 3/8″  copper tubing I had to buy for the heater coil.

This is it.  I’ll take it over to Gerhart’s tomorrow and try it out.

Nov 12 2010

My new toy…..

It is Friday, and I finished the oil valve system for Geheart’s WVO system.  It looks and works MUCH better.  Took 1.5 days of work to complete, and the only part yet to make is an oil heater to raise the temp of the oil prior to filtering.  It is getting cold in Charleston (65-70F) and the oil is too thick to be properly filtered.

This looks MUCH better than what he was using!

My buddy Doug brought over a new toy for me to play with in the yard.  A bulldozer.  What fun!    Everyone should have one around.

I think it is about a 1/2 size model.

Doug had brought over some fill soil years ago and I never spread it out.  I decided it was time to open my yard back up and build a shed for my car and trailer.  The big piles of dirt had some large trees growing.  Man what a bunch of work I have ahead of me!

After playing with my new toy a bit, it was off to the aero club for the monthly EAA meeting.

Oct 26 2010

Waste Oil Mess / panel update

Drove up to Summerville to get some waste oil for my car and Gerhart and I and a bunch of problems with the filter system

We had one bag rupture in the filter housing.  I guess it just got too plugged up and the pressure got to it.  After we finally got it out (in the blue tub), we installed a fresh filter and it came unhooked and plugged the system up.  Lessons learned…. put a pressure gauge on the discharge of the pump (to monitor the health of the bag) and install the new bags differently than what I did this time.

In both cases, it is easily fixed.

I FINALLY talked Gerhart into letting me install a proper piping system similar to the one I have in my shop for his tanks and filter.  It drives me crazy to have such a mess of hoses and loose pumps that trying to make things work when it can be properly engineered so easily.  On Saturday, I’ll make up the manifolds and install everything next week.  

I also flew from Charleston to Mt Pleasant to visit Jack Wilhelmson to help him install my fuel probes in the new cozy 4 he is building.    Although it is only about 40 min by car, I can fly there in 7 minutes from the hangar (plus 10 minutes to the house).    17 minue trip time is great plus I got to fly today!

The fuel  probes went in very easily with no problems.  It only took about 10 minutes /probe.  It is SOOOooo much easier to install them on a new build than on an existing plane which (which is fairly easy to do anyway).

No work done on my plane today….  bummer.  Tomorrow I’ll really hit it again on the wiring.

UHOOOOO…  Quick update

UPS delivered the instrument panel tonight.

After months of false starts and many tries I am positive this panel has turned out to be the labor intensive and totally frustrating EZ instrument panels ever made.   I must have spent at least 40 hr just lettering it, after which it was sent to CA for clear coating.  Everything was sanded off.    It was then sent to a avionics shop in Chino, Ca for printing.  They had it for months and it ended being sent back to me completely untouched.  

I then spent numerous hours custom fitting (back setting) the radios for a differnt type of look and fitting it to the plane (to make dam sure it would fit as expected this time) before being sent to Aerotronics in Billings MT for lettering.  

Aerotronics did a great job and it looks FANTASTIC!!  I cant wait to see it populated with instruments in the plane.

Extra side panels in case I need them.

Oct 17 2010

Algae growing in Sherman

Sherman’s fuel gage has started to give me problems.  It worked fairly well when I had a full tank of fuel, but now that I am getting low (I haven’t gone to a gas station since June 15th… 4 1/2 months) it is acting a bit flaky.  I did a bit of research and think it might be a bit dirty.  Gotta love the Internet and an old car which is very easy to fix. 

I found out the fuel sender is actually accessed from the back seat.  Take out the back rest and there it is hidden under a cover.  That’s probably why I never noticed it.

After dis assembly, I found the problem….  Crap.  Lots of crap which restricted the probes movement on the low end of the scale.  The gage readings now make sense considering the movement of the float was restricted on the low end.

I think it is a build up of algae (which grows in diesel fuel) and maybe some old bio-diesel and cooking oil.  Who knows.  The probe was carefully cleaned, reinstalled and everything is working great now.

Gotta love old technology.  Simple, it works (most of the time) and is repairable.