Monday 31 October 2011


I'd been having some starting problems recently, which I traced to the starter solenoid.

I replaced the starter motor (and solenoid) and that's solved it. It turns over much faster and catches immediately.

Winter starting can be a bit tricky when using vegetable oil as a fuel, because it is quite thick and needs a good strong pressure to pump it through, especially when the weather is cold.

In winter I put an additive called Coldflow 350 into the fuel, to prevent it freezing or waxing. I've just started putting it the tank again for this year, in case we have a cold snap.

Tuesday 31 May 2011

Four years of vegetable oil motoring

It has been four years since I bought the white Mercedes 190D known as Grease Lightning.

Since then, the car has been driven, powered by vegetable oil, to
- Croatia (via Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia)
- Glastonbury festival
- Lands End, Cornwall
- Swansea
- The lake district
- Lots of other places around England

The mileage today is 156,417. In the past four years, the car has covered over 22,000 miles on 100% vegetable oil, plus a few extra miles on the rare occasions when we put some dinosaur juice in the tank. Most of vegetable oil was filtered waste oil, which is pretty good from an environmental perspective. I'm sure a previous owner ran it on vegetable oil too, so the car's total veggy mileage is probably much higher.

Not bad for a car that cost just £200!

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Apologies to Ramsgate

I took a nice trip to visit a friend in Ramsgate at the weekend.

It was a good trip and the weather was lovely, however...
When I set off home, the car was very low on power and I ended up crawling along slowly for a while, particularly the uphill sections. Sorry!
I tried replacing some of the fuel tubing and bypassing the pre-filter, but that didn't fix it. A miles or two later, I replaced the main fuel filter, which solved the problem and I was on my way again at full speed.

I had only replaced the filter a few months ago. This indicates that a batch of fuel that I had previously filtered at home was not filtered as well as I thought it was - I'll be checking the next batch more carefully.

Changing the main filter on a 190D only takes a few minutes, assuming you carry a spare, but it can be messy. The trick is to wrap a plastic bag round the old filter before you slide it out. It is also a good idea to pour some fuel into the new filter, as the car won't run until it has turned over enough times to fill the filter.

Friday 8 April 2011

The sun is shining, the weather is sweet. Makes me want to move, my filtering setup.

I recently got a nice 40L batch of waste oil. I filtered it through my 1 micron filter sock and used it to collect my folks from Luton airport. Not sure the airplane part is particularly eco but at least the journey back was.

I wanted to blog something about filtering in changeable weather that nobody seems to address, it may be that it simply isn't a problem but it bugs me nonetheless. As we all know the used veg picked up from restaurants contains a certain amount of different oils and fats from the food its used to cook. As long as these oils and fats are free from chips and fish heads the car actually seems to run quite happily off them as long as they are liquid enough.

The problem is that if I filter when the weather is nice and hot some of the fats that get through may be less than liquid by the time they are sat in my fuel tank on a cold morning. I would have thought this would increase the risk of clogging filters when you first start up and the tank is cold. I haven't actually noticed this problem myself although I do sometimes re-filter my supply if the weather has taken a dive towards the arctic. I do feel my theory is correct but wonder why nobody seems to have problems.

Monday 17 January 2011

Itchy feet

Both cars have survived through the winter well and are looking forward to a veggie year ahead. After a couple of airplane based holidays since my last veggie trip I am starting to get itchy feet again and feel another expedition may be needed. It may of course turn out to be some form of foot fungus but for now I will assume its the urge to travel.

I haven't decided where yet. I think I may break with tradition and not go to Croatia, lovely as it is. Somewhere in Europe I would imagine.