From Oakland to Argetina on Vegetable Oil
November 7, 2005 2:53 AM   Subscribe

From Oakland to Argentina in a 1981 VW Dasher modified to run on vegetable oil and biodiesel/diesel. David Moders posts updates to a message board of veggie car enthusiasts throughout his five month journey through Latin America with his wife, Mali, and son, Emilio, while trying to power his car with used restaurant grease. Here are some pictures of his journey.
posted by Mijo Bijo (19 comments total)
I stumbled upon this while looking up info on converting a diesel car to run on vegetable oil and got immediately sucked up into reading his posts about Latin America and him trying to score used vegetable oil like it was crack cocaine.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 2:56 AM on November 7, 2005

you know you don't have to do anything to a diesel car to have it run on biodiesel...if it runs diesel it will run biodiesel with no problem. for more info try here.
posted by stilgar at 3:50 AM on November 7, 2005

You have to modify a car to run on vegetable oil though. Usually a two tank setup, using [bio]diesel to get the car started and initiate a heater that will lower the vegetable oil's viscosity. After it's heated up, you're running on pure vegetable oil.
posted by Mijo Bijo at 3:59 AM on November 7, 2005

posted by Hat Maui at 4:04 AM on November 7, 2005

A great idea- a lot more environmentally friendly than the gas-guzzlers of the world. When the oil runs out, the Brazilians will rule the world. Or so my mirror tells me.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 4:10 AM on November 7, 2005

People should be aware that you may initially encounter some fuel filter difficulties after you first make the change to biodiesel. Overall however, you may be looking at a decent cost saving oon top of the environmental benefits. My colleague can currently get biodiesel at 78p/l in the UK, about 15p/l cheaper than ordinary diesel at the pumps here. Older diesel cars may require some modification though, so do take advice before you chuck it in. Once you'v got through that phase you can mix up diesel and biodiesel usage. (Useful if you can't get to your regular supply of bodiesel or if you live somwhere with harsh winters - biodiesel alone can suffer in low temperatures.)
posted by biffa at 4:19 AM on November 7, 2005

Ha! two vegetable-oil related posts in one morning? Is this a metafilter first...?
posted by derbs at 4:35 AM on November 7, 2005

I have friends that converted a 1970's vintage RV to run on Vegatable oil, and then drove it across America. In addition to having a great, cheap trip they got to visit the most wild assortment of 'greasy spoon' resturants, where they would have lunch or dinner and then ask for the leftover oil from the deep fryer. Wonderful trip and they met wonderful people.

The only reported "bad" side effect is that the RV smelled 'like French Frys' all the time from the fuel.
posted by anastasiav at 4:39 AM on November 7, 2005

I drove a 1980 VW Dasher Diesel for a few years.

That piece of shit had trouble getting from Oakland to Berkeley.
posted by zarex at 4:48 AM on November 7, 2005

biodiesel also helps to clean out your engine (thats why you may need to change filters) and because of its higher cetain value and higher lubricity it can actually get your more mpg, and make your engine run smoother. I have made several batches and i can tell you it makes your car smell like french fries, which is a damn sight better than cancer diesel stink.
posted by stilgar at 4:51 AM on November 7, 2005

B .I.O. Tour
Since June of 2003, we have logged over 25,000 miles criss-crossing the US in our vegetable oil-powered bus, with a solar-powered sound system, teaching people how to use vegetable oil for fuel, hosting workshops, distributing information and organizing in support of clean, renewable, peaceful energy.

I went to Burning Man '98 in an converted (normal petrol) school bus in a group that included one of the guys now running B.I.O. Tour.
posted by i_cola at 5:50 AM on November 7, 2005

you know you don't have to do anything to a diesel car to have it run on biodiesel...if it runs diesel it will run biodiesel with no problem. for more info try here.

Unless, of course, the engine has rubber gaskets.
posted by veedubya at 5:58 AM on November 7, 2005

I'm waiting for the first news story about two vegetable-oil-car-driving hippies getting into a big ol' fight at a greasy spoon because they're fighting over the leftover french fry grease. That's when you know you've hit the mainstream!
posted by jscalzi at 6:20 AM on November 7, 2005

Main problem with biodiesel at the moment are the farming practices used to grow the crop, huge amounts of petrochemicals are used for in the fertilizers and pesticides employed, causing untold environmental problems. Now show me an organic farm produced biodiesel (whose practices could scale to meet current demand) and I'll get a bit more excited. Something also doesn't quite jibe between the desire to live cleaner while being somewhat of a parasite to fast food (in the case of oil scavenging)
posted by zeoslap at 6:23 AM on November 7, 2005

This is interesting though, it talks about using algae farms to produce the biomass.

"Briggs estimates a cost of “$33.8 billion per year for all the algae farms to yield all the oil feedstock necessary for the entire country. Compare that to the more than $100 billion the U.S. spends each year just on purchasing crude oil from foreign countries." - impressive
posted by zeoslap at 6:25 AM on November 7, 2005

Rad! I was actually in Rosario, Argentina last year when they pulled in. I remember this being on the front page of the paper, just like it says. I always wondered where I could find more information about them. Thanks!
posted by redteam at 8:33 AM on November 7, 2005 there some reason this isn't being developed in the US?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:05 AM on November 7, 2005

Man, you can keep your biodiesel-powered Dashers. I'm holding out for a hyrdrogen-powered 427 Cobra. Or at least a propane-powered '31 Model A hot rod, so the only environmental side-effect I've got to feel guilty about is tire smoke.
posted by arto at 3:46 PM on November 7, 2005

No, I didn't, Fandango, that's pretty sweet!

In a similar vein, here's three different electric Karmann Ghias. Beyond the inherent coolness factor, I'm excited about alternative fuel and electric-powered racecars because I figure some fantastic technical improvements will come from it. After all, virtually every technology that separates a modern sedan from a (stock) Model T was developed and proven on the racetrack before it saw street use.

There's also the Electrathon sanctioning body for lightweight electric vehicles. It's a radically different approach from the homebrew conversions of standard cars--think light, spindly and with no more than 64 pounds of batteries. I imagine we'll see some battery tech innovations from that, though.
posted by arto at 9:53 AM on November 8, 2005

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