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Old 12-25-2014, 02:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Efficiency nut for 35 years, now into biofuels as well

Long time lurker, first time post. As a matter of introduction, I've been into fuel efficiency since the late '70s and the second oil embargo. My first vehicle was a '69 Ford van. I converted the 240 inline six with 3 on the tree to a 302 V-8 and a C-4 auto. When oil prices skyrocketed in '79 while I was in college, I started looking at ways to increase efficiency. I was running longhand cost-benefit analysis of modifying for economy. Intake, 4bbl carb, headers, larger duals... yes, more performance but better economy when drive correctly. My goal was and still is a 36 month payback.

Back then I had added a vacuum gauge and drove by it religiously. In '80 or so, I even added an aftermarket computer that was supposed to give instant and average mileage. High tech for back then! It looked neat with the blue LED readout and backlit numeric keypad... but didn't work that well.

Now, my main ride is an '02 F-250 with the 7.3 and 3.73 rear end. New, I got 19.5 to 20 mpg with a high of 23. These days, even with 335,000 miles on the clock, I still can touch 20 mpg if the conditions are just right but average about 18- 18.5. Even running on free fuel, I check my fuel mileage every tank.

For over a decade I've been running used cooking oil (heated two tank system) as well as some biodiesel and veg oil blends. I hope to regain some of that fuel efficiency loss when I replace the exhaust up-pipes, rebuild the turbo and install a turbo back 4" exhaust. No chip... but someday. Living in the south, I'm going to delete the EBPV (Exhaust Back Pressure Valve) which closes off the exhaust at idle to warm up the engine when cold. Will switch to synthetic in the diff, too. Parts bought, just waiting on me to start wrenching.

Next in line is my '95 F-150, 4.9l six, 5-speed OD Mazda trans and a high 2.xx ratio rear end. I have no idea how many miles are on this truck but I get 15 mpg around town and 19 if I behave on the highway. For contrast, my brother drives it and it gets 15 mpg on the highway. The nut behind the steering wheel is the biggest variable.

My plans for this truck include a wood gasifier and rebuilding the engine for higher compression. The mods needed to optimize running woodgas are the same for straight alcohol... raise the compression and bump the timing. My goal is to have this truck run exclusively on fuels that I can make, namely wood and straight alcohol. Just for the record, I detest E-10.

While my brother needed to use my F-150, I bought a "beater" that has turned out to be a keeper: '82 VW Rabbit diesel, 1.6l, 5 speed, naturally aspirated. 145,000 miles but it hasn't been driven much in the past decade. Slowly but surely, I'm seeing the economy come back from the high 30's to 45 mpg on the last tank.

I run my company off the grid using a diesel generator for power. I have a small amount of solar power but find it doesn't meet my 36 month ROI mindset. I have an '85 F-350 flatbed with the 6.9 diesel, 4 speed and what must be a 4.xx rear end. No tach but that thing is screaming at 65 mph.

Just recently, I was given a Perkins 4.236 diesel that for the past 30 years was in a late '70s Ford F-100 4x4. It came out of a mid-'60s vintage Massey Ferguson combine. Top end in the pickup wasn't much but it got 26 mpg. The owner swapped the 236 cubic inch/3.9 liter 4 cylinder diesel back to a gas burner 300 six cylinder and gave me everything related to the Perkins... radiator, cross member, bell housing and adapters to run a Ford transmission. I'm toying with putting that diesel in the F-350 (with a body swap for something out of the '40s or '50s). The mpg-nut in me is thinking about a Ford Ranger, Explorer or Bronco II.

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Old 12-25-2014, 02:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 12-25-2014, 03:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you. I started running veg oil primarily because I couldn't afford diesel as it pushed closer and closer to the $5/gallon mark. Besides, I'm in the chemical business doing industrial cleaning. We've been recycling our waste oils as fuel for decades.

I'm all for the US Oil Patch but if our economy ever hits the big RESET button, I want to have Plan B not just on paper but out in the driveway.

As for ethanol, I really like how cattails can clean up the water (bioremediation) plus make more fuel per acre than corn. Sunflower makes great biodiesel and the seed cake from pressing the oil is wonderful animal feed.
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Old 12-25-2014, 04:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Very interesting life experinece and well condensed. Merry Christmas and welcome aboard. The waste oil heater in my old shop is still going strong. Probably 20k gallons of waste oil has passed through that heater. Everything you could imagine, motor oil (including synthetic), cleaning solvents, brake fluid, atf, gear lube, but no antifreeze.

My first economy car was a 59 bug eye sprite. Pop taught me efficient driving from the beginning. He used to land his B17,after a mission, with 100 or more gallons more fuel than the rest of the squadron. Every gallon was precious considering there were alot of poeple shooting at you, even with self saling tanks.

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Old 12-25-2014, 07:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Do you have a "store bought" waste oil heater or shop made? I bought a set of plans from Murphy's Machines - Construction Plans For BioDiesel Processor Systems, Waste Oil Heating[/url], a guy I know of through the WVO boards, and plan on using some of the hundreds of gallons of waste motor oil I've been saving up.

Years ago, I heated my shop with what I called "glop logs". I'd take the veg oils and fats that wouldn't make good fuel and mix it in with wood chips and sawdust. Then, I'd take a carpet roll core, heavy cardboard. Pack in the oily sawdust, fold over the ends and bingo... glop logs. They burned well in a double barrel wood stove, parts bought from Northern Tool.

My next plan is to use an open top drum on the top of the two barrel heater and mount a coil from a hot water pressure washer inside. I'll pump water or coolant through the coil to a radiator with a fan blowing through it for pretty much free shop heat.

For sure, your dad knew it better than anyone with a B-17, especially if he flew over the Channel. It's like driving for economy... always thinking three steps ahead. It's like UPS saving both hours and fuel by encouraging their drivers to only make right turns. Planning ahead, they avoid sitting there waiting on traffic to turn left. Doing that, your vehicle is getting 0 miles per gallon!
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Old 12-26-2014, 09:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The heater was a commercial model called "Clean Burn" (if my memory is correct). It used a large injector, electric spark and preheated pressurized fuel delivery. The flame was directed at a large "frying pan" shaped ceramic pan diffuser then it ran through a heat exchanger.

It lost so little heat for it's 175k btu capacity that I could stick my hand in the exhaust pipe and hold it there indefinitely, while the direct flame would have absolutely fried my hand in a second. We had the company clean and service the unit yearly.

The shop was an old building built in 1946. At first if had no insulation, but we added a drop ceiling and insulation. It was originally equipped with gas pumps out front (long gone whenI got there) was actually a Willys dealershipin the 1950S.We found neon signs in the attic advertising the "Aero Lark" and "Aero Ace" models.

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Old 12-26-2014, 12:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddT58 View Post
For over a decade I've been running used cooking oil (heated two tank system) as well as some biodiesel and veg oil blends.
I have been favorable to biodiesel for a long time, but sometimes I get me thinking about advantages of running vegetable oils (either pure or blended with some animal fats) as fuel to avoid the energy expense and the cost of the chemicals involved in the biodiesel brewing.
workaround ideas to discuss among friends: Should we rather use pure plant oils instead of biodiesel?


Quote:
Next in line is my '95 F-150, 4.9l six, 5-speed OD Mazda trans and a high 2.xx ratio rear end. I have no idea how many miles are on this truck but I get 15 mpg around town and 19 if I behave on the highway. For contrast, my brother drives it and it gets 15 mpg on the highway. The nut behind the steering wheel is the biggest variable.

My plans for this truck include a wood gasifier and rebuilding the engine for higher compression. The mods needed to optimize running woodgas are the same for straight alcohol... raise the compression and bump the timing. My goal is to have this truck run exclusively on fuels that I can make, namely wood and straight alcohol.
Woodgas sounds interesting, and it can use virtually any dried agricultural residue, and the leftover ash can be used to reduce the soil acidity in order to enhance the sugar content in some crops, which is useful for ethanol brewing.


Quote:
While my brother needed to use my F-150, I bought a "beater" that has turned out to be a keeper: '82 VW Rabbit diesel, 1.6l, 5 speed, naturally aspirated. 145,000 miles but it hasn't been driven much in the past decade.
It's a die-hard little ride, and can stand decently to some single-tank WVO setup.


Quote:
I have an '85 F-350 flatbed with the 6.9 diesel, 4 speed and what must be a 4.xx rear end. No tach but that thing is screaming at 65 mph.

Just recently, I was given a Perkins 4.236 diesel that for the past 30 years was in a late '70s Ford F-100 4x4. It came out of a mid-'60s vintage Massey Ferguson combine. Top end in the pickup wasn't much but it got 26 mpg. The owner swapped the 236 cubic inch/3.9 liter 4 cylinder diesel back to a gas burner 300 six cylinder and gave me everything related to the Perkins... radiator, cross member, bell housing and adapters to run a Ford transmission. I'm toying with putting that diesel in the F-350
The 6.9 might be more suitable to run on biofuels than the Perkins, since the IDI makes it more resillient to use WVO. But it doesn't mean that the Perkins would be any bad at all.
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Old 05-07-2015, 03:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Just an update on the Rabbit diesel. I haven't done anything beyond keep tire air pressure up, change oil and all filters. The air filter is tough to get to and got put off quite a while. A fresh paper air filter made a big difference! Almost eliminated smoke at startup. Not bad before, even less now.

Also, on a recent all-highway trip from north Arkansas back home (some hills, few towns) I noticed my speed was higher on the GPS than on the speedometer. Tests over 100 miles showed a 5.7% error. That means my fuel economy is better than I first thought.

When I bought the Rabbit, it got around 40. A clean air filter and cetane boost brought the economy up to the mid-40's. This last trip, adjusted for odometer error, I got 51.3mpg!!! No AC, just taking it easy at 55 to 65mph.

One difference is the refineries may have switched to summer diesel. Winter diesel costs me about a mile to the gallon on my 7.3 Powerstroke but I can more than make that up by using a cetane booster from the automotive dept at WalMart.

As I recall, this car was only rated for 51mpg new. And here it is 33 years later, my little $1200 car is just sipping the fuel! And the AC works! I'll give up a few mpg to stay cool.

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