Hi folks, today’s story is written by Chris. It will be fascinating and useful if you are considering running your car on dirty oil from fish and chip shops. But that’s not where everybody is at. So there are pretty pictures for everybody else. Enjoy!
We were inspired by Charlie McGee, Harry Jakamarra and Blue Print Adventures to consider converting our diesel bus to run on Waste Veggie Oil (WVO) and we started our research. What type of engines can run on WVO? what modifications need to be made to our Isuzu engine? What parts do we need? Do we design our own solution or do we buy an off-the-shelf kit? Who can make these mods or shall we do it ourselves? Where and how do we source WVO? How do we clean the WVO? And who can we talk to about all this?
I had a mentor
As a mineral processing engineer come school teacher, installing an alternative fuel system was not going to be easy. However my inner handy-man has been growing these past 4 years. Living in a 48 year old bus demands that either you buy plenty of useful tools and learn lots of handy-skills or you pay others lots of money to maintain this crazy and funky house bus. I’m really glad that I chose the former and I’m loving the tools and the how-to YouTubes. OK, back to the veggie oil conversion, I had lots of questions and needed lots of answers and I love learning from people who have been there and done that and I love learning face-to-face.
So I attended a few club meetings at the Western Australia Renewable Fuels Association (WARFA) and was fascinated by the stories and advice offered by this eclectic group of tinkerers and problem solvers. I was taken under the wing of an experienced WVOer – and Tim has been a huge support and source of great advice throughout.
Can our Isuzu engine run on WVO?
Yes, but we’ll need a fuel system to start-up and shutdown on diesel and only switch to WVO when the engine and WVO is at temperature. Our Isuzu 6BG1 engine from 1988 is a direct injection engine which means we need to ensure the injectors are clear of WVO at engine shut down so they don’t gum up and cause engine trouble.
OK, it would be simpler and safer if we had an indirect injection diesel engine but at least our engine is in good condition, has few kms it has a Zexel make In-line Bosch A type injector. The other great thing is that our bus already had two 160L fuel tanks on board to work with, one for WVO and one for diesel.
If you want to know if your engine can run on WVO, feel free to ask me in comments or read this simple article from the experts at Elsbett.
Better still, talk to an expert like Alexander Noak from Elsbett in Germany or Dirk Groening from 4x4Outdoor in New South Wales.
Design your own system or buy a kit?
I admire the thoughtful WVO system design by Sam and Clara at Blue Print Adventure; Sam has extraordinary mechanical talent and has been a successful tinkerer for years. I on the other hand needed to pay for the confidence of system designed by an expert and delivered in a kit that was going to work correctly and protect my engine. I chose this kit from 4x4outdoor; I had a good conversation with the manager at 4x4outdoortuning Dirk Groening and wanted the support of a guy in a shop in Australia. Here’s the link showing the ATG WVO kit. And here’s the plan.
The ATG WVO kit and system contains two 3-way valves, a heat exchanger, an optional pump, two thermostats, fuel lines and electrics to control it.
Expert installer or DIY?
Like most bus projects, I chose to DIY.
When we replaced our Bedford 466 engine with the Isuzu 6BG1, I hired a brilliant diesel mechanic and friend to do most of it. And to my surprise one day he said “Chris, I’ve finished. You can do the rest yourself; the clutch, the accelerator, the air brake lines, the electrics, the dash board. The more you do yourself, the more you’ll know how to fix later.”
Yikes! Of course he was right and I took time off work and made use of his workshop and tools for the next two weeks. It was a turning point in my mechanical confidence and aptitude. So I applied the same logic to the veggie fuel system – I’ll do it myself!
How to clean the WVO?
Veggie oil users clean their oil by filtration or centrifuge. Filtering to 1 micron is requires space, filters drums and patience – while centrifuging requires power. While I like the simplicity of filtering, I opted for a this Raw Power centrifuge from WVO Designs because filtering in our bus on the road would likely prove very tricky.
In addition to the centrifuge, we picked up the inline heater, a 12Vgear pump for collection and a fuel bladder to store crude veggie oil.
I’m comfortable with things that spin fast and I’ve played with many centrifuges to separate minerals in processing plants. Homer says everything tastes better on a pizza. I say everything separates better when you spin it fast.
The ATG WVO kit arrived from 4×4 Outdoor Tuning and the centrifuge arrived from WVO Designs. Now all I need to do is build the centrifuge, plan where to mount gear for the veggie oil fuel system and see if our blue bus really can run on waste veggie oil. Stay tuned!!