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Heated Vegetable Oil Fuel System Facts

Our buddy Melvin Martin sent us this fact sheet he’s written for his demonstration of his veggie powered truck at the Local Living Festival in Canton NY

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Heated Vegetable Oil Fuel System Facts

Heat in tank causes condensation/water. Water in fuel causes bacteria. Heat in tank can cause “waxing” or “drying” which = plugged pipes.

Too much heat on filter isn’t good. Diesel fuel loses its lubricity when hot. Cold vegetable oil is thick. Therefore heat your fuel only when you need to.

Injector pumps have very tight tolerances. Thick oil can seize metal with tight tolerances, especially at high speeds and pressure. Cold diesel in injector pump = cold injector pump even if the engine is hot. Hot vegetable oil pumped into a cold pump = cold oil = thick oil = possible seizing or severe wear of pump.

This truck is equipped with a dual tank vegetable oil fuel system

One tank/fuel system is designed for diesel fuel. The other one is specifically designed for running used vegetable oil.

It starts on pure diesel fuel. When it’s hot enough, it can be switched over to pure vegetable oil. A few minutes before shut-down, switch it back to pure diesel. The basis changes from original is a second tank and fuel system, and a method to switch between the two fuel systems. The vegetable oil fuel system is heated with engine coolant and has larger sized pipes and filters.


Do’s and Don’ts:

Do switch to diesel before shut-down and run on diesel on restart until the engine is fully warm. It gives easier starts, less fuel system wear from cold oil, less gumming of engine, and less gumming, sticking, and corrosion of fuel system parts from prolonged exposure to vegetable oil.

Don’t rev engine right after switching to vegetable oil until the injector pump has warmed up. Extreme pump wear can result even if the engine is hot.

Do use a strong dose of injector cleaner and lubrication fuel conditioner in the diesel system. Also consider using a anti-bacteria fuel conditioner.

Don’t spill vegetable oil without cleaning it up. In time it makes a terrible mess.

Do work the engine hard. Hard working engines run cleaner and have much less trouble with carbon buildup.

Don’t let the engine idle for extended periods of time, especially on vegetable oil.

Do enjoy the ride.

Don’t put dirty oil in your tank


The Down Side To Vegetable Oil

1. you can’t start the car or truck when it’s really cold out on it.

2. It can seize up your injector pump.

3. You have to have a diesel car or truck to make this work.


The Good side To Vegetable Oil

1. It saves you money on gas.

2. It’s fun to find out about how it really work’s.

3. Good for the diner’s to get rid off their old used oil in a good way


Can I get water from my well if my power goes out for a week?

If you have a Juczak Pump, the answer is yes! Built by my buddy Jim Juczak of in Watertown NY.

Kit includes:

No electric components!

-Stainless Steel and Brass pump parts 37 lbs total
-Cast Iron pitcher pump (innards removed & included!)
-6″ Cast Iron Well Cap
-All the little pieces needed to make the pump work as shown in photo.
-Full Instructions for easy assembly including how to check the well.

Not included:

The stainless steel 1/8″ cable a little longer than the drop pipe.
The drop pipe 100′ of 1 1/4″ water pipe (or your depth)
Good drinkable / usable water to be pumped.

Jim say’s:
This pump set-up fits best into a casing that is 6″ in diameter.
It has pumped with the piston part of the kit at 140′ depth and a
static water depth of around 40′.
I used a 1″ PVC drop pipe for testing and get around 1 cup of water
per stroke.
Could I have changed things to get more water per stroke…
probably, but I wanted the pump to function easily enough for a
young child or older person to operate it.
The effort needed at the end of the handle isn’t any more than 15
pounds or so.
This pump is guaranteed to pump water.
If you have questions or problems contact me for solutions.

Free shipping to the United States. International buyers please contact me for a shipping quote.

See your purchase, and checkout:

The Juczak Deep Well Hand Pump $599:


Deep well hand pumps, the non electric or solar option

When we went offgrid, we installed a 12v piston pump in our basement, connected to our shallow well. It had the ability to “suck” from a max of about 25′ deep. You can see this pump at

Many folks have much deeper wells, even several hundred feet. We are happy to announce that we have a non-electric deep well option. The “Simple Pump” consists of a submersible pump, operated by a “sucker” rod, that installs below the water level in your well. It’s able to push the water up to 350′, and at up to 5 gallons per minute. The “Simple Pump” can be operated by hand, but has a dc motor option that can be driven by solar direct, or by battery. It can pump into a cistern or open tank, or even a pressurized water system. You don’t need a professional to install the “Simple Pump”, it’s easily installed by the handy homeowner. Although it has a 5 year warranty, it’s designed to last more than 50 years.

The “Simple Pump” system is tailored to YOUR particular well, so there is no “Add to Cart” button.

Medium and Deep Well Pump
Hand operated or DC Motor.

Made in the USA, this durable, but simple pump is built to last! Submit a quote request at


Conserving Water

In our quest to conserve resources, and reduce expenses, we decided to capture rainwater, and install a composting toilet. The rain gutters direct roof water to a 1000 gallon concrete cistern. The cistern is connected to the house water system with a 12v piston pump. The piston pump has two sets of valves, so I can select the cistern, or the shallow well. The well goes dry in the hottest parts of summer. In order to reduce water usage, we installed a Sears front loader washer, and a waterless composting toilet by Nature’s Head. This reduced our water usage by 50%. In winter, when the rain water system freezes up, we switch back to the well, but we miss the soft water. A larger tank would allow us to use rain water all winter. The water is purified with our Berkey water purifier for drinking and cooking, eliminating the need for bottled water.


Energy Efficient Water Pumps

Piston PumpA few years ago we invested in a high quality dc pump for our offgrid
water system. It was recommended we go with a solar force piston pump
with a 12v motor. Although it is a fine pump, and is much more efficient
than our old jet pump, it was well over $1000. Piston pumps were well
known 50 years ago, and can last a century if taken care of. We have
replaced the rubbers and packing in a few of the old ones, but parts are
getting hard to find. We now have the same pump available that the solar
force is built on, brand new, and can easily get replacement gaskets and
packing, for less than half the price that Conergy (formerly Dankoff) is
selling the Solar Force. You can hand crank, pedal, or install a ac or
dc motor to this pump. 300-400 rpm is recommended.

Jim Juczak of has finished his book, The High Art of Scrounging, and his DIY Hand Powered Deep Well Pump. See for details.


Converting the Diesel Suburban to Veggie

The conversion of our ’96 Diesel Suburban to 100% used vegetable oil (not biodiesel and definitely not diesel secret junk) continues. Over the years, we have worked with a variety of parts, always fine tuning and improving the system. Here are the parts for our conversion:

Coolant heated fuel pickup / tank heater –
Heats the fuel at point of pickup, doesn’t require complete tank heating.

Electric lift pump –
Take the load off your injector pump, mount at veggie tank.

2 Heavy duty, high volume 3 port fuel valves –
The most reliable way to switch from the diesel to the veggie system. Stay away from the problematic Pollak valves.

Coolant Heated Filter –
The diesel and vegetable systems are separate, with their own filters.

Electric Injector pump fuel heater –
On startup, there is cold veggie in the lines up front and in the valves that does not get heated. When switching from diesel to hot veggie, this “slug” of cold veggie hits the injector pump first. The electric IP heater mounted right at the input of the injector pump eliminates this possibility.

PMD relocator kit –
Relocating the fuel computer module from the injector pump is a necessity in this model vehicle. There are two 500 watt transistors that produce quite a bit of heat, and the extra heat from the hot veggie is enough to give it fits.

More detail on past conversions and collecting and filtering vegetable oil can be found at


Strawberries, Veggie Oil, and Generator Conversions

Early this morning my son Matt and I headed over to the Martins. We collected 3 or so drums of veggie oil from the local college and an Italian restaurant, then headed back to the Martins to pump it into the boiler for dewatering. We also raked a few hundred feet of strawberries, removing last years mulch cover, then went back to my place to work on their website, and convert my gasoline generator to tri-fuel usage. Melvin Martin is in the process of re-assembling the oil press for the upcoming Energy Fair. Melvin checked out my work on the new 12vdc piston pump, which replaced our 120 vac jet pump. This is much more efficient at pumping water from our well, cutting our power consumption by more than half.


Adjusting Water Pressure to Reduce Energy Waste

From Conergy:

Water well pumping can be the largest load on a remote home power system. There are several ways to minimize its energy consumption. Here is another technique that applies to any pressurizing system, especially if it uses an AC pump.

If you look at the performance curve of any centrifugal-type pump (including all AC submersibles and jet pumps) you will see that as the pressure increases past a certain point, the flow drops drastically. Here is an easy way to detect this situation at the job site. Release some water, just until the pump switches on. Watch the system’s pressure gauge and observe its rate of rise (this indicates flow rate). Does it rise to a certain point and then slow way down? If so, then that is the pressure at which the pump “slips” and loses efficiency.

We had a customer in Colorado whose cut-out pressure had been set to the typical 50 PSI (pounds per square inch). As the pressure got past 40, the flow rate slowed way down. There seemed to be more than enough pressure at the faucets, so we reduced the cut-out to 36 PSI. In doing so, we cut the energy use of the pump nearly in HALF. The owner couldn’t detect a change in the water delivery but, as it was gardening season, she saw an immediate increase in the amount of energy available from her PV power system!

Why do most Americans want more than 35 PSI at their home? It’s because of undersized plumbing! Most houses in the U.S.A. are plumbed to the legal minimum requirements of the plumbing codes (1/2″ and 3/4″ pipe). At the end of a long pipe run, the dynamic pressure may be diminished by 30%. Where a house has not yet been plumbed, we recommend using one size larger than minimum, for all cold water lines.

Similarly, when using garden hose, 3/4″ hose will cause far less pressure drop than 1/2″ or 5/8″ hose. When these measures are taken, a pressure setting of 25-35 PSI will please anybody. Where a house is already plumbed, observe water delivery at the faucets. If water flow is satisfying without opening faucets all of the way, then a reduction in pressure may be acceptable.

How to reduce water pressure

Pressure adjustments are made at the pressure switch. On a standard switch there are two adjustment nuts, with a spring under each one. Turning counterclockwise will lower the settings. You will see the result by watching the pressure gauge as the pump cycles on and off. First, loosen the nut on the longer screw. This will reduce both cut-in and cut-out pressure. Set it for the CUT-IN that you desire. Second, adjust the nut on the shorter screw. It adjusts the CUT-OUT only. Cut-out pressure should be around 2/3 of the cut-in pressure.

Once the pressure is set and everyone is satisfied, reset the precharge air in the pressure tank. This will maximize its storage and minimize on/off cycling. To reset the precharge, first make note of the cut-in pressure. Now shut off the power to the pump. Release water until the pressure gauge drops to zero. Measure the pressure of the tank’s air bladder using a tire pressure gauge at the fitting on top of the tank. Set the air pressure to 2 or 3 PSI less than the cut-in pressure. Restart the pump. Finally, write down the running time per cycle. Write it on the wall, so the performance can be checked later to detect pump wear or other problems.


Skoolie Fuel Tank Removed

In preparation for the installation of the heat exchanger, we removed the bus fuel tank. This was quite a chore, since it’s been sitting in the elements for quite a few years, and the bolts and accessories were a bit rusted. Today we will clean up the tank, install the heat exchanger, and reinstall the tank. We will also install some of the electrics for his bus, including the shore power charger and transfer switch, the isolator, and the freshly rebuilt 150 amp alternator that Scott’s Auto Electric rebuilt yesterday. It needed brushes and diodes, and Jim Scott cleaned it up nicely.

The engine is a CAT 3208, and when we are finished, will have 2 fuel tanks feeding two filters (the veggie tank and filter heated with coolant), then a manual 3 port valve. That valve will lead to an electric purge/lifter pump, then the bus injector pump. The return from the injector pump then leads to a sight glass, another 3 port manual valve, and then the fuel tanks. Total cost on the parts id projected to be less than $800.

Luray, Melvin, and Tim Martin are providing the parts and welding up the filter and the heat exchanger assembly. The fuel pickup line is mounted to the exchanger to ensure that the fuel picked up is hotter than the rest of the tank, preventing the need for the whole tank to be hot before switchover. We will provide photo’s as we progress.


[Green-Trust Off Grid] Finetuning the Inverter Settings

After we lowered the charge rate on the Prosine to 100 amps from 120, to keep from tripping the 20 amp breaker on the generator, we found that when the pump kicks in while charging at a high rate, the whole house blacks out for about 5 seconds. The pump is pulling about 95 amps at 12vdc, and the charger is supposed to cut back on charge rate automatically, but the starting current of the pump is putting it well over the 100 amps maximum I have set. What I need to do is get the 240vac generator circuit to the charger, and use a balancing transformer to convert to 120 vac at 30amps, or setup a cistern with my 12vdc pump, and use the jet pump on generator to fill the cistern when rainfall has not been sufficient.

Posted by Steve Spence to Green-Trust Off Grid at 7/26/2006 07:04:00 AM