I'm really surprised at the negative outlook on running WVO with a school bus.
My wife and I are full time touring musicians. We have been running WVO in our DT360 for almost 5 years now. We drive roughly 1000 miles/week, running over 95% veggie oil. We've had really no problems with the WVO and saved over $30,000... Call me a fool, but I rekon I would be foolish to not
be running on veggie oil.
converting a bus to run on veggie oil is not quite running on veggie oil. I couldn't find anyone on this thread who actually did it and could give an honest opinion about it.
First off, It's a real simple process. We have two 55 gallon barrels in the back of our bus. One has three 10 micron filter bags on top. We pump out WVO using a 12volt pump. (Which has a screen on the end of the hose preventing french fries and chicken mcnuggets from even entering the collection). Then we dump the grease through our filter bags and pump it into our other 55 gallon tank.
This other tank is the tank that sends the veggie oil to the engine. It is a steel drum with a hotfox
heater. This is more or less a steel tube that goes down into the tank that not only sucks the fuel out, but also has engine coolant going through it to heat up the tank.
The basic concept is this, you start your bus on diesel and then once it gets to normal operating temperature you know the WVO in your tank is hot, you simply hit a switch you install yourself (while you're driving) and then you immediately start running on WVO. You can drive around on veggie all day but before you stop for the night, say 4 or 5 miles before you reach your destination (sometimes longer depending on the temp outside) you switch it back to diesel so that the veggie gets flushed out of your lines and injectors so when you do a cold start the next day, diesel is all in the lines, and boom you start right up and start the process all over again. Simple as that.
been doing it for 5 years and I have yet to have any problems with injectors, clogging or slow performance...
Regarding the cost of filters. The filters I use on the 55 gallon tank are less that $10. If you get crap crease than these filters will go quickly. If you're snobby about it and only collect the good grease (from the top of the barrel) then they can last for months. I think we filter somewhere between 500-1000 gallons of veggie oil per filter. The next cost is the filters that (look like diesel filters) again depending on the grease you get, you should be able to easily get 1000 miles out of one of these filters. They cost about $8. Not too bad..
I think the whole bus conversion cost me about $3000. Half of which was labor, which I was able to be part of. So, I know how to do this myself. I am converting a DT466 the first week of April, so I will gladly post on here how it's going.
Just in case you are wondering, we always ask for the veggie oil. I don't bother going to McDonalds or any other fast food joint (except Dairy Queen) they, for some reason have amazing grease! Before we go and ask, we go behind the building and look in it and see if it's good grease (no point asking if it's going to clog your filters). Once we feel it's good we go around and ask.
We simply say, "Hello, my name is Brian, my wife Katie and I are full time touring artists and we have a bus that runs on waste veggie oil. Do you ind if we collect some grease from your waste container in the back? "We also say "We have our own pumps and buckets and don't make a mess."Most of the time we're told sure. Sometimes we're told no, but we've been running over 95% veggie oil for 5 years, so we get told yes a lot more times than no.
Once we collect, we have a log book of all the places we collected. We put the date, restaurant, city/state, who we asked, how much we collected and what the cost of diesel is. (Therefor we know how much we're saving). If diesel if $4/gallon and we just collected 100 gallons we just saved $400. Simple.
I've heard many people say that running on veggie oil is a terrible idea and it doesn't work... blah blah blah. These are usually people who haven't done it. Sure, it doesn't make sense for some people. Sure, if you are in a place like NYC, Portland, Denver, or any other big city (or the northeast in general) it might be more difficult to get. But we have our best luck in smaller towns. Florida, Georgia, and the Carolina's are huge for us. We collect heaps of grease down there. Places like the Oregon coast, we were there just last year and had no trouble. Don't waste your time with big restaurant chains. (Except Dairy Queen). Small mom and pop places are super cool and indian, thai and mexican places are super keen too.
The most difficult places we've found to collect would be (the big cities) and Arizona. For some reason AZ has WVO on lockdown. Boise, ID is tough too.
I hope this encourages those of you who are wanting to run WVO. The time is now to convert. Because we won't be able to do it forever (all mechanical engines are becoming more and more obsolete).
Here is a short video I made about collecting WVO in our bus.
I have other info and videos on my website: Brian Ernst Music - Home
Let me know if you have any other questions.