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Appalapagus 01-15-2015 06:48 AM

Is WVO cost effective versus conventional diesel?
Hello and a warm greetings to you all from Florida! :D

I am currently in the market for a diesel skoolie with ideas of RV style conversion and utilizing WVO as main fuel source. I've read extensively, however not all inclusively, regarding the pros and cons of WVO. However my biggest kick in the arse came from a conversation I carried with a 30+ year diesel mechanic based out of Tampa, FL...

He claimed that WVO wasn't worth it! Here are some of the reasons why:

1a. The cost of proper filtration and preparation. He focused mostly on the cost of adding a lubricant to the WVO so that it wont gunk up fuel pumps...(true or false?)

1b. If WVO isn't proper prepared your fuel pump will not be repairable due to an excessive amount of gunk (sludge, buildup, etc.) and a new pump (+$3000) will have to be purchased.

2. Unless you have extensive diesel mechanic knowledge, be prepared to pay $1000 - $2000 for each breakdown (this b/c I plan, and hence mentioned, living on the road).

How legitimate are these concerns regarding the fuel pump and necessary lube additives? I am going to look at a 1990 Bluebird with 1st Cummins 5.9 soon; these concerns apply?

*Side note what engine is best to circumvent these concerns?

Thanks everyone!

cowlitzcoach 01-15-2015 08:38 AM

WVO is a nice idea but it has some serious pitfalls.

First, the supplies of free or next to free WVO is becoming fewer and farther between. One company in the Portland, OR area is now leasing fryer oil to companies--the users pay a fee to use the oil and any shrinkage. The company then picks up all of the used oil to be reused by their fleet of trucks. Remember, it is one thing to go to a McDonald's with your 5-gallon bucket to get enough WVO to run your VW Rabbit or Mercedes-Benz 300D and showing up with a 100-gallon tank. Your bus will use more WVO in 500 miles than a Rabbit will use in 2500 miles.

Second, you will need to plumb in a second fuel tank to hold the WVO complete with shut off valves and heaters. Most WVO will turn to a solid or the next thing to it at a much lower temperature than diesel. One study showed that palm oil starts to cloud up at 60*. You will need to have some sort of shut off valve that will allow you to run on diesel before you shut down so that when you go to start the next time you are starting on diesel instead of WVO.

Third, however you plumb the WVO system in you will need to have some sort of filtration system to filter out the pieces of fries and leftover McNuggets that sink to the bottom. Eventually you will need to filter down to less than 10 microns to get the WVO clean enough to not clog up pumps and injectors.

Fourth, your Cummins will not like WVO. A Detroit Diesel 2-cycle will run on just about anything if you can get it to fire. The pump and injectors can handle other fuels besides diesel #1 or #2. Most other diesel engines, particularly 4-cycle diesel engines, don't like WVO.

There can be some confusion in conversations when discussing WVO and biodiesel. They are similar and can contain some of the same stuff. The big difference between the two is biodiesel has the bio part already mixed into the fuel. The chemical that keeps the bio mixed into the diesel is hydroscopic and keeps the water mixed in rather than letting the water settle out into the bottom of the tank--hence the reason why so many water seperators look like they are full of mocha instead of fuel with water at the bottom. If you don't use a fuel conditioner to seperate out the water and add lubricity back in when you use biodiesel you will be having pump and injection problems. I know of one school district in OR that was losing at least five pumps or injector problems every year until they started using a fuel conditioner. That particular district is being required to run 20% biodiesel.

WVO doesn't have all of the same lubricity issues that biodiesel has but using a fuel conditioner to keep it from gelling in cold weather (cold defined as anything less than 60*) will help to keep things running.

I was all hot to trot and was just minutes away from starting the process to install a WVO system on a bus that was on a daily route running 200 miles per day. That is I was until I did the math.

That particular bus got about 7 MPG. Which translates into almost 30 gallons per day or over 200 gallons per week. In order to supply the bus with enough WVO I would have had to purchase a truck with a tank and a pump to go out and get enough WVO to keep things going. I would then have had to build a filtration "plant" to process the WVO before I could pump it into the bus tanks. All told my initial investment to keep one bus running on WVO was going to be well in excess of $20,000.00 (and that was using used, surplus, or scrap materials). And as a commercial operator not only would I still be liable for all of the road taxes but they would find a way to collect them. As a private operator the odds of the tax man catching up with you would be slim to none.

I am not purposely trying to rain on any person's parade. I think utilizing a waste product to produce something is a great idea. But I think using WVO in a bus is a fool's errand.

Just my two cents worth.

Good luck and happy trails.

jazty 01-15-2015 09:12 AM


Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach (Post 97713)
Fourth, your Cummins will not like WVO. A Detroit Diesel 2-cycle will run on just about anything if you can get it to fire. The pump and injectors can handle other fuels besides diesel #1 or #2. Most other diesel engines, particularly 4-cycle diesel engines, don't like WVO.

The 7.3l T444e (also known as a PowerStroke when placed in a Ford) works great with WVO. I'd be surprised if you'd notice a power difference between a stock 5.9l Cummins and a stock 7.3l, though the Cummins are easier to work on, I've heard.
Here's a chat about that:
and running WVO in them:

From that last article:
"The Ford Powerstroke Super Duty 7.3L (built by International / Navistar) has some unique advantages that set it apart for alternative fuel usage. First is the fuel injection system. These engines do not contain an injection pump. Instead they have an injector at each cylinder that uses high pressure engine oil to pressurize the fuel for injection. The injectors are fed by a fuel rail that is cast directly into the head of the engine. This is an advantage because this fuel rail acts as an extremely good final heat exchanger. This design also allows a configuration of check-valve's to control which fuel you are using. It also enables the use of an extra valve to purge the vegetable oil from the head at shutdown, reducing the purge process to only a few seconds instead of the 10-15 minutes or more required by some engines."

jazty 01-15-2015 09:17 AM

It should be noted, though, that both the T444e and 5.9l Cummins are small engines for a bus. They'll get you around, but you won't be squacking the tires..

Appalapagus 01-17-2015 11:10 AM

Thank you to all of you who've responded thus far!

@jazty Good warning on that note; I've been informed that the Cummins 5.9 is a sort of generalist motor housed in many different types of vehicles with multiple purposes...Truth may be that the motor won't pull a bus plus 4-6 ppl and the additional weight from interior modifications well. I'm going to top out the 5.9 Cummins on highway today and see how much juice the ol' girls got left in her.

@cowlitzcoach What can I say, so much information to decipher; thank you. I will chew on that for some time.

Rayzer69 01-26-2015 05:09 AM

So... how did the drive go?

Appalapagus 01-29-2015 04:48 PM

@Rayzer69 Thanks for asking. The bus was awesome! Was the first time I'd actually driven a large school bus so was tons of fun. My spidey sense did fire when I popped the engine hood to find little rat treats hanging out on the Cummins...The bus started up great cold, drove excellently, and everything seemed to work well...but then I got under the bus...

Found diesel oil leaking like a motha. also noticed the air brakes continued making a hissing noise couple times a minute while parked (no using brake). And the engine had tons of exterior rust; though nothing beyond cosmetic but either way. also found a fresh tranny leak at the bottom, though it appeared to shift beautifully...

So at $5000 I felt like this might not be the bus for us; after networking with this mechanic Dave who claims "I was just like you when I was younger" I've learned that work on diesel engines cost $$$$$. Not the same as the Civic I just rehauled for under 2Gs. But hey, the test drive and experience were close to free and worth tons!


Veganvegabond 02-01-2015 02:06 PM

So, anyone have any experience converting a DT466 for running on WVO?

brianernstmusic 03-02-2015 08:35 PM

Hey There.
My wife and I converted a DT360 a few years ago.
We ran it around the country pretty hard. Did about 57,000 miles on it before I had to do an engine overhaul. We just bought a 1994 Thomas Vista with a DT466 in it. I'm going to be converting the bus myself in Ohio the first week of April.

I rekon it is very similar to the DT360. I took pictures and video of myself installing and removing the WVO components off the DT360. When we convert in April, I plan on doing pictures and video of the process.

When are you trying to convert?


Brian Ernst Music - Home

Outcast 03-03-2015 05:12 AM


Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach (Post 97713)
WVO is a nice idea but it has some serious pitfalls.

First, the supplies of free or next to free WVO is becoming fewer and farther between. One company in the Portland, OR area is now leasing fryer oil to companies--

Here in the south east, which would include the northern parts of Florida, there is a company called "Carolina Biodiesel" that has contracted almost all of the chain restaurants as well as the mom & pop shops so you will find it hard to get ANY free or cheap WVO for your bus. I was halfway into building a personal setup for making biodiesel when I started checking my local "supplies" and found out that I wouldn't be able to get enough oil to make it worth the time and trouble. Once again, big money squeezing out the little guy, and making it sound like they are doing us all a favor in the process!

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