Monday, May 10, 2010

My Cool Car for a HOT Planet

I wanted to share with you my eco-car choice - it's not a Prius, it's not a Smart Car and it's not electric!  It's a 1979 300D Mercedes-Benz with a very tank-ish 5cyl. 2lt diesel engine with a 100L waste veggie oil tank in the back. Her name is Chipsy Queen.

I have owned her for just over six months and it's been a great learning curve so far! I don't know a lot about the mechanics of a car although this engine is very straight-forward and easy to understand so I've been able to learn quite a bit so far! I have done nothing to the engine but have had to put about $2000 in repairs to the car - items such as front brake replacement, new calipers, new ignition switch and a few new bits and bobs here and there.  The engine has 339,400km on it - I've done about 4,000k on it - 80% of which as been on fat. The car was converted when I bought it for $1800.

There is a large 100L tank in the trunk (or boot) where the waste veggie oil goes.  The car also has its original 60L diesel tank.  The system to use the waste veggie oil is quite simple - there is a dual manual valve system under the hood with knob switches.  I start the car on diesel and when the engine is warm enough, I have a set of choke cables in the interior of the car which control the valve knobs.  I then switch the car over to fat (or waste veggie oil) by pulling the choke cable knobs.  Because it's warm enough in Perth, I usually keep it switched onto fat all day, even if the car is sitting for a period of time.  Before I park the car for the evening, I switch it back to diesel, making sure the engine doesn't have any fat left in it.

Occasionally, the car smokes a little while sitting at a stoplight and I want to hang my head out the window and say - it's okay - it's just your old french fries, spring rolls and battered fish!

The car is a tank and there is no way I'd ever get whiplash in it. Amazingly though, it gets 10L/100km both on diesel and on fat. Not bad for a 2 tonne,  31yr old car! I know it's a big car and I tried my best to find an older, diesel car that was suitable.  My other option was to buy an SUV so I think the Merc is the better choice for my lifestyle.  It's a step in the right direction for the times when I'm on able to use public transit, walk or bike.

Interestingly,  I didn't know that Arnie runs his Hummer on Veggie oil as well.  Not sure what kind of mileage that sucker gets although I commend his efforts!

If you are interested in researching this option further for your own vehicle - here are some resources for you:
Veggie Cars (Australia)
Journey to Forever (Global)
Grease Car (USA)
Golden Fuel Systems (USA)
Research paper (Australia)

Powering your restaurant on WVO

Tracy Lydiatt - B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru

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  1. Who would have thought that vintage cars can be eco-friendly? That is really nice, Tracy. With the cheaper vegetable oil used to keep it running, road trips will be much more enjoyable. And it has good mileage, too! Thumbs-up for this. :)

    Immanuel Llorens

  2. A combination of “classic” and “eco” is really a smart car choice! Fusing both isn’t as easy as the ones with the newly released cars. What’s more, it is really harder to find one. It was a great deal for a reasonable price even if you had additional expenses for its repairs.

    Stelle Courney

  3. I’m curious, what inspired you to name her, Chipsy Queen? Hmm. Interesting… :) How has it been? It’s really important that you keep learning things along with the time you spent with the various vehicles you’ve had. It’s also part of growing as a vehicle owner. :)

    Vannessa Gabbett

  4. Chipsy Queen is so cool! I really like the idea behind the veggie waste oil. It’s a great way to recycle. I hope many more car owners get to try using veggie waste oil once. ;) Anyway, I really like the vintage feel of Chipsy Queen’s exterior. Very classy!

    Miroslav Keller