Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tank Tales!

My friend Maya Lilly and I have been friends since we are 15. Our birthdays are the same day, my middle name is Maya and that's her first name (duh!) and we have always had similar interests. When I found out that she drives a bad-ass truck that runs on Vegetable Oil, I just had to get more info. Below is a really cute cartoon that was drawn to depict her bad-assness/environmental love and some questions I had to get answers to. I am also going to do a follow-up post with answers for any questions you all have so please leave them in the comments section!

Also, I have a link to Maya's website under the "Excellent Links" section to the right. She's an amazing actor/writer/performer so make sure to catch her show "Mixed" if you can!

Here it goes:

1) What kind of car do you drive?

Chevy Blazer K-5 military edition truck. It was on a military base most of its life, and has a touchscreen police laptop, three long-wave and short-wave radios, a PA system on the roof, and 4-wheel drive. It also has USMC emblazoned in Army print letters on the front, over the camouflage paint job.

2) what alterations did you have to make to it to be compatible with Biodiesel? How much did the alterations cost?

You can actually do this for FREE if you have a working knowledge of engines. Just buy From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank, and Joshua Tickell talks you through it. Or, you can find an operation outfitting veggie oil vehicles. Keep in mind that running your car on Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO) is different than biodiesel... it's two different processes. Making biodiesel requires NO ALTERATION OF A DIESEL ENGINE. (In fact, Rudolph Diesel designed his engine to run on peanut oil before he mysteriously *disappeared*) Straight veggie oil requires adding a heater in the engine (glowplugs) to warm up the veggie oil slightly when turning on the engine. I did my conversion through Lovecraft biofuels and it cost me $1000. For never paying for gasoline again, this paid for itself in a few months. *Note: Unfortunately, Lovecraft in LA is currently undergoing a massive lawsuit, as Brian Friedman's company was taken over in a completely illegal way by Tacee Webb. I can't recommend them at this time. They also refuse to take my cartoon down from their website, and are using it illegally. Boycott Lovecraft!

3) What is biodiesel and what do you have to do to get it?

Well, I can run my truck on SVO, biodiesel, or diesel... and can mix them in any quantity. I don't use biodiesel as often, as it requires a chemical conversion process to mimic the makeup of Diesel fuel, and takes a bit more time. I instead converted my engine so my truck can just run on Vegetable Oil. I use waste oil that I pick up every two weeks from a high-end Sushi restaurant in Japan Town, Los Angeles. We have an arrangement, and I've been picking up from them for about 3 years now. They have to pay to have the oil taken away, so I pick it up for free and they love it. Everybody wins. And I dispose of it in my truck. The utterly stupid controversy over using biodiesel (or ethanol, for that matter) completely neglects to mention all the WASTE oil in this country going unused. It could cover a whole fleet of trucks and tractors. It's like a man bitching about how to bail out a ship while its sinking... you just do WHATEVER YOU CAN!!!

4) How many miles to the gallon do you get?

Veggie oil is actually better for your engine than diesel, as it lubricates the parts and cleans all the gunk out (like WD-40). I get about the same mileage as I did on diesel. With my big truck, that's about 23 in town. The mileage doesn't change... the only people that worry mileage are the people spewing C02 into the atmosphere. The best part, though, is that my emissions are completely carbon neutral. To me, Hybrids have always been half-assed. I don't want to participate in global warming. At. All.

5) How often do you have to fill up? Can you go on long car rides?

I have my own veggie filter/fueling station in my backyard, and its really clean and efficient. When I go on long car rides, I usually just filter a little extra veggie to take with me, and research where the biodiesel stations are along the way. It's a teeny bit extra work, but I was never in this because of high gas prices. (I think it's GREAT that gas prices are high, by the way. It's encouraging everyone to do things differently, as well as showing the true cost of gasoline to the ecosphere!!!) I don't want to contribute to the end of the human species and life on earth at our own hands, and scientists are all confirming what we already know in our hearts. Things need to change, and it's worth a little extra effort.