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Old 05-09-2005, 11:29 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Annapolis, MD
Posts: 650
A Messy WVO Mistake

This weekend I set up my wvo filtering system in my shed. I originally intended to place a 5-gallon bucket over an opening in a 55-gallon drum that held a 10 micron bag filter. I figured that if I ran a short tube from the bottom of the bucket into the bag filter and put the bucket cover on, oil would only enter the bag filter when the level in the bag was low enough for air to enter through the tube. This would equalize pressure in the bucket and allow more oil to flow, until the level was over the tube, at which time the flow would stop again. A good idea except for one thing Ė the bucket lid is not an air-tight seal, as I discovered while experimenting in the kitchen (with water, thankfully). So the next refinement was to add a PVC valve on the bottom of the bucket so I could control the amount of oil going into the drum. I call it the Veggie IV.

So, I put a hook in the wall about two feet up to hang the IV bucket onto while I filled it from another 5-gallon bucket, via my 12v pump and a battery/charger setup in my shed. I hung it on the wall because the through-fitting, hose and valve hang down a couple of feet and I put the fitting in the bottom of the bucket Ė putting it in the side would have allowed me to place the bucket on the floor. All is well so far. Next, I hung the now-filled IV bucket about six feet off the ground above my 55-gallon drum and put the hose into the bag filter mounted on top. Opening the IV valve allowed oil to flow and I could hear it dripping inside. Success was mine! Or so it seemed. I allowed the bag to fill up about half way and then cut the IV drip down to what I thought was a safe level and went in for dinner. I kept thinking I should check it but I put it off for an hour. When I did check it, YIKES! There was A Substantial Amount of Oil not where it was supposed to be. Specifically on the floor. The filter clogged, the oil backed up and spilled on the top of the drum (a plastic one with little holes thoughtfully drilled near the rim to allow stuff to just flow down the side of the drum rather than pool at the top. I (smart) had put down a large aluminum water heater tray under the drum in case there ever was a spill, but forgot (dumb) to get a plug for the one-inch hole thoughtfully provided in the tray for attaching a PVC drain. The oil ran down the side and through a series of thoughtfully-provided holes, exited onto the floor and began spreading. By the time I saw it, maybe a gallon of gooey smelly oil was forming a circular 6-foot slowly advancing mess. I made what my wife said was a strange noise, shut off the IV (the bucket though was already empty) and grabbed the bag of kitty litter (smart) I bought for just such an occasion. I looked around for the oil diapers that I get at a marine store for sopping up oil, but remembered that I forget to get them (dumb). I sprinkled a bag of kitty litter on the floor and did a preliminary clean up with paper towels. After the kitty litter sopped up a bunch of oil, I bought a bunch of oil diapers and put them in the containment-pan-that-doesnít-contain-because-thereís-a-big-friggin-hole-in-it and sopped up a bunch more. Then I moved the drum (it only had about 8 gallons in it) and cleaned up the rest with simple green and a brush. Yuck.

Spill analysis:
My oil comes from a yuppie grocery store deli. All I know is that itís soy and free (I have a barrel at their place for their convenience), When I looked at the bag filter, I saw the whole inside was coated with what looked exactly like my grandmotherís turkey gravy . I scooped up a handful of the stuff (I bought a box of latex gloves Ė smart) and put it in a pan and it easily melted, so I knew it was fat that coagulated at 60 degrees. What to do? There are two ways I know of to thin grease:

1) Heat it. I donít have a bucket heater and Iím not real keen on them because they take energy to operate and Iím trying to save it. Plus, they go for about $50 on Ebay.
2) Thin it. This was the route I tried. I mixed four gallons of wvo with one gallon of kerosene and tried the IV drip with it. In less than an hour, it all filtered through. I could have done it much faster if I had opened the valve more, but my wife said it wouldnít be a good idea based on my past history.

In the future, I may have to go for a heated bucket anyway, since it gets cold here. But for now, the kero thins the oil enough that I may be able to run it straight. I may try diesel next, since it actually costs less at the pump, though it is not as thin as kero.

So now, I just need more oil and Iím waiting for Harbor Freight to deliver my barrel pump so I can get it out. (Note: I ordered a Goldenrod filter from Northern Tools ten minutes after I ordered the pump from HF. I got the filter in 3 days. Itís been nearly two weeks and no pump. HF says it can take 14 working days to ship. Thatís my last HF order.)

With luck, I should be running 20% wvo out of my one-tank-not-converted-in-any-way 300SD this week. Then the test with 50% in a week or two. At that point Iím thinking of using a cheap coolant/fuel heat exchanger to heat up the wvo, depending on how thick it looks. Or not.
1984 300Sd 210k

Former cars:
1984 300D 445k (!!) (Strider) Original (and not rebuilt) engine and transmission. Currently running on V80 ( 80% vegetable oil, 20% petroleum products). Actually not, taking a WVO break.
1993 300d 2.5 275k. Current 120/day commuter
1981 300SD 188k (Hans) Killed by a deer
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Old 05-09-2005, 11:38 AM
R Leo's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: En te l'eau Rant
Posts: 5,393 fuel is fun, isn't it? IMHO, you aren't really doin' the real WVO thing until:

• you've spilled several gallons on the garage floor...more than once!
• tracked WVO into your house more than once!
• your shop clothes smell like the backside of a burger joint
• and, you've mucked out your main filter barrel...without gloves!

I may try kero...
Most kerosene I've come across lately has been dyed red. I'd be careful about adding dyed (untaxed) fuel to my WVO just in case you were do get your tank dipped.
Never a dull moment at Berry Hill Farm.

Last edited by R Leo; 05-09-2005 at 11:47 AM.
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