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Letter Re: Photovoltaic Versus Diesel Power Generation for Retreats

Hi Jim,
I was a reader of Patriots before the [Y2K [1]] rollover. Thank you!. Here in the Northern New England, I made the same calculations, and decided to stockpile off road diesel and kerosene. The other major component is used vegetable oil, usually available free from restaurants, who otherwise pay to have it hauled by a recycling outfit. My 20 h.p. [2] Listeroid diesel runs fine on waste vegetable oil (WVO [3]). So does the 13hp Hatz backup generator, along with an ’85 Diesel Suburban and ’82 Diesel Rabbit. Filter the big stuff out using more coarse filters like a pillowcase. Filter the remaining fines through a good fuel filter, like a Racor, which should last at least hundreds of hours (2,000-3,000 miles.) I prefer the toilet paper filters available from Gulf Coast Filters or Franz. They absorb and trap water, filter to sub-micron levels, and cost two bits to replace. Remember that older diesel injection pumps were not designed for very low lubricity fuel like the Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel which is now mandated country-wide. Put some motor oil or veggie oil into your diesel tank to make your injection pump last. If you have a pump rebuilt, specify stainless (Arctic) components. They wear much better. Finally, if you’re relying on your gennie or diesel vehicle in a post SHTF [4] era where lubricants may be scarce and expensive, filter your crankcase oil through a bypass filter. The same toilet paper filters work great. Use soft Charmin for fuel filtering, and 1000 sheet rock-hard Scottissue for crankcase oil. You can also burn used crankcase oil in your diesel engines. Just filter it first. Around here, it’s not legit to transport “waste” crankcase oil over the road, since it’s an environmental hazard, so I only move “used” crankcase oil. 😉 Be sure to store in quality tankage. You don’t want the stuff in your ground water! I drive slow and carefully. Regards, – David T.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sharing your knowledge, particularly on WVO [3]. OBTW, you mentioned burning a mixture containing used crankcase oil in your diesel engines. That will indeed work, but keep in mind that used crankcase oil has been documented to be carcinogenic, because it contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH.) [5] So use great care to not let any of it touch your skin when transporting/handling/filtering/dispensing it.