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Wednesday
May032006

You want Fried with that?

231239-329829-thumbnail.jpgThey came from near and far, to Yorktown, New York, bringing their vegetable oil-running diesel-engined cars...for Greasestock - "Three days of Grease, Pork and Peace". The cars are fitted with two tanks, one for diesel, one for vegetable oil. You start with the diesel and then switch over to the vegetable oil - or "greasel" as it's called. The exhaust apparently smells just like french fries. The veggie-oil can be had for free, courtesy of your local restaurant. All you need do is filter it.

"I don't know if it was a vision from God, but when someone told me you could run a car on vegetable oil, I knew I had to do it," says Dave Kandel, who drives a 1985 Mercedes 300TD, with a sign on the side that says: "Refueled at Rosie's Pizza." Don Wilson, who drove all the way from Philly to attend the event comments: "I've found that Italian places tend to have the best grease, and Chinese places are real hit or miss ... I've seen some places whose grease makes me re-think whether I'd want to eat there."

It can cost about $2,000 to convert a car to veggie-oil, using kits available on sites such as greasecar.com. After that, you have to be willing to filter the grease, which can "get messy, and unless you're really conscientious about your filtering, you can face a clogged engine or a stalled car periodically."

What kind of person would want to do that? "I've had people in their 20s, people in their 80s, doctors, tree-huggers -- there's no particular stereotype," says Wally Little, who says he's converted "about 150 engines for vegetable use." He adds: "It gets busy whenever oil prices come up. Normally, I get maybe 10 inquiries a week. Last week I had 50 or 60."

Jonathan Pratt, who drives a Ford pickup, figures he's saved six grand over the last year. And, of course, "the geopolitics is right -- you get your energy from the local pizza parlor, not some Middle Eastern oil colossus." But while the interest may be new, the concept is not: "... When the German inventor Rudolph Diesel came up with his high-compression engine in the 1890s, one of his thoughts was to run it on vegetable oil."

from reveries.com

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