Steamboat family powers truck with used vegetable oil |

Steamboat family powers truck with used vegetable oil

Blythe TerrellSteamboat Pilot & Today
(AP Photo/Steamboat Pilot & Today, Matt Stensland)Chris Voyvodic explains the alterations he made to his truck that allows him to use vegetable oil to fuel his vehicle in this photograph taken on Wednesday, May 14, 2008, at his Steamboat Springs, Colo., home.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS (AP) A faint carnival smell drifts down Chris Voyvodics driveway, teasing visitors with the possibility of a doughy funnel cake or a paper cup of French fries.No such luck at this personal trainers house. The grease-scented breeze wafts from his 2002 Ford F-250 pickup, a diesel-burning number that Voyvodic rigged to run on vegetable oil.Voyvodic, 42, a former ski bum with a wide grin and an easy manner, has always been interested in the environment. He and his wife, Clare, live with their two children in a solar-powered house.Voyvodic put the system into the truck last spring with help from his genius neighbor, Jimmy, and his son, Mason, now 5. Voyvodic is thrilled with it. So, he said, is the truck.The engine likes it way better than diesel, Voyvodic said. Diesel engines are lubricated by the fuel, and its a much better lubricant.

Voyvodic said the system cost him about $2,400. He used a kit and information from how it works: A tank in the bed holds about 40 gallons of vegetable oil. Tubes ferry fuel to the engine. The oil is heated on the way and under the hood, because oil that is too cool would ruin the fuel injectors, Voyvodic said.Vehicles that run on vegetable oil must start and stop using regular diesel fuel, Voyvodic said, so he has to fill that tank from time to time. A switch in the cab allows him to flip from one fuel source to another. When its time to shut down the truck, the vegetable oil lines must be flushed with diesel so no oil congeals inside.That also means the system is redundant, so he can switch back to diesel if theres a problem with the oil.The contraption looks complicated, but Voyvodic insists hes no automotive whiz kid. He simply has picked up a few things out of necessity.This is the nicest vehicle Ive ever had, he said. Its the only vehicle Ive ever purchased. Most every vehicle Ive ever had, Ive had to figure out how to fix because theyve been pieces of (junk).The oil Voyvodic uses is free, taken from the fryers at Rex Brices Mazzolas Italian Restaurant in Steamboat Springs. He said it works well for both parties.Its something restaurants have to pay to get rid of, Voyvodic said. It would just be going to the landfill; its just wasted energy.He praised Mazzolas oil because its pure, non-hydrogenated canola oil. The wrong kind of oil or oil with moisture in it would leave the truck in a world of hurt, he said.Voyvodic still has to filter the vegetable oil, which he does using three 55-gallon drums. He stores the raw oil in one and cranks it through a filter system to the next barrel, removing most of the particles. He cranks it through an even finer filter before its ready for the tank.He takes all of Mazzolas oil, though its more than he can use.David Reed and his 23-year-old son, Dalton, intend to use the oil from another of Brices restaurants, Rexs American Grill & Bar, for a diesel Volkswagen Rabbit they plan to convert to run on vegetable oil.Were just trying to encourage everybody to be conservation-minded in whatever way they can, cause weve all got to live in the same place, Reed said.

Due to the time it takes for the pickup to warm up, Voyvodics wife typically drives it around town. He works at Old Town Hot Springs, about six miles from his house, and would be running on oil for only the last part of that drive.Its still worth it, any time you can switch, he said. Even if its two minutes, thats two minutes youre not burning fuel. It adds up.Clare has received dirty looks when she has left the truck idling while running into the post office. It takes a bit of time to cool it down, flush it and start it up again, Voyvodic said.Shes definitely gotten some glares with that big old diesel idling away, he said. Voyvodic has been meaning to put a sign on the car explaining the fuel source Brice suggested Mazzolas gives me gas but he hasnt done that yet.The truck is perfect for long drives, Voyvodic said. The family traveled to Denver, up to Fort Collins and then to Laramie, Wyo., on half a gallon of diesel fuel about $1.20 worth, Voyvodic guessed.At $4.50 a gallon, it adds up pretty quick, he said.The oil-driven pickup also has helped him teach Mason about the environment. The 5-year-old, who has his dads bright blue eyes and a splash of freckles, helped tighten a few bolts on the truck last month.Id like there to be something left by the time he has kids, Voyvodic said, looking at Mason, who hummed as he played in the dirt. God only knows what it could be like if we dont change our path soon.When asked whether he was going to use an oil-powered car someday, Mason nodded solemnly.Yeah, he said, twirling a golf club in the mud. Cause it doesnt put off so much exhaust.

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