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July 26, 2008

Scout in hand!

Posted: 02:36 AM ET

Here we are in California. I got to lay eyes and hands on my 1978 diesel Scout for the first time after purchasing it about a month ago. I must say it meets or exceeds my expectations. I’m pretty pumped about this trip. That’s Brian Hardy, my trusty co-pilot and fellow amateur diesel mechanic and biodiesel enthusiast, standing next to the Scout with me to his left.

I want to give a big shout-out to Thom Belote and the awesome people he works with at Untangle for letting us park the Scout in their lot and letting us ship a bunch of stuff to them so we wouldn’t have to fly with it.

We got the Scout up to a roaring 60 miles an hour (hey — the engine only puts out about 100 horsepower!) and hit an electronics store for a solar panel (how else are we going to keep all this gear charged while driving and camping?)

We’ll spend the weekend prepping for hitting the open road on Monday. Check back and maybe you’ll get to see some more pictures of our awesome ride.

Filed under: environment • Road trip

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Franko   July 26th, 2008 3:23 am ET

Give US all kinds of details.
Fuel, tire pressure, cost per kwh to tire, callculated efficiency versus speed.
What statistics would a racing car manager look for ?

Independent, Hawaii   July 26th, 2008 4:22 am ET

Cody, I'll be tracking your road trip.
In your article you mentioned that biodiesel was from vegetable oil, like corn or soybeans. I just read an article in our local paper that HR BioPetroleum signed an agreement with two other companies to build an algae to biodiesel plant. The CEO said it will be able to produce 10,000 gallons of fuel per acre per year. In contrast, biodiesel from palm oil can produce 600 gallons of fuel per acre per year, and from soybeans only 48 gallon of fuel per acre per year.

I would add that biofuels from food crops are not only less efficient but adds to already high food inflation.

Maybe you can ask around in your travels if there is any talk of companies producing biodiesel from algae.

Gene   July 26th, 2008 7:44 am ET

Would also like to know the cost to convert engine, do you have dual tanks for cold weather, fuel heater, how much for solar panel, etc., etc. Everyone knows that you can run a diesel on veggie oil, but don't think you're going to get off easy. What counts is the cost, availability, etc. of all that other stuff. Including the problem with controlling bacteria in the fuel system – veggie oil turns rancid you know.

DJT   July 26th, 2008 9:02 am ET

Guys. I stumbled onto your article while reading Way to go! I'm green with envy about your trip, well, a little bit. I used to have a '68 Scout in high school and am familiar with some of the vehicle's features...or lack thereof. Be sure to give us plenty of details on your mechanical and hi-tech challenges. It will bring back memories for me. Does your Scout have a hydraulic or metal linkage clutch? Beware of the hydraulic one! Also, tell us some details on the bio-diesel conversion. And did you consider an RV wind turbine? Good luck and be safe! djt

Kip   July 26th, 2008 10:34 am ET

Squeeeeee! So excited for you guys!

S Callahan   July 26th, 2008 10:46 am ET

A little idea...grab the yellow pages in each locale and interview a green person/company....get the local take....
Wish you a fun and exciting journey and will be watching for details as well. (ps us praying people will have you covered for safety:-)

jack   July 26th, 2008 11:00 am ET

Why is it that no one seems to factor in the fact that biodiesel drives up food costs and causes more pollution by over farming and the use of fertilizers and pesticides. People in the U. S. will believe anything.

Gene   July 26th, 2008 11:29 am ET

Jack, because most people are in denial that the oil age is over. All they want is for business as usual to continue forever. Don'tcha know "Girls just want to have fun". Don't confuse Cody and others like him with the facts. .

Albert   July 26th, 2008 11:46 am ET

I like what you are trying but some are going to be confused by the statement diesel gasoline. Diesel and biodiesel are not interchangeable with gasoline . One cannot put either in a vehicle designed for the other. One either has a gasoline powered vehicle or a diesel powered vehicle.

Maureen C.   July 26th, 2008 12:51 pm ET

When Rudolph Diesel invented the diesel engine, it ran on peanut oil. Today's diesel engines can be re-outfitted to do the same, and a web search for diesel conversion kits will show that these are readily available right now. They can run on used restaurant oil, a waste product, which if discarded, is a source of environmental pollution; if burned as fuel, it's a cheaper, less polluting alternative to petroleum-based diesel fuel (and your exhaust will smell like french fries or Chinese food). The used oil has to undergo a filtering process before it can be used as fuel, and filtering kits also are available online. Both kits, as well as already filtered restaurant oil, are available in my area, and the evidence that it works can be seen in the cars and trucks on local roads displaying veggie diesel logos.

Sean from Orlando   July 26th, 2008 1:06 pm ET

We do not need CNN or anyone to test Biodiesel to see if it would work or not, one only has to look at Basil, a country that not only uses Biodiesel and has no foreign oil dependency, but one that makes it work and has made it work for some time now. This is an example for the whole world to look to. The use of Biodiesel has not just helped them with pollution in this country; it has also helped with the economy as they grow their own sugar cane for the biodiesel which created a whole industry of jobs for that country. Oil greed on the part of people who have stake in oil in the USA and other countries is what has stopped us from moving past our dependency on the LIMITED resource called oil. People like Bush whose family has stake in the oil industry has lied to the people telling them more drilling will lower prices, but this is not true at all. It would be years before we even found oil, and then speculation is what would win out in the end. Bush is simply trying to make sure he and his family can make more money through oil since he has ruined his family name, before he leaves office. That is why he wants to drill! If we were smart we would instead use this money to find other, less limited, power resources!

Sean from Orlando   July 26th, 2008 1:19 pm ET

July 26th, 2008 11:00 am ET

Why is it that no one seems to factor in the fact that biodiesel drives up food costs and causes more pollution by over farming and the use of fertilizers and pesticides. People in the U. S. will believe anything.

Because people assume that Biodiesel is only made from things that we eat and that is not the case at all, the fact is that corn and veggie oil are two rather weak forms of BioDisel, there are other forms that we can grow faster and have more power. Brazil uses sugar cane, and it does not drive up their food costs at all. The American people are seeing where this has worked in other countries and we know that if done right it does work. Anything else is just as excuse really. What is more important, providing a clean world for our children or our continued use of oil? I think that when one looks at it this way, the cost of say, sugar going up slightly (it would still be less than we pay for gas now and it is cleaner, and brings more jobs) that your argument holds little value. After all, the cost of pesticides and fertilizers for growing plants is much cheaper than the cost of drilling for oil when you think of time, research; the cost of oil drilling platforms and equipment, drilling for oil is much more costly than farming plants.

Gene   July 26th, 2008 1:51 pm ET

Maureen C. , nobody is disputing the technical details of running veggie oil, biodiesel, solar, wind, etc. The issue is that it simply cannot be scaled up to the level required to make any significant impact on the volume of fuels of all types that is required to maintain a certain standard of living, and population and economic growth that we expect. To try to ramp up biodiesel (or ethanol) to required volumes,and try to solve the problems associated with it on an industrial scale, creates a wide variety of problems with other resources, cost, and so on. Similar issues exist for all other "technically doable" alternative energy sources.

The sheer scale of the energy needed for the world to continue it's growth toward more people, more prosperity, more stuff, etc. is simply unsustainable.

The numbers are available to the public from the IEA, EIA and many other official and unofficial sources of information.

Franko   July 26th, 2008 3:01 pm ET

Good choice. Exemplfiies financial tradeoffs, for most of US.
Pay new, fuel efficient, car loan interest, or more at the pump.
We need a financial risk manager for this (looking for work, ex Wall Street ?)

Set new standards, not the HorsePower of old, but RabbitPower !
Invite a local onroute, science club to measure the power output of a Rabbit, running in a giant squirrel cage attached to a ceiling fan ,converted to a generator.

Hillaryboy   July 26th, 2008 3:01 pm ET

I have been driving on used Vegetable oil for two years now. I have no troubles with it. The conversion in my fullsize pickup was $995. Which wasn't to bad. I have a 60 gallon vegetable tank mounted in the truck box. The vegetable oil I get from local restaurants is free. So all I buy to fill my tank is a whole house water filter which cost $2.68 per fill up. I average 1200 miles per month on my truck so It's a pretty cheap drive to and from work. Nice thing is, somedays my exhaust smells like french fries, or a burrito. So it's not so bad of a change. I also have three 55 gallon barrels in my garage for backups that I keep filled up. And the pump I use to transfer the oil is a $40 pump I got from a ace hardware store. It runs on 12 DC volts.

dukejohns   July 26th, 2008 4:10 pm ET

Jack and Gene seem to loose sight of what Cody and team are doing also. They are not trying, in my mind, to find out if used vegi oil or peanut oil can replace oil on some vast scale, they seem to be using an "alternative" fuel. Alternative, as I understand the word, means "something else" not only thing else. Anything "else" that we use means less oil used and that should be good. If some people can run their vehicles on used french fry oil that means they do not have to use oil. And that used vegi oil is not dumped out.
Good sense to me...

John   July 26th, 2008 4:15 pm ET

No, it's NOT the solution, because the US makes HORRIBLE diesels, and NOT for cars. You should be using a GERMAN made diesel car or truck, but of course the stupid EPA has banned all but DOMESTIC ones because they know the competition from Europe would crush the economy and force the auto industry to collapse. Well it's already been going on with the junk they produce, so it's their own fault.

Well the Germans have done it, actually made the diesel engine for the US market to surpass the emissions requirements. Now they'll actually be removing smog from CA. And that opens the floodgates for them to sell in all 50 states beginning this year with the VW Jetta wagon / sedan, BMW 335d diesel guzzler, Audi A4 / Q7 in '09.

Next year Audi will bring their Q7 diesel SUV, you should test that one. As it is there's too many blends of fuel on the market. Just shut it down and concentrate on one formula. Diesel or 91 octane.

lorigami   July 26th, 2008 4:26 pm ET

Yay you guys! I just love that you're taking something most people throw away and using it for such an awesome adventure!

Fred   July 26th, 2008 4:31 pm ET

To the people like Jack who post on these forums: "biodiesel" does not strictly mean that the fuels comes from plants grown only for that purpose. As a matter of fact, cars/trucks can be run on used cooking oil that is processed for this purpose. Shoot these sorts of ideas down at your own risk - you're seeing the problems in the world now of doing so without looking for answers.

Brian Knowles   July 26th, 2008 4:34 pm ET

"Convert" to biodiesel? Let me explain how I converted my Mercedes 300 to biodiesel.

I drove up to the B99 pump, unlocked the cap, filled the tank on top of the diesel alread in there, and drove off. Presently my exhaust started to smell like smouldering cardboard, but otherwise, no change. Later, when the B99 guy decided his stuff was worth $6.00/ga, I changed back the same way....

You might need a conversion for raw veggie oil, but not for biodiesel..

BioDiesel   July 26th, 2008 6:21 pm ET

Check out E-Biofuels in Indiana. You guys should be visiting places that actually make the bio diesel fuels. Visit a variety of plants that use different methods and different base ingredients. Variations include soy oil, vegetable oil, animal fat and yes there is expiramention with algae.

As for the bio causing food prices to rise.....maybe the USA needs to stop exporting our grains!!! Maybe we need to pass laws that mandate the auto companies only build vehicles that can be powered by US fuels and alternatives.

marilyn   July 27th, 2008 3:55 am ET

You two are looking great. I'm really excited to hear how things go, and what kind of cool alternative energy people you'll get to meet along the way.

Franko   July 27th, 2008 4:34 am ET

Adventures of Cody with a Goatee and Brian the eco-mechanic.
Better than Trailer Park Boys. At least do uTube episodes.

I can just see it. Having spent the CNN advance on "Liquor and Whores"
Hungry, out of biofuel, time for a fillup, behind McDonald's. Free waste oil.

In the morning, over the hangup, time for walk around the Scout checkup.
Kick the pitbull amorizing the tires. Scare the Alligator sucking on the tailpipe ?

Biofuel addiction:,
Ethanol for the real animals, Cooking oil fumes for the human want to be.   July 27th, 2008 7:31 am ET

I'm with Jack and Gene
The oil age is over, we eat more oil now than we will be able to produce in about 5 years, so peak food/oil will also mean peak bio what ever.
Peak oil = peak law and order, once people get hungry we start seeing problems. Look around you folks are the shelves in the stores starting to show gaps? or larger displays? ... peak food.. just happened.
And once people stop eating Mc nougats watch the use chip oil dry up.
When you find yourself standing in tiger poo there is a good chance their is a tiger around.
Self help will be the only help soon enough

Gene   July 27th, 2008 7:31 am ET

dukejohns, I know precisely what Cody and company are doing. It's called a publicity stunt. Notice that it will not "save" anything in terms of energy. They had to fly out to CA, ship their equipment, buy a bunch of junk (that takes energy to make btw ), and then drive it all back to Atlanta – just for grins. How is that being "green"? Which is supposedly what this little joke is all about right? They could have just hired somebody who needed to drive to Atlanta anyway and had them record the trip. Or better yet, just ask any of thousands of people if biodiesel works.

Sean, Ethanol used to be known as moonshine. It's alcohol. It's not any form of diesel, bio or otherwise, and it has a host of problems. including water absorption (causes corrosion ), and low return on investment, and corn ethanol requires enormous amounts of irrigation and artificial fertilizer known as I-NPK, which is made from – wait for it – NATURAL GAS. As for Brazil, they use a lot of oil just like everyone else. Don't believe all the hype.

Jerry Pine   July 27th, 2008 1:55 pm ET

Algae is looking better than food crops for both oil and, believe it or not, ethanol. The tech for either is immature as is distribution. Private sector alone or government alone can't solve the problem. We just need to find the collective will to say no to petroleum and yes to a program on the scale of the Interstate Highway system, Apollo missions, and Manhattan project rolled into one that involves the innovation from the private sector. I'd rather pay taxes for a program like that than to continue to pay OPEC.

John   July 27th, 2008 4:53 pm ET

There's a simple solution, give your money to the Germans. They've already built and have a network of Mercedes FUEL CELL buses all over Europe. Some are in Canada, but woe be the US.

Europe is the only country actually DOING something to make a difference. The US is just not complying with the rest of the developed, cultured world.

eric anbergen   July 27th, 2008 4:55 pm ET

Why are you loosing your time to TEST a car on biodiesel, knowing that the issue is not if it works (sure, it works !!!), but the issue is that the areas on which you grow plants producing oil for cars are areas were food is not produced, with as a consequence an increase of the price of food worlwide.
The question is: a) using the land to produce food, or b) using THE SAME land to have cars running on our overcrowded motoways...

gladdoggett   July 27th, 2008 5:12 pm ET

Looking forward to following your adventure.

michael bender   July 27th, 2008 5:40 pm ET

This is a good venture if only that is draws attention to alternate fuels. Veggie oils cannot be produced in sufficient quantities to fulfill the needs of any large country.
BUT, alga is the fastest growing thing on the planet and it CAN provide the necessary amount of fuel for a large country. Go to youtube and enter valcent or just alga and you will be amazed at the potential for unlimited fuels that are non polluting and do not admit additional CO2 into the atmosphere.
Bet big oil will try to squash this one. MIT is also developing the alga for fuel concept.

Don't let anyone from big oil tell you this won't work, it already DOES.

S Callahan   July 27th, 2008 9:30 pm ET

Good point John, we know the stuff is in use...what is the inhouse US solution?
Just a thought......Should we do mass mailing to the automakers and politico?
Should we screen our new/upcoming political reps to ensure they uphold our views?
My concern is that we all want change to better the enviroment and ease the strain on our pockets/pocketbooks...yet who is listening? I have yet to see a political person with the courage to blog (with idenity) on this site, yet I know those fellows and gals read this. Who is going to have the 'real' political courage to get the ball rolling for change ( for mobility and daily living) and get it started now ?
Maybe Franko has a point...maybe this trip should be in video form... to reach the masses....

Robert   July 27th, 2008 11:27 pm ET

Another way to make lots of money. Switch to an electric engine, a hydrogen fuel cell and an electrolyzer to break water down into hydrogen and oxygen. Then you will have a vehicle that doesn't require any form of petroleum or biofuel to run It will be less expensive to run and, since exhaust from such a system is water, it will not contribute to air pollution.

David   July 28th, 2008 2:50 am ET

Brian and Cody:

With older cars like Brian's Mercedes and Cody's International with the Nissan diesel engine in it, you do have to consider one thing when using biodiesel. Biodiesel will eat away at older rubber seals in the fuel system, most importantly the injector pump. You need to change all the seals to Viton seals unless your diesel vehicle is newer than 1993 or so.

Franko   July 28th, 2008 4:41 am ET

Maybe better costumes, fluorescent CNN t-Shirt, and solar propeller cap.
Mission to interview and test knowledge enroute. (Jay Lenno style ?)

How many peanuts ,squeezed for oil, per mile ?
Carry organic chocolate and brandy, to terst which is quicker.
Want to smell my bio, pointing to the tailpipe.

Blowing in the hurricane reporting could get you wet, an escape,
Cody and Brian, given enough rope to do the Indian rope trick ?


Gene   July 28th, 2008 10:17 am ET

Here's a little something else to think about – "A man blew up his garage attempting to make biodiesel from cooking oil at his Northamptonshire home. ........................................
It is understood the man regularly made fuel from used cooking oil, which he got from his local Chinese takeaway. " .

Since it's a safety issue, no doubt the Gov't will prohibit homegrown, and sooner rather than later, everyone will be complaining about "Big Veg" windfall profits.

Gloria   July 28th, 2008 11:01 am ET

Hi Guys!

Cody . . . NO dragging Brian to or thru Roswell NM. Don't need my future grandchildren looking like aliens or having extra arms and third eyes from the nuclear waste fluttering around in the air.

We'll be watching your progress.



Pete   July 28th, 2008 11:58 am ET

I can't believe all the confusion about diesel. No wonder they never really took off in the US. First of all, there is a difference between what is commonly referred to as bio-diesel and plain vegtable oil. Bio diesel is vegetable oil that has been treated to remove the glycerine, no more, no less. If you use biodiesel in a diesel engine you do NOT need to "convert" the engine. The engine only needs conversion if you are running raw vegetable oil. Bio-diesel or vegetable oil will NOT eat out the rubber seals in a fuel system. Quite the opposite actually. It is less corrosive than petroleum based fuel oil. Those saying that bio-diesel is corrosive are confusing it with ethanol which IS highly corrosive.

As for bio-diesel depleting food stocks, that is only partially correct. After removing the oil you still have soybean meal which is the real, high protien food component that is still edible. Does Bio-diesel compete with cooking oil? Yes. But, so are other products made from soy oil like insulation, foam padding, paint base, Industrial adhesives, etc, etc. The same is true for ethanol and bio-byutenol production, but to a lesser extent. Those do compete since the starch component is used, but there still is a highly edible by-product that can be exploited especially as a feed for cattle. It is just nutritionally less efficient since you have to feed more in volume. On the plus side, it has a higher protien content per pound so you need less protien supplement, ie. soybeans.

Even if you find a different crop, it will still be competing for the limit agricultural acerage. The trick is to find some thing that can produce large amounts of plant oils that can grow on marginal land. Hemp is one that can produce upto 300 gallons/acre on semi-arrid land, but it has been illegal to grow since the 50's even though it shares none of the chemical characteristics of it's infamous cousin Cannibis. It was outlawed becase it looked to much like pot and confused law enforcement. I think it's time to rethink that one.

Jim   July 29th, 2008 1:46 am ET

Sean, Brazil does not produce biodiesel from sugarcane. It produces ethanol, which unlike biodiesel, IS a gasoline alternative.

I thought that this trip/story was pretty pointless but I agree with Pete that a lot of people seem very confused about what biodiesel is. It is NOT a gasoline substitute, it is NOT ethanol, and it is NOT pouring used oil from restaurants in the fuel tank. Any mixture of B20 or lower (20% bio, 80% standard diesel) should not require modifications. Finally, as Pete said, biodiesel is not more corrosive than regular diesel. However, biodiesel will clean out the junk that regular diesel deposits in fuel tanks and lines so depending on how long you used regular diesel you will have to keep an eye on your fuel filters.

Franko   July 30th, 2008 12:35 am ET

Interview those Greenie Aliens hidden behind secretive trap doors in Roswell NM
What stunted their growth ? Overdo the Geen Tea, is not healthy ? Drank which biofuel ? Should have stuck only to a little Ethanol ?

John   August 3rd, 2008 8:00 pm ET

You know Audi used to have a solar sunroof option to power a fan that would remove heat during the day while your car sits in the sun.

But I really think you should have used this truck.. since it just won the guinness world record for being the most fuel efficient semi in the WORLD. Which equates to double the mileage that any american pig rig gets.

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