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August 3, 2008


Posted: 02:15 PM ET

The Scout is out! After two days of tinkering, we managed to coax our 1978 International Harvester Scout into making the two-and-a-half hour drive from Grand Canyon West to Kingman, Arizona. Here in Kingman, we have better access to auto parts suppliers and mechanics.


This is the latest development in a fuel-filter saga that started Friday - delaying our attempt to drive the Scout from California to Georgia using only biodiesel fuel.

Here's how we got the vehicle out of "no man's land" at Grand Canyon West: We temporarily bypassed the fuel tank and rigged a new fuel supply line to a fuel can in the back of the Scout.

But we burned through a ton of fuel during the limp to Kingman. And what's worse, before we can continue our biofuel road trip, we have to figure out how to repair the fuel filter clogging problem. We have to find someone to help us clean out the fuel tank - which should be an interesting chore on a Sunday.

Because of this delay our schedule will have to be shuffled. We'll keep you posted on what's going to happen as soon as we know for sure ourselves.

- Cody

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Filed under: environment • Road trip

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tom moriarty   August 3rd, 2008 2:55 pm ET

if you don`t have one on there, put a fuel filter sized to an 18 wheeler on there and carry a couple of spares spin ons because when they are ready to go, they go quick. also, was the fuel tank cleaned out before the trip? if so, forget this step. if the tank has a drain on the bottom, that`ll work. glycerin, i believe can also clog the filter, but i`m not 100% sure on that. if so, it`s important to get properly processed fuel. glycerin is typically 20% of unprocessed fuel. paraffin clogs `em quick as well, but that`s a cold weather issue. years ago, before additives, i would wrap the filter in a pamper in cold weather. you could also run no 1, kerosene, and run the risk of damaging an injector. lot`s of white smoke, unburned fuel, from the exhaust. kingman is a great town, enjoy it. good luck, tom

S Wright   August 3rd, 2008 3:11 pm ET

"burned through a ton of fuel"
The law of unintended consequences bites the liberal dreamer in the rear! A very nice attempt at being "green" and using biofuels actually turns out to be much, much worse on the environment. Classic leftist mistake. Silly.

Anthony   August 3rd, 2008 3:40 pm ET

If you are on I-40, get yourself to Flagstaff if you can. My brother lives out there, and the whole town is into Bio Diesel, big time. I'm about 99% sure that you can find the fuel filter you need there. If not, you got a great chance of someone who has probably run into your problem already, and probably has a solution.

Keep on Truckin,
– Anthony

Harvey Craft (West Plains,MO)   August 3rd, 2008 3:48 pm ET

Met your relatives here in MO the other day and they told me of your adventure. Here in MO I am ready to make my first batch of bio-diesel using used fry oil and processing it with Methanol and lye to obtain (good) Bio -Diesel. I hope you can figure out the tank problem with the tank. From everything i can read, the process can make excellent fuel without the problems you seem to be having. I will stay up with your progress and am willing to share any expert advice that i can if needed.


Alex   August 3rd, 2008 4:30 pm ET

This is a lame experiment. I don't know if I'm more disappointed in CNN for publishing it or in myself for having read it.

Kelly   August 3rd, 2008 4:32 pm ET

To bad it wasn’t Oregon. You could have been violated by a Sasquatch!

Johnnie Diesel   August 3rd, 2008 4:33 pm ET

Clogged filters is a serious side effect of biodiesel. I have had numerous incidents of this kind. After replacing the filter and cleaning the fuel tank, replace fuel with regular diesel. The problem will be corrected.

Johnnie Diesel   August 3rd, 2008 4:33 pm ET

I did type one, you need to fix your interface.

Gene   August 3rd, 2008 4:54 pm ET

What, are we going back to 1920? People need reliable transportation, not some piece of junk that needs to be overhauled every 500 miles, or sit for 24 hrs to charge before I can take the wife to the hospital to give birth!

That sucker better be ready to go when I turn the key. If biodiesel, ethanol, hydorgen or anything else doesn't provide equal or greater reliability, durability, range, etc. than we have with the venerable traditional diesel or gas engine, nobody is going to buy it. Get real. You want better mileage and lower fuel bills? Change the damn gear ratios.

DJ   August 3rd, 2008 4:56 pm ET

Go to any truck stop and purchase a Racor fuel filter/water separator. Install a primary and secondary. I guarantee they will stop any and all foreign material in you fuel. Not a product plug although you just might get the company to donate them, I've just had allot of experience with diesel fuel. Good luck.

Sue   August 3rd, 2008 4:58 pm ET

Give Les @ Figspeed a call, his shop is in Lake Havasu City but he is a guru and has a partner in Kingman with a custom header/exhaust shop. They are hard core racers/hot rodders but always will to help out.

The Truth   August 3rd, 2008 5:17 pm ET

sounds like poor planning and a very Inefficient way to make your "green" point.

and I must agree with Alex

Stuck in Kingman   August 3rd, 2008 6:02 pm ET

I've lived in Kingman since 1980, and you'd be suprised how many people tell me they wound up living here because "my car broke down, and I didn't have enough money to fix it, so I got a job and, well, here I am!" The dealerships here in Kingman have a HORRIBLE reputation of ripping people off for repairs, and not fixing things correctly. Especially Anderson Toyota – avoid them like the plague! Some of the smaller independant shops aren't bad. Good Luck!

James   August 3rd, 2008 6:07 pm ET

That is why I will never put anything in my fuel tank except #2 diesel fuel. I think biodiesel and other fuels are a joke and they will end up costing you more than refined gasoline or diesel.

James   August 3rd, 2008 6:11 pm ET

In the late 50,s I drove a 51 cadillac that got about 19 mpg highway driving and some of the cars today will not do that. That is what I call real progress.

Ana   August 3rd, 2008 6:16 pm ET

So, this trip is costing you as much as if you had taken a ride that runs on regular old unleaded? Perhaps you would have reached your next destination on time with a little more cash for a fill up, not to mention, a clean feul filter and hoses in tact..
But hey, whatever floats yer boat. It's all about the adventure, anyway, right?

Paul   August 3rd, 2008 6:20 pm ET

Harvey, just some heads-up items on your bio-diesel project.
Used fry oil – typically all of the eco-shows say that just filtering this oil prior to the reaction is all that is needed. Unfortunately this leaves a lot of moisture in the oil, all of this moisture will react with your catalyst and result in high soap levels in the end product.
Lye – While caustic (lye) is essentially what the catalyst originates from, the actual chemical is a result of a reaction between the caustic
and methanol. Common names for this are Sodium Methylate or Sodium Methoxide. This is extremely sensitive the the presence of water.
Other than these two things, most of what I have seen on-line and on TV will suffice for making 'acceptable' bio-diesel.
I work in a plant that can generate >100,000 gal/day of 'very good' bio-diesel

S Callahan   August 3rd, 2008 6:59 pm ET

Cody, glad you made it to a more accessible area.....won't be long before your chugging along again......
Don't give up on the journey though...this is a lets see what happens trip...perhaps the brillant minds that read this have been spending time in their garages this weekend trying to come up with solutions for you.. While figuering it out what we humans do best...make some fun in the time you have....give a vd of the area you're in...even show us the gunk..visuals always give a better idea of things......

suzee   August 3rd, 2008 7:13 pm ET

Looking for a free meal near Amarillo? Glad to give you a homecooked meal from someone who grew up with Route 66 a couple of hundred feet from my door. I watched I-40 change my hometown from boom to bust.

Bill Fester   August 3rd, 2008 7:24 pm ET

Have been following your blog/ trip. I have a similar Scout ('80, it has the same Nissan engine), and have had similar problems though I'm primarily using 50/50% WVO, not B100. The symptoms/ problems are the same.

I believe you may be cleaning up your fuel system while accelerating the deterioration of the fuel lines.

Though this may screw up the schedule a day or two more, I would recommend:
1) Adding a secondary fuel filter to the system. Mine is mounted on the firewall, is extremely easy to change (5 minutes at most) and eliminates the need for bleeding out the system before you drive the vehicle. Carry a couple extra filters as you work the crud out of your fuel system.
2) Not much fun, but if you can, pull the fuel tank, drain it by flushing it out (you can let the remains behind for someone else to filter, so it won't be lost). The biodiesel is cleaning this up for you, but by continually plugging the fuel filter in the process, it's going to take forever.
3) Finally, replace the old rubber fuel lines with new viton lined hose. This won't be affected by the solvent action of the biodiesel, and should probably eliminate any further problems.

Of course all of this may take the better part of a day (or night if you can find someone to work on it then). Shouldn't blow your production budget too badly. There should be some sort of diesel mechanic in that area to help you with the filter tank and lines, and the viton lines are fairly available. Those old rubber lines are a big problem (both of our vehicles are over 28 years old). If you consider the amount of particles of rubber that are collecting at the filter, I don't believe there's another way to overcome this.

Good luck!

Nick   August 3rd, 2008 7:32 pm ET

If you have a fuel water separator this fix has helped in many situations for vehicles I've repaired with tanks full of sludge. run it out of fuel, salvage what's left in the tank and stick a garden hose in the fill tube for about an hour, letting it drain out the main line. whle it's flushing, have someone jump on the running boards every now and then to slosh the water around. then dump some rubbing alcohol in the tank and slosh that around to help dry it. then put in an air line from a compressor for about ten minutes to finish drying. refuel like usual and add a can of dry fuel to absorb what's left of the water.

you may want to think about replacing the fuel lines and pump. if they're original, that may be a source of some filter clogging.

Bryan   August 3rd, 2008 7:32 pm ET

I found a number of radiator shops in Kingman. Probably none open on Sunday. Get the tank out, take it to a radiaor shop and they can boil the tank out.

Corp. Executive   August 3rd, 2008 7:35 pm ET

Changing gear rations means getting a European gearbox. You see they don't give a rats butt about 0-60 like the fanbelt around the waist rednecks here. They're more concerned about doing 155 and using less fuel.

Jim   August 3rd, 2008 7:43 pm ET

I tried warning you in a comment on an earlier post. Mixtures as low as B2 (2% biodiesel) will clean out deposits in your fuel system from previous use of regular diesel. In the long run this can be a good thing but in the short run your fuel filters will need to be replaced if the system had a long history of regular diesel. For this reason biodiesel is not recommended for older vehicles, and is ideal for brand new vehicles.   August 3rd, 2008 7:57 pm ET

Cody, all diesel engines also have a fuel RETURN line back to the main tank. Unlike gas engine fuel systems, diesel engines generally return a significant portion of the fuel pumped forward back into the tank. A problem with your quick-fix set up is that now you are slowly filling your original tank with fuel from your extra tank. You could end up with a messy overflow of your main tank.

Vehicles made after 1993 are generally biodiesel compatable. But your sweet lil'honey probably has a lot of original seals and gaskets from before you were born that will get softened and comprimised by biodiesel. The surgical hose is just a very vulnerable example of might be happening anywhere along the way...fuel pump seals are a particular issue. A quick internet search of usergroups of people driving similar older vehicles running biodiesel might be worth a read.

Best of luck, keep driving AND fueling American-style!

mac   August 3rd, 2008 8:06 pm ET

Hey, Good luck with your fuel filters! I have run nothing but pure biodiesel for 5 years. It is jut luck of the draw on the fuel filter issue. I have had several 1980's diesels and even a 1966 all came with original equipment and I was lucky enough to just change the filters at the regular time. Ya'll should come to Asheville, NC, it is not that far off your route. There is the coolest biodiesel company in the world called Blue Ridge Biofuels. Check them out.


Dieselscout   August 3rd, 2008 8:15 pm ET

Hang in there.
Don't let the negative posters get you down.
If all humanity were like that we'd still be living in caves, and using sticks and rocks for tools.
We're better than that and you're about to show us why and how.
Teddy Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" speech comes to mind.
As always, good luck.


Ray   August 3rd, 2008 9:29 pm ET

I am a bit disappointed in the people you were with when you started this adventure. Older diesel vehicles, and that one is pretty old 😉 , have a lot of build up in them. Someone should have told you at the onset you needed to either get this cleaned or plan on the issues you have now.

I have a friend who runs a excavating company with all of his equipment running biodiesel. (He is running 100% or there abouts). He also runs older equipment, and has had the same issues you have. His solution has been to get a whole bunch of fuel filters. The problem is that biodiesel is actually cleaner in a lot of ways including its ability to clean up the old gunk that is left in the tank and lines.

My friend has a procedure for new equipment. He runs the fuel all the way down and then starts his switch over. Step one replace the fuel filter. Fuel up and let it sit. Start the engine and run long enough to get the biodeisel into all of the system and let it sit over night.. Step two is to now start the engine and idle for a few minutes and change the filter. Use the equipment for an hour and change the filter. Make sure you do something that rocks and shakes the equipement for an hour and change the filter again after an hour. Then change the filter every day for a week. He says that once he gets this done he can go back to normal sceduled filter changes.

The good news here is that once it is clean you won't have any more problems, even if you have to switch back and forth between bio vs dino diesel at any mix. The problem is the past years with no cleaning.

Helyn   August 3rd, 2008 9:58 pm ET

Go, Cody, go! It's fun reading about your adventures! Best of luck on your trip and those cool live shots - you're doing a great job.

Take care,


John L.   August 4th, 2008 11:54 am ET

Cody and Bryan ROCK..........don't give up the fight..................keep up the effort and you will make it.......ROLL TIDE...........................

Franko   August 5th, 2008 4:20 am ET

From boring, domesticated, comfort at the office ,to modern caveman
Riding the biofuel beast is an uncommon trick. Measuring risk reward ratio,
Searching for the woman to pub, in all the wrong biofueling parlors.

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