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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Detroit Diesel: The quest for easier starts

Since the Detroit 2-71 does not come with a cold weather start system, we have had to depend on starter fluid for cold weather starting. This morning was particularly bad, being sub zero (That's F), and we are out of diesel, so it was on veggie. I was looking at some glow plugs for a GM 6.2, and had a thought. There is a cover on the side of the engine that covers the intake ports on the lower cylinder walls. A couple of tapped threads in that cover plate for GM glow plugs might do the trick. At just under $10 each, it's a cheap experiment.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Our favorite funny man, Don Knotts, gone but not forgotton.

Don Knotts may be gone from this earth, but he will be remembered in our hearts, and on screen, for generations to come. Rest in peace, Don!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Planting Tomatoes, Kid's Overnight and More Snow

Friday after Harald Böker left for home, we helped Luray Martin transplant his tomatoes, then went to Camp Mandaville for the kids overnight. My son and I were the boy's counsellors, and had eight 6-9 year olds. Lot's of snow tubing, hiking to the beaver dam, games, singing, and Bible Study. Temps were 4 to 7F, and we got 6" of fresh powdery snow. The lessons were on building a foundation of stone, not sand. A good time was had by all. Pic's are in the Photo Album. Harald just called a few minutes ago. Had a safe, uneventful trip back to Ontario, the Veggie System is working perfectly. Who says a 2006 GMC can't run veggie .....

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD WVO Conversion

Today we installed our custom veggie conversion in Harald Böker's 2006 GMC 2500HD. We installed our custom filter, electric fuel pump, and connected our coolant and fuel lines to the custom tank Harald had installed before he came to us. The two 3 port fuel solenoids will be here tomorrow am, and then all we have left is the wiring and line insulation. Pics are posted in our Photo Album.

Update: Thursday, Feb. 23rd. 9pm.

The conversion is finished. Took the truck out for a spin to get the air out of the cooling system. Tank and lines came up to temperature (90c), so we hit the switches. No stutter, no change in power, no indication that the fuel was now clean burning free used fryer oil, except a slight potato chip smell from the exhaust. A beautiful success. We insulated the fuel/heater hose package and the fuel filter with pipe insulation. Harald will have the tank insulated when he returns home to Ontario. More info on wvo conversions in the Fry Guys article.

Monday, February 20, 2006


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Visit our website for more information and to enter to win one of our one-week tours! / 503-239-8426

2006 Duramax Veggie Conversion

We have a GMC 2500 coming this week for a veggie conversion. Today we built the heated filter for this truck. Pics can be found in the Photo Album, description of the build in our Wiki.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bad fuel

Last night the Veggiegen started losing rpms. There was little fuel coming back on the return line, so I pulled the filter, and it was covered in rust particles. The fuel storage tank we got our fuel from yesterday has a rust problem. So I quickly made a cheap prefilter. Take a coil spring from an old vehicle, slide hose clamps over the fuel pickup line, slide a wire tie under the hose clamps and tie the line to the inside of the coil spring, slide the coil spring into a 5 micron sock filter, stick a rod through the handle, and suspend into the 55 gallon fuel drum. The coil spring keeps the sock filter from collapsing and clogging the fuel line. The rod keeps the sock filter from falling into the drum. Put a new filter cartridge in the main filter, and everything is back to normal. For more info on the VeggieGen and using vegetable oil for fuel, see "The Fry Guys".

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cold weather, cold veggie

It was -6F when I got up this morning. We let the gen run all night to prevent startup issues this morning. Will let it run all night tonight as well. I then went to the doc to get my stitches out. The biopsy came back from the lab and it was official, no cancer. We were running low on veggie oil for the VeggieGen, so we built a fire under one of the storage tanks up at Melvin's, heated the veggie oil to about 150F and pumped it into drums so I could get it home to the generator. Jim Dunmyer from sent me the "In-Line 71 Operators Manual" for the VeggieGen, and that arrived today, so I have some reading and some scanning to do. We also picked up a voltmeter for the VeggieGen Control Panel, and will install that tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Basic Stamp Adventures

Back in December, we ordered a Basic Stamp microcontroller. The goal is to build a smart controller for maintaining temperatures in a root cellar. We had problems with it, sent it in, and just received it back. It's working fine now and we are back on track with our temperature monitoring and fan control project. Follow along with our projects and those of others at our Basic Stamp club page,

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Our Candle Heater Arrived

USPS arrived today with a 4+ lb package. With great anticipation we opened the box, and there it was. Our candle heater. It took about 4 minutes to assemble, which entails looping the 2 chains through the frame, single wrapped around each other between the posts, and our candle was lit and filling the room with aroma, light, and some heat. We supplied the candle, everything else was included. Though not meant to be a single heat source, it definitely spreads more heat than with the candle alone. More photo's can be found in our Photo Album, and the creator's website at

Update: Do not use a candle without a jar. The increased heat turns the whole thing into a puddle. The instructions call for a candle in a jar, and should be followed.


The Kandle Heeter(tm) Candle Holder is an attractive Ceramic Radiator suspended above a Candle Flame on a solid steel frame. And it really works! The Steel and Ceramic Radiator collects and concentrates the Heat from the Candle Flame, becomes Hot (but not burning), and Gently Radiates the Heat from the Candle into your Room. More information and photographs are available at and you can Buy It On Ebay! $24.95

Invented and Manufactured in Fortuna, California by Doyle Doss from Solid Steel and Ceramic components the Kandle Heeter(tm) Candle Holder is just over 9 inches tall and just under 7 inches wide and deep. It weighs over four pounds and ships in its own 200 lb test cardboard box.

The Steel and Ceramic Radiator is comprised of Three Nested Ceramic Modulators held together and separated by a Solid Steel Inner Core. The Steel Inner Core is positioned directly above the Candle and is driven to very high temperatures by the Flame. It gets Very, Very Hot!

The Nested Ceramic Modulators transfer and moderate the High Temperature of the Inner Core, one to another, until the outer Ceramic Modulator becomes a gently radiating Thermal Body that releases the Concentrated Heat from the Candle into your Home or Office. If you burn Candles, it only makes environmental and economical practical sense to Capture the Heat that is normally lost to the ceiling and use this Heat in your own environment. (A typical 4.5 oz. Jar Candle contains over 1,000 Btu’s!)

The Kandle Heeter(tm) Candle Holder makes a Real Difference in a small room or bedroom. If there is a Temporary Power Outage you will be able to create a Warm Room for your family and friends – Light and Warmth (both from the same source!) makes an Encouraging Difference while you wait for the storm to pass. If you have a Recreational Vehicle or Camping Trailer it will help you save Propane while you are enjoying the Great Outdoors.

Please visit our website ( Please distribute this information in your newspaper, magazine, blog, and to your friends. We would greatly appreciate your comments and suggestions. We are DOSS Products, we specialize in Energy and Environment Practical Invention, and we want to help you Stay Warmer This Winter For Less! Thanks.

Doyle Doss

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Oxford Seeks PC Users to Help Map Climate Change

We're organising the world's largest ever climate experiment, and we need your help.
We need thousands of people to help

Trying to predict climate change is hard. There are lots of factors involved – air temperature, sea temperature and cloud cover all play a part – as do dozens of other variables. Therefore, there are a huge number of calculations involved.

One solution is for scientists to use the largest supercomputer they can find. But even the biggest supercomputers are only so good.

We think you can do better.

Using a technique known as distributed computing, we’re hoping to harness the power of thousands of PCs around the world. If 10,000 people sign up, we’ll be faster than the world’s biggest computer. And we’re hoping to be even better than that.

How you can help!

President Bush to visit NREL

President Bush will tour the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden next Tuesday to discuss his administration's policy to boost energy production from the sun, wind, and plant and animal waste.

Bush to visit NREL in week

I wonder if he will discuss why 31 scientists and researchers in renewable technologies were let go after his State of the Union Address?

Plug pulled on renewable energy gurus

Meanwhile, the gag on government scientists is found to be wider spread than just NASA. NOAA is also trying to align science to politics, instead of politics to science.
On Friday, Dr. Hansen said that the gag on global warming extends beyond NASA, and that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is also muzzling researchers who study global warming. This suggests that there is a widespread pattern of silencing government scientists who are trying to warn the public about global warming. We know the Bush administration won't voluntarily change this policy-so we need Congress to step in.

Stop The Gag On Global Warming: Tell Congress to Act

Monday, February 13, 2006

Web Hosting fees

Well, folks, you sure seem to like this site. So much, my bandwidth fees are going through the roof. If this site has helped you, please consider supporting it by helping with our hosting fees.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Candle Heater

We have a candle heater coming our way. It's supposed to convert the wasted heat from a candle into something more effective. Will let you know how it works when we get it. You can read about it at

BTW, Some of you know Steve had surgery to remove a benign tumor from his head this week. He is recovering quite nicely, and appreciates the thoughts and prayers from all of you who sent them.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Solar Powered Rural Health

Our Mission at ImaginIt Now! is to provide solar electricity to rural health clinics around the world. A significant percentage of village diseases originate from water-borne diseases. Solar electric water pumping enables health clinics to have access to fresh water. Solar electric lighting can provide critical emergency services in the evenings and appropriate lighting for surgery. Also, solar electric systems can power refrigerators for vaccines and critical life saving medical equipment e.g. respirators or kidney dialyses machine (prevents someone from traveling far distances to the city). Communication systems such as computer and 2 way radios can be powered with solar, enabling the medical staff to communicate with a network of professionals around the world.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Re-wiring the Veggiegen, 4285.1 hours

This morning at a very frosty -7F 8am, I started re-wiring the VeggieGen in preparation for installing the new control panel. The old wiring was starting to go, and it was time to replace it. In the process of this, the Hobbs Oil Pressure Switch which we thought activated the low oil pressure shutdown was discovered not to have that function. We found a different oil pressure sensor for the emergency shutdown. The Hobbs Switch's function was to turn the hour meter on and off. This hour meter was non-functioning and painted over when we received this generator. I replaced the wires with new ones, and lo and behold, the hour meter started functioning. I decided to use this switch to also activate the field on the alternator for charging purposes. No oil pressure, no voltage to the alternator field, just like an ignition switch. The hour meter had stopped functioning at 4285.1 hours and we have put at least 5000 hours on this engine since we got it, and are running 16 - 18 hour days typically. No idea how many hours between the meter stopping and us receiving the engine. All work on this engine will now be noted with the hour reading.

Will, from Cut Oil Imports asked:
By the way, you might have already written about this but if you haven't - Since you live off the grid, your readers (including myself) would interested in learning which of your alternative energy systems was easiest to implement & maintain and which is the most cost effective.

We answered:
The VeggieGen is the most effective, the pv panels are the least hassle. The wind is the most ineffective, and the woodstove is the most satisfying and cost effective.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Installing the VeggieGen's Ammeter

The Ammeter finally arrived, and we installed it into the control panel this evening. Much of the wiring was finished, and is ready for connecting to the engine tomorrow. We got a replacement tubing kit for the oil pressure gauge, as the original ferrule that came with it was compressed enough to not allow the tube to insert properly.

The wiring for the heavy load parts of the circuit is 16/3 extension cord, all 3 conductors twisted together and crimped. That should easily handle the entire 63 amp output of the alternator for the 8' run back to the battery. The NEG of the ammeter connects to the POS on the battery, the IGN post of the key switch connects to the starter solenoid, The Batt and #2 posts on the alternator connect to the positive of the ammeter, and #1 post of the alternator connects to the RUN post on the key switch. Fuel primer pump and gauge lights connect to separate fuses on the fuse panel (with 16 gauge single wire), as will the upcoming 800/1200 rpm switch. 800 RPM is the "idle" setting for this engine, 1200 rpm is the operating speed. More pics can be found in the photo album.

Off-Grid at

Welcome to Green Mountain Solar. My name is Chris Niner. I live in southern New Mexico. I disconnected from the power lines in june of 1997 when I bought an old Airstream trailer and 5 acres of mountain property. It was a real struggle. I thought I knew how to do it all.. Well, it wasn't quite as easy as reading about it. I have figured most of it out now however.

All of my electrical needs are met with solar and wind energy. What little additional heating I require is by burning firewood I got by thinning the sick, overgrown trees on my property. Nothing is wired in from a coal plant in Utah, nuclear fission in Arizona or a terrorist state in the middle east. Where is Your money going?

All of my water is caught off the roof. I have a water collection system that has evolved into something large enough to supply me with all of My water. It was far cheaper than a well and a whole lot more fun that hauling it in!

My home water and power use is about 1/10th as much as the average careless person living on the power grid. The secret to going off grid is efficiency. You don't have to be off the power lines to save a huge amount of electricity and water, in fact it is far easier.

I wanted to show that it is possible to do this, even on a modest salary and mostly working alone. This part of the country has some of the best solar and wind potential anywhere on earth. If you live in the mountains, It also has some of the highest electric rates. It is also subject to blackouts from power overloads, distant weather or dead spotted owl trees hitting the lines. Still, convincing people is like pulling teeth.

As for water, I don't need to tell You how important that is. We are running out and the 'throw more money at it' aproach to a sollution is great for the politicians and contractors getting the money, but it's our money!

It's time we straightened out our act.

Even if You have no intention of going off grid, using these ideas can cut your electric bill by 2/3rds and save a lot of water. Thanks for visiting My site. I will keep working to improve it and also to answer questions. I welcome Your comments.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Calculating fuel consumption

Calculating fuel consumption on a diesel is a bit more difficult than on a gas engine, as a diesel pumps more fuel than it needs, and it returns the excess to the tank. One solution is a Floscan Meter. This unit has two sensors, one in the feed, and one in the return, and does a comparison of the two for readout on the gauge.

We hope to obtain one of these units for the VeggieGen so that we can start tracking fuel consumption for various electrical loads.

The other part to this process would be tracking the electrical loads. This requires a 3 phase power monitor to track voltage and amps for each leg of the load. One very nice unit is the Shark 100 Series Power and Energy Meter. It can be used to monitor Volts, Amps, Watts, Watt-Hours, Power Factor and more.

Ideally we would like to monitor both the fuel and the electrical sensors by computer, and output a nice graph on our webste.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Wrong Gauge

The auto parts store ordered the wrong gauge. They got me a CP8205 which is the voltmeter, I need the CP8204 Ampmeter.

Arghhhh ....

I already have the CP8206 Oil Pressure gauge, but still need the CP8207 Water Temperature gauge. Now I just need some funds, LOL.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Gag on Global Warming

Hi Steve!

I'm Dan, and I work with Environmental Action - I was reading through your blog today, liked it quite a bit and wanted to let you know about the work that I'm doing
too -

Not sure if you're familiar with Environmental Action or not, but we're the group that came out of the first Earth Day in 1970 - worked through the 70's on passing the Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts, and currently continue our work to get people to take some kind of environmental action - whether it's better recycling and energy conservation, or emailing a member of Congress.

Anyway, right now we're pretty up in arms about the attempt by NASA to silence their top scientist on global warming, so we've launched on online petition to the NASA administrator responsible, letting him know we won't stand for it. We're working to get 4,000 comments in pretty quickly, so I'm hoping to get some write-ups from like-minded folks. So, I was hoping you could check us, and our stuff, out and if you like what you see, perhaps do a write up in your blog.

Thanks, and let me know if you've got any questions

Dan Stafford
Environmental Action

PS - You're up in Winthrop? I grew up a little south of Syracuse and my dad lived for a long time in Watertown, so I chuckled a good deal when I saw your snow-covered cords of wood -
Anyway, hope to hear from you soon!

In the State of the Union address this week, President Bush proclaimed that the US is addicted to oil. And his prescription for solving it? More research and more study. Into switch grass. When the reality is that in the US we currently have the technology to drastically reduce the pollution that leads to global warming. Better gas mileage, more wind power, more solar power. He didn't even mention the words Global Warming in the entire speech. And maybe that's because his administration has been working to silence their own researchers on the issue.

Last week, the New York Times covered the story of James Hansen, the top climate scientist at NASA. Dr. Hansen claims that when he began speaking about about the global neccessity of the US reducing our carbon dioxide output, he was told their would be "dire consequences" if he continued talking about policy.

Environmental Action is doing something about this censorship. They've launched an online petition to the Bush-appointed Administrator at NASA, telling him this kind of censorship is unacceptable.

Here's the link:

Thankfully, some cooler heads are prevailing. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), chairman of the House Science Committee has sharply criticized NASA saying, ""Political figures ought to be reviewing their public statements to make sure they are consistent with the best available science, scientists should not be reviewing their statements to make sure they are consistent with the current political orthodoxy."

VeggieGen Control Panel

Tomorrow the Ammeter arrives for the control panel, and the control panel will finally be installed on the engine. Today was a bit slow. Installed a DSL modem for a friend, and did some research on water injection.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Beast is Alive

The Veggiegen is back together and fully operational, better than ever. The pump hardly affects the rpm's at all now when it kicks in. We fired it up this morning, but the RTV didn't hold, and we were leaking oil. So off to NAPA to pickup a $47 top end gasket kit. One hour and 15 minutes to disassemble, clean off old gasket material, apply new gaskets, reassemble, and fire it up. Life is good once again.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Prez's Energy Speech

“Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research -- at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy. (Applause.)

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. (Applause.)

Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.) By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past.” (Applause.)

The whole speech

No more headless engine

Melvin and I finished cleaning the valves and scraping carbon from the exhaust ports, so we reinstalled the valves, springs, locking clips, etc.

We then we put the copper head gasket back on the engine as it was in great shape, added some High Temp RTV, and bolted the head back on. Tomorrow we will install the fuel rack, coolant manifold, and fuel lines, and fire up the beast.

As always, photo documentation can be found in our photo album.

The tooth is still with me

Dentist wouldn't pull my tooth. I was diagnosed with a heart murmur when I was a kid, so he wants me to take Penicillin before he pulls the tooth. Sent me home with a prescription for Penicillin and Vicodin. I'm rescheduled for next tuesday, but I'm considering root canal instead. He says the tooth is worth saving. Back on the head cleaning job .....

Uncongested Heads

I cleaned up the valve ports and brushed down the head on the VeggieGen today. Looks a lot better. Still have to clean the valve stems and the exhaust manifold. Tools used were a electric drill with rotary brush, screwdriver, chisel, and WD-40.

Today is tooth extraction day, at 2pm, so I don't know if final assembly and startup will happen today, or tomorrow morning.

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