Amazing: the US automobile industry discovers the Diesel engine...

Robert Stratton bob at
Mon Apr 30 13:56:25 CDT 2012

On Apr 30, 2012, at 1:44 PM, Robert E. Seastrom wrote:

>> There is interest in diesel here in the US.  Diesel pickup trucks
>> are available.   1st generation dodge trucks with the Cummings
>> engine are going up in price, that 1989-1993 with the old body style
>> and the 12 valve engine and old style injector pump.
>> I have 3 Mercedes diesels from the early 80's.  They are hard to kill.  I'd
>> love to do a conversion and put the 5 cylinder turbo in a small pick up.  4
>> wheel drive people love the engines and kits are available, ah if I were
>> younger...
> You kind of have to be a bit "special" (I know, I've owned a diesel
> Rabbit) to be interested in mechanical diesels.  Current technology
> common-rail computer controlled diesels have a lot better "wife
> acceptance".

I don't know that you have to be all that special, RS. When I went to StarTech and learned how to rebuild the injector pump on a 240D, I was envious of people with mechanical injectors. The 25000psi one in my CDI isn't what I'd call a "user-serviceable" part, and there's no way I could trust it to run on straight vegetable oil in an emergency without destroying itself. 

The Diesel Rabbit was in some ways the pinnacle of easy-to-maintain diesels. I've had 3 of them at one time or another, and I knew several people who raced them. 

As for wife acceptance, the CDI exhaust smells to me more like chlorine bleach than anything that you'd associate with a diesel. My wife still dislikes it vociferously. I have taken to responding by pointing out that the CO emissions are low enough that if someone locked themselves in the garage with the engine running, they'd probably survive just fine.

>> There is a biodiesel coop in Baltimore.  The 2 attempts at coops in the DC
>> area have failed so far.  For some odd reason biodiesel prices fluctuate with
>> dino diesel prices, in lock step by demand.
> Why do you consider this to be odd?  My Kubota dealer says B5 maximum,
> but there's a lot of stuff out there that will eat B10 or B20.  If you
> think of it as a fuel additive rather than as a fuel unto itself (like
> B100), then it's easy to see why the price fluctuates.  Not as if
> there's a huge amount of excess supply out there...

You also have to be quite careful about what even service stations are selling you when they sell "biodiesel." I know that more than a few stations were simply buying RAME (ricinoleic acid methyl ester) or other "mixed methyl esters" from places like Archer Daniels Midland and selling it as "biodiesel." As for the co-ops, I probably wouldn't buy it from any of the ones that make it themselves without seeing quality control results that complied with at least the ASTM standard for blend feedstocks. Too many people have been cobbling together a reactor and then failing to neutralize the alkali properly in the resulting product. 

--Bob S.

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