My Local Energy Journey 3

It was back in October 2009 when I last wrote about biodiesel stuff aka My Local Energy Journey. The next step for me was to do a bit of prep work. I didn’t want to put biodiesel in the MB right away. I’ve read too many stories about clogged filters and rotting hoses bursting. So I waited till a warm weekend when I had some time to work on the car. (I don’t have a garage.) The big bonus is I learned a lot and gained some confidence. Very valuable.

I did a fuel purge on the ’81 Mercedes 240D. It got a ton of gunk out of the fuel system. I was amazed at the extra horse power after this procedure. Clean injectors are cool! This is the how-to I followed. Very helpful! Diesel Purge – Injector and Injection Pump Cleaning

After this I replaced all the fuel lines under the hood and swapped out both fuel filters. Again the awesome to the rescue! I got it done with the wonderful step by step how-to called Mercedes Fuel Hose Install.

After a bit more tightening and a good test drive this step is done. Next stop the biodiesel pump!

(Part Two of this series can be found here.)

My Local Energy Journey 2

Part Two

I had a lot of specific requirements for my choice of diesel vehicle. I’m sure most people will too.

As I mentioned earlier we don’t have a bunch money right now. So I had to find a way to sell my truck and use the money for another vehicle. It was pretty hard. I didn’t expect to get much for the Chevy S10. Blue Book value was rather low. The asking price for most old Mercedes I saw where $3,000 and up. But some how I bought a car for exactly how much I sold the Chevy. I got a deal. But I think the prices people ask for old Mercedes are several thousand more than most will sell for. So the lesson is, ALWAYS HAGGLE.

Four doors
The truck had two doors and a bench seat. Any new car had to have four doors. Mainly because we need another vehicle to transport our son. You can put a child car seat in a two door… but its rough. Most safety experts suggest children ride in the back seat.

Obviously when you transport children you want a safe car. Lots of different options can fulfill this goal. But all that I’ve seen and read about Mercedes is that they’re some of the safest cars around. Older vehicles are made with much more steel and are heavier. A big plus in my book. Wish I could afford a newer car with better safety ratings but… you make due with what you have.

Easy to Work On
I’m mechanically inclined. It’s been awhile since I’ve worked on a car with passion. But I have a pile of tools. Mostly given to me by famliy members.

Recently I’ve done basic maintenance on vehicles out of necessity. So I wanted a car that would be fun to work on. This way I don’t get super frustrated right away trying to figure stuff out. From what I’ve read and heard the ’80s Mercedes are mostly easy and fun. Though some smart folks remind me how hard transmition and suspension work is. Something I may leave to the pros.

Will Run Biodiesel
This requirement was a big one. It narrowed the list down significantly. Here in the US there are only a small percentage of diesel cars with four doors. Mainly VWs and Mercedes with lots of two door trucks and a few other foreign cars. Because there are lots of these vehicles running there are tons of after market parts. I chose the Mercedes because of all the positive talk about them. We’ve owned several VWs, and love them, but just couldn’t find one we could afford.

Other Issues
We had to work a bit to get over the image of wealth and excess that the Mercedes-Benz brand exudes. But in the end I see this car as a tool. One that was built extremely well. Plus most people who want to flaunt their wealth these days don’t drive old diesels. It’ll be pretty obvious to most we’re “hippies trying to save the environment and stuff” with our biodiesel car. 🙂

(Part One of this series can be found here.)

My Local Energy Journey


I want to change not just the quantity of energy I consume but the kind. Both where it comes from and how it effects our planet.

Most of the oil we consume in the United States is imported. These assets are controlled by multi-national corporations. Their primary concern is profit. They wage wars and kill others to obtain it. By reducing my consumption of petroleum I’m one less consumer and supporter of big Corporate oil and their wars for profit.

I want to use fuel made locally.

First because the primary concern of our local producers is the well-being of our community. Second because money spent locally is better for my family and I. Michael Shuman wrote, “A growing body of evidence suggests that every dollar spent at a locally owned business generates two to four times more economic benefit—measured in income, wealth, jobs, and tax revenue—than a dollar spent at a globally owned business. ” Its called the Local Multiplier effect.

When engines burn gasoline and petro-diesel it releases carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, particulates like soot, and nitrogen into the air. Not only does this effect global climate change it creates pollution which toxins can harm us.

So what can we do? How does one consume less oil? There are many ways. You can walk more, take the bus, and ride a bike. I do all this but it wasn’t enough for me. I needed a way to go long distance too. I’ll admit convenience was a factor as well. Having your own vehicle gives you a great amount of choice.

When I discovered our local biodiesel manufacturer Piedmont Biofuels it became obvious what to do. Buy biodiesel. Fuel produced locally with natural materials.

How do you do this? Get a diesel automobile.

I’m aware that diesels can be dirty. But when biodiesel is used the pollution output is greatly reduced. Unfortunately the new “clean” VW Turbo Diesels are out of my price range. The only source of cash I had at the time was locked up in another vehicle. Because the truck is old I knew I couldn’t get a lot of money for it. I did a bunch of research and legwork to find another car I could afford. Luckily I got enough from the sale of the gas burner to get a diesel. Reusing an old vehicle is more sustainable too. It means less energy used in manufacture and fewer parts will goto a junkyard.

A wise friend told me that when contemplating great challenges to concentrate on winning the little battles instead of the entire war. Despite the gross war analogy it was apt. So I figure that changing one bad habit at a time is a good thing. I’m applying this idea of incremental change to what kind of energy I use. That means consuming less. This week I took a big step in that direction. Its going to take time. But I hope you will learn from my journey to consume local energy.

Part One

This week I sold my 1988 Chevy S10 Truck. It was really hard to part with. I choked up a bit as I took my last ride in it. Like many other Americans I equate real emotion with inanimate objects. This could help explain why Americans love to drive.

In my case this vehicle was a gift from my late Grandfather. He lent it to me many times before I inherited it after he died. He loved this truck. I loved driving it because it reminded me of him. So many positive memories riding in the truck with him. I hope he understands my choices today.

Just so you, and my family reading this know, I did not cast away this gift lightly with out purpose. I found a great local friend to purchase the truck. It was almost a accident that we made the deal. But I know she will really benefit from the truck. It will assist her in so many practical ways. That is the spirit of its utility. Something my Grandfather would of appreciated.

The bottom line is I got exactly enough money from the sale of the truck to purchase another vehicle. A 1981 Mercedes 240D. in Part Two I’ll explain why I specifically chose this model of car.

YOU determine Radiohead's Album Cost

The NYTimes is reporting that Radiohead’s upcoming album “In Rainbows” will be available for download Oct. 10. Only the entire album, in non DRM audio files, will be available for download. At the same time they are selling a box of vynl, cds, etc from their website.

Nothing new here ‘cept they will, “allow fans to decide how much to pay for it, if anything.” WOW.

I think this amazing. Not because I could get this bands music for free. Been there done that. Yawn… But because a major famous ‘recording artist’ is making a move AWAY from the middle man, aka record labels.

We all know how often the middle man rips off creative people. (not every time mind you) Oh yeah they give you money but do you really get what your creativity is truly worth from them? Can you own all of your intellectual property and its entire set of rights? What about creating personal relationships with fans? Record labels don’t foster that at all. Not in a sustainable or healthy way.

I got involved in the web and learned HTML to help artists promote themselves. Now many years latter we see our famous creative brothers are helping to remove the shackles. Radiohead may not be as altruistic as I. They may actually be able to make more money with this method of distribution. Perhaps the street creed and good PR will sell more record company produced CDs later. Regardless I hope they succeed so other artists will be inspired to remove the middle man!