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Alternative Diesel Fuels (Biodiesel, WVO, SVO, BTL, GTL etc) Discussions about alternative fuels for use in our TDI's. This includes biodiesel WVO (Waste Vegetable Oil), SVO (Straight Vegetable Oil), BTL (Biomass to Liquid), GTL (Gas to Liquids) etc. Please note the Fuel Disclaimer.

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Old August 5th, 2007, 09:14   #1
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Location: Duluth, GA,USA
Default WVO no more-My Tragic Greaser Story

Many people disappear when they screw up. I wish to "man up" before this community with my story.

To give you some background, I purchased my Jetta Wagon from the original owner three years ago with 22,000 miles on it dead stock. I was interested in alternative fuels from the beginning and researched using WVO or building a reactor for B100 production. At 33,000 miles, I decided on the WVO route. I installed the kit that I felt gave me the best chance of success, secured a reliable source of oil, and filtered it reasonably well (10 microns). Fast forward to three months ago and I have enjoyed 50,000 miles of relatively trouble free .10 a gallon fuel. I have saved thousands of dollars as I drive over 20,000 miles a year. All of last year spent $208 on diesel. Many on this board have seen my system and felt my attention to detail was the reason for my success.

I will not mention the brand of the WVO conversion that I had as they have treated me well and have top notch customer service. I was one of their early adopters. I do not think this is their fault.

The first incident happened at 79,000 miles right before I had Paramedick do my timing belt. I had a oil leak that turned out being a rear (crankshaft)seal. That cost me $600 to have replaced.

At 83,000 miles my car started consuming oil to the tune of 1/2 quart every 100 miles. It also ran rough as if on three cylinders and there was occasional unintended acceleration. I determined it was the turbo seals going bad. I thought it might be a good time for a turbo and intercooler upgrade. Kerma recommended his VNT-17 with 52 mm compressor. Landon (TurbineWhine) offered for me to come up to Asheville to change it out but before I could drive up there my turbo started screeching. Afraid to drive it, I flatbedded it the 150 miles. When we pulled the stock turbo off, this is what we found:

The shaft was wobbly and the impeller obviously gone. Good I didn't try to drive up!

Here the new Eurojet SMIC. Thanks Kerma.

And a comparison between the Eurojet and stock. TurbineWhine on the left with yours truly:

Thanks to Landon, Karen (Mrs. Turbinewhine), and son Daniel for the help and great hospitality. Fine people and a good source for TDI repairs in Western NC.

The test drive after new turbo, intercooler, and PP764's was less than fullfilling. My car was just not as fast as it should be. Landon's stock turbo Jetta also with RC3 would just walk away from it. What was wrong?

When I got back home I purchased a compression tester and got the following readings:

Cylinder 1 - 540
Cylinder 2 - 540
Cylinder 3 - 480 After adding ATF - 535
Cylinder 4 - 240 After adding ATF - 280

Looks like stuck rings or worse.

At this point, I knew this probably wasnt coincidence. On a car that had 83,000 miles, I so far had to do a rear seal, turbo, and now possible rings.
I decided to take the WVO conversion off the car. My new VNT-17 Hybrid was too nice (and expensive) to risk. I put the fuel system back to stock, bought a tank of B100, changed the oil, and hoped the compression would start to come back.

After a short time I consulted with Bruce (Paramedick) and his friend in Missouri, Frank (Franko6). They both felt the additives and flushes wouldn't hurt but that based on their experience with WVO cars, I was ultimately looking at a teardown and cleaning of the the head and pistons. Since I was starting a new job in a couple of weeks, I wanted to get this resolved now. I asked Frank if I could come out to Missouri the next week since he had experince with cars like mine. I secretly thought that Frank might be being dramatic about what could be in my engine because after all, I had a good WVO set-up! What we would find in my engine was much worse.

The car drove good to Missouri and actually seemed to run better. When I got to Frank's he and his friend Randy checked compression and it was a little better. Perhaps I should just flush it some more?

We pulled the valve cover and the cam was scarred. The cam followers were scarred. We pulled the head and found this:

The above was somewhat expected. What we found next was not. See part two for the rest of the story.


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Old August 5th, 2007, 10:36   #2
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Default WVO no more-My Tragic Greaser Story Part 2

We pulled the head and look what happened to my week old $1000 turbo:

Look at the pitting on the inlet to the compressor. Foreign object damage probably caused the pitting:

I was very fortunate to make it 700 miles from Atlanta to Missouri.

Any ideas about a simple ring job went out when we found this. Note the scoring on the front of the cylinder reflected in the mirror.

Note chunk of piston missing in two spots:

The story just kept getting worse all the way to the crankcase. I was facing a tough situation 700 miles from home. Do I fly home and leave my car for a week or 10 days for honing (if it could even be done with that damage), head work, etc. or search for another engine.

Finally breaks started going my way. We found an engine with 93K in Little Rock, AR with an asking price of $2400 but it was hours away. Frank used the fact that it had a broken IP mount to get them down to $2050 delivered the next day to us!. So we pulled old engine

Right on time the next AM the new old engine arrived

We examined the engine we bought and discovered it had been recently rebuilt perhaps less than 5000 miles ago. The camshaft was new. The cylinders spotless. It was either a VW rebuild or a top notch professional job. We got me a good engine.

Kudos to Kerma for a replacement turbo. Whatever caused the turbo failure was not Charlie's fault but he worked out a replacement for me at a good price and overnighted to me so that it arrived in Missouri two hours after the engine.

The new engine on the stand with the new VNT-17.

Duluthrooster rolling the new engine into place

The new used engine in place ready for the front end to be reassembled:

My car now runs better than it has since I bought it.

I can't say enough about Franko6, Mrs. Franko6, and Randy:

Frank and his wife got a house guest for 4 days and treated me like family. The food and fellowship was great. "Good Andy" has some new friends in SW Missouri. Frank and Randy are experts on TDI engines and would be well worth a trip for your repair needs. I thought enough to drive 12 hours each way and I was not dissapointed. Frank is a perfectionist that regards his engines as his babies and his prices are fair.

I will conclude my tale with a comment about WVO. I thought I was doing everything right but I damaged my car. Some mistakes I know I made were I didn't increase my oil change intervals until it was too late. WVO permeates your crankcase oil and does not burn off so you can have loss of lubricity. Also water may have still been in oil evidenced by the blown off piston parts.

I think it was Drivbiwire that said that any money you save by running WVO will eventually be given back. At the time I thought he was a scrooge (well he is ). Well check this out.

Over two years I have saved about $5000 running WVO. In the last three months I have replaced a rear seal ($600), a turbo twice ($1400 VNT-15 times 2), new used engine ($2000), $1800 labor total to three different people, plus me chasing my tail for three months changing filters, fuel line, pulling injectors, etc.

Please dont hurl criticisms my way. I tried WVO. it didn't work for me in the end, and i gave it all back. For you WVO folks out there, I will only say I hope you have better luck.

To end I will quote Peter at TDI Parts. He was impressed with my WVO system at a GTG. When he heard my problems he said "If anyone would be sucessful with WVO, I thought it would be you."

My next project is a biodiesel reactor. From now on it is B100 or D2 for me.

Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?


Last edited by DuluthRooster; August 5th, 2007 at 11:19.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 10:52   #3
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Thanks for sharing your tragic story! I bet she flies now
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Old August 5th, 2007, 11:26   #4
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Yes, thanks for sharing this interesting story. Good luck from here on out.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 11:27   #5
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All I can say is WOW! Thanks for posting and best of luck in the future.. The quote in my sig line means even more to me now.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 11:44   #6
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Default Great post

Sorry to hear of the trouble you have had with WVO - I have considered this for the future and your post despite being a tragic story is a helpful one.

Good luck with the new motor!
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Old August 5th, 2007, 12:03   #7
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Stuff happens.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 12:04   #8
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Location: Sw Missouri


All I can conclude is that it was a grueling week. I was hoping to be in and out in a couple of days. Unfortunately, I beleve this engine swap was a bit more tragic then most, because I know you put a lot of effort into trying to 'do things right".

When I heated the head, one of the most telling signs was the 'water in the deep frier' sound. I think either an extended oil/ water separation time or a cooking and cracking reactor is only the start. The heaviness of the fuel is the other consideration.

Andy, you were an impeccable house guest. I know that the shock left you stunned for the first day or two. Wednesday night's teardown of the new engine not only gave us great hope, but also a needed boost of conficence.

I expect to see you again. Although, I hope not too soon

It's been my pleasure to work with you.

Frank's VW TDI's, LLC
1007 Olive St.
Lockwood, MO 65682

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Old August 5th, 2007, 13:59   #9
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Thank you for posting this. There has always been that excuse which the naysayers like to hide behind: "people who have a bad WVO experience won't talk about it and disappear into the shadows." Nice that you proved them wrong, once again.

So fill me in on how you processed your WVO. Basically take me from picking it up, all the way to your tank, if you don't mind.

Also, how anal were you about warming up on diesel before switching, then purging at shutdown? What indicators did you use, purge times, etc?
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Old August 5th, 2007, 15:11   #10
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although it sucks, thanks for the update & good pics & sound commentary. sounds like in the end everything worked out well
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Old August 5th, 2007, 15:36   #11
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Thanks for your post. It's interesting to see pictures of what's possible when experimenting with alternative fuel sources.

You're absolutely right about the water filtration and oil change intervals.

I hope you and your new engine treat each other well.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 15:53   #12
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Location: Austin Tx, USA
Fuel Economy: 51/45/39

Sorry to learn about your problems with WVO, What temp's where you running your WVO, and did you purge enough, and for how long?

How did you collect, filter and dewater, and store your WVO fuel?

It's strange that one person can run WVO and others have problems.

Wish you the best.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 15:56   #13
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that is a great story ( tragically great), But it would be VERY useful to have the conversion company name..... I realize it is not there fault but....... If that happened to your VW why would it not happen to mine.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 15:56   #14
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Holysh--! I hope this isn't happening to my dads F350.
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Old August 5th, 2007, 16:10   #15
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Andy, thank you for posting this. I know it was painful, but this is extremely helpful. I just wish it hadn't happened to you.

Guys, Andy was absolutely cognizant about his WVO temps before switching to that tank. No fault there.

This is a very nice wagon that is meticulously kept.
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