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Go Back   TDIClub Forums > VW TDI Discussion Areas > Alternative Diesel Fuels (Biodiesel, WVO, SVO, BTL, GTL etc)

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 September 13th, 2007, 10:42   #1
greasecar1
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Default A Tragic Greaser Story questioned.

Recently, here at Greasecar we have received a number of references to a TDI Club post entitled “WVO no more-My Tragic Greaser Story” and though the conversion product used on the vehicle referenced was not produced by Greasecar we decided to at least review the post.

I have finally found the time to take a look at the post in question and am honestly confused as to why there is any suggestion of a fuel or lube oil related failure on this engine. Based on the photos and facts provided it seems utterly clear that this failure is directly attributed to a foreign object smashing into the compressor turbine sending shrapnel into the cylinders of the engine which not surprisingly caused cylinder scoring and piston head chipping.

According to the story the turbo was replaced and the vehicle driven again for an undisclosed period during which its performance worsened to the point when it was decided to pull the head off. When the head was removed it was discovered that the cylinders were scored, pistons were chipped, heavy oil/soot residue was found on the back side of the intake valves and yet again the turbine was shattered! A horrible mess for sure.

There is no question that this engine was totaled but there is no explanation as to why it was attributed to running on vegetable oil and it was stated that the second turbo failure occurred after the SVO system was removed.

I think anyone with any experience with TDIs is well aware that the awful combination of crankcase ventilation and EGR result in heavy build up of intake sludge over time. This condition becomes even more exaggerated when low boost pressure is present and certainly when turbos are leaking oil into the intake and excessive blow-by and low compression result from scored cylinders and chipped pistons.

The real question:
What caused the scoring and chipping? Bits of turbine blades forced into the cylinder of course.

What caused the turbine blades to shatter (twice)? Certainly not vegetable oil.


Let me present a few photos of my personal TDI engine which had been converted for over 3 years and logged approximately 46,000 miles since conversion. You will see no abnormal carbon, resin or coke deposits. No excessive oily intake build up and no cylinder scoring.


<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/d...olytest091.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/d...olytest089.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/d...olytest095.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i225.photobucket.com/albums/d...olytest097.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket"></a>


This is the second converted TDI engine we have torn-down the other had 90,000 miles with only about 20,000 on vegetable oil and was in comparable condition.

I have been a member of TDI club for years and am very familiar with the beast since I have four in my family and have worked on dozens more. VW TDI models are amongst the most popular for conversion to vegetable oil with the Greasecar conversion kit. We have over 1,000 customers using our system on TDIs some of which have logged over 200,000 miles since conversion and I can tell you that burning vegetable oil in a properly converted TDI will not lead to the conditions presented in Mr. Roosters post. In addition I find it ridiculous that it is even suggested that vegetable oil use could be related in any way to the engine failure depicted.

If anyone wants more clarification or is interested in presenting more rebuttal I welcome it and will respond to the best of my ability but please back up your position with some actual data. I really want to help dispel these SVO/TDI myths that I have seen here and heard from a handful of folks at TDI Fest this year.

Justin Carven
President
Greasecar Vegetable Fuel Systems

Last edited by greasecar1; September 13th, 2007 at 10:46.
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Old September 13th, 2007, 10:52   #2
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How about that wonderful buildup on the back of the intake valves? Couldn't have been VO right?
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Old September 13th, 2007, 11:12   #3
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Could you clarify how the VO would get into the intake system? Only way I can figure is if it was blowing past the rings unburned due to low compression and building up in the CC oil, then blowing through the turbo seal or CCV. If that was the case, then he was either not purging long enough and VO was leaking past the rings during cold startup or the rings were coked up from burning cold VO in a cold engine.

other opinions more than welcome
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Old September 13th, 2007, 11:45   #4
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^^^^ Blowby and EGR.
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Old September 13th, 2007, 12:22   #5
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Wow, a logical post! Thank you!
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Old September 13th, 2007, 14:12   #6
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I thought at least 2 pistons showed signs of coking.
If there was coking on all pistons, the foreign object scenario could not explain the coking.

Once the rings broke, excessive blowby produced the gunk on the back of the valves. The question is what caused the piston rings to stick or break?
3 scenarios have been suggested:

1. Coking caused by bad VO system
2. Excessive turbo pressure
3. Foreign objects in the turbo compressor.


I think knowing for sure would require more inspection of the engine.
I think we'd like to determine if the rings were broken or simply coked.
But scenario #3 is the only one which can easily explain the chipped piston.
No one else has explained the chipped piston.

Last edited by BioDiesel; September 13th, 2007 at 19:20.
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Old September 13th, 2007, 14:26   #7
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Default God help us all!

Quote:
Originally Posted by UFO
How about that wonderful buildup on the back of the intake valves? Couldn't have been VO right?

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Old September 13th, 2007, 16:30   #8
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Regular UOA's could have confirmed or disputed this or some of the other theories.

If this is the real scenario, then the UOA's would have shown normal wear metals in the oil up to the first turbo failure. Then if another UOA was done, a sudden unmistakable spike in wear metals would have apparently come out of nowhere.

Unfortunately no UOA's were done so we will never know for sure.

If the old valve cover and CCV puck could be recovered and both opened up for internal inspection, some insight might be gained...

The valve cover has a two piece removable plastic baffle section and some heavy gauge "steel wool" material that would likely still be full of hardened oil "rocks". I open up this section every 20k miles and clean the "steel wool" with carburetor cleaner. I also clean my CCV... and I only run pump diesel, and no fuels that are known to cause crudding of the engine oil.
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Old September 13th, 2007, 18:19   #9
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Justin, Thanks for your input on this fuel choice issue. The more sides heard from the more enlightened we'll all become.
However.... (other shoe dropping)...
My concern is with the appearance of a serious reduction in the 'half-life' or miles until a 50% mortality rate of grease fueled TDI engines versus the half-life of commercial biodiesel or the half-life of petrodiesel fueled TDI.
Your personal 46,000 miles, even if every one of those miles was on grease, is only about one year's use for many.
The second example you mention with 20,000 miles use is no great reassurance to me.
The four examples of failed grease fueled TDI engines I have personally seen inside, and they were by no means all using your system, occurred at an average of about 60,000 miles of grease use.
Whether a commercial kit, or a hastily thrown together home-made lame attempt at saving a buck today, I personally don't trust the concept for TDI, and will not advise anyone to try to see if they get different results.

I realize that my request will mean a lot of data collection for you to comply, but of your
Quote:
over 1,000 customers using our system on TDIs some of which have logged over 200,000 miles since conversion
could you collect and publically post the number of miles those direct injection cars have logged on grease? Simple 10,000 mile blocks would suffice. for example: 250 cars with 0~10k miles, 375 with 20~30k, 210 with 30~40k and so forth. I don't want the idi cars. I don't want the mileage to include miles before the WVO kits were installed.
There are enough statisticians among us to crunch the numbers and the results, hopefully as glowing as you should hope, would silence most of the grease critics.
Me? I'll remain both silent and a critic.
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Old September 13th, 2007, 18:29   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UFO
^^^^ Blowby and EGR.
Maybe I am confused but if you mean blow by thru the CCV, doesn't that come from the CC-side. Still doesn't explain how the VO got into the CC.
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Old September 13th, 2007, 19:19   #11
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To Lug_nut:

I doubt this will satisfy your statistical request but here goes:

1. 4 DI's over 120K on SVO:
http://rapsdb.rapsinfo.de/index.php?...fleistungP%D6L

If you step through the database , you advance 10 vehicles / page.
If you get close to the end, you should get to the point where total SVO mileage ( Laufstung POL) is 20K, 10K, etc..

2. A '96 Passat Elsbett single tank w/ 200K miles? ( sorry, can't relocate pic. )


3. How about 1,000,000 miles??

http://www.eilishoils.com/media/news...e_mcd_merc.jpg

"Ireland's FIRST PPO car. A rare article on the 1985 ELSBETT Mercedes and its inspiring owner and pioneer, Senator Charlie McDonald.
Is this a contender for the Guinness Book of Records ? - rumour has it that Charlie McDonald's hand-made ELSBETT 3-cylinder PPO engine has clocked over 1,000,000 miles on PPO !! The car's been to Malaya and back at least once !!"



To sdeck:

That wasn't VO in the combustion chamber. Looks like standard intake gook to me.
Excess blowby forced and excess amount down the intake post CCV.


Fortunately my Elsbett can't read, so I needn't worry about it coming across "The Tragic Greaser Story" and giving up the ghost the next day. Turned 68K today.

Last edited by BioDiesel; September 13th, 2007 at 19:29.
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Old September 13th, 2007, 19:50   #12
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I've had my hands full, but I was invited to give my input.

First off.. your pictures. You can’t tell me there is no varnishing, because you aren’t showing the places where varnish accumulates, for example, inside the injectors, under the pistons, on the rods and in the injection pump

Second, the piston you do show is the ‘dry’ one. The one I’m seeing right next to that one does not look at all the same. Perhaps the injector nozzles aren’t working the same in each cylinder? I’m seeing signs of an oily-looking, crusty piston.

Let’s see the rest of the pistons. As a matter of fact, remove them and let’s see the bottom end. Sorry to be so suspicious, but the problem with Andy’s car was NOT EVERY PISTON. #1 and 2 were doing fine. This is not a case of getting three out of four making for a good engine. One badly firing injector can take your engine OUT.

Third… accusing the turbo for being the problem is totally bogus… you haven’t experienced the forensics of the typical turbo failures to make such a statement.

Since I was the one doing the tear-down and replacement of DuluthRooster's engine, and have several other destroyed WVO engines on my shelves, I can tell you distinctly that the outcome that I found in Andy's car is not so very uncommon among grease cars. I would not argue that there are substantial faults that I would lay at the feet of Andy, most particularly the fact that the removal of water and glycerin were below par.

But to say that the TDI is the IDEAL vehicle to perform a waste oil modification to, I would totally disagree. Even if the WVO is properly dried and the glycerin is removed and it is thinned to a better consistency ( the three big killers), you still have questions of seal damage, injection problems, varnishing, lubricity... I'm sure there's more, but for now, that is enough.. that will keep the engine from performing for an extended life under the care of most novice WVO users. Lets' face it...the worst you get most of the time when buying 'bad diesel' is a load of water. There are several things that can get you with WVO that can ruin an engine.

I don't want to point any fingers about Andy’s second turbo, but as for me, it appeared that a foreign object got in there and took it out. There have been theories floated that the excessive oil consumption was the culprit, but that seems a bit far-fetched. Andy wasn't adding a quart every hundred miles... he drove 750 miles from his place to mine without losing enough oil to matter.

And the blown-out pieces of piston I have seen before, albeit in a different format. But the oil and water mix was a similar engineering problem I had many years ago. Water trapped between the piston rings and piston when brought to compression and enough heat caused an explosion of steam. That is what shattered out pieces of the pistons.

There were no broken rings. Instead, they had enough WVO that never got burned in the cylinders that it ran over the edge of the piston and coked the rings up until they stuck. When that occurs, it's an easy thing for the WVO to mix with the engine oil and do all sorts of damage.

After all, the reason we all are using the expensive synthetic oils is mostly for the higher temps going through the turbo. The CC oil can hit 800 degrees going through the turbo. Synthetics come out the same as they went in.

But homogenize some WVO that is sneaking past the rings into your oil and that stuff cokes up at about 300 degrees. Is it any wonder that many of the WVO systems I've seen blew up at the turbo? Not at all...

Then you exacerbate the problem by trying to get as much as you can out of an engine by going to really big nozzles... Thicker fuel and more of it... it does NOT atomize like diesel fuel. I don't care what anybody says. It's purely a matter of physics. In order to atomize a heavy fuel to the order of a lighter fuel, you must apply greater pressures. Quite honestly, I believe that there are some of the bio oils that are superior in cetane and btu's. Why then are larger nozzles used? It shouldn't be a matter of larger nozzles, but HIGHER PRESSURES FOR EQUAL ATOMIZING EFFECT. Actually, I'd rather see the fuel properly thinned.

What is worse, I don't see any truly independent thinkers here. What I do see is the abused test-case of Andy's car, He was using what by all appearances was a very advanced system to burn WVO and it failed. Not only did it fail, but Andy took alot of flack because he was public about it. It caused some infighting and some hard feelings, especially when name-dropping was taken advantage of by competing producers of WVO systems.

Personally, I don't care who uses what for fuel. You can rend cats for diesel for all I care. It's not my fight. But I've seen enough failures to know that I"m just seeing the tip of the iceberg. I have my theories and not only that, but I've physical evidence to back my theories up.

So, here's the upshot... Andy knows that he attributed to the engine's demise. His admission is not to poison any company or their products, nor is it to destroy the credibility of biofuels. Anyone who has had any contact with the biofuels has seen the success stories and the abysmal failures. But to diagnose and do proper forensics, you have to first state the facts and analyze the statistics. That seems to be a very big problem around here. Andy is one of the few who was bold and honest enough to admit he had a failure. I know most of the failures quietly disappear.

Anyone ready to come out with some factual and statistical evidences to support the longevity and viability of WVO? How about the failure rate? I’ve a feeling you’ll only get the great success stories.

For only 46,000 miles, your WVO engine doesn’t look all that good…
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Last edited by Franko6; September 13th, 2007 at 19:59.
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Old September 14th, 2007, 06:00   #13
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"But to say that the TDI is the IDEAL vehicle to perform a waste oil modification to, I would totally disagree. Even if the WVO is properly dried and the glycerin is removed and it is thinned to a better consistency ( the three big killers), you still have questions of seal damage, injection problems, varnishing, lubricity... I'm sure there's more, but for now, that is enough.."

Plenty wrong in that statement. Glycerin, seals, lubricity.
But hey, not everybody has hours to spend learning about SVO.


I don't buy the "steam fractured the piston" argument.
One guy intentionally injects water into his WVO conversion, and has been doing so for years for more performance improvements. Plus I would expect that the steam formed at the moment it was injected. Others state that this explosion erodes the injectors tips. From the earlier reports, no one mentioned damaged injector tips.


"How about failure rate?"
http://www.vegetableoildiesel.co.uk/...base/index.php
[You can toss 42% of the reported failures out because they're using Lucas ip's, a known inferior pump for SVO.]

".. only get the great success stories."
This link is on my website and has been posted here many times:
http://translate.google.com/translat...language_tools

Last edited by BioDiesel; September 14th, 2007 at 06:17.
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Old September 14th, 2007, 08:25   #14
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I don't see that glycerin should be in the engine. I don't think water should be in the engine. When you've taken apart a VWO pump and seen the brown goo, it came from someplace...

I notice you make no mention of failure rates to success rates. I'm sure there is a learning curve to meet for the novice WVO'er. Where are the stats? BURIED?

But when you have the engineering background and the water is not INJECTED, but LATENT it makes a huge difference.

That principle works regardless if it is a WVO, Gas or Diesel, but the higher pressures of a Diesel iwll enhance the problem.

Youi say there are errors in what I say, but give nothing but the negative feedback with no substantiation. I could say, "I just think you're wrong." That proves nothing.
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Old September 14th, 2007, 10:03   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BioDiesel
To Lug_nut:
I doubt this will satisfy your statistical request but here goes:
1. 4 DI's over 120K on SVO:
http://rapsdb.rapsinfo.de/index.php?...fleistungP%D6L

2. A '96 Passat Elsbett single tank w/ 200K miles? ( sorry, can't relocate pic. )

3. How about 1,000,000 miles??
http://www.eilishoils.com/media/news...e_mcd_merc.jpg
replies:
1. I stopped after the first dozen or so pages to post. I may get back to the site to collect further data, but based on the preliminary numbers, I'm not overly impressed.
The first 22 TDI engined vehicles listed have an average distance on plant oil of 12,500 miles.
The earliest TDI entry, a 2000 VW A4, has 30k km on oil and a last entry of May 2002.
No updates since 2002 on a car that was but two years old?
Next is a 99 Audi A4, 10k km and a last entry of May 02.
Third is a 98 Land Rover, 9000 km and nothing since 6-02.
95 Passat, 50k km and no report since 7-02.
and on and on.
2. The Elsbett kit is far more involved than a hot oil kit. I'd expect that it would be better than a 'typical' conversion.
3. That 85 Mercedes has an engine designed specifically from the ground up, by Elsbett no less, as a WVO engine. It is not a petrodiesel engine with a heated fuel system.
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