Grease Frightening IJosh Lee, Wednesday December 6th, 2006
“Dad, will you take me to Hartford?” I inquired.
“Right now. I bought a car.”
It was true -- I’d just bought my first car, on eBay no less. I’d been searching for weeks, occasionally bidding, but I didn't expect to actually buy anything. My Dad graciously agreed to take me to Springfield to meet “Dan,” the seller, half way. After we’d been waiting for a while, Dan called to tell me that he would be late. He was lost. This was a knack Dan had, which I would later find out he had passed on to his vehicle.
Register for free to enjoy ODK without advertisements!
Eventually, though, he found us, and took me towards Hartford, where my new noble steed was waiting. As it turns out, Dan didn't actually live in Hartford. In fact, Dan didn't know where he lived. He told me he lived in “Torrington”, and so I whipped out the atlas to find that Torrington was about 20 minutes away from my house, on the other side of the state of Connecticut. After a few hours of “sight-seeing” with Dan, we eventually found his residence, and there she sat in the driveway.
It was a 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit, Diesel, converted to run on waste vegetable oil.
“The conversion process was really simple.” Dan explained to me, “I just added an extra tank in the hatchback, ran it up the the engine, and installed a switch. Then, all of the lines where the grease runs need to be heated, so I installed heating elements.”
He pointed out the various components of the system, and explained how to operate the dashboard switches.
“Leave it on diesel until the temperature reaches this mark, then you can switch to grease. Then, about 5 miles before you turn the car off, switch back to diesel to clean out the lines.. if you forget, this switch is a backflush.”
I handed over the check and was ready to roll.
The Rabbit, it seems, thought it still belonged to Dan, as I promptly found myself lost, somewhere in the middle of Connecticut. I managed to establish control over the renegade vehicle and make it home before nightfall.
The next day I had a long to-do list. My first stop was the insurance agency, where I was redirected to the DMV. It turns out only registered vehicles can be insured. OK. I made my way to the DMV, with directions that my Dad had painstakingly drawn for me. One set of new license plates later, I decided to get the rabbit a valid Mass. inspection sticker while I was in the area. The Rabbit’s spirit came through once again, and I was forced to stop and ask for directions at a garage. “Where’s the place where I can get Inspected?” I asked. The man had no idea. Back in the car, I put the key in the ignition, and turned. Nothing. “Great!” I thought, “my battery is dead.”
Ten minutes later, the mechanic told me it wasn’t the battery.
“Nope, probably your starter.” he informed me.
“How much does a new one cost?”
Great. This would not be the last problem I would have. Not by a long shot.
AAA sent a tow truck for me, and took me to Troy’s Garage. There, the mechanics swarmed around my beloved new ride. “Bio-Diesel eh?” they asked.
“Nope, straight veggie-oil.” I said proudly.
After a few very stressful days, the Rabbit roared again, and I set about my next project: gathering the grease.
Over the next few weeks I visited almost every restaurant in the area, asking for any waste vegetable oil. When I found some, I stored it in 5 Gallon paint cans. They were messy, and the trunk of the rabbit was covered in several coatings of grease. Eventually there were six full cans in the back, as well as a full tank. The rabbit was ready for her maiden voyage. The following Sunday would be D-Day. I was going south... way down south, to Jackson Mississippi, to see my girlfriend. We hadn’t seen each-other for over a month, and it was growing tedious.
Of course, buying a plane ticket would have been much cheaper, and probably wiser, since I was trying to save money for an adventure on the Appalachian Trail, but where’s the excitement in that? Besides, the veggie car was a long-term investment. I now had a free mode of transportation, or so I thought.