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smartie

Converted to run on WVO

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So I did it, even though my Smart is just under 2 years old, 10,000 km and the warranty hasn't expired yet. I've wanted to do this for a year and a half, patience is not my strong suit. After a whole lot of research on the internet (and this forum) I decided to take the plunge. There's been a few glitches but overall it's great, and being a restaurant owner I have unlimited amounts of used canola oil that I have to pay to get taken away.I got the conversion done in Salmon Arm, BC by Edward Beggs www.plantdrive.ca because it was reasonably close (I live in Calgary) and he was really good in responding to my emails. There actually hadn't been a smartcar converted in Canada so it was somewhat experimental. I had fuel/air difficulties (mostly due to the computerized systems) and the trip back from Salmon Arm to Calgary is not something I would want to do again anytime soon, but overall I'm very pleased. You have to start on diesel then switch to veggie oil when the engine reaches 60 degrees, then switch back to diesel when you get close to your destination to purge the lines before you shut off the engine. He installed an alarm so you get warned if you forget when you shut off the engine. There were some other things (fuel pumps,etc) that had to be dealt with, and I was advised to get an oil change when I got back. Not surprisingly, I was told by the dealer I could get an appointment in a month - for an oil change!! This is Calgary since 2005.So I called around to drive-in lube places and most couldn't do it becuz the smart had to get the oil suctioned out, but I called one where the guy had worked previously at a place that could and was willing to tell me where. So if you want an oil change and don't want to wait a month, Mr Lube on Macleod and 98th can do it, and even have their own Smart (in addition to the suction equipment).

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Sounds like a complex system. I hope it works out. May I ask whether you considered investing in the equipment that would have allowed you to convert your WVO to bio-deisel? From what I understand it is a fairly simple process.

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I had fuel/air difficulties (mostly due to the computerized systems) and the trip back from Salmon Arm to Calgary is not something I would want to do again anytime soon, but overall I'm very pleased.

Can you elaborate on this part? What happened during your trip back, and did you have to make adjustments after the trip to make things work better?

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From the information I got from Ed (I'm really not knowledgeable about cars) it seems like it went into "limp mode". I was running it on diesel because I didn't want to risk a problem on the highway, and initially it was fine. Just past Sicamous it developed a problem where I could speed up normally to second gear/40kph, but then I couldn't go any faster unless I shifted up to third gear, at which point it would go up to about 60. Same with all the other gears (4th to go up to about 80, etc), and the automatic setting didn't work at all. It wasn't a problem on the flats but going up hills was a real problem, some of them I could only go about 60kph. I even had semi's passing me. That wasn't actually the worst part of the trip, it was being turned back just east of Golden due to the highway being closed (something to do with an accident involving 2 semi's, probably the ones that passed me) and having to go south through Radium. Fortunately, I decided to stop for more diesel in Golden so I shut off the engine. When I started up again it was like nothing was wrong and I was imagining the whole thing! Once I got into Calgary city limits I switched to veg oil and it worked fine all the way home.But the main reason I wouldn't want to do the trip again is no cruise control in the Smart.The fuel/air difficulties are sporadic. Yesterday I had a problem switching on the fly (on Macleod), it immediately lost power and I pulled into Chinook Centre just in time for it to stall. Today I switched while I was parked, and it worked just fine. It seems like the computerized systems are sensitive to changes in the fuel delivery. I think it will be OK if I only switch over when I'm stopped, and I'm going to replace the fuel filter and see if it makes a difference. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until my appointment time at the end of the month unless I can figure out how to change it myself.Anyway, it's really neat, I love it. My car smells like deep fryer which isn't the nicest smell in the world but it's a lot nicer than the smell of diesel.

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May I ask whether you considered investing in the equipment that would have allowed you to convert your WVO to bio-deisel? From what I understand it is a fairly simple process.

I did look into it but it seemed a little messy, and I don't have a garage to do it in. Also, I wasn't sure what to do with the glycerine and whether disposal would be a problem. I was following the biodiesel co-op threads for a while but then decided I preferred to get a conversion.

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Good reasons. The glycerine you could have sold to someone who makes their own soap, but yeah it is a good question.It seems to me there is a good cottage industry here waiting to be tapped.

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Yes I did, I thought it was a conversion to SVO and that's not what I was interested in (a 16 litre jug of canola oil is around $28 - more than diesel, while WVO costs -1.25 for the same quantity due to the disposal costs). Ed might have been in contact, he did say that someone in the UK had done it before.

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my understanding is that the same system runs svo and wvo....the difference being the filtering requirements...french fries dont pass through injectors well.

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SVO is "Straight Vegetable Oil" WVO falls under that category (Waste Vegetable Oil)The Smart we converted runs on both. It is not biodiesel. There is no chemical processing, and no glycerine byproduct. The used cooking oil is simply filtered then used for fuel. The Smart being discussed here is the first Smart we have converted, in fact the first in North America to my knowledge. We completed the conversion about 5 minutes before the owner headed back to Calgary and did not have much time to road test and troubleshoot. By switching at idle after the short warmup period on diesel, there have been no more problems. We will likely have our dealer in Canmore install a check valve nonetheless, to improve further. We look forward to doing more Smart conversions!Edward BeggsPlantDrive.ca

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SVO is "Straight Vegetable Oil" WVO falls under that category (Waste Vegetable Oil)The Smart we converted runs on both new Canola if desired (which in BC is about $1.05 per litre at Costco in 16 litre jugs) or on used Canola from a fryer. Or on diesel if need be..there are two tanks. This is *not* biodiesel!! There is no chemical processing, and no glycerine byproduct. The used cooking oil is simply filtered then used for fuel. The Smart being discussed here is the first Smart we have converted, in fact the first in North America to my knowledge. We have converted many, many diesels, cars and trucks, etc. since 1999. We completed the conversion about 5 minutes before the owner arrived at the shop headed back to Calgary and did not have much time to road test and troubleshoot; I would have liked to have had it a little longer for more testing, let it sit overnight and run it the next day, etc. - next time! :-)By switching at idle after the short warmup period on diesel, there have been no more problems. We will likely have our dealer in Canmore install a check valve nonetheless, to improve further. We look forward to doing more Smart conversions!Edward BeggsPlantDrive.ca

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Dear Smartie,How is veggie oil Smart conversion running a year later? How did it run in the winter? What about during stop and go driving in Calgary? Any further comments you care to make? Would you do it again? What did it cost in $$ and in time?Rocky

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YES, let's have an update, I am very interested in converting in the future (lots of restaurants around = free gas for me)Kerry

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It's a lot easier than it sounds. I've been doing Bio going on 3 years now. I have a '03 Jetta TDI, and a '97 F350 1ton diesel. Both are run on 100% biodiesel during the summer. VW has about 40,000k on bio., with no problems. We just got a '06 Passion and that will be using it once the warranty is off.

Sounds like a complex system. I hope it works out. May I ask whether you considered investing in the equipment that would have allowed you to convert your WVO to bio-deisel? From what I understand it is a fairly simple process.

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Dear Smartie,How is veggie oil Smart conversion running a year later? How did it run in the winter? What about during stop and go driving in Calgary? Any further comments you care to make? Would you do it again? What did it cost in $$ and in time?Rocky

It's running fine. I didn't use it much in the winter because the system I got doesn't work when it's really cold. Ed said I could use it to -10 but I found it stalled if I used it any colder than 0, probably because I didn't get the heated tank (just small tank with a quick-connect) and I was too lazy to bring it inside like I was planning to when I got it. Between not having a garage at home or at work and living 1.5km away my car rarely got to even one bubble, anyway, most days. I only got to use it maybe a dozen times between November and April. I use it all the time now that it's gotten warmer. Stop and go driving is not an issue, once it hits temperature (2 bubbles) and you switch over it's just like using diesel, although I did notice when it's on automatic it doesn't accelerate as fast on veg oil (not that it accelerates fast anyway!), if I manually shift it seems to be the same.I really like it and I'd do it again, but I don't think on a Smartcar it saves money unless you drive a lot. It cost $2300 to get the conversion done (some of it was R&D, you can check with Ed at www.plantdrive.ca for what it would cost now). It took 3 days (I'm not sure how much of that was actual working on it vs. waiting for parts). When I did it I knew it wouldn't pay from a straight $$ point of view for me since I don't drive that much, but I liked the concept, and also having a use for my waste oil instead of paying to get it taken away (but now a biodiesel processor is taking my excess oil for free).

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I think if I were to invest $2300 in a veggie oil setup, I'd put it into a system to make biodiesel. No mods to the car needed then.Can you get biodiesel from the guys that are taking your oil?

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You may want to read the opinions on the Mercedes-Benz Club of America forum - Diesel sub-forum - about WVO conversions in Mercedes OM engines. Some long-time M-B diesel mechanics are not too fond of the idea. Just for further discussion.....

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I think if I were to invest $2300 in a veggie oil setup, I'd put it into a system to make biodiesel. No mods to the car needed then.Can you get biodiesel from the guys that are taking your oil?

I didn't have a place to do biodiesel, or I would have, I considered it.I think I can get biodiesel from him, he dropped off a jug but I haven't tried it out yet. I wonder if I can use biodiesel AND wvo.

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you could use biodiesel with WVO no differently than if you had put dino diesel in there...Heck if I had that set up I would run the Bio and WVO all the time in the warmer months.

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Good reasons. The glycerine you could have sold to someone who makes their own soap, but yeah it is a good question.It seems to me there is a good cottage industry here waiting to be tapped.

A few people on the INFOPOP forum have tried it and so far have no real takers. But at least they're trying. :D

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