Leaving Atlanta with a couple of gallons of biodiesel still in the tank, my friend Hugh and I decided to fill it to the top with canola oil from Target. We didn't want to dilute our waste vegetable oil with anything, so we thought it would be fun to throw in some garden-variety cooking oil that you might find in your mom's pantry and blend it with the refuel biodiesel already in the tank. Sure enough, the Benz performed flawlessly, the only performance changes being a smoother idle and a cool smell wafting from the tailpipe.
Target CanolaEnlarge Photo
There were particles. And the orange 4-micron Baldwin filter--and Mercedes primary and secondary filters--did their job, filtering out those small particles and protecting the injection pump and engine from contamination. But that Baldwin could only take so much, and on a lonely two-lane road somewhere outside of Selma, Ala., the engine began chugging and ultimately shuddered to a halt, starved of fuel that would no longer pass through the clogged Baldwin.
Panic set in, wrenches came out, and I routed the fuel around the Baldwin 4-micron, figuring it was clogged. Correct. We were back on the road, and finished out the day without incident. But the primary and secondary filters were doing double-duty at that point, and I was to find out the next day that they, too, would soon grind our progress to a halt when they became filled with tiny bits of detritus from thousands of breakfasts and midnight snacks from the Majestic Diner in Atlanta.--Colin Mathews
Stranded in AlabamaEnlarge Photo
grounded in AlabamaEnlarge Photo