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Veggie Across America: Fueling Up

How to get 15 gallons of waste vegetable oil from a 100-pound container into a Mercedes fuel tank? Strength and patience. Plus some trial and error.

Rest stops are great--anywhere that we don't look like terrorists and attract unwanted attention with our collection of funnels, containers, rags, and hoses. Or at least just where it's vacant and nobody really notices.

Our first tank (above) was poured outside the Macon motel in Tuskegee, Ala., on a frigid Saturday morning. Motel worker "Dog" had watched the car faithfully for us all night for a small tip, and the frosty Benz was sitting the next morning with an empty tank waiting for its first infusion of oil.

Thankfully, we kept one 15-gallon container in the motel room with us so it was relatively warm and not too thick. We also had a five-gallon plastic bucket along to make the job easier, but the tiny blue funnel used at first was slow and messy. Kitty litter and rags allowed us to clean up the oil that didn't quite make it into the fuel tank.

For the second and successive tanks, we purchased flexible heater hose and an industrial-sized funnel. This allowed us to get a workable system down wherein we poured from the 15-gallon container into the five-gallon bucket and then from the bucket into the funnel, through a hose, and into the fuel tank. The hardest part is hefting the 100-pound-plus 15-gallon container; the rest is remarkably easy and quick.

At this point, with just one container full riding along with us in New Mexico (and one having just been poured into the tank), we've got the routine down and can refuel quickly on the fly.--Colin Mathews

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Fueling at night

Fueling at night

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late night fueling

late night fueling

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