Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Aaah..I'm relaxing in the lap of luxury over here at JW's pad enormous bachelor pad, enjoying some wine and home cooked food. We went to the farmer's market at People's (my favorite) Co-op and got some chantrelles for tomorrow's dinner and chiles for tonight's beans and polenta with tomatillas. I did some errands like replacing the driver's license that was stolen in New Orleans and picking up some artwork from the cute new downtown gallery, Pony Club.

I went for a little bike ride around N. Mississippi before dinner in the chilly fall air, bright leaves falling all around. It made me fall in love with Portland all over again and gave me a dose of housing envy because there are so many beautiful houses around here. I like it.

I made it here from Victoria (350 miles) on about 16 gallons of grease, not counting a side trip to Abbotsford (80 miles RT) so that makes 26 MPG. My estimate has always been about 23 when I'm loaded down like this. Not bad. Now I just need to find some more grease in a town where you can't spit without hitting a greasecar! Wish me luck..

Oh, photos coming soon. I got a new camera but I still don't have a copy of Photoshop. Can anyone help?

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Start at the Beginning

In January I was offered a solo art show in Japan at a gallery called Birdo Flugas in Shiogama, on the Pacific coast, north of Tokyo. Knowing that I would want to travel for at least a couple of months in Asia following the show I knew that I would need to save some money. At the time I was paying $750 for my 800 square foot art studio in Portland.

Having lived in my van for eight months in 2005-2006, I decided that the best way to save money would be to move back into the van and take the opportunity to travel across the country, which I have always wanted to do.

It only made sense to look for a better van since I would be spending almost a year living in it, so I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to invest in a diesel vehicle and a vegetable oil conversion system. My first search on eBay turned up the van that would become mine, a 1982 Diesel Volkswagen Westfalia. It was located near Medford, Oregon and had already been converted by it’s owner, Thaddeus Gala.

On January 21st I drove the six hours to Trail and checked it out and gave him a deposit. I gave notice on my studio on February first and made plans to put everything in storage in Portland.

When I met with Thaddeus he went over the vegetable oil system with me. Basically, the van has a secondary fuel system with an electric heater to heat the vegetable oil so that the engine can use it as diesel fuel. To collect oil from restaurants there is also an external battery powered pump with a fuel filter that can be used to pump for the collection of dirty oil and then filter it after the solid matter and water have been allowed to settle out of it.

The filtered vegetable oil is then stored in a five gallon container that is connected by a pump to my auxiliary fuel tank. I can switch between fuel tanks via a console mounted on the dash, which also allows me to turn on the heater and the pump to fill the tank.

As for collecting the fuel Thaddeus went over using the pump and showed me some samples of clean and dirty oil and sent me on my way with two empty five gallon containers.

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