The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Jesse Bach: Fuelin' on French Fries (biodiesel)

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Would you like fries with that?

Jesse Bach may not care for any himself, but he encourages the consumption of fried food. After all, this is what powers his car.

jessebach Last May, the Morenci Area High School social science teacher paid $700 for a Greasel Conversion kit. It took about seven hours, with a little help from his father and brother, to convert a 1986 Volkswagen Golf diesel to a vegetable oil burner. Living in Michigan, he still needs a little diesel fuel to get it going, but a tank of that lasts for weeks. And the vegetable oil? That’s free for the asking.

Converting to vegetable oil takes the diesel engine back to its beginnings at the turn of the century.

“Rudolph Diesel originally designed the motor to run on peanut oil,” Jesse explained.

But that was about the time that the development of petroleum fuels was taking off. After Diesel’s death in 1913, his colleagues converted the engine to run on petroleum-based fuel. The vegetable oil idea was pushed aside and petro-based fuel became known as diesel.

Rudolph would be proud of the work of Charlie Anderson, owner of Greasel Conversions in Missouri. Anderson is working hard to bring the diesel engine back to its roots.

“There weren’t a whole of modifications,” Jesse said. “You have to cut some fuel lines and some coolant lines.”

And instead of heading for the gas station, you drive to a restaurant to relieve them of some used cooking oil.

Anderson cautions against visiting fast food restaurants due to the poor quality of oil. Small, independent establishments will provide better fuel. Jesse collects his oil from the Morenci Dari-Ette, Cruisers Drive-In in Fayette, and Hoffie’s outside of Adrian.

“They have to pay someone to take it away so they’re glad to get rid of it,” Jesse said.

If there’s a downside to the vegetable oil way of driving, it has to be the process of collecting the oil, letting it settle, running it through a filter, then pouring it into a fuel tank in the trunk of the car.

But that’s it. After that it’s nearly cost-free travel, and Jesse does a lot. He put about 10,000 miles on his Golf since school got out last spring. Make that 10,000 trouble-free miles.

How it works

In brief, the system works like this.

The car is started with diesel fuel. As the engine warms, heated coolant is directed through a hose to the oil tank in the back. The heat is collected and warms the vegetable oil to create a viscosity similar to diesel fuel. When it’s warm, a dashboard switch trips a fuel selector and the engine begins to burn oil instead of diesel. The change-over can be made while driving.

Jesse still remembers the first time he flipped the switch.

“When I switched it over, I expected that something would happen,” he said. “But there was no big difference. It was somewhat anti-climatic.”

Milage and engine power are said to decrease by about five percent, but it’s nothing noticeable.

“I just know that because there’s been some research on it,” Jesse said.

The Golf gets up to 50 miles per gallon with diesel, so losing five percent with french fry oil isn’t a big loss.

There’s slightly less carbon dioxide emitted, compared to diesel, and a little more nitrous oxide. After the initial startup, there’s no more of the smelly, black cloud of soot associated with diesel.

From an environmental standpoint, the Greasel conversion fits right into the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle routine that was drummed into Jesse’s head during his younger days at Morenci Elementary School. The carbon dioxide released in burning the oil isn’t adding to that already in existence, Jesse said, unlike burning fossil fuels and releasing new quantities into the air.

There are limits to the use of old cooking oil, however.

“We couldn’t produce enough vegetable oil to run all the diesel vehicles on the road,” Jesse said.

That’s were biodiesel comes into play. Although soybeans are touted as a good biodiesel fuel, they’re actually on the bottom of the list for efficiency, from what Jessie has read. Several crops are better, but they all pale to algae.

It’s not only the VW Golf that’s traveling cheaply. Jesse has heard of a semi-tractor that’s racked up 200,000 miles. Some trucks are equipped with a filtering device so they can just keep on traveling from restaurant to restaurant as needed. Charlie Anderson’s father drove from Alaska to Missouri on about two gallons of diesel fuel.

“The use of vegetable oil for engine fuels may seem insignificant today,” Rudolph Diesel said in 1912, “but such oils may become in the course of time as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time.”

With the price of crude oil hitting a record high again last week, Diesel’s words may be growing in importance.

Jesse’s already in line with Diesel’s principles. You’ll know it by the smell of his exhaust—that familiar odor of fries and burgers.

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