Published: Saturday, October 21st, 2006
After a long day on Interstate 40, most men come into Dean's restaurant in Tucumcari and order the special. But on Thursday night, Charles Anderson and Scott Turlington, came in and asked for all the restaurant’s leftover cooking oil. Cook Antonio Encinias admitted to being a little flummoxed, when an employee told him about the guys out front and their request. "They want to do what?" he remembered as his first response. Restaurant employees will comment that used cooking oil doesn't smell great and it isn't a pretty sight either. But there they were, Anderson and Turlington, behind Dean's pumping out about 30 gallons of used soybean cooking oil from a greasy brown storage container. Their mission: filter it and put in the fuel tank of their Ford Excursion. "You have to get out all the chicken strips, small mammals and French fries," Anderson said. "It's gives a new meaning to dumpster diving, doesn't it?" Turlington said. Anderson is president of Golden Fuel Systems, based in Drury, Mo., and he'd already powered his diesel truck from Oklahoma City to Tucumcari on cooking oil. Turlington is his cousin and the company's graphic designer. The company specializes in converting diesel engines to cooking oil-powered vehicles. On their way to Santa Fe, Anderson said they were going to teach a class on alternative fuels at a university there. Most people forget that Rudolph Diesel powered his first diesel engine on peanut oil, Anderson said. The truck has dual fuel lines to the engine — one for oil and one for traditional diesel fuel. They trade off using one or the other depending on the availability of oil and the weather. The men said they had to go to several Tucumcari restaurants before they found one that would give them some leftover cooking oil. If the weather gets too cold, they have to warm up the engine and the cooking oil's fuel lines and tank under diesel power or else the cooking oil becomes too congealed, Anderson explained. Their Ford V-8 engine, which was pulling a trailer, was averaging about 11 miles per gallon, said Anderson. Whether you're cooking or crusing down the road, Anderson said his choice of fuel was relatively cheap per gallon and environmentally friendly.
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