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How do you control your equipment/garage pollution?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Many of us here use equipment, whether that's a pickup and chainsaw, a tractor, or a whole fleet.

Equipment needs servicing. Oil and fluid changes, appalling amounts of grease... It needs washing, after you run it though mud up to the belly..

Do you have a strategy for limiting, containing, mitigating,  removing, remediating the resultant nastiness, particularly around the shop/maintenance area?


Standard practice on all the farms I'm familiar with has been try and keep the quantity of pollution down, and count on dilution to deal with the rest... actually, I can think of some that really make no effort to keep the quantity down.

How awful is this plan, from a scientific perspective?

What affordable options are there for doing better?
 
master steward
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This has really been on my mind, too, as we have ducks that roam around, so any gasolene or oil leaks on my gravel driveway, are right where my ducks are constantly getting grit and bugs and weeds.

We also have a septic system, and I don't want any of that toxic stuff getting into my ground (it's not good for the septic system, anyway!)

My husband has also been getting into customizing hot wheels, and so he's using paint thinner. Right now, his idea of disposal of the paint thinner is to leave it outside to evaporate. One of our glass storage containers is now sitting on our porch full of paint thinner, waiting to either get knocked over and spilled, or to pollute our atmosphere with toxic VOCs (volitie organic compounds). AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I'm stuck trying to figure out ways to make his hobby less toxic and more wonderful. I don't want to be the wife that squashes all of her husband's hobbies...
 
Posts: 315
Location: Abkhazia · temperate climate
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Nicole, have you tried to burn the paint thinner in a rocket stove? (Burning it in a container smokes too much.)
My attempt so far is to move to organic oils. (Linseed oil for steel parts and wood), Citrus oil to clean things (but it isn't exactly harmless either).
Remaining problems so far are engine oil on the old diesel engine (yes, it leaks a few drops)…
 
master pollinator
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My general strategy is to first switch all my oil to Full Synthetic oil. Because of the way it is manufactured, unlike mineral oil, it has all of the good properties, and none of the bad, so it is a superior oil.

The next strategy is to never change the oil. There really is not any need too. Upon every start up, I always check the fluids so they are always topped off with fresh oil when they start getting low, and I change the filters. The filter change is where the impurities get taken out.

I learned of this when I worked for one of the largest railroads in the united states. The Chief of Power Control explained how it cost far more to constantly change oil then it did to just change out filters and top off the oil all the time. He made a compelling argument, and if that was the case on a 3 million dollar locomotive pushing 4000 hp, then it surely would in terms of my tiny tractors, skidders and excavators. I do this as well with my cars and trucks.

People have scoffed and said this is stupid, but is it? I run my cars and trucks for 250,000 miles! That is 84 oil changes I saved, over 105 gallons of oil, and $1700 in oil change costs...PER VEHICLE. Now total that up by the number of machines I have. Again, the railroad turned me on to this, and it really makes sense fiscally and envionmentally speaking. Changing oil is one of those things from a by gone era when engines were inferior and made out of inferior metals. Today it just is not needed.


 
pollinator
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Travis Johnson wrote:
The next strategy is to never change the oil. There really is not any need too. Upon every start up, I always check the fluids so they are always topped off with fresh oil when they start getting low, and I change the filters. The filter change is where the impurities get taken out.
People have scoffed and said this is stupid, but is it? I run my cars and trucks for 250,000 miles! That is 84 oil changes I saved, over 105 gallons of oil, and $1700 in oil change costs...PER VEHICLE. Now total that up by the number of machines I have. Again, the railroad turned me on to this, and it really makes sense fiscally and envionmentally speaking. Changing oil is one of those things from a by gone era when engines were inferior and made out of inferior metals. Today it just is not needed.


Great idea, thanks. One question I have is I had always thought that removing the filter would drain the oil. Is this not the case?
Brian
 
gardener
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Very interesting Travis!  So the Railroad is not changing oil on the diesel's in the locomotives ?  Or are they just doing this with gasoline engines ?
Seems to me that the oil pan would sludge up if you never drained it. Eventually the oil pump pickup screen could be compromised.
However if the RR is doing this there must be something too it.


Brian;  No, it will not drain all the oil, just what is in the filter and in the passages above it.  
 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
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An oil filter usually does what it's designed to do... generally the specs will reveal that this is 'catch most of the stuff, above xyz microns'.

Absolute filtration is not the norm, neither is catching much below the specified size... this is why bypass filters exist, people who want to take extra good care of an engine, or increase oil change intervals, may install such a filter to more thoroughly clean the oil.

(You can't slap a vastly better filter on the regular housing because it has to flow pretty fast to keep the engine happy, but you can divert a small amount of oil flow through a *much* better filter, and over the hours effectively all the oil will go through that filter..)

I think the Travis oil change schedule is probably a good fit for lower value farm vehicles... I don't think I'll try it on my road truck, or equipment worth more than 4 digits, unless I do something to improve filtration...

I'd be very curious to know what sort of filtration a locomotive has!
 
thomas rubino
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Locomotive run a diesel engine. Its only job is to spin a generator. In case you didn't know the train runs electric .
 
Posts: 290
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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The less volatile compounds like old engine oil I use to paint timber fence posts and the like.

The more volatile stuff used to clean accumulated gunk off tools and engine parts, until it becomes thick and unusable. That is then put in containers.

Our local councils have a repository to drop such stuff off for proper disposal or recycling.

TRAVIS:

As far as freight locomotive diesel engines go, they are almost never shut off, most are just set to idle and run via fairly sophisticated engine management systems monitored via GPS link to a head office. At least that's what they do here.

As a consequence, they don't see a lot of wear.

For car engines it's completely different - different fuels, filters, cooling systems, etc. Besides wear 'n tear caused by condensates, impurities and bits of metal and carbon; engine life expectancy and fuel economy takes a hit too. All oils decompose, changing viscosity and ability to lubricate and cool.
 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
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So, thus far we have the Travis strategy, which is a 'reduce volume' option... currently waaay in the lead as it only entrant so far!

Really, there must be more... currently all I am doing it cardboard and newspaper to catch escaping bits of ick during maintenance.


I'm not finding much in the way of methods for handling the oil/grease washed off when I powerwash a tractor or other piece of greasy, oily heavy equipment... one could build a cement pad with a grease trap or some other filtration built into the drainage, if one had the money... but I'm not sure if that's more or less green, given the impact of concrete!

 
Travis Johnson
master pollinator
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F Agricola wrote:For car engines it's completely different - different fuels, filters, cooling systems, etc. Besides wear 'n tear caused by condensates, impurities and bits of metal and carbon; engine life expectancy and fuel economy takes a hit too. All oils decompose, changing viscosity and ability to lubricate and cool.



Perhaps, but how much longevity due you expect from a vehicle? I am getting 250,000 miles out of my vehicles, but it is not because of engine problems. I live in Maine, salt corrosion from keeping our roads free of ice and snow causes the frames and bodies of a car to fail to meet Maine Car Inspection criteria long before the engines wear out.

I have had people make all these scientific claims about premature engine failure, but honestly, my experience does not back up what they say at all.
 
Travis Johnson
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F Agricola wrote:TRAVIS:

As far as freight locomotive diesel engines go, they are almost never shut off, most are just set to idle and run via fairly sophisticated engine management systems monitored via GPS link to a head office. At least that's what they do here.

As a consequence, they don't see a lot of wear.



It is a lot different here because we have a lot of grades (hills). American locomotives have 8 throttle positions, so the engines are constantly changing in RPM, though on such a big engine, that is not a lot of RPM's. I think full throttle was something like 900 RPM. The diesel engines still hold a LOT of oil. I think the engine oil capacity is around 238 gallons of oil.

If people do want to change oil, you could always take the oil and dump it into the diesel fuel and just burn it up that way. You cannot dump 5 quarts into a the seven gallon tank of a Kubota tractor, it would be more like 5 quarts in a hundred gallsons of diesel fuel, but will dillute the oil enough to burn it. Before switching to no oil changing, we used to do that on the railroad; drain 238 gallons of oil into the 5000 gallon fuel tanks and burn it up.

As a side note: my career was strange in that Tug Boats use locomotive engines, so after getting done for the railroad, I went to work as an Engineer on Tug Boats. I used that experience to stay dockside, working at a shipyard building Navy Destroyers where I retired.
 
pollinator
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Quarantine create a concentrated, limited, sacrificial superfund dumpsite, with no animal/food stuff access
Dilute spread it evenly over a large area.
Lockup 45% soil organic matter + mushroom will lock up 'all' heavy metal
Digest Oyster Mushroom will digest oil spill, so I would have that as a perimeter border.
Reuse Add to fuel, use it to polish/protect tools
Reduce No oil change, less often oil change due to better original material + better maintenance/filter/etc





 
pollinator
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S Benji, very nice strategy list. I just inoculated 40 oyster logs for the mycoremediation. Got that from Tradd Cotter's book. I love that you had that as a strategy!

One other tool that is helpful is the suck bucket. It keeps the leakage to a minimum and allows you to dictate where the stuff goes. I have a hydraulic fluid gusher I have to work on, and this means degunking and all the rest. I built a suck bucket and a containment area out of a tarp with berms of absorbent under the edges, which allows me to pressure wash and catch the majority of the effluent. This is lightly soiled but has detergent and oils and bleccch in it. So it goes in a wood chip berm with the oyster logs all in it. I suspect the mushrooms would be OK to eat (there shouldn't be heavy metals) but we won't eat them. Basically the wood chips are on the uphill side of a containment berm made of clay. My only worry is if we get torrential rain it will overwhelm the capacity of the pit, but I'm dealing with modest amounts of effluent, and then it will be diluted.

Travis, your information is awesome! I have changed my oil at 7500 miles (which is the manufacturers recommendation) but I am really enthusiastic about this. We have a waste oil collection for our county that I normally take this stuff to, but burning it provided that it was a clean catch is a great idea. This is an eye-popping thread, thank you everyone.
 
pollinator
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I think I've heard of old farmers using a wick to filter dirty oil and reuse it.

I would like to add an extra filter to my vehicles,  I'll have to look into that.

There is a system around here for collecting and reclaiming used oil in place, that I think is probably better than burning it or adding it to fuel.



.


 
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I've thought about this a bit. One thing is to simply reduce the usage of things that produce such byproducts. Unfortunately going with electric tools is just offsetting where the pollution ends up, and hoping that those places follow good protocols for managing waste. Then again, some people have a NIMBY philosophy towards that.

I've also though of using a system where I clean my rags, filter that water through a sand filter, and then either burn or 'properly' dispose of the homemade tar sand. At least getting all of that crud in to one place, such as storing it in a barrel, and reusing rags seems better than letting crud fly everywhere and tossing all of the dirty things in the trash.

Here in Jacksonville they have a hazardous waste collection day, so if we can collect waste and keep it stored safely then we have that option. Doing it that way in batches makes more sense in my mind. Using large fuel burning machines (and their regular oil change schedules) to collect small amounts of waste might actually be a net negative compared to properly incinerating it on site.

I can't wait for electric cars to be more common so I don't have to be mired in all of the nastiness involved in car repair. I guess in that case, I'm the one who aspires towards a NIMBY lifestyle.
 
F Agricola
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Travis Johnson wrote: It is a lot different here because we have a lot of grades (hills). American locomotives have 8 throttle positions, so the engines are constantly changing in RPM, though on such a big engine, that is not a lot of RPM's. I think full throttle was something like 900 RPM. The diesel engines still hold a LOT of oil. I think the engine oil capacity is around 238 gallons of oil.

If people do want to change oil, you could always take the oil and dump it into the diesel fuel and just burn it up that way. You cannot dump 5 quarts into a the seven gallon tank of a Kubota tractor, it would be more like 5 quarts in a hundred gallsons of diesel fuel, but will dillute the oil enough to burn it. Before switching to no oil changing, we used to do that on the railroad; drain 238 gallons of oil into the 5000 gallon fuel tanks and burn it up.

As a side note: my career was strange in that Tug Boats use locomotive engines, so after getting done for the railroad, I went to work as an Engineer on Tug Boats. I used that experience to stay dockside, working at a shipyard building Navy Destroyers where I retired.




Although we digress from the topic …

Apologies for the delayed response, I needed to confirm data with my brother who is a freight train driver.

For train nerds:

1. We also have variable grades and speed boards – not a lot has been done to improve the rail network for about 100 years, so the old corridors remain. For some obscure reason, they decided to run the main north/south lines along the east side of the Great Dividing Range – lots of hills and rivers to negotiate. Only now are they thinking about a continuous inland route – relatively flat. (Typically, politicians are too busy spending our money on their overseas ‘fact-finding-missions’ to expensive resorts, with expensive food and ‘private personal entertainment’)
2. Train lengths here are limited by the length of sidings on the public railway network, so, travelling north from Sydney to Brisbane (988km by rail) the maximum length is about 1,500 metres (1,640 yards), Sydney to Perth (4,352km by rail) the maximum length is about 1,800 metres (1,968 yards). (Iron ore trains in Western Australia are enormous e.g. 3,000 metres long, 24,000t of ore, but they mostly operate on special purpose private lines, rarely on the public network.)
3. Weight wise: 3,600 tonne (3,968t US) for 1,500 metre intermodal trains, for steel trains it's 5,000t (5,512t US) but only up to 1,500 metres in length
4. The locomotives are generally manufactured here but the engines are GM's purchased from the USA. Some loco's were fully imported too. They have 8 throttle positions in power, 8 positions in dynamic braking
5. Fuel consumption: they can travel Melbourne to Brisbane (1,948km by rail) on a single tank of fuel. Likewise, Sydney to Adelaide, where they refuel to do the long haul across to Perth.

Your oil/fuel capacities sound about right.

The companies recycle the oil, though, as you said, it could be used in the engines – I suspect the companies aren't willing to take the wear and tear risk on such expensive items = loco’s not working is money lost, that’s why they hardly have a chance to get cold.



Incidentally, a cousin once ran an inland oil drilling team, they would burn pure crude oil in their diesel trucks – worked fine, but there’s tax concessions for business vehicles, not something I’d do to my personal vehicle!

I aim to have my current car, that is 18 years old, last another 6 years so then I can buy the ‘retirement package’: a fully kitted 4WD to go bush with and use on the farm. That should be the last purchase. As a consequence, I don’t follow the norm of changing vehicles every 5 or so years like statistics suggest – it’s simply uneconomic. But, doing regular service ensures it will last unless involved in a crash!

Thankfully we don’t have the cold weather/salt issues you guys have, but we do have thousands of kilometres of shit roads that really give vehicles a hammering. So ignoring body conditions, the engine longevity is achieved by routine maintenance (fluid change) and being aware that fuel quality differs enormously – water content, dust, etc. A mate of mine has a late 1980’s/early 1990’s 4WD Land Cruiser Troop Carrier he purchased new – diesel engine, manual gearbox, etc. It has crossed the continent several times, done lots of dirt tracks, and been subjected to many instances of crappy fuel quality. He only recently had a new gearbox installed and engine rebuild, can’t recall the mileage but it’s exceedingly high. He is methodical in fluid changes, that has given an extended life to the vehicle.

Economic versus environmental costs when it comes to these items are hard to quantify. It’s like the combustion engine car versus the electric car debate or nuclear versus coal, etc. If I were a gambling type, the money would go on hydrogen as the winning underdog in the race – combustion engines aren’t bad, it’s just what they burn. Battery technology remains an issue, particularly longevity and recyclability.

Since we’re on the topic, I always wanted to ask a Yank how they address the environmental issues of salting roads?? I assume they use sodium chloride and it ends up in the waterways?

 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
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Nice list Benji!

I do get some reuse out of some gick. Adding some diesel to used ATF makes a dandy 'liquid wrench' type substance. I prefer to use waste veg oil to lube random things but this does work better on the really stuck stuff. Stale gasoline is useful for cleaning stuff. Oily/gassy rags are great firestarters in a pinch. I'm not quite sure if this last is better or worse than sending em to the dump..

We used to have someone on here that ran a lot of stuff on used motor oil. I don't think I generate enough to want to invest in a great filtration system, but I do consider running a furnace on it... maybe.

It's not that long ago that the standard method for lighting a burnpile was 5 gallons of diesel and a couple old tires.


Digest Oyster Mushroom will digest oil spill, so I would have that as a perimeter border.



So if you grow oyster mushrooms that digest used oil, do they pick up the heavy metals from it? Are they edible, grown in this environment?
 
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