79 year old veggie oil maker

Energy & Sustainability

David Wetzel, 79, makes his own fuel from recycled vegetable oil for his 1986 Volkswagen Golf, gets 46 miles per gallon – pretty neat huh? Well, the Illinois Department of Revenue visited and want him to pay a “motor fuel tax” (retroactively) and he might be hit with a $2,500 bond, a class 3 felony and a lot of other awful stuff – or it might just end up being $244 in taxes for the fuel he made.

State makes big fuss over local couple’s vegetable oil car fuel, Thanks NovySan! – Link.

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From the pages of MAKE:
Making biodiesel – The best way to learn how to make your own backyard biodiesel is to start with a one-liter batch. It’s easy to make a small batch that will work in any diesel engine. You won’t need any special equipment–an old juice bottle will serve as the “reactor” vessel–and on such a small scale, you can quickly refine your technique and perform further experiments. MAKE 03- Page 72. Subscribers–read this article now in your digital edition or get MAKE 03 @ the Maker store.

18 thoughts on “79 year old veggie oil maker

  1. rcox says:

    Go, Mr. Wetzel!

  2. mastershake916 says:

    I thought it would be about a machine that would make fuel out of vegetable oil, that is 79 years old……..

  3. liambowen says:

    I thought it would be about a 79 year old man who was being turned into veggie oil.

  4. KidCharlemagne says:

    Letter to Gov. Blagojevich away!

    He’s fairly progressive (or at least not owned by big oil) so there’s a better than even chance that he might, you know, act in a way resembling a representative government.

    Hint: If you’re from Illinois (I only used to be) your voice would probably carry more weight.

  5. austguy says:


    I love this quote though. “I said, ‘Come in.’ Maybe I shouldn’t have.”

    I know he says he doesn’t mind paying the fine, but there are so many reason’s why they shouldn’t have to. For starters they’re trying to do something good for everyone else and they haven’t done anything wrong. Trying to siphon $250 to $2500 out of someone on a fixed income for not even really doing anything is just messed up.

    We don’t get a lot of traffic and so it probably won’t do that much, but as a show of solidarity, until this is resolved we’ll donate all of our site revenue at greendope.com to helping either with the Wetzel’s fines or other needs.

  6. durin says:

    YANAL, but can someone explain how the state government can justify taxing something that was made at home and not sold or bartered, or even given away? This guy was creating it for his own use – the government should not receive, nor expect, any part of that.

  7. KidCharlemagne says:

    Fuel taxes are often spun as highway useage taxes. I’m not sure what they’d do if someone set up a solar recharger system for an electric car.

  8. JayDedman says:

    there’s a woman who has started a “Veggie Oil Board” to try to organize people who run their cars on vegetable oil. See the video here: http://tinyurl.com/3exqlo

  9. tms10000 says:

    Common sense is in short supply in Illinois. I am not aware of the law, therefore I can only make assumptions and reflections on those.

    1) If there is a law that forces you to use fuel purchased from a properly licensed commercial fuel supplier (i.e. gas station) then filling up your tank with vegetable oil _while driving it on public roads_ is illegal. You are evading the tax, you are commiting fraud. And if anything, you might deserve a _fine_, backpaying the tax should not be an option. I don’t know about Illinois, they may or may not have such a law.

    2) If there is no such law, then remind everyone that the tax applies to the FUEL you buy at the GAS station, and obviously, recycled vegetable oil is not subjected to the fuel tax.

    3) Kits to convert your diesel car to dual vegetable oil/diesel have been around for ages in the US. If escaping the gas station mafia oil business was illegal it seems that more than one person would be in trouble.

    4) As described in the news article, the whole story is wrong on many levels and totally assinine.

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