Public Transportation Desert (guest post, Marc Syrene)

Mission: To promote driving less so all may live more.

[Marc, from southern Colorado, has turned his Mercedes into a car that burns the diesel fuel he also makes. Following is a post he wrote on the dilemmas with which he struggles. — Louis]

Driving Less in a Public Transportation Desert

AeroKroil, my latest hope in the fight to get my 1995 Mercedes diesel back on the road.

Embarrassment, the key motivator to pull her in to my garage to figure out why she is smoking so bad when started cold. I pulled the fuel injectors to test them and two of the crush washers, which all need to be replaced, are frozen in there with carbon deposits; hence the AeroKroil. AeroKroil is supposed to be the “best” penetrating oil out there. The gun toters like it to clean their guns cuz it dissolves carbon.

Sick Mercedes Diesel
Sick Mercedes Diesel (Marc sent this update several weeks after writing this article: “Haven’t resolved the smoking issue although I did end up getting the crush washer out and had the injectors rebuilt. So she still sits in the garage till I get back to checking it out.”

This car has 288000 miles on it and rides like a dream and gets 38 mpg on the highway. This car and my two other old diesels have seemingly been happy to run (in the above freezing months anyway) on the biodiesel my neighbor Jack and I have been making in my garage for the last 10 years+.

We have made roughly 10,000 gallons of it in mostly 40 gallon batches at a time. It has helped ease the tension in my mind about the man vs. automobile plight but only slightly in an ego based sense. On that level driving a car on homebrew has a feeling that doesn’t exist when driving on diesel from the pump because I haven’t really “earned” it.

Biodiesel Proccesor
Biodiesel Processor

But that is not really what the point is here. The point here is that I am in a true battle with my car and getting the friggin crush washers out. If I don’t then my car cannot be put back together without having to spend so much money as to render it not worth it. I believe we (who own cars and are not fitfully wealthy) are always on the verge of this dilemma whether we know it or not.

I will keep fighting against and for my old diesels for the time being though until I finally put my own desires behind the true need of not burning things to travel.

  • Can I really ride my bike with all my climbing and camping gear and food that I have grown and canned to Indian Creek and back to meet all my friends that have driven there?
  • Can I really ride my bike in the winter from Del Norte to Alamosa to spend the evening with sweet Laura?
  • And is ordering things on the internet more environmentally friendly because the delivery truck is coming here anyway?
  • And how much money will it cost to buy a Rivian electric pickup truck and put enough solar panels on my roof to charge it?
  • Do I really want to go back to work for that long?

One of the questions in a “public transportation desert” is how will it feel to slow down and just be with myself and my brain at home? Can I find peace in my neighborhood filled with dog owners who think the sound their dog projects all day and night is a gift to the world while they are inside blaring the TV? Can I rally and cultivate what it takes to be Zen? That kind of discipline I fear I do not have. The one thing a person needs to succeed, discipline. Zen=discipline, like it or not! That juxtaposition is why punk rock happened and why jazz is such a miracle.

My neighbor Jack, who used to be a hell of a climber, seems to have settled into a beautiful, low-automobile-use lifestyle by fiddling with chainsaws all day. They (chainsaws) still burn fuel but they have really small tanks, so it’s ok. I’m not sure if Jack and Morag order their food on the internet or resign themselves to pick out the best food from our small grocery store in Del Norte.

(By the way, is burning wood really green? They say it’s carbon neutral but is that relevant because it still puts “stuff” into the atmosphere.)

Maybe I should just give up and take the long view. Earth will shrug us off when it needs to. Meaning, we will likely shrug ourselves off. I’m only sad because of the collateral damage to all the other beautiful, innocent creatures that live on Earth. Who made us boss? God? So seems to be the consensus. Man vs Automobile and so much more.