Rhodesia: 1970s: Growing our own Oil! – Hybrid fuels: kerosense/paraffin in a gas/petrol engine


[One of my supporters was asking me about me mentioning Rhodesian hybrid diesel and paraffin engines. I don't think I said diesel. But he asked me for more details, and I thought this would be of interest. Jan]

About Rhodesia and that vehicles. It was not diesel and paraffin. If I said diesel, then I was wrong. It was petrol and paraffin.

I checked, and what we called paraffin, is known as kerosene. I found this: Kerosene, also known as paraffin, lamp oil, and coal oil (an obsolete term), is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid which is derived from petroleum

We used it on some of our tractors. When we had diesel, it was diesel only. But petrol and paraffin is pretty easy. You have 2 tanks. A petrol tank and a paraffin tank. Then you have the pipe that goes into the engine. You basically merge the pipes that come from the 2 tanks into one. And you have a valve that allows you to feed EITHER petrol or paraffin into the engine. So you start the engine on petrol first. In our case, paraffin was cheap but petrol was expensive. So the engine is a normal petrol type engine. And you start the tractor or vehicle on petrol. Then when it has run for a time and the engine has heated up properly, (e.g. 15+ minutes), then you turn the valve to paraffin. So the engine is running on petrol, and the engine has reached operating temperature, and then you turn the valve and suddenly the engine is getting paraffin coming in. But the engine runs fine on the paraffin, because the engine is now hot. I don’t know what other modifications or changes were needed in the petrol/paraffin mixture. But this is how it worked. And to my knowledge it did not damage the engines. It was a simple solution.

In the case of a tractor, it would have a smaller petrol tank and then a much bigger paraffin tank. I also saw this working in a British Land Rover. Some friends of ours, had a landrover with the same setup and the valve was inside the vehicle, so once the engine was nice and hot, the driver would just switch to paraffin. And the switch-over is flawless. You can do it while driving.

Diesel was much cheaper, and diesel engines are very different, and so it does not work with diesel.

But it saved a lot on petrol.

Once my dad tried this sort of trick with another really old little pickup truck that he had. I can’t remember what he did. He did not modify the vehicle. It was a petrol vehicle. But I think he poured paraffin into the petrol tank while it was running. And it all worked well. However, when my dad wanted to switch off the little truck’s engine, it would not stop!!! It just kept running. The engine was hot enough that it no longer even needed the spark plugs to be functioning! The compression of the moving engine was enough to keep the engine going. So when my dad switched off the engine, which stops the electrical system running the spark plugs, the engine just kept running!!!! It was quite crazy! He had to just put the little truck in neutral and had to leave it running until it ran out of fuel!!! My dad never tried that again!

I’ve noticed the Eastern Europeans also hack things together in creative ways, and I would not be surprised if they also have done stuff like this in more modern times and have more details on this.

For the record, Rhodesia even tried to GROW OIL … there was a type of plant that our farmers began experimenting with which you could process and a type of oil would come out of it. The idea was to literally grow your own oil by using this plant. I forget the name of the plant now. I will ask a Rhodesian. But it had great potential. They had experimented with it towards the end of the 1970’s and it showed great potential.

I found a video where an American did some detailed tests of kerosense in a petrol engine, and he was surprised at the results: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTlNjRDOJ5E

In the comments below the video someone wrote:

Here in Sweden during the 1950’s we use tractors for kerosene and gasoline. There was a tiny little tank for petrol just for starting. Before shut down, we have to swich a valve and run the engine for a cuple of minutes to get gasolene in the carburettor. If forgetting this operation, we have to drain the system from kerosene, fill with gasoline and start. In that time, the kerosene was much cheaper than gasoline or diesel. The carbon upbuild was tremedous… I disembled a tractor with carbon in the exhaust system so the passage was as a size of a pencil.

The comments from the Swede above mentions something that I had forgotten … that before you switch off the engine, you need to switch back to petrol otherwise you won’t be able to start it!!!

Another American said a similar thing:
Back in the day, many John Deere 2cyl tractors had one small gas tank, and one tank for "tractor fuel" which was very similar to kerosene. You had to run on gas until operating temp to get the motor hot to keep the kerosene vaporized properly, and then run on kero the rest of the day. Before shutoff you had to switch back to gas to avoid hard starting. Even on tractors that weren’t dual fuel, cheap farmers would cut their gasoline with as much kerosene as they could and still start reliably to save on fuel costs.

Another American tells another interesting story, and it also shows the creativity of whites … as always!!! Paint thinner:

I remember when I was young boy, my dad ran us out of gas on the highway, and at that time he was a contractor thus in his tool box was paint thinner , after pushing his truck for about a half mile ,we push to the bottom of the next hill and then my dad decided we had enough pushing, so then he dumped the whole gallon (bigger bottle) of paint thinner and it started right up and we made it about 5 miles down the road to the nearest gas station, he said he got all the carbon built up out of that truck , and stated that it ran slight bit better for the next couple months afterward …

Another reader wrote these comments, and the key here is that you must be careful with all the modern, fancy engines. They might not work as well as the older and simpler engines, so beware what you do with a modern, expensive vehicle. Don’t mess with the fuel you put into it:

Viewers please NOTE carefully: this is a FLATHEAD engine and they have very LOW COMPRESSION ratios so they’ll run on just about anything . Not so with an car engine that has OHV’s. So, don’t expect the results you see here to be applicable to a modern automobile.

Finally, the same guy who did the kerosense/gas video also tested petrol in a diesel engine and found a 50/50 mix gave the best results:


Again, don’t try this on a next, expensive vehicle!!!!


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