Surrounded by a handful of friends, singer/songwriter Melissa Crabtree launched the Bio-diesel Van Tour at the Berkeley Recycling Center Tuesday afternoon.
With a loud background of trucks dumping load after load of bottles crashing onto a mountain of glass, Crabtree sat down on a box with her guitar next to the “Vegi Van,” and sang “Bio-diesel Van” to friends, fellow musicians and members of the press.
“I’ve worked on this CD for two years and it made me sick to my stomach thinking I would jump in my car and drive all over the U. S. promoting it. I wanted to do something I believed in,” said Crabtree. “Instead, I can drive around on veggie oil.”
Dave Williamson, recycling operations manager for the Ecology Center in Berkeley, said bio-diesel engines burn recycled vegetable oil and are virtually pollution free. He also said the Ecology Center’s curbside recycling trucks, which pick up the glass, plastic and paper in the blue bins from Berkeley residents, is the only municipal fleet in the United States using 100 percent Bio-diesel fuel.
The white 1984 Ford Club-Wagon Diesel was converted by mechanic Jason Goodman, 24, to run on vegetable oil straight out of any fast food restaurant’s fryer. This is his ninth conversion within a year, “And they’re all still running,” said Goodman. “This one has 50 miles on it. The oldest (conversion) has about 25,000 miles on it.”
Crabtree said she hopes to influence other musicians so they may influence their fans. On the first leg of her tour she will be driving the Vegi Van to Jacksonville, Fla. and back. On the second leg she will be driving to Anchorage, Alaska.
“I haven’t added up the miles, but it’s a lot,” said Crabtree.
Williamson said Czechoslovakia, Austria and Germany have Bio-diesel widely available. But the only Bio-diesel pump in all of the United States is at Olympian Gas Station in San Francisco, 2690 3rd St.
Crabtree will have to fuel-up at burger joints across the nation.
The van was leaking some green radiator fluid, so Crabtree hitched a ride with a friend, and Goodman took the for a quick repair.
For more information see: www.ecologycenter.org, or www.greasemonkeyconversions.com.