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Monday, January 18, 2016

The Puzzle Solved

 I now know the what, when, how, where but don't know the who. Here is the final result on what caused the fuel problem thanks to Stephen and Cletus who each independently put me on the right track. When the tractor suddenly stopped working and stalled and would not restart we knew it was the fuel but had no clue why. The diesel I had in the tank was fresh and had been pre-treated and also I treat all my fuel with anti gel treatment. The results of all my research indicates vandalism. The mechanic who worked on the tractor told me he has never
seen diesel gelled up as bad as the photo above. The reason is that it apparently was untreated bio- diesel that was added to the tank. Untreated bio-diesel is made from vegetable oil or animal fat. It has a cloud point about the same as petroleum diesel but when it goes past its cloud point (cloudy looking) the fat that has been reduced to liquid fuel crystallizes and sinks to the bottom of the tank where it is then fed into the fuel line and clogs the fuel filters. When petroleum diesel gels it looks more like a thick fluid gel which but not so close to a solid like this substance is.

Also when bio-diesel gels and is heated up it doesn't return to liquid where petroleum diesel will go back. I let these filters sit in a warm spot for two days and it remained a solid. When we went to drain the fuel tank there was some fine sediment in the bottom of the tank which normally stays there and that is what the fuel filters are for - to catch that material that you normally get when you buy at a gas station. Bio-diesel has far superior cleaning properties that will flush any debris like this out whereas regular diesel will not. We drained the fuel into a clean white basin and there was fine dirt in the basin which also indicates bio-diesel.

When we went to drain the tank we noted it was filled so high it was even with the filler spout which is something I have never done because it tends to slop out and drips onto the rear tire. Also it had been used a couple times since I last put fuel in the tank which would have lowered the fuel level. All these would indicate that someone had put bio-diesel into the tank.

If it were a gasoline engine the diesel would have damaged the engine. If it were diesel the bio-diesel would turn to a solid when the temperature fell below 10 degrees (F). Even with the two treatments by myself with anti diesel and the pre-treatment by the dealer the untreated bio-diesel would still crystallize when the temperature got cold - which it did. Bio-diesel needs to be specifically treated with additives and anti gel. These are some of the major factors that led to the conclusion the fuel problem was caused by an unknown third party like the dogs alerting us that something was out front just before this happened but my cursory look wouldn't have revealed someone hiding under the deck where the tractor is kept. There were other factors also, but these were the major issues that led to the conclusion the contaminant was bio-diesel.

No one wants to believe someone has vandalized their property and I found it hard to believe too, except for the fact two years ago our log splitter was clearly vandalized in a similar manner. We have now installed surveillance so any further attempts will be provable and can be prosecuted. There is ample evidence to reflect that this was done by a unknown person and not normal gelling. The rest of the fuel was normal in the storage container and only that fuel in the tank had the problem. It still is hard to believe that anyone in our community would do something like this but eventually they will get caught and hopefully prosecuted. With security precautions now in place we should not have another problem but this one cost us $545.00. There was absolutely no evidence that this was normal diesel gelling and every indication pointed to vandalism. Actually when I stop and think about it the method was pretty smart except for the fact the fuel level had been raised to the very top of the filler tube. We will probably never know the 'who' unless they are caught either here or at someone else's property doing their hateful conduct. I hope to be at their trial when they are caught.     


Gypsy said...

You will eventually know the "who". They won't stop now, and will continue dirty tricks on you and others, so eventually they will trip themselves up. It is so sad to think of people who have nothing better to do, and so little love and goodness in their hearts.

Skip said...

That is good detective work. In my next newsletter I intend to mention vandalism in the park but I won't mention either of our names; just that two landowners have been vandalized twice.

JO said...

It just makes you wonder what makes people so ugly.

Cletus said...

Thanks for the complete analysis of the event.

I wonder if the vandal knew the tractor ran on diesel and was thinking the bio-diesel fuel would cause the trouble in a gasoline engine. I expect the resulting repair would have been about the same.

It just seems strange that some one would add diesel to a diesel tank unless they were very knowledgeable about what bio-diesel would do, particularly at this time of year. There are a lot of other substances that could have really caused more damage.

I feel that people who commit these acts have sub-par intelligence, maybe I am underestimating them.

Bruce said...

I thought of that too Cletus: I concluded that by using untreated bio-diesel it would cause a problem for either gas or diesel. I would also suspect that 99% of the time it would go undetected. Thanks to you and Stephen I was able to redirect my focus and confirm that was what it was. Coupled with the fact that fuel had been treated at least 4 times before it was drained and still the mechanic said he had seen gelling but this was the worst he had seen pretty much cinched it.

Anonymous said...

It is truly sad when people resort to such juvenile behavior. I was looking to move into this area but now I'm not sure. I love the pictures you post and am enamored with the beauty surrounding this area but have trouble with this kind of destruction. It is sooooo petty!

Patricia M said...

If it makes you feel any better (which I'm sure it won't), this kind of thing happens in our neighborhood too. We have had several incidents involving our cars and also had a large chunk of cement thrown against our garage door causing damage. We ultimately spent $2,000 to put a gate across our driveway to try and make it a little more difficult for would-be thugs to vandalize our property. However, in our case we're dealing primarily with unruly neighborhood kids, not the criminally-minded senior citizens you have to put up with.

Bruce said...

Anonymous: I wouldn't let a couple people deter your from moving to this area. We have lived here for many years and it is a wonderful place to live. The main thing is to know there are a very few people who may act friendly but are anything but. If you know what the problem is you can take measures to prohibit them from doing this to you. Yesterday we installed a locking gas cap on our jeep (should have done it long ago) and today we put up the last of the motion sensors. It is better to know there are a few people like this and take measures to prevent them from their misdeeds than constantly get surprised like we were.

Bruce said...

You are right Patricia - it doesn't make me feel better. Some people just never grow up but the more people that move to our area the better chance they will get caught. One of the problems is that the leadership of our association doesn't seem to want to prosecute them. I was told by one director that they had one member ID'd on surveillance film vandalizing a piece of our road equipment but they not only didn't report it to the sheriff but they didn't confront the person. They know who some of them are and they let them get away with it. If I catch them you can take it to the bank they won't get away with it. The reason they do it is to keep people out like Anonymous alluded to. Sooner or later someone will get the backbone to have them arrested and prosecuted. That is what I intend to do or exercise my second amendment right, and now the odds are in my favor for catching them with all the surveillance equipment installed.