Mother Goes on an Renewable Fuel Tour

You've converted your truck to alcohol fuel. Now what? Go on a renewable fuel tour to promote it, of course!

| September/October 1979

  • 059-renewable-fuel-03-truck-and-cab.jpg
    The renewable fuel tour at its stop in Washington, D.C.
  • 059-renewable-fuel-01-jane-pauley.jpg
    Today Show host Jane Pauley talks alcohol fuel with Ray Healy.
  • 059-renewable-fuel-02-still.jpg
    Clarence Goosen assembles the still.
  • 059-renewable-fuel-04-emissions.jpg
    Testers can't believe the cab's clean emission test results.

  • 059-renewable-fuel-03-truck-and-cab.jpg
  • 059-renewable-fuel-01-jane-pauley.jpg
  • 059-renewable-fuel-02-still.jpg
  • 059-renewable-fuel-04-emissions.jpg

As many of you already know (due to the media coverage that this magazine's alcohol experiments have received in the past few months), MOTHER EARTH NEWS wasn't content to merely [1] alert a great many people that farm-produced ethanol could be used as a fuel, [2] design, build, and make the plans available for an efficient backyard still that can be set up for less than $300, [3] tell folks how to apply to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for a license to distill fuel alcohol, [4] influence the government to propose less stringent regulations and reduced "red tape" for backyard ethanol production, and [5] convert a pickup truck into a gasoline/alcohol "dual fuel" vehicle for less than $25.

Nope, after we'd done all of those things, we loaded that "fuel-fixing" still of ours in the back of our alcohol-powered truck and set out on the road to bring the good word about renewable fuel to folks—in the government and "on the street"—who hadn't gotten the message yet!

Truckin' Along

Once we'd "gotten our feet wet" with an introductory press conference and distillation demonstration held out on our square-mile research property, the "moonshine-powered" pickup wound its way toward New York City—making news along the way in Greenville, South Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Towson, Maryland.

Our alternative fuel caravan arrived in the Big Apple on the weekend of June 23—which just happened to be the peak of that city's summer gas crunch—and you can bet that the truck (with "Experimental Alcohol-Powered Vehicle" emblazoned across its sides) attracted a lot of notice. But when—on Monday, June 24—MOTHER EARTH NEWS' researchers turned independent taxi driver Willie Bly's vehicle into an alcohol-burner (the car then ran like a top, and passed the EPA emissions tests with flying colors), the city really sat up and paid attention!

The on-the-spot taxi conversion drew excited reviews from all three major television networks and attracted the interest of New York Congressman Mario Biaggi, who—along with North Carolina's Senator Jesse Helms and Iowa Congressman Berkely Bedell (both strong supporters of the home-produced alcohol movement)—urged MOTHER EARTH NEWS to take her "show" to Washington, D.C.

So the still and truck—now joined by an enthusiastic Willie and his alcohol-burning taxi—headed out on the highway again. Our D.C. display took place right on the Capitol grounds, and gave a number of Senators and Congressmen—as well as representatives of NBC television, the Associated Press, and the Washington Post—a chance to see for themselves that a reasonably priced, efficient, backyard liquid fuel is not many years and several multimillion-dollar research grants down the road but is ready to be used today!

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