Mitsubishi Gearbox Magazine isn’t just about DSMs (Eclipse/Talon) in the United States. We want to share stories from a diverse group of owners all over the world. Our first international interview is also our first DELICA! Here’s a story for anyone who embraces the call of the open road and thrills at the thought of a new adventure (and maybe cares about the environment too boot)!
Your real name? Screen name?
Ari , After Oil
What do you do for a living? Your location?
I live in Powell River BC, unceded Coast Salish Territory. I’ve got a tiny farm and sell eggs and some produce to the local organic food delivery service. I’ve made a buck or two helping people find Delicas or any other JDM somebody might want.
What year/model Mitsubishi do you drive?
I drive a 1993 Mitsubishi Delcia L300 “Chamonix.” The Chamonix has the winter package – thicker carpets and dual batteries. I’ve modified it to run on both diesel and waste vegetable oil. I added a fuel tank and put the spare tire on a swing out carrier. I upgraded to 31″ tires. Subsequent to the epic trip, put in a 2″ lift.
What got you into your Mitsubishi and how long ago was that?
One day about 3 years ago I was traversing Powell Rivers concrete wasteland, aka the mall parking lot, when a shiny golden apparition appeared and called to me like a siren. It was tugging at my heart and my wallet. That van was BCDelica’s and is still in Powell River and owned presently by one of my oldest friends. It also has the distinction of being the oldest imported Delica in Canada, and possibly the first ever veggie oil Delica. About a year later, I dove in head first and imported a Delica from Japan. Two close friends and my father in law each got one at the same time.
You’re running your Delica (“SpaceAntelope” was it?) on WVO. What made you decide to do that?
Two parts political, one part environmental, and one part sheer rebelliousness. I felt myself to be a hypocrite opposing a bloody war for oil while pumping petrol into my vehicles. As well it’s apparent that because of our thirst for petrol, our planet is very quickly unraveling. I’m super into shopping and eating locally, maybe you’ve heard of the 50 mile diet? I’m challenged to localize anything I consume in order to reduce the impact of producing and shipping from far away. Using waste vegetable oil as fuel, to me, is a shout to “The Man” that “I ain’t buying your shit… ” I’m thinking about what comes next, after oil. I’m not that special for running veggie oil, the real heroes are risking their lives in traffic to ride bikes to work and play.
How difficult was the conversion? Was performance in any way affected?
I’ve done more than a couple conversions now, and it gets easier and cleaner every time. I needed a lot of help to install a tank in the Delica. It required some welding and fabricating. The wiring is easy. The plumbing is a pain in the ass, but it’s not too hard. It was way easier to install a WVO kit in a VW Rabbit and a Benz, but that’s because everything is laid out in front of you with the hood open, and there’s a trunk to toss a tank in. When tuned properly, the motors I have converted ran the same on both fuels.
What are the drawbacks to running WVO? The advantages?
Look, there’s no doubt that it’s nice that we can drive up to a gas station, fill up, and then carry on. Processing WVO takes some space and time, and almost all my clothes are stained. (Although I recently saw a couple of barrels with some filtration tucked away into the corner of a 2 car garage, at a doctors house in LA.) Free fuel and cheaper road trips, and a good conscience are big advantages, as is being part of a community of do-it-yourselfers
You took your Delica on one of the most epic road trips we’ve ever heard of. Where did you go? Where did you stop along the way? How many miles was it and how long did it take?
My wife and I took a 13,500km (8,388.5mi) WVO fueled road trip down the west coast from Canada, deep into Mexico, and back through Texas and the southwest. We stopped when we felt like it. We camped mostly. We stopped in at the homes of generous folks along the way that offered to share veggie oil. We camped at RV parks and in campgrounds. We were gone exactly two months, including a whole month in Mexico.
Did you run into any problems because you were running WVO on the trip? What happened? How did you fix them? Where did you get the WVO?
I had a problem with my injector pump. There were occasions that the van suffered a lack of power while running WVO. In Arizona on the way home, the motor would only idle on WVO but not accelerate. I suspected an air leak, so I went over all the connections and tightened the hose clamps. I replaced a section of hose and whatnot. I did that in parking lots. The van ran fine on diesel, so we were still traveling, but we had to buy fuel. Soon after I got home, the power problem persisted until it wouldn’t even work on diesel. I replaced the pump, and then it ran excellent on both fuels! A dissection of the pump revealed damage from running dry, a symptom of wet fuel. I’m sure the pump was compromised when I imported the van. It was apparent in the power difference from diesel to WVO, which disappeared with the new pump.
In the USA, I collected WVO mostly from people I found through networking on the internet. I had a pump and sucked some oil from barrels behind restaurants. In Mexico, I found it in jugs and buckets at restaurants. I traveled with a raw power centrifuge to clean the salvaged oil.
What was the most useful feature of your Delica during this adventure?
We set up a sleeping platform and some shelves to store our gear, veggie oil, tools, filters, and the centrifuge. It all fit in there and a few things on the roof rack. Of course the most useful feature is reliability. We never broke down or required repair the whole trip. The little 2500cc diesel motor, and the beefy 4X4 drive train (same as ’89 Montero) delivered through and through.
What was the scariest part of the trip? Why?
Driving was very scary at times, but worse I’m sure was riding in the left hand passenger seat (my courageous wife sat there every single kilometer in Mexico). Mexican drivers will pass in the dark on blind curves… without lights on. I swear that really happened. Then there was the time where we had to stop short on the highway with a line up of cars behind us to allow an oncoming truck back in after a pass, in order to avoid a head on collision on a shoulderless road
What was your favorite part of the trip? Why?
The favorite part was cracking a cold Negra Modelo at the end of a drive that included avoiding head on collisions. I loved speaking Spanish in towns where gringos hardly ventured. We camped alone for three days on a sandy Pacific beach, after driving a mile on sand to get there. It was also very exciting to catch fish for a change, but my favorite place was certainly Real de Catorce in north central Mexico – a magical Spanish town near the Huicholes’ sacred mountain.
How many Delicas did you see on your adventure? Where did you see them?
I saw only one Delica in Sayulita and San Pancho, Mexico. I saw it three times but never encountered the elusive owner. There’s a Mexican 2008 dodge 2wd gas van that has the same body as the L300 too.
Who, in the Mitsubishi community, do you look up to? That is, who inspires you to keep playing with your Delica?
The prolific and active genius members of www.delica.ca are always inspiring me to understand and maintain , as well as tweak and bling.
Is there anything you’d like to do with the Delica, but just aren’t sure how to pull off?
I’d definitely love to install a Mr. Fusion.
Who has helped you the most along the way, both on the road and overall?
Again, the community at the Delica forum are the most open and generous online community I have ever encountered. A Delica driver will deliver a part thousands of kilometers, or offer their home to a Delica driving complete stranger even while away from it.
Where do you go for your Delica tech?
Coombs Country Auto on Vancouver Island is nothing less than a Delica brain trust, offering the very best customer service I have ever encountered from a repair shop.
Would you make another epic road trip like this one in the Delica again? Where would you go?
Well, my wife and I just returned from a 5000km WVO trip to southern California to see Phish. Who knows where the next trip will be… the Canadian Arctic?
Are you on Twitter or Facebook? If so, can we share your details so other owners can find you?
If I’m not away swatting mosquitoes in the midnight sun, I’ll be hangin’ at www.delica.ca, screen name: after oil.
More pictures of Ari and Danika’s epic trans-continental journey in the Delica can be found on Danika’s Flickr page.