Monday, January 18, 2021

How Old Is Your Diesel Exhaust Fluid?

Photo source: American Petroleum Institute
A few weeks back we shared some important information about winterizing your DEF. This weekend Trucking Info published information from the American Petroleum Institute (API) about another important facet of keeping Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) effective. 

The article begins by noting that the Covid pandemic resulted in many diesel-powered trucks, buses and fleets sitting idle for much of 2020. Putting idled vehicles back in service involves a number of steps, but according to Jeffrey Harmening of the API, DEF maintenance is one of those things that can get overlooked.

DEF has a limited life span and may need to be changed before boing put back into service.

The American Petroleum Institute recommends that you determine when DEF was put in the vehicle. The storage life of DEF is about 12 months in optimal conditions. If DEF has been stored in the vehicle over the past 12 months, it is recommended that it be drained and replaced. 

The author goes so far as to say you should check the expiration dates on the DEF you have stored on your shelves. You should dispose of the expired DEF in accordance with local regulations and order new DEF.

Harmening addresses the winterizing issue (DEF expands when it freezes) by reminding us not to have the DEF tank too full in freezing temperatures. Don't use additives to melt the DEF if it freezes. Your engine will start as normal and heaters will warm it to a working temperature.

After elaborating on purchasing and managing DEF in your shop, he closes with this summing up:

For shops and drivers, it’s important to know what you are putting into your DEF tank. The quality of the DEF going into your vehicle is as important as the quality of the engine oils or fuels used in your vehicles. Use of API-licensed Diesel Exhaust Fluid will ensure that it meets the high standards required by engine and vehicle manufacturers.

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You can read the full story here.

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Related Links
Diesel Exhaust Fluid Q&A (Cummins)
What Happens When the DEF Runs Dry?
20 Facts You Need To Know About DEF

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade: What Is Happening with All That Unused Jet Fuel?

As everyone knows, the airline industry took a major hit in the year of Covid. International travel was curtailed and domestic travel minimized. Bailouts helped the industry stay afloat, only because if all the airlines went bankrupt how will e get around when the curfews lift?

All these issues were in the news this past year, but a story in Ag Week yesterday gave us a glimpse of another facet of the restricted air travel. Because less jet fuel was needed for air travel, more was available to be converted to diesel fuel. As a result, the price of diesel could remain stable or even better for 2021.

The Ag Week article by Jonathan Knutson cited remarks from bioenergy and bioproducts economist David Ripplinger, who spoke (virtually) at a farm show in North Dakota. 

"This is really important to agriculture. We can convert and modify jet fuel into diesel fuel, which is great (for agriculture.). They're trying to find a home for all of this fuel that used to be jet fuel. That's a really bullish thing for agriculture" as the new crop season approaches, he said.

"It's a good sign that diesel fuel (prices) will be low. This is good for North Dakota farmers who might be looking to go into those diesel markets to buy fuel, including early for spring. I don't see any reason why we would see the significant disruptions and storage issues that we saw in the spring of 2020," he said.

We've all had to make many adjustments this year. It's not a stretch to say that it has been a year that's made us seek out new ways to turn lemons into lemonade.

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You can read the full story here

Friday, January 15, 2021

Champion Oil's Winter-Blend Diesel Flo Fuel Additive Gets an Upgrade

It's wintertime and Champion Oil has been active making sure our diesel equipment is being taken care of with a variety of new or enhanced products. This week Champion announced the launch of an enhanced "winter-blend" Diesel Flo Fuel Additive with Cetane.

“Most diesel enthusiasts use fuel additives from time to time, most likely in the winter to prevent gelling,” stated Karl Dedolph of Champion Brands, LLC.  “But there are other diesel enthusiasts or fleet owners that regularly treat their fuel with additives. Some use detergent additives or lubricity agents to make up for the loss of sulfur in diesel fuel, which disappeared 15 years ago under an EPA mandate. Others use fuel stabilizers to offset the effects of minimal use or storage, and cetane improvers to optimize combustion with the intent to reduce emissions and increase horsepower.”

Dedolph went on to cite a number of problems that can be avoided or resolved by means of additives. “One of the most common problems, and perhaps the most easily avoided," he said, "relates to the condition of the injectors. By using the correct fuel additives, injector damage due to water and internal diesel injector deposits can be prevented. When a lubricity additive is used, the life of the injector is increased. Best method is to examine the Bottom of Form condition of an injector is when tearing down the engine. If it didn’t fail over its expected replacement life, perhaps that’s the result of the additives you used. “

Another problem that additives can address is fuel filter plugging.  “If you suffer from fuel filter plugging, an additive can help dissolve the asphaltenes. These are high-molecular-weight hydrocarbons that are usually found on the bottom of the crude. They can also be formed in ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel from the heat created by higher pump pressures inside the fuel system and returned to the tank from your fuel pressure regulator.”

Fuel additives can help dissolve the asphaltenes in the fuel and also prevent them from forming and plugging filters, he explained, adding, "Many diesel owners suffer from the effects of a low cetane rating within the fuel that causes poor fuel economy and hard starts during the cold months. A good fuel additive should boost the cetane number and solve each most of the fuel and filter related issues.”

The new, more robust formula found in Champion's Diesel Flo with Cetane (part #4183) is a premium diesel fuel anti-gel and de-icer designed to prevent operability issues in diesel fueling systems at sub-zero temperatures. The product disperses and removes water from diesel fuel and prevents icing of fuel filters.  Cold-flow improvers prevent aggregation of diesel wax crystals, allowing for lower pour points, cold-filter plugging points (CFPPs), and gel temperatures in low-sulfur and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuels and biodiesel blends.

This is Champion's most concentrated formula ever,  boasting the following features and benefits:

  • Reduces solvent load and decreases cost-to-treat
  • Performs in low sulfur and ultra-low sulfur diesel and biodiesel blends
  • Reduces cold-filter plugging points by as much as 20°C (36°F) in untreated fuels
  • Disperses and removes water from fuel
  • Reduces the pouring point and gel temperature of fuel
  • Helps prevent fuel filter icing and cold-filter plugging
  • One quart treats up to 250 US Gallons of diesel fuel

About the company: Champion Brands, LLC, is a globally recognized industry leader in specialty lubricants for over 65 years. Champion also produces and blends over 300 products including fuel, oil, engine additives, and lubricants for the racing, automotive, heavy truck, agricultural, manufacturing, industrial, and specialty markets. For more information about the new Champion Diesel Fuel Additives contact your nearest Champion Distributor, or call Champion at 660-890-6231. Champion Brands, LLC; 1001 Golden Drive, Clinton, MO, 64735 or go to

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Porky's Diesel Story Leads to a Brief Visit with Diesel Enthusiast Artie Maupin

A friend sent me this article a couple weeks back and I knew I had to write about it. It was titled, Making Bacon: 9-Second Cummins Swapped F100 Built By Porky's Diesel. Essentially, it's about some builders who dropped a 12-valve Cummins engine under the hood of a 1957 Ford F100. (OK, "Under the hood" is a misnomer because there is no hood on this beefed up speedster.) 

The Dragzine story opens with a three minute video showcasing the truck's get-up-and-go in a dragstrip setting. The builder's aim was to produce something that could race, but also be driven on the street. 

When I contacted the author of the Dragzine to learn more he directed me to Artie Maupin, a staff writer for Diesel Army who has a passion for anything diesel. bills itself as the new place where diesel enthusiasts can hang their hats. It's apparent that this is a good place to stay on the forefront of what is happening in the diesel realm. Diesel Army is a branch of Power Automedia whom Maupin has been writing with for the last four years. 

Blue Flame Blogger: How much geographic territory do you cover?

Artie Maupin. Diesel Army.
Artie Maupin:
I cover quite a bit. I follow the Outlaw Diesel Super Series which covers Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, and Virginia. Every other surrounding state is usually having some sort of truck event going on, so I stay pretty busy. Texas, too.

BFB: How long have you been covering drag racing as a journalist?

AM: I have been covering diesel drag racing / drag racing for going on four years in July. I’ve been into drag racing since I was 8 years old, though. I started in a Junior Dragster then and it slowly developed into bigger cars and now diesel trucks.

BFB: What are your favorite drag strips and why?

AM: I have always had a love for Gateway Motorsports Park (Now it's World Wide Technology Raceway) because it's my home 1/4 mile track. I just love that the city of St. Louis, the arch, and my St. Louis Cardinals are within sight while I also enjoy my drag racing. 

Notable mentions, Emerald Coast Dragway in Holt, Florida. A friend of mine owns it and I love that track. Its one of the cleanest facilities around and the fact that its close to the water (Gulf of Mexico). 

BFB: What are your favorite diesel events?

AM: Honestly, I like all of the diesel events. If I had to narrow one down, it would be a close race for first. The Sunshine Showdown in Holt, Florida in September is always great and the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza is too. They both offer fun things to do on and off the event grounds which makes for a fun weekend with friends. 

BFB: Thanks for sharing. 

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Related Links

The original story on Dragzine:

Porky's Diesel on Instagram:

Learn more about Diesel Army here:

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

More Winter Maintenance Tips for Your Diesel Equipment

In much of the country mid-January is the coldest time of the year. Arctic blasts send shivers up our spines. Though most folk hunker down on those coldest days, there are others who make a living outdoors. It's not a matter of dressing for success (the white shirt, the right tie) but rather learning how to dress to survive. (Choppers, lined pants, layers of shirts, parka, snowmobile boots, etc.) 

Diesel engines need a different kind of treatment in extreme cold as well. On Monday, published a useful story on this topic titled Diesel Engine Do's Don'ts for Trouble-Free Winter. The main point the author strives to get across is that the best solution to avoid problems with diesel starts is to prepare in advance. Don't wait till you have a problem. You know it will be cold, so be ready.

One reason diesels are a special problem in cold weather is because "they depend on high temperatures created by compression to ignite the injected fuel." Our diesels do not have spark plugs. Internal combustion operates on a different principle. Because of this, the author states that "it is five times harder to start a diesel engine at 0 F (minus 17 C) than it is to start one at 80 F (26 C).

Though there can be a number of causes for challenging winter starts, the top three reasons are gelled fuel, cold cylinder walls or electrical failure. The article offers practical actions you can take to avoid being stranded in the cold.

It's worth pointing out that these tips aren't just assembled from miscellaneous trucker lore. The author, Julian Wood, works with Perkins which has documented billions of hours of testing in all environments. Their cold weather testing is performed 100 km from the Arctic Circle in Sweden at near 50 below.

The first area of focus is on the fluids. Just as water undergoes changes based on temperature (ice, liquid, steam) so are the fluids in your vehicle transformed as temps drop. 

Recommendations fall into four baskets. Nine pertain to the fuel, two address the oil, three pertain to the coolant and two more to the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF).

The second area Wood addresses is the engine itself. Some of these steps should become part of your regimen at the beginning of winter, not when you're in the middle of a blizzard.

The third area is a the electrical system, specifically your battery. This is where the energy comes from to start your beast. You want a strong battery going into winter, and the author reminds us the batteries lose a portion of their cranking power when temperatures drop. You may even want to consider a battery warmer.

A couple other items of note. Beware of parasitic loads. That is, be aware of the things that can be a drag on cranking. Also, always let the engine warm up for five minutes before putting it into work mode.

The key idea that the author strives to sink home is here in the conclusion:

"A modern diesel will start and run under extreme conditions with very few issues, but ignoring those issues can be expensive. Proactive preventive action may seem like an extra expense or time spent on something that isn't a problem — now — but it makes economic sense in the long run. The consequences of ignoring winter diesel issues can range from losing all or part of a day's work to repairing expensive engine damage."

Read the full article here:

7 Ways to Prep Your Diesel for Winter
Take Care of Your Hydraulic Systems with Champion Snow Plow Oil

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

GM Has a New Logo.What Do You Think?

When companies change their logo it is a pretty big deal. All your stationary, all your packaging, all your users manuals, all your web pages... everything needs to be updated. The bigger you are, the bigger the challenge. For that reason, when a logo gets a makeover, it's not a frivolous decision.

While watching the first weekend of the NFL playoffs I noticed a couple commercials with a new look for their companies. But it wasn't there that noticed the new GM logo for the first time. Rather, it was here in a barbed story from Fast Company: General Motors' New Logo Is the Biggest Branding Fail of 2021, So Far. The article begins:

Over the last week we’ve seen a rash of rebranding efforts by major companies such as Burger King and Pfizer. Now, General Motors announced it too had a New Year makeover, unveiling a new logo aimed to reflect its commitment to the production and sale of electric vehicles.

When companies make a move of this nature, they usually accompany it with a publicity campaign in which they explain their rationale. That is, since decisions like this can't be made lightly, it is useful to take the opportunity to draw attention to what the new look is attempting to convey. Here's what GM had to say about it:

The new GM logo features a color gradient of vibrant blue tones, evoking the clean skies of a zero-emissions future and the energy of the Ultium platform [GM’s EV battery system]. The rounded edges and lower-case font create a more modern, inclusive feel. The underline of the “m” connects to the previous GM logos as well as visually representing the Ultium platform. And within the negative space of the “m” is a nod to the shape of an electrical plug.

Essentially it's an environmental message and a commitment statement. It reads like a sales pitch from an ad agency to the GM marketing team, who in turn took it to the top to see if it would fly. And apparently it did.

Jeff Beer, the author of this article, does not share the same enthusiasm for this re-branding effort that GM does. The problem, according to Beer, is trust. Trust is an essential part of any relationship between consumers and companies. Beer cites the 20% drop in Tropicana's sales after they rebranded in 2009. (Which included 5 months of design work and a 35 million dollar campaign.)

GM says they are in an evolutionary state, moving toward a future with "zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion." These ideas are contained in a logo concept that Beer feels has zero history, zero trust and zero originality. On top of all that Beer sees it as just plain bland.

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The Fast Company piece compares the GM re-branding to Ford's Bronco launch last summer which focused on that company's history and legacy. Beer's barbed probe questions GMs motivations, too. Does GM feel challenged by Tesla? Is this re-branding an effort to re-captured the future in the imaginations of its consumers?

At the New York World's Fair the GM Pavilion, a.k.a. Futurama,  was equally future-focused. Imaginations were stirred by concept cars that looked very different from what we drove in the Fifties, almost space-aged. There comes a time when being too tied to the past is perceived as dated. "We're not your father's Oldsmobile" is a famous campaign that implied cutting ties with the past. 

Nearly all the previous logo designs maintained that stodgy, square, solid block with a GM in the middle. Today's logo is more fluid, organic. 

What do you think about this new look? Leave a comment. We'd really like to hear.

Related Links

Here's a cool web page where you see all the logos from General Motors' history since 1908. The first 30 years its Certificate of Incorporation served as its logo.

New Logo Is the Biggest Branding Fail of 2021, So Far (Fast Company story)

Monday, January 11, 2021

A Conversation Among Friends About Choosing Your First Pickup

The 2020 Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup.
Here's a creative way to dig into the pros and cons of an issue, an article at The Globe and Mail in which Petrina Gentile and Mark Richardson discuss ins and outs of buying a new pickup truck for the first time. There are many issues to consider and the article is a creative way to unearth the various facets of these issues. 

The article is titled, "I'm looking to buy my first pickup, preferably a diesel. What should I buy?"

What a great title. It's not clickbait, but is certainly effective. It tells you what the article will be about and pulls you in.

A reader named John has written in to say that after driving cars for years (currently a Ford Escape) he wants to purchase a pickup. Because he may also be buying a boat in the near future he wants to get something that tows well, and is leaning toward a diesel. What size should he get though? 

These were his thoughts and the authors. dive right in.

Richardson begins by letting John know that as soon as he gets a pickup he will be "everybody's friend" as they will come to him to help them move and bring things to the dump. Gentile concurs, noting that this has also increased their popularity. Seven companies, he adds, are working on bringing electric pickups to market, though Richardson quickly notes that these will be expensive.

The two digress to debate whether these EVs are simply status symbols or really worth the extra cost. Then they return to the discussion. Because trucks are heavier are they counterproductive as a commuter vehicle? Richardson then notes that he knows people who would never consider driving something that wasn't a truck, so the question is moot.

One of the bigger issues is brand. Pickup owners are exceedingly brand loyal. "I can’t recall a single pickup-truck driver among my friends who’s switched brands in the last decade," Richardson said. 

Gentile shared that his dad drove a Ford F-150 for 50 years and never once considered trying a Silverado.

As for size, Richardson says that John only needs a full-sized pickup if he's planning to get a full-sized boat. The mid-size will be more than satisfactory and, because it is lighter, will give better fuel economy.

Gentile replies, "Not so fast." The Dodge Ram 1500 is powerful and fuel efficient. Richardson agrees here, saying he'd driven a Ram diesel that gave better fuel economy than his Toyota Rav4.

There are a number of additional details, but when all is said and done what do you think they recommended? Well, since there is no right answer and you don't want to offend anyone too badly, many brands catch some strokes. I'm impressed, though, at how many positive things we've been hearing about the diesel-powered mid-sized Chevy Colorado on so many forums. Its cousin the GMC Canyon gets cited as well as the Ford Ranger with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, though this latter has no diesel option.

The friends close out the discussion with a reminder that there are options with all these choices which can add additional costs, so there is a lot to consider. 

The article is a fun read, and an intriguing way to present information. Follow this link for the full story.

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