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Dennis Montgomery aboard his 45-foot tour boat-floating classroom, Haendel. 2006  The Ithaca Journal. Reprinted with permission.
Used cooking oil powers Dennis Montgomery's 45-foot, 20-ton combination tour boat-floating classroom. 2006 © The Ithaca Journal. Reprinted with permission.

Member cooks up fuel savings

As the U.S. seeks to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, an Ithaca Power Squadron member has been recycling cooking oil from a neighborhood restaurant to run his 45-foot boat.

Dennis Montgomery, owner of Cayuga Wooden Boatworks in Ithaca, N.Y., wanted to use his 20-ton vessel, Haendel, for scientific research but had to find a way to pay the bills. So he founded Tiohero Tours, which offers daily, historical tours of Lake Cayuga, N.Y., and now uses the revenue to help support his floating classroom, which carries students and teachers on fact-finding missions on the lake.

Initially, Montgomery bought vegetable oil from a commercial firm and used it, along with diesel fuel, in Haendel’s twin Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines. Everything was going fine until vegetable oil jumped from $1.65 to $2 a gallon.

At the beginning of boating season last year, Montgomery noticed a truck taking used cooking oil from a restaurant near Haendel’s berth. Always looking to cut costs, he saw an opportunity to help himself and the restaurant, which was paying to have the used oil hauled away.

The two businesses struck an agreement, and both now realize a savings. The twin diesels took the change without a whimper. During the summer, Haendel’s fuel tank carries 30 percent used cooking oil, but that percentage drops to 10 to 15 percent during the winter to assure proper combustion as cooking oil tends to congeal at cooler temperatures.

So far, Montgomery says, using cooking oil has merely necessitated occasional engine filter changes.

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