Winter Diesel

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 02, 2005 at 12:05
ThreadID: 21719 Views:3794 Replies:2 FollowUps:6
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Information on winter diesel in the high country.

Diesel has a tendency to freeze when reaching the low temperatures encountered in the High Country of Victoria in Winter. The wax content of the fuel is what actually blocks the filters pumps and fuel lines of diesel vehicles. For this reason service stations near the High Country and on the snow routes sell a modified diesel, usually beginning at the start of April. Some fuel retailers at Mansfield and Myrtleford sell “winter diesel” all year round, but you have to ask for it out of season.

There is actually two winter diesels available. The first one called Highland Diesel is the one you will get out of the pump of most servos’ in the foothills of the High Country. The second is called Alpine Diesel. Both of these have had heating oil added to the fuel to dilute the wax content of the fuel. Highland has 20% heating oil added. Alpine diesel has 40% heating oil added and is only suitable for extreme weather conditions or machinery left stopped for extended periods in the cold. The addition of heating oil lowers the octane rating and hence the punch of the fuel and is why truckies’ avoid it like the plague.

While frozen fuel doesn’t damage the engine, it will make it run rough or not even start. The solution to this is to warm any areas where the fuel runs, ie. the pump, the filters and the fuel lines. The easiest, if you have time, is to push the vehicle into a sunny spot lift the bonnet and wait until all the fuel lines, pumps, filters etc. warm up enough to allow you to start the motor. You can also pour warm water over filters, pumps and lines to help speed up the process. If near mains power, I’ve also heard of a hair dryer been used.
It seems the filters get blocked the easiest, so trying to warm these is the most effective.

The simplest way to avoid having this happen when you are overnight in the High Country is to get fuel at one of the towns at the foothills. You should plan to get more then half a tank of Winter Diesel. This also pumps dollars into the local economy, especially when you see the price you will have to pay. You can also put in fuel additives that claim to lower the freezing point. The use of 2% or more of unleaded petrol into a tank of diesel is not recommended as you could possibly burn out the tips of your injectors.

Hope this helps anyone coming up to the High Country this winter.
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Reply By: JW - Saturday, Apr 02, 2005 at 19:11

Saturday, Apr 02, 2005 at 19:11
Dock, thanks for the info. We are heading to Falls Creek for a week in mid-September from central Qld. So any advice is welcome as we are novices when it comes to snow!!!! I have two questions for you:

1. Because our diesel Patrol will be parked for several days at a time, which variant would you suggest? Would the highland variant be suitable?

2. Do you have any recommendations for tyre chain hire in Mt. Beauty?

Any advice gratefully accepted. Thanks.
AnswerID: 104823

Follow Up By: rolande- Saturday, Apr 02, 2005 at 23:54

Saturday, Apr 02, 2005 at 23:54

If you go past all the big flashy shops in Mt.Beauty, there is a little white garage on the left hand side, right on the turn off to the shopping centre.

You will be able to fill with diesel here and hire your chains at the same time.

Hope this helps
FollowupID: 362113

Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 00:07

Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 00:07
See Roger & staff at Pyles Coaches for both fuel and chain hire.

Try and time your last fill before you leave on your trip to have an near empty tank when you get to the bottom of the hill. There's no point putting 20 litres into a near full 120litre tank then parking up top for a week, unless you want Roger or his staff to bring a trailer up and retrieve you off the hill later....

The aforementioned Mobil (think it's still a mobil anyway - don't pay much attention these days) will be able to help on both counts also.

And don't be a dick and leave your wiper arms up like all the other wallys either. The snow load sliding off the roof and down the windscreen bends them really well if there's a good dump followed by a thaw.

If you get parked down the road from the village (overnight long term parking) park as far inside the line of cars as you can get and leave your wheels pointed at the bank. Road clearing machinery will then get the guy behind you and miss you completely (hopefully - doesn't happen often).

Diamond pattern chains are the only way to go and rules regarding fitting them for 4wds changed last year I think. Too many idiots in AWD's ran off the road (nice to see people keeping local paramedics in safe employment - stupidity is a growth industry) so you may have to fit them depending on where your vehicle fits in the criteria. Chain hires or local resort websites should be able to fill you in.

Lastly diesels need healthy batteries to start. Nothing sorts a good battery out from a dud like a week in overnight subzero temps. If you are at all sus about yours get a new one before you go. Last I heard Pyles ditched the RACV agency as with the 60km round trip from the bottom to top and back it was economically unviable. Consequently your road service jump start is going to have to come from even further away. This may have been sorted as it was getting completely ridiculous a couple of seasons ago.

Wave to Mum & Dad as you drive into town and say gday to Kiona (owner) of the Mt Beauty Bakery when you drop in for a coffee and some sustenance for your week up top (good coffee too). Might see you up there.

Any other questions PM me.

FollowupID: 362114

Follow Up By: dock - Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 09:09

Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 09:09
Sounds like Rolande and Dave have answered your question for me.
Most of my experience is four wheel driving and camping in the High Country and not staying in the ski resorts.
Have a good trip, Dock
FollowupID: 362121

Follow Up By: JW - Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 10:16

Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 10:16
Thanks for the helpful advice guys, it is all gratefully accepted.
Had the battery issue covered.
Is there still a choice to be made with regard to diesel at the servos mentioned?
Is it worthwhile removing the wiper blade holders from the arms?
FollowupID: 362130

Follow Up By: dock - Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 20:58

Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 20:58
If you get the tank of the Patrol as full as possible of the diesel at the bouser at Mt Beauty you shouldn't have any problems especially as you plan on going in mid September. Alpine diesel is really only for extreme weather conditions which at that time of year will be rare. Even though you have to carry chains you rarely have to put them on if you drive a fair dinkum four wheel drive. You should have a great time at that time of year as generally the hordes have left by the end of August.
Cheers Dock
FollowupID: 362190

Reply By: geocacher (djcache) - Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 10:42

Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 10:42
Hi Dock,

Both will be selling appropriate diesel - maybe even from the same tanker. I'm not sure what their arrangements are up there at the moment.

Generally the heating diesel is delivered by tankers to houses still running older heating/hot water systems. Mum & Dad were still on diesel until a few years ago when they went to Electric hot water and bottle gas central heating when the cost of diesel skyrocketed post GST intro. When we first moved up there in '83 we got caught by early starts to winter a few times where we had too much summer mix in the tank and woke to find not hot water or heating on frosty May mornings. :o(( Not good. Wouldn't want it to be in a vehicle.

On the second issue. Don't worry about the wipers too much, just don't stand them up like all the other drongos. Have a laugh at their expense when you see them.

Enjoy your trip.

AnswerID: 104902

Follow Up By: JW - Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 16:52

Sunday, Apr 03, 2005 at 16:52
Many thanks DJ. I'm sure we will have a great time.
Jon W
FollowupID: 362157

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