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BOCES' turbocharged mini van takes to the track at the Glen

For the fourth consecutive year, BOCES students and staff participated in the “Green Grand Prix” (GGP) at Watkins Glen. Their 1990 Chevy Astro Van was built in Rob Winterstein’s General Automotive Services class, where it was converted to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO) provided by local restaurants. The vehicle is equipped with a Cummins 5.9L turbocharged diesel engine extracted from a 1992 Dodge truck. Gary’s U-Pull It in Colesville helped by providing recycled parts to convert the nose of the van into a larger 1997 model Astro Van so as to provide room for the larger engine. Other modifications included using 1995 Chevy 3/4 ton full-size coil springs in the front of the Astro Van, and a 1996 Chevy 1/2 ton truck rear axle to accommodate the over-sized drivetrain.

Each year, students in Winterstein’s class get the van ready for the race track by conducting a thorough inspection (making sure it complies with New York State DOT requirements), fixing any problems, and performing updates that make it better, safer and more fuel-efficient.

Looking ahead, the class is currently working on a 1949 Chevy Coupe Deluxe that will also run on vegetable oil for next year’s competition, using an engine that was pulled out of a bread truck in a field with a backhoe. The students have disassembled the engine (to be rebuilt) and have converted the old drum brakes to more effective disk brakes on the front of the coupe. Students have also removed the rear axle and are working to install a parallel four-link air bag suspension. They are using a centrifuge to process the waste vegetable oil to produce cleaner fuel faster.

Overall, students involved in the competition are learning about alternative energies and fuel through the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) alternative-fuel curriculum in addition to the usual automotive/welding and fabrication skills taught in class.





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Broome-Tioga BOCES   435 Glenwood Road Binghamton, NY 13905 Phone: (607) 763-3300
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