Is WVO still a viable source of fuel in Southern California?

I live in Orange County, California, and for years, I have wanted to convert a car to run on used vegetable oil. I am an aerospace technician and engineering student, so I see this as more of a fun project than a way to save money on fuel.
I have started shopping for a Mercedes 300D, and I have done some reading about the equipment needed to filter the oil and remove any water content. Building the filtration system looks even more interesting than converting the car.
My concern is this: will I be able to reliably obtain vegetable oil to run my car? I know I could run it on diesel, but that would defeat the purpose of the whole project. It sounds like WVO sources are pretty locked down all over the place. If the original sources are all tied up with contracts, can I get WVO, filtered or unfiltered, from other collectors?
If you are in the southern California area, and you are currently operating a WVO vehicle, can you email me or reply here? If scavenging for WVO is the hardest part of this project, I may have second thoughts. The main focus of my project is to engineer a reliable pickup/filtration/storage/dispensing system that minimizes the mess usually associated with privately owned WVO vehicles.

Thank you
Jason
blaze@techemail.com

you are required to have a

you are required to have a license and insurance to pickup and transport UCO (grease hauler), and a separate license to store and process UCO (rendering). State is cracking down on illegal grease haulers, and taking oil that is not yours can result in fine and even jail time. Best to source your oil from local licensed collection/rendering plants.

I now have a 1984 Mercedes

I now have a 1984 Mercedes 300TD that runs on vegetable oil. It's running fine, but I'm still upgrading adding a fuel boost pump, upgraded afterglow plugs, and Monark fine mist fuel injector nozzles. So far, I have tested it with clean vegetable oil on sale from Walmart (I have a small temporary vegetable oil tank under the hood). It's been fun building this car.

It looks like I can have vegetable oil delivered for around $3/gallon from one vendor, and another that I don't have a price quote from yet. At $3/gallon, it would save me about $50/month vs my gasoline powered car. That's good for a hobbyist like myself, but not exactly something that would interest many people in switching fuel sources. I am comparing this to gasoline instead of diesel because this isn't really about switching from diesel to vegetable oil. Hardly anybody runs diesel. It's about switching from gasoline to vegetable oil.

I am trying to find a source for unfiltered oil now. I'll post back more info if I find a grease collector that will sell cheap, unfiltered oil straight from the restaurants. Part of my project is sustainability. If I illegally collect oil from restaurants without the required licenses and insurance, then I haven't really proven anything, and it isn't resonably sustainable. If I did that, I may as well tell people to go rob liquor stores, spend that money on gas, and voila! Free fuel!

Besides, the collectors do a lot of work, and if I can support them by buying cheap (but not free) unfiltered oil, instead of trying to illegally undercut them, then it's a win-win. Another option is to get licensed and insured, and collect some myself, but I don't know if I want to bother with that.

First off: I cannot get oil

First off: I cannot get oil from restaurants. Ever. Forget about it. The cost of a California grease hauler's license and insurance for a year is a little under $2000. Once collected, it has to go to a licensed collection center or renderer (don't know if you can even get that license for personal use at home). I'm perfectly happy building the car, then buying the oil from a renderer, but I think it's EXTREMELY unethical for local WVO conversion companies to sell you conversion kits while explaining that you can get oil from restaurants, then tell you how to filter it. It's illegal. Period.

Second: The companies I find online that offer to sell WVO as auto fuel are hard to buy from. They might be on vacation, I don't know. Lovecraft Biofuel's WVO affiliates links are a graveyard of dead businesses.

I have yet to get a drum of vegetable oil to run my car on, even at a cost of $3 per gallon in a 50 gallon drum. I have run about 3 gallons of new vegetable oil through my engine at a cost of $8 per gallon from a supermarket just to test it. It runs great! Hopefully, I can get some used oil soon.

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