The case for diesel


Yes I know there are far more people driving Cars, Vans, SUVs’s , Pickups, 4X4’s etc with petrol (gasoline) powered engines than there are driving similar vehicles running Diesel engines, But hang on a moment is that a good thing for us claiming to be switched on survivalists?

Some points I think need chewing over by the preparedness communities especially those with retreats, homesteads, secure homes and bug out plans.

If (or more likely when) TSHTF and fuel availability & storage becomes a major issue what will society in general start doing?

Let’s accept that most of us already keep our vehicles topped off most of the time and also keep a few gallons of fuel stored for “The Day” but nearly all of us must admit that overall we have not got enough fuel cached to get by with.

Question? What is the general public going to do as soon as finding fuel supplies become difficult?

Answer, yes they are going to form huge queues at almost every petrol (gas) station they can, the rest of this tale you already know, huge queues, long waits, rationing, violence, riots, people getting killed for a gallon of fuel. The public will go berserk in next to no time at all.

(This scenario came 100% spot on accurate during the 2005 hurricane season in the US)

So what are the big boys and the prepared people doing?

What do the Railways (Railroads), Truckers, Maritime trade, leisure boats use as fuel? What do farmers choose as fuel for their tractors, ploughs, etc? What do the military choose to power their vehicles?

Diesel, Yes Diesel, This fuel is found almost everywhere a survivalist would choose to look. It’s safer to handle and store than petrol, it’s got a better shelf life untreated than petrol and it’s used to power most of our commerce.

Next time you are out and about take a look around and try to identify places you could ‘Source’ petrol (gas) and diesel. Petrol in general is only available at fuel stations and in other petrol powered vehicles (cars, lawn mowers and jet skis?).It’s only found in fairly small quantities as well. If you are lucky you will be able to fill your vehicle and a few jerry cans from a retail source before government restrictions or shortages become an issue.

But look at places you can find diesel in an emergency and in what quantities? Trucks alone have tanks that carry many hundreds of gallons of diesel, truck stops hold huge amounts in comparison to petrol stations. Look at your local railroad locomotive, even the smallest carry 1500 gallons of diesel whilst the mainline locos can carry as much as 6000 gallons.

Also in recent years modern diesel engines have advanced technologically, to a point that the power issues that traditionally separated diesel vehicles from petrol (gas) powered vehicles has been eroded. So that unless you are into sports cars a turbo diesel can and will match your gasoline powered car in everything except the 0-60 MPH stakes, plus modern diesels are still more economical than petrol engines.

Then of course when it comes to the reliability and vulnerability aspects of comparing the two types of engine diesel wins hands down.

I am also advised that certain types of heating oil can be used to run a diesel engine. Certainly after the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina you need to carry enough fuel to travel 3x the distance to your retreat, this allows for diversions and long periods of very slow driving in heavy traffic.

So in closing if you have a rural retreat or bug out plans and you believe that sourcing fuel is going to be a major issue common sense directs you to choose the good old compression ignition engine.


  • Comments (4)

    • 3

      In reply to posed question “What is the general public …to do?” A decent answer was already provided: “Clang, clang, clang went the trolley” Judy Garland.

      All fuels are heavily regulated and subsidized. Besides being a political question verbotten here, I still don’t know how the housing and job locations will morph out. Aforesaid relates to medical facilities and schools.

      At the onset of tensions that involve prepper-oriented emergencies, driving will be restricted concurrent with transport fuel restricted to only certain categories of purchasers eg ambulance companies, emergency repair crews, … 

      All the transport fuels are not in the realm of market economics. After the JFK assassination, 1963, one of the first documents, LBJ signed was to mothball the NS Savannah, the nation’s prototype commercial vessel with nuclear propulsion. 

      A prepper must anticipate sheltering in place or if having a BOP, leave early – very early.  Otherwise, someone else will be using the nice, well fixed up place.

    • 3

      You make a good point that truck stops probably carry more diesel fuel than gasoline and you can siphon diesel from the large tanks on trucks. 

      Having a generator that runs on diesel would be smart.

    • 3

      SIDEBAR: https://www.energy.gov/fe/office-fossil-energy

      Bill, Above link might prove worthwhile for a coffee break / tea break. Glance at the 11 Feb 21 crude oil sale from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve article.  Below it, look for the FACT SHEET “US LNG Exports – A Shared and  … “.

    • 4

      Hi Bill,

      I’m new here but will go ahead and put it out there that I’ve long, (well, 50 years long I guess) been concerned about resource depletion, peak oil and all that environmental stuff. In fact I was so concerned with the commodity cycle in the aughts, the origins of the mid-east wars, etc that those worries along with the real estate bubble caused me to bug out back then. Suffice to say that transportation has long been a part of my planning.

      Diesel fuel itself has the advantage of long shelf life, it’s not explosive generally, multiple uses in stationary/ag engines. Diesel engines can be simple and bulletproof —no spark required is a good thing, and flexible too, diesels were designed to run on peanut oil originally I’ve read and homegrown biodiesel is a real thing. 

      I own a ’99 Ford F-250, 7.3 turbo, 6sp, 4×4. It makes around 250hp & 500ft-lbs, maybe a little better with the tuner. Brand new Fords can do almost twice that but I’ve only got about $13,000 in it with a clutch, starter, charging R&R and it is barely broke in at 180k miles.  Even so, that 500 ft-lbs pulls pretty strong, I’ve been over the Sierras, Cascades and the Rockies with too big a load and it just kept on going. This beast weighs 7k lbs dry and I’d not hesitate to try and pull or haul anything. It isn’t a coffee cup commuter, it is truly a light truck. I’ve read this engine and trans combo is very reliable as well. The downside is it is a large engine, everything is heavy and would be a bear to work on in a bad situation and even now parts are expensive.

      For comparison I’ve owned many a Ford pickup, including a ’99 ford ¾ ton with the 5.4 gasoline engine. It couldn’t get out of its own way, blew spark plugs out like a ’60’s VW, and stranded me several times before 150k—once when a plug came out of the throttle body and started injecting coolant down the plenum.

      In most of my scenarios, long term adaptability is central rather than a quick run on stored fuel. High fuel prices, really high, feature. My big beast of a truck on a flexible piece of ground would be a nice combination for infrequent but well loaded runs. Perhaps way too big in fact…