Lister Engine Forum

Alternative fuels => Waste Motor Oil => Topic started by: cseyfert on April 21, 2021, 12:09:42 AM

Title: My new "Roger Sanders" style waste oil burner
Post by: cseyfert on April 21, 2021, 12:09:42 AM
Hi all,

New member/lurker here, one of these days I intend on starting a Listeroid project . . . soon, very soon . . . anyways, I visited the other day and saw the recent-ish postings on waste oil burners.  As I just finished my own waste oil burner, I thought I'd share.

I initially was looking at a Babington style burner but after tinkering with a prototype I determined that it was too finicky for easy use with waste oil, and went looking for something simpler.  I found the "Roger Sanders" style oil heater and immediately decided to build one.  The Sanders heater is based on an old Mother Earth News design with improvements of his own.  It uses a 40-gal gas-fired water heater tank (or similar), is a drip-fed style burner, and requires NO electricity.  You can download the instructions here (a bit wordy, but comprehensive):

I resisted being an "engineer" and making unwarranted improvements.  I made my version exactly as the instructions laid out, and it worked the first time.  I mention this because I've seen people building this style burner in other forums and I was surprised at those who tried building one but couldn't follow directions, and did stuff that Sanders explicitly said NOT to do - with predictably poor results.  So, I built first, and might modify later.  First fire was in March 2021, and so far I've burned about 20 - 30 gallons without issue, as spring is here and I only use it when out in the pole shed.

My fuel feed is a temporary lashup so I could get it working for the last few months of winter.  It's just a 6-gal poly tank lashed to the rafters of the shed with a bulkhead fitting in the bottom.  A 1/4" copper line goes to a sight-glass drip valve purchased from McMaster.    With such a small head pressure (about 6' = 2.5 psi) I did find that the fuel line was too small to run the burner to full heat on straight WMO, but the quick work-around was mixing in a bit of kerosene to lower the viscosity.  For next season I will either increase the fuel line diameter (possibly the drip valve size as well) or convert from gravity-feed to a low-pressure feed tank.

Side safety note - the "Burner" pic shows it on first fire day, and yes, the table of junk behind the burner was too close, but the goal was to fire first and move the table in heated comfort.  There is now 4' of clear space all around the burner.  Roof flashing was added later too ;)

Chimney is 6" pipe.  A ~2' angled section of black stovepipe comes out of the burner tank and joins to 4' of vertical black pipe, followed by 6' of Class A pipe through the roof.  The chimney was nearly all of the cost of the build, probably less than $75 in the burner itself but the chimney was ~$400.  I price-shopped extensively, by the way, and for those in the US the cheapest Class A can be found at Menards.

Sanders describes pros and cons of his design quite well, but a few of my own observations/key points:

 - Manual operation only, not suited for automation/unattended use
 - A bit messy, lays down soot inside burner/flue, requiring periodic cleaning
 - Can't go from a cold burner to full output quickly, requires ~30 minutes to work up to full output

 - No electricity
 - Burns fairly clean, exhaust has a bit of soot that dissipates within 5 - 10 feet of chimney.  Looks like a typical Listeroid exhaust  :P
 - Stable burn - the fuel is not located by the burner so viscosity doesn't change with temp.  Once it's up to desired output, it is very nearly set-and-forget.
 - Very wide burn range, burns just fine from a few drips/second up to enough to make the bottom ~18" of the tank glow red.

I am quite pleased with the results and if anyone's looking for a simple WMO burner I don't think you can get better than this one.
Title: Re: My new "Roger Sanders" style waste oil burner
Post by: dkmc on April 23, 2021, 05:44:01 PM
Built one of those once out of curiosity, then gave it to a friend for his pole barn. Worked well. Been wanting my own every winter since, but hasn't happened yet. The 'electric free' aspect could be worth a lot in an extended power outage.
Title: Re: My new "Roger Sanders" style waste oil burner
Post by: veggie on April 25, 2021, 05:22:54 PM
WOW !   You did a really nice job on that most recent iteration of your design.
Your documentation is very helpful to those of us who are considering a build.
thanks for posting that

I'm very curious as to how it would work on waste veggie oil  ::)

Title: Re: My new "Roger Sanders" style waste oil burner
Post by: mikenash on May 07, 2021, 02:56:51 AM
Hey Cseyfert

If you've been looking at waste-oil burners on here - you may have looked at mine?  of course you may not have too

I've been playing with drip-feed - on the basis that I'm not building something you can fire up and head out and leave (and come back to find your shed burnt down) but rather something that you have to tend a little while you're in there doing something else (even if it's only drinking tea and warming your feet by the woodstove)

I've had pretty good results in a low-tech sort of way.  certainly lots of heat to be had . . .

I built about three prototypes out in the open air - to get my head around the process

Since then I have built three iterations of one to bolt onto (and be easily removeable from) my big woodstove.  Apart from anything else, I wondered if a MEAN, open-throttle, chimney-fire-generating burn of the woodstove with dry, hard wood, occasionally, might clean out the accumulated soot from the oil-burning

I have access to several tonnes of clean, new, gear oil with no combustion residues, antifreeze or other contaminants to speak of.  As a 66% oil/34% diesel mix it burns like wildfire in the woodstove

Because I have an off-grid shed, my objective is to not use pumps/injectors/blowers - and hopefully achieve a good result without them

I recently modified the top-plate of my stove with a bunch of fins that hang down into the flame path to try to harvest a bit more heat into the top-plate - hopefully I'll get some trial runs this winter coming

I just have a simple low-head oil feed with an inefficient valve (need a needle valve some time soon) and a small tank only a metre above the burner (if I have to top it up out of a larger container every half-hour or so, I will have no issues with changes in viscosity due to temperature - maybe)

Anyway - see link

I took it at night so you can see the red glow - that's a 5mm wall 125mm diameter steel bend glowing there

If you go to:

there are a few more small vids showing some of the processes of learning-by-doing


Title: Re: My new "Roger Sanders" style waste oil burner
Post by: veggie on May 07, 2021, 06:47:02 PM


You linked to your videos while you were logged into "" which is your private account.
We can't see the videos   :)
Title: Re: My new "Roger Sanders" style waste oil burner
Post by: mihit on May 07, 2021, 10:47:32 PM
I know it's a different application, and requires compressed air source (only 15psi or so) but I use a "KWIKY" burner in my metalcasting furnace. Very economical, absolutely clean burn once up to temperature and can go from cold to 1500 in about 10 mins. It's not fussy on what you feed it, I siphon out of a settled 5-gal tank  of mixed waste oil.
I have been playing with the idea of adapting it to a space-heater set up, perhaps building a smaller one, given how many BTUs it can throw out.
Title: Re: My new "Roger Sanders" style waste oil burner
Post by: mikenash on May 09, 2021, 07:33:22 AM
isn't it embarrassing when old people try to use technology :(

Try this one? Maybe?
Title: Re: My new "Roger Sanders" style waste oil burner
Post by: veggie on May 09, 2021, 06:56:44 PM

Very nice job tying it into the heating system.
Looks reliable and effective.
Well done !
Title: Re: My new "Roger Sanders" style waste oil burner
Post by: cseyfert on May 26, 2021, 07:33:42 PM
Hi mikenash,

Hadn't seen your versions, but I did see some variants of the "Ozzirt" burner on YouTube before I built mine.  I think you're the first I've seen who just couples it into a woodstove, that's smart.  One needs a lot of surface area to radiate heat, but most builders just make a burner and don't think about heat transfer . . . Let me know how your testing goes, I'd be interested in your results after you crank a few hundred gallons or so through it.

Now that the warm weather has returned my burner's already done for the season, but I am looking forward to fixing the fuel delivery so I can burn 100% oil.  It sure burns easy with a little diesel mixed in, but if I can get the fuel for free I'd prefer to burn it free, rather than mixing money into it :)
Title: Re: My new "Roger Sanders" style waste oil burner
Post by: mikenash on May 27, 2021, 08:31:46 PM
Hi, yes, I am only playing with this because I have a few tonnes off free oil - and can see myself being too decrepit to cut a lot of firewood in a few years

Last year I played with a 30% diesel mix - perhaps less will work?  We'll see

I have just made a new top-plate for the stove with a removeable "element" that has fins hanging down into the hot airstream from burner to flue.  I see myself sitting with my feet up near the stove while a coffee pot simmers & bacon makes frying noises and appetising smells . . .

The shed where I have that burner is 400Ks from where I live - so I'm only there from time to time.  But I hope to have some more play-time with the burner this coming (southern hemisphere) winter

Goals are: refine the drip-feed (possibly a needle valve).  More heat from the top element.  Refine "clean" around the operation - no smoke, no drips, no spills

Regardless of all that detail stuff - there's a great deal of heat energy to be had from not very much fuel.  You can see the attraction

I guess we'll see.  Cheers