Ethanol

Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:27 pm

I'm a little concerned about ethanol in today's gasoline to use in our older tractors. Talking with an antique tractor collector, who said not to worry if you are not working the engine hard as far as lead in the gas, but he didn't say anything about the ethanol fuel. However, I use my Cub on the farm a lot, it has to earn its keep. I have heard bad things about what ethanol can do to engines, and that our government my increase it to 15%.. I have always added lead plus some Marvel-oil to my Cub fuel. I feel the oil helps keep the float from sticking.
Any suggestions would be great.

Re: Ethanol

Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:40 pm

You are wasting your money on the lead. I have been working my original cub hard for over 25 years, and no problem from unleaded gas, or from ethanol in the last 10 or so years it has been mandatory in Mo.

Re: Ethanol

Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:20 pm

The mechanics that I talk to here all agree ethanol is nothing but trouble for engines not designed for it. We are fortunate here to have non ethanol available, although more expensive, I use it all of the time. I have seen what ethanol does to small engines and it is not good. JMHO
Berlin

Re: Ethanol

Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:53 pm

Nothing but ethanol/gas here in Southern New England since the 90's. The sky has not fallen yet.

Re: Ethanol

Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:31 pm

bob in CT wrote:Nothing but ethanol/gas here in Southern New England since the 90's. The sky has not fallen yet.


Ditto! I don't know exactly when they started using ethanol here in eastern NC but I can tell no difference. Fill the tank and run it.

Al

Re: Ethanol

Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:02 am

Super A wrote:
bob in CT wrote:Nothing but ethanol/gas here in Southern New England since the 90's. The sky has not fallen yet.


Ditto! I don't know exactly when they started using ethanol here in eastern NC but I can tell no difference. Fill the tank and run it.

Al

I notice no difference either, I think a lot of the problems come with old fuel that sits for to long so some additive may be needed like the Marvel oil you spoke of... I add Avation fuel and Cam II to mine every once and a while to clean things up... Plus I'm hooked on the good smell of it burning. :lol:

Re: Ethanol

Sun Apr 07, 2013 6:40 am

The actual problem with ethanol in gas is that it is an alcohol, which breaks down easily when exposed to air. Actually, the OH (thats the alcohol on the carbon chain) separates and turns to H2O (water) when exposed to air. When this happens the other compounds in gasoline and the plastics typically found in fuel systems also break down with it and making the fuel corrosive to those parts. Also, because the extra OHs in ethanol, ethanol gasoline breaks down quicky, so there is a much shorter storage life than regular gasoline.

If you can keep gasoline from being exposed to air, then it's breakdown period is MUCH delayed. Therefore, the old saying about running the gas out of something for the winter storage period is about the worst thing you can do with ethanol/gasoline, because you NEVER actually run it ALL out of the fuel system. The part that remains in the fuel system is quickly broken down and then sits for months allowing it to corrode anything that's around it. It is the #1 problem that is seen in any repair shop, and typically causes enough damage that carburetors need to be replaced. If you keep a fuel system full of gas, and treat the gas with Stabil, or Sea Foam (or whatever your favorite fuel stabilizer is), then you prevent the fuel from being exposed to air in the sensitive areas (carburetor), and will prevent the problem. If you read ANY owner's manual for new equipment it specifically says to "fill the fuel tank and treat with stabilizer prior to storage for the off season".

Because I rarely use a full 5-gallon can of gas at a time, and it may sit for months, I've just gotten into the habit of treating the can of gas when I fill it. That way everything has stabilizer or Sea Foam in it all the time, and there is no storage issue

Now, back to actually using ethanol in an engine all the time. In the Cub, there are almost no plastic parts in the fuel system. Running ethanol/gasoline in a Cub really has no effect on the engine. Matter of fact, I believe the Cub engine was designed for 84 or 85-octane gas, so even the loss of octane associated with ethanol gas really has no effect because even an 87-octane ethanol gas ends up being more than 85 actual octane when running.

So, if you're working the Cub, running it daily or weekly, and never letting gas sit in it for more than 30 days, then I'd say there's no problem at all using ethanol gasoline. Adding lead to the gas is a waste of money because the Cub engine doesn't care and doesn't run at high enough RPMs for the lifter smack to be an issue (why lead was added to gas originally when automobile engines began running at high RPMs in the 1940s). I would run a dose of Sea Foam through it every now and then to help get rid of carbon buildup in the engine, but even that is just a preference and not really necessity.

Bill

Re: Ethanol

Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:36 am

OH is a hydroxide ion, not alcohol. Alcohol does not break down into water when exposed to air. I have some half-full liquor bottles that have been in the basement for decades and you can still get snockered on them. :lol: What ethanol does do is mix with water and lower the freezing point, which is why it was packaged in tiny bottles and sold as DryGas at an enormous profit. Water in the tank would blend with the alcohol so it would not freeze in the lines. I laugh when I see people adding DryGas to their tank full of 10% ethanol gas. A complete waste of money. The first anti-freeze was alcohol, but it would boil off at a lower temperature than water so motorists had to keep a hydrometer handy and top up the radiator with replacement alcohol frequently.

Alcohol is hydroscopic, meaning it will absorb moisture from the air. A 10% ethanol gas can dissolve almost 4 teaspo0ns of water per gallon. There are problems that can occur with too much water and there is an issue with 2-stokes as the water displaces the 2-stoke oil causing lubrication failure. The bottom line, use fresh gas and everything is OK.

He is a short paper that explains what the impact of water in MBTE and ethanol fuels regarding storage and combustion that is worth reading.
http://epa.gov/oms/regs/fuels/rfg/waterphs.pdf

Re: Ethanol

Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:42 am

Bob, I agree completely. I have been using it since it was first used here, In the 70's I think. Never had a problem I could blame n the alcohol, including using it in older cars.Even used it in my older outboard with no problems.

Re: Ethanol

Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:05 am

"Now, back to actually using ethanol in an engine all the time. In the Cub, there are almost no plastic parts in the fuel system. Running ethanol/gasoline in a Cub really has no effect on the engine. Matter of fact, I believe the Cub engine was designed for 84 or 85-octane gas, so even the loss of octane associated with ethanol gas really has no effect because even an 87-octane ethanol gas ends up being more than 85 actual octane when running. "

Ethanol has an octane rating (RON) of 108.6. So ethanol is an octane booster.

Re: Ethanol

Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:41 am

Just saying "ethanol gas" can lead to confusion since there are two main types. It's one of those things that you know what you're talking about but frequently the person you're telling it to hasn't a clue that there are two types or what the difference is. So to clarify there is regular gas and E-85 gas.

Regular gas can, and does in many locations, have up to 10% ethanol added to it. Here in MO it all has 10% ethanol thanks to the corn lobby folks. Any vehicle designed to run on gas will run fine on 90% gas and 10% ethanol. In a five gallon can you're getting 4.5 gallons of gas and a half gallon of ethanol. You will have a slight drop in mpg.

E-85 is 85% ethanol and 15% regular gas. Only vehicles designed to run on it will run on it without damage. The 15% gas is so you can get it started in colder weather since the ethanol just doesn't vaporize as well in cold weather. If you have a vehicle that will take E-85 it will get about 75% of the mpg on E-85 you get when using regular gas so it should be priced about 75% of what regular gas is. (20 mpg on regular, you'll get about 15 mpg on E-85. Pay $4 for regular, E-85 should be $3.)

Re: Ethanol

Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:45 am

Just do your self a favor, buy some ethanol gasoline put some in a mason jar and sit it outside under something where air can get to it but not rain in it and look at it after a day or two.

Re: Ethanol

Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:25 pm

Bob has the chemistry correct. I expect most of the "problems" associated with E10 is really due to something else. If you want to use the more expensive non-ETOH then it should work well. For most folks the total yearly cost may not be much different. For daily work then it may add up.

The "lead" additive is not really lead.

Re: Ethanol

Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:30 pm

I started doing some reading on E-85 and other ethanol mixtures because of the Flex Fuel conversation. I know from my own family history that in the 20s in Germany, there wasn't a lot of "regular" gas available, so the farmers and vintners began experimenting with substitute fuels such as alcohol, methanol and ethanol. It worked. So when I was reading about Henry Ford and that his early cars were designed to run on alcohol/methanol/ethanol I was kinda surprised. Makes sense as it is cheaper to produce than what we now consider traditional fuel from oil. It was the Oil companies that pushed gasoline over other fuels.

So, it seems to me that a Cub would be able to run on ethanol nicely. Just need to take the proper storage precautions.

Do I like ethanol? Well that is a personal question. The answer is right now, no, not at all. My yard equipment doesn't like it at all, probably because of the types of fuel lines etc... My Grand Caravan's do not like it at all and in fact it really does a number on them. Mostly because they are older, a '99 and a 2000 so they were not designed to work on E-10 or E-15. Our Honda however is .. but I choose not to simply because I have access to non-ethanol fuels - although I must use Top Tier so it doesn't mess up the engine.

I am beginning to believe that ethanol when stored properly and used in modern engines that are designed for these fuels is a good alternative. As far as using it in our Cubs, if it was good enough for Henry, I guess it is good enough for an L-head engine. Course, I use steel lines and not rubber.

Re: Ethanol

Sun Apr 07, 2013 1:07 pm

Reading this thread has given me some thoughts about the cubs I am working on, plus the three non cubs I have recently got to running.
I have experienced some of the nastiest looking and smelling stuf in the gas tanks and carburators on these six engines.
I started a thread about idle tubes, [ which I still need some information on. This thread may have answered my question ablout my other concern.

cottonpicker