Boating mag April 2020 says ethanol-mix will wreck boat engines.

Discussion in 'Gas Engines' started by Squidly-Diddly, Mar 21, 2020.

  1. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
    Posts: 1,661
    Likes: 101, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 304
    Location: SF bay

    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    Ethanol has been around for while, and IIRC its big in Brazil and CA has lot of ethanol in gas.
    I'm thinking the biggest market for fancy off-shore fishing boats featured in "Boating" mag is FL, where is likely boaters will make runs to other non-American islands and who knows what they put in gas over there.

    If car manufacturers can make car motors able to use whatever high % of ethanol is dictated in CA, and cars are always and only gonna get gas from well regulated known gas stations, shouldn't boat engine makers make boat engines at least as able to handle ethanol or other sub-premium fuel???

    Especially since a fuel related break down is kinda more problematic on the high seas in a not-too storm worthy boat than a car stalling on side of road in CA.

    Is it because boat engines are much less regulated, and the market says "super high performance, damn the mechanical bills"?

    I don't get what the issue could be, because even in CA we now got some pretty suped up car engines.

    "Boating" says the problem is the water that gets absorbed in E10 or E15 gas, and can then separate out and create sludge which wrecks everything. I've NEVER heard of "water in the gas" in all my decades driving in CA, and I don't see how water in gas is bigger problem for boat's gas tank VS getting gas in rain, etc. "Water in gas" is something they teach you how to check at my buddy's Auto Mechanic trade school, but not something I've ever run across.

    I've heard of "fuel polishing" needed when buying iffy fuel overseas, but not when buying gas in USA from high volume pumps at big money boating hot-spots.
     
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 14,507
    Likes: 659, Points: 123, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    Gas containing ethanol starts degrading in a month and has a shelf life of three months. In cars that is not an issue, because we fill the tank a couple of times a month. The ethanol does absorb water. However E10 will separate from the gas at 0.4% water content. At that point it goes to the bottom of the tank. When the engine runs, it will run on 100% alcohol which is bad.
     
    7228sedan and hoytedow like this.
  3. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
    Posts: 814
    Likes: 314, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 39
    Location: Germany

    Rumars Senior Member

    Classic scaremongering that one. Yes phase separation can occur if enough water is present. Where does that water come from? Primarily humid air in the tank and its condensation on the tank walls. That's the same water that would go to the bottom of the tank anyway since E0 (straight gasoline) can hold only minute amounts of water. One would have a layer of water at the bottom anyway. Only difference is that with E10 the amount is greater since it also contains the alcohol. That only occurs after phase separation, there is no free water in the tank before it like with E0 where water can accumulate for years. After separation the gasoline is E0 but it's octane rating is really bad so modern high compression motors don't like it at all. The chance of hydrolocking the engine on the water alcohol mix at the tanks bottom is very small, I never heard of it happening (not to say it's not possible).
    You need a very big tank with very little E10 in it and a lot of time for phase separation to be a concern. The solutions are classic and already employed: tanks with sumps where water and debris can collect, filters with water traps, dessicating fuel vent filters (rare thing to see) and the old "keep your tanks full and don't use stale gas".
     
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 14,507
    Likes: 659, Points: 123, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    It is a fact of chemistry and not scaremongering. There are enough tests showing it is a fact. A sump where water accumulates will be no major problem with straight gas. They separate, and there would have to be several gallons to reach the bottom of the pickup tube. However, when 10% of the volume of the fuel separates, it does become a problem. Boats spend a lot of time stored, without moving and collecting moisture.
     
    hoytedow and powerabout like this.
  5. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
    Posts: 814
    Likes: 314, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 39
    Location: Germany

    Rumars Senior Member

    Of course it happens I said that. It's still scaremongering because nothing bad will happen to your motor when phase separation occurs. You either pick up the water/alcohol mix and the engine will not run, or the now really low octane gas and if it starts with it the motor will sputter and knock triggering investigation.
    Sure you have to take precautions when storing the boat but that was also the case before E10. The issue is blown out of proportion, it's not like boats break left and right because of E10 phase separation. Ever since introduction E10 is presented as the great evil for boats and oldtimer cars and that is simply not true. There are some particularities that need attention but that's all.
     
  6. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
    Posts: 2,403
    Likes: 282, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1669
    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    Engine manufacturers recommend only E10. Running E10 on newer engines should not cause any problems. Since the 80's, fuel system components have been reformulated to be more alcohol resistant and since the EPA got into the act they have become even more alcohol resistant. However gas tends to sit for long periods, sometimes months in boat tanks and fuel systems, so it simply has a greater "opportunity risk" to damage the hoses, gaskets and other components. Of course the issue of phase separation has been with us for a long time. Actually far longer than most people realize. Remember Gasohol of the 70s? But as was said there are ways to deal with this. You can add stabilizers, or you can simply empty your tanks if the boat is going to be sitting for months. You can change hoses and gaskets, filters etc on a regular basis. E15 or higher is a different animal. Now you have raised the possibility of damage by 1.5 times the E10 level and system components on boat engines are not engineered to withstand that. But if you stick with E10 you should be ok. I have been running E10 in my 48 year old boat engine for 6 or 7 years without any issues. I haven't read the article but much of this type of hype is overblown. About 10 years ago I wrote an article, Much Ado About Ethanol, https://newboatbuilders.com/docs/Ethanol.pdf which I should probably update, but much of it is still applicable.

    I might add there are substitutes for Ethanol, such as Isobutanol, but not much has been done to promote use of Isobutanol. It is more effective than Ethanol, cleaner, the engines run better and it doesn't cause damage. It can be made from almost any vegetable matter. But the industry is so invested in Ethanol production that little has been done to increase the availability of isobutanol.
     
    Barry likes this.
  7. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 14,507
    Likes: 659, Points: 123, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    When the fuel separates, you are running E100 which is very damaging to the whole fuel system unless it is designed for it. In Brazil, when they went to straight ethanol, the solution was to revert to cast iron carburetors. The aluminum alloys were destroyed in a couple of weeks. That included fuel pumps and other parts too. The problem is increased by owners and service personnel adding products like Heet that are based on methanol.
    On a side note, Henry Ford added ethanol to gas in his service station until the early 20s when they discovered Tetraethyl lead worked better and was cheaper.
     
  8. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
    Posts: 1,661
    Likes: 101, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 304
    Location: SF bay

    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    I've been letting some of my cars sit for about a month, but then again they are parked on hills.
    I'm also thinking instead of typical "she been sitting, let 'er warm up good" maybe should jump up and down on the bumpers, or add a gallon of fresh gas, or do couple U-turns on starting, to slosh the gas in the tank to re-mix.

    What was mostly missing from the "Boating" piece was the time factor. I'm thinking you could run E10 or even E15 gas all season, no worries, and only do something diff when (and if) you moth-ball it. Instead of searching out exotic gas, why not just add a little bottle (or two or a six pac) of "fuel stabilizer" they sell for winterizing lawn mowers etc?
     
  9. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
    Posts: 814
    Likes: 314, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 39
    Location: Germany

    Rumars Senior Member

    You would be right if the alcohol was 100% dry. Since phase separation does not occur unless there is 0.4-0.5% water present we have a mix that is much less corrosive (depends on water proportion and temperature). In fact fresh of the factory E10 with absolutly dry alcohol in it is more corrosive. The chances of such fresh and pure fuel reaching the end consumer are slim.
    The whole discussion is academic anyway. Since E10 was introduced we are not seeing widespread phase separation or Al corrosion problems, neither in boats nor in cars. The normal precautions we took with E0 are enough for E10. Once in a blue moon someone gets fuel that is dry enough to corrode Al and gets a pitted carb and some people still have hoses and gaskets old enough to be affected.

    Cars (modern ones at least) have sealed fuel systems, you don't need to do anything. Either the car starts or not, if it starts just drive away to your business.
    For the boat I say when in use keep the tanks mostly full and when mothballed empty.
     
  10. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
    Posts: 14,507
    Likes: 659, Points: 123, Legacy Rep: 2031
    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    I completely disagree. We have seen a lot of corrosion and failed fuel systems. New engines have gaskets and hoses that will not degrade, but that is only if the fuel does not separate. Another thing to consider is that fuel gets mixed through splashing. After a fuel truck if full of gasoline it gets ethanol dumped in it. The mixing method is the assumption that the fuel gets sloshed around on the way to delivery. Depending on the length of the drive, the fuel gets mixed to different extent. Later on, a fuel tank may be filled with a much larger concentration of ethanol even if the pump claims it is E10
     
  11. Rumars
    Joined: Mar 2013
    Posts: 814
    Likes: 314, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 39
    Location: Germany

    Rumars Senior Member

    Do the insurance companies forbid E10 over there unless one has a cast iron or bronze carburetor? Or the manfacturers of chainsaws/lawnmowers/motorcycles say don't use E10 in our products if you want us to honour warranty? Because over here it's not the case as far as I know.
    The only regular problem I ever heard occuring is E10 dissolving all the crud and varnish in old tanks and regularly clogging jets and of course non compatible rubbers.
     
  12. ondarvr
    Joined: Dec 2005
    Posts: 2,338
    Likes: 260, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 506
    Location: Monroe WA

    ondarvr Senior Member

    I’ve been running E 10 for almost 30 years, while I can’t say I love it, it hasn’t really caused me any problems either.

    I’ve used it in all my outboards over the years, some get used frequently, others rarely, so far no disasters to report.

    Can it cause problems, yes, most of the potential problems are over hyped by additive companies doing anything they can to squeeze money out of people though.

    Plus E10 is an easy target for lazy boat owners and mechanics.

    The real problems are less common, but do happen.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
  13. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 868
    Likes: 114, Points: 43, Legacy Rep: 512
    Location: New York

    missinginaction Senior Member

    I'm not a petroleum engineer. That said here is my take on e-10.

    If it's used up relatively quickly I suppose that it's OK. I've used it in every engine I have from the boat to cars, motorcycle all the way down to the trimmer and chainsaw. I don't leave fuel in small engines for more than a couple of months. I like to just let 'em run until the fuel tank is empty.

    I don't use fuel stabilizer, just never thought it necessary and I overwinter two "summer cars" routinely, a 2013 Volvo c70 and a 1985 Nissan 300zx. Never had a fuel related problem with either vehicle.

    HOWEVER, a few years ago I overwintered my boat with e-10 in it. She started fine in the spring but stranded me a few miles from the dock when both fuel filters clogged. Fortunately I have an auxiliary outboard that got me back to port. I then added Seafoam to each fuel tank, changed out the fuel filters and added as much non-ethanol premium to the tanks as I could. I now use non-ethanol premium exclusively in the boat and have not had any issues.

    If you have a closed fuel system e-10 and indeed any gas will keep for years. My 85 300zx hasn't been on the road in 5 years now. Just haven't had time to use it. It's in the garage, I start it up and let her warm up every month or two. The fuel system is completely sealed. You'll hear a "woosh" when you unscrew the gas cap. She always starts easily and runs fine.

    Boats are not sealed though and I think that's where the issue is. Since boat tanks are vented to the atmosphere, moisture can easily enter the system.

    MIA
     
  14. brendan gardam
    Joined: Feb 2020
    Posts: 318
    Likes: 33, Points: 28
    Location: east gippsland australia

    brendan gardam Senior Member

    i don't use e10 because th extra fuel burn negates the price difference between that and 91 which is the lowest octane sold here.
     

  15. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
    Posts: 1,661
    Likes: 101, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 304
    Location: SF bay

    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    The big mixing occurs when the truck's entire tank contents are quickly dumped through a big hose into the gas station's tank, which itself will be partly full of the same type. They will also empty a brand specific about 1 gallon can of additives (Chevon Techron, etc) into the truck's full tank, and it gets totally and evenly mixed as the big hose dumps into stations partly full tank.
    Pretty sure any recently delivered gas is 110% mixed, and any high% of ethanol would be from a very slow selling station, or the station owner is up to something.
     
    ondarvr likes this.
Loading...
Similar Threads
  1. HipGnosis
    Replies:
    4
    Views:
    2,532
  2. DTM
    Replies:
    5
    Views:
    4,221
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.