Ethanol avoidance

Discussion in 'Powerboats' started by tom28571, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. tom28571
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Having recently suffered three instances of problems with ethanol enhanced gasoline, I am searching for ways to avoid that crap in the future. These problems required both time and considerable money to correct. I find that Exxon has some stations that advertise ethanol free gas and some marinas also claim the same. There is also the possibility that higher octane grades may often be ethanol free. How about aviation gas?

    I am also in the process of replacing a very good home made tank with a plastic one from Tempo. I find this onerous because the new one is lower capacity and takes up much more room in the bilge, requiring structural rework. Actually I may not be not in favor of large capacity anyway since the ethanol enhanced stuff has such a short lifetime.

    What are the rest of you doing or, are most just hoping for the best? I can advise that this is a risky strategy.

    Maybe it is time for some ground-roots rebellion against ethanol. Some have made tests indicating that paying more for ethanol free actually saves money because of greater mileage.

    This is not a general rant against ethanol or any other fuel source. Just trying to find a way to live with it other than additives and hope..
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2009
  2. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    The only way I know of to avoid ethanol in fuel is to replace the people who passed laws requiring it to be there, or tack a mast to your boat.
     
  3. TollyWally
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    TollyWally Senior Member

    The stuff has cost me untold misery and money. I ended up making a homemade fuel polishing set up with a electric fuel pump running through multiple diesel filters. I ended up installing one of the racor filters permently. Illegal for gasoline but I doubt the coasties will catch it and I have good fueling practices and am not scared of the theoretical danger.

    For what it is worth, once your tanks are cleaned of ethanol soluable gunk it is supposed to run cleanly through your motor. You can advance your timing just a touch with it since it burns cooler. I don't know if that will make up for the loss in energy. All in all, it's a bunch of feelgood political ******** designed to gain favor with corn belt voters. Me, I vote NO!
     
  4. narwhal
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    narwhal Junior Member

    Around here several Marathon stations are advertising ethanol-free gas, and getting a premium price for it, maybe a dime a gallon more. All the Exxon stations here are selling ethanol-laced gas. So I guess it varies from regoin to region. Several local marinas sell Valvtect gas, which is supposed to have a special additive in it that protects against ethanol problems; the additive is added by the distributor, not at the refinery.
     
  5. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    If ethanol free only goes for a 10 cent premium, I will gladly pay that and more since it will be more than recovered in better fuel mileage.
     
  6. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    Fortunately, here in Oz, E+ fuel is pumped from a dedicated bowser - at least in most of the places I've taken note of it. We haven't had the misfortune of having a minimum ethanol content legislated upon us.
    I have read a number articles detailing the tails of woe of boat owners throughout the US in particular. If I recall correctly the NMMA were making representations to your officialdom. The cost to the boating community was estimated to be in the hundreds of millions.
    Still - we are a dirty, irresponsible polluting bunch, with too much money - so we deserve it.....
     
  7. pamarine
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    pamarine Marine Electrician

    MoGas (Automotive Gasoline) sold for use in aircraft will be ethanol free, but AvGas (Aviation Gasoline) is leaded and not suitable for use in modern marine (or automobile) engines.

    What problems have you had as a result of Ethanol-blended gasoline? I understand your aversion to it from an economic and political standpoint but have yet to see a mechanical reason not to run it.
     
  8. Willallison
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    Willallison Senior Member

    pamarine - do a quick google on problems with marine engines - particularly outboards - there are a myriad of problems associated with ethanol
     
  9. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    masalai masalai

    I ran a trial on my car and the Australian option to use 10% ethanol mix gave 10% less in mileage, so I do not use it now, PERIOD... Why use stuff that is no real use in conservation and less efficient... If non-subsidised, far more expensive and worst of all, removes valuable food growing capacity in producing stupid CRAP... A decision by brain dead fools to introduce such ******** ideas....
     
  10. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Glad you asked:mad:

    I have heard of others with worse problems but here is my recent experience.

    1980 Evinrude 25: Carb rebuild. Hanging float from varnish.
    Stihl chainsaw: New Carb. Shop would not rebuild
    Yamaha 50: Rebuild all four carbs. Hanging floats and clogged jets.
    Replacing home built fuel tank in power cruiser with commercial one.

    Dealer told me that I had to drain the individual carbs after use on the Yamaha if I could not get ethanol free gas. I am now using an additive that is supposed to help.

    Total cost. Almost $600 for no other reason than ethanol crap. This is minor to what a few others have had to fork out.

    My own experience shows significantly lower fuel mileage on vehicles with ethanol "enhanced" fuel. I do not notice any other problems with vehicles. Probably because of the sealed fuel system on cars that is not practical on marine or other units.

    In addition, will probably buy a portable fuel caddy with pump to fetch ethanol free from source to avoid these problems. This is not hassle free either. The marina source is not accessible with a vehicle and they won't like to pump small quantities. Next nearest source is over 30 miles if I'm lucky.

    This seems like quite enough sacrifice so that we can subsidize farmers with our taxes for ethanol. Don't forget significantly higher prices on anything that uses corn in its processing, especially food.

    Even the marine mechanics that gain income from ethanol problems are mad because it is clogging their work load with up to a two month backlog in the peak season.

    That is all I can think of at the moment.
     
  11. narwhal
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    narwhal Junior Member

    Our politicians are (mostly) not brain-dead, rather their brains are tuned to what will get them re-elected. If the voters have been swayed by the media to demand bio-fuels, the polis will legislate bio-fuels. If the voters were to demand fuel made from spider poo, that's what would be legislated, however impractical or harmful to our economy and to our boats.
     
  12. pamarine
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    pamarine Marine Electrician

    I am a technician in the marine repair industry and am fully aware of the issues, both perceived and real, resulting from the use of ethanol blended gasolines.

    You will experience lower fuel economy. This is because ethanol has a lower btu/gallon than gasoline. So, even though ethanol-blends are less expensive than non-blended gas, the savings is offset by increased consumption. It may actually be more expensive to use ethanol-blended gasoline depending on your local economy.

    Tom, you mentioned varnish several times. Varnish only occurs if gasoline is allowed to sit. Depending on the quality of fuel used and the presence of other contaminants in the fuel system this time can be anywhere from 3 weeks to over a year. Using commercially available fuel additives (such as Stabil or StarTron), along with proper storage techniques (reference your engine's or boat's manual) will virtually eliminate this problem.

    As for the fuel tank, by home-built I am guessing it was an FRP tank? If so, this is a known issue with ethanol. Most resins used to make FRP fuel tanks (prior to 2003) were not alcohol resistant. Why I cannot say, since the USCG required Alcohol-resistant components everywhere else in a gasoline fuel system. So what happens is the Ethanol plasticizes the resin causing the tanks to basically dissolve.

    If you have a new fuel system (ie new boat), you should experience no problems running ethanol-blended fueld other than the reduced economy mentioned above. If, however, you have an old fuel system, you may experience several problems as a result of the solvent properties ethanol adds. Most of these issues can be mitigated by proper filtration of the fuel prior to the engine. Yamaha I believe recommends at least a 10 micron primary fuel filter for their outboards when switching from non-ethanol fueuls to an ethanol fuel to trap contaminants before reaching the engine.

    The biggest issue with ethanol is actually storage. After a few weeks un-treated Ethanol-blends will begin to seperate, forming large slugs of ethanol in the bottom of the fuel tank. These slugs then go to work abosrbing water from the atmosphere (remember, ethanol was/is used in many water absorbing fuel additives), cleaning debris in the tank, and interacting with older resins in FRP tanks. If you were to try to run an engine after this has occured I would expect fouled fuel injectors or carbs, a clogged filter, and generally poor performance.

    Therefore, it is recommended that with every fill-up with ethanol-blended fuels fuel additives be included such as StarTron to keep the ethanol in suspension with the gasoline. Combining StarTron with another stabilzer such as Stabil has been shown to allow for storage durations up to three months will no ill-effects. If storing beyond this, the recommendation is to run the fuel system as empty as possible and follow the long-term storage guidlines set by the boat and engine manufacturer.

    Let me just clarify one addtional point. I do not prefer nor advocate ethanol-blended fuels, but they are rapidly becoming the only available gasolines as states pass laws intended to aid the corn farmers. I simply wish to explain that it can be used without serious consequence.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  13. tom28571
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Pamarine,

    You did a good job illuminating the reasons why ethanol is giving problems. Nevertheless, the reasons do not keep these problems from happening since the general public never gets the word about anything like this until a problem develops. Locally, ethanol kind of sneeked up on me and others since we did not have it until recently and no public notice was made when it was introduced.

    How many people use their boats every three weeks? Not many. This puts a premium on following preventive measures that many will be lax on. Heck, I have problems getting an owner to tie his boat up securely in a slip. Human nature is a tough nut to change.

    Yes, I now do the preventive things you advocate with Stabil and Startron (actually another brand recommended by my dealer). The Stabil I have is older and does not mention ethanol on the label. I will still seek out non ethanol gas when possible.

    Narwhal,

    I wish politics were as simple as you say. Voters do not have a lot of control of politicians compared to moneyed interests. This ethanol debacle is one of the best proofs of that.
     
  14. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    In a perfect world we could stop burning liquid hydro-carbons and the problem would simply disappear, POOF.

    I look forward to it. If oil went to US$1000/barrel tomorrow, we'd see BIG change by the end of next month instead of the end of the next decade... maybe...

    sigh.......
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2009

  15. pamarine
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    pamarine Marine Electrician

    Tom,

    I am actually surprised to see you are having a hard time finding something other than E-10. I didn't know anywhere in NC used ethanol blends. I guess we can thank NCDOT for another outstanding job notifying the public about changes. (I seem to recall a ridiculous law a few years ago about trailers over 80" wide on holidays). Is this just in the Jacksonville area or is it more widespread? I try to make trips across the border (NE NC) to top the boat off with non-ethanol gas but won't waste the time if it's gonna be E-10.
     
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