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  1. #1

    Ethanol In The Fuel

    Oxygenated gasoline has its highest ethanol additive of 10% minimum today. In comparison to traditional gasoline, the EPA required that reformulated gasoline must contain ethanol, and since then the small engine world hasn’t been the same. Because of the very poor quality attributes that ethanol carries with it, any fuels that contain higher percentages of ethanol simply put, are dangerous to use. This is especially so with all of us in the personal watercraft division of life. Oxygenated fuel (which means fuel with added oxygen molecules) alone can cause some engines to run rough and may run hotter on lean mixtures which in severe conditions, can result in engine damage.

    Some manufacturers such as Bombardier and Polaris have indicated that a certain number of their engines may require larger jetting to compensate for this breed of fuel and its leaning effect among models from the late 80’s through to the late 90’s. Newer engines have been designed around this fuel and are safe to run on it. Another of the ways around this has been the implementation of fuel injection coupled with oxygen and throttle position sensors. The oxygen sensor detects how much of the spent oxygen is going through the exhaust while the TPS is monitoring the volume of oxygen coming in. The computer then processes these values and determines how much fuel vapour to inject in order for the engine to run reliably and not be damaged by lean conditions.

    Back in the 60’s and 70’s there weren’t any octane ratings on the pumps. Fuel quality then was at its highest ever. Over time fuel producers (which are oil refineries) had to start eliminating lead from the equation. Because lead was also a lubricating factor in fuel, this in turn forced oil refineries to produce higher quality lubricants. In the 70’s the Castrol Motor Oil Corp. had a terrible name among the small engine world because many lubrication failures resulted in its inability to meet the viscosity and thermal breakdown demands of the higher revving engines. Today, Castrol is one of the top lubrication producers on the market. With this demand for high grade lubricants due to the leaner fuel, refineries wanted to figure out how to make back the expense of the new lubricants. Let’s face it, a business isn’t there to go under, they’re there to make money plain and simple no matter how they cut costs.

    87 octane fuel, is as we all know, the lowest of the low. It has a massive abundance of alcohols in it (ethanol being the largest), Sea-Doo owners have experienced its damaging affect with the grey fuel hoses and some have even had fuel tanks oxidize internally having white deposits form in their fuel tanks clogging filters and carbs. The refineries, through their studies, found that to make this dirt cheap fuel, they just needed to pressurize the auto engine’s cooling system to 15psi, any small engine with liquid cooling will run about the same pressure. Once they came across this they started charging more for less. Now with the addition of ethanol, there is even less traditional based fuel and more non-detergent and low lubricating properties in 87 octane on the market today.

    After a little homework I have found that many of the traditional properties which made fuel good back in the old days can be found in 89 octane rated fuel today. Here are a couple of links you may find interesting.

    Check out part two as well:

    Last edited by Schwarzenegger; 09-01-2008 at 11:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Rocky_Road's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Florida Panhandle
    Nice research...this needs a bump!

  3. #3
    AdrianRXT AdrianRXT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Very nice ty for info bump=d>

  4. #4
    It's causing all kind of problems for boaters with aluminum tanks.
    Its creates alot of gunk and that in turns cause engine problems.
    Its mostly affecting the older engines.

  5. #5
    superdave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
    If I read right I should stop using 87 octane rated fuel in my boat(1980 w/ aluminum tank) and go with the 89 rated. Is that something you guys would recommend? At one point here last summer E85 was almost $2 a gallon cheaper and I had thought of running that. With the 105 octane rating is should run cooler. I know it burns cleaner. My 99 Dodge Caravan was E85 friendly and was using it when fuel prices peaked. It has high milage but NEVER used any oil. One day I went to start it and the engine was pecking like a wood pecker. Im not sure but I have come to the conlcusion that the E85 cleaned deposits from the oil rings leading to the oil consumption.
    What would be the effects from running E85 in a 2 stroke PWC?

  6. #6

    We had to have them suck out the gas tank 3 times because of the ethanol in the gas.
    Make sure you run the fuel/water separator.
    Ethanol attracts water.
    Make sure you have a full tank at all times.
    I have been using the new sta-bil. ( its blue/ green )


  7. #7
    dhoad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    North Aurora, Illinois, United States
    I wouldn't run ethanol gas in a 2 stroke or any watercraft for that matter. Try and buy gas from the marina as the refineries sell marine gas with no ethanol.
    Another option is to use a product called "heet" to get the water out of gas. I think heat is methanol which absorbs water.
    If you run ethanol gas you have to go to larger jets on your carbs of 2 strokes

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Las Vegas, NV
    Quote Originally Posted by dhoad View Post
    I wouldn't run ethanol gas in a 2 stroke or any watercraft for that matter. Try and buy gas from the marina as the refineries sell marine gas with no ethanol.
    Another option is to use a product called "heet" to get the water out of gas. I think heat is methanol which absorbs water.
    If you run ethanol gas you have to go to larger jets on your carbs of 2 strokes
    Do you know if it is safe to run heet in a ski? I thought any fuel treatment was bad for the rubber hoses.

  9. #9
    gorilla03's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    stevens point wi
    I've also heard in some older boats with fiberglass fuel tanks, ethonal is the worst to run in it because the ethanol will actually eat away the fiberglass...

    Great write up!!! +1

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