07-19-2006, 11:38 AM #1
Ethanol in Gas...Cause to be concerned about?
From the pages of The Press of Atlantic City, NJ.
"Ethanol fuel may leave boats dead in the water
By J. STAAS HAUGHT Staff Writer, (609) 272-7253
Published: Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Updated: Tuesday, May 2, 2006
If rising gasoline prices aren't enough to keep area boaters out of the water this summer, the gas itself might do the trick.
Boat owners and marina operators say they're concerned that ethanol-blended fuel, now being sold at all filling stations across the state, could damage their engines and fuel systems, putting them in dry dock for the season.
Bud Dickinson, of Mays Landing, is worried about damaging his three boats.
“Ethanol stirs up the junk in your tanks, and if it gets brought into the injectors, it's going to be a real problem,” he said. “Most of the manuals tell you really to take a lot of precaution with ethanol so you don't ruin your engine.”
That's because ethanol acts as a detergent, stirring up sediment left in the tanks. If filtering systems fail or get too clogged, the residue could find its way to the engine.
“If your filter works, once that first tank is done, you'll probably be OK, or you might have to change your filters several times, but who wants to ruin a $14,000 engine to test that?” Dickinson said.
From May through October, all gas sold in New Jersey has to be treated with a pollution-reducing additive. Traditionally, that has been MTBE, but recent studies raised concern about its effects on groundwater, so the state ordered a switch to E10 gas, so-called because it is 10 percent ethanol.
Most drivers won't notice any difference running the cleaner-burning E10 in their cars or trucks, but boats are designed differently and the fuel can be a problem in marine applications. Most newer car engines were designed with E10 in mind, while most boat engines are older and were designed to run on other fuels. Wawa posted notices on its fuel pumps last weekend warning customers that some boats will need preventive maintenance to run on E10.
David Brown, owner of Thompson Marine in Egg Harbor Township, said most boat owners are expecting problems.
“I don't think anybody really knows anything yet, and that's kind of the issue. We're not sure what to expect. We had a problem long ago, in the late 70s and early 80s when they tried ethanol before, with fuel lines and rubber hoses breaking down, so there' some concern we could see the same thing this time,” Brown said. “There's also an issue with the ethanol mixing with water and fouling up the engine.”
Traditional gas, and even MTBE-treated fuel, doesn't mix with water, so any water in a boat's fuel tank can be pumped out before it creates a problem. Ethanol, however, is water-soluble, so it mixes with water and carries it into the engine.
“With the old fuel, if you get some water in there, you can pump out from the bottom and still save the tank (of gas). But with ethanol, the boat just won't run and you waste a whole tank of gas,” said Jack Madore, owner of Graef Boat Yard in Somers Point.
But, Graef said, ethanol poses another concern for boaters.
“The big issue for some of the high-end boats is their tanks. Ethanol eats away at fiberglass tanks,” he said.
That has Scott Raab really worried.
“I'm not going to put it in the water as much this year,” Raab said of his 28-foot Bertram fishing boat. “I don't know what kind of damage the ethanol fuel might do, so I don't want to risk it too much.”
Seaworthy magazine cautioned boaters last fall that ethanol could break down the fiberglass, creating a black sludge that gums up valves and intake manifolds, destroying the boat's motor.
“That's not a cheap fix,” Madore said. “It involves cutting out the tank and replacing it with an aluminum one. It's a lot of money and several weeks without your boat.”
Brian Lefebvre, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Rowan University, said ethanol's chemical characteristics raise another concern for boaters.
“Ethanol can actually suck the moisture out of the air, so if there's any leaks or pressure problems with the fuel lines, it's going to mix water into the fuel,” he said.
Older boats with worn seals and gaskets on fuel systems are at greatest risk, Brown said.
“It's going to cost owners some money in maintenance and repair at first, I think,” he said, adding that occassional boaters would probably suffer the most.
“The guys with their boat in the back yard they take out every once in a while, as soon as they have a problem with it, they're probably not going to be able to afford to repair it. They might not even get it in the water,” Brown said. “I feel really sorry for the guy who has an outboard and doesn't have any filtering system at all. He's in for real trouble.”"
07-19-2006, 11:44 AM #2
For what it's worth, Colorado has been running Ethanol blended gas for as long as I can remember and I have never had a problem. My Super jet's 10 year old now and I just went over all of the fuel lines, no issues.
07-19-2006, 11:47 AM #3Originally Posted by mile_hi_1300
07-19-2006, 11:54 AM #4
Oh, I just thought of something else related to the portion about stirring up sediment. On the XLT I just got through rebuilding; I was worried about all of the work I'd just done on the engine and carbs getting ruined because of crap possibly having made it's way into the gas tank. So I pulled the fuel pickup assembly out and got my eyes down there to take a look for myself. Sure enough there was a surprising amount of crap in there. I used a zip tie to secure a wad of paper towel to the end of a dowel and got in there and swabbed out the bottom of the tank. I went through several paper towels and zip ties but it was worth 100 times that in terms of peace of mind. I also cleaned the screen on the bottom of the pick up while I was at it. Getting the pick up back in place was a little work, but again, I was SOOOO glad I did it. For anyone worried about this issue, this tank cleaning is a must.
07-19-2006, 12:11 PM #5
07-19-2006, 03:36 PM #6
Ethanol is highly corrosive compared to gasoline. Not sure if that will have long term effects on seals, etc. in our little engines.
07-19-2006, 04:26 PM #7
- Join Date
- Jan 2006
- Texas City, Texas
I put out a post looking for Proks atomizers. I bought a GPR from a fellow racer who had these atomizers on his RPM racing modified carbs. Each atomizer had vibrated themselves out of the bombsights and were laying at the bottom of the reed cages when I took the engine apart and got to the carb bank.
Noble racing expained to me that any fuel with alcohol in it will cause this problem because alcohol has a tendency to work on the "O" rings that hold the atomizers in place.
Talked to a vender "specialist" about "O" rings, and he said he has access to the rings that can handle either alcohol or gasoline, but not both at the same time.
As a result of this, it seems that I am going to have to keep an extra set of VITON (sp) "O" rings on hand and add a small amount of red loctite to help keep the atomizers in place.
07-19-2006, 05:28 PM #8
when you get water in your fuel system what do you do to get out the water , put in alcohol......i just got back from 3 days on the lake running my malibu like crazy on 10% alcohol fuel and could not feel any differance....i did read somwhere a long time ago about pre-mixing oil,gas,and alcohol,that the mix was bad but its been so long i have forgotton and it probably was bull crap anyway.......i have not noticed any diff in my gpr...my truck seems to get 1 mpg less but that may be from the 100 deg heat in texas.
07-19-2006, 11:37 PM #9
Do not leave ethynol fuel in a carbed engine for more than 3 weeks without use or you will have problems with the carbs becoming clogged. 3 months of ethynol in the carbs without use and you can expect to overhaul the carbs.. jets will be clogged.
The inexperience will usually seize an engine due to running lean from clogged jets after letting ethynol sit in the carbs for extended periods of time.
07-20-2006, 07:38 AM #10
is that 100% ethenol or the 10% gas/eth mix were fprced to run ? the carb guys might need a fuel cut off switch so that they can run the carbs dry.....my last street rod had a 6-71 bds w/2 4's and i ran the carbs dry after every drive and i never had to rebuild the carbs.
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