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Thread: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

  1. #1
    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    About 8 years ago I was in a small engine repair shop to get a part for my snow blower, and perhaps a better muffler for my generator. The gent there mentioned that he has a lot of those made in Japan and made in China generators, in for repair, because the ethanol in gas craps up the carburetors. This was shortly after Hurricane Sandy and a lot of people found that their generator wouldn't start. IIRC the ethanol corroded the inside of the carb.

    Here are points made in another thread: 16 years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by turbodog View Post
    It degrades certain types of rubber and will also corrode certain metals (AL I think).

    It absorbs and attracts water (hydroscopic), so that bring on corrosion/etc problems from water accumulation in tanks/jugs/etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by Moat View Post

    Roth - 10% ethanol gasoline blend will give slightly less power and fuel mileage (a few percent), as ethanol has considerably less energy, per gallon, than gasoline. Otherwise, it is considered safe in about any later model auto (within 10-15 years old, maybe? Somebody know?).

    Now, methanol is the nasty one - very corrosive and reactive with rubbers/polymers/living tissue. Poisonous! I think I recall some oil companies supplying a limited amount of methanol blends at the pump (?) years ago - until a wave of fuel system problems cropped up.
    in 1986 I bought a used 17 year old Simplicity 7 hp Briggs powered snow blower. For years I would shut the fuel off, and run the carb dry. An old timer said to me that will let the gaskets dry out, and that he leaves fuel in his small engines. This was before ethanol blended fuel. After a while the metal tank rusted out, and the shut-off valve failed, and the carb stayed wet. Every few years I'd have to gumout the carb.

    For the last 20 years, I didn't have a shutoff valve in my 10 HP Briggs snow blower, I didn't run it dry, and didn't use Stabil. I think most summers, I'd start it and let it run for a few minutes, then again in late Fall just to be sure it would run when needed. Last year, I think was the first time I had to use gumout to start it, and it had a surging idle, so I had to run it on part choke.

    Hanging at a Ford forum, and a couple of Bronco forums, I learned that condensation occurs inside the gas tank, more so if it is partially full, less so if it is kept full. The metal tank in my very old snow blower rusted out to the point it had to be replaced. I didn't store it full, and it lived out doors. I imagine the tank would have lived longer if I topped it off after each use, but then the engine would have been running on at least year old gas when first started. Trade offs in life I guess.

    So all in all, I would say that I haven't had any issues with ethanol blended fuels

    I recently bought a Harbor Freight generator, and it said nothing about ethanol fuel, other than it can run on it, and requires the use of a gas stabilizer (such as Stabil) or that would void the warranty.

    Have the manufacturers changed the composition of carburetor gaskets, or of the metal in the carbs to be less reactive?
    Has ethanol gotten a bad reputation because it was really Methanol that caused the problems? Is it now just an urban legend?
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    Flashaholic* orbital's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    +

    Several years ago I called on a VW wagon (manual trans) locally,, the first thing I asked was what type of fuel they ran in the car. He said non-ethonal gas, so it was a car I almost bought.
    To say I'm an opponent of alcohol in gas is the understatement of all time.

    Alcohol in gas: supported by people who charge you to work on your engines & the people who produce it.
    (also supported by people who don't want to spend the difference, because it would cut into their scratch games & cigarette budget)


    side note: I stopped using ethanol gas in the late 80s',, why would be a longish post regarding an engineering family I knew.

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    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    orbital,
    I don't think one can find ethanol free gas at the pump anywhere in NJ.

    It is sold by the quart, at the Home Depot, and Lowes for about $6 a quart ~ $25 a gallon.
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Ethanol is the devil. Aluminum corrodes in water, which ethanol attracts, and passages clog. I'd rather replace a $2.00 bowl gasket or drain plug gasket if they rot than spend the time going through a carb. Side note: I have a small Honda rototiller for turning over Mrs. Scout's raised garden beds. Wouldn't start this spring even after disassembling the carb and giving it a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner. I had several hours in it at this point. Local dealer ordered a carb for me, a whopping $16.00 plus tax. Sometimes it's worth pricing before goi g all out trying to resurrect.
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    If you've got something really old then you could have a problem with galvanic corrosion. I have not seen it be a problem in a long time though.

    There's the problem of it attracting moisture from the air. My solution to this has been to use jugs which seal tightly and keep the tank full when I put something away. Also, a periodic draining of the float bowl helps... but honestly the only machine this is a problem for is my pressure washer.

    Ethanol is also an excellent solvent that will attack old gummy deposits in your fuel system, breaking them free, and sends them downstream to clog the carb jets. However, once clean... I'd say this is actually a benefit.

    To answer your questions... I'd say it's a LOT of urban legend at this time. Carb gaskets do eventually dry out, but that will happen regardless if the carb is drained or not and takes many years in any case.

    It's interesting to note... I can't drain the carb on my chainsaws/2 stroke equipment. I also have zero problems with them cranking/running... sometimes sitting for years between runs.

    Of all my stuff the only thing I have chronic problems with are the honda eu2000 generators. I have to drain their carbs. All other stuff I usually just let it sit as-is.
    Last edited by turbodog; 10-25-2020 at 01:39 PM.
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    Flashaholic* orbital's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    orbital,
    I don't think one can find ethanol free gas at the pump anywhere in NJ.

    It is sold by the quart, at the Home Depot, and Lowes for about $6 a quart ~ $25 a gallon.
    +

    Then use Stabil

    or

    Stabil & adding a few drops of 2-stroke oil.


    Also, run your motor a few times a year, that'll do it all favors

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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Non ethanol gas in Cafe Junction off of exit 97 of I-59 runs $2.72-2.79 a gallon. My truck runs real good on it compaired to ethanol fuels. I mix a little 2 stroke oil when using ethanol.

  8. #8

    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    I use marine fuel stabilizer and if the equipment is good to start with it I have zero issues with ethanol in my gasoline. I have 2 cars in mothball mode that easily start once every couple of years. I used Lucas marine at 5x the reccomended dose. Each tank received 5 gallons of high octane and 25 gallons worth of stabilizer. Now the day they become ready for the road again I will drain the tank but while in storage the ethanol is not an issue. The red stabil was not as good. When I switched to the marine (green or blue) all of my ethanol issues were gone. Farmers and car collectors raved about it so I figured why not and it was definitely worth the extra cost.

    I had an Echo trimmer that sucked from day one so even using pure fuel it gave me grief.

    One day while doing my dads yard with a good mower and that trimmer his next door neighbor who had a junky old craftsman mower that started first pull. Mrs Fixer was cutting the grass while I was trying to get that dam trimmer to go. Suddenly my good mower stopped while the neighbors old piece of junk was breezing through 12" high grass. Rrrrrr.

    I smashed the weedeater over the lawn mower like I was a rock star smashing his guitar. Mrs Fixer and I were dating and it freaked her out to see me have a tantrum like that. My pop said "let him go he'll run out of steam soon enough". A filter and spark plug (and a handle repair) got the mower going again. The trimmer……that took a little more than that but it ran again that day.

    I fought it for about 10 more years. This year I said "ENOUGH!!" and bought another trimmer. I also bought a gallon of pre-mixed pure fuel. Yeah it was $18 but it was all gasoline and will last a couple of years.

    I run my mower all year. During winter I use it to vacuum leaves for use with the summers grass clipping for home made lawn fertilizer. So no need to drain the tank. It is harder to start in cold weather than warm but never more than a few pulls. My new trimmer starts first pull and idles correctly. Holy Moley that took some getting used to.

    My snow remover is the 2 legged variety (ie me and mr shovel). But we don't get all that much snow where I live. My other yard tools are electric.
    Last edited by bykfixer; 10-25-2020 at 07:10 PM.
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    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    I remember my weedeater being destroyed by ethanol fuel (I call it boozaline) it seems small engines ethanol can mess them up. I use non boozaline now in my mower and blower as I have an electric and a 20v string trimmer now. I could probably get by with boozaline in my mower but the real gas stays good over the winter in it and in the gas can I've never had problems with it sitting for 6 months I don't know about the boozaline though.
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Quote Originally Posted by scout24 View Post
    Ethanol is the devil. Aluminum corrodes in water, which ethanol attracts, and passages clog. I'd rather replace a $2.00 bowl gasket or drain plug gasket if they rot than spend the time going through a carb. Side note: I have a small Honda rototiller for turning over Mrs. Scout's raised garden beds. Wouldn't start this spring even after disassembling the carb and giving it a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner. I had several hours in it at this point. Local dealer ordered a carb for me, a whopping $16.00 plus tax. Sometimes it's worth pricing before goi g all out trying to resurrect.
    Yeah. I'll give a flaky carb a try or two, but replacement ones are pretty cheap. You get a new carb, which means no clogs and all new gaskets, diaphragms, etc.
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Quote Originally Posted by scout24 View Post
    Ethanol is the devil. Aluminum corrodes in water, which ethanol attracts, and passages clog. I'd rather replace a $2.00 bowl gasket or drain plug gasket if they rot than spend the time going through a carb. Side note: I have a small Honda rototiller for turning over Mrs. Scout's raised garden beds. Wouldn't start this spring even after disassembling the carb and giving it a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner. I had several hours in it at this point. Local dealer ordered a carb for me, a whopping $16.00 plus tax. Sometimes it's worth pricing before goi g all out trying to resurrect.
    emphasis mine


    Quote Originally Posted by turbodog View Post
    Yeah. I'll give a flaky carb a try or two, but replacement ones are pretty cheap. You get a new carb, which means no clogs and all new gaskets, diaphragms, etc.
    I was recently shocked to find that a replacement carb for my Briggs 10 HP was a mere $15. It included, not just the carb and gasket, but a fuel filter, priming bulb, spark plug, priming hose, four hose clamps, and a fuel shut off valve. How in the world can American manufacturing compete with that price?

    The problem with a NO start, ended up being a bad magneto, so I now have a spare carburetor.
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Bykfixer mentions red Stabil and blue Stabil above: My favorite preservative for years now has been Star-Tron. Looks like Windex but works much better. I also really like SeaFoam as a restorative- If it's not running well but will start, some SeaFoam at multiples of the recommended dosing has cleaned up several carbs for me and gotten stuff running right. It won't get rid of years of neglect, but it works.
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    I've been using Star-Tron for a few years now and my stuff starts and runs fine. What convinced you that it is an improvement over Stabil? It does look like Windex.

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    Flashaholic* orbital's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    +

    SeaFoam is an interesting one,, imagine the guy who threw those ingredients together to fix stuff/solve a problem.
    I still have more than 1/3 gallon on my shelf.

    Side story:::

    not far from me there is a Vietnam Vet who had a small engine repair business,, I think he did rather well fixing things caused literally from people using ethanol in their stuff.
    One day I noticed a big SALE sign outside & drove up to take a look because I sooo wanted a mint 2-stroke mower (because of high blade speed)
    He had tons of stuff for sale, you name it & if it had a motor, he was selling it.

    there wasn't a good mower so we talked a bit & he told he he was retiring.

    He basically told me his sequence on getting in a 2-stroke unit in for tune-up:
    First he would add ATF fluid to some 100% gas, run the item full throttle (blowing lots of smoke) to cleanse the fuel system.
    ..then he would clean the air filter in gas, or replace, put fresh gas in it, a new plug & then adjust the carb.
    Give the machine a clean & done.

    btw:: I asked him what he's doing with all the stuff if it doesn't sell,,,, he said he was putting everything through the woodchipper___ I said 'really'_____ he a said "REALLY"!

    must have been a really medieval woodchipper.......

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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Ethanol-free gasoline at the pump is not available in the DFW region - I'd have to trek more than 90 minutes out of the metro area to source some. Alternatively, Home Despot sells the likes of TruFuel priced at a mere ~$21/gallon.

    When I was still using my gasoline lawn mower, depleting the fuel can at the end of season as best possible then running the mower dry was a successful strategy. My only fuel issues with outdoor power equipment was trying to use some known bad gas I pumped out of a truck under the assumption that a small outdoor power equipment engine would be tolerant. Nope - haven't run that lawnmower or chipper since and probably need to learn some small engine repair basics to get it running again.
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    There's a station in town, the only one I know of, right next to where I work. So just for peace of mind I fill up there for use in my mower, trimmer and leaf blower. It's around $3.29/gal right now (regular 87 is $2.09). I only go through maybe 6 gallons all summer-fall.

    I do like the trufuel for my chainsaw since that 1L bottle lasts a long time.
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    idleprocess,
    You might try dropping the fuel bowl and cleaning it out, then use some Gumout. Put in fresh gas and give it a try. Starting fluid will some times start an engine that has been sitting for a while too.

    If you pour the "bad gas" into a visible see through container, you may see water settle to the bottom. I have used some pretty stale gas in my lawn mower, because I didn't have a better way to get rid of it. I may have added some fresh gas, and if so, if I had the option, I would have added high test.
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    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    I guess we are lucky as the largest convenience store chain here their newer stores all sell real gas (no booze) and a lot of the smaller independent stations sell it too. For a long time I used only real gas in my car but when I started driving a long distance to work and finances were very tight I reluctantly went back to boozaline and didn't notice much of a difference other than a slight loss in gas mileage but about 20 cents a gallon or more cheaper it has saved me a lot of money.
    I may try running some ATF through my blower as it either needs a filter cleaning or has clogged fuel issues.
    I am thinking mower engines handle boozaline better than the smaller weedeater engines do. Not sure how the fuel damages the smaller small engines something about it getting hotter and burning them up somehow I've heard. Maybe it is 2 cycle vs 4 cycle engines with boozaline that is the issue. I'm lucky that real gas is readily available here about 20-30 cents a gallon at certain gas stations. The largest chain of stations here Quik Trip their newer stations have real gas pumps (7 years old and newer I think) I used to buy it for my car but when I started driving a lot more for work reason I reluctantly went to boozaline as my budget was extremely tight. Luckily my car did ok with it and about $150 or so a year savings has helped.
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    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    I guess we are lucky as the largest convenience store chain here their newer stores all sell real gas (no booze) <SNIP>
    When I was in school in Georgia, the gas station convenience stores didn't sell booze either, but they did sell beer!
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    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    idleprocess,
    You might try dropping the fuel bowl and cleaning it out, then use some Gumout. Put in fresh gas and give it a try. Starting fluid will some times start an engine that has been sitting for a while too.
    My remediation efforts on the mower a few years ago consisted of a can of 93 octane gas and a number of pulls without success. Last time I tried the chipper it would run on partial choke, which I suspect was not good for it.

    I'll likely need to replace parts on both at this point.
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    *Flashaholic* Chauncey Gardiner's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    My 4-stroke equipment hasn't exhibited any (known) ill effects from ethanol fuel. The 2-stroke equipment hasten't faired as well. I've recently purchased an electric chainsaw, pole pruner, and hedge trimmer.
    Sometimes I wonder if I've purchased my last flashlight.

  22. #22
    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    My remediation efforts on the mower a few years ago consisted of a can of 93 octane gas and a number of pulls without success. Last time I tried the chipper it would run on partial choke, which I suspect was not good for it.

    I'll likely need to replace parts on both at this point.
    You might try a shot of starter fluid in the carb, and give it a couple of pulls. If it putts a few times, then you're getting spark, if not... then pull the plug reconnect it and hold the body of the plug against the head of the engine. In relative darkness give it a few pulls and try to SEE if there is a little spark jump the gap in the plug. If not, then the problem may not at all be your gas and carburetor.

    Regarding running on partial choke, I really don't think that would hurt anything at all.
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    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    I just read why ethanol can be doom to small engines. The article I read says the alcohol absorbs water but isn't bonded to the gas itself and can damage seals of the engine and also doesn't want to burn properly. I will just stick to boozeless gas as the article equates an additive that bonds the water to the gas fixes that issue and I doubt it is cheaper than buying boozlessaline.
    I also want a 20v chainsaw and pole pruner but they are rather costly for the minimal amount of use they would incur I'm better off getting out the corded pole pruner saw and using it. For me most gas powered tools would not be used often enough to pay for themselves a corded tool suffices a lot cheaper even though the hassle of the cord is irritating the maintenance of gas powered tools is more irritating.
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    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    My remediation efforts on the mower a few years ago consisted of a can of 93 octane gas and a number of pulls without success. Last time I tried the chipper it would run on partial choke, which I suspect was not good for it.

    I'll likely need to replace parts on both at this point.
    If it will run on part choke, I would add a hefty dose of sea-foam. Then run on as little choke as needed to see if it clears up. So long as you are not blowing black smoke (too rich) you should be ok.

    Otherwise, pull carb, float bowl, float, and jet. Clean jet holes with stiff wire. Reassemble. Plenty of youtube videos on this.
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    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    If anecdotal stuff helps... I own the following, run plain ethanol gas in all of it, and only have problem with the honda eu2000 (they are very sensitive).

    ~15 engines: chainsaws, pressure washers, generators, trimmers, hedge clippers, push mowers, riding mowers, tillers

    Get gas jugs with TIGHT lids. Keep tanks full when not in use. Additive of your choice when storing for winter. Try and run little used engines few times a year if possible... (generators, pressure washer, mowers during wintertime).

    I'm on the gulf coast where humidity is high. Not sure what effect northern climates would have...
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Battery power is way better unless your a prostitute
    LED's have gotten too bright in our stuff. Many nights I'm awakened by my modem lights blinking.had help with my sig thank you for your help.

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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Spell check hates me I mean the long word for pro
    LED's have gotten too bright in our stuff. Many nights I'm awakened by my modem lights blinking.had help with my sig thank you for your help.

  28. #28
    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    I really have to wonder... how much water can 10% ethanol absorb?

    We used to throw a can or two of "Dry Gas"* into our car's gas tank before winter to try to prevent water from freezing in the lines or fuel filter.

    All through my childhood and into my early 20's my dad had boats. Probably from condensation in the tanks, it was not uncommon for us to get underway, and have the engine sputter for a little bit, or maybe even stall. We got really good at dropping the carburetor bowl, dumping the water overboard, and starting the engine with a shot or two... or maybe three of ether, and getting back under way.

    Granted, this was before ethanol.

    Drygas is an alcohol-based additive used in automobiles to prevent any water in the fuel from freezing, or to restore combustive power to gasoline spoiled by water. The name Drygas is actually a registered trademarked brand name, owned by Cristy Corporation. Wikipedia
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    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    I really have to wonder... how much water can 10% ethanol absorb?

    We used to throw a can or two of "Dry Gas"* into our car's gas tank before winter to try to prevent water from freezing in the lines or fuel filter.

    All through my childhood and into my early 20's my dad had boats. Probably from condensation in the tanks, it was not uncommon for us to get underway, and have the engine sputter for a little bit, or maybe even stall. We got really good at dropping the carburetor bowl, dumping the water overboard, and starting the engine with a shot or two... or maybe three of ether, and getting back under way.

    Granted, this was before ethanol.
    I don't know how much water it can hold but think of gas line dryer you put a small bottle of it in a vehicle gas tank and I thinking that probably makes for less than 1% concentration.
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  30. #30
    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: ethanol blend vs ethanol free gas in small engines

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    I don't know how much water it can hold but think of gas line dryer you put a small bottle of it in a vehicle gas tank and I thinking that probably makes for less than 1% concentration.
    Agreed! Point well taken.
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