Now that we have no choice other than to buy ethanol blended fuels in most states, we are seeing a rash of small engine problems from very expensive to repair damage in outboard marine engines, to small saw mills, lawn mowers, garden tractors, and generators. The fuel is corrosive, unstable, and has a very short shelf live, put it in a container that is vented, and the ethanol can attract moisture and cause the ethanol to drop out of the gasoline, the higher the humidity, the larger the swing in temperature during a day, and the more problems you’ll see with this fuel.
We know that the EPA hates diesels, any kind of diesel. Some States (like mine) have removed the option of Premium Fuels without ethanol, so this means we no longer have a gasoline fuel with any reliable storage life past 90 days when stored in ideal conditions, and you should know how long it’s been blended and laying in the tank you pump from too. My point? I think the EPA is driving us to purchase more diesel power.
One very interesting power tool that has been around since the late 1940s is the power flail. Small ones cut a 48 to 60 inch swath. They have a horizontal shaft that has a cover over it, and all along the shaft are attachment points where you can bolt a knife that is shaped like an ‘L’ or a ‘T’. If you hit a rock, the knife is not broken off, it simply pivots on it’s attachment point, centrifugal force is the only thing that keeps it fully extended. The advantage is we DIYers can easily build flails, and maintain them. Certainly you will visualize the steel sheet cover over top to assure your safety. The engine sets on top, normally a horizontal shaft engine from about 10hp to 24 horsepower. The small diesels you see for sale at central surplus and other places may be good choices to power small power appliances in the near future, wood splitters, flails, mowers, generators, and more.
One potential use for blended ethanol/gasoline blends gone bad is to put the mix in a clear one gallon jug, remember those? If you have some, consider them valuable, as you can use them to sample, test, and mix small batches fuel. I remember when the hardware stores used these clear one gallon jugs to sell kerosene, and we kids would get 10 cents each for them at the hardware store. A trip to the dump, and we could easily find 5 or more at a time, ….that bought enough candy to make a kid sick..
Take your sample of ethanol/gasoline blend and add about a quarter cup of water per gallon, shake well until all beads up, set the jug down and watch the ethanol and water settle to the bottom. They sell fuel test kits that could be mighty handy for off gridders and those who will attempt to use this fuel, to blend their own fuels.
If we were to take a test tube and rubber stopper, we could add some sand, fishing weights or other material and build our own specific gravity indicator that would approximate what #2 diesel fuel is. We simply float our home made hydrometer in #2 diesel and note where we make our mark.
Once we remove the water and ethanol from the bottom of the container that holds our contaminated or bad blended gasoline fuel, we can use it as an additive to oils, and using our hydrometer we can do our best to approximate the specific gravity of our diesel fuel. Once blended, we pass all through a 2 micron filter and water trap, blending before filtering should make it easier to filter and faster. Of course you will consult the EPA before using this fuel, and assure their approval. don’t run it in a vehicle without paying road tax.
America’s unwillingness to produce it’s own energy supplies, no nukes, no natural gas, no Alaskan oil, no off coast drilling, no new dams, has put us in a vert tight spot. Environmentalists find every reason NOT to produce clean natural gas in the heartland, they would certainly let your children freeze to death before allowing you to light a candle, we all know that less people on the planet would be good for all environmentalists right? Of course we know what they do when they think no one is looking.
We know that small portable power will need to be diesel power or something other than gasoline, you can invest in gold, but getting some garden tools, and more durable goods you’ll likely need may be a good idea. If our dollar goes to hell, you’ll spend more to buy those durable goods.
In my state Safeway >was< pumping B20 diesel, this fuel voids the manufacturer’s warranty in many cases, and this fuel caused a lot of trucks to literally stop running at very moderate temperatures, (30-40F). Since then, Safeway has been pumping B5 for Diesel fuel, and I see advantages, lubricity is improved. The incentive for them is subsidies. I mention this as an example of fuel blenders and those who sell it not understanding the fuel they sell, and what problems it might cause their customers. The guy in charge of Safeway fuel stations at the time had been promoted out of ‘produce’ he really knew his fruit and vegetables, nice guy too. He was relying totally on his fuel vendor for guidance, of course the fuel vendor was better rewarded when he sold more of the biofuels, as they were getting a subsidy for each gallon. I have first hand knowledge of diesel pickups that quit running on this fuel, and I >know< for a fact it was the blend that produced a wax like sludge that clogged the fuel filter. One person I know had his truck towed into the dealer, and was presented with a $600 bill for diagnosis and filter replacement.
Back to blended ethanol fuels, they may get worse, testers have found up to 14 percent ethanol in the E10 fuel during spot checks, and this might destroy your small engine as it will run very lean and hot. Remember that incentive to sell more ethanol, when the blender pumps more ethanol into the fuel, he makes more in subsidies, I doubt he gives a rat’s ass if your small engine burns up on the stuff.
Google up fuel test kits, as I mentioned, this situation will grow far worse. At this time, those who will make a lot of money blending E15 are still pushing it, no doubt, there are vehicles that can handle this fuel when it’s fresh, AND when they drive often enough to keep the fuel in the tank fresh. This fuel meets the needs of city folks and newer cars, remember, they are the tail that wags the dog.
Sad to say, you take your biggest chance of getting bad fuel at the places we’d like most to support, when you pull up to that small town station that has invested everything in those new above the ground tanks, you may be taking a bigger risk, the fuel likely changes temperature more over the course of a day, and really cold weather can cause the fuel to separate and ethanol to ‘drop out’. Are those tanks insulated? Should they be? Even if there is an area for the water an ethanol to be trapped below the inlet of the pump, there may not be enough ethanol in the mix to give you the octane you need to keep that ‘knock’ at bay. I’m sure you’ve heard that knock after fueling at one station or another.
I think about above the ground stations, what is the fuel temperature? fuels can expand a bunch with temperature, It might be fun to take that non contact thermometer to the station with you. We know the aviation industry uses far more precise measure when it comes to fuel, they weigh it, matters not what temperature it is, they know what BTUs they buy based on weight. Do you get more fuel for your money on a cold morning VS a hot summer afternoon? If you are the first to pump on a really cold morning could you get a slug of ethanol and water? Darned if I know, but I sure think about it.
A question, does your station test the fuel it pumps, or do they count on their vendor to test it for them? I suggest you get a test kit, and find out what you’ve been buying.
And my prayer for today? God grant the Egyptian People the wisdom to avoid turning their country over to radical Islam. The Iranian people were justifiably disappointed in the Shah’s rule, but some are even more disappointed in the Mullahs rule. No doubt they sponsor terror, no doubt they’d love to rule over the Egyptian people by making it a puppet State of Iran. Only the foolish would dismiss the possibility. America’s leaders have bowed to the environmentalist for their re-election, it may be our undoing. We seem to have no vision to see what the future might bring upon us.
Study this.. ‘J’ provides the right answer, but the lame answer gets more attention.
Better to trust in God than an environmentalist, they are perhaps the most short sighted of all, but cocksure of all things when you ask them.
All the best,