Ethanol in fuel

Magnetoman

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VOC Member
I dont think unobtrusive electronics are changing the 1950 motorcycle remember the change is being forced on us because we don't have 1950 fuel...
A manual advance magneto ignites all these fuels as well as takes care of different burn rates so in no way are modern fuels forcing a switch to electronic ignitions.
...wait till E10 gets here and the pumps are still blank on content and our carbs are still made of mazac
E10 gasoline has been sold in the U.S. for over a decade. Making a long story somewhat short, in 2010 I started an experiment to see if the ethanol attacked the principle components of a carburetor; the body or the brass jets.

The scale I am using for this ongoing experiment has a maximum range of 10 g and reads to 0.002 g (i.e. 0.02%), and I calibrate it before each use with a weight certified accurate to +/-30 micro-grams. I broke four ~10 g pieces from an old Amal Monobloc carburetor and used four Amal main jets. I recorded their weights at the time and then dropped them into sealable jars containing E10 gasoline, E10 with the max. recommended dose of a well-known aftermarket "stabilizer", E10 with the max. recommended dose of the 'marine' version of the stabilizer, and pure ethanol (i.e. E100). I hadn't made any measurements for a while so after reading your post I recorded the latest values of the weights before coming to work.

The concern addressed by this experiment is that ethanol might slowly dissolve the metal. This isn't a totally unreasonable concern since "sol-gel" materials are formed by dissolving metals into appropriate solvents. Anyway, six years into this experiment there has been no detectable weight loss of either the carburetor material or the brass jets.

Other issues with ethanol, such as it either dissolving some types of fuel lines or turning others rock-hard, are easily dealt with by changing to SAE J30R7 line, and O-rings to Buna-N. Unfortunately, the problem of pilot jets becoming blocked by a hard membrane of some organic compound from the fuel that resists all but mechanical removal does necessitate draining the float bowls if the bike won't be used for more than a week or two.

The moral of this story is that our old bikes can deal with ethanol fuels without too much effort on our part.
 

Howard

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VOC Member
Sounds like we've got to use them or drain them.

Have you tried Concentric body parts ................... hmmm that sounds like a personal question.:D

H
 

Magnetoman

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VOC Member
Sounds like we've got to use them or drain them.
That's definitely the case. The photograph is of the hard film that formed across the pilot jet of one of my modern bikes within a couple of weeks because I postponed draining the float bowl. Instead of a couple of minutes it would have taken me to get the funnel and can and do this it took me hours to gain access to the carburetor (and 1 sec. to knock the obstruction out using a #78 drill bit).

PilotJet.jpg


Have you tried Concentric body parts
No, nor is there a guarantee the metal used for their 1955 Monoblocs was identical to that for their 1965 ones. Nor a guarantee the mix of chemicals in the E10 fuel I bought in 2010 when I started this experiment is the same as that sold in 2016. Still, given the long list of very real problems I do have to worry about these experiments have resulted in me crossing ethanol fuel off that list. Also, they've saved me from spending money on fuel "stabilizers" since these experiments showed no difference with their use, nor did a different set of experiments on the rate of fuel evaporation and weight of the "tar' residue left after a year.
 

Magnetoman

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VOC Member
The May issue of 'MPH' arrived today and I see there's a short piece by Geoff Ragg on p. 8 dealing with ethanol. He refers to "tests carried out by the FBHVC." I went to the FBHVC web site to see what tests they carried out and how they conducted them but the closest it comes to describing anything says "Matt Tomkins, an associate of FBHVC and undergraduate student at Oxford Brookes University, recently carried out a study of carburettor component degradation in varying concentrations of petrol/ethanol mixes." A link to a pdf of his thesis is included, most of which is devoted to the deletarious effects of ethanol on elastomers. However, consistent with my 6-year test, his 11-week test of brass found no weight loss.

Despite no technical information on the FBHVC site to support the statement, and despite Mr. Tomkins' data to the contrary, several places it refers to "corrosion" of metal caused by ethanol. If there is actual data from proper studies somewhere that shows "corrosion" or degradation of parts other than elastomers, by all means we should know about it. Otherwise, it would be good if people avoided causing unnecessary concern by reprinting unsubstantiated "information" like that on the FBHVC site.
 

Magnetoman

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OK, I've spent some more time on the FBHVC's fuels site:

http://www.fbhvc.co.uk/legislation-and-fuels/fuel-information/

Absent any information whatever on what tests were conducted, I find the following text somewhat troubling:

--------------------------
Corrosion: long-term storage of petrol-ethanol mixtures ( eg over a winter period) can lead to corrosion in historic vehicle fuel systems. Following tests, a number of corrosion inhibitor additives which are effective at protecting fuel system metals have been identified and endorsed by the Federation. These additives are as follows:
The stability additives that passed the test are:
VSPe Power Plus, VSPe and EPS from Millers Oils;
Ethomix from Frost A R T Ltd;
Ethanolmate from Flexolite
These all received an ‘A’ rating in the research which enables all these products carry an endorsement from the FBHVC. The endorsement is in the form of the FBHVC logo and the words: ‘endorsed by the FBHVC as a fuel additive for protection against corrosion in metals’.
------------------------------

I have two questions: First, what research was conducted, by whom, and where are those tests and the outcomes described? Second, did the three companies listed above pay the FBHVC to use the organization's logo in their advertising?

Ethanol does dissolve water so leaving E10 in your tank over the winter can result in enough moisture from the air being dissolved to the extent that the water separates, and that water causing corrosion. However, whether or not the above three additives prevent such separation is a relevant question. But, you shouldn't leave ordinary gasoline in your tank over the winter, either. The volatiles evaporate and you're left with fuel that is very difficult for your motorcycle to ignite even if no gum formed in the carburetor.

Anyway, before panic and hysteria sets in over the introduction of E10 to the EU (which, I've been using in my old British bikes in the U.S. for over a decade), consider whether that panic is justified. Or, whether panic being induced by someone who benefits financially from your panic. For what it's worth, I'm not panicked by E10 and if the VOC had a Scientific Officer I very much doubt he/she would be either.
 

macvette

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Non-VOC Member
OK, I've spent some more time on the FBHVC's fuels site:

http://www.fbhvc.co.uk/legislation-and-fuels/fuel-information/

Absent any information whatever on what tests were conducted, I find the following text somewhat troubling:

--------------------------
Corrosion: long-term storage of petrol-ethanol mixtures ( eg over a winter period) can lead to corrosion in historic vehicle fuel systems. Following tests, a number of corrosion inhibitor additives which are effective at protecting fuel system metals have been identified and endorsed by the Federation. These additives are as follows:
The stability additives that passed the test are:
VSPe Power Plus, VSPe and EPS from Millers Oils;
Ethomix from Frost A R T Ltd;
Ethanolmate from Flexolite
These all received an ‘A’ rating in the research which enables all these products carry an endorsement from the FBHVC. The endorsement is in the form of the FBHVC logo and the words: ‘endorsed by the FBHVC as a fuel additive for protection against corrosion in metals’.
------------------------------

I have two questions: First, what research was conducted, by whom, and where are those tests and the outcomes described? Second, did the three companies listed above pay the FBHVC to use the organization's logo in their advertising?

Ethanol does dissolve water so leaving E10 in your tank over the winter can result in enough moisture from the air being dissolved to the extent that the water separates, and that water causing corrosion. However, whether or not the above three additives prevent such separation is a relevant question. But, you shouldn't leave ordinary gasoline in your tank over the winter, either. The volatiles evaporate and you're left with fuel that is very difficult for your motorcycle to ignite even if no gum formed in the carburetor.

Anyway, before panic and hysteria sets in over the introduction of E10 to the EU (which, I've been using in my old British bikes in the U.S. for over a decade), consider whether that panic is justified. Or, whether panic being induced by someone who benefits financially from your panic. For what it's worth, I'm not panicked by E10 and if the VOC had a Scientific Officer I very much doubt he/she would be either.
 

macvette

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Non-VOC Member
Sorry , hit the wrong button. For a while, I thought I was the only one on here not concerned about E5 or E10. As I have said before, use the correct tubing and seals, make sure you are tailoring your fill ups so that your fuel stays fresh as you ride, drain it in the winter and you be extremely unlikely to suffer corrosion issues.
I'm not sure on what basis the recommendations for retarding full advance are based on. I'm going to have my bike dynoed in June when the guy is over the rush for the TT ( he's familiar with Vincent's ).
 

timetraveller

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VOC Member
Just a thought; is a test using a closed system in which the metal is enclosed with the fuel for a long time the same as a continuous supply of fresh fuel being applied to the metal? I have no idea whether ethanol can dissolve some metals but if it can then is there any danger of the active ingredient in the methanol being depleted and any dissolved metal reaching an equilibrium state within the solution?
 

greg brillus

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VOC Member
The problem is lack of use as in regular use particularly if you have multiple bikes and only use them now and then. Modern fuels burn faster than leaded fuel so if you decide in your wisdom to set the ignition as per the book then you must be prepared to suffer the consequences of detonation, and being air cooled this is compounded, perhaps more so in a hot climate such as where I live. The ability of modern fuel to absorb moisture is of concern and greatly affecting the small passageways and idle circuits of carbureted engines, not unlike the methanol I run in the racer, to which I remove and thoroughly clean the entire fuel system after a race event. The small amount drained off into a clean container from both carb's and left sat for a while, you can see it turn a milky colour within an hour, as it absorbs the surrounding moisture. Even some of the engine internals start to form a light rust colour running on methanol and castor oil for the lubrication. I remember a few years ago here in Australia.........Big news all over the TV stations........ The scandalous service stations adding water to the underground fuel tanks and the major complaints from customers so called "Suffering the effects" of this water in the fuel and the harm it did to the fuel systems of their cars............ But now it seems that they were worrying for nothing, as apparently its ok to do so by the "Fuel Companies" themselves. What's that saying about "pulling wool over your eye's"...............Yep, and the poor old General Public just have to grin and bear it ............again..........:mad:
 

macvette

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Non-VOC Member
Just a thought; is a test using a closed system in which the metal is enclosed with the fuel for a long time the same as a continuous supply of fresh fuel being applied to the metal? I have no idea whether ethanol can dissolve some metals but if it can then is there any danger of the active ingredient in the methanol being depleted and any dissolved metal reaching an equilibrium state within the solution?
No it's not but it it does demonstrate that for all practical purposes that the fuel containing ethanol in a closed system is not in itself corrosive to the metals tested. Commercial alcohol (ethanol) is 99.9 % or thereabouts pure and is not in itself corrosive to metals. What causes corrosion is water which is absorbed by ethanol. Water and ethanol are soluble in each other so you can add as much water to ethanol as you like and vice versa and still have a clear solution. This allows the ethanol in petrol to absorb water and given time, the solution to separate out and collect at low points in tanks and carbs because it becomes heavier than petrol. It is this solution that causes corrosion to varying degrees depending on the metals in contact with it. This is why it makes sense to to keep you fuel fresh or drain it it you are laying the bike up
This property of water and ethanol being mutually soluble makes ethanol an affective drying agent. When building and commissioning the 36 " diameter NGL pipelines in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia during the gas gathering programme in the late 70's early 80's I used it to dry the pipelines after hydro test .
The pipelines were 300 plus mile sections and if any water was left in, it would freeze when the NGL was introduced, jamming control valves or rendering instrumentation ineffective. From memory, it took 55000 gallons between two pipeline scrapers travelling at 3mph to dry the lines. This was much more preferable than drying with gas and flaring literally millions of cubic metres.
Whilst typing this I saw Greg's reply, much of which I agree with. I fail to see, however, how the fuel companies can be accused of adding water to petrol or how the addition of ethanol is pulling the wool over anyone's eyes.
 
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