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Ethanol - Your thoughts and experiences


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In today's paper I read an article regarding gasoline and ethanol. There was a quote in the article as follows,"Gas with ethanol must be transported by truck or train because it damages pipelines". Now if it damages pipelines, what must it do to our antique cars which, like pipelines, were never designed to handle ethanol.<P>Your experiences with ethanol and antique cars of all vintages please.

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Between 1980 and 1983 I was sentenced to three years of graduate school at Iowa State University. At that time I was driving a 1960 Ford Falcon, and a 10% methanol content was all but mandatory there (due to tax incentives). In fact, I was told, only one chain (I believe it was Conoco) sold pure unleaded gas. <P>In about 35,000 miles that car broke down in virtually every way possible w/o blowing up a tranny or engine. However, none of those problems were fuel related. In fact, the rubber pieces which I replaced when I restored the car as an antique in 1989-1990 were undamaged in any way. <P>Ethanol gas (then called gasahol) wasn't damaging any pipelines in 1980, it sounds like you found someone trying to explain (ne legitimize) the 500% jump in oil profits in the last quarter! <p>[This message has been edited by Dave@Moon (edited 06-21-2000).]

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Dave ~~ I think your 500% figure is an exageration, but then if your profit is unusually low in one quarter and then you return to normal the next 500% is not impossible. .01 profit per barrel increased to .05 per barrel is a 500%. I once read a book while studying statistics in college in the early 50's entitled, "How to Lie With Statistics." I would write more, but I have been called to dinner, NOW. ~~ HV<p>[This message has been edited by hvscotyard (edited 06-21-2000).]

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Back from dinner! Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am not in any way connected to the oil industry except when I put the pump nozzle to the tank, nor have I ever been. No one in my family is either.<P>Do you really believe that the oil companies, many of which are controlled from countries other than the United States, [shell, Amoco,BP, Arco to name a few] are able to selectively control the price in a small designated area of the country? Illinois and Wisconsin. If you want to look for a logical culprit, try the local oil distributors. They would have the ability to pull it off.<P>Dave, if you can offer some proof that ethanol has been transported by pipeline sometime in the past and without ill effect, I will be most happy to take on the writer of the newspaper article. Until then, based on my past personal experience with the product, I accept what he has written.<P>I started this thread to get a discussion going on the subject of ethanol. I have my experiences. You folks tell me yours and I'll tell you mine. ~~ HV<p>[This message has been edited by hvscotyard (edited 06-21-2000).]

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I just finished replacing an electric fuel pump on one of my antique vehicles. I know, not authentic. After making my last post I took time to re-read all of the material contained in the directions. QUOTE: "Bellows electric fuel pumps are formulated to pump regular, no lead, premium gasoline and diesel fuel. The use of gasohol is not recommended. If used it will dramatically shorten the life of the pump. Consideration to repair or replace a pump due to a defect in material or workmanship will not be given if gasohol is used."<P>Now it seems to my untrained mind, in chemical engineering at least, that if gasohol is bad for fuel pumps it might just be bad for pumps in oil pipelines. That stuff doesn't go through there by gravity.<P>Enough for tonight. Other personal first hand experiences with ethanol will be posted from time to time if this thread continues.<P>HV<P>[This message has been edited by hvscotyard (edited 06-21-2000).]<p>[This message has been edited by hvscotyard (edited 06-22-2000).]

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I know methanol attacks rubber parts, shrinking and making them brittle. That's why it's been replaced by isopropyl in dri-gas. The only thing I've heard ethanol damage (in concentrations less than 10%) is some paints and coatings (notably some early gas tank coatings). I suppose it's possib;le that there's some kind of internal coating in pipelines that can be damaged by ethanol, but it would be awfully short-sighted not to have prepared for that possibility. Also if an entire state like Iowa could be supplied almost totally by 10% ethanol 20 years ago, I can't imagine that the infrastructure could handle that and not the current situation.<P>As far as the electric fuel pump (I've got one on my '60 Buick too, but that's a long story rolleyes.gif ), the instructions were written for "gasahol" without defining it (I think). It sounds like a C.Y.A. clause to me. Then again, there may be something in there that's sensitive. My fuel pump had no such admonishment.<P>The 500% figure is from the Federal government (FTC I think). Consider the source.

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It took a while to sink in, but I do remember a bad experience with this stuff. In the late 70's I had a 75 Lincoln and was up in New England. I had put the "gasahol" in the car and started home. By the time I got home the car ran like a dog. I took a look under the hood and to make a long story short, it had eaten away every rubber "0" ring and rubber gasket in the carb!! No lie. When I went to the local carb rebuilder (you can tell this was 20 yrs. ago) he took one look and said "gasahol?; does it every time."

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Personal experience #2 ~~ I drove a 1931 Chev. roadster on the 1987 Glidden Tour in Columbus, Ohio, and several of us filled up before the tour at a gas station near the hotel. Later that evening someone discovered that they sold only gasahol but we didn't think too much about. On the Monday tour all went well. Tuesday about 18 miles out the engine just quit. No fuel out of the fuel pump. Left the car where it was and finished the day in ronbarn's back seat. That evening went out and dragged the car back to the hotel. Took off the fuel pump and opened it up. The diaphram was dissolved. Replaced the diaphram, got rid of the gas and by Thursday was back on the road. Jack Macy, an AACA past president and knowledgable '31 Chev guy told me that gasahol had dissolved many a fuel pump diaphram and that he had a batch of alcohol proof ones made.<P>Since that experience I NEVER put any fuel containing alcohol in ANY antique vehicle regardless of year. If the tour is in Iowa, I just skip that one. Illinois is almost as bad. There is one state that mandates alcohol in ALL gasoline. I don't know which one, but I would like to know for sure which one it is. frown.gif ~~ HV<P><BR>More true stories left in the record book!!<BR>Stay tuned.<BR>

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Howard,<P>Jack Macy is still trying to find a good material for the fule pumps. I have tried two of them I got from hin with not much luck. I got another one from him last month, but I haven't tried it yet. I am using an old pump on my 30 Chevy right now. The last one went south on Christmas day and I had to be towed in.<P>Dan

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Methanol and ethanol aren't the same and don't behave the same. Methanol is bad for old-style rubber. Ethanol is mostly harmless. Guess which one is in "gasohol." I recall quite a bit of debate in the late 80s/early 90s as to which should be the standard. The feeling at the time was that we'd have flexible-fueled cars by now. Methanol proved to be more dominant because the methanol industry had more clout, despite the fact that the stuff eats up old rubber. The folks in California are still having problems, since that state continues to stay well behind the curve.<P>Cheers,<BR>Bry

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In my misspent youth I had some familiarity with alcohol of the mountain variety. Ethyl alcohol you drink, methyl you don't. Ethyl burns with a blue flame, methyl burns red to orange. I never expected they would put that stuff into gasoline. I thought it only went into canning jars and glass jugs for sale in its natural state. smile.gif ~~ HV<P>

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Now this is strictly off the top of my head and if I am wrong, somebody please correct me. I recall reading years ago that the mix in gasahol using ethyl alcohol is 10% ethyl and 90% gasoline. However to get the same energy output from a gallon of gasahol made with methyl alcohol, you need 20% alcohol to 80% gasoline.<P>Do not confuse ethyl, the type of alcohol, with "Ethyl" the trade name for the lead additive [tetraethyl lead] developed by Charles Kettering between 1924 and 1927 or the Ethyl Corporation which was formed to produce and market the product. ~~ HV<p>[This message has been edited by hvscotyard (edited 06-24-2000).]

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Here in Brazil we have hundreds of thousands of running using ethanol as fuel. In the late 70's the Brazilian Governament decided to reduce the country's dependency of petroleum, so they chose ethanol as the alternative fuel. The car factories in Brazil (GM, VW, Ford, Fiat...)redesign the engines to accept the new fuel and today a considerable part of the Brazilian automotive fleet uses ethyl alcohol (ethanol) as fuel. These engines are more resistent to corrosion.<BR>The Brazilian gasoline is also a mixture of ethanol and gasoline (mixture of heptanes and octanes). My cars run using this gasoline and I still didn't have any problem.<P>Regards,<BR>Julio Albernaz<BR>1928 Chevrolet, 1951 Plymouth, 1954 Willys Jeep<P>------------------<BR>

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Howard,<P>I looked up the Higher Heating Values in an old Marks Handbook:<P>Methanol 9,758 BTU/lb<BR>Ethanol 12,770 BTU/lb<BR>Gasoline 20,750 BTU/lb<P>As you can see, gasoline has A LOT more energy than alcohol per lb. I'm not sure what this means as far as mixing ratios. My guess would be that one would have to use more of this "hybrid" fuel to get the same horsepower as they would get using gasoline. Therefore, the more alcohol that the mixture contains, the worse your gas mileage will be, all other things being equal. In other, words you will need 20% ethanol and 90% gasoline = 110% of gasohol to have same energy as gasoline.<P>P.S. Has anyone else heard of the brass corosion I mentioned earlier in this thread? I remember reading something about this in "Hot Rod" Magazine when I was a teenager.<P>Hal<p>[This message has been edited by MODEL A HAL (edited 06-30-2000).]

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Hal, you're absolutely right. I can tell you from my Iowa experience that using ethanol reduces the output of the motor (horsepower) and results in increased fuel consumption. <BR>Interestingly, however, as it is not as explosive as pure gasoline (asuming there is such a thing), adding alcahol increases the octane rating of the gas. When I was in Iowa regular gas was 89 octane and premium 93 or 94. The normal valuse were generally 87 and 92 octane at that time. There was no such thing as mid-grade then.

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My experience here in Brazil is the same, the fuel consumption of vehicles that run using alcohol is about 30% greater than the cars that use gasoline as fuel. For this reason the government gives economic incentives to the use of alcohol as fuel. A good example is the price, a liter of alcohol costs 35% less than a liter of gasoline here in Brazil.<P>Regards,<BR>Julio

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