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Dave@Moon

How Many More Warning Signs Are Going To Be Ignored?

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EP Proposal Would Open the Floodgates to Ethanol Blended Fuels Above e15 ,  

10/5/16, HMN

 

Now will somebody please start lobbying for access to low-ethanol and/or non-renewable fuels for registered antique cars before it's too late?  It's a matter of time when even e10 is no longer available from currently legal (road taxed) sources.  Even if blend pumps (the intended outcome, and an almost certain eventuality) are implemented, there's no assurance that e10 will survive as an option.  It may be possible to save it as a higher price option, that would discourage it's use in vehicles where it's not needed.  Something has to be done.  In the larger scheme of things "pump gas" isn't going to be gas much longer.

 

Or are people going to continue to insist that modern cars run on antique fuels indefinitely, just for us (as if that's going to work)?

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10 hours ago, A. Ballard 35R said:

Dave, thanks for the warning/update. Do you know if SEMA has specific action plans or recommendations? 

I have yet to hear anyone from a position of influence or authority in this hobby (SEMA or anyone else) advocate anything but a constant, and as yet (and hopefully for the future) fruitless, lobbying for the abandonment of all fuels programs save expanded fossil fuel consumption.  At this point it should be pretty obvious to everyone that that is just not going to happen.  I'm hoping I've missed something, but I've yet to see anything proposed that will protect both old cars and the environment coming from our representatives. 

 

We probably have another 10 or so years where e10 is still plentiful enough to reliably tour and travel in an antique.  That's not much time to develop and implement a program whereby you can still drive your 1975 Chevy or 1925 Willys.  Beyond that it looks to me that appropriate fuels get fewer and further between, with web sites needed to find them and fuel deserts that need to be avoided.  And it can only get worse from there.

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There's even a USDA program to help subsidize fuel stations to upgrade to blender pumps so more ethanol fuels can be sold!  NOT in all states, though.

 

In some ethanol producer trade publications, they recently quoted findings of telephone surveys which indicated "that consumers want ethanol fuels".  It was a little "slanted", though.  About 80% didn't know that current fuels had ethanol in them.  They claimed that E15 was wanted by consumers.  Consumers, it appears, only care about allegedly less expensive fuels (although it might take more of it to go one mile).  That the extra "1" posted pump octane number will help modern high-tech engines run better.  Prior to the European climate summit, the ethanol advocates seemed to be proclaiming that IF the world was running on E15, it would solve all climate-related issues! 

 

Interestingly, though, a local WalMart has begun selling E0 at a 40 cents/gallon premium for 87 octane fuel.  Down the street at a new QT station, E85 sells for 30 cents/gallon less than E10.  That pricing seems a little out of whack, considering what the ethanol people have claimed.  Be that as it may.  I also found a CountryMark brand of fuel in Indiana which is ethanol-free 91 pump octane gasoline.  There are a few other brands, too, which have ethanol-free fuel.  It wasn't too many years ago that the few stations which claimed "ethanol-free" gasoline were asked to either stop selling it (in the ozone non-attainment area DFW is in) or downplay their signage.  Now WalMart is selling it!

 

Other than fuel component issues, recalibrating the carburetor to work with E15 and such will make it too rich to use E0 again, efficiently.  Can't have an original carb for show and then have a "driving use" carburetor in many cases!

 

Early on, SEMA and others sent a letter to indicate their dislike of proposed legislation to raise the blend wall past the current 10% level.  SEMA and about 20 other entities co-signed it.  Not really sure what happened after that, OR it was even looked at.

 

It appears that the corn ethanol operatives are about to be blind-sided by a recent experiment with water, electricity, and some other reactive metals to build ethanol in that manner.  More research is needed, though, but the possibility is there.  IF that comes online, it will disrupt the entire ethanol supply chain as we know it.

 

Earlier this year, it seemed that EPA was going to cap the ethanol blend level at 10%, which would be good, as they also waived the renewable fuels mandated production levels of ethanol.  Then I found some information that E15 was sought to be approved.  Not sure where all of that has gotten to!  In the mean time, several websites have listings of places to purchase ethanol-less gasolines and at what pump octane level, plus fuel system additives to help counteract the bad effects of ethanol on metallic fuel system parts, gas tank cap to spark plug.

 

NTX5467

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Willis - in most, certainly not all, cases it is possible to have a "driving" carburetor. In the case of single barrel updraft carburetors, there are a number of different carbs available that were designed as universal replacements, with "looser" than stock calibrations, and an externally adjustable main metering jet. The externally adjustable jet means that with a little thought, the carburetor may be calibrated for even higher than 15 percent ethanol.

 

Examples would be Carter BB series, Stromberg SF and SFM series, Zenith 63 and 263 series, as well as the current Zenith 68 and 267 carburetors in small sizes only.

 

The two-barrel updraft carbs present a problem for which I have no solution.

 

Concerning downdraft carbs:

 

Single barrel universals with the adjustable main metering jets were available from Stromberg (the BX series); and a few are still available from Zenith (the 228 series).

 

Many two-barrel downdraft carbs may be replaced with Carter two-barrels from the 1950's (WCD, and WGD series) with metering rod technology. The same is true for most four-barrel downdraft carburetors WCFB and AFB series). While not as easy to recalibrate as the adjustable main metering jets, the metering rod technology allows the carburetor to be recalibrated by removing one or two screws holding a cover, and removing and replacing the metering rod(s) with rod(s) calibrated for a different mix. We have been making these rods for years for enthusiasts that live/travel at higher altitude. And while I don't recommend this procedure, to prove a point, I once changed the metering rods on an engine while the engine was running! Of course, it was running on the idle circuit, and the metering rods calibrate the main circuit.

 

An issue might be the fuel delivery system, as more of the ethanol fuel would be required. Another issue might be starting the engine on higher ratios of ethanol. Not my area of expertise. Someone else can figure out these possible issues.

 

But my guess would be, that if the government wishes this to happen, it will happen; and we will just have to figure out how to deal with it!

 

Jon.

Edited by carbking (see edit history)

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Another thought:

 

If in fact E15+ becomes the standard of the land, perhaps we would have better luck lobbying AACA to allow certain modifications in the fuel, and possibly the electrical systems. It might be worked out that a vehicle in a judged show would not lose points if the correct components were displaced at the same time.

 

Example: a 1931 Packard 845 might be allowed to have a Stromberg SF-4 on the engine if the Detroit Lubricator C31786 were also displayed.

 

Just a thought.

 

And Dave, I really like the Asimov quotation!

 

Jon.

 

 

Edited by carbking (see edit history)

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CarbKing, one thought I've had is that the real reason for the "black" Holleys and Edelbrocks is not specifically cosmetics, but possible a black anodizing for ethanol resistance?  The key issue would be all of the internal passages having said protection, plus the innards of the float bowls and such?  Perhaps I'm trying to make something out of this that isn't there?

 

I had read that the EPA was going to cap blend levels at E10, but then I also heard that an additional 5% increase in biofuels for 2017 was just approved.  Most of that can come from soy (for diesel) rather than just "corn".

 

In looking at a map of biofuel availability, nationally, the BioDiesel is almost non-existent.  Many more E85 stations.  YET, the ethanol operatives are still seeking to convice "the world" that E15 would address ALL of the possible "global warming" issues.

 

The ethanol industry operatives ALSO have conducted consumer surveys about E15, which they have documented two things from.  One is that 60+% of consumers didn't know their gasoline contained ethanol.  The IF E15 cost less per gallon, had higher octane ratings, that most consumers considered that a good deal.  NOW . . . the octane level is only ONE number higher (which they claim will make "today's high-tech engines" operate better).    So 'better performance" and "less cost" sounds like a good deal, until you consider it'll take more gallons/mile than E10, or especially E0 . . . but they don't mention that. 

 

As with motor oil, gasoline is oriented toward "current production" rather than vehicles over 15 years old. 

 

There are chemicals we can add to gasoline to help with the corrosive effects of ethanol on metal fuel system parts, but we can't (of yet) deal with the driveabilty issues of blend levels past E10.  Larger main jets could and do help with some vehicles and E10 and could probably help with E15, too, Past that, some internal calibrations would be needed to be altered in the idle systems and such, I suspect.  Even with E10, some friends with a 1940s Oldsmobile had their mechanic (a 2nd-gen hotrodder) do some carb work and he also drilled the main jets a few thousands larger.  They were amazed at how much better it performed and drove on a tour.

 

Obviously, some vehicles could use "show carbs" and "go carbs" better than others might.  BUT considering some dynamics of (generally) older owners of such cars, they'd probably need to have somebody else do the actual work  . .  which would cost money . . . as they are now on a more-fixed income . . . so there can be some kinks in that possibility.  It would be easier for 4bbl vehicles, but each could pose their own unique issues.

 

On limited-use vehicles, the "limit" part is a significant culprit.  More "regular use" is much better.  I ran across an article that mentioned how harmful it was for automatic transmissions to "sit".  It made it sound like such limited use would result in transmissions needing gasket and seal replacement pretty often!  Cork gaskets, paper gaskets, rubber seals, etc. would dry out and could cause operational problems.

 

This on top of issues with fuel pumps, too!  A thread in these forums a few years ago pointed out that even the "ethanol-resistant" pump diaphragm material, if exposed to ethanol fuels, then allowed to dry out (from the fuel in the pump and lines evaporating from non-use), would become brittle and fail.  So, what might the maintenance replacement interval be for Fuel Pumps and Automatic Transmissions?  Rather, these would be GREAT reasons to let the car run AND drive every so often to keep the fluid circulated and present!

 

There seems to be little we can do with the gasoline issues.  The market is biased toward current production vehicles, which can GENERALLY use the E10 fuels somewhat efficiently and durably.  The only thing that might be considered is 100 octane motor racing fuels, purchased from a vendor that can collect the applicable "road tax" at each purchase.  These vendors are usually around drag racing tracks and such, or road courses with driving schools.  Admittedly, though, not places many car collectors might currently frequent.

 

To me, the real problem can be when a vehicle is used in an area where E10 is not available, for whatever reason, and E0 is similarly MIA.  The cars probably would still run on E15, but they might not like it.  It's always nicer to drive a car that likes the fuel it's being fed!!!  Some could learn to drive them and compensate as others could probably not master those skills, by observation.  Not good on a cross-country trip to a national car event or tour!  (A good reason for trailers?)

 

Perhaps the AACA could possibly advocate for a national list were E10 or E0 fuels are available, should E15 become the dominant fuel available?  As good as the other fuel websites can be, the vast majority of E0 fuels are lower octane and would require a significant amount of octane booster to run reasonably well in many "high compression" engines of the 1950s-1970s vehicles.  AND, somewhat as gasbuddy.com does, a list of gasoline octane boosters that work with what pump octane of fuels to approach the older 97 Research Octane levels of 1957 "premium" gasolines AND do not contain any alcohol in their formulations (or at least the percentage of alcohol)!  It's possible to find out the zddp levels in motor oils (ala www.bobistheoilguy.com), as the fuel additives with alcohol in them (the fuel test kits.com website), so having some information on which octane enhancers have (or how much) alcohol in them would be in order.

 

IF we could get ethanol replaced with iso-butanol, we wouldn't be having these concerns as iso-butanol at 15% blend level has similar emissions as E15, but with NONE of the vehicle degradation issues!  Only thing is that many state laws specifically mention "ethanol", although iso-butanol has been approved by the EPA for close to 20 years.  Existing ethanol plants can be converted to iso-butanol production.  It seems possible that somebody is keeping a lid on the iso-butanol substitutions, for some reason.  Perhaps ethanol was easier to do, at the time, so that the direction the industry headed off in?

 

SEMA and others have signed a letter (back when E15 seemed eminent) requesting blend levels of Ethanol be capped at 10%.  This was several years ago and probably is still operative. 

 

Our local WalMart re-did their fuel station.  It now has E0 fuel at a 40 cents/gallon premium over E10 regular.  A new RaceTrac station, down the street, has brought us E85 at a 30 cent/gallon decrease from E10 regular.

 

At this point in time, about the best we can do is research where it's necessary (due to ozone non-attainment areas/regions) for non-E0 gasoline to be sold.  E10 and such can still be sold in the non-mandated areas, depending upon what the fuel distribution network might have available AND customers request.  To me, the ethanol advocates should probably be pushing for expanded ethanol markets in non-mandated areas, which is where their additional volumes could be used, rather than pushing for E15 blend levels.

 

I asked our dealership shop foreman about BioDiesel and that resulted in a deep frown on his face.  It seems that THAT fuel is a disaster for current diesel fuel systems.  The newer super low Sulphur diesels are one thing, but the bio-diesel issues seem to be worse.  Oh, and we're going to see another decrease in Sulphur levels of gasoline, too 

 

I suspect we might be getting ready to see a "decreased-power" EPA. This might give us a few more years of breathing room to get a plan for the future put together . . . for driving cars and show cars.

 

NTX5467 

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Willis - I know nothing about the black finishes on either the Holleys or the clones; however, even if one solves the damage done to the castings (ethanol won't hurt cast iron), one still has to calibrate the carburetors for use with the reduced energy. Also, many early brass (bronze) carburetors were nickel-plated to protect them from alcohol. Yes, alcohol has been available as a fuel from at least the early 1900's. It seems every other generation have to learn that alcohol and gasoline shouldn't be mixed. Perhaps there is hope for the generation after ours ;)

 

Generally, this is quite easily done on virtually ALL post WW-II carbs, but can be anywhere from a real nightmare to economically unfeasible on pre-1935 "automatic" carburetors. REALLY DIFFICULT to recalibrate carbs that depend on a specific spring tension for metering. These would include: Detroit Lubricator, Schebler, some Penberthy, Marvel, etc., among other makes of carburetors.

 

The so-called "plain tube" design used by others (eg Carter, Stromberg, Zenith, etc.) can be recalibrated fairly easily (other than the cost of machining new parts); so, in theory, an enthusiast could acquire an extra carb to recalibrate, or recalibrate the original. Fairly easy to determine a percentage increase in richness necessary to compensate, and machine new jets to the appropriate value on a lathe. But recalibration of the "automatic" carbs requires hand-winding new airvalve springs. I have done some of this, and have zero plans to do more! If one charges for one's time, the cost of recalibration of springs can exceed the value of the carburetor!!!

 

Jon.

Edited by carbking (see edit history)

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Perhaps . . . with the yearly Congressional Proclamations of the SEMA Collector Car Appreciation Day, it might be possible to gain a waiver for certain fuel suppliers to build small batches of fuel for the older cars, even with some sort of lead substitute in them?  Even if all of the older cars used these fuels, the environmental impact would be less than "minimal", obviously.  Might need to have a registered "antique" vehicle to be able to purchase the fuel, too, for general principles.

 

Regional tours might also happen in regions where "ethanol-free" gas was available, too, as another level of support for these fuels and vendors of such.

 

On the ethanol-free gasoline websites, it seems that many of the gas stations are near large or highly-used water recreation areas.  Usually in at least 87 pump octane, or thereabouts.  For some, no brand is specified, but in other cases, it is a name-brand station.  The collection of "road taxes" could be an issue as it can be for "avgas", in states that collect such taxes on gasoline.  Might need some software alterations for the stations to collect the additional "road tax" as an additional "tax" in their computerized cash registers.

 

As the ethanol, currently, is typically "splash blended" at the fuel distribution terminal, it should be possible for a tanker to be filled with ethanol-free fuel for a specific delivery customer.  That would take a specific tank at the vendor to contain such a fuel inventory.  I'm not sure what a current above-ground fuel container system would cost, so the payout would be important.  I suspect that current fuel vendors would not desire another below-ground tank for that situation, but current above-ground tanks are becoming more common for smaller users.

 

AND, or course, the same fuels could be sold to local lawn maintenance operations!!  That could generate extra business in "non-car event" seasons.

 

I'm not advocating personal storage of such fuels on private property (i.e., in a storage building or similar) as that could initiate some actions by local fire marshals and such (i.e., public safety issues), but I have an idea that such can exist already in limited amounts.  Although purchasing small amounts from race vendors or shops has been possible. 

 

Just some thoughts . . .

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)

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I'm not going to pretend to be good at chemistry, but it would seem to be a solvable problem. The old tractors used to often be set up with two tanks, one for gas to start the tractor and one for farm produced fuels (ethanol). You'd have to switch back to gas to purge the fuel system prior to shutting down as well. Rather than fight what is produced, wouldn't it be reasonable to presume something could be added to counter the negative effects? 

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