Can a Model T Run on alcohol with a simple carb adjustment?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2016: Can a Model T Run on alcohol with a simple carb adjustment?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Laughary on Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 05:40 pm:

Fueling my Model T with the waste alcohol from local distilleries might be available to me. Has anyone on here tried it before, and does it really just require a richer mixture?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ted Dumas on Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 05:45 pm:

I ran my 27 coupe on isopropyl alcohol as this was all we had in the lab other than acetone that was flammable.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Will Copeland - West Melbourne Florida on Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 05:47 pm:

I tried to run mine on a mix of Jim Beam and Old Grand Dad once but I fell off the running board!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Strange - Hillsboro, MO on Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 05:50 pm:

https://www.google.com/?ion=1&espv=2#q=alcohol+fuel+mtfca


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Laughary on Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 06:33 pm:

Sounds like confirmation!

Thank You


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Strange - Hillsboro, MO on Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 07:13 pm:

I used to own a 1970 Dodge Charger with a 383 Magnum engine that pinged a bit on premium unleaded. I used to add a gallon of Toluene in every tankful to stop the pinging. Effective, but expensive. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 07:32 pm:

I doubt it will run on 80 proof, but yes it will run on pure alcohol. I ran one for a year on E-85. You won't have as much power, and it will be harder to start in cold weather. I had to use a propane torch on the manifold to get it to start on cold mornings. Make sure your carb float is brass and not cork. Alcohol will eat the shellac off the cork and the cork will absorb the alcohol and become 'waterlogged' and sink. It's been several years now, but it seems like I had to richen the mixture 1/2 turn or so more than when running on gasoline.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erik Barrett in Auburn Ca. on Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 08:03 pm:

Given the current trend as the gas pump, every model T will have to deal with increasing percentages of ethanol in time. Performance and mileage will both suck compared to real gasoline, but they will run.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Buckert on Sunday, July 24, 2016 - 09:43 am:

Chris, I'd find out what the proof is on that alcohol before trying it. If it's more water than alcohol it probably won't burn sufficiently enough for use as a motor fuel. But if you distill it again you might be able to get it to a higher proof and then it will burn. Just don't let the ATF find out. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Sunday, July 24, 2016 - 09:50 am:

80 proof is more than 50% water. You would not even get a pop out of the motor.

If you could refine that waste alcohol up to say 190 proof then you could run the engine. Like Hal says, alcohol has less energy per gallon than gasoline, so you would have markedly less power while burning more fuel.

In a Model T you only have 20 horsepower with good gasoline fuel. You are not going to like having 15 horsepower, hard starting, and more frequent fill ups.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By G.R.Cheshire on Sunday, July 24, 2016 - 10:17 am:

Also the one thing that must be considered is that alcohol is Hygroscopic, meaning is readily absorbs water. So unless you are going to run your T every day you could have a lot of corrosion issues especially if you are running an aluminium head. Talk to the people who run alcohol race cars after every race day the fuel system is emptied and flushed and the oil changed.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Sunday, July 24, 2016 - 10:43 am:

Alcohol can not readily absorb water unless is is present, if you have water in your gas tank, then alcohol is a good thing to have to help remove it. You will need to worry more about evaporation of the alcohol from your tank than water getting into the tank.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Thomas Mullin on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 05:24 pm:

The attached document, details Henry Ford's experiments with alcohol as a fuel in 1915-16. Henry said he ran an ordinary Model t on alcohol. His experiments led him to recommend 160 proof or 80% alcohol as the ideal. E-85 would be about right for modern fuel.

Just be sure there are no rubber or shelacked cork items in the fuel system. The alcohol will destroy them.

application/pdf
Interview_between_Henry_Ford_and_the_Detroit_Evening_Journal-154514.pdf (89.1 k)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Laughary on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 06:41 pm:

Ok thx

I will just mix it into my gas


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 07:14 pm:

I wouldn't even do that unless it was near pure alcohol.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Noel D. Chicoine, MD, Pierre, SD on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 07:53 pm:

If I remember my chemistry, it is very hard to find and keep over 95% alcohol as it is hygroscopic and will absorb the 5% water unless the tank is tightly capped, in which case the fuel won't flow unless the vent is open.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Laughary on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 08:16 pm:

I think it is pure alcolhol and I'll get the proof numbers each time.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan B on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 08:36 pm:

Mix it into your gas?

Please post about your experience afterward.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Constantine on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 08:54 pm:

Sort of off topic, but if you filled your gas tank with a 50/50 mix of gas and kerosene could the car likely start?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 09:09 pm:

You have to be kidding!

"Waste" alcohol in Tennessee does not exist!
It is either drinkable or sellable to Yankees.
I lived in Ky near the Tn border for long enough to know what I am talking about.
Good shine will remove paint, rust and bad memories.

Putting it in a T is screwing with a good thing.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erik Barrett in Auburn Ca. on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 09:15 pm:

When we were at the big T party in 2008 my friend fueled his T with E85 by mistake. Car ran like crap, no power, and ran out of fuel 50 miles before he would have with gas.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dennis Plank - Three Way, TN on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 09:16 pm:

Why would you want to do this? Gas is cheap enough. Sounds like a solution looking for a problem.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Robert Brough on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 09:17 pm:

If you were to get it started and running, I'd have someone follow close behind with a vast amount of water in their vehicle.

It's called a . . . . wait for it . . .

A CHASER!

I crack myself up.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Monday, July 25, 2016 - 09:37 pm:

Not a chemistry major, but as I recall, alcohol is indeed 100% soluable with water. To me that means if you take a gallon of alcohol and a gallon of water, they will mix and not separate. That doesn't mean that alcohol attracts water like a magnet. It only means they will mix when coming in contact with one another. I once made some calculations on this subject several years ago making some really extreme assumptions about relative humidity and changes in temperature which would never happen in real life. I don't remember the figures but it certainly didn't concern me about how much water I could end up with in my tank. Somebody better at searches and wanting to more than me might find the thread.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Buckert on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 08:14 am:

I guess it would also depend on the cost of the alcohol to you. Unless it's free, or even better they pay you to haul it off, I wouldn't look into doing this as a primary fuel source. Might make a fun experiment to try one day, or even for a week or so. I hope you have good luck. Let us know what comes of it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Blake, Kansas City on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 08:44 am:

I think this post refers to the small fraction of Methanol that results from the distillation of spirits. The goal of course is Ethanol not Methanol but as I understand it some Methanol is produced as a byproduct. It is of course toxic in small quantities and so would be a waste product of distillation. From what I was told when I visited the Copper Run distillery, south of Springfield Missouri the specific gravity is different and the Methanol being more volatile constitutes the initial part of the run. It is captured separately and has to be discarded or disposed of somehow.

That would supposedly explain the lore of moonshiners using it (the waste Methanol) in their vehicles. It would not have been cost effective to make Ethanol as a transportation fuel any more than it is today. I think that despite today's very large scale production facilities for Ethanol there is still no net energy benefit to the creation of Ethanol as a transportation fuel when all energy inputs are factored in.

In answer to your question about richening the mixture, yes you would have to richen it for both Ethanol and Methanol. More so for Methanol as it has an even lower energy content by volume than Ethanol.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jesse L. Ashcraft on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 09:14 am:

>>>...does it really just require a richer mixture?<<<

Hi Chris - My understanding of the proposition is that you may also have to play around with the spark lever to find the timing sweet spot.
So did you know someone at the distillery or just cold call them one day and ask for their waste products? Are you planning on distilling it further or using as is?

(Message edited by jesselashcraft on July 26, 2016)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 09:30 am:

Hal is right, alcohol can not attract water unless it is already present, if you have water in your fuel system, the best solution is to ad alcohol (it is sold in a little yellow bottle called "Heet")
If you add 10% alcohol to your gas tank, you will reduce your fuel economy by almost 10%, so it is better to just fill the tank 90% full and allow for expansion.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jesse L. Ashcraft on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 09:45 am:

>>>...the Methanol being more volatile constitutes the initial part of the run.<<<

Gary, I suppose the methanol is more volatile than ethanol but probably not more volatile than gasoline. Does that sound right? Isn't methanol what they use in racing cars?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By JohnCodman on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 10:01 am:

The model T has an "open" fuel system - that is, it is vented directly to the atmosphere; if it were not, the gravity feed fuel system simply wouldn't work. Since it is vented directly to the atmosphere, water is always present (unless you live in Phoenix). The fuel system will absorb moisture. If you are going to allow your T to sit for any length of time - 90 to 100 days or so, separation of the Ethanol and any water it has absorbed from the gasoline can occur. If it does occur, the mixture of Ethanol and water will sit on the bottom of the tank and cause rust. Ask me how I know. Also, Ethanol contains almost exactly 2/3 of the BTUs of pure gasoline. Methanol contains less then half. Your T (or any other gasoline powered piece of equipment) will get poorer fuel economy if you mix Ethanol with gasoline. It's basic physics - if there are fewer BTUs per gallon, you will use more fuel to produce the same amount of energy. I would pay extra for gasoline that does not contain Ethanol. Adding any form of Alcohol would be the last thing I would want to do to my T.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Blake, Kansas City on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 10:29 am:

Jesse. You are correct, gasoline IS more volatile than ethanol and methanol, and that helps to explain why small engine carburetors are having so many more problems since ethanol has replaced MTBE as an oxygenate. The EPA has run tests which prove that 10% is not harmful to fuel systems in normal operation. They are now moving forward with the mandate to up that to 15% based on the same testing. That testing fails to take into account what happens when the engine, whether in a car, lawnmower, weed whacker etc is not used on a daily basis. That initial 15% will over time become a progressively higher concentration as the more volatile gasoline evaporates. Therein lies the problem for engines which are run infrequently such as a Model T, lawnmower etc.

I like to ride motorcycles and have many times purchased from Craigslist bikes which won't start after improper winter storage. Cleaning the carburetors used to be a simple matter of removing varnish. Now you have aluminum corrosion to deal with as well.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Laughary on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 10:42 am:

Jesse,
Yes, I know someone at several local distilleries because I own a party bus service. We are brainstorming joint marketing ideas and might use my Model T in a video where we add
"White lightning" to the fuel.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 11:12 am:

John,
While the T gas tank is open, the size of the opening is so small that it would take years for any amount of moisture to accumulate in it a 100% humidity with massive pressure and temperature changes to get the air to exchange. The alcohol will not draw the moisture through the hole, it has to come through with air movement. If the alcohol is pure when it is introduced into the gas, it will take a large amount of water to cause it to separate, that water has to be in the gas tank for the alcohol to absorb is, and if you did not have alcohol in the tank, it would settle to the bottom of the tank sooner and cause rust. That being said, if you park a car for a couple of months with alcohol in the gas, you will get a reaction with the modern gas that is worse then water in the tank.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 12:13 pm:

I don't know enough to say, on that last statement, but I agree 100% with everything else Gustaf just said.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Laughary on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 12:16 pm:

Ok, Thank You

So, if I put alcohol in I need to use it up rather than let it sit in the tank.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 01:31 pm:

Yes, do not let alcohol set in a tank, especially if it has modern gasoline in it. It seems that the alcohol reacts with the alkali used in the modern refining process. If you are going to park you car for a long period of time, try ti find alcohol free gas. I have found that some 2 cycle oils will stop the degradation process. Bellray MC1 has kept gas fresh for as long as 4 years.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Duey_C on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 10:10 pm:

Chris, many years ago, my son gave me some racing alcohol fuel after he was done for the season. My little Lizzie ran real good with it, just opened it up a bit to suit. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Laughary on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 10:15 pm:

Duey,

That's a great story! Thx for sharing!

I always enjoyed the sweet smell of aviation fuel but have never had the privilege to spend time around alcohol fuelies.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Duey_C on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 11:05 pm:

:-) The go-karts running alcohol (Methanol?) reek! :-) Been around those things for awhile.
My son ran a bumble-bee (pro four Ford 2300) for a couple years. :-)
Mmmmmm, av gas? Mmmmm. I bet my T would love it. Set the carb to suit and go!
Hell, my T provides a cloud wherever it goes so I couldn't smell the fuel anyway! Just oil. :-)
The tube is oiling the engine. ;-)
Try it Chris!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Laughary on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 08:56 am:

Haha!

Thank You all

I live about a mile for one distillery and I own buses that take people on tours to distilleries and breweries, so they all know me and several want to team up and do some marketing with the model T. For whatever reason there don't seem to be any other model Ts in central Tennessee, or at least none currently active on MTFCA.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 10:38 am:

Hey Chris, that sounds like the best reason to run a T on alcohol, If I was you, I would buy a brand new tank and not ever allow any gasoline to enter the tank, that way you could mix a drink from the petcock on the tank drain. There is no need to worry about water in the tank as long as you do not leave the cap off under the lawn sprinkler.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Hatch on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 12:27 pm:

Chris: Ashland City is full of Model T cars, nice ones! There are a number of T cars in upper Al and lower TN. Sent you a link to a car show/swap meet in Ardmore TN. Did you get it? Dan


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Laughary on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 12:35 pm:

Thx, Dan but I didn't see an email.

Chris@Laughary.com


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Hatch on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 01:32 pm:

Here is a link to it http://www.ardmorecarshow.com/home.html
Most rods, but I am planning to bring a trailer full of parts for sale.
Dan


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris Laughary on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - 01:56 pm:

Thank You!

Ardmore, Sat. Aug 13
10am-3pm

Got it


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