Is there an easy way to solve a varnish problem in the fuel system?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2017: Is there an easy way to solve a varnish problem in the fuel system?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 12:28 pm:

The tone of the forum has seemed to have changed recently, and I thought it might be OK to share a solution for varnish in gas that I have shared previously. While gas additives are not a replacement for good maintenance, sometimes a gas additive can be good maintenance. I have been using Bel Ray MC1, it is a synthetic two cycle oil. I have tried a number of other 2 cycle oils (I have not tried MMO) but I have not had as good of results with anything but Bel Ray MC1.
I stumbled on this about 17 years ago while spraying thistles on the ranch, I ran out of gas on a Honda 4 wheeler and only had a little more work to do. The only gas I had was at the ranch had been mixed for my powered hang glider 4 years previously and it was about a gallon in a 5 gallon can. I did not want to drive 6 miles to the farm, and as the Honda was running poorly and needed to go in for servicing, I figured that if it got the job done it should not be a problem to use. After filling the tank and heading to the first gate, I noticed that the Honda remained running as I opened the gate, it usually would die if my thumb was not on the throttle. It remained running as I closed the gate and ran better than ever as I finished the spraying.
I could not believe that the change could have been the oil, so when I got to the farm, I decided to do a test. My wife has a Honda 3 wheeler that was also running poorly, we planned on taking it in for servicing when the 4 wheeler went. I mixed a fresh batch of gas and dumped it into the 3 wheeler and rode it to the end of the drive way (about 1/4 mile) by the time I turned around it was running better and even though we had not been able to get it out of 2nd gear for the past year because of low power, I was in 4th gear when I got back to the yard. Both of these Hondas are still running well and they have never been to the shop for service.
Since then, I have used this oil regularly in all of my carburetor engines. A few I noticed no improvement, but those that had problems due to old gas all showed improvement. In the past 17 years, the only carburetor I have worked on is the one on my T, and that was replaced with a rebuilt one from Langs as mine was badly worn at the throttle shaft. I have used Bel Ray MC1 in the T, it did have a negative result, in a way. The oil dissolves varnish, and I found that the original gas tank was holding gas only because the layer of varnish has sealed it. The result was I had to replace my gas tank, but I see that as a positive maintenance move.
The latest engine I used this oil on is a Honda generator that was stored in my barn when my father sold the ranch in 2002. It was stored with a full tank of gas that had converted to a thick layer of varnish through out the fuel system. I put a gallon of gas mixed 20 to 1 with MC1 in the tank and tried to start it with out success, I pulled the gas line and found that no gas would flow through it. The screen in the tank was covered with varnish and after a day of soaking, I was able to remove 80% of the varnish with my thumb nail and reinstalled the gas line. I let the generator sit for another day and to my surprise, it started on the 2nd pull.
When I park my wife's lawn mower, roto tiller and wood chipper for the winter, I have been putting MC1 in the gas and running it long enough to get it into the carb before parking them for the winter, since doing that, we have been able to start all of them on the first or second pull.
I am sharing this again for anyone who has not heard of the benefits of using a gas additive, I would like to hear if anyone else had similar results. I do not care to hear from experts who are going to tell me that it will not work, as anyone who would make such a statement with out trying has zero credibility. I do not know how it works, but it seems to dissolve varnish and keep gas from spoiling for up to 5 years, and it has saved me thousands of dollars in mechanical maintenance over the past 17 years.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry VanOoteghem - SE Michigan on Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 01:28 pm:

The only time I ever had a varnish problem was when I let the gas sit for 6 years. Fresh gas, with regular driving seems to be the best cure.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Vern (Vieux Carre) on Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 01:37 pm:

Thanks Gustaf,
I was wanting to clean my 53 Ch3vy's carburetor but knew the spray carb cleaner only reaches the windpipe and not the fuel line or bowl. Any opinion about what it might do to rubber seals and a mechanical pump?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 06:07 pm:

Hey Vern,
I have used it for years with out any problems concerning rubber (or neoprene)parts, I used MC1 since 1977 in my various powered hang gliders and never had a gasket fail. As far as anything mechanical, it is designed to be the primary lubricant in high rpm 2 cycle engines, even mixed 100 to 1. I believe that it may help in top end lubrication, but can not offer any evidence to that other than most everything I have run it is runs better.
Several years ago, I had a 69 GMC truck that we needed to haul hay, it had been parked for several years with out any gas treatment and would barely run. The fellow who was driving it told me that he did not think it would make it through the day, but by afternoon, he stopped me to tell me it was running great. It takes a little tine to dissolve the varnish, and depending on where it is some times a few weeks. In the case of my T, it was three weeks to a month before the gas tank started leaking. I had a 77 Ford pickup that had been parked since 2005, and I did the same with it when I started running it a couple of years ago, it also started to leak in one of the tanks after a few weeks as it took that long to dissolve the varnish in the tank. It seems to work faster in lines where the gas has to flow past.
Spray carb cleaner is really just a solvent to clean, and the carb must be dismantled to do any good.
MC1 can be purchased at just about any good cycle shop in 12 oz bottles, I think it is even available on Amazon. I cleaned out all the 1 gallon bottles my local cycle shop had, but the last time I went in, they found a 5 gallon bucket. It is expensive and I am a cheapskate, so I would not be spending $60 to $84 a gallon if I did not think it worked.
Hey Jerry,
You are right to an extent, the best cure for varnish is regular gas and regular driving, be not everyone can drive the car year round and even with regular driving, there will be some varnish come out of the gas over time. I used to have to have carb jobs on my vehicles about once a year before gasohol became available, the alcohol would help dissolve the varnish making a carb overhaul for varnish something that was not needed, but about every two years I would have to have them rebuilt as the rubber gaskets would dissolve. This worked until they changed the way gas was refined, and now I can see nothing bu problems with alcohol in gas.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Schubert on Friday, September 29, 2017 - 10:06 am:

I have had similar and excellent results using Sea Foam fuel treatment. However I will see if what you suggest is available here in Canada and try it
Thx


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Joseph A. Stearns on Tuesday, October 03, 2017 - 03:16 am:

Gustafson, how much do you mix with a gal of gas? I want to give it a try. Thx


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Wednesday, October 04, 2017 - 11:47 am:

Hey Joseph,
It varies, not because I am scientific, but because I am lazy and have a 5 gallon bucket of the stuff.
I usually use a 50 to 1 mix if the tank is empty and put a gallon of mixed gas in. I run that for a few miles and then top up the tank. I usually notice improvement in the first few minutes of running. On engines that have set for a long time, I have left the mixture in the tank for a day before trying to start. If there is a lot of gas in the tank, I mix enough oil in a gallon to make the gas in the tank a 50 to 1 mix. Once I had the brilliant idea of poring the oil directly into the tank of my T and that was not a good thing as the T did not run well on straight oil, but if it is mixed with a bit of gas before dumping it into the tank it will mix well.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Joseph A. Stearns on Wednesday, October 04, 2017 - 05:35 pm:

Thanks, I'll give it a try hopefully I will find a dealer locally or just order some. Joe


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Wednesday, October 04, 2017 - 09:21 pm:

It is available on Amazon if you can not find it locally.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Heiser on Wednesday, October 04, 2017 - 09:55 pm:

I have been using Stabil 360since it was introduced to the market several years ago. I believe this product is an advancement for car enthusiasts.
After working in industrial chemistry for 43 years I have an understanding of chemical treatment. The 360 is what is known as a dual phase treatment. The product is added to the liquid phase to control corrosion and provide stability to the liquid being treated. The 360 has the added benefit of vaporizing into the air above the liquid, therefore protecting the inside surface of the vessel (tank) preventing corrosion products falling into the liquid.
As a gas tank is vented, the gas should be used and re-treated every year. This should be the same treatment frequency for any gas additive. They will all degrade over time.
The 360 is my additive of choice for the reasons I mention. I add it to my mower, snowblower and generator gas also.
My 2 cents.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Thursday, October 05, 2017 - 09:28 am:

Hey David,
I am not familiar with Stabil 360, I used the regular Stabil product in the 90s one fall, I was not happy with the results as I had more problems than previous years. In retrospect, I believe that was the year the gas had alkali added in the refining process, but even then, the next year I used nothing and had acceptable results. In those days we would mothball about 30 Briggs & Stratton engines each winter from October to April.
The good thing about MC1 is it does not need to be added every year if the gas remains in the tank as it does not volatilize. That being said, it would not have the corrosion prevention of the empty portion of the tank, except if the tank has been full while mixed, of the gas has been sloshed around, the oil will bond with the metal and offer good corrosion protection. The next question is, how well does Stabil 360 remove old varnish from the tank and fuel system?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Heiser on Thursday, October 05, 2017 - 04:46 pm:

I'm not sure if the Stabil 360 will remove varnish buildup that's already there. I will try a chat with
Stabil and see if I can get an answer.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Heiser on Monday, October 09, 2017 - 01:10 pm:

This is the response I received from the Gold Eagle Company (Stabil) regarding the use of Stabil products including Stabil 360:

1. STA-BIL 360® Brand will keep the fuel fresh for at least 12 months. After this period, the fuel will resume the aging process. It is best to use the fuel as soon as possible. We recommend properly discard the fuel after 3-4 months after this time. If you are looking for longer storage you can always add STA-BIL® Storage (red) as well. This will boost storage time to 24 months.

2. STA-BIL 360® Brand will prevent varnish buildup -especially in a carburetor.

3. Unfortunately, STA-BIL 360® Brand will not dissolve already-settled varnish. Only a special fuel system cleaner or flush may help in this situation.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By G.R.Cheshire on Monday, October 09, 2017 - 01:37 pm:

My $.02 I have several portable generators and other small equipment engines. I got all of the generators because the owners failed to turn off the gas valve and let the carburetor run dry before storage and I got them cheap! When hurricane Matthew struck last year I pulled out 2 of the generators turned on the gas valve waited a few seconds pulled the rope and they both fired right up, neither had been run for at least 4 years. All of my small engines are drained and the carburetors run dry after every use and I have never had one fail due to fuel problems. Like you Gustaf I do add a little 2 cycle oil in the tank it seems to help! FWIW


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gustaf in Idaho on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 12:45 am:

One thing I like about the MC1, is that it will preserve gas for up to 5 years without having to add more to the gas, and it does dissolve the old varnish. It is best to drain a gas tank and run the carb dry, but some people do not do that and if you acquire a gas engine that had not been properly stored, it is nice to have an easy method to remove the varnish.


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