A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

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Steve Jelf
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A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by Steve Jelf » Fri Apr 03, 2020 1:29 am

While the "vehicle" here is my 1945 Allis Chalmers Model B mowing tractor, the fuel is also for my Model T's and other cars. My friend Dieter Mitchell farms, and pulls wrenches as a sideline. Being plenty busy with other things, I took the tractor to him to get it ready for mowing season. Last week I brought it home. I started it up and drove it off the trailer and stopped it in front of my shop, where I reinstalled the Woods L-59 mower. I was ready to go out and mow, but the tractor would not start. It gave no sign of even wanting to start, not even a little cough. One of the things Dieter had done was fix the magneto, but he brought over another one he knew was good and we tried it. Nothing. We checked timing. It was right. There was plenty of compression. Gas poured out of the carburetor petcock. And nothing worked. Finally we tried one more thing. Drained all the gas out of the tank (about three gallons), took a can to town, and brought home five gallons of non-ethanol fuel. You know what happened. Varoom! Varoom! The old Allis started right up and ran as well as ever. We let it run awhile, then shut it off and tried the starter again. Just a touch of the button and it was running instantly. I shut it off again and tried the hand crank. It fired on the second pull and ran fine.

For many years I have read complaints about ethanol gas, and I've always been a skeptic because I never had any trouble with it. I've never used anything but E-10 in the Camry, and it starts right up, runs fine, and gets over 30 mpg on trips. The Dodge and the Chebby have always run fine on a diet of E-10. But it sure went watery in this tractor. This has made a believer out of me. Obviously it doesn't happen all the time, but ethanol gas really can become overly moist.


IMG_5030 copy.JPG
Putting the mag back on.

IMG_5033.JPG
It doesn't look like a lot in the bottom of this quart jar, but it was enough water to kill that tractor dead.
The inevitable often happens.
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Gonenorth
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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by Gonenorth » Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:48 am

Yep! I have seen that on a few machines that have sat over the winter. The bad thing is that water can rust the heck out of metal fuel tanks. I even add Stabil 360 to non-oxygenized fuel if it sits for more than a month or so.


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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by Adam » Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:01 am

The water in that gas is the result of heating and cooling cycles, humidity, and condensation in an open fuel system over a moderately long period of time. It likely isn’t because of a “quality problem” with the fuel itself.

Or maybe you dumped gas in there from your Boyco gas can with the cork in the top that had been thru rainstorms while traveling on the running board of the T last year?

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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by vech » Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:15 am

I could not agree more, concerning problems with ethanol in gasoline. I never run ethanol fuel in ANYTHING that has a carburettor. I only buy it if I have no choice, when I am driving a carburettor equipped vehicle, and use it up as fast a possible when I get home, and refill with real gasoline. If you want to find real gas, here is a link to every place in the US that you can by real gasoline. https://www.pure-gas.org/
If you have a IPhone, there is a free pure gas app you can put on your phone, which will tell you via a map, where to go, and how far it is, from where you currently are. I own a antique BMW motorcycle restoration and parts business. I have been a mechanic all of my life. I have seen the effects first hand. These antique motorcycles have pot metal carbs, with brass idle and main jets. Ethanol is hygroscopic, and gathers moisture right out of the air. Even though it is dissolved in the ethanol, which is dissolved in the gas, water's presence will corrode the pot metal float chamber to the point where it will eventually eat a hole through the float chamber of the carb body, and it will corrode the brass jets shut, if left in the carburettor long term. I have Stromburg OF brass carbs on both of my model T's. As I said, ethanol and brass do not get along with each other. When we have gone on Model T tours, I go so far as to bring real gas in multiple 5 gallon cans with us in the trailer just in case I can't find real gas. I use the pure gas app on the phone to find real gas, when on tours in parts of the country that I am not familiar with.
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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by Gil Fitzhugh » Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:35 am

A lot of atmospheric moisture can condense on the interior walls of a partly empty gas tank, and then trickle down to the bottom of the system. Back when I used to play with airplanes, we'd always fill the tank when we were through flying for the day, to minimize where water could condense. And before the first flight of the day, we'd drain a bit of fuel from quick-drain valves at the bottom of the lines, just to get rid of any water. It's amazing how often there was some. I know a guy who had engine failure just after take-off in a Cessna 182; he landed in trees and wasn't hurt, but the plane was scrap. The investigation showed water in the carburetor. And aircraft fuel doesn't have ethanol.

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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by Charlie B in N.J. » Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:40 am

Adam is correct. Let it lay for months and that's the result.
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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by Dennis Prince » Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:20 am

My 52 chevy pickup and 63 Ranchero won't hardly start on ethanol fuel and the Ranchero idles poorly but put non ethanol in and they start right up and idle well, I can even tell the difference in one of my Ts. Last night I found a station that sells non ethanol for almost 90 cents a gallon less than the station that I have been getting it.

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Steve Jelf
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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by Steve Jelf » Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:17 pm

I have seen that on a few machines that have sat over the winter.

Let it lay for months and that's the result.

But that's not what happened here. Part of what Dieter did when he worked on the tractor last month was completely drain the tank, dry it out, clear the line, put on a fresh carburetor, and put in fresh gas. What he didn't do was fill it up to the top. I think Gil's explanation is probably correct.
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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by 2nighthawks » Sat Apr 04, 2020 12:20 am

Steve - I was originally also a "non-believer" that had to learn "the hard way" in the Spring, year before last, with my "no start" depot hack. My theory is that while a bit of water in the bottom of the tank is bad, there will usually also be proportionately the same percentage of water in the bottom of the float bowl in the carburetor. So, for that first start in the Spring, you give 'er a bit of choke as normal for a cold start, but guess what "choking" pulled up off the bottom of the carburetor float bowl? Yup! And she just won't start on water! No problem this year, since I've been using non-ethanol gasoline ever since! Yeah,....the depot hack got quite a few replacement ignition parts that year that it never really needed,....so as a result, after a lot of frustration, I now have some "spare" ignition parts that I otherwise wouldn't have had! :lol: (....funny now, but it wasn't funny then!).....harold


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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by 2nighthawks » Sat Apr 04, 2020 12:30 am

......I could add one more "thought" that has occurred to me since;.....I think that the reason that there is "disagreement" on this subject has to do with what Gil mentioned. It seems that there has to be just the right (or wrong....) set of atmospheric, climatic, temperature, humidity, etc, conditions that cause the trouble. And because not EVERYBODY has those "just right", or, "just wrong" conditions, some guys will have trouble, and some won't! So, the belief is that some guys are full of "bull" and some aren't! Well,....it ain't "bull"! Some guys are just lucky, and some ain't!


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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by StanHowe » Sat Apr 04, 2020 1:35 am

Your tractor tank is also vented to atmosphere so air is entering and exiting that tank with every temperature cycle. I think the moisture in the air stays in the tank as when it warms up the gasoline evaporates and the ethanol stays in the tank. It doesn't take much water to keep an engine from starting and the itty bitty carburetor with the itty bitty bowl doesn't help on those little Allis Chalmers tractors.

I have two of those in my tractor collection. One is a 39 which is crank start only. It hadn't been started since last summer when I used it to mow with, last Wednesday a guy came to look at it as he is restoring one just like it, it started on the second pull of the crank on gas that had been sitting all winter. My theory is that there was gas in the carb, it is pretty well sealed from atmosphere in the float bowl and so it actually started on good gas. It ran for a couple minutes and sputtered a few times and then ran fine. Maybe some water from sitting over the winter, I dunno.

I think this is thread drift but here are my two Allis B's. As you can see, one has a battery, starter and generator and one doesn't.
2019 6 8 hp5A tractors 034.JPG
This has nothing to do with this thread, just to make all the tractor guys jealous -- this is my 1948 Earthmaster. Isn't it cute!!! I just got it last fall, haven't started it yet but it should start and run fine, I've cleaned the carb and put points and condenser in it. Just need a few hours and a warm day.
2019 11 14 tractors carbs 017.JPG

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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by Jem » Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:26 am

Our fuel in the UK is E5 but we are moving to E10. I am told there will be superunleaded 97 octane available, but I don't know if that will be ethanol free. I've had no problems with any of my cars or tractor on E5.

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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by Charlie B in N.J. » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:32 am

Honestly can't see than much water in there in a month.
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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by TWrenn » Sat Apr 04, 2020 10:14 am

Nice to hear someone now agrees with what I've said all along! Ethanol gas is S--t!
It draws water to it! It turns your gas yellow with age. That's one way of telling when it's going bad.
As for my T's, yes I lay them up with this stupid stuff. I can't afford Ethanol Free fuel, frankly.
What I have discovered thru experience, and swear by, is good ol' Sta-Bil for winter layup.
And as I did with all my boats, top the tank off COMPLETELY....right up to the cap threads.
Then put tape over the little vent hole. BTW---FWIW, I also add "extra" stabilizer, mainly cause
it makes me feel better! But I do think for 6 months worth it can't hurt to add 25% extra...it's only
a couple more ounces of the stuff. In the spring, take the tape off of course, and go. Never
any problems.


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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by R.V.Anderson » Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:26 am

A lot of places now carry ethanol-free "recreation" gasoline. Out here it runs about 90-91 octane, which is way more than a T needs, but it certainly does the trick as far as helping my '14 stay trouble free. I am running a totally original 4-ball Kingston on it, original down to the original cork float with the original coating on it. This touring season will be its third with no leaks, no gunk, no hard starts, no nuttin'. Couldn't be happier. :D :D :D


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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by Scott_Conger » Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:31 am

I confess: I used to be a non-believer

I was a non-believer until I was a believer.

It will happen to most everyone eventually

Believer or not, it is always wise to store fuel tanks full, and not give condensation any area to form upon
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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by tdump » Sat Apr 04, 2020 1:27 pm

, I had a typical little repair job come in last week,a Echo SRM-210 straight shaft trimmer. It would start but cut right off. Well the fuel lines were bad,the rubber grommet leaking,air filter missing,So I ordered a kit that had a carb,plug,fuel line kit and all for 11 bucks. Can't get a carb kit for less than about 4 bucks and still woulda needed the other parts.
So I installed it all yesterday when it came in the mail Similar problem. I tried 3 other carbs,same problem. I had just mixed some fresh 87 octane from the Murphy station the other day to use in my yard work. I had poured it in the trimmer. After pulling my hair,learning on the internet where the "secret" adjustment screw was and twidleing it, I decided to try different gas. My dad uses ethenol free gas.Started right up and coughed and ran great after a few seconds! :shock: Wow, So I don't know what happened to that fuel unless it is old inventory due to not much gas being sold right now or what. But it really soured my stomach on alchol fuel even that much more than it was already.
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Re: A change of fuel on my road to Damascus

Post by StanHowe » Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:59 pm

I have two 90's Cadillac Sedan DeVilles. They were built to run on Premium Unleaded and they DO NOT like 87 or 89 octane ethanol. It doesn't seem to bother the 90 as much as it does the 93 but both of them will spit and puke and if there was a modern screen on the dash I think it would say, "If you can't afford to feed me premium fuel you shouldn't be driving a Cadillac."

I don't know if it is the octane or just what but it is amazing the difference in the way they run.

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