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cessna

10% ethanol in old boat

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My sister just moved back to Virginia where we were raised along the Chesapeake Bay. They have an older Boston Whaler that must have a fiberglass gas tank and she said my brother-in-law is in the process of draining 40 gallons of gas mixed with oil out. I guess they have been using it for a couple of months and suddenly it started smoking and running bad. She says everybody back there says ethanol is wrecking their fiberglass tanks and sending particles of fiberglass to the filter causing plugging. Do you guys think that 10% ethanol is really the culprit--any ideas?

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I was hoping 10% wasn't a strong enough blend to do damage. I have been mixing Lawnboy 2 stroke oil with 10% for over 10 years and the mower still works fine but I have no experience with fiberglass boat tanks.

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Cessna- there were multiple types of resins used in fiberglass-- unfortunately sometimes the ones selected for boats are reported to leach. Modern fiberglass tanks used in the fuel industry use a better resin and are more durable than even steel -- even with E85 in them. Tell them to look for phase separation and put some in a glass jar looking for clarity, sludge, particles. Have them carefully cut open the filter and pull out the filtration media for a look.

 

Remember too that older engines had more electronic issues than fuel.

 

 

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Just for some clarity:

 

I have not noticed any problems with E10 / 2-stroke mix on it's own.  Been using it for weed eaters, chain saws, leaf blowers, jet skis, etc.  Of course, all have polyethylene tanks which are completely fine with all EXX blends.

 

As I understand it, even E10 is enough to cause problems with some fiberglass tanks.  It can be very hit/miss, though...depending on what resin was used when the tank was made, how well/what proportions it was mixed, how well the tank was laminated, etc.

 

You may or may not see some indication of tank failure in the fuel filter - such as bits of glass fibers, chunks of resin, etc.  However, the actual damaging component - the fiberglass resin - is completely dissolved in the fuel and will pass right through the filter - regardless of filter micron rating and/or type (in line, water separator, etc)

 

Along the same lines of this topic - I wonder if we would be wise to 'sticky' a topic in the boat section dealing with the ethanol / fiberglass tank issues?  As this does seem to be one issue which is real - not hearsay from someone's cousins uncle who once burned moonshine in a boat.

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Just got off the phone with my sister. She said some stations out there are doing what we actually think should be done but they're not telling----selling 30% blends. Anyway, my sister is giving the 40 gallons to a neighbor that has two Army trucks that can burn anything and hoping a fresh refill will solve their problem. I did tell her to read the info from you guys before she gives the fuel away. My brother-in-law is a pretty good mechanic so here's hoping he figures it out.

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Cessna- have him determine the ethanol content- if he finds it was exceeded the gas station should at least pay for proper gasoline if not all his troubles and damage. The test for determining ethanol content in lower bends is as follows:

 

*Place 100 ml of fuel to be tested in a 100ml graduated cylinder (there is extra room above the 100ml line for next item)

*Add 10 ml measured in a pipette of clean water (make sure it is near same temp as gasoline)--do not just trying to pour unmeasured water into grad cyl-- this will not work for several reasons.

*Stopper the cylinder and shake agressively- even upside down--Warning- expansion will cause spray so keep away from face!

*Let sit 10 min

*Look near bottom of cylinder for bottom of the line between gasoline above and water/ethanol phase below;

  If line is at 17 ml it is 10% ethanol

  If line is at 24 ml it is 20% ethanol

If he does not have a real accurate measuring device like a grad cyl and 10 ml pipette -- retain a large sample for the state inspector as you would anyway.

 

If out of spec-- retain a large sample- 1 gal -- for State fuel inspector, station owner, and insurance co. Call the state right away on monday (usually dept of ag). They are well aware of this 30% alcohol issue down there - I have been reading about this for weeks -- they have still not determined how it happened. Take lots of digital pictures of fuel in glass, pumping out the fuel, write down what you find, keep receipt of fuel purchased, etc. Make copies for parties involved. If you have all of most of this, fuel is out of spec, and you dont not ask for the moon-- you should have a good shot at recovery provided the responsible party is solvent and an insurance company does not get in the middle and play hardball.

 

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