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Strange fuel

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SW Michigan, Grand Rapids area in the news with a BP station selling bad gas. Noticed the story Saturday on local station. A SUV got $1,400 for repair. State is testing fuel to determine problem. Today, the news reports suspect phase separation problem. No mention of ethanol.

 

Read the provided FaceBook link to get an idea of local buzz on the fuel. This area supplied by a single fuel depot in Illinois I believe.  The station appears to be modern BP self serve with good product turn. Lot's of posts bashing BP as a bad company.

 

Kalamazoo just had Embridge pipeline blow out that was close to Kalamazoo river. Minimal oil pollution, but the story hype good for a year. Clean up continues with some sponges and cotton swabs. Nothing a few hundred million can't cure. Lol, we just got rid of our dizzy Governor who attempted to overrule experts upon damage as her helicopter ride she discovered a shine upon water and informed public of the horror. No problem, most learned to not take her seriously.

 

I will keep up with the news story of bad fuel. Knock on wood, no ethanol damage yet. Would like to know, how this happens? Seems like water in fuel (if that's the problem) would be an easy fix? Meaning diesel is hygroscopic with it's natural affinity of water. Long ago fueling stations and supply learned how to handle diesel fuel. It would be nice to read a real world test of actual atmospheric conditions and water accumulation and separation. Maybe with a 100% gasoline comparative. Best with real commercial tanks and operations to understand the problem. Also, how E15 would either improve or aggravate the problem?

 

Makes common sense to me, to keep the fuels separate at gas station and allow customers to select mix concentration. To introduce fresh ethanol upon gasoline for maximum shelf life. Maybe as the blender pumps popularity increase the depots will stop the practice. Easy to test and probably more accurate to accomplish this at the gas station. Better for fuel supply to keep these two competitors separate anyway. It's a huge task to supply chain the fuel across country, but again maybe that's, also, a bad practice. One that Robert R. was attacking ethanol upon. You know to develop local markets surrounding ethanol processing plant to burn max ethanol. This maximum market penetration may be smarter. First technology and problems solved upon local low cost transportation supply. Customers learn benefits of fuel and automotive may treat these zones more like Brazil with ethanol optimized vehicles. Also, farm equipment may offer ethanol spark plug diesel engines for local market. In other words maximum ethanol in local area would be an excellent test market to develop this alternative fuel supply. Once problems and benefits maximized, the fuel is prime time candidate and sought after for expansion.     

 

http://www.facebook.com/woodtv/posts/201054103242359

 

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It is ironic that it happened to a BP station. Most don't understand gasoline all supplied by same distributor. We have some warm weather currently. A quick temperature change that may have exasperated the problem? Gas prices were at season all time high, but now the trend and consumption reversed. Seems to be a perfect storm for phase separation? Wonder just how susceptible E10 is to this phenomenon? Meaning a rare and careless event or are were on the cusp of problem when conditions change from ideal such as a weather change? Would E15 change increase or decrease the problem? Would simple auto technology overt any possible contamination? Would small 2 cycle engines really take a hit? Guess it's better to understand the full spectrum of problem before offering solutions. Right.

 

This problem so far is not politicized. Interesting to watch the chain of events when or if ethanol found to be part of the problem. How will news and FaceBook change reporting?

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This story a bit stinky- all based on assumptions- not good news reporting per usual

 

 

First, the SUV so far the only soletary verifiable event. A problem only verified per mechanic testimony of water in gas. The gas station owner quickly payed customer $1,400 repair bill. Big mistake.

 

I did catch a snipet where the gas station, currently, is selling fuel per State o.k.

 

The article below mentions  "the state gets a few hundred complaints about gasoline contamination a year, there's never been a case of intentional contamination proven" (notice the legal term "proven")

 

The mechanic replaces the fuel pump, then checks gas quality? "We decided to take a fuel sample and compare it to good fuel, and we could see the obvious cloudiness in the fuel" Customer was oversuspicious after spotting gas station with work crew.

 

Car wouldn't start....thats the problem. No idle problem, stallling, hesitation, etc. Just a one time event and no indicators up to no start condition.

 

Another news post had a minor mention, this station's fuel tank tested for water contamination and found above the regulation limit, but ruled out this as the contamination source. 

 

Note: just about every time, lately with bad economy, I go to commercial automotive repair joint they try to pull one off. Also, I hear way to much from those whom I trust and believe mechanics. Customers are usually way to foregiving, although customers can be jerks too. I routinely catch mechanics or sales people trying to mislead. When a mechanic makes a repair that is easily determined to be unnecessary or if they unintentional damage a car....that's when they are the most dangerous. They know how to cover tracks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contaminated gas damages SUV

Station ordered to stop selling regular for now

 

Updated: Friday, 11 Feb 2011,

 

By Anne Schieber

 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - State regulators ordered a BP station on the northwest side of Grand Rapids to stop selling regular unleaded gasoline until the source of contamination - which caused $1,400 damage to one customer's car - can be determined.

 

A customer became suspicious of the gas when he noticed work crews at the station at Covell and Lake Michigan Drive one day after he filled up.

 

His car wouldn't start and he had it towed for repair. When a new fuel pump didn't fix the SUV, the owner suspected the gasoline.

 

"We decided to take a fuel sample and compare it to good fuel, and we could see the obvious cloudiness in the fuel," said Grand Buick mechanic Allen Campbell. "The assumption is water, because when it mixes with alcohol, which most gasoline has, it emulsifies with the fuel."

 

Crews worked to clean out the tanks at the BP station. Though state regulators found water in the tanks exceeded acceptable limits, they ruled out water as the source of the contamination. They expect to know late next week what the contamination is.

 

Though the state gets a few hundred complaints about gasoline contamination a year, there's never been a case of intentional contamination proven. Investigators will be looking at contamination possibly coming from the ground or the tanker that delivered the gas or the refinery from where it came.

 

But contaminated gas can ruin your car within miles.

 

"There's a possibility of corrosion issues but with the engine running so poorly, it tends to damage the oxygen sensors because of all the carbon that will build up on them," Campbell said.

 

The station owner, Woltco of Coopersville, agreed to cover the $1,400 damage claim to the 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer, the customer told 24 Hour News 8. However, officials with the comp

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Do you remember when gas pumps used to have a clear "sight glass" on the side, so you could see how pure the gasoline was that you were putting into your tank?

 

No... but I did see one at a Museum one time! ;) ;D  Actually I didn't know why they did it that way... We had a farmer who lived next to the farm I grew up on that had one of these old "tower pumps" with the tall glass cylinder at the top, long pump handle... you would pump the amount of gas you wanted, then gravity drain it into the vehicle, assuming it was lower then the cylinder... so it didn't work on larger vehicles like a self propelled windrower...  he later nixed the hand pump, and put on an electrical motor ;)

 

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Actually, the glass was not for seeing how pure the gasoline was.

 

More like, as it says on the glass, to make sure you pumped without bubbles (air pockets). That's why the glass was supposed to be full all the time.

 

Greetings!

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Uhh- I remember site glass pumps with the old "contains tetra ethyl lead"  :-[  Never filled up at one like the later post with the hand pump/upper measuring glass though :P

 

As far as one car having a fuel problem at a station- this should not be news- there can be a hundred reasons why one vehicle can have a problem.

People do things they will never admit to and stuff happens they would never believe. I had an incident once that looked nearly identical to the one in the article- I asked the State Inspector to get involved immediately. Person filled, it ran fine home, and would not run next morning- towed to shop, mechanic found water. We met at the station and tested tank bottoms and the pump filters for any trace- all was absolutely perfect. HMM- inspector goes to shop, mechanic admits he tossed the sample into the waste tank, and shares that there was something odd- the fuel filler neck had grass and straw in it. Inspector goes to customer's house, sees little kids in the yard, sees the water hose laying on the ground next to the car's parking spot, and we assume the kids played "mommy at the station filling with gas".

 

Several things can happen in one of these 1 car events- here is another possiblity- driver fills with E0 previously, once while a transport is unloading. He how "tops off" with E10 a few days later and water which was in the E0 overwelms the say 10 gal of top off E10's alcohol's ability to absorb the water (4 teaspoon/gal of E10 for a total of 40 teaspoons). the water was in the tank but stayed below the pickup until the volume was added to by the phase sep.

 

There are many possiblilities if more cars were involved- these would trace back to the terminal, pipeline, or delivery system.

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Maybe that’s why the BP station owner was quick to fork out $1,400 repair bill. Could have been much worse if the mechanic decided to fix the problem by sliding in a new engine in just to make sure the car runs like it used to. That’s the slippery route common when consumers realize they have no money at risk. Suddenly they develop champagne needs and wants when utilizing other people’s money such as insurance, lawsuit, or government services/benefits.

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