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Old 10-26-2008, 03:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: France
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Ethanol problems ?

Hi folks,

A member named intrigued asked me about the problems with E85 conversions here in Europe with Euro cars. He says that US cars have a lot of problems with this.

So here is my personal experience - not theory but real experience.

I modded two cars for E85 : 1987 BMW 316 and 1984 Mercedes 280S (s-class).

The BMW has a computer controlled carb that generally did not get in the way, more on that later. I gave the car a faster advance curve with one light centrifugal advance spring in the distributor. Static timing is unchanged from factory. I then changed the main fuel jet in the 2BE carb and very lightly cleand out the air bleed. I ran the car like that for over 10 000 km. Positive effects : More power ! I figure going from 90 to 95 DIN hp.

Adverse effects ? NONE that I can see. Problems : erratic idle due to the stupid computer control. I solved this by setting the carb throttle "out of spec" and the idle went from loping to a slightly erratic idle that Icould live with.
I feared that the fuel pump diaphragm would give out - it didn't. there is no carb component that was affected at all. BTW carbs are NOT "aluminum" - they are "COATED aluminum", that may explain a lot of problems with modders that removed these factory coatings.

I then bought what is a luxo barge by Euro standards : a big S class Mercedes with a configuration that never made it to America : 6 cyl with carb, no cat, no air pump, no emissions stuff, a manual gearbox, no A/C, manual window cranks and no sunroof. People outside america will recognize this as the most reliable form of an S class - nothing really ever goes wrong

I changed the ignition as per the BMW and set the carb on the rich side. This allowed me to run 33% E85. I've done this for six months. Positive effects : cheaper, cleaner drives ! Adverse effects ? NONE that I can see.

I am now about to change the primary jets and modify the meterings rods in the secondaries (the carb is a 4 bbl Solex 4A1). BTW, this carb is not a nightmare if treated properly "by the book" or "like an old german would"...

In neither car did I need to do more than replace the flexible fuel hoses with universal (gas-diesel compatible) and change the fuel filters after 1500 km.

It may be that these two german makes are Q cars and that the parts quality is high thereby explaining why I had NO problems. I really checked the inside of the fuel tanks on both cars after removing the back seats (using flashlight) and saw no deterioration.

BTW, the E85 I buy where I live (northern France) has a ph of 6.2 - only a bit acid...I tested this, I also tested carb components including gaskets and rubber O-rings in a jar full of the E85 for two months - not a sign of a problem.

I suggest that cheap components may not take E85 well and that using better parts solves the problem. I think the "old" parst will give out with E85 because they are old to start with Also, I strongly believe that carbed cars MUST be used. Had I chosen a 280SE Mercedes with its K-jet fuel injection, I am certain that the fuel distributor would have caused problems !

So draw your own conclusions.

Lion sur Mer

The sea is a bit wild this morning, clouds moving fast and rain's winter showing up on "La Manche" (English Channel to most of you)

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