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Old 10-26-2008, 03:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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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.

Denis
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France

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

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Old 10-26-2008, 04:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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One might wonder what "intrigueds" experience is with E85?

Because I have used it for years. Like you, I have had good results.

He may not be aware that, yes, pre- 1988 vehicles may have fuel system components that were not ethanol resistant. Post '88... let 'er rip!
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Old 10-26-2008, 05:10 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Yes Frank Lee, and I probably get by because the E30 BMW and W126 are known as the last really well built models of their breed. These cars are built with proper materials - no corners cut but by 1995 both these makes had serious quality problems on some models...

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Old 10-26-2008, 02:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Lee View Post
One might wonder what "intrigueds" experience is with E85?

Because I have used it for years. Like you, I have had good results.

He may not be aware that, yes, pre- 1988 vehicles may have fuel system components that were not ethanol resistant. Post '88... let 'er rip!
When I worked for the GM dealership (about 1986 to 1994...) our "driveability" techs had all been told at the GM schools we went to (Kansas City or St. Louis) that it was a no-no to use any kind or amount of ethanol. As I remember it was an o-ring issue. There may have not been too many of the techs that went to school after 1988, but isn't that a generalization? I am going to have to pay more attention, but I read somewhere - don't have any idea - that just within the last few years could all cars handle the 15% stuff, but that the E85 had to still have special considerations fuel-system-wise...sooo, can you tell me where you got that '88 number, Frank?
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Old 10-26-2008, 04:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intrigued View Post
When I worked for the GM dealership (about 1986 to 1994...) our "driveability" techs had all been told at the GM schools we went to (Kansas City or St. Louis) that it was a no-no to use any kind or amount of ethanol. As I remember it was an o-ring issue. There may have not been too many of the techs that went to school after 1988, but isn't that a generalization? I am going to have to pay more attention, but I read somewhere - don't have any idea - that just within the last few years could all cars handle the 15% stuff, but that the E85 had to still have special considerations fuel-system-wise...sooo, can you tell me where you got that '88 number, Frank?
Here's a link from wiki. I've found it to be pretty accurate in my case with 3 different cars.

I'm with Frank. I been running E85 for years in blends for E10 to E85. I have seen an increase with FE at a E20 blend.
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Old 10-27-2008, 05:12 AM   #6 (permalink)
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WIKI fun

Hi,

I love this excerpt from the WIKIPEDIA article on E85 :

....through the elimination of exposed magnesium and aluminum metals and natural rubber and cork gasketed parts...

Geesh, give me a break ! I'm 56 and have been "into" engines for 42 years. I have not seen magnesium used in normal production cars, aluminum is usually coated as I previously posted, and natural rubber and cork gasketed parts have not been used, I believe, since sidemount spare tires were in vogue.

Unfortunately, the worst problem is not physical but engine management-related. this is why I stick to carb cars !

Ideally, a Weber or Dell'orto would be great for E85

Denis
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Old 10-27-2008, 09:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Oh, man, I'm beginning to feel I've been mislead. Corporate America is soooo scared of lawsuit-crazy customers that they take the absolute "safest" stance. Huh. Where have I seen that before...

Curses! Brainwashed again!!! Now, if I can just figure out a way to convince the car inspectors that I have not physically modified my car from its absolute safest configuration...
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I own a beat up 90 Accord LX 2.2L SOHC neglected engine with 232k miles on it. I started using E85 up in mid NY state this summer where E85 was nearly 30-40% cheaper than gas.

I've been using E85 for a while and two weekends ago I was working on the engine and after starting up the engine I had 2 injectors spitting out large streams of gas out of the cushion rings. Freaked me out big time... I was expecting some ill effects from the E85 but this was very sudden and abrupt. After taking off the fuel rail I found all of the O-rings to be VERY shrunken. Now this could of been a design issue or a pre-existing issue. The car was purchased in Ohio where the car was seriously neglected and I have been in the process of nursing it back to health.


I didnt change a thing on it btw... other than all new rings around the injectors. I figure if I screw up any fuel parts I have several junk yards to get replacement parts. I will try to advance the timing a few degrees... but I am going to use E10 to figure out the max timing I can use with regular gas with out knocking.

I would like to know what types of "rubber" are resistant to ethanol.

I also have found that anything over a 50/50% of gas and ethanol is perfect blend for MPG and price.
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denis View Post
People outside america will recognize this as the most reliable form of an S class ...
S-class owners here in the States will also recognize it as being very reliable--because the systems you list are the "non-power" equivalents of the things that always break on our S-class MBZs!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Denis View Post
Geesh, give me a break ! I'm 56 and have been "into" engines for 42 years. I have not seen magnesium used in normal production cars, aluminum is usually coated as I previously posted, and natural rubber and cork gasketed parts have not been used, I believe, since sidemount spare tires were in vogue.
I guess Porsches (and older VWs) are not "normal production cars" then? They used magnesium for a long time--crankcases for the early- and mid-70s 911s and all of the Bugs, intakes for later Porsches, valve covers, and so on. A number of more recent high-performance cars have used magnesium for "ancillary" parts (e.g., not inside the engine block) like intakes and covers and such in the interests of reduced weight.

Cork and cork+rubber gaskets were common on the VWs, at least, for many many years--yes, after side-mount spare tires went out of fashion.



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Old 10-27-2008, 05:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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more cork and rubber

AD5OS, with that many miles on the car I would bet that at some time one of the injectors developed a leak, and some "expert" put cheapie import o-rings on them from the discount store...

Hey, some other Dave, I'm thinking that Denis was veering off from sealing bits in the fuel system not being rubber for a long time. I was just ignoring that part, in concentrating on the ethanol fuel issue.

Here in the States we can still buy a cork-based gasket for an older small-block Chevy valve cover.

As for magnesium, your right there, too. There are several magnesium parts I can lay my hand on within 2 minutes, including old aftermarket small-block Chevy valve covers, that are a lot newer than side-spare cars... Our beloved Wiki follows that up with "The application of magnesium AE44 alloy in the 2006 Corvette Z06 engine cradle..." (That's from Magnesium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ) and that's a lot newer than cars that even had full-sized spares in the trunk!

Recap: 1) Yeah, I'm betting E85 can be used in pretty well the whole lot. The major carmakers over here most likely have their hands in Big Oil's wallets.
2) Maybe with the leaking issues of cork, France banned them long ago. Who knows? Maybe Denis!
3) Magnesium is still in use here because it's cheap and light. Maybe there aren't any magnesium mines in France...

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