Hand That Boat a Drink!Pure Grain Alcohol In Your Tank!
This summer may see the introduction of Ethanol based fuels here in Maine.
200 Proof Ethyl Alcohol, AKA=Ethanol, is being used in many states right now as a chemical addition to gasoline that helps to lower emissions. It works well and is proving to be a more stable source then M.T.B.E., the chemical currently in use.
You may recall hearing derogatory reports on M.T.B.E., where it does have very good attributes in emission control, it also has the potential to show up in unhealthy percentages in our lakes and drinking waters.
Ethanol is a suitable replacement. When used in levels up to 10 percent it can provide beneficial clean burning combustion characteristics. The uses of Ethanol fuels are good for our environment and a better alternative for our health. Your engine will run fine on this new fuel and it’s use will have no bearing on warranty coverage. It will however cause us to change our service practices slightly and require us to take a couple of precautions.
Ethanol blended fuels are good but not exactly perfect.
First an explanation, then our suggestions.
Ethanol and M.T.B.E. do not get along so well. Under certain circumstances when the two blends are mixed and allowed to set for a period of time, bad things can happen.
We are going to experience this changeover period and we need to prepare for it.
Ethanol mixes well with water, if there is any water present during the changeover, it will be absorbed by the Ethanol. This Ethanol and water combo will separate from the gasoline and drop to the bottom of the tank, right where your fuel pickup lives. Any M.T.B.E. present will set up as a gel creating a center layer, leaving the pure gasoline to migrate to the top.
This layering creates a very harmful situation for your engine. Phase Separation is the technical term and there are no additives that will prevent or dissolve these layers once they form. Mind you this is an extreme, “if the stars line up just right” scenario. And tends only to occur during the changeover period.
Am I expecting full-scale failures here?Absolutely not, I am however concerned enough to inform you of this issue and we will work to ward off any potential ill effects.
During this changeover period we will be staying on top of this issue.
Here is what we propose as a precaution.
The picture above shows a Racor 10 Micron Aqua Block Filter with a viewing bowl and drain. Each and every new boat we assemble this season will have one of these mounted in a serviceable area. I would suggest that if there is not one of similar purpose mounted on your boat now, that you have one of these filter assemblies installed before a changeover takes place.
With this filter assembly in place we will be able to view firsthand the quality of fuel entering your engine.
If there is no visible trace of water then move onto managing the changeover “at the pump” explained below.
If there are signs of water presence, working all existing moisture out of the system is a must. At the extreme, a drain, flush and dry out of your fuel tank should be preformed before mixing the two solutions.
At the pump; before mixing the two blends it is my suggestion that you run your tank as low as you dare. Fill with fresh ethanol blend, then go use your boat, have fun, do what you purchased it for! Commence to run your tank as low as you feel comfortable once again, in as short a time as you can, preferably the same day or weekend. Make a pointed effort to not leave the multi-blend in your tank for a couple of weeks or a month.
Doing this a second, third, forth time in a short period is sure to
1-Flush to the new blend effectively.
2-Add to the pure enjoyment of your summer!
This is not a boat only issue. Automobiles that do not get driven very often can experience the same issues described here.
After speaking with a couple of our local fuel suppliers, none are for sure of when ethanol blended fuels will make their appearance at your favorite Maine pump. What is for certain is that ethanol blended fuels will arrive and quite possibly this summer.
As I stated before, we will be staying in tune to this issue. The information on which I compiled my suggestions has been derived from manufacturer service bulletins and respected boating journals.
Ethanol Blended Fuels, As you are nursing a cool one onboard this summer, your engine will be too!