Saturday, August 31, 2013

Technical Difficulties

Last week I went to start my boat.
I started it in the Spring (was that so long ago?) and it started right up.
Then the rains came.
And when it was sunny I was at work.
When it was rainy, I was at home.
And there was some nice weather where I had other obligations.
Distractions like working on vehicles, church, wedding receptions, graduations, visits with good friends, all the stuff that will get in the way of going out on the boat.

So the boat sat a lot. Clean, shiny, waiting for me.
Sort of like my dog.
And then it came.
The day to boat..
After charging the batteries, I cranked her over.
And over.
And over.

So the gas had probably gummed up a jet in the carburetors I figured.
This happened when I had the boat painted some years back.
A two week paint job had lasted two months and the boat had sat in a hot paint booth for that time.
We took some friends out on the maiden voyage and didn't realize that as we were tooling slowly around, one of the carbs was not delivering the fuel oil (oil being the important word here) to the two cylinders it was supposed to be feeding.
That cylinder seized up right after I attempted to go full throttle.

I did not want to have that happen again.

I did not have the time to rebuild and re-synch the carbs.
I didn't have time to tow it to a shop, and so:

Last Saturday, I drove Scherie to breakfast, then to Meijer's so she could shop.
As she was shopping, or more accurately, while I was waiting for her, I drove over to the boat shop.
As I was was looking at the various fluids on the shelf, the owner asked what I was looking for.
I said "something with 'miracle' or 'magic' on the label".
He asked  what was going on and I told him.
I was hoping to find some way of cleaning the jets with no disassembly.
He said I didn't need to.
I needed to get the bad gas out of my carbs and good gas in.
My engine has carb bowl drains (which I couldn't find, given the cramped quarters).
Drain them and put new gas in.
Run only premium with synthetic oil mix.
I'll explain why later.
I bought some additives, synth oil and went to get Scherie and go home.
When I got home, I got a fresh marine gas tank, took it to the station, filled with premium, added synthetic oil and some fuel additives that were recommended.
I have three carbs stacked vertically and the pump feeds the top first working down to the lowest.
I pulled the fuel line off the lowest carb and put it in a glass cup.
I attached the new tank of gas and squeezed the primer bulb until I filled the cup.
I was amazed.
See the difference in color between the fluid on the bottom half and the top?
The bottom is the old gas. It shocked me when I saw it come out that color.
Then the new came out and floated on the old.
And they won't mix!

I took another sample from the old tank and although it was flammable it looked like it had water in it.
When I've found water in a gas tank, say in a lawn mower, it always stays on the bottom but it wouldn't mix with the gas.

Here's what I think happened.
The unleaded regular I buy is not E-85 but it does have a lot of ethanol in it.
Ethanol is like alcohol. It mixes with water.
It also mixes with gas.
The tank sat all summer (humid summer) with it's vent open, sponging up the moisture.
I've never had a problem with last years gas in the spring because winters here are low humidity.
Premium has less ethanol.

If Pascal Fervor is reading this maybe he'll chime in.

So I still couldn't start the motor because I couldn't get the old gas in the bowls out.
You can't use starting fluid in a two cycle because the cylinders won't get oil to lubricate them.

So I took a spray bottle I had, filled it with new fuel mix and squirted it in each carb, flooding them.
Then I puffed some starting fluid (ether) at them and spun over.
One cylinder catch or two.
Brief run.
Engines starts and runs rough.
Then it starts and runs like new.

Thank you Jesus!
And the I-94 Marina.

So this is ethanol.
Grow corn, use fuel to do it.
Subsidize it with our tax dollars.
And screw up our vehicles.


  1. No rocket science needed.

    Observe that doctors once took an oath that states "first: do no harm." The postmodern philosophers convinced the Med schools not to do that anymore. Few people (other than yours truly) noticed let alone squawked.

    Thus it was inevitable that other less directly lethal forms of "do no harm" would be eradicated.

    A whole lot more than our vehicles are screwed up. Postmodernism: the philosophy of death.

    1. Hmmm. Perhaps we can adapt Ed's methods. Devise a multistage means to flush all our institutions of the bad gasbags.

    2. Pasc:
      I appreciate your philosophical approach to the query.
      I actually deleted a phrase I had in there about needing the FDA (Ethanol: food or drug?) to protect our vehicles healthy intake, but we don't need another regulatory agency. But maybe we do here.
      More to the point, Pasc:
      Am I remembering faulty that you know chemistry?
      Would it work like I thought it did?

    3. Spotter: We'd have to apply the ether first :)

  2. Makes you wonder what all that ethanol is doing to the engines in our cars...

    1. I don't wonder anymore.
      But the problem in this case was long disuse allowing absorption of moisture.
      I've been encouraged to use the old boat gas in my car in small amounts to dispose of it (I've 12 gallons in the garage).
      But high amount of ethanol will destroy some critical elements in older (perhaps newer) vehicles fuel systems.
      It's known to dissolve pickup tubes in chain saws for instance.
      Premium has lower percentages of ethanol.

  3. Yes, I've got a lot of chemistry in my academic background, but woefully bare of it professionally. However, there are some things you never forget.

    Yes, ethanol is the key to creating an immiscible pair. Oil and water do not mix remains the problem. Ethanol, though polar, by itself will mix fairly well with non-polar gasoline (oil). But it's great affinity for water will cause it to attach to any moisture. As the molecules of EtOH come near the surface of the fuel, it will attach to H2O vapor and create an EtOH/water mixture. Eventually the water content will be so great that the EtOH will separate and give you the immiscible region. Of course that ethanol/water mixture is too nonflammable, hence the problem.

    That's something the powers that be must be fully aware of, hence my inclination to my giving you my first answer first. Ethanol works like Leftists who force their ways into all our institutions claiming discrimination and red-scare tactics wherever they met resistance. As they themselves then insisted on letting in more useless flacks (useless water), for reasons well-known to the destroyers of Western civ ("Hey hey/ ho, ho/ western civ has got to go") all our institutions work about as well to do their reasons for existing as your engines.

    1. That's an ethanol-water solution, not mixture. Sorry.

      As ever more water is drawn into solution, the ethanol switches from being the solvent to being the solute.

  4. The solution is to beat politicians to the point they pay attention, end the subsidies of ethanol and allow the free market to solve the problem.

    As far as the environmentalists: they can go suck, of course.

  5. I guess there's just no such thing as too many government ideas, huh? Excellent post!

  6. Excellent is right!! Great post!
    I love your line..."something with 'miracle' on it"! :-)

  7. good luck with the boat..cute doggie!!!:-)

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  9. Yep, you got bit by the Ethanol mixture... NEVER let any Ethanol mix set for a long period. Better to dump it.

  10. Yep, you got bit by the Ethanol mixture... NEVER let any Ethanol mix set for a long period. Better to dump it.

  11. You are missing the obvious. The boat needs attention and more work than a few trips a year are worth. But your fur child waits patiently to give more than she takes! There's LOVE in those eyes and zero work required.

    1. Not zero work.
      Lots of belly rubbing, tussling, picking up the logs she drags off the firewood pile before I can mow.
      Clean up the mud and hair she leaves in her bedroom (the utility room).
      But the LOVE! There are days when she can't be bought off with a biscuit when I'm to beat to play with her.
      She must be paid attention to!