EPA emissions requirements and Ethanol fuel. How much of your equipment is ruined?

Discussion in 'Alternative Fuel Forum' started by JDiepstra, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. mowingmachine

    mowingmachine LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 253

    I'm not a supporter of ethanol fuel but we have had it in our area for about 10 years now. In fact we haven't had a choice for about 10 years. I don't have any fuel related issues at all. I actually think I have less fuel related problems now than I did before. Varnished up carbs use to be the norm but not anymore. The ethanol does a very nice job of keeping the fuel system clean. I think ethanol tends to be the normal excuse for any carb/fuel related problems. Is it really ethanol fuel related though?? I have plenty of examples of dried up rubber components prior to ethanol fuel. Is it possible that these rubber components are coming from China and being made with inferior materials?? Just a thought.
  2. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    I have seen lesser grades of fuel cause problems especially in 2 strokes. In cars and trucks the biggest problems are usually with fuel injectors plugging up and deposits inside the combustion chamber. In my city virtually all of the gas costs the same so it doesn't make sense not to use a quality fuel.

    And there is definately something different about BP gas. It's clear instead of amber like every other fuel.
  3. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,290

    And if you can prove that it is higher than 10% the distributor will have to pay for any damages. They are allowed only 10% by law. Anymore and they're in trouble.

    I haven't had anything ruined by ethanol as of yet, but the other thing to think about is make sure you don't use dry gas anymore. You will be increasing the amount of alcohol in the gas and cause even more problems, even burning up cylinders.

    Many, many problems in the past couple years since our supplier switched. Filters, carb cleanings, water in fuel, plugs fouling, hard starting, etc. Stuff is crap.

    I have some Startron and I guess have not been using it regularly enough to take care of our problems. Have to get a little more regular about it. NAPA carries it in small bottles, i bought a gallon from J Thomas, would like to find the 5 gallon pail because it is expensive, but so are the problems we're having.
  4. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,510

    Can you explain this more? Dry gas? Do you mean gas without the startron?
  5. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,290

    Dry gas as in the alcohol stuff you put in to de-ice gas, mainly in the winter. HEET or whatever you want to call it.
  6. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,510

    Thanks. My mom loves that stuff....
  7. kemco

    kemco LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,165

    Ethanol is an alcohol, if you add another alcohol-based de-icer or water remover to gas that is already 10+% ethanol you might be doing more harm than good. The more alcohol of any kind added to gas the more the gas/alcohol blend will pull water from the air into the gas.
  8. Jungle J

    Jungle J LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Ethanol destroys engines and gasoline is costly, propane industry
    officials say, with some now set to ask the region's maintenance
    officials to give the cleaner combustible a trial run in the area's
    commercial mowers, trimmers and blowers.
    They intend to pose the question at a Feb. 4 meeting with municipal
    officials and lawn care businesses, as advocates of propane-powered
    lawn equipment make the case for what they contend is a greener
    The conversion to propane could cost municipalities roughly $1,500
    per commercial mower engine, or just over half the cost of replacing
    an entire engine, sales officials say. But the savings over gasoline in
    spillage, theft and reduced maintenance costs could pay for the
    propane upgrade within a year, they said.
    "Chattanooga's trying to have a go-green push, and be a city on the
    leading edge of the green industry with their buses and other facets,"
    said Chad Haun of Southern Turf. "Why not do it in parks and
    recreation, where they're out mowing eight to 10 hours per day?"
    But Steve Leach, administrator of public works for Chattanooga, was
    cautious about embracing the idea.
    "Anytime you can burn cleaner fuel it's a good thing, but if you have
    to retrofit the equipment and worry about refilling, that makes it a little
    bit more problematic," Leach said.
    Ethanol gunks lines
    John Watson, owner of Common Ground Landscape Management in
    Knoxville, participated in a three-year study through the University of
    Tennessee and said he converted all his units over to propane.
    Following his initial investment in engine conversion and a new filling
    station, he said his costs have fallen 10 percent since he began using
    cleaner-burning propane.
    "My mechanic found that we could go further between services, and
    [propane] is quite a bit cheaper in the summer," Watson said.
    Lawn care and municipal officials confirm that they're on the hunt for
    an alternative to today's gasoline-ethanol mix, currently available at
    gas stations in Chattanooga for about $2.95 per gallon, because it
    gunks up spark plugs, fuel lines and carburetors.
    Wholesale propane, on the other hand, can be purchased for closer
    to $1.45 per gallon, or about $2.80 per gallon at retail, according to
    the U.S. Department of Energy, although it isn't as widely available as
    regular unleaded and must be kept in special storage tanks.
    "This is all going to be new to us," Tommy Burnette, general
    supervisor at Chattanooga's Parks and Recreation Department, said
    Tuesday. "Anytime you can do something for the environment it could
    be a good thing, as long as its not astronomically high to switch over."
    Cheaper operations seen
    Jerry Lindsey helps outdoor equipment dealers to convert gasoline
    engines to propane on behalf of Metro Lawn, a conversion kit seller,
    and said converted units see an 80 percent drop in emissions and 40
    percent drop in operational costs.
    "Lawn guys who send their men out with tanks of gasoline, 10
    percent of that fuel ends up in somebody's vehicle, but that won't
    work with propane," he said. "Plus, that ethanol shellacks the
    carburetors. It's a maintenance headache."
    "The ethanol [mixed with in gasoline] is a big problem we're having
    right now," agreed Burnette.
    Barrett Fischer, owner of Chattanooga-based Fischer Irrigation &
    Lighting, said he's also having a problem with the current 10 percent
    ethanol/gasoline mixture.
    He's considering the switch to propane in part because the ethanol,
    especially in small engines, is "clogging up injectors and carburetors,"
    which necessitates replacement every two months, up from once a
    year with regular gasoline, or even less often with propane.
    Feds boost level to 15%
    To further complicate matters, the Environmental Protection Agency
    last week expanded on a previous decision to allow the sale of
    gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol, though the EPA admitted
    that the new blend will not be suitable for small engines or vehicles
    built before 2001.
    "As soon as they start putting in the mandated 15 percent ethanol, I'll
    be looking to buy a gizmo to put propane in our small equipment,"
    said Paul Page, director of general services for the city. "I've seen
    what 10 percent will do to engines."
    Page said that while he's open to the idea of switching his fleet to
    propane, the cost savings had better be substantial. It wouldn't be the
    first time propane has been tried.
    "It was very unsuccessful," he said. "At the time, the valves on the
    vehicles were not sodium and you'd burn the valves and the clutch
    Fischer anticipates long-term fuel cost and maintenance savings by
    switching, but he is worried about putting too many eggs in an
    untested basket.
    While gasoline can be bought almost anywhere, propane supplies are
    less plentiful.
    "If my guys are out mowing somewhere and they run out of propane,
    where are they going to fuel up?" he asked.
    There are currently about 50 lawn care businesses using roughly
    2,000 propane mowers nationally, mainly concentrated in Texas and
    Florida, according to Metro Lawn. Metro Lawn can take care of these issues by providing gas your way, how you need it, when you need it.
  9. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,296

    Plain facts folks, we aren't going back to straight oil based gas equipment. Alternative fuels are only going to evolve and be improved over time. Small equip/engine mfg need to get on board or risk being left in the dust on this. Which mfg's want to get innovative? Those are the ones that will survive, not the ones tipping up their nose doing the same old things they did 30 years ago. Just ask GM how that worked out for them.

    I give Kohler credit for development of the EFI Flex Fuel small engine. Who's next?
  10. rob7233

    rob7233 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 876

    Go to Pure-gas.org to find stations near you. Also feel free to add any stations that offer pure gasoline that are not listed.

    The products I recommend are Marine Grade Stabil (not the pink stuff!) and StarTron. I am in the Metro Orlando area of Florida and our Ethanol issues are especially bad.

    Personally, I use "old school" Shindaiwa hand helds and use only pure gas since new rubber parts, gaskets etc are getting hard to find.
    Using Non- Ethanol fuel is the only way to completely alleviate all the alcohol fuel related problems since additives will only correct some of them.

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