The Ethanol VW rolled up 250,000 original miles on Monday 12-14-09. It is officially retired now from daily commuter service. There are a couple of small experiments left to do before the license tags run out, and I re-mothball it.
For the last 3 years and 30,000 miles, this vehicle has run stronger, cleaner, and smoother on E-85 ethanol fuel than at anytime in all its life. And this is a 1973 build of a 1933 technology. Most of its engine and driveline components were near or beyond expected life when I began the experiment.
During the experiment, I did add Lucas Oil Stabilizer to its crankcase oil to stave off deteriorating compression due to the extreme age of the rings. It worked, and stopped all fuel smells in the oil, too. Between that and the far-cleaner burning ethanol, compression has remained stable, the valve lash settings have been stable, and the oil requires thousands, not dozens, of miles before it darkens. Oil lasts at least twice as long as it used to.
Even decades of soot deposits have disappeared from its little tailpipes! Plus, traceable data show a factor 1.2 increase in overall energy conversion efficiency, partially offsetting the energy shortfall per gallon in the fuel. It gets 80-83% of its former gasoline mileage, not 70%.
That's also a factor 1.2 decrease in the air used to make the same road load power. Less air polluted is less total emissions laid down in each mile traveled. And the EPA worries whether ethanol increases emissions in cars not originally meant to use it! Bah! What idiots!
If there were a solvent attack or corrosion problem with ethanol fuel in this car, I would have found it by now. I have not seen one problem, not anywhere. Fuel tank, gage sender, lines, fuel pump, filter, and all the parts of the carburetor are just fine. In fact, they are cleaner than I have ever seen before.
I still hear other "authorities" warning of the dangers of ethanol. What rubbish! I can recommend it for any 4-stroke engine suitably modified to use it, or in any unmodified 4-stroke engine up to 35% ethanol in the blend. (That's from the "Ethanol F-150" experiment, still ongoing, after 2 years, with blends from E-17 to E-47 strength).
All my 4-stroke lawn and garden equipment has run flawlessly, completely unmodified, on E-34 blend for more than 2 years. That's 2 gallons E-85 and 3 gallons ethanol-free unleaded regular in a 5 gallon can. What could be simpler?
I think I will try a "flex fuel" carburetor in the VW before I re-mothball it: an adjusting screw on the main jet, just like the "Ethanol Farmall" (3 years on E-85 so far). Somewhere about E-45 is where the unmodified ethanol-blend F-150 exhibited late timing symptoms. I have to wonder whether timing advance is blend-dependent or acts like an on-off switch. Maybe the VW can help me find out.