Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another Red-Letter Day

The two VW beetles have served their purposes for me, and are going back into mothballs. I have completed the preservation activities for both engines and both fuel systems. There really is nothing to preserve about the brakes: both have seen recent service, and both are already DOT-5 silicone converted systems.

The blue 1973 “ethanol VW” served very well for 5 years as an E-85-only demonstrator, and last year in flex-fuel configuration for experimental confirmation of my earlier conclusions from the F-150 about the limits of “stiff” gasohol blends in unmodified vehicles. It is still working quite well, but has a very “high-time” engine and a very “high-time” transmission. It is time to put it back to rest, before I break something. I remain convinced that the ethanol extended its useful life considerably: it should have burned a valve or lost compression entirely, long before now. It has a little over 250,000 original miles on chassis and transmission, and well over 100,000 miles on the last engine rebuild.

The old white 1960 “gasohol VW” had been de-mothballed to replace the blue VW in ethanol experimentation as a daily driver. Turns out I didn’t need it after all, my wife’s old Nissan Sentra is currently filling that role. As for the VW, I “woke it up” completely unmodified on E-33 gasohol blend, and it has performed excellently on that fuel. This vehicle is so old as to have plain carbon steel valves and seats, so it requires a lead substitute with today’s unleaded fuels. I have successfully used 9 cc per gallon Marvel Mystery Lube in that role since the mid 1970’s. The car has a little over 227,000 original miles on it, but the engine and transmission are both “low-time”.

Ethanol fuel research continues with the Nissan, my F-150, my Farmall tractor, and all my lawn and garden equipment. All are completely-unmodified equipment running on “stiff” gasohol blends (E-25 to E-35) except the Farmall, which is a straight E-85 machine. I still maintain that blends up to E-35 are fine as "drop-in" fuels for every car in the fleet. The vehicle will get the same mileage it got on gasoline, it will run cleaner inside the engine and exhaust, and I am convinced it will last longer precisely because of reduced flame sooting.

If you want a good summary of how I converted the blue 1973 "ethanol VW", or how I routinely make my own gasohol blends at the pump, or what I know about ethanol fuel compatibility in engines and fuel systems, then look below for two articles posted on this site. Together, they make a pretty good “handbook” for you. See “How-To” For Ethanol and Blend Vehicles, dated 2-12-11, and see Ethanol Does Not Hurt Engines, dated 5-5-11. The keywords for both are “fun stuff, old cars”.

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