View Full Version : The Ethanol dilemma

08-13-2009, 07:58 AM
With the addition of 10% Ethanol and more to come, the only way to get the octane we need is to drain the tank each spring. I parcel it out to the modern cars, a little at a time and also use it for the lawn machines. Trouble is, my Kubota is diesel so can't use it there.

I've had mixed results with Sta-Bil (gummed up the carbs on some lawn equipment) even though some swear by it.

My Audi has an ECU that adjusts for the loss in octane that occurs over winter storage. I still try to fill it with premium first thing in the spring but that's now only 91 octane here.

But the 3A likes octane and pings until I change it out.

So ... question is:
Is there a stabilizer for gasoline containing ethanol that also prevents it from destroying the rubber seals in the older fuel systems? Sta-Bil has a new marine fuel stabilizer - is that a better product for our vintage engines?

08-13-2009, 08:08 AM
I can't help on either of your posts, but you are asking good questions this morning Peter...

08-13-2009, 08:41 AM
I don't believe there is anything that will stop the ethanol from attacking seals that are old enough to not be compatible. It's also worth noting that you can easily back off the timing a bit on the TR while you run out a tank of gas.

But I can't help with the stabilizer question, I've never used the stuff myself.

08-13-2009, 09:02 AM
Not the answer you are looking for, but you could drain it once the snow hits and not have to worry about the octane. Fill a gas can when you want to take it for a spin on a nice day.

Don Elliott
08-13-2009, 09:55 AM
I add 4 oz of Marvel mystery oil to every tankful. Here in Canada, the best I can find is labelled 91 octane, but the gas pumps don't say if there is any ethanol added. To weeks ago, I filled up at a Shell in Vermont and that pump had a sign "10% Ethanol added". It was 93 octane. I added the 4 oz. MMO and have had no stalling or stuttering in the last 250 miles on this tankful.

08-13-2009, 10:34 AM
Granted I have a TR6, but I have never used any gas treatment and pay no special attention to the gas when I put my car in storage. I simply drive in the garage and turn the key off. I have had no problems with this approach.

08-13-2009, 11:23 AM
I'm with Tom. I put the TR3 in the garage sometime in November. Start it up again sometime in March and it just works. I run it all spring/summer/fall on 89 octane "mid-grade." It neither misses nor pings. And -- all motor fuel in Minnesota is 10% ethanol, except the stuff that's 85% ethanol (which I don't use).

08-13-2009, 01:53 PM
I never used to pay attention either. But the gas is rumoured to be getting more ethanol as time goes on which is less stable than non-enriched gasoline. Because the ethanol does what ever it does or doesn't do over time, the octane goes down, Or so I've read on the internet.

My experience changed this year. I normally fill up my tanks before storage, use a little Marvel M.O. once in a while for upper cylinder lubrication too. But this spring, the 3A had a slight ping and went away after I changed out the old gas.

The topic of Ethanol in our gas has also been on the local news lately as a big problem for boaters this year. They are recommending Sta-bil Marine all the time and a complete flush between seasons.

08-13-2009, 02:00 PM
Stupid question of the day. How do you guys safely drain your tanks? Have you installed some sort of manual drain valving arrangement or do you suck it out through the gas cap?

08-13-2009, 03:03 PM
The problem you could be experiencing with E10 gas (10% ethanol) is phase seperation due to water absorbtion... The ethanol (alcohol) is highly hydroscopic (absorbs water) and its subject to "phase separation". This can reduce the fuels overall octane rating by several points.

Bottom line, E10 does not store well. Even the gas companies will tell you that its "shelf life" is only 2 to 3 months... after that it starts to deteriorate... especially if you are in a humid environment. I've had good luck using Sta-bil... I add the proper amount then fill the tank (this reduces condensation on the inside walls of the gas tank)... I'll also run the engine for a short time to make sure the treated fuel gets through the entire system... fuel pump, carbs, etc...

08-13-2009, 03:17 PM
There's a drain plug in the bottom of most TR3 tanks.
Extinguish all smoking materials. Jack up the rear. Undo the plug while arranging the funnel and gas can to catch the fuel. Wipe up the, hopefully small, spill. I have a 5 gal. gas can. I make sure to have less than that in the tank before attempting this. If a little extra driving is required to assure this, I don't regard it as a great hardship. :smile:

08-13-2009, 03:39 PM
There's a drain plug in the bottom of most TR3 tanks.Another alternative is to use one of the little Facet electric fuel pumps as a transfer pump. You can power it with a battery charger and, if you have enough hose on hand, pump the fuel directly into another car's tank.

The Facet also makes a good spare to carry on long trips, IMO. It's much easier to press it into use than to try to R&R the stock mechanical pump on the side of the road.

I wonder, though ... seems like most of the problems with E10 are because it is exposed to the atmosphere. I wonder if sealing off the tank vent (and running the float bowls dry) would alleviate the problem?

08-13-2009, 06:29 PM
I used to love the cool burn that gas gives you as it runs up your armpit from underneath the car.

But, now I use a suction pump from HF through the filler hole into 5gal gas cans.

08-13-2009, 06:32 PM
I used to love the cool burn that gas gives you as it runs up your armpit from underneath the car.


Don Elliott
08-14-2009, 09:05 AM
I store my 1958 TR3A is my dry, heated garage from the end of October till April. I leave almost no gas in the tank. I'm not concerned about humidity or rust because the garage is heated and I had the interior of my tank coated with epoxy "slush" in 1991. In the spring, Ifill up with new gas of the highest octane and if there is a bit of old gas left there it would be diluted by the new gas.

But, a few months ago, because of the suspected problems which might arise with the added ethanol, I have added a drain valve to the bottom of my gas tank - just in case. From now on, I plan drain the tank in November of that last half gallon or so and leave it empty till April.

08-14-2009, 10:27 AM
I would add to Don's procedure that it might also be wise, after draining the tank, to run the carbs (and the lines) dry as well until the engine stalls.

08-14-2009, 01:21 PM
I do use Sta-Bil. I also use a lead substitute. To stop the pinging...the last tank of gas is premium. 3/4th full. No trouble in the spring with starting or gumming.

08-14-2009, 01:45 PM
Rick Patton owns a couple of NAPA stores in Maine and he recently told me that there's new "rubber" gas hose available that doesn't react/degrade from Ethanol. I think he even said it's green in color.......

As for draining the tank. I put in an inline shut off valve right where the gas line exits the tank. SO I basically shut off the fuel flow, remove the fuel line and let the gas empty into a container. It makes working around gas so much easier.


08-14-2009, 03:16 PM
Nice looking valve. Where did yo get it?

Marvin Gruber
08-14-2009, 04:08 PM
Down south the gas goes bad quickly, the XKE won't last but a couple of months before it spits and sputters. The TR3 is even worse. I keep the tank drained on it most of the time. I did start using Sta-bil this spring and the XKE is running okay. I do like the valve idea as well.


08-15-2009, 08:50 AM
that is a great valve. I would like to put one both at the bottom of the tank like you did and one in the engine bay before the fuel pump for shut off while working on any fuel related item in the engine bay. Where did you buy that one.

08-15-2009, 10:44 AM
Hi fellas.

New guy making my first "official" post but check out my post on the new member intro forum for my story.

I inadvertantly did a long term fuel storage test with my TR250.

I filled it up in late August of 2007 in preparation for the end of the driving season (in Winnipeg, we don't often drive convertibles much past September). When I took it out in 2008, I started having brake problems. The problems got bad enough that I stopped driving early in the year. In fact, I wasn't even able to put in a fresh tank of gas in 2008.

This year, I fixed the problem but not until a few weeks ago. It was only last week that I finally put fresh gas in the car. So I was actually driving for a couple of weeks on TWO YEAR OLD GAS with no stabilizer added.

The truth is, the thing ran just fine. Of course, it's a relief to have new gas in the car. I knew if I didn't get it on the road this year, I'd have to drain the old gas for sure...but I doodged that bullet. Interesting to note that it ran great on the old gas. While it's not a practice that I would recommend, I get some peace of mind knowing that it can hold up well during extended storage (at least, in these parts with my engine).

Don Elliott
08-15-2009, 11:03 AM
Since Winnipeg is not in the USA where all gasoline has 10% ethanol or more, I suspect that the gas you filled up with in 2007 had no ethanol in it. My problems only started in mid-2007 when I drove a round trip of 1500 miles to VTR in Valley Forge PA. Up to now, I have found that (in Quebec) I can still get ESSO and Shell without ethanol. But I had trouble in 2007 and 2008 in Ontario at Petro-Can, Ultramar and Sunoco. I stay away from those in Quebec.

08-15-2009, 04:12 PM
Nice looking valve. Where did yo get it?

Yes, I would like to know where to get that valve, too.

Thanks in advance,

08-21-2009, 08:44 PM
Earlier comment on phase seperation was right on. The ethanol absorbs the water and sinks to the bottom. Once the fuel seperates there is no way to re-mix it.

Ask me how I know; well I've been winterizing boats for 20 yrs & never a problem in the spring. Well last spring my boat's 130hp Johnson 2 stroke started right up, but would not stay running at idle. Short story I had fuel seperation that I found after syphoning some gas into a glass jar & letting it sit overnight I had a nice 1" layer of water on the bottom!

So 40 gallons of syphoning later a fuel water seperator & 2 fresh tanks of gas & she ran better.

So that winter I used STARTRON from any marine store; it prevents phase seperation. That spring & the boat started & ran perfectly.

As for the eating away of the rubber the only thing you can do is replace all the fuel lines, as far as seals in the carbs good luck!

08-22-2009, 07:35 AM
Nice looking valve. Where did yo get it?

Yes, I would like to know where to get that valve, too.

Thanks in advance,

Sorry guys.......just saw the question. The valve is NAPA Part #WH6828 not cheap at $40 but I didn't want cheap for that component! :driving:

08-22-2009, 08:30 AM
Whoa! $40 per valve from NAPA? Good grief that is expensive... I hope they are worth that.

08-23-2009, 08:09 AM
Whoa! $40 per valve from NAPA? Good grief that is expensive... I hope they are worth that.

I hope I never find out! I wanted a quality valve seeing as a leak could end up hitting the muffler. If you want a cheaper valve they have a $12 one.... part #BK 715-1482

Now if you want expensive, here's a combo fuel filter with shut off from Aeromotive @ $230!


08-23-2009, 08:59 AM
I have never had much of an issue with my TR250 with fuel setting in it for long periods of time.....I tend to just put enough in there to cruise around for a few hours and make sure there are a few gallons left to crank and drive to gas station on the next go round.....I do know that you have to put stabilizer in boats and that if you do not want to put ethanol in your car, just ride to a boat marina and the fuel they sell is ethanol free......but usually at least a dollar more a gallon....