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Lakenut

Ethanol

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Lakenut

Most of our local gas stations are starting to sell gas that has ethanol. Most are "Contains up to 10%" but I saw one at 20%. Is this going to be bad for the boat? What about the tow vehicle?

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SunriseH2OSkier
Most of our local gas stations are starting to sell gas that has ethanol. Most are "Contains up to 10%" but I saw one at 20%. Is this going to be bad for the boat? What about the tow vehicle?

10% isn't going to hurt anything - it's been a pretty widely employed mix in some parts of the country for a long time (most cars have probably been exposed to it already). But you most definitely want to stay away from 20% mix - the fuel gets considerably more corrosive at that level and beyond.

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Gernby

I wouldn't be concerned about using E10 in late model cars at all since they constantly adjust their short term and long term fuel trims using O2 sensors. However, I am concerned about my boat since it doesn't have O2 sensors. I don't think it has any way to know that it needs to increase fuel mix to compensate for the crappy corn juice.

Edited by Gernby

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SunriseH2OSkier
I wouldn't be concerned about using E10 in late model cars at all since they constantly adjust their short term and long term fuel trims using O2 sensors. However, I am concerned about my boat since it doesn't have O2 sensors. I don't think it has any way to know that it needs to increase fuel mix to compensate for the crappy corn juice.

Not enough energy content difference at 10% ethanol to matter.

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Gernby
I wouldn't be concerned about using E10 in late model cars at all since they constantly adjust their short term and long term fuel trims using O2 sensors. However, I am concerned about my boat since it doesn't have O2 sensors. I don't think it has any way to know that it needs to increase fuel mix to compensate for the crappy corn juice.

Not enough energy content difference at 10% ethanol to matter.

It isn't the energy difference that I'm concerned about. It's the difference in quantity of fuel to air that is required. Basically, older boats are now going to be running lean since the ECU isn't going to know that it needs to increase the duty cycle of the fuel injectors by X%.

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SunriseH2OSkier

At 20% or greater, yes, that would be a concern. I'm just telling you that 10% ethanol will not make enough of a difference for you or me to be able to feel, much less measure.

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jjackkrash

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jshap

Jerry was agreeing that E20 is bad for your boat, and, as long as you don't let E10 sit in your tank for long stretches, it is perfectly acceptable to use in a boat.

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SunriseH2OSkier

No disrespect taken. But you should also know that I spent about 2 years working on the first flex fuel implementation of the GM full size trucks that began production in 2002 model year. I understand exactly what the fuel system needs to adjust for with increasing ethanol content. This doesn't make me an expert in ethanol, but it does mean I speak from experience.

I can tell you that we do absolutely nothing different in the control system to deal with E10 fuel. Yes, there are O2 sensors to make slight adjustments. But the adjustments we are talking about are so small, you wouldn't know the difference if it didn't. It is quite frankly more of an emissions issue than a power issue. There are no hardware differences for dealing with E10. Again, the presence of ethanol at 10% or less just doesn't drive any durability issues whatsoever with the mechanicals of the engine. In this regard, there is no difference in a marine engine - it is not affected by this small amount of ethanol.

Regarding composite fuel tanks and storage of fuel with ethanol, yes there could be issues with long term storage resulting in an increase in water in the tank. But I would argue that regardless of ethanol content, you shouldn't be allowing fuel to sit that long in your tank. I have heard (don't know for a fact) that the octane level of the fuel degrades significantly over the course of a few weeks. Most of our engines now have knock sensors to deal with the resulting increased likelihood of knock. It does this by retarding spark and significantly reducing the power output of the motor. This is a much more significant power impact than anything ethanol (at 10%) will have.

Like I said (and I think the links you point to also indicate), the concern is with greater than 10% ethanol. 10% or less is not a problem.

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jgouveia3

i admit i know nothing technically about ethanol, but the marinas here in the Northeast are making a killing on carbeurator rebuilds due to the introduction of ethanol in our area about 2 years ago (10%). From what they are telling me, the difference is that boats are open fuel systems, as opposed to closed systems in cars. So boats that are left on the water, are drawing in water in the fuel systems (again technically i can't explain it, but they say because ethanol draws in the water throught the air??).

I know that in both my boats I run Startron now, and haven't had much of a problem. THe bu runs fine, the Yamaha I have to change the filters more often.

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Gernby

Even 1% ethanol will increase the likelihood of knock to some degree. My point earlier had nothing to do with power output or performance, just longevity. I agree E10 wouldn't be a problem for a motor in top running condition, but older boats with carburetors or FI without knock sensors might have carbon buildup that ir raising compression, or clogged fuel injectors, weak fuel pumps, faulty fuel pressure regularotrs, etc. that might cause detonation with E10 that may not have occurred with straight gasoline. Basically, I believe E10 is going to shorten the lives of the older engines.

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Chia

both indmar manuals (1994-2002 and the 2003-present) state:

Ethyl Alcohol, Ethanol or Grain Alcohol is acceptable as long as it is a blend and the blended fuel contains no more than 10% ethanol

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SunriseH2OSkier
Even 1% ethanol will increase the likelihood of knock to some degree. My point earlier had nothing to do with power output or performance, just longevity. I agree E10 wouldn't be a problem for a motor in top running condition, but older boats with carburetors or FI without knock sensors might have carbon buildup that ir raising compression, or clogged fuel injectors, weak fuel pumps, faulty fuel pressure regularotrs, etc. that might cause detonation with E10 that may not have occurred with straight gasoline. Basically, I believe E10 is going to shorten the lives of the older engines.

Actually, ethanol decreases the likelihood of knock. And none of the problems you cite above have anything to do with E10. It amazes me to no end the amount of misinformation that exists out there regarding ethanol. Clearly, you will not be convinced by anything I say, so I will no longer engage in this debate. Enjoy your paranoia.

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EZSnow

My experience with ethanol in our boat hasn't been good. MN has a mandatory 10% and has been that way for possibly 15 years. Not sure on the time, though. Anyway, a few stations sell non-oxygenated premium for boats and collector vehicles, and while my 265hp carbie certainly doesn't need the 92, that's what it gets. Anytime we have used the E10 it seems to pick up an intermittent stumble, and loads up a little bit at idle. Never enough to kill it, but it won't come out of the hole cleanly after some idling. When it goes back on the non-oxy, the world is all rosy again.

Pretty sad that we all have to suffer for an overgrown farm subsidy...

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Sixball

No disrespect taken. But you should also know that I spent about 2 years working on the first flex fuel implementation of the GM full size trucks that began production in 2002 model year. I understand exactly what the fuel system needs to adjust for with increasing ethanol content. This doesn't make me an expert in ethanol, but it does mean I speak from experience.

I can tell you that we do absolutely nothing different in the control system to deal with E10 fuel. Yes, there are O2 sensors to make slight adjustments. But the adjustments we are talking about are so small, you wouldn't know the difference if it didn't. It is quite frankly more of an emissions issue than a power issue. There are no hardware differences for dealing with E10. Again, the presence of ethanol at 10% or less just doesn't drive any durability issues whatsoever with the mechanicals of the engine. In this regard, there is no difference in a marine engine - it is not affected by this small amount of ethanol.

Regarding composite fuel tanks and storage of fuel with ethanol, yes there could be issues with long term storage resulting in an increase in water in the tank. But I would argue that regardless of ethanol content, you shouldn't be allowing fuel to sit that long in your tank. I have heard (don't know for a fact) that the octane level of the fuel degrades significantly over the course of a few weeks. Most of our engines now have knock sensors to deal with the resulting increased likelihood of knock. It does this by retarding spark and significantly reducing the power output of the motor. This is a much more significant power impact than anything ethanol (at 10%) will have.

Like I said (and I think the links you point to also indicate), the concern is with greater than 10% ethanol. 10% or less is not a problem.

Plus1.gif 30 years in one of the other big three working with eng calib. we started looking at ethanol back in the late 70's early 80's. 'SunriseH2OSkier you tell them. Fingerwag.gif

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Gernby
Even 1% ethanol will increase the likelihood of knock to some degree. My point earlier had nothing to do with power output or performance, just longevity. I agree E10 wouldn't be a problem for a motor in top running condition, but older boats with carburetors or FI without knock sensors might have carbon buildup that ir raising compression, or clogged fuel injectors, weak fuel pumps, faulty fuel pressure regularotrs, etc. that might cause detonation with E10 that may not have occurred with straight gasoline. Basically, I believe E10 is going to shorten the lives of the older engines.

Actually, ethanol decreases the likelihood of knock. And none of the problems you cite above have anything to do with E10. It amazes me to no end the amount of misinformation that exists out there regarding ethanol. Clearly, you will not be convinced by anything I say, so I will no longer engage in this debate. Enjoy your paranoia.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, so I apologize if I'm coming across that way. I'm really curious how ethanol could decrease the likelihood of detonation. From what I've read about it, ethanol requires less oxygen to burn than gasoline, so you need to increase the amount of ethanol per combustion cycle to consume all the oxygen. If so, then that would lead to a lean condition if you don't increase the fuel ratio, right? How would that not increase the likelihood of detonation?

BTW, I wasn't trying to say that carbon buildup, faulty fuel pressure regulartor, etc. have anything to do with ethanol. I was merely pointing out that those things can also contribute to detonation.

I would LOVE to feel comfortable with the fact that I have to run ethanol in my 11 year old boat. If you can share some knowledge about how E10 could reduce the risk of detonation, then I would certrainly appreciate it.

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SunriseH2OSkier

I'm sorry for misinterpreting the tone of your earlier posts. Easy to do on these forums.

As I said earlier, I don't claim to be an expert on ethanol. Rather, I have practical experience in the automotive field (powertrain controls specifically) with the general effects of ethanol and what we have to do in the control system to deal with making a particular vehicle run any blend from E0 (Gasoline) up to E85. So while I understand the general characteristics of ethanol, I cannot explain the details of the chemistry that takes place in the combustion chamber.

That said, ethanol has an octane rating of something in the neighborhood of 113, which means it has a very strong resistance to pre-detonation (knock). Mixing it with gasoline (octane rating generally between 87 for low grade to 92/93 for premium) can only increase the knock resistance of the fuel. My understanding is that ethanol has a cooling effect on the cylinder, which tends to reduce the hotspots that lead to pre-detonation of the air/fuel charge.

In fact, if you were designing a purpose-built engine to run on high concentrations on ethanol (Indy car engines, for example), you would crank up the compression ratio to something on the order of 14:1. At this compression ratio the engine will produce gobs of power off of the ethanol, even more than you can get out of a gasoline engine at today's normal compression ratios. But that engine will be completely incapable of running gasoline because it will pre-detonate continuously. The ethanol does not have that problem.

If you want to read more on this kind of stuff, :search: "ethanol detonation" and you will find lots of information from different sources.

Regarding the effect on carbs and mechanics getting rich off of E10 - far be it from me to say with absolute certainty that the E10 is not the source of the problems those people are experiencing. But there are a ton of factors that are in play that also make it a bit absurd for a dealer/service person to conclude with any certainty that it is the cause. Carbs can be rather finicky devices. I would venture to guess that the majority of carbs in service today are getting up there in age. And most are probably owned by people who aren't motorheads that take the utmost care of their engine - they don't abuse it, but they think that changing the oil once a season and winterizing that includes draining the water and (maybe) some Stabil in the fuel is sufficient care. For these people, E10 may be the straw that breaks the camel's back (though I am still highly skeptical). I could see someone leaving that fuel (unstabilized) sitting in their carb all winter and creating some kind of problem. But again, leaving any kind of unstabilized fuel sitting in the carb all winter is just begging for problems, regardless of the ethanol content.

Finally, we've had E10 gasoline in Michigan for a long time, probably 10 years. Admittedly, we do not have the constant humidity that some of our friends experience in the southeast, but we do have stretches of very high humidity multiple times through the summer. We also get the high humidity associated with the fog that rises off the lake when the temps drop down into the upper 40's/low 50's at night like they have this past week. If the E10 were going to be such a problem, I firmly believe we would have seen it by now. Fact of the matter is that it is a complete non-issue.

Edited by SunriseH2OSkier

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Sixball
I'm sorry for misinterpreting the tone of your earlier posts. Easy to do on these forums.

As I said earlier, I don't claim to be an expert on ethanol. Rather, I have practical experience in the automotive field (powertrain controls specifically) with the general effects of ethanol and what we have to do in the control system to deal with making a particular vehicle run any blend from E0 (Gasoline) up to E85. So while I understand the general characteristics of ethanol, I cannot explain the details of the chemistry that takes place in the combustion chamber.

That said, ethanol has an octane rating of something in the neighborhood of 113, which means it has a very strong resistance to pre-detonation (knock). Mixing it with gasoline (octane rating generally between 87 for low grade to 92/93 for premium) can only increase the knock resistance of the fuel. My understanding is that ethanol has a cooling effect on the cylinder, which tends to reduce the hotspots that lead to pre-detonation of the air/fuel charge.

In fact, if you were designing a purpose-built engine to run on high concentrations on ethanol (Indy car engines, for example), you would crank up the compression ratio to something on the order of 14:1. At this compression ratio the engine will produce gobs of power off of the ethanol, even more than you can get out of a gasoline engine at today's normal compression ratios. But that engine will be completely incapable of running gasoline because it will pre-detonate continuously. The ethanol does not have that problem.

If you want to read more on this kind of stuff, :search: "ethanol detonation" and you will find lots of information from different sources.

Regarding the effect on carbs and mechanics getting rich off of E10 - far be it from me to say with absolute certainty that the E10 is not the source of the problems those people are experiencing. But there are a ton of factors that are in play that also make it a bit absurd for a dealer/service person to conclude with any certainty that it is the cause. Carbs can be rather finicky devices. I would venture to guess that the majority of carbs in service today are getting up there in age. And most are probably owned by people who aren't motorheads that take the utmost care of their engine - they don't abuse it, but they think that changing the oil once a season and winterizing that includes draining the water and (maybe) some Stabil in the fuel is sufficient care. For these people, E10 may be the straw that breaks the camel's back (though I am still highly skeptical). I could see someone leaving that fuel (unstabilized) sitting in their carb all winter and creating some kind of problem. But again, leaving any kind of unstabilized fuel sitting in the carb all winter is just begging for problems, regardless of the ethanol content.

Finally, we've had E10 gasoline in Michigan for a long time, probably 10 years. Admittedly, we do not have the constant humidity that some of our friends experience in the southeast, but we do have stretches of very high humidity multiple times through the summer. We also get the high humidity associated with the fog that rises off the lake when the temps drop down into the upper 40's/low 50's at night like they have this past week. If the E10 were going to be such a problem, I firmly believe we would have seen it by now. Fact of the matter is that it is a complete non-issue.

Plus1.gif Once again I concur. The one thing with the older boats and cars and such is the plastic and rubber components are not designed for ethanol. Ethanol has a drying and a deterioration on plastic and rubber that has not be engineered for ethanol and alcohol use. Ethanol does run very cool in combustion engines.

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electricjohn

Outboard boaters were ending up with many problems in the summer of 06 here in Jersey when E-10 hit the market. They all were blaming the ethanol. The end result was found to be poorly maintained engines and fuel system, and not the fuel at all. The ethanol just seemed to bring the problems out sooner but did not cause them.

By 07 the problems seemed to have disappeared. So evidentially it was not the fuel. I have not had any problems at all with my FI inboard or carbed outboard since ethanol was introduced. I have noticed a very slight loss of power using E-10 in the O.B. in 06 when E-0 could still be found, and you could compare the two different fuels.

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Gernby

Thanks for the explanation. I haven't read anything about combustion temps or octane benefits of ethanol. I did read that racing engines that are custom built and tuned for ethanol have significant power gains, but their fuel consumption is significantly higher.

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WakeGirl

Bringing this back up to the top....

I'd be curious to hear opinions from Jerry & the others regarding the effect of ethanol on the fuel pumps in these boats. I've seen far too many failures on late model boats this season for me to believe that this is coincidence. And if you search on some of the other forums, you'll find that this is almost an epidemic this summer across the boating community & isn't a problem that is monopolized by Malibu. I haven't seen a summer quite like this one in that regard. And we're not talking about older boats that possibly haven't been maintained, we're talking about EFI boats that aren't old enough & don't have enough hours on them for it to even really matter. Comments?

The other issue that I'm curious to hear about is heat soak, or vapor lock. This year there seem to be a lot more occurrences of this as well. Thoughts?

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99response

Tracie,

I changed a boatload of fuel pumps in new boats in the 05-06 model years. I'm talking boats out of the wrap that wouldn't run.

Have you seen failures with 07 or 08 boats with in tank pumps or just the older silver canister ones?

-Chris

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WakeGirl

I know of at least 1 '07 on a Monsoon that failed. EDIT: Searching a bit, I actually see a few more from '07. So this wouldn't appear to be limited to the older setup.

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Surfin247
Bringing this back up to the top....

I'd be curious to hear opinions from Jerry & the others regarding the effect of ethanol on the fuel pumps in these boats. I've seen far too many failures on late model boats this season for me to believe that this is coincidence. And if you search on some of the other forums, you'll find that this is almost an epidemic this summer across the boating community & isn't a problem that is monopolized by Malibu. I haven't seen a summer quite like this one in that regard. And we're not talking about older boats that possibly haven't been maintained, we're talking about EFI boats that aren't old enough & don't have enough hours on them for it to even really matter. Comments?

The other issue that I'm curious to hear about is heat soak, or vapor lock. This year there seem to be a lot more occurrences of this as well. Thoughts?

I think the biggest problem is the consistency of the fuel we purchase. It can have various different blends. One of our local TV stations tested the fuel from various widely used gas stations and they reported a large variance in the blend of the fuel. One even near 50% alcohol. With alcohol and water heavier than gasoline, these settle at the bottom of all tanks, including the gas stations. If you happen to get that mix instead of the norm you'll have some problems. I think the changeover from gas to blend is when most problems have arose. Alcohol is a cleansing agent. When introduced into a system on a regular basis that had not used E10, it is going to breakbown any kind of build up that was previously there. Until the system is cleansed, there will be intermittent problems. I experienced this with the 1995 Echelon. I replaced everything including carb. and cleaned tank. Finally, no more problems. The amount of rust on the carb I replaced was unbelieveable. It was well maintained, but had sat for most of 2007 in a garage in Florida. Having originally been from Pa. up till 2006 humidity had not been an issue, but one year sitting in Fl. internal corrosion became an issue. Simply put, Alcohol attracts water,water causes corrosion, corrosion attacks engines. Routine mainenance is a must. Change those fuel filters with your 50hr oil change. Use a fuel stabilizer and keep your gas tanks either completely full or as close to empty, but not the worst possible position about HALF FULL.

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WakeGirl

See, I'm not so sure that it's merely the fact that it's a cleansing agent. There are just way too many failures of fuel pumps on really new boats. That shouldn't be happening. The blends....yeah, I can see that and cleansing in some cases, older boats particularly with carbs. But that doesn't explain these late model & new boats that have fuel pump failures. A local mechanic that we know has seen a huge increase in fuel pump failures over the past year in his business (car & truck repair). I don't think that this is a coincidence.

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