Your Chainsaw and Old Fuel
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.
I recently was contacted by a friend who has taken on distribution of some new fuel additives that are designed for today’s fuels and their effects on small engines. We met and he went over some of the formulas that B3C Fuel Solutions has to offer. They focus on the moisture attracting properties of Diesel Fuel and Ethanol Enhanced Gasoline on the market today. How ethanol enhanced effects fuel and oil mixtures. They are concentrating now on the small engine, especially the chainsaw. This is where I come in.
I am cornered consistently by training attendees with these questions and others regarding proper fuel -
How long does gasoline today stay fresh in my saw or fuel can?
Today’s fuels are produced to burn cleaner and to reduce emissions. They have ethanol, detergents and other additives to accomplish this. Fuels today are not only more environmentally friendly but also better clean your internal engine parts for longer engine life. The addition of higher concentrations of ethanol to gasoline makes it a positive for volatility, cleaning and performance. However, with storage, drops stability and offers too many scrubbing bubbles, so to speak, for good chainsaw powerhead health. This evaporation of the positive’s limit the shelf life of your fuel in your saw or fuel can.
Small engine manufacturers are recommending to not store fuel without stabilizers for more than 30 days.
What does ethanol do to my chainsaw?
Ethanol will run great in a chainsaw if the carburetor metering and fuel supply parts are designed to regulate and contain it. It causes very little problems if you don’t allow it to sit or start to breakdown in your system.
Ethanol can be corrosive to aluminum, magnesium and because of the water collection properties, even some steel and other metals. It’s an excellent solvent, that because of its characteristics and water absorption, separates or even will inhibit the gasoline from mixing with the 2-cycle engine oil you are trying to blend with it. Ethanol can soften some fuel lines, dry out rubber parts and carburetor diaphragms and when it evaporates, leaves a slimy sludge and varnish that can stop up the best-designed fuel and valve trains.
So - without fresh gasoline mixed, without stabilizers, without water management, without proper carburetion and or adjustments- you most likely will have trouble.
Will my chainsaw run on E85 gasoline?
Your chainsaw, in its current state, will not run E85. It will not successfully adjust and live long with ethanol blends higher than E10 without parts upgrades.
I’ve never had any problems before. Why do I need to be concerned now?
The problem with ethanol-enhanced fuels is not so much the current blends but those coming to a pump near you soon. It’s going to be a battle between your auto fuel and your small engine fuel supplies and storage. All this is going to happen quickly as the push to E15, E20, E30 and E85 blended fuels are brought to market. Yes, the ethanol effects of engine corrosion, adjustment problems, water, etc. exist with E10 but it will all be magnified and multiplied with future blends.
Now there may be hope! (Back to my first paragraph…)
B3C Fuel Solutions has two products that can assist with today’s ethanol woes and they are working diligently to hold future fuel issues at bay.
Mechanic in a Bottle and Ethanol Shield from B3C –
- · Fix the fuel system & deep clean the carburetor without removal, even on non-running engines
- · Revitalize old fuel and delicate fuel system components safely
- · Cleanse power robbing carbon deposits from the engines internal components
- · Stabilize the fuel to ensure quick starting
Ethanol Shield from B3C –
- · Remove water to prevent Phase Separation
- · Protect the rubber & plastic components from ethanol
- · Stabilize the gasoline to ensure quick starting and prevent stale fuel
Fuel Test Kit from B3C –
- · A simple swab test that will tell you what condition your fuel is in.
I had an old saw that my father had for years. He passed away five years ago. I know he didn’t use the saw for at least a year before he passed. I had it stuck back on a shelf in the shop. Long to short, the fuel in the saw’s tank was over 6 years old. You can see in the photos what it looked like when I poured it into a glass for my test of Mechanic in a Bottle.
The fuel was almost black in color, stunk to high heaven, and I was amazed to see that it had no signs of water in the tank. Most likely no ethanol was in the fuel tank. Well, since there was no visible water, I added three tablespoons to it. You can see the water in the bottom of the glass.
I first added one ounce of MIAB to the fuel and stirred it up. It seemed to absorb a little of the water quickly and the fuel color lightened slightly. I decided to add the whole four ounces of MIAB to the glass since the instructions said I couldn’t overdose the fuel. I also figured it would have to have a pretty good initial dose of MIAB to absorb all the water I added.
I covered the glass and let it sit for almost 48 hours. When I returned, I stirred the solution, which had really lightened a lot in color, and it only seemed to have just a little amount of the water left in the bottom of the glass. When I stirred it up, it appeared the water disappeared and when allowing it to just sit about ten minutes only a small spot of water seemed to reappear. I was amazed!
Then the supreme challenge – will the fuel run in a chainsaw? I took my saw, started to make sure it ran ok. Cleaned the fuel out of the tank, then poured in the old gas solution. I did try to not pour any of the water residues into the tank. There wasn’t much left in the bottom of the glass.
I pulled, it started, and I ran it for a couple minutes or so to make sure it had pulled the old fuel from the tank. The adjustments seemed to change slightly but the saw ran just fine.
Pictures and video are downloadable at https://public.me.com/timard/OldFuel
Now that’s some extreme old fuel and I wouldn’t recommend trying to revitalize gas mix that’s that old. But I was amazed that the old gas with the MIAB would run. I’ve experienced fuel, not nearly that old, to be dead as a doornail.
I’m working on a test with carburetor adjustments and the Ethanol Shield to see how it works. They may have the solution…
Tim Ard is president and lead instructor of Forest Applications Training, Inc. a national chainsaw safety and productivity training company. For more information contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
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