Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

Ethanol’s Impact

Due to my relationship with Stihl, I’m frequently asked about ethanol. I have two responses, one short, the other long. The short answer is, “it can be bad for your small engine.”

“That’s what I thought,” some say. Most ask for further detail, such as, “What do you mean by ‘can’ be bad?” And I explain that if the blend is 10% or less ethanol and the fuel is used within a month or so, then it’s probably okay. I then confuse the issue by adding that even though the fuel pump lists 10% ethanol, some fuel has tested as high as 20%, and that ratio can be very corrosive to small engine fuel components.

“How can I be sure,” they ask.

“You can’t,” I tell them, and smirk.

“What’s a fuel component?” I’m then asked.

“Anything between the gas tank and the engine,” I say, as if they should know. By now I’m enjoying knowing something that someone else doesn’t.

Now, the guy with the heavily calloused hands and wearing a well-worn hat promoting a seed or herbicide company will give me a suspicious glare along with the corn-growers association speech. And I tell them I too grow corn and enjoy the escalated prices due primarily to the ethanol mandates.

I’ve personally benefited in multiple ways as a result of the ethanol mandates.

“What proof do I have that ethanol is bad for an engine?” they ask.

“Carburetor sales,” I reply. Since the ethanol mandates have been in place, our carburetor sales have increased at a much higher rate than other engine parts. First there’s higher corn prices and now additional carburetor sales directly related to ethanol.

The corn-growers can say what they want, but just look at the stickers and decide for yourself. Automobile owner’s manuals warn against using blends with a high percent of ethanol, fuel pumps are adorned with placards with similar warnings. So, according to the people selling the stuff, a little bit of ethanol is okay, but a lot can be harmful. That tells me that there’s something up with ethanol.

The increase in fuel related failures coupled with placards warning of the use of ethanol, provided by ethanol producers is telling.

A recent survey conducted by an outdoor power equipment publication found the following: 82% of dealers report repairs directly related to ethanol in 2013, this down from 2012, when that number was 93%.

“Why the decrease?” you ask.

67% of dealers now sell non-ethanol premixed fuel. Stihl offers a pre-mix fuel – ‘Motomix’. It sells for $8 a quart. It’s an excellent solution for the in-frequent user or for putting engines in storage. I’m amazed at how much of this stuff we sell. Who could have predicted a few years ago that people would be willing to pay $32 per gallon for gasoline for their trimmer or chainsaw? Again, an ethanol related benefit to me.

Ethanol is a problem. It reduces fuel efficiency and ‘can’ cause engine problems. Is it possible to use ethanol and experience no problem? Yes! But the longer you keep the same piece of equipment, the more likely the corrosive nature of ethanol will take its toll.

Good News!

Fuel problems can be avoided.  52% of dealers report that they direct customers to ethanol-free gasoline sources. ‘Pure Gas’ is an excellent APP that lists filling stations offering ethanol-free fuel. The bonus of going to this effort will be an engine that runs better and lasts longer. If an ethanol-free source isn’t nearby, there’s always the can of pre-mix, it’s only $32 per gallon. Salute – ethanol.

I hope my blogs are beneficial.

The primary reason I write a blog is to gain exposure for my  books. Sales of my books directly benefit our veterans suffering from TBI. All proceeds are donated to www.resurrectinglives.org. And now all of my books are available in eBook format for only $2.95 each.

Father’s Day is just around the corner.

The Colby Series is three novels set in 1960s rural America when responsibility ruled the day.

www.stancrader.com

 

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