Choosing the right fuel will protect your classic


Chainsaws tend to have ethanol issues which lead up to warranty disputes between the vendor and the consumer when too much ethanol is involved. A popular brand chainsaw retailer tests the gasoline for their specified 10% or less ethanol content from a victimized chainsaw’s fuel tank when a warranty claim involved for repairs/replacement. Sadly, the test results often indicate the ethanol content is much higher than 10%, sometimes as much as 30%. Apparently refineries can be sloppy in mixing ethanol in the gasoline. Hoping someone can verify this and let us know, at least for awareness purposes.


I guess you should ask them.


I am hoping someone with more resources and youth (I’m old) would research this; example being a team of experts that can perform testing on various distributors of gasoline thru-out the US and other countries. I would be good for old car collectors to know if some distributors are more diligent than others keeping their ethanol content at or below 10%.


If you happen to live in an area where non-ethanol fuel is available, you’re in luck. If you don’t (just TRY to find it anywhere remotely near the Balt./Wash. DC area - marinas will NOT sell it to someone with a car…) you’re out of luck, and have to go to some other alternative. If anyone knows what that might be, I’m all ears to advice.


@mark.jefferson and @jmtbladen - Have you used Pure-gas.org? They have maps outlining where you can source ethanol free fuels.


checked it many times - nothing in the area. Nearest location is at least an 80 minute drive away… THANKS for the tip though.


Now that I have ethanol-free gas closer to home, I run it in both of my classics ('87 and '91) as well as my Honda Metropolitan 50cc mopeds. I can’t tell much difference in the cars but the scooters are night and day - they start up easier and run better. I definitely believe that small carbureted engine - just like the chainsaws mentioned - are more sensitive to gumming up from ethanol.


The easiest way is to simply take gas cans and get them filled. Tell them it’s for the ultra light at the cottage.


I have a 63 Corvette, with a 327/340 engine, with steel valve seats when I had the engine re-built several years ago, so no lead is not a problem for me. I’m more afraid of ethanol, since it plays hell with the carburetor float, rubber in the fuel lines, and winter storage. I’m fortunate to have a small local airport near me (about 10 miles) that will sell av gas to anyone. Just pull up to the pump, feed it your credit card, hook up the ground strap to the tailpipe (their are very strict about that) and fill it up. The closest non-ethanol station to me is about 60 miles, so forget that. I usually use top tier premium, and every third or fourth tank or so fill up with as gas to flush our the ethanol. I do notice that as I get to the third and fourth tank of premium, it is a little harder starting, but that’s not much of a problem when you consider av gas is +$5 a gallon. For the winter storage, I run two as gas tanks thru, then to ease my paranoia, I add a gas stabilizer, and put it away for the winter.


@pappypete - What is the carb float material that the ethanol damages? Can’t say I have ever heard about that issue, would like to know more.


George, I do not agree with your observations. I use ethanol blended fuel in everything I own and have converted my 1955 Chevy Pickup, 1968 Camaro & 1974 Corvette to E85.

Keeping fresh fuel in any vintage car is the key. Store them full of fuel with a stabilizer in the fuel. A full tank eliminates the head space where condensation takes place. I would run 10% Ethanol Premium in all old vehicles not converted to E85. The ethanol will help keep the fuel system clean and helps water pass harmlessly through the combustion process.
For much more information about this subject, listen to Andrew Randolph Talks About The Benefits of Ethanol youtu.be/xLztoTpsk5I via @YouTube

Mitch Miller, Ada -Michigan.


There is a federal airways use tax on avgas, so I doubt that the Feds care one way or the other where avgas is delivered. The states, on the other hand are a different matter. They get little or no tax revenue with avgas, but when it is delivered into a street automobile, the driver gets to use the roads tax-free. Most states take a very dim view of this. The more sporting airports will get around the state ban on delivering avgas into cars by simply filling your gas cans. They could care less what you do with it. Their butt is covered. BTW, avgas is the same formulation no matter where you buy it or no matter what season it is. In a sealed container, it is supposed to have a shelf life of five years. It is much higher in lead then the old leaded auto gas ever was. It will destroy a catalytic converter, and will slightly shorten spark plug life.


When I had my carb re-built by Custom Carbs in Middlesex, NJ, they said that the older floats were made from brazed together half ball shaped hollow shells. they said that longer term immersion in ethanol that was allowed to stay in the carb (i.e., no flow, or long term storage) would have the opportunity to absorb water, and the water would eventually degrade the braze, and damage the floats.


@pappypete - Interesting. I guess I hadn’t thought about that, I always believed it would evaporate out of the carb leaving nasty residue before it had enough time to pull moisture in. I could believe Custom Carbs’ theory though.


So many myths about ethanol!! It’s like the leaded/no leaded debate… really not an issue at all except under extreme circumstances. Ethanol can cause problems in carbs with 20+ year old rubber parts. The rubber (actually mostly synthetic rubber) isn’t alcohol resistant. I had that issue with an older lawn mower with a vacuum diaphragm fuel pump into the 2000s. I was getting old stock diaphragms apparently – had to change it every 1- 1.5 years due to it getting stiff from E10. Did that for maybe three years then bought two kits… and didn’t have to use the second one. Apparently the old stock sold out and the newest were a different material. This was about 2001-2002. Most automotive materials had changed well before then, by the mid 80s or so. Today’s gasoline is not the same as the 60s or even 70s! It’s formulated to atomize easier for fuel injection, and that means some components (not just ethanol) will evaporate quicker than others. Even non-ethanol gas will go bad after 6-8 months – that’s why!! It’s not the ethanol. Ethanol doesn’t have the power content so you do lose a small percentage of power and fuel mileage (maybe as much as 5%), but that’s about it. Unless gas is over $5 a gallon adding 10% ethanol doesn’t affect cost much. Now that cost has gone down it’s true that without government incentives adding ethanol might drive cost up, but it does help by reducing imported oil quantities. What octane fuel you run really depends on compression, as mentioned – really old pre WWII cars use a low compression ratio and don’t need much as far as octane. High compression mid 60s muscle cars (10:1 +) have to be de-tuned a bit to run on pump premium, or run something to boost octane.


Bring a gas can to the marina and you can get all the gas you need for your “boat” you keep at “home.”


Awww so much ethanol hate. I like E-85 though in my tuner at least because with the right tune its a lot of extra horses at a fraction of the cost of race fuel. And with a flex-fuel system its very easy to deal with. So it has its place…just not in classic cars heh heh.


@lostkrusader - You have a point, in a car set up for it, ethanol is great. The issue there lies with many fun to drive cars are not built with ethanol friendly materials.


Yep - thanks for pointing that out - only NONE of the locations are anywhere near me…


Ethanol is BAD STUFF. I purchased a 1964 Chevelle Malibu SS, 327, had adjusted the Holley carb over and over, car just ran rough. A friend suggested using the Holley as an anchor and buying a new Edelbrock 4 barrel. So, I started taking the Holley apart. Take a look at the metering block of this carb. It’s ETHANOL all gunked up.
Changed it out, cleaned out all lines, etc. Car runs great on 93 Octane Recreation gas.