Hints and Tips - Stale Fuel

From: Mike Harris
Sent: 19 November 2000
To: British Cars Pre War
Subject: Stale fuel

This weekend I had to take the Alvis to be MoT'd. Normally it starts easily, even when it has been standing for some time. Having charged up the battery I went to start it and it refused. Turning it over, it showed no signs of firing. A quick check of plugs showed a healthy spark. I must have been trying for about 10 minutes. I then put some new petrol in the tank to mix in with that already in, and it started almost straight away. Having been to the garage and got its MoT, I went for a run. When I tried to start it later in the day, it started immediately.

I then thought I would check the two Austin 7s. The Special, which had been trialled only two weeks ago, started on the button, but the Chummy, which has stood for a few weeks refused to start. Again, using similar tactics to those employed on the Alvis, it started and ran!

Does modern petrol go off more quickly than the real stuff? I have heard that it needs to be shaken up at regular intervals. Has anyone else experienced similar problems? Perhaps thois experiuence will encourage me to use the cars more often in th winter.

Mike Harris


From: John Hardy
Sent: 20 November 2000
To: Mike Harris
cc: british-cars-pre-war
Subject: Re: Stale fuel

Mike et al,

I've been meaning to post something about this for a while and you have prompted me. Petrol when stored can go off. To prevent it use a stabaliser product such as that marketed by Tecumseh. Should be available from any good lawnmower type establishment. I've tried it myself and it even seemed to fix fuel already a bit stale.It's not cheap but 10cc treats 5 galls. got to be good for those of us with stockpiles of 4 star.

John Hardy


From: James Holland
Sent: 20 November 2000
To: 'John Hardy'; Mike Harris
cc: british-cars-pre-war
Subject: RE: Stale fuel

It has been apparent to me that unleaded fuel goes off very quickly - certainly inside 3 months.The problem wasn't so bad with 4 star but I have no experience of the new supply of 4 star.What are other Lister's experiences?

James H


From: Barry Lovelock
Sent: 19 November 2000
To: Mike Harris
cc: British Cars Pre War
Subject: Re: Stale fuel

Mike,

It does go off and neither of my two rarely-used A7's would start until new petrol was put in; they wouldn't even fire once. Normally, the low compression one would start even with a flat battery, "on the handle", but the high compression one one needed the battery really good. The other, regular-use one started with no trouble - but it is 12 volts.

Interestingly, my 1980 Ford RS2000 started with 18 month old petrol, even though as with many Fords of the era, it was difficult when left for more than a week. My industry spies tell me the poor fuel cap seals on the older cars are are to blame, letting valuable, volatile additives to evaporate. Bradex Easy-Start does the trick if taking the float chamber off becomes a nuisance and disposing of a tank full of petrol is difficult and virtually impossible to do responsibly. Once the cars start, then they seem to run on the old fuel happily until cold again.

Barry Lovelock.
http:/www.theaustinseven.com


From: Andrew Burley
Sent: 20 November 2000
To: British Cars Pre War
Subject: A cautionary note [was Re: Stale fuel]

I suspect the industry spies are right - it always was the case, my great grandfather on riding in my 1930 Standard remarked on how it smelled inside of petrol just like the Big Nine he used to drive when they were new. The early Big Nines have a fuel tank on the bulkhead and on a bumpy road mine smells great inside! I drive with the window open for the hand signals anyway.... :-)

I just wanted to offer a few cautionary words about Easy-Start and similar products, not from an engine health but from a person health point of view. Some years ago I put one of those Russian UAZ 4x4 vans back on the road, the ones that look a bit like an old Commer Spacevan or Austin J4 on steroids and appear in almost every news report from the former Eastern Bloc countries (variously branded as UAZ, GAZ, Belaz and others I believe, and which were also made in China as the Beijing). I rescued mine from under a Citroen Pallas Safari Estate in a scapyard. Like many vans these have an engine cover between the two front seats which allows ready access to the top end and, for my purposes, to the air filter. In my early efforts to start the beast I used a fair bit of the afore mentioned product and realised that the vapours were doing some serious, if temporary, damage to the mucus lining of my lungs and throat. I was doing all this outside with the van doors open but the vapours were hanging around the engine bay and I was breathing them in as I was trying repeatedly to get the thing to fire. I still remember well how my lungs and throat felt and I wouldn't wish that on anybody. If using these products of course observe the instruction which says only use outdoors, but also try to do it at arms length and standing upwind of the vehicle and definitely not with your head in the engine bay. It hurts!

Since I have just mentioned a couple of 1970s rarities (in the UK at least) I will chip in on the recent subject of postings that fall outside of the "strict" British Cars Pre-War boundary. I think most of us are generally enthusiasts of old transport and probably aren't exclusively interested in pre-war cars. We are also interested in what each other gets up to, enjoy a bit of banter and generally consider the social aspects of being fellow enthusiasts to be as enjoyable as the undeniably perverse pleasure of repeatedly scraping our knuckles on a bit of old tin. I don't know how many people subscribe to this list but those that occasionally speak up seem to be scattered around the globe. It is great that our common interest brings us together in this way and whether it is Awini's wedding or Maggie's Volvo being stopped on the way to Beaulieu it is all about life on the fringes of our hobby, and is the crispy salad to lighten up the chewy meat of old motors. Oh no, I've probably just started a discussion about food metaphors ;-)

Andrew Burley
Meltham, Yorkshire, England
1930 Standard Big Nine Fabric Saloon
http://www.earthdweller.co.uk


From: Barry Lovelock
Sent: 20 November 2000
To: James Holland
cc: 'John Hardy'; Mike Harris; british-cars-pre-war
Subject: Re: Stale fuel

In my reply, I should have made it clear that it was leaded fuel I was talking about, or at least that's what it was bought as! As we know now, the leaded content had dropped drastically and it may have actually been unleaded, but it was certainly bought as 4 star. I only use proper leaded fuel now, in all my old cars see:- http://www.bayfordthrust.co.uk/

Barry Lovelock.


From: Barry Lovelock
Sent: 21 November 2000
To: Andrew Burley
cc: British Cars Pre War
Subject: Re: A cautionary note [was Re: Stale fuel]

Andrew,

I'm sure you're right about the toxic possibilites of starting aids and I remember too, how I used to get Gunk everywhere, but now it comes with a skull and cross-bones toxic hazard sticker and is harmful by both inhalation and skin contact. How times change! Goodness, do you use dope on that fabric body of your's?

Barry.


From: Andrew Burley
Sent: 21 November 2000
To: Barry Lovelock
cc: British Cars Pre War
Subject: Re: A cautionary note [was Re: Stale fuel]

> Goodness, do you use dope on that fabric body of
> your's?

No just one of those Bettaware Nenette (is that the right name?) dust mop things that you occasionally have to put some kind of very light oil on to. It lifts off the dust and brings out the colour really well. The fabric is a bit like leather grained vinyl. It is very cracked and porous now in places, but only one piece - the scuttle - has been renewed, the rest is original 70 year old fabric, although I have some similar looking vinyl material to redo the sunroof now as that has a tear. I don't drive it in the wet as it is difficult to dry out the headlining when water comes in and I carry an E-Z-Up shelter in case it starts raining when I am at a show or on route. A gentleman from a Bull Nose Morris club told me that coconut oil is good for this type of fabric body, preceded by a wash with something called Neatsfoot which is apparently available from chemists. I haven't investigated that option yet.

Andrew


From: KEN PORTER
Sent: 21 November 2000
To: Andrew Burley
cc: Barry Lovelock; British Cars Pre War
Subject: Re: A cautionary note [was Re: Stale fuel]

Andrew:
Neatsfoot oil is for treating leather. Usually used on baseball gloves. I do know what it will do to fabric. I would try it in an inconspicuous place first.
Ken TC 4147


From: John Layzell
Sent: 21 November 2000
To: mike_harris@nuneaton6sf.freeserve.co.uk; British-Cars-Pre-War
Subject: Stale Fuel

Thought I'd wait until I'd seen a few replies before responding. Had a similar problem with my Alvis, and it was Mike Harris who advised it was probably a clogged or dirty slow running jet caused by depoits from unleaded. Cleaned out the jet and all was cured. Next time float chamber stuck in bowl, causing flooding and was remedied by tapping carb bowl gently with hammer. I have used "Gold Eagle" Original STA-BIL concentrated fuel stabilizer in my petrol which apparently prevents petrol from going off. It's a US product made in Chicago, available from any auto parts store in the US. Imagine there's something similar in the UK. I also use Marvel Mystery Oil, which is an upper cylinder lubricant, similar to the old REDEX.

Good luck!

John Layzell Miami, Florida 1925 Alvis SC 12/50 - oldest Alvis in North America


From: Don Rowley
Sent: 21 November 2000
To: Andrew Burley; Barry Lovelock
cc: British Cars Pre War
Subject: Re: A cautionary note [was Re: Stale fuel]

I seem to remember that when my younger daughter was deep into the horse-riding stage she used Neatsfoot for oiling the hooves of her horse. You could try a saddler, farrier, etc if the chemist approach fails.

Don Rowley
1927 Alvis 12/50 (no horses these days)


From: Graham Orme-Bannister
Sent: 21 November 2000
To: british-cars-pre-war
Subject: Re: STALE FUEL

I have been following the correspondence on stale fuel with some interest. I spent most of my working life in the oil industry and I cannot remember the technical term "going off" ever having been used in connection with petrol or any other product. I do however have fond memories of "going off" to the pub at lunchtime.

I can only think of three ways that petrol could deteriorate in storage, evaporation of the light fractions, oxidation and contamination. In sealed containers none of these should happen and shelf life should be years. In a vented car fuel system any of them could happen. Take your pick.

Unleaded petrol contains more aromatics than leaded to boost the octane. These are more prone to oxidation and gumming than the normal straight chain components, and are also more aggressive solvents to rubbers and gasket materials in old cars. So called "stabilisers" are probably anti oxidants, does anybody know for sure ?

Graham Orme-Bannister
Alresford, Hampshire, UK


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