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Two-Stroke engine fuel warning
This may be old news to amny of you. The key seems to be homewowners use where the engine is not used to often. Would a little dry gas help?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007 4:15 AM EDT
Ethanol not so friendly to power tools
BY PAUL SINGLEY REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Anyone who uses a chainsaw, weed whacker or snowmobile may notice the engines in their equipment breaking down quicker than they used to.
Many times the reason is ethanol, a fuel additive made of corn, sugar and other grains that Connecticut gasoline distributors have been using since 2003.
Ethanol is supposed to burn cleaner, reduce air pollutants and serve as a healthy alternative to MTBE, the additive it has replaced. But high amounts of ethanol can wreak havoc on small power tools that use two-stroke engines -- as opposed to four-stroke engines used in many automobiles -- according to local experts on power equipment.
"The biggest problem is that ethanol absorbs water, especially when people leave the gas cap off on a hot, sunny day," said Lee Schmidt, owner and manager of Schmidt's & Serafine's, an outdoor power equipment company in Waterbury. "We'll have customers bringing in new lawnmowers, and the carburetors will be corroded like they are 10 years old."
Schmidt, who has almost 30 years of experience working on outdoor power equipment, recommends that all of his customers use a high-octane fuel with low ethanol levels. He recommends using at least an 89 octane fuel, with 11 percent ethanol. His company sells brand-name STIHL equipment, and Schmidt said a STIHL chainsaw will run on E-10, meaning 10 percent ethanol. "Anything over 12 or 13 percent and it won't even start," he said.
"This is not as much of a problem in automobiles because they are running all the time," he said. "The biggest problem is with the small stuff, like chainsaws. People need to keep the gas caps on properly."
Dave Blersch, owner of Chainsaws Unlimited Inc. in Southbury, agrees with most of Schmidt's suggestions. He urges customers to use at least a 93 octane gas.
"Every time the gas hits the air it loses a point of octane, so I suggest a higher octane gas," he said.
High-octane gas costs a little more, but it's worth it, he said.
He also urges people to keep gas no longer than 30 days, because the longer it sits, the more water it absorbs.
"People will argue with you that they never used to do it this way," said Blersch, who has been in business since 1978. "I have that conversation at least three times a week. But the average person doesn't know of all the changes that the government has made to the gasoline, and it's our job to educate them."