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Ethanol in a Kei...?

Discussion in 'General Truck Info' started by PGPfan, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. PGPfan

    PGPfan New Member

    Hi Guys, first post after recently learning of the existence of these great little trucks!

    On my property I distill my own fuel alchohol (ethanol) and was wondering if anyone has had any experience running one of these trucks on either E85 or (in my case) E100? Was there anything special that needed to be done to convert it?

    I did a search for ethanol, but didn't find anything. Anybody have any thoughts?

  2. Mighty Milt

    Mighty Milt Active Member

    from past experience on running alcohol on the drag strip (not my experience but a fellow racer) you have to make sure that you have a good way to purge the system before shut down. the alcohol is hard on all things rubber like o-rings and seals in the fuel system. when my buddy ran straight ethanol it rotted out fuel system components like crazy. the only way to slow down the failure was to switch over to gasoline on the return road and purge the alcohol from teh system.
  3. Mighty's right, even if it would run properly with ethanol you would probably end up having problems in the long run. Ethanol has ZERO lubrication properties and will dry out every O-ring and every other rubber component in the system causing all sorts of failures.
  4. glenn

    glenn Member

    hope your alcohol is'nt moonshine eh?:rolleyes:

    I run with premium gas....my understanding is that Japan has a higher octaine level than our regular gas...if you run regular, you might have to add octaine boost...make sure that you have a high octaine level in your fuel

    mightymilt is correct on the rotting out of fuel system components

  5. PGPfan

    PGPfan New Member

    Thanks for the info guys! My ethanol is generally in the 180+ proof range and most of my vehicles required very little to convert (2000 and newer) and run quite well. Sounds like it would be an 'old school' conversion (these trucks are pretty much all carbuerated, right?) which is harder to do, but do-able.

    All the newer fuel injected vehicles seem to just need a 'chip swap' to run as a flex fuel rig. Oh well, for the cost it's still way worth it to do regardless of how much work to convert.

    Thanks again fellas!

  6. Samurai9

    Samurai9 Member

    Isn't it the case that the gas we get at the pump already has considerable ethanol mixed in? The producers of ethanol bribed the government so that it would force ethanol on the unwitting public.

  7. PGPfan

    PGPfan New Member

    Hi Sam,

    While it is true that most fuels now currently have some (anywhere from 10%-85%) ethanol already as an knock inhibitor, history doesn't bear out the bribery theory. Ethanol has been an alternative motor fuel used around the world since the late 1800's, and used successfully in the US as well in the teens and twenties.

    The problem with how most people percieve ethanol is that it drives the cost of food up due to corn usage. While that limited view may be true, it avoids the real issue - corn is a POOR crop to use for ethanol production. The better crops (sugar beets, and especially Jerusalem artichokes) require much less fertilizers to grow, and yield MUCH higher amounts of alchohol.

    For example, I grow the Jerusalem artichoke (also called a "sunchoke") which is actually a member of the sunflower genus. On half an acre of soil, I get enough 'mash' to yield between 1200 - 2000 gallons of ethanol/year. That type of yield can be had by anybody willing use a little of their own soil.

    If we were to use the highest yield crops to begin with, there isn't a reason for corn prices to inflate. There's also switchgrass, and others that are still superior to corn for ethanol production.

    For an outstanding paper on the realities of ethanol (well, more like the history of petroleum fuels, and fuels in general) take a look HERE. It is a rather large paper, but incredibly well researched and referrenced - which is rare in todays 'sound byte' journalism.

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2008
  8. tmikewww

    tmikewww Member

    Hey guys,
    I think you better have your facts right, and all your "ducks in a row" before you question "PGPFAN".
    Great post PGP!
    Tmikewww (Iowa)
  9. Acerguy

    Acerguy Moderator Staff Member

    Hmm....I've got an extra 1/2 acre. :D
  10. Mighty Milt

    Mighty Milt Active Member

    growing the sugar beets to make your own fuel? would that qualify you as a farmer and there by leagalize your mini as "farm equipment"? :D

    PGP, the trucks are mostly carbed motors, mine is fuel injected but i don't know about "chip swaps" in such a simple design, if there is even that possibility without doing some kind of re-mapping of the brain.

    i memory serves running alcohol at the track only required a different set of idle, main and air correction jets and a different set of emulsion tubes for Weber 48 IDA'a
  11. Samurai9

    Samurai9 Member

    PGP fan,

    I consider large campaign contributions bribes. I think that if you do some research you will find that the ethanol scam was spurred by contributions from producers and related special interest groups. Politicians trade tax subsidies and special privileges for bribes. That's the way politics work in this country.

    Ethanol is a scam because it will not solve the so-called energy crisis and is not cost effective in the American free market. It had to be subsidized and backed by government force to make headway here. Am I wrong?


  12. PGPfan

    PGPfan New Member

    Thanks for the compliment! I hope I don't come across as a 'know-it-all' type of jerk. I certainly don't know it all, nor do I mean be. I've just been an alternative energy hobbiest/enthusiast since I was a child and when I became an adult, I decided to put into practice all the stuff I'd been reading/dreaming about.

    Acerguy - If you really do have the available space, all i can say is that (excepting an annual vacation trip) I haven't bought gasoline in almost 3 years.:D

    Sam - I certainly agree that campaign contributions are bribes, no doubt there in my mind - however the ethanol 'scam' as you call it is far more complex and different than you are implying. The real 'scam' has been going on for over 75 years!

    You have called ethanol a 'scam' because it will not solve the so-called energy crisis and is not cost effective in the American free market. The deal is that since ethanol is made from yearly renewable crops (not a finite amount like petroleum) it does solve the energy crisis. Simply put, it's impossible to run out of it - hence no more 'crisis'.

    Commercial production and adoption is something altogether different and could be addressed as needed.

    As for there being an "American free market", I honestly don't believe that exists excepting in theory. For example, over the last 25 years at least I've known quite a few farmers that were PAID by our government to NOT GROW certain crops so the government can artificially control it's price/value. That to me doesn't sound like a 'free market' in action.

    Another example is from the paper I linked to in a post above talking about the use of camphene (an alchohol blend) in fuel lamps prior to electic lighting: Kerosene from petroleum was a good fuel when it arrived in the 1860s: it was usually not too volatile, it burned brightly and it was fairly cheap. A gradual shift from camphene to kerosene might have occurred, but instead, a $2.08 per gallon tax on alcohol was imposed in stages between 1862 and 1864 as part of the Internal Revenue Act to pay for the Civil War. The tax was meant to apply to beverage alcohol, but without any specific exemption, it was also applied to fuel and industrial uses for alcohol. "The imposition of the internal-revenue tax on distilled spirits ... increased the cost of this 'burning fluid' beyond the possibility of using it in competition with kerosene..," said Rufus F. Herrick, an engineer with the Edison Electric Testing Laboratory who wrote one of the first books on the use of alcohol fuel.24

    While a gradual shift from burning fluid (or spirit lamps) to kerosene did occur in Europe during the last half of the 19th century, the American alcohol tax meant that kerosene became the primary fuel virtually overnight, and the distilleries making lamp fuel lost their markets. The tax "had the effect of upsetting [the distilleries] and in some cases destroying them," said IRS commissioner David A. Wells in 1872. "The manufacture of burning fluid for lighting suddenly ceased; happily, it was replaced by petroleum, which was about to be discovered."25 Similarly, C.J. Zintheo, of the US Department of Agriculture, said that 90 million gallons of alcohol per year were used for lighting, cooking, and industry before the tax was imposed.26 Meanwhile, use of oil shot up from almost nothing in 1860 to over 200 million gallons in 1870.27 "The effect was disastrous to great industries, which, if [they were to be] saved from ruin, had to be rapidly revolutionized," according to Irish engineer Robert N. Tweedy.28

    Sadly there are many other examples that can be given that illustrate the same thing regardless of industry.

    Anyhow, to get back on subject - now that I've learned more of what will be necessary for a ethanol conversion on these little rigs it's time for me to find myself one.

    Thanks again guys for all you info!

    Last edited: Jul 17, 2008
  13. Colin

    Colin Member

    In most countries (including all of Europe and Australia) the "headline" octane that would be shown on the pump is the RON, but in the United States, Canada and some other countries the headline number is the average of the RON and the MON, sometimes called the Anti-Knock Index (AKI), Road Octane Number (RdON), Pump Octane Number (PON), or (R+M)/2. Because of the 8 to 10 point difference noted above, this means that the octane in the United States will be about 4 to 5 points lower than the same fuel elsewhere: 87 octane fuel, the "regular" gasoline in the US and Canada, would be 91-92 in Europe. However most European pumps deliver 95 (RON) as "regular", equivalent to 90-91 US (R+M)/2, and even deliver 98 (RON) or 100 (RON).


    Been a while since I've had an opportunity to don my tinfoil hat... I wonder where I stashed that thing. :rolleyes:
  14. Samurai9

    Samurai9 Member


    There is no doubt that cars can run on ethanol and that ethanol can be produced indefinitely. My point was that ethanol was being forced on the American people by a government that is always willing to cater to special interests in return for political donations.

    I am well aware of the many socialistic and regulatory violations of the free market in America today. But I believe in individual freedom and the free market and oppose government attempts to impose its own "solutions." Government is using its seizure of millions of square miles of land and coastal waters to prevent new drilling. Government is using tax dollars to subsidize uneconomical "energy alternatives." In my view, government should generally stay out of energy issues and allow the market to set demand, supply, and prices, to the extent that this is possible in today's world (government ownership of oil and natural gas resources, international energy cartels, Russia's use of energy as a club to reassert its international power, etc.).

  15. PGPfan

    PGPfan New Member

    Hi Sam,

    I think I understand what you are saying - people 'forced' into using ethanol via it being added to most gas right now, right?

    I can only dream of a world (or country) where people largely took responsebility for their own fuel supply (for example, growing and distilling ethanol) that would eliminate like 50% of the demand we see now. Then, if industry would adopt the correct root source (pun intended) for raw materials to make ethanol cost effectively and having minimal impact on things like corn, etc. then maybe we could end our own fuel crisis.

    I do know this: the japanese have proven with these little trucks and countless other examples, that we can't rely on the big automakers to help solve the problem, our government is 'owned' by "big money" so 'real' help there is out. The only real, lasting hope seems to be with those willing to just 'take action' and dispell critics by example.

    Fwiw, I'm in the 'parts gathering' stage to build an electric vehicle for my to/from work commute. Should be an interesting learning experience!

  16. Mighty Milt

    Mighty Milt Active Member

    it will be a fight to get the government to hoestly pursue alternative fuel sorces when the big oil companies like exxon mobile posted billion dollar profits and bonuses last year. some of that money undoubtedly made it's way to the politicians that are banning the drilling to keep the big oil companies in a good price-gouging position to keep greasing their palms.
  17. jtpc

    jtpc Member

    So I'm guessing after reading all of the above that its okay to use the fuel stations that say "contains 15% ethanol" in our little trucks?
    So what octane is the way to go? regular or mid-grade?
  18. MichTrucks

    MichTrucks Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    We are at 675' elevation and our trucks run quite well on 87 octane.
  19. Mighty Milt

    Mighty Milt Active Member

    most of the late model trucks with efi will run on just about anything as long as the injection system components are all functioning correctly. they will compensate to a certain degree and adjust accordingly to prevent knocking and pinging when you run the lower octane.
  20. andy_george

    andy_george Member

    PGPfan, where are you from? Just asking to get an idea about your climate for growing that stuff....

  21. walkguru

    walkguru New Member

    i run reg. with no prob. so far.
  22. 350v8s10

    350v8s10 Member

    PGPfan, Is there a comprehensive document covering the required equipment and instructions for the distillation of Ethanol from the various sources? Terry
  23. Griz

    Griz Member

    I am told that in Japan they have 3 grades of gasoline
    regular 90,
    premium 95,
    ultimate 98
    but in Japan they have a different way of figuring the octane rating. The Japanese way RON (Research Octane Number) in the USA we use the AKI (Anti-Knock Index) octane rating system. If you multiply there RON rating by .95 it will equal our AKI octane rating. 90 x .95 = 85.5 USA equilivant 95 x .95 = 90.25 and 98 x .95 = 93.1 and one more thing no ethanol blended gasoline in Japan. Their regular gasoline is 163.9 per liter How much is that per US gallon?
  24. jtpc

    jtpc Member

    Interesting. I've been putting 89 octane in my trucks here.
  25. glenn

    glenn Member

  26. jtpc

    jtpc Member

    $1 = 89.11yen.
    So 163.9yen = $1.839
    1 liter = .264 (us) gallons

    163.9 Jap Yen/liter = $6.965 dollars/(us) gallon.

    That sounds a little high, but according to cnnmoney.com, that is the current exchange rate, and my calculations from liters to gallons should be correct as well.

  27. glenn

    glenn Member

    as I have said in other post, I run high octane and the truck runs better, when my employee put regular in one time.....it ran very ruff until the tank was replaced with high octane....just my 2 cents..

  28. zardoz

    zardoz Member

    I second this opinion

    With "regular" I get ping at 90+ kmh... with premium I get zero ping with the speedo buried (120kmh+) ;)

  29. glenn

    glenn Member

    I just got another truck...it has a rattle at high speed from the lifters area.....my mechanic sez to run thicker oil and it will be better......for the gas....premium only without ethenal...it"s regular diet for these trucks....
  30. o8k

    o8k Member

    I love the idea of energy independence. I am very aware of peak oil and what comes next. I am actively perusing my own way of being a part of the solution. Yes Big business has made a mess of things.

    But I will say that if it wasn’t for "Big Gov" and Energy controls in this country, we too would be paying 163.9 Jap Yen/liter or $6.965 dollars/(us) gallon, just like all the other schmuck countries in the world. This is a problem, as mentioned already, of inheritance.

    Its an unfortunate truth that one way or another, energy costs will go up, middle class will evaporate, mean wealth will plummet, and the fossil fuel age will come to an end (slowly or quickly is anyone’s guess). The price of fuel will follow a bell curve of some sort. This curve is mirroring wealth, prosperity, upward mobility, and probably even healthcare costs.

    I will agree with PGPfan (take responsibility for your own energy problems), but not out of some self righteous sense of saving the world and making it better for our children and what not, but rather because I believe that human nature is not with my scope to control and the world will burn weather I fight it or not. Better stated, the age will end (aka the world as we know it figuratively “burning”) and is in decline as we speak. I’m not stinking filthy rich (those guys stand to gain the wealth that is being stripped from the middle class) and I stand to lose it to them. So I just want carve out some little simple and sane portion of this world and hide it from those buggers before it goes.

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