Same Content, Different Theme: Redux

This theme (Rubric) seems less glaring than Shocking Blue Green, it’s flexible-width, and the fonts seem fine.

A bit heavy on the Javascript that nails that gradient to the screen. Ain’t it amazing how software eats up all the performance of the hardware?

Heck, it even has a customized header image!

Bad Gas!

No, not that kind!

Over the last several years, more or less coincident with the switch from MTBE to ethanol, all of my small internal-combustion engines have stopped working with stored gasoline, even when it’s treated with StaBil, even for just a few months.

After plenty of putzing around, pouring in fresh gasoline has solved the problem in every engine.

For example, I’d left the snow thrower’s tank empty after tracking down the bad gas problem in 2007. I filled it with gas from about November when we did the last of the leaf shredding; I think I’d dosed it with Sta-Bil, but in any event that’s relatively young gas by my standards.

The blower didn’t even cough when I leaned on the starter button; not a single pop. I fired a dose of starting fluid up its snout and it still didn’t fire. At all. Period. As a friend puts it, starting fluid should wake the dead.

Pulled the plug, blew compressed air into the cylinder to dry it out, went out for a can of New Gas, drained the Old Gas, filled the tank, and it fired right up. Surges a bit at idle with no choke, but I can deal with that.

Lessons learned:

  • You cannot store ethanol-treated New Gas for more than a month or maybe two, tops, at least for use in small engines.
  • Sta-Bil doesn’t work on New Gas. I’d love to be proven wrong, but this whole bad running thing began with well-treated gasoline stored in a closed container.
  • There is no longer any way to have an emergency gasoline stash on hand so you don’t have to go out in the FFC (that’s Freezing obscene-gerund Cold) dawn for a fresh tank.

Even with fresh gas, the engines surge under light load, which is a classic symptom of an air leak around the carburetor: lean running. But in all the engines? And with no detectable leaks? Even after replacing the gaskets?

As nearly as I can tell, the problem stems from the 10% ethanol added as an oxygenate. The additional oxygen reduces pollution in modern engines, but causes small engines (at least the ones without electronic mixture control, which are all of mine) to run very very lean.

The cheap solution seems to be setting the engine at about 1/3 choke for normal running. That richens the mixture enough to make the engine happy, but without farting black smoke out the muffler.

Although I no longer keep a 5-gallon can of gas for emergencies (which I’m sure will come back to haunt me one of these days), I do keep a gallon with dose of StaBil for the yard equipment.

Update: As of late-Feb 2009, that entire Cornell website has been dead since I posted the link. If it never comes up again or the link stays broken, here’s the punchline. The link pointed you to their evaluation of Cherokee Trail Of Tears beans, with this review from someone with *cough* experience:

This is my favorite dry bean for black bean soup. It’s not called “Trail of Tears” for nothing. If you walk behind someone who’s eaten a mess of these beans, your eyes will be burning. It’s a very gassy bean.

This Internet thing isn’t ready for prime time; stuff just softly and suddenly vanishes away.

Update 2: Cornell is back online again. It seems their servers got pwned… after their desktops got infected. But, eh, they’re running Windows, what do they expect?