Katana of the Month - February 2008 Ė Dane-Kat
 

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Mechanics 101 Can't get it to run right? Find a trick to add HP?
From the first oil change to completely rebuilding the engine,
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:17 AM   #1
Kreylyn
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Default Ethanol - A "new" issue to look for...

So this riding season has been a slow one for me so far. A culmination of several outside factors has me with less than 1k miles added since last fall. Not much riding at all for what I normally prefer to ride.

Exceptionally cold/wintery weather this winter season, followed by actively working towards and eventually buying a house this spring, time and funds have been "tight" for my hobby, a motorcycle theft, a new motorcycle and pressure to get it running ASAP, on top of all the other things life has thrown, has been stressful... for a hobby. On top of all of this, while I would normally take a ride to relieve stress... my bike has simply not wanted to run trouble free for the past 6 months. Iíve had multiple issues, one re-occurring and the reason for this post.

For the last 6 months, I have been fighting a couple of electrical issues. I believe I have those worked out now. Not the reason for this post, but... just another stress inducer overall.

So, to the reason for the post...

Gel.

Clear non sticky light gelatin droplets have been causing a major issue with clogging idle jets and the idle jet intake ports. Almost impossible to see floating around in the gas, almost instantly dissolves if you rub it between your fingers into a liquid that smells like gas, burns like gas, acts like gas... but it's a friggen gel!

At first, I couldn't "see" it... I would open the carbs... they looked clean. Pull the jets, blow them out real quick to dry and look... they looked clean.

Okay, put the carbs back together and fire up the bike. Runs great. Drive down the road... get 20-50 miles in and all of a sudden... won't idle again. Slight choke, it idles... so I know it's a blockage in the pilot circuit.

Put off working on them till a time when I'm less frustrated (bad temper if I'm not careful, break things when I get overly frustrated, and this got frustrating quick...)

Pull the carbs again later... run into the same thing. Looks clean, pull the pilot jets, blow them off, and looks clean. WTF? Check the tank, gas is clear, no sediment. Pour some out in a container, run it through a coffee strainer... clear, nothing that I can see.

So on the 4th run of this I ask for BadFaerie to assist (maybe another eye can help out with this, and point out what I'm missing... ) and I lay out clean white shop towels to work on. I clean off the outside of the carbs and set them upside down I pull all the bowls off, looks clean for the most part. Pull out the floats, pull out the pilot jet plugs, and notice 2 of the pilot jet holes had gas still under the plugs.... the other 2 drained out (as they all should have...). Okay, obvious something is clogging them. I pull those 2 out, use a small blast of air to eject anything in them out onto a clean white shop towel.... and nothing but a wet spot from fuel (that I can see...). Again, I'm thinking WTF!

So I continue going through the pilots and cleaning all of them, making sure they are clean. Pickup the bowls and inspect them... look for any residue... and then, I finally notice it.

A tiny clear "bubble" like reflection in the bottom of the damp bowl. Start turning it to get a different light and realize... it's a small gelatinous "blob" or "dot". Tiny... but plenty big enough to clog a pilot jet hole. Poke at it with a small screw driver... and it moves around the bowl. Not a bubble, definitely some kind of gel. So I go to "pull it out" with my finger... and it "disappears" or "dissipates" as soon as I touch it.

Another out loud "WTF mate"?

So I do the only smart thing to do at this point... I ignore my own advice.

I flush the bottom side out, flush out the pilot jet holes and jets, re-assemble, put the carbs back on and fire her up... She idles! Woot!

Drain most of the rest of the tank of gas, inspect the petcock filter (it's clean and plenty fine enough to not let what I saw through it), refill with fresh, went for a ride, and the bike ran great.... till I got 40 miles in and wham... electrical issue shuts the bike down. Pull over, temp resolve that again with a zip tie (still hadn't got the parts I needed to permanently fix) and start the bike back up. Get 30 seconds down the road and bike sounds...odd. Let off the throttle and it dies in gear. Roll back on the throttle and it fires back up and takes off.

Idle jets clogged again! Double whammy and I'm pretty annoyed at this point.

So it sits for a week or two while I "think" this issue over.

Couple of things comes to mind.

1. I'm going to fully flush the tank, just to make sure nothing else is floating around in there that I can't see and might be re-introduced.
2. WTF... I didn't follow my own advice about cleaning carbs... and clean ALL of the parts. Fuel flows into the pilot jets from the main jet, into the emulsion area, crosses over in a small port to the pilot jet hole, and feeds the pilot jets from there... so maybe I have a deposit of something in the emulsion tube area that hasn't been fully flushed out...

So, it just happens I finally get a fuse block I've been needing and redo some wiring to fix the electrical issues I've been having (old block slightly melted and connector would not stay connected well). Pull the carbs, and start a systematic full disassembly and cleaning... of everything.

Pull the bowls, floats, pilot and main jets. Remove the top, slide and diaphragm/needle assembly. Loosen up the emulsion tubes and pull the slide guides out.

OMG. WTF Mate!!!! (btw, this is a reference to a great vid if you haven't seen it...


The "bottom" of the emulsion tubes, on the outside... Looks like you have used them to scoop a massive amount of Vaseline out of the jar (and I'm starting to think I might need some... ). This "Gel" is caked on. Pull the other 3, same thing... only worse!

Wipe it off and rub it between my fingers and suddenly it dissipates and smells like gas.

Okay... I'm at a loss at this point. No idea what the heck this is, but... I finish the full disassembly; clean every conceivable nook, port, jet, or tube. Carbs are absolutely fully cleaned.

Thinking back, makes perfect sense now why the idle circuit seemed like it was getting clogged with the way fuel feeds to it from the bowls, but where the heck did this crap come from and what is it? ???

So as of this morning I'm sitting with an untested bike but with everything back on it except the fuel tank. New fuse block, connectors, and ends to fix the electrical issues I had, carbs fully cleaned and mounted back up, everything connected. Today I will be doing a full drain and cleaning on the inside of the gas tank before mounting it back up with 100% fresh gas, and then I plan on a nice long ride to test/verify that the problem is done.

So this morning I did some research. Where/what/how did this occur? I've never seen it before.

Ethanol..... Seems to be the answer.

A few quotes from other websites for boats (similar unsealed fuel system to a motorcycle with carbs...)

Quote:
Ethanol absorbs water from the air, which can cause a motor to lose power or stall. A solvent, ethanol also picks up contaminants from storage containers. And when mixed with non-ethanol gasoline already in a tank, the blend can form a gelatinous glob that clogs fuel filters.


Quote:
Another problem with ethanol-enhanced gasoline is that alcohols are excellent solvents for dissolving tars and other sediment found in many marine tanks. This means that any residue left in a boaterís tank will be loosened and picked up by the fuel pump. Under some conditions, the dissolved material from the fuel tank walls thickens the gas, resulting in a gel consistency which also clogs filters.


So... while I can't 100% narrow down the cause, I can say... I've never seen this happen before. I've cleaned man carbs before this and never run into anything like it. The only repetitive reasons and mentions I've been able to find are specifically talking about Ethanol being the ultimate culprit. And from that reading it appears that mixing an ethanol blended gas from one tank fill, with non ethanol blended gas on another tank fill... can cause this problem to be worse!!!

From my perspective, I can see that this stuff really wouldnít' be a problem for sealed systems with fuel pumps (clogging anything anyways) as it really seems to dissipate back into a liquid with the slightest pressure. I think that a fuel pump would probably provide enough pressure to return the gelatin to a liquid by forcing it through a closed systems filter.

For our gravity feed open systems though... well, we are screwed. It's been commented on recently that it seems like our carbed bikes seem to be having a lot more issues with getting dirty and clogged quicker than they used too. This could explain part of that issue (I'm sure it's not all, but...).

Are there additives to counter it?... Well, let me say first of all that I tried Seafoam... that didn't prevent it, nor did it remove it. Other suggestions have been Techron might help/remove it. I don't know. Something I may look into if it returns. I mention Techron as it's in Chevron gas (I believe?) and a lot of people have mentioned they don't have that issue with Chevron's gas, and don't have to use additives for medium length storages (3-6 months), and never have carb issues.

Maybe I need to start looking specifically for chevron gas stations...

Anyways, thought I would share that "adventure" and end with... Remember to take your own advice... Iíll follow up if the problem comes back.

Krey
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:29 AM   #2
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Ug, I'm no carb guru- but I know ethanol is terrible for the fuel system in my 'rents boat. Where in previous seasons we'd use -maybe- one inline filter per engine, we've been going through three or four for the last probably four or so years. That's just the inline filters between the tanks and the engines. There are two more per side actually onboard the engine. I don't know the reason- but it even has the water seperator cartridges filling and clogging faster. We'd NEVER had to empty one out prior to last year. I didn't even know they were there until we got about twelve miles offshore and the starboard engine just died. We had to limp home at 9 knots to learn that lesson. Ethanol is ****ing terrible, and I hate that we're forced to accept it.
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:43 AM   #3
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I use this http://www.goldeagle.com/brands/stab...marine_formula

And then there's this http://www.crcindustries.com/auto/co...x?PN=06141&S=Y
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:52 AM   #4
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I was going to mention the Stabil Marine.

Tim, I wonder if it's a problem with a particular station that you gassed up in, the fuel blend in your state, or some other unknown factor.

The Bandit has been chugging along just fine this season.
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steves View Post
I was going to mention the Stabil Marine.

Tim, I wonder if it's a problem with a particular station that you gassed up in, the fuel blend in your state, or some other unknown factor.

The Bandit has been chugging along just fine this season.

I'll definately be looking into this issue further. If it comes back, I'll be doing a few experiments with various additives. I might even try to "recreate" the situation with some test containers to see if I can narrow down the cause.

It could definately have been a problematic singular fill... I can hope that it won't ever come back, and that would be fine for me. I know it was frustrating as I just did not find the culprit, primarily because I was too focused on the "repairs" that I did previously, before widening my scope just re-cleaning the entire carbs.

Krey
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:10 AM   #6
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My friends Dad has been sampling gasoline from various stations, putting it in sealed and unsealed test tubes to check for how soon the ethanol separates and what it looks like.

He's been using his informal results to avoid some gas stations.

I started using the Marine Stabil at double strength last year, as it suggests specific protection against ethanol attracting contaminates and water, but then again the Bandit has almost ALWAYS run like a champ regardless of how much neglect it gets.

Doesn't poly-styrene form a gel when introduced to fuel? Napalm style? I'm wondering if that's the issue... hmmm...

I will be interested to hear your results.
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:16 AM   #7
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93oct it's the only grade of gas I can get here at the pump with no ethanol. So that's what I buy and put in the bike. Most stations have the highest OCT grade they sell unblended.
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steves View Post
My friends Dad has been sampling gasoline from various stations, putting it in sealed and unsealed test tubes to check for how soon the ethanol separates and what it looks like.

He's been using his informal results to avoid some gas stations.

I started using the Marine Stabil at double strength last year, as it suggests specific protection against ethanol attracting contaminates and water, but then again the Bandit has almost ALWAYS run like a champ regardless of how much neglect it gets.

Doesn't poly-styrene form a gel when introduced to fuel? Napalm style? I'm wondering if that's the issue... hmmm...

I will be interested to hear your results.
I would be intersted in more info on his results...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vandil View Post
93oct it's the only grade of gas I can get here at the pump with no ethanol. So that's what I buy and put in the bike. Most stations have the highest OCT grade they sell unblended.
I'm gonna have to look into this... I ran 93 for 13 years and didn't have a problem, and I know the "octane" rating it's self isn't a help, but if it means no/less ethanol... that might be a simple solution. I can easily retune the carbs to work with that.

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Old 07-09-2010, 04:28 PM   #9
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http://katriders.com/vb/showthread.p...hlight=ethanol

Somebody told me that all fuel has to have 10% ethanol in Canada regardless of octane grade
Local mechanic at Honda dealer says they see tons of small engine stuff with fuel issues
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Old 07-09-2010, 05:39 PM   #10
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I've been trying different brands of gas this season and I'm having reasonable good luck with Gulf gas around here, still 10% methanol but the bike appears to be running better than it did on Mobil, Hess, or Quick Check gas. I've wanted to try Sunoco but haven't yet. I too would like to know if the higher octanes have no methanol in the blend. I think they do around here.
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