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Thread: Are there any Continental o-200 configurations that make ethanol OK?

  1. #1

    Are there any Continental o-200 configurations that make ethanol OK?

    Hello,

    I've read somewhere (though I cannot find it now) that if a Continental has certain types of "things" (seals, o-rings, carburetor, etc) that you can use E10 in it, at least part of the time. Does anyone know what these "things" are? Being able to use gas from a local station would go a long way towards reducing the hourly cost of flying.

  2. #2
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    There is no legal way to put ethanol of any sort into a certificated aircraft operating under the EAA or Petersen STCs.

    As far as experimentals goes, that is up to you. Not only do you need to look at the carb but also the rest of the fuel system (notably the gascolator is known to be a problem with it's o-rings swelling) as well as corrosion issues in the tank and any metal lines you have. Then you get to play aircraft engineer and test pilot with regard to volatility and vapor lock (of course, you did that as soon as you put autogas in the thing anyhow).

  3. #3

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    Dave,
    I am going to assume that you mean '...configurations that allow ethanol' . The next question - how much are you talking about ? I am assuming it is the mogas 10% and I am going to shift toward the end of the branch and say most engines will tolerate 10% ethanol - but as noted before - many of the seals, rubbers, plastics that have fuel either running through them or potentially splashed/dripped on will need to be checked for compatibility.
    A certified engine running on non certified fuel takes the engine out of certification. A certified engine/prop running on non certified fuel during Phase One flight will void your 25 hours and move you into the more common 40 hours of Phase One.
    As noted - once out of certification you are now experimental. The next question from me is.... once out of certification can it be brought back into certification?

  4. #4

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    A hangarmate w a Cessna 140A had his fuel line swell partially shut from FBO sourced fuel. It turned out they accidently got a load of E10 rather than the UL they had requested & didn't test it since it was a "certified load". The bulk truck guy grabbed the wrong hose. I figured from my tests that his airplane had about 5% ethanol.

  5. #5

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    On the subject of ethanol, does anyone have an actual first hand story about ethanol causing a serious problem with their (experimental) airplane. I have read lots of warnings about what it could/will do, but these all seem to be the same warning that is just passed along. We are all scared of ethanol, I am too, but I would love to know if there are some real, no doubt, 100% sure cases of ethanol problems in aircraft engines. Just asking!

  6. #6
    rosiejerryrosie's Avatar
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    MMorrison123, Yep. I know of two actual cases that I have seen personally. The first was a friend's Kolb that the ethanol "digested" the fuel tank and leaked 10 gallons of ethanol tainted fuel on to his hangar floor. The other was a friend in a Phantom who made an off airport landing when the engine quit. Investigation showed the gascolator plugged with some "sludge" looking material. Backtracking through the fuel system showed the inside of the fuel tank flaking off with about a 1/4 inch of residue in the bottom of the tank. It had deteriorated to the extent that in areas of the tank, one could poke your finger through the tank with little effort. In my lawn mower, it has required two costly trips to the maintenance facility to have the fuel system flushed out and all gaskets and filters replaced. The owner of the shop said that his business has doubled since the introduction of ethanol in gasoline. That, plus what it has done toward raising the price of corn, corn products and all meat raised on corn (beef, chicken, pork, eggs, etc), is enough for me to hate the stuff!
    Cheers,
    Jerry

    NC22375
    65LA out of 07N Pennsylvania

  7. #7
    I've seen two cases in certificated aircraft where the owner unknowingly used ethanol tainted mogas. Both caused significant damage to the glass tanks. In one case, the tip tanks on a Cherokee 235 were so soft they were deforming in flight. In the other case, the inlet screen on the carb was plugged up with brown sludge that appeared to be glass resin from the fuel tank causing the engine to quit in flight. Plane ended up on it's back in a field.

    -CubBuilder

  8. #8

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    So it seems that the issue is with certain types of fuel tanks? I flew a Kolb for a couple years, about 100 hours. It came with a plastic fuel tank and I never had a problem with ethanol. Same with the Titan Tornado that I fly now. The plastic fuel cans that I use to store/transport fuel for my airplanes, mowers, etc seem unaffected, as do the fuel tanks in my cars. I built a fiberglass fuel tank for my Pietenpol Aircamper using vinylester resin as it was claimed to hold up to ethanol, but I have not tried it yet. I know that the boat people have been having issues with epoxy and polyester resin fuel tanks. Do you guys know what type of resin was used to construct the Cherokee tanks, or what the Kolb tank was made of? I agree that we should be eating corn, not trying to run our engines on it, but is the safety simply a matter of using it in plastic, vinylester, or metal fuel tanks?

  9. #9

    Why take the risk - use mogas

    Why would anyone want to take the risks using ethanol-blended fuels? Even if you could make your entire fuel system ethanol-proof, you will lose power and range since ethanol has only 70% of the BTUs per gallon of gasoline.

    Better is to support the airports selling mogas, which you can find on this list and map:
    http://www.flyunleaded.com/airports.php
    http://www.flyunleaded.com/mapusairports.html

    Find ethanol-free at other retail locations here:
    http://pure-gas.org/

    Rod Hightower stated in an intervew during AirVenture 2012 that having mogas at Oshkosh is his #1 priority for improvements in 2013. Why not follow his lead and do the same for your airport? Join the free Aviation Fuel Club to learn more and help others, www.aviationfuelclub.org

  10. #10

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    It's the risk that I'm trying to determine. What is the real risk of using ethanol blended fuel in my airplane? I know it's less powerful (10% ethanol * 70% power + 90% gas * 100% power means ethanol blend has only 97% of the power of no-ethanol fuel). The list of ethanol free fuel suppliers is great, but the closest is a 3 hour round trip from me. Avgas costs about $2.25 more per gallon than local mogas. Not a show stopper, but if I can save $10 per hour operating costs, without ruining my engine or plummeting to my death I would like to do that. I have about 180 hours on Rotax 503's running local mogas with no problems that I can attribute to ethanol. Do you have any figures on the costs of ethanol free fuel from those airports or other suppliers that have it? Airports where I have been able to buy ethanol free fuel have charged almost as much as avgas.

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