Ethanol Pains

By: Grid Michal

QuestionI’m an old-timer and grew up knowing that winter meant filling my boat’s fuel tanks before I put it to bed for the winter. Of course, gasoline then was real gas, and was about $2 a gallon. No sooner did I buy a cruiser with a 300-gallon tank to feed twin 502 big-blocks, then gas went to $5 a gallon for ethanol. I am not happy about putting $1,500 worth of pig-food in my fuel tanks and letting it sit over the winter just to drive me nuts with the results in the spring. My heirs aren’t happy about seeing their inheritance in Pop’s gas tank, either. Help?

AnswerWhen ethanol first came out, we were all stumped as to what to do for winter. It took us a few winters to discover (as techs) that the following year boats would run far better if the owner used stabilized fuel all year, most especially in the last tank of the season, ensuring the treated fuel ran well in the powerplant(s), and ran the tanks as close to empty as safely possible. Then, run the engine’s fuel system (EFI or carb) dry after disconnecting or turning off the fuel supply. In the spring, fill the tank with treated fuel and have a great boating season.

Well, you’d have thought I’d come up with a new definition of blasphemy. But, the boats we serviced proved us right. Some boats, however, are required by “high-and-dry” boatels to have the tanks full, and you don’t get stacked unless you do. So at least part of what I say still stands: Make certain treated fuel is not only in the tanks, but all through the engine’s fuel system. Get the boat out as early as possible, run the fuel level down as quickly as possible without putting the engine under heavy load, and refill with fresh, treated fuel for your season.


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