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Old 05-15-2010, 02:10 AM
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ethanol conversion

I have this 1986 Dodge Ram b250 van with a 318 in it and i am not to impressed with its mileage. It has a holley duel barrel. I have already used youtube guides to educate myself and now i know how to make the fuel itself. I wonder what major modifications i need to do to this old vehicle and who else here has done this and what have you thought of the results?

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Old 05-15-2010, 06:49 AM
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alky conversion,

There was a lot of interest in alcohol in the 70's. some stuff I wrote was published in Automotive industries Trade magazine. Mother Earth News magazine had a lot of info on how to brew your own and the conversion process. Some Farmers put a Holly 4 barrel on the Air intake to their tractors for the alcohol..They ran a double system of diesel thru the stock injectors and alky thru the holly. General motors tried to mix the two fuels and had a lot of injector and pump wear problems. It just took a Tractor Puller Farmer to figure a better way to get the job done. I saw a recent article in Mother Earth News about present day Brew your own operations. I went to a seminar In Calif in the 70's. A couple of guys got all the waste from a bakery. Bread dough, rinse water, flour and sugar waste, for the brew . they got scrap wood from a casket manufacturing Company for free to run the wood fired still. At Lot of info is out there.
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:55 AM
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Expect about 20-30% worse MPG on ethanol, but if you can make the fuel cheaply it doesn't matter. Buying ethanol at the pump is cheaper than gas, but the resulting loss of MPG usually makes it a wash as far as cost per mile.

But how on earth are you going to brew 20 gallons of ethanol a week to support driving the vehicle? You'll have to have multiple vats of beer brewing all the time to the tune of several thousand gallons each just to make a small jug of ethanol.
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Old 05-15-2010, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One to Remember
I have this 1986 Dodge Ram b250 van with a 318 in it and i am not to impressed with its mileage. It has a holley duel barrel. I have already used youtube guides to educate myself and now i know how to make the fuel itself. I wonder what major modifications i need to do to this old vehicle and who else here has done this and what have you thought of the results?
Two big problems with this:

First of course is alcohols don't have the heat energy of gasoline and therefore require you burn more, add with that the chemically correct mixture to support combustion in an engine is richer. For ethanol this requires about 30% more fuel to the weight of air than gasoline, the result you see is mileage goes down. some of that can be recovered with a redesign of the engine to a much higher compression ratio to take advantage of the efficiencies available with alcohol's much higher octane rating.

Secondly is purity, fuel grade alcohol is very hard and expensive to make. The swill that passes for booze has a lot of water which occurs as a product of the fermentation process. 100 proof booze is only 50% alcohol, while this may plaster your butt after a few glasses, it is not suitable as an engine fuel. To get to fuel grade alcohol requires multiple passes of the product thru the condenser to knock the water out till the alcohol is very close to 200 proof, or 100%. This is why making ethanol as a fuel is economically futile with out a big government subsidy and why methanol is made from natural gas instead of tree bark.

I have hands on knowledge from my moutain man days when I was hiding out for a few years after Nam, thinking I could be self sufficient except for the big Ford pick up of course.

Bogie
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:54 PM
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Well, I'll throw my two cents in here.
I ran alky in a altered for several years. It's great for race car, but I would hate to know I had to perform all that upkeep on a daily driver. That stuff is heck on all aluminum parts and fuel system has to be double as that of gasoline. I had a large stock share in WD40 to keep that alky from lubed down from corrosion.
Some fuels are just better left for what they are made for. The alcohol based fuel that is used as alternative fuel is mixed with regular gasoline and not pure alcohol. I'm with the rest of these guys - not cost effective to use on the street in raw form.

Good luck!
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Old 05-16-2010, 02:17 AM
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it was my understanding that in order to make the conversion i would need to make sure i had non plastic parts in my carb, non rubber hoses, and a new filter since the eth would clean out the old lines. i was told it was 90% as good as gasoline. i was also informed through research that even though most cars well all cars take up to ten percent eth it could be pushed to 20 percent without incident. I would also need to adjust the jets on my carbs to get more fuel into the carb and to avoid running lean.

i also have the time and the space to make plenty of ethanol...
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Old 05-16-2010, 05:57 AM
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Ok , all of the fuel system would need to be changed like lines, hoses, fuel pump and carb that would send more volume and be alcohol friendly. I see that your doing an ethanol mix and that would work better. I don't think you will get the jetting required with that old two barrel carb.
Remember for every percentage of volume replaced with ethanol, the lines, pump and carb has to be doubled in regards to gasoline. Your valve train and top of cylinders will need more lubricant the more percentage of ethanol you use. This added in by manufacturers before being sold as fuel, you will need to by top end lubricant and add a smaller amount than a fuel alcohol car would require. There are really several additives that you need to keep this mixture suspended in the fuel system. It isn't that cost effective for large companies, so I'm not sure how you would come out by doing it yourself.
I'll share a secret that I performed on my '84 Dodge truck with a 318 that made a world of difference. Every since this truck was new it made only 13 mpg period. I changed to 4 barrel intake and Eddy carb(600 cfm),headers with crossover duals, removed all that smog pump crap and it made 17 mpg no matter what I did with it. This worked until I put a HOT 340 in it several years ago and back to 12 mpg.
Dodges have never been super on gas economy, I have driven them the better part of my life and have made better fuel mileage with a low compression big block than with with any small block.
I think you might stretch your purchased fuel by mixing like you intend, but will not get very good mileage.
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Old 05-16-2010, 06:13 AM
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Saab twin turbo alky

Saab experimented with twin turbo's for a lot of boost and got horsepower and milage with alcohol. . alcohol likes about a 14 to 1 effective compression ratio. manufactures made special engines to run propane and they work better for alcohol , propane does not lubricate as well as gasoline,
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Old 05-16-2010, 01:08 PM
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The use of ethanol blends in conventional gasoline vehicles is restricted to low mixtures, as ethanol is corrosive and can degrade some of the materials in the engine and fuel system. Also the engine has to be adjusted for a higher compression ratio as compared to a pure gasoline engine, in order to take advantage of ethanolís higher oxygen content, thus allowing an improvement in fuel efficiency and a reduction of tailpipe emissions

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_..._fuel_mixtures adcording to the chart there upon reaching E6-E10 modifications to the carb alone might be needed.

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The primary method used to convert non-fuel-injected cars is two-fold. First, any non-compatible rubber parts and gaskets and terne gas tanks and terne fuel lines are replaced. Then, it remains necessary to increase the fuel rate of flow by roughly 25% - 30%. This can be accomplished in one of several different ways, depending on the specific details of the fueling system. In the early 80's auto makers were required to make vehicles ethanol compatible, so most new vehicles will handle E85 with no problem. If a car is converted though, the ethanol will clean out the gunk left over from the gasoline and plug the fuel filter. The fuel filter needs to be replaced after about 600 miles. For non-fuel-injected engines, this may be accomplished through increasing the diameter of the carburetor running jets to a size that is slightly larger in diameter. The theoretical change is not to increase the hole diameter by 25% to 30%, but rather to increase the area and hence the fuel flow rate by 25%-30%. Hence, the diameter of the jets must be increased by 11.8% to 14%, while keeping the general shapes at the opening of the jets as close to nearly the same as possible. (The idling jet must also be increased in diameter in addition to the running jet, primarily to accomplish successful starting in colder weather.) An excellent starting point, if one doesn't want to experiment with multiple test trials over the 25% to 30% range, is simply to increase the fuel flow by 27%, which just requires increasing the diameter of the jets by 13%. For older vehicles, an even simpler non-conversion 'conversion' is possible once any non-compatible rubber gas hoses and cork gaskets and such are all replaced with ethanol-resistant materials. For older vehicles with a manual choke, it is possible simply to leave the choke slightly engaged even when the motor is warmed up, and the conversion is complete.
my carb or fuel system or lines have none of those components. The '83 dodge i have is a different situation though..


i can not find the third page but it showed decades of findings from brazil stating that 20 percent ethanol in the tank caused no issues foany vehicles. I Believe that was w/o any modifications at all.

I think I can save some money.
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Old 05-16-2010, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One to Remember
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_..._fuel_mixtures adcording to the chart there upon reaching E6-E10 modifications to the carb alone might be needed.

my carb or fuel system or lines have none of those components. The '83 dodge i have is a different situation though..


i can not find the third page but it showed decades of findings from Brazil stating that 20 percent ethanol in the tank caused no issues foany vehicles. I Believe that was w/o any modifications at all.

I think I can save some money.
First you have to make the still, heres a good article from Mother Earth circa 1980. http://www.journeytoforever.org/biof...rth/meCh7.html

This is the technical end, you will also have to obtain a license from the ATF (Feds) and your state, perhaps county and city as well. If you don't and they bust you; even if they let you go because you're making fuel not untaxed booze, the freaking court costs will be way over any savings in the cost of gasoline for your entire life.

Don't let the article fool you, without exotic computer controls and a throttlable heat source (not available in 1980 year of article) other than burning all the trees in your county, this is a labor intensive job. The ratios of alcohol to water change in the mash as it vaporizes, this changes the temperatures which you need to optimize the capture of alcohol (holding the proof up) so somebody's got to be on top this thing 24/7 when it's running.

Keep in mind that stills blow up, this is basically a steam power-plant making a very flammable fuel. The building department and various government safety people will weigh in on the design.

I'm not opposed to this in the slightest, but I'm not selling it either. Those that do, make this sound like something you can do in the kitchen with your wife's tea pot and 10 feet of copper tube from the Home Depot. Trust me it ain't. Yes you can save some bucks on your fuel cost but you're gonna trade them bucks in your time and labor.

Mother Earth article says that 170-175 proof is suitable for fuel, maybe for cooking. In an engine this is hard to light off, it's hard to get the engine running hot enough as alcohol even in pure form doesn't burn as hot as gasoline. So 170 proof has a real hard time vaporizing all that water, plus don't forget about 1/2 the volume of exhaust is waters of combustion, so add that to the water in the fuel and you've got a lot of water going into the crankcase with the blow by and mixing with the lube oil. This reduces oil changes to about a thousand mile interval. The alcohol used in commercial gasoline mixes and in Brazil is called anhydrous alcohol which means water free. This is why they get away without a lot of technical changes to materials in their vehicle fuel systems. The alcohol alone isn't so reactive, at least not ethanol, it's the combination of water in alcohol that becomes so corrosive to many metals and quite a few plastics and rubber compounds. So for an engine and its fuel supply components to survive, you're really got to get the alcohol dry, up around 193 proof is generally considered to be the bottom limit in water contamination before there's consequences in the fuel system materials.

Not that this can't be done, like I said when I was recovering from Nam and living in the hills of Washington state, I took that shot making a perforated plate still. You'll quickly find that a still packed with copper, brass, or stainless steel wool is unaffordable. A packed still would be a lot more efficient and way less labor intensive to run, especially a fractional column design, but talk about gas money, that ain't nothing compared to the price of "semi-precious" metal wools. The other thing I found was even not having a regular job hardly left enough time to make fuel, that was a labor of love like all weekend long to make a weeks worth of truck fuel and I wasn't commuting. It eventually became pretty tedious and I eventually returned to the mainstream world. This is also the time of my life when I found the large creek running thru my place didn't come close to running a generator big enough to run a shop's worth of power tools, house lighting, or water pumping stuff like that. Gives me kind of a smile when the "greens" start talking about self reliant low pollution energy in everybody's yard. The average creek when harnessed to a alternator has barely enough power to operate the electrical system of your old Dodge. To go beyond that starts taking some big changes like a 10 foot dam. Try that on your county government and see how far it travels. It's a changing world, the more people, the less space and fewer rights.That's just the way it's gonna be. Imagine the US at 300 million people in the 2010 census. Feeling crowded, that's gonna be 600 million by 2030 and a billion by mid century, rights! what rights? The goverment isn't gonna let you put your toes in the stream let alone dam it, 'cause there ain't no way you can let a billion people do that. So they won't let anyone do it. Got any moonshine, I need a drink!

Bogie
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Old 05-16-2010, 03:48 PM
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Great read Bogie, thank you.
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