Thursday, October 21, 2010
The great ethanol scam and your motorcycle engine: get worried
In this age of runaway, out-of-control government, it's easy to get mired down in worry and anger about a variety of things. Granted, the list is endless. But of all the wild government action we're currently being subjected to, perhaps one of the most cleverly executed scams going is the corn lobby's successful hijacking of the fuel sector via the mandated blending of ethanol with pump gas.
The crazy thing is, everyone knows ethanol is a terrible product as a fuel source. I mean everyone. For crying out loud, when the eco-mentalists and the oil companies actually come together to agree on something, you know a boondoggle of extraordinary magnitude is afoot.
But forget the fact that it takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than you get from a gallon of ethanol. Forget that ethanol's production drives up food prices and contributes to human starvation. Forget that ethanol is 35 percent less efficient than gasoline. Hell, forget that ethanol produces as much or more pollution than gasoline depending on how it's used. Yes, forget all that. The most important issue for you as a motorcyclist right now is that ethanol-laced fuel may be slowly destroying your bike's engine.
From the lawsuits against the ethanol industry by boaters whose marine engines and fuel cells were badly damaged, to the widespread cratering of two-stroke chainsaw and four-stroke lawnmower engines, the direct evidence of ethanol's curse is overwhelming. And the damage ethanol has done to some makes of cars and trucks is arguably just as bad. Early last year, Lexus ordered a massive vehicle recall related to ethanol damage. "Ethanol fuels with low moisture content will corrode the internal surface of fuel rails," reads one of the service bulletins.
It only stands to reason that similar woes are now befalling motorcycle owners, where ethanol's corrosive properties are destroying everything from rubber fuel boots to throttle bodies and carburetors.
And it gets worse. Since motorcycles tend to sit unused for long periods of time during the cold months, they are especially susceptible to serious engine damage resulting from phase separation, a condition whereby water condensation in the fuel causes the ethanol to bond to the H2O molecules, separate from the gasoline, and sink to the bottom of the tank. The first warm day the motorcycle is fired up, the pure ethanol dumps directly into the engine and, shazam, it's curtains for your poor bike.
So what can we do as motorcyclists to insure the continued care and long life of the bikes we love so much? Well, I wish I had that answer. I've heard tell of some guys intentionally phase separating the ethanol from their fuel using distilled water in specially constructed tanks, draining away the water/ethanol mixture, and then running the pure pump gas. I've also heard that running marine fuel stabilizers can be beneficial.
Honestly, I don't know if either of those ideas are good ones or not, but I do know that we all need to start making angry political noises about ethanol-laced fuel. It's needs to be gone forever, and it needs to be gone yesterday. It's time to get off our couches and start kicking and screaming about ethanol and all the other things our so-called leaders are doing to ruin the quality of our lives, otherwise those bought-and-payed-for bastards will soon diminish our existences to that of simple slaves, working and toiling pointlessly and endlessly, only to do their mindless bidding.
Addendum: For clarification, I realize that a small amount of ethanol has been used in pump gas as an octane booster since 1979 or so. My call to action is specifically aimed at eliminating large-volume ethanol blends such as E10 and E15.