Jim Smart
May 1, 2009

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One known ethanol issue is water retention. Like brake fluid, ethanol likes to retain more water then gasoline. Because ethanol tends to be hard on rubber and cork components, you can wind up with leaks and bits of rubber in the fuel system, which can cause a sticking float and plugged passages. This is why visual inspection of fuel bowls is important from time to time.

Available heat energy from ethanol is what makes it a good octane enhancer. We can bump compression a little higher and achieve more power without detonating an engine to death when we run ethanol. That's the good news. The bad news is the detrimental side effects of ethanol in gasoline when used in older cars.

Regular Preventative Maintenance for Vintage Carburetors
Because there isn't a carburetor kit designed for today's harsher fuels, you must inspect and service your fuel system more often than you used to. Here's what you need to do every six months.

  • Inspect the carburetor externally for fuel leaks around the accelerator pump and power valve.
  • Look for leakage around the throttle shaft.
  • Remove the air horn and inspect both float and needle valve.
  • Examine carburetor internals for evidence of leakage from a sticking float.
  • Inspect throttle plates for evidence of fuel dribbling.
  • Work the throttle and check accelerator pump shot quality.