Fuel - E85

Which works best?

Fuel - E85

Postby bomberbob » Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:06 pm

I had intended on going to E85 for several reasons: price, and I was sick and tired of watching my money (oil) go to people who wouldn't spit on us if we were on fire. Even though the price diff between gasoline and E85 is not that big, I ran it as long as I could.
The swap to E85 and megasquirt was quick and easy. Fill up, tweak the VE up to dump in more fuel, and then fine tune it. I made the swap back in July. Maybe I didn't have my afterstart and warmup set right, but I never could jump in the car, start, and drive away. I always had to sit there and warm it up some, and even then it was balky until I got some heat in the head. When warm, the car ran like a bat out of H***. It was a hoot to drive.
However, when winter rolled around, it became increasingly difficult to start in the morning. E85 does not want to "light off" when cold, and it took several tries to get it started, then I sat there and didn't touch it (let it idle) till it got some heat in the combustion chamber. When the temp went below freezing, and down to around 15 degrees F, it refused to start. I had to lift the hood and resort to ether. I played with priming pulse, cranking pulse, after start, and warmup, and nothing seemed to help. I read up on it, Honda ran a study, along with a University up north to attempt to improve cold starting with E85. They tried exotic stuff like hydrogen injection, but nothing within the normal persons grasp will help. This isn't a problem with our car - its a problem with the chemical makup (vapor pressure) of the fuel.
So you might ask, "Should I try E85"? I can't answer that for you. I will tell you that as soon as I get to the tail end of winter, I am heading back over to the alcohol pump. I have never seen spark plugs burn so clean. If you live down south and have a mild winter, it may not be too much of a problem. If you live where the temp dips below freezing, I would suggest you stick with gasoline, unless you want to mix up some kind of gasoline/alcohol cocktail. I don't have an E85 sensor installed, so setting VE on a homemade mix is a hassle when its cold out.
Writing this to get the word out. If the stuff would burn when its frigid cold out, I would still be using it. Having to lift the hood and give the motor a huff of ether in the snow and ice stinks. Besides the issues that manifest themselves cold, I have no other complaints about using alcohol as a motor fuel.
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Re: Fuel - E85

Postby Eaallred » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:35 pm

I've been running E85 for a few years now, and like you, I LOVE the stuff for our aircooled VW's.

Starting when cold is a difficulty though. My friend Chip, who is running it in his daily driver has gotten his tuned with the warmup settings dailed in where he can start the car when cold without hitting the gas. He does have an idle valve though. It starts up, and idles. Pretty impressive that he has been able to achieve that. as we're getting below freezing temps here now.

I am still working on making my car "street legal" so I can play with it more year round. For some of the colder mornings, i've found dumping a LOT of extra fuel enrichement really helped a lot.
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Re: Fuel - E85

Postby vdubjim » Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:13 pm

can you rig up 2 'cold start injectors' one for each bank, with regular gas in a separate tank, to shoot in a bit of gas occasionally when cold? Kinda like a rabbit?
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Re: Fuel - E85

Postby bomberbob » Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:20 pm

Somebody over on the vortex talked about hooking up a coleman tank and a cold start valve. I think he was kidding. Some people I know around here who are connected to farming mentioned going to a farm equipment place and seeing about building some kind of ether injection system, with a switch. Having a gas only tank and switch might work, if you could figure out plumbing, high pressure lines, etc. I thought about hooking up a small diameter hose (like vacuum hose) and squirting some ether in from the passenger compartment.
Lots of different ways of trying to rig up something, but I need a dependable daily driver, so I will stick to what I know works.
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Re: Fuel - E85

Postby vdubjim » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:08 pm

ether sounds dangerous.
just a small tank, a low psi inline pump, facet or whatever, relay it to spray when cranking, or if the psi is too high to open a coldstart valve, just an old injector or something?


I did a quick search after writing this and found the following, maybe it will help you:

"Easiest way to help with cold starting is to put about 1 gallon of 87 in with 9 gallons of E-85. When its thats cold out your not going to lose any performance from the diluted mixture but it sure as hell will make the car happier and start."

"Big Three automaker equipped its Brazilian vehicles with two fuel tanks—one for ethanol or ethanol blends, and the other solely for gasoline to assist with cold starts"

"Just enrich your crank table and your good if you are havin issues."

and many others. seems half tune the prob away, and half just throw gas at it!

few more links that might assist.
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewto ... c&start=60
http://alky.home.igc.org/
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Re: Fuel - E85

Postby bomberbob » Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:21 pm

Running gasoline has certainly reduced my starting problems. Still takes a couple of turns of the key, but at least it starts now.
I am not real happy with the performance of the car on gasoline, however. Obviously I had to retune, I ran the VE analyzer that comes with megalogviewer, and let it make the adjustments for me. Haven't logged any data lately on the highway to see what its doing for me.
There are a lot of E85 conversion kits being sold now. If I could crack this cold start problem, I would go back to E85 in a heartbeat. Possibly part of my problem is a tired battery. I only get a couple of shots at a start, but I have seen some uTube videos of BMW starting right up, with a shovel full of snow packed into the engine compartment. So apparently it is possible, I just don't have the timing and fuel amounts at the optimum for a frigid start.
Good thing about the internet is it puts a lot of information at your fingertips, bad thing about the internet is there is a potential for a lot of bad information at your fingertips.
Examples below.

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/CIS_EO_coldstart_AF-E-62_87914_7.pdf
http://www.ethanolproducer.com/article.jsp?article_id=3717
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Re: Fuel - E85

Postby oilpangasket » Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:54 pm

Ive been around lots if alcohol powered pulling tractors all my life, and they have to be primed and started with gasoline first. I'm sure you know that is why they mix 15% gas in with the ethanol, and in winter the mix of gasoline can be 20%-30%.

Megasquirt can be tricky to get to start and run with gasoline as well. The after start enrichment (ASE), warmup enrichment, priming pulsewidth, etc all need to be tweaked to where they will create a nice startup without it beeing "cold blooded." I have had luck setting the ASE to seconds instead of cycles and keeping it on for a high number such as 120-200 seconds. An idle valve will help a lot here too, but keeping the mixture rich at startup will help a lot. Your accel enrich probably needs some tweaking too. I had better luck with mine on TPS with a threshold of .586. When it is setup right you should be able to start it and drive away with very minimal to no bucking. It can be done it just takes lots of tuning time. Mixing some gasoline into the E85 will help in the winter time as well, but some areas already increase the percentage of gas in E85 in the winter.
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Re: Fuel - E85

Postby vdubjim » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:35 am

Could a idle air valve like off a mk1/mk2 rabbit help, hook it up stand alone style?
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Re: Fuel - E85

Postby prof315 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:52 pm

We use an aux air valve off an old rabbit on the boss' race car. It works fairly well but a Bosch 2 wire ISV and PWM warmup is much nicer.
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Re: Fuel - E85

Postby bomberbob » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:28 pm

Jeff is right, however in my zeal to "simplify" my installation I deleted the ISV and all other related components. I suppose I could try and put some of that stuff back in. There is not much left to go wrong, because there isn't much left. I switched to a 60/40 mix of gas and alcohol, its still a lot of wear and tear on the starter.
I can't just jump in and go anyway, the oil in the tranny is so thick I have to push in the clutch and put it in neutral to turn the motor over. 15 below zero, nothing seems to work right.
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