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Small engine won’t start? Identifying the Cause.

Small engine won’t start?

Bad gas is the number-one reason, and here’s how to prevent it.

Len Groom | TECHNICAL PRODUCT MANAGER, POWERSPORTS

In northern Minnesota, where I live, the temperature occasionally breaks 80ºF (27ºC) in the summer. When it does, it’s time to fire up my Jet-Skis* and hit the lake. The last thing I want to do on a sunny summer day is mess around with equipment that refuses to start or run properly.

Bad gasoline is the number-one reason seasonal equipment starts hard or runs rough. Over time, gasoline changes, leaving behind gums, varnish and other solids that foul the fuel system and prevent gas from flowing into the combustion chamber. In severe cases, gasoline can change so dramatically that it no longer ignites.

Gasoline is predominantly a mixture of carbon and hydrogen atoms bonded together into energy-dense hydrocarbons. Like conventional base oils, it’s derived from crude oil via a distillation process that uses heat, pressure and other catalysts to create different fractions. Gasoline is comprised of hydrocarbons that are lighter than those found in, for example, diesel fuel or conventional base oils. Refiners add ethanol to the formulation, typically 10 percent, but as high as 85 percent.

Time Takes Its Toll – You Must Treat Gasoline

Time, however, takes its toll on gasoline. Exposure to heat, humidity, atmospheric pressure, oxygen and other variables degrade fuel.

In addition to gums and varnish becoming more concentrated and less soluble as lighter hydrocarbons evaporate, gas is continually oxidizing, which further contributes to varnish and other gunk. Gasoline oxidizes more quickly than motor oil and its negative effects are more immediately noticeable. That’s why it’s important to use high quality gas and store it in approved containers where air infiltration is limited, like inside a ventilated garage or shed, and not in the back of your truck or under the deck.

Meanwhile, ethanol added to gasoline at the refinery can absorb water from the atmosphere, which can lead to phase separation, which occurs when ethanol and gas separate, much like oil and water. Ethanol that has absorbed enough moisture and has sat long enough can foul the fuel system and prevent the engine from starting.

AMSOIL Fights Corrosion

AMSOIL provides corrosion protection Sea Foam® Motor Treatment can’t match, helping maintain power and performance and keeping metal looking like new even when subjected to salt water.  ?

? Based upon independent testing of AMSOIL Gasoline
Stabilizer obtained Nov. 8, 2018 and Sea Foam Motor
Treatment purchased Oct. 25, 2018 in a modified NACE
TM0172 using synthetic sea water per ASTM D665 part B.

This all sounds dire, but it’s nothing treating your gasoline with AMSOIL Gasoline Stabilizer (AST) can’t solve. Gasoline Stabilizer keeps fuel fresh up to 12 months. AMSOIL Quickshot® (AQS) stabilizes gasoline during short-term storage up to six months, in addition to providing potent cleaning benefits and protection against ethanol issues.

What does stabilizer do?

That explanation may suit some people, but this is Tech Talk, so let’s look at the chemistry behind gasoline stabilizers.

You’ve probably heard terms like “free radicals” and “antioxidants” in relation to your health. A free radical is an unpaired electron, and most are unstable and highly reactive. They can either donate an electron to, or accept an electron from, other molecules. This starts a chain reaction that can lead to oxidative stress and cell damage. Left unchecked, free radicals can lead to health problems, like cardiovascular disease and cancer. To help fight free radicals, we should eat plenty of foods rich in antioxidants, which lessen their effects. Antioxidants can “donate” an electron to free radicals or trap them, effectively reducing their instability without becoming unstable themselves. Antioxidants aren’t silver bullets, but they go a long way toward improving our health.

By analogy, gasoline stabilizer is an antioxidant for your gasoline. It disrupts the free-radical-induced chain reaction that causes gas to oxidize and form varnish and gums. Some stabilizer products, like Quickshot, also contain chemistry that increases solvency and breaks down existing varnish, helping clean a dirty carburetor and restore performance. As shown, Gasoline Stabilizer also fights corrosion better than Sea Foam Motor Treatment.

Neglecting to stabilize your gas can lead to all sorts of headaches when it’s time to remove your lawnmower, generator, string trimmer or Jet-Ski from storage. For best results, stabilize your gasoline all year long. That’ll ensure your equipment is ready to roll when you are.

5 Expert Chainsaw Tips to Keep Things In Check

5 Expert Chainsaw Maintenance Tips

Chainsaws are great tools – when they’re working properly. Here are five chainsaw-maintenance tips to keep your chainsaw cutting strong.

Keep the chain sharp

Anyone who has tried forcing a dull chain through wood knows the importance of a sharp chain.

Properly sharpening a chain is an art form, so if you don’t want a collection of useless chains hanging on your garage wall, visit a professional.

It’ll likely cost you less than $10 and save you a ton of grief.

Oh, and the AMSOIL Bar & Chain oil keeps the chain cooler thus sharper longer. (We keep both gallons and quarts in Sioux Falls)

filing chain saw teeth

However, if you’re like me and enjoy the challenge of learning a new craft, be sure to…

  • Use the proper file size. The box the chain came in or your owner’s manual are two places to find that information.
  • File at the correct angle. You can purchase a file gauge at most home centers that ensures you hold the file correctly.
  • File each tooth the same number of file strokes (typically 3-6).
  • Be careful with the depth gauges (the protrusions directly in front of each tooth). If you file them too much, the saw can bite too deeply into the wood and stall or, worse, pull you off balance. Again, use a gauge to ensure you sharpen the depth gauges correctly.

 

Properly tension the chain

A chain that’s too tight can bind and stall the saw. On a non-roller-tip bar, an over-tightened chain can overheat.

When adjusting the chain, hold the tip of the bar up as far as it goes and tighten the tensioning screw until you’ve taken the slack out of the underside of the bar.

soaking chain in oil before use

Soak a new chain in bar and chain oil when breaking it in.

Break in a new chain

When it’s time to replace the chain, break it in first by soaking it in bar and chain oil for a couple hours. This ensures all the pivot points are well lubricated.

Then, hang the chain from a nail and let the excess oil drip back into the pan.

Install and tension the chain and run until warm.

The chain will loosen as it heats, so shut the saw down and tension the chain again.

Then, perform light-duty work, like cutting limbs and small branches for 30 minutes or so. Tension the chain again, and you’re ready to dive into the heavy-duty work.

Find out why Soderlund’s Wood Mill using only AMSOIL.

Clean the air filter

Keeping the air filter clean is one of the most important parts of chainsaw maintenance to extend saw life and increase performance.

It’s the only line of defense against the engine ingesting sawdust and dirt, which can plug the carburetor and cause the saw to start hard and run poorly. Contaminants can also wreck the piston rings, causing the engine to lose compression, reducing power.

Many saws have a screen as opposed to a foam or paper filter. In these cases, use an air compressor to direct air through the filter backward to prevent lodging debris deeper into the media.

If you don’t have an air compressor, tap the filter on the edge of a workbench. If you have a foam or paper filter, replace it often – it’s far less expensive than replacing the entire saw.

Find out why different chainsaws have different oil mix ratios.

Use fresh gasoline for best chainsaw maintenance

Most homeowners’ chainsaws spend far more time sitting in the garage than cutting in the woods.

As gas/oil ages, gasoline can breakdown in as few as 30 days, creating gums and varnish that plug the carburetor and lead to hard starts and rough running.

Mix only enough fuel to last 30 days. Better still, use a two-stoke oil formulated with a gasoline stabilizer, such as AMSOIL SABER® Professional Synthetic 2-Stroke Oil.

Not only is SABER Professional formulated with stabilizer, it also fights carbon to keep the exhaust port and spark-arrestor screen (if equipped) clean for maximum engine operability and power. Using a premium two-stroke oil is an overlooked, but vital, part of chainsaw maintenance.

You can also treat fuel with an additive designed to stabilize fuel, like AMSOIL Quickshot®. Both products keep gas fresh up to six months.

How to Fight Ethanol Problems in Small Engines

How to Fight Ethanol Problems in Small Engines

 

In 2005, Congress instituted a new renewable fuel standard that you didn’t get to vote on. In response, refiners made a wholesale switch, removing methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and blending fuel with ethanol. Ethanol helps reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, well in special engines made for ethanol only – but you’re not suppose to know that..  (even though you end up using more fuel to make up for the losses). Derived from corn (Round-up ready which destroys our health), ethanol supports U.S. agriculture (as long as they don’t ask questions and buy the seed they are forced to) and helps support energy independence. (as if allowing private railways wouldn’t but competing with AMTRAK is against the law currently).

Ethanol, however, can cause a number of problems, particularly in small engines. These problems center on the two following issues:

1) Dissolving plastics and creating deposits

Ethanol is an excellent solvent and drying agent that dissolves old gum and varnish deposits from the gas tank and fuel lines. However, it can also dissolve plastic and create deposits. Honda states that the dissolved material can clog filters or pass through and leave deposits on fuel injectors, fuel pumps, fuel-pressure regulators, carburetor jets, intake tracts, valves and valve guides.

Small-engine manufacturer ECHO agrees, stating in its warranty that these deposits can lead to poor engine performance; loss of power; overheating; fuel vapor lock; improper clutch engagement caused by increased engine idle speeds, which allows cutting attachments to turn while the unit is idling; and premature deterioration of fuel lines, gaskets, carburetors and other engine components.

2) Ethanol and water don’t mix

Small engine manufactures have spent considerable time studying the relationship between ethanol and water.

The white flaky deposits in this carburetor are attributed to ethanol.

ECHO warns that ethanol will absorb a small amount of moisture and stay in suspension within the gasoline for a while. However, the ethanol will only absorb up to ¾ of an ounce of water in a gallon of gas before it reaches its saturation point. Once the ethanol has absorbed enough moisture to reach its saturation point, phase separation occurs. Phase separation means the ethanol and absorbed water drop to the bottom of the fuel container since it is heavier than the gas and oil, leaving the gasoline and oil mix to float on top of the tank. Most operators never notice water in the can when they refuel their equipment. The end result is often a carburetor ruined with rust and corrosion. These expensive repairs can cost more than $75 and are not typically covered by warranty.

Stihl stresses that the layer of gasoline left floating on top has a lower octane level than the original ethanol-gasoline blend, which can result in unstable engine operation, power loss and major engine failures.

Ethanol’s affinity for water explains why so many ethanol-related problems surface in the marine industry. In fact, some marina personnel say up to 65 percent of their service orders are attributable to fuel-system problems.

Combating ethanol problems

Although some fuel additives on the market claim to reverse the effects of phase separation, there’s no way to reintegrate gasoline and ethanol once they’ve separated. Instead, it’s best to prevent it.

One solution is to use non-oxygenated, ethanol-free gas in your small engines. It costs a little more, but it eliminates problems
associated with ethanol. Another solution is to treat every tank of fuel and container of gas with AMSOIL Quickshot. It helps keep water molecules dispersed in the fuel to prevent phase separation. It also cleans varnish, gums and insoluble debris while stabilizing fuel during short-term storage.

Quickshot was tested in fuel containing 10 percent ethanol. Controlled plugging of injectors showed a 70 percent flow improvement, while oxidation stability improved 44 percent over untreated fuel.

Regardless whether you’re pro- or anti-ethanol, we can all agree on the importance of taking care of our small engines.

Why Jay Leno Is Angry About Ethanol In Gasoline

Why Jay Leno Is Angry About Ethanol In Gasoline

Change is the one constant in life. It’s also difficult, because when there is a change – whether in technology or how we do things – there are often unforeseen consequences.  One of the changes that has been taking place is that since 2005, the U.S. government has mandated that gasoline contain ethanol, most of it derived from corn.  The aim of this policy, among other things, has purportedly been to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, though it may also be a way to utilize the excess corn of our megafarm corn growers. What this change has done is to set in motion a number of unintended consequences, from its impact on food prices to mechanical issues in our cars and other equipment with engines.

And this latter is what prompted comedian and car collector Jay Leno to write a somewhat impassioned column in Autoweek this month titled, “Can’t We Just Get Rid Of Ethanol?”

Leno argues that this change to ethanol in gasoline has damaging consequences for older cars. The piece begins with a paragraph about the rise in the number of old-car fires lately, stating that the cause is related to the corrosive nature of ethanol when in contact with fuel-pump diaphragms or old rubber hose lines.

Change is a challenge in any field of endeavor, which is why we depend on others to help make us aware of the consequences of change so that worst case scenarios can be avoided. When fuel injectors became the standard in modern engines it was soon learned that deposits on the injector tips needed to be managed. AMSOIL introduced P.i Performance Improver at that time to address this, a much cheaper solution than replacing injectors every time they fouled.

So it is that ethanol in gasoline is now recognized to be a serious issue due to a phenomenon called phase separation. Ethanol is susceptible to water intrusion; when water collects in the gas tank through condensation or other means, the bond between ethanol and gasoline can break because ethanol is hygroscopic (it likes water more than it likes gasoline).

When the ethanol bonds with moisture it sinks to the bottom of the fuel tank, which can create a whole host of problems, including the formation of gums, varnish and other insoluble debris that can plug fuel flow passages and negatively affect engine performance. When this ethanol/water mixture is pulled into the engine, it creates a lean-burn situation that increases combustion chamber temperatures and can lead to engine damage.

Four years ago AMSOIL earned a SEMA New Products award for Quickshot, a gasoline additive developed specifically to address this issue of phase separation. Though initially introduced in a smaller package size for small engines, AMSOIL more recently introduced a quart-sized bottle for automobiles that sitt idle for any length of time.

The more you know, the more you discover how important it is to stay current with the changes occurring all around us, especially when it involves something you’re passionate about like your cars.

AMSOIL Quickshot® Offers a Simple Solution to Ethanol Problems

AMSOIL Quickshot® Offers a Simple Solution to Ethanol Problems

One of our best sellers here in Sioux Falls.  Keep it for your garage fuel tanks. Fights varnish, attacks deposits and stabilizes fuel in addition to the ethanol problem. Award winning product that  – yes – ACTUALLY WORKS!

Fuel maintenance is a big issue, whether you own a motorcycle, dirt bike, boat, lawnmower or other piece of equipment. Currently, most gasoline sold in the U.S. contains up to 10 percent ethanol (E10), while gasoline containing up to 15 percent (E15) is now available at stations around the country.

Phase separation is when ethanol/water mixtures fall to the bottom of fuel tanks and containers, leading to potentially damaging lean-burn conditions.

Ethanol can causes problems

Because ethanol has an affinity for water, you need to be aware of the conditions in which you operate your equipment. Powersports and lawn & garden equipment should not be stored in damp or wet environments. When water is allowed to collect in the gas tank, the bond between ethanol and gasoline can break, causing a phenomenon known as phase separation.

The ethanol bonds with the water and sinks to the bottom of the fuel tank, which can create a whole host of problems, including the formation of gums, varnish and other insoluble debris that can plug fuel passages and negatively affect engine performance. When this ethanol/water mixture is pulled into the engine, it creates a lean-burn situation that increases combustion-chamber temperatures and can lead to engine damage. Once this happens there is no easy or inexpensive fix. To avoid these problems, contaminated fuel tanks should be emptied and refilled with fresh fuel.

Prevention is best practice

Alternatively, treat fuel with AMSOIL Quickshot® as a preventative measure to avoid rough-running equipment and other performance issues. Quickshot is designed to keep water dispersed throughout the fuel tank, moving it out as a normal part of operation and decreasing the chance of phase separation.

Not only that, Quickshot helps clean deposits that have formed in fuel systems, injectors and carburetors, while also cleaning piston tops, spark plugs and combustion chambers. It also stabilizes fuel between uses and during short-term storage.

Unlike many competing fuel additives, Quickshot is extremely potent and not diluted. It provides effective cleaning action, making it an all-around great product for powersports and lawn & garden equipment.

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