Old 12-05-2011, 03:54 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Somewhere, Out There
Posts: 229
Water in the gas tank?

Part1: A few weeks ago I went to put my lawn tractor away for the coming winter. Apparently at some point during the day, I had filled the plastic gas tank with fuel, and a dash of Sta-bil fuel stabilizer and forgot to put the cap on. I must have been called away for something as I did not get to finish putting it away. A week later I went to finish and found I couldn't start the mower. When I opened the hood, I immediately noticed the cap off, and the tank had lost about 1/4 of it's contents. From here I presumed it to be water in the tank (as it did rain twice during the week). I drained half of the rest of the contents out, and with some patients, was able to get the rig started and out of the elements for the time being.

Part2: I took the drained fuel and poured it into an empty semi-transparent baby water gallon jug and let it sit for two days. When inspecting the drained fuel, it had separated into the gas (dark yellowish color), and below that was a dark yellow/orange color. I would have expected the water to be somewhat clear instead of that dark of an orangeish color.

Any ideas of what it might be?
Old 12-05-2011, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Orygun forest
Posts: 4,468
Your gas probably contains some amount of added ethanol, usually 10% in most areas. It is getting hard to find gas without it.

Water disolves in ethanol (alcohol), so instead of seeing pools or droplets of water at the bottom of your gas sample you are seeing an emulsified blend of gas, alcohol and water.

For this reason ethanol gas blends should not be kept in your lawn mower for more than a month. If you have to keep the gas in the mower over winter try to keep thae tank full so there is no air space in the tank. Each time the air space in the tank warms up, then cools, water will condense from the air and add to this blend of gas, alcohol and water.

It can lead to some problems when you try to start it again.
Old 12-05-2011, 05:42 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Somewhere, Out There
Posts: 229
Thanks for the info!

For next year, would it be better to run the tank completely dry for storage or no?
Old 12-06-2011, 06:03 PM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Garage & Lab
Posts: 1,224
Originally Posted by Jbone View Post
Thanks for the info!

For next year, would it be better to run the tank completely dry for storage or no?
Having spent most of my time in Southern California, Iím not well-practiced at this ritual. However, I did a stint in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Iím told this is an annual seasonal practice: Winterize your engine.

I had to do it with my motorcycle, since the roads became icy around mid-November and two-wheeling was a bad idea. Iíd suspect you would want to do similar stuff with your lawn mower, since mowing snow isnít very useful:

Top off the tank. Donít go above the overflow holes, of course, but the gasoline displaces water. For us bikers, that keeps the tank from rusting (through). More Winter-familiar posters: How does the practice differ when using carbon fiber or plastic tanks?

Treat the tank. A couple biker friends recommended STP Fuel Stabilizer for the winterizing effort. Pour the recommended amount into the full gas tank and shake it up a bit. It diffuses into the petrol to keep it from breaking down over the extended idle period. Youíll get an ugly stinky smoke next Spring, at least until you burn through that tank.

Pull the plug wires. I donít think itís to prevent trickle-draining the battery. I think itís to keep the terminal from permanently bonding to the spark plug. There was some debate on whether to do that with the battery cable terminals and/or the coil connectors.

Add the Mystery. A couple biker friends recommended Marvel Mystery Oil to me. You pull the spark plugs, drizzle a bit of MMO into the hole, push the machine back and forth to get the oil spread around the pistons a bit, then put the plug back in. The oil keeps the piston from bonding to the cylinder (engine lock-up/rust-freezing). Reinstalling the plug keeps floating dust and dirt out of the cylinder, and you might as well use new, gapped plugs and crank them down to specifications. Then, when you want to restart the engine, you can just reattach your plug wires (and battery/coils/etc.) and crank it over. Expect the engine to backfire a bit next Spring, and the smoke smells like hell.


Cool the Engines!
Slow this rocket down
Cool the Engines!
Enough to take a look around
. --Boston
. Cool the Engines
. Third Stage

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