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#1
Old 11-29-2011, 07:30 PM
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Would a modern (gasoline) car run on moonshine in an emergency?

Hypothetical:

I'm driving through rural West Virginia, with an insane ax murderer about five minutes behind me on the road. He has a full tank, and I am pretty much near E.

I come upon a shack up in them hills, stop my car, and run in and find some guy named Joe. I tell him my situation and ask if he has gas or a gun. He tells me that his gun is out of commission and that he has no gas, but that there's a few jars of Old-Time Mountain Shine out back. Assume that this is the real stuff, 80%-95% ethanol.

Would a typical gasoline car run well enough on this to get me to the nearest town, say, ten or twenty miles away? The big question is whether or not I would get there alive, not what sort of abuse I am putting on my car or how crappy the gas mileage is, as long as a fill up could get me ten miles or so without my engine blowing up, stalling and not starting up again, getting clogged, etc.

If it would work, would my car require minor (or even major) repairs at my destination to fix whatever stuff I clogged/corroded/dissolved etc in my fuel system, engine, and exhaust?

Last edited by robert_columbia; 11-29-2011 at 07:34 PM.
#2
Old 11-29-2011, 08:30 PM
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I doubt it-my cite is the 3rd Back to the Future film, where they blew the engine with the stuff.
#3
Old 11-29-2011, 09:51 PM
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If you have a flexible fuel vehicle that's made to work with E-85, you probably could do it. If your engine is a conventional one, it might work in theory, but I have my doubts in real life.

An engine built to run on gasoline requires a richer ratio of alcohol to air to keep running. In the old days it would have required a carbureator modification. I don't know whether today's fuel injectors can compensate, but even if they can you'll be on the ragged edge.

Water and gasoline don't mix. Water and alcohol love to mix. If you have water in your gas tank, the alcohol will slurp it right up. That doesn't help performance, either.

Assuming you did sputter your way to the next town, I don't think one tank of alcohol would do much in the way of permanent damage. Several tanks, however, would break loose all sorts of crud that happened to be in your gas tank, and would also begin to do a number on any parts of your fuel lines that weren't made for alcohol.
#4
Old 11-29-2011, 11:05 PM
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It's kinda funny, but your best bet is with a very recent car or a car made back in the mid 80s or earlier. Any modern car designed to run on E-85 will probably run on moonshine, though I wouldn't expect it to run well. Many slightly older cars could be made to run, but would require an update to their engine computer. The problem is a lot of these cars don't have an update for E-85 available.

If you go back far enough to carburetor type cars, all you need to do is adjust the mixture, which is usually a single set screw adjustment on the carburetor. Simple enough, if you know what to do. Unlike a modern E-85 capable car, older carburetor cars won't adjust automatically.

Once you get to your destination, you'll probably want to change the fuel filter and flush the entire fuel system. Alcohol is corrosive to cars that aren't made for it, but 20 miles isn't going to do enough damage to things like hoses and fittings to be worth worrying about.

One problem with your hypothetical situation though. No self respecting West Virginia moonshiner is going to have a non-functional gun. He may not lend it to you, but he's gonna have a gun that shoots.
#5
Old 12-01-2011, 05:17 PM
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My RX7 will run on pure denatured alcohol. I try to keep it out of boost, and dilute with a full tank of normal gas as soon as possible, but it runs fine.
#6
Old 12-01-2011, 05:51 PM
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If you could add either napthalene or benzene to it, it should run better than just as ethanol. I think it has something to do with either the water content or the flammability of the vapors, but moth balls and ethanol can be used in place of gasoline for some applications (tested on an old generator at my grandfather's shop).
#7
Old 12-02-2011, 08:19 AM
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Not sure about moonshine, but I recall a childhood camping trip where the old Ford Country Squire wagon ran out of gas and the only fuel we had was Coleman liquid stove fuel. My mother sat behind the wheel while my father perched on the fender pouring the Coleman fuel directly into the carburetor from a gallon milk jug (with holes punched in the cap). The engine knocked something fierce (what is the octane rating of Coleman fuel?), but it ran. Of course, this would not be possible in a non-carburated car....or one too small to comfortably fit a grown man sitting under the hood. Good times....good times.
#8
Old 12-02-2011, 09:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Necros View Post
My RX7 will run on pure denatured alcohol. I try to keep it out of boost, and dilute with a full tank of normal gas as soon as possible, but it runs fine.
Which generation do you have? FD owner, myself.
#9
Old 12-02-2011, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBori View Post
Not sure about moonshine, but I recall a childhood camping trip where the old Ford Country Squire wagon ran out of gas and the only fuel we had was Coleman liquid stove fuel. My mother sat behind the wheel while my father perched on the fender pouring the Coleman fuel directly into the carburetor from a gallon milk jug (with holes punched in the cap). The engine knocked something fierce (what is the octane rating of Coleman fuel?), but it ran. Of course, this would not be possible in a non-carburated car....or one too small to comfortably fit a grown man sitting under the hood. Good times....good times.
this says it's roughly 50 to 55 octane equivalent.
#10
Old 12-02-2011, 10:06 AM
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Coleman fuel is just unleaded gas. Back when cars used leaded the only source for unleaded was coleman fuel. Cooking with leaded would be dangerous because of the fumes.

You dad could have put coleman fuel directly in the tank. If he had only a half a can then I can see why he didn't put it in the tank. It might not have been enough to raise the tanks fuel level. Pouring it in the carb was a smart idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBori View Post
Not sure about moonshine, but I recall a childhood camping trip where the old Ford Country Squire wagon ran out of gas and the only fuel we had was Coleman liquid stove fuel. My mother sat behind the wheel while my father perched on the fender pouring the Coleman fuel directly into the carburetor from a gallon milk jug (with holes punched in the cap). The engine knocked something fierce (what is the octane rating of Coleman fuel?), but it ran. Of course, this would not be possible in a non-carburated car....or one too small to comfortably fit a grown man sitting under the hood. Good times....good times.

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-02-2011 at 10:07 AM.
#11
Old 12-02-2011, 11:02 AM
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I have about 1/2 gallon of 'emergency fuel', that is suppose to be stable for years. In the instructions it says if you run out of gas put it the tank right away and start the engine and drive to get gas.

Though it doesn't say what the fuel is I suspect it may be a high percentage of ethanol, which is known to have a harder time starting in a cold engine then gas, but really I have no idea what that stuff is and never have needed it.
#12
Old 12-02-2011, 11:58 AM
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Ethanol is not stable for years. It has too much of a tendency to absorb moisture to be stable in anything but an absolutely sealed container, except for possibly glass. I know it will rust metal after a long period of time.

Last edited by randomface; 12-02-2011 at 11:58 AM.
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