Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Was I being hard on Ed Wallace?

Was he right in taking offense as my characterization of his sources as "Bernie's Garage and Hot Dog Emporium"?

I think that that's rather funny.

Anyway, maybe I have too high expectations for so called journalists. I could blog an article with tighter sources than that BW article. At least I would provide some hyperlinks.

More from Ed Wallace

Woo. A little sensitive?

No, but when you open your blog with misstatements such as you did, doesn’t warrant any time for a response.

My reply:

Your article consisted of talking to a couple of mechanics and checking out a BMW discussion board. It was worthy of mockery.

Now, I think the Lexus thing is interesting. I googled it, but all I found was some press statements and such. Why don't you do a little... reporting? Talk to the Lexus engineers. What was the metallurgy of the components that were destroyed by ethanol? Was it 10% ethanol that did it?

Your mechanic buddies made a pretty bold claim when they said that they checked the ethanol content of the tank that had the failed fuel pump. 18% ethanol? Where did that come from? You seem to be slandering the retail gasoline industry, implying that they're spiking their gas with illegal amounts of ethanol. Where did that gasoline come from? Which retailers are spiking their gas?

Maybe the Lexus engineers have some insight. Are they seeing ethanol contents higher than 10%? Are there Lexus owners who are mixing their own gas, like I am, and causing problems? Or is it the retailers?

I'm just sick and tired of the misinformation out there about ethanol. That's why I started mixing ethanol in my gas. I want to prove, one way or the other, that it's either OK or causes damage. No more BS articles about mechanics and discussion boards. I want hard proof, and I took it upon myself to do it.

Ed Wallace strikes back

So I e-mailed the author of the BusinessWeek ethanol hit piece:


Interesting article you had in BW. Can't say that I agreed with any of it.

I've got a '07 Saab 9-3 that I run an ethanol mix in. I usually run as much ethanol as I can without setting off the check engine light, right up to about 40%. I've been doing it for almost 20k miles now, with no negative consequences, other than losing a couple mpg. I document what I'm running on my blog at www.drunkenswede.blogspot.com

Saab actually makes a flex fuel 9-3 that they sell in Sweeden and the UK. The only difference is the engine tune and the fuel injector flow rates. They use the same fuel tank, fuel pump, fuel lines, fuel rail, and fuel injector model.

You know, fuel pumps fail. They actually fail pretty frequently. That's why whenever there is a change to the fuel supply (reformulated gasoline, ethanol, MTBE, whatever) you get a rash of stories about how the change to the fuel ruined the fuel system. But what's the truth?

I'd rather see some documented sources from automotive engineers working in the field than some anecdotes from mechanics. No offense to mechanics, but they're not engineers trained in failure analysis. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a licensed professional engineer who has worked in the automotive field and who currently works for "Big Oil".

I do appreciate the news of the Lexus recall. I'm going to look into that one.

Whalen responded:

Well, to start off with, I notice at your post that you’ve completely lied about my sources for my article.

Nice. And yet you want me to read your email and believe everything you are saying.

That’s no way to get your point across.

City Garage is a well respected chain of repair shops in Dallas Fort Worth.
Likewise, so is Moritz BMW.

It is not Bernie’s Garage and discussion boards.

I replied:

Woo. A little sensitive?

On my blog, I link to articles I find about ethanol. If I had a dollar for every article written with local mechanics as sourcing, I would be a rich man.

I don't care if they're respected or not. Mechanics are not qualified to say if ethanol was the source of fuel pump failure or not. And neither are commenters on a discussion board.

I did like the comment to the article from the Ford engineer. Now that was good information, that the electrical conductivity of ethanol can cause the commutator windings in the fuel pump motor to corrode. I'll be on the lookout for that in my Saab. Ditto for acid corrosion in my lawnmower (I NEVER drain the gas over the winter).

BTW, I've got every receipt for gas and E85 I've ever put into my Saab. Should I ever get to a failure, or should I hit 100k or more, I'll be able to properly document every tank of ethanol/ gas mixture I've run. THAT is the kind of sourcing I'd like to see in an ethanol article!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Businessweek says that ethanol is "destroying engines"


Funny how these anti-ethanol stories about engine damage all use "Bernie's Garage and Hot Dog Emporium" as a source. And discussion board posts.

If there is anything that's I've learned from almost 20 years of posting to discussion boards is that the level of technical knowledge there is pretty low.

The only new bit of info in the article is that Lexus is recalling cars to address corrosion of the fuel rail, allegedly due to ethanol.

Seeing as how the Saab has a stainless steel fuel rail and stainless steel fuel lines (that I can see in the engine bay), I'm not hurting anything by running ethanol.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tank #41

Well, I ran a bunch of tanks of premium, but I needed to fill up yesterday, and I mixed in some E85.

I filled with 6.008 gallons of E85 and 7.985 gallons of 87 octane. It works out to 38.54% ethanol. This will be a great test to see if this is the limit for E85 without a CEL. It's 93.93 Octane.

E85 was $2 a gallon, and 87 octane was $2.60.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Well, that didn't last long!

Those BASTARDS at Meijer raised their E85 price to $2.00 yesterday, probably minutes after I posted about the 70 cent spread.

87 octane is down to $2.56.

Even so, a 56 cent spread is historically very, very good for Meijer. During all the craziness last summer, the spread was fixed at 50 cents.

I'll probably be filling up in a day or two, and I'll be back on the hooch.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The best pricing I've ever seen!

The last two days, Meijer has had E85 priced at $1.90, and 87 octane gas at $2.60. This 70 cent spread is the largest that I've ever seen for E85.

I have not been running E85 for the last tank or two. I've literally been too busy at work to take the time to fill from two stations.

I'm over with my busy period at work, and will be filling up with E85 from now on, especially if these spreads hold up.