Alcohol-burning engines have great advantages over regular gasoline engines, most noticeab
With all the talk about ethanol, methanol, and E85 in the pages of Circle Track recently, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit five important maintenance-oriented tips where these fuels are concerned.
For years, racers have chosen methanol for a variety of reasons, including the fact that properly tuned alcohol engines make more power and methanol burns cooler. Most of the time, racing methanol is 99 percent pure methanol, as opposed to its close cousin ethanol, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, and known commonly as E85.
While the added increase in horsepower is good, the downside of running an alcohol fuel is a bigger workload to ensure that it doesn't corrode and harm your engine. There are many aspects that need to be looked at when running alcohol but we have narrowed down the five most important.
It all starts with the fuel cell. It needs to be inspected every off-season to ensure ther
1. Buy Weekly
Alcohol fuels are hygroscopic, which means over time they will start to absorb water, and this is never a good thing. Old methanol, for example, that has been sitting around the shop almost certainly will eventually experience this problem. While good storage practices go a long way in preserving any fuel, the easiest way to avoid a problem is to purchase only the amount you will use to go racing on a particular evening the day before the race. Granted you will be buying fuel every week, but at least you know it will always be fresh.
2. Drain it After Every Race
Methanol or any alcohol is extremely corrosive, and leaving it in the fuel system can degrade the parts, like the fittings and seals in the carburetor. In order to avoid this potentially costly situation you must flush the fuel system as soon as possible after the race.
Even more than other alcohol fuels, methanol is extremely corrosive; it reacts with alumin
Drain the remaining alcohol, fill the fuel cell with gasoline, and run the engine. Once it starts to sputter and eventually dies you will know that the system has been flushed. Any traces of methanol can corrode the entire fuel system, which leads us to our next point.
3. Complete Off-Season Teardown
Most teams using gasoline may or may not perform a complete fuel-system teardown, but with alcohol it is mandatory. As we said, these fuels are extremely corrosive and will corrode everything including the foam in the fuel bladder. Let it sit all winter and you'll have nothing but an empty container come spring.
Go through the entire fuel system and inspect the fuel bladder, lines, carburetor, and pump. If there is any evidence of corrosion or wear, you need to replace that particular piece.
The fuel system needs to be gone through and inspected during the off-season. This is espe
Note-be extremely careful when handling methanol. It's easily absorbed through the skin, and prolonged exposure can lead to health issues. In the event that methanol does come in contact with your skin, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water.
4. Don't Ignore the Carb
Alcohol is great at producing power, but it will eat away at your carburetor. The carburetor needs to be gone through every four to five months (depending on your racing schedule), which is the perfect time to have a basic rebuild performed. This is especially true if you forget to run gasoline through your engine after a race.
Methanol, in particular, evaporates quickly and will leave a residue inside the carburetor that is similar to sand. Think about that the next time you fire your engine-you could be sucking all that sand-like residue into the motor.
For Sprint Car teams, always go through your fuel pump and inspect the bypass valve for re
5. Always Inspect the Bypass Valve
Sprint Car guys should all know this, but you should check the high-speed bypass valve on a regular basis. Most teams will work with this bypass valve to ensure that the engine is getting as much fuel as possible. They often change the "pill" and bypass valve to send more or less fuel to the engine.
Whenever you have the bypass valve out of the car, look for the residue mentioned in tip No. 4. If you discover it, flush the entire fuel system before firing the engine.
Follow these tips and you're on your way to trouble-free alcohol racing.