Time to Get Another Six-Pack of Gas
Can Boutique Fuel Save Small Engines from the Wear and Tear of E10?
Repairman and small-business owner Rich Herder doesn't mince words about the damage ethanol in gasoline is doing to the small engines in outdoor power equipment. "It's the biggest disaster to hit gasoline in my lifetime," Herder says. He owns McIntyre's Locksmith & Lawnmower, a service business in Westfield, N.J. Founded in 1898 to refurbish saddles, the business today repairs more than 5000 machines a year—mostly pieces of outdoor power equipment, and many of them, according to Herder, damaged by the alcohol in today's gasoline, known as E10 for the 10 percent of alcohol it contains.
Herder estimates that as much as 75 percent of that work is not due to normal wear and tear, but results from the use of ethanol, which can cause rust and carbon deposits inside the engine, dissolve plastic parts and more. And if repair shops like Herder's are already busy, you have to wonder what will happen this summer when gas pumps begin dispensing E15 gasoline; the Environmental Protection Agency recently approved the fuel for cars built after the 2000 model year, but the fuel could hit small engines even harder than E10 does. But now, because of all that ethanol-based wear and tear, a nascent industry is starting up: Ethanol-free gas, distributed in cans for owners of small engines...
...The phenomenon of fuel-related problems has become so severe that the niche market for specialized fuel is growing fast. Tidily packaged little metal cans containing ethanol-free gasoline were just an oddity a few years ago; now they're sold in hardware stores and by power equipment dealers, and people are taking specialized fuel seriously. There are at least three brands to choose from: MotoMix, from outdoor power equipment manufacturer Stihl USA, SEF from VP Racing Fuels and Truefuel from TruSouth...
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