Towed in my 1st Honda-powered rig ... due to E10 fuel

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FOUNDER of Classic Parker Forum
Feb 16, 2006
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Newbury, MA
FWIW the other night I towed in my 1st Honda-powered boat, a 25hp on a skiff running off a 6-gal tank, and the guy had put E10 on top of old MTBE fuel (which he said he had preserved).

Whatever they do (or don't do) when mixed together, MTBE fuel and E10 fuel don't mix too well and cuase some funky stuff! Listen to this, I tow him back to his dock and then I look over his rig for him. I get it started and it's noisy :shock: , smokin' worse than any 2-stroke ever thought to :roll: , and she's bucking like she's overheating :?: . Yet I could hold my palm onto the powerhead (so I knew it wasn't hot), plus this motor binnacle control had overheat alarm audible & visual and all was OK there. And the smoke was sorta gray/white, so I figured it was steam (??) ... thinking the OB was trying to run off a really contaminated water bubble. FYI - no f/w separator was installed on his boat.

So I shook the be-jesus out of the portable tank with the OB "running" ... 30+ seconds later (short 3' gas line ... weird, never seen one like it) and the engine was running quiet and smmmooooooth like Hondas are famous for, with no smoke or steam. After a few minutes of running normally ... same thing ... it became noisy, sounded like hell (like she was severely mis-timed), and it was bucking and smoking/steaming. So I shook the tank again ... it took a few minutes this time, but again, the problems cleared itself and she ran quiet and smooth.

I did this like 5 times total ... so whatever it is ... those 2 fuels DO NOT play well together. Adding to this, another boat (old boat) at the docks added E10 onto old fuel and they've clogged up their f/w separators so bad they can't even keep the engines running ...

Last night I ran my 126gal tank "almost dry" (heard her stalling), shut her off and immediately added 10 gallons of E10. Started up and ran - all is fine and no crap in my fuel/water separator. The only thing I can say is I had cleaned my tank out with PRI-G two seasons ago, so maybe that helped minimize any build-up of crap in this older tank ('92), as the only boats I myself have confirmed so far with E10 fuel-related problems are 1) older boats, 2) those without f/w separators, and 3) both case where E10 was added into existing MTBE.

TomS reports some are having great success (or at least zero issues) by running Starbrite's Startron fuel additive.

Update: A friend who is a guide, who runs a Racor and who knew of potential E10 issues ran his tank low ... but got stuck out on the water as his Racor was severely crapped fuel of "gunk". He thought at worst he'd just need to drain water from it, but whatever ... he wasn't replaced to or couldn't replace it while "on the water". Now get this ... to get back in, he removed the Racor out of the fule line by using a section of ball point pen to hold the 2 sides of the fuel line together. He made it to within a mile of the ramp when his engine died ... turns out the fuel completely dissolved the plastic pen :shock: !

Me thinks I'll keep a short section of 3/8" ID brass tubing on board for emergency use ... mine or someone else's.