View Full Version : Story time

Walter Suiter
05-25-2017, 03:39 AM
Everyone who ever drove a commercial ambulance has experienced the castigation relating to fuel consumption, especially if that car was a Caddy. "Keep your fat foot out of the firewall" is about as polite as the lecture ever got, followed by "The hearses are just as heavy, and they burn less gas per mile". I'd been able to go nearly 3 weeks without shaving after I pointed out Hearses didn't stop at intersections because hearses had escorts" one day when Junior flamed out in my face. OK, obviously Junior eschewed logic being introduced to one of his theorys. I could work with that. I retreated to the contemplation room of the barn and pondered. I was failing the company, and it was my duty to remediate my failures in fuel mileage.

We'd learned the previous winter that adding water to the gasoline because the underground tank accumulated water wasn't an acceptable way to increase mileage by expanding gallons in the tank wasn't good. It was especially not good when the company tow truck pulling a car with a frozen fuel system back to the barn locked up stopped at a red light, and it was poor company image riding into the Emergency Entrance of St Marys backwards and having to wait for the towtruck to disconnect from the car to unload the patient. (Now those of you wondering why the towtruck had siren and reds know.) That problem went away when we fueled at commercial stations, and the fuel company loaned George an above ground tank till the problem could be resolved, but I was failing and I needed to remedy that myself, or I'd go to the bottom of the wheel.

Contemplation brought me recall, a month or two before I'd hauled a patient who tried to become one with a huge printing press at one of the commercial printers in town after the Fire goons demolished the machine around him and freed his arm. I recalled having to air the car out after that trip because it stunk like the gurney had been soaked in gasoline. One of the Printers had even cautioned against smoking in the car for a while after we dropped the patient. I also remembered the printing place had a big tank marked Waste Solvent. I was smelling potential. I made a little side trip over to the printing place and asked some questions of the worker bees there. They swore the solvent was better than HiTest gas, and one even told me he added it to his car, but only after filtering it. I could have all I wanted, just bring my own container and remember to filter the crap or buy a lot of fuel filters because it would plug those bronze things on a Rochester carb. I could do all of that easily, I drove a pickup. I even figured if I siphoned from the top of the tank there would be less solids. I would improve my fuel performence.

Being a cautious person I damn well wasn't going to test the idea on my pickup though. I even wrote down the label information on a barrel of fresh solvent, and made a trip to the Library to look it up. Holy crap, this juice was a misbegotten child of breeding Dynamite with rocket fuel. I figured it lost some of its potency cleaning printing equipment. It also occurred to me the Speedy Drycleaning plant always stunk too, and they were fanatics about not allowing employees to smoke. The Library really lacked information I needed, but the guys in labcoats at the U of R made it completely clear I was in dangerous territory when I asked over there. With 20 gallons of drycleaning juice and 10 of printing solvent, I mixed up a batch of liquid gold. There were no CCTV cameras back then, so while I checked my car for the night and spiffed up the interior, I added a gallon of liquid gold to the tank before fueling up. It was mandated drivers fuel the car at half tank.

Coming back to work the next day the driver who ran my car for the day shift asked if the mechanic had put new plugs in and tuned the ride? Not that I knew about, why did he ask? He swore the pig was running better and had superior get up and go. OK, I'll see what it does. I checked the mileage and knew he had only added about 4 gallons of gas at end of shift. On my first run I did note the green monster was breathing fire leaving intersections, and I kept my foot out of the firewall with a patient aboard. I was doing my best to lower my fuel use. Two weeks later I was summoned to the office where Junior informed me he was proud of my improvement since we had our little talk. I thanked him. I also explained I'd been reading a book on interacting with my surroundings to maximum potential and watched his eyes glaze over. He knew I'd read damn near anything if I could get it free. He didn't know I picked up textbooks over at the UofR when rich kids flung them at end of semester, and resold them to incoming classes. I also changed to only dumping liquid gold into the car at the beginning of shift when I was going to drive it. There was no point to giving my competition help in the Driver of the month competition.

Steve who rode with me despised Junior with a passion usually only seen in a woman entering Divorce Court, and wouldn't give information up if his fingernails were ripped out, even so I took the precaution of stashing the liquid gold away from the barn. Steve asked me why I was adding a gallon of gas from a can so I told him I was sandbagging the fuel mileage contest with farm gas that only cost me a quarter a gallon to save ass chewings. He could and did work with that. About 3 weeks in the day guys had a no start on the car leaving Northside Hospital and it was towed in. The mechanic changed the fuel filter on the Rochester, and the car went back to running well. The mechanic took an ass chewing for the filter plugging, it should have been changed, and Junior poured over fleet fuel mileage numbers. He climbed on the mechanic's ass to change fuel filters and spark plugs on a mileage based schedule, and the mechanic walked off the job. I pondered increasing the liquid gold ratio. Junior's meticulous records indicated one car in the fleet was nearly a mile per gallon ahead of the fleet on fuel mileage, and I was again summoned to the office for a talk. I explained I had managed to get in tune with the car, and evidently that increased mileage. Junior moved me to a newer Caddy to see what happened. Oddly, I managed to get into tune with the new ride, and fuel mileage on my old ride went downhill. Steve was giving me strange looks though as I wired a 4x4 pad over the spout of my stashed fuel can before pouring.

Junior had the bookkeeper double check the fleet fuel mileage numbers before opening his mouth and looking the fool he was before he mentioned the phenomenon to George. He was probably on thin ice and looking forward to a career at a Caravel stand. The car I drove consistently almost achieved the fuel use the hearses and flower car got. Junior called around to people who would talk to him and learned there were studies showing men and machines could achieve some sort of interactivity leading to enhanced efficiency. He made notes. He planned to present his findings to George, probably after asking mom to alert him when George was in a good mood. Junior even took the car I was driving for a test drive, got himself a speeding ticket, and decided the car really did move. Later that day, the car came back to the barn on the hook with a fuel filter problem. Junior gave the new mechanic 5 bucks to change the filter without logging it. He went back to his sheet of figures to calculate the cost of fuel filters against fuel mileage. The new mechanic told Junior maybe I was tweaking the quadrijet, and I got to attend a conference in the office where I swore I only went under the hood to check the oil, brake fluid and power steering fluid. I was forbidden to do that from then on, and that was fine with me.

I won the monthly fuel economy piece of paper for the second month in a row, and Junior made his presentation to George. Junior assured George I had achieved a mind meld with the car I drove, and he wanted me to teach the other drivers how to do it. George left the office and asked Jimmar, who was a Registered Nurse, if there was any medical test that might prove he hadn't sired Junior? Jimmar assured George there was none he knew of, although a blood test might get George part way home. When I got to work there was a message slip to call George at home.

Paul Steinberg
05-26-2017, 09:21 PM
Interesting reading. Could you expand on how this "magical juice" was able to increase the mileage, and why it would clog up the sintered bronze filter? Do you think that it would work with todays ethanol laced fuels?

Walter Suiter
05-27-2017, 03:40 PM
The mileage increase is real simple to explain; I was effectively adding a gallon of fuel to the tank that wasn't showing upon the pump.
The pump and log showed 6 gallons, although I had added 7.
If the figures were reworked using true gallons my mileage was probably worse than other drivers not juicing the car.

Plugging the bronze filters is to the best of my understanding equally simple. Those little collections of metal chips were made by loosely gluing the chips together with a gasoline resistant glue that was not resistant to the juice I was adding. The printing solvent was also carrying ink residue along with who knows what residue from printing, to include a miracle substance called paper chad (microscopic paper). Add in that the bronze device is really a strainer, NOT a filter, and it plugs fairly easily because the surface area is small.

You need to remember gasoline is really a mixture, NOT a solution, so gasoline that is not constantly agitated stratifies. If it was a solution the light end of the mix wouldn't evaporate off as easily as it does at ambient temperature.

Engines of the 60s, especially V-8 big blocks were far different creatures than engines of the 70s, even before fuel injection. The 318 in my bud's 68 Fury 3 is higher compression than the 318 was in my 72 Duster, because Government mandates began in 70. When I pulled the rear axles of my Duster to check the bearings I was a little surprized to learn the rear end was for a 6 cylinder car. Mopar had made the switch to workaround the lack of available torque from the 72 318 motor.

Also, by 73, gasoline had been reformulated to the degree the 68 Fury 3 knocked like a bucket of pipe wrenches under load. The solution to the knocking and less power in the gas tank was water vapor. Water vapor got a lot of piston aircraft off the ground in World War 2 and it still worked in the 70s on pre computer engines.

To sort of answer your alcohol question; remember in the Offenhauser (s) days the Indy 500 was run entirely on alcohol. It's a good motor fuel, but there are less BTUs in a gallon of alcohol than there are in a gallon of 87 octane gas.

Alcohol and alcohol containing gas has 1 major problem, and that is the hydroscorpic nature of alcohol. Alcohol is a magnet to water, ask any Moonshiner. Alcohol also stratifies rapidly in a tank of fuel that isn't being circulated or agitated. Alcohol & gasoline + water = corrosion problems + creation of compounds in the fuel that soften "rubber" components and some plastics in fuel systems. This was known well into the 80s when all Mopar service manuals contained a statement about not adding alcohol based DryGas to the tank unless you planned to tow the vehicle, drop the gas tank and replace the pickup filter in the tank. Alcohol softened the screen material Mopar was using. Don't ask how I learned about that little problem.

On the good side, alcohol beats hell out of MTBE 8 ways to Sundown. That crap wasn't just poisonous to humans, it gets into ground water and there is no way to get it out. MTBE also PENETRATES rubber, such as fuel pump diaphragms of the 1970 and before time frame. Once that happens, fuel mileage goes to hell, oil level in the crankcase increases, and bearings disappear in piston rods.

Can the current crop of over 1000 formulations of the liquid called gasoline be juiced? Absolutely, in fact it is being juiced at the terminal where it is loaded into the delivery truck, and in the case of stations using blending pumps, right at the station. Doing it in that location to barely meet octane numbers is fairly simple since the blendor knows the formulation he's working from. Doing it in your back yard is more difficult since you need to do the blend in a manner that will neither evaporate off or speed up the morphing built into the fuel when it left the refinery. Shelf life from refinery to plastic that smells like gasoline is currently about 90 days.

If you insist on juicing, begin with Xylene, Toluene and other similar VOCs with low boiling points. Just remember Toluene and Xylene eat synthetic rubber. The likelihood is you'll only be replacing those same components that were in the gas when it left the terminal by evaporating up the tank vent at the filling station.

Personally, I'd go to water vapor first if you're trying to eliminate knock and crap performance.