The Zombie Apocalypse Or The Fuel Storage Dilemma

These days there are any number of zombie apocalypse tv shows and movies to choose from via streaming and broadcast tv providers. My better half loves to watch them, but she hates to hear me interrupt with “There’s no possible way gas would last that long!”.

Let’s examine the fuel problem since it’s one of the most misunderstood problems boat owners face today. First off ethanol is a problem, but it isn’t the route of all evil additive makers would have you believe. Remember the problems you faced as a child in the 70’s when you had to cut the grass for the first time in the spring? No ethanol, same problem, you simply can’t store fuels for extended periods. If you’re too young to remember the 70’s rest easy this problem has been the same since gasoline burning internal combustion engines came into being.

Doing a web search into the matter will return a great many ads that look like science and self proclaimed “subject matter experts” going off on this additive and that one. If you are able to separate the wheat from the chaff you’ll come to statements from the oil companies themselves that state simply that gasoline cannot be stored for longer than 3 months. BP, Sunoco, Exxon, Shell all seem to come to the same conclusion so why do you take the word from some guy you met who had a boat once, or dramatized zombie fare from the entertainment field. If you want science maybe try ASTM study D525 and see what standards say about the subject material.

Look the solution to fuel related issues in small motors is simply don’t keep old gas around, dump it into your car, they’ll make more I promise you. If your small outboard is carbureted run it out of gas every time you use it by simply disconnecting the fuel hose while it’s running. Proper scheduled maintenance from a certified mechanic (IBC is 5 Star Gold Certified) will help you when you forget your duties as a boat owner.

Change your fuel water separator every 50 hours or once a season if you are a light user. Those clear bowls with drains that are on the aftermarket are just there to give you something to look at. If you can see water or separation in the bowl then you need to replace the filter cartridge plain and simple. Never dump out fuel water separators and reuse them they are already contaminated and you risk contaminating the rest of your fuel system.

Ethanol is a problem because it’s hygroscopic (it attracts water) and it compunds the already well understood problem of storing fuel. Some additives like Yamaha’s stabilizer and conditioner can help to minimize the problem, but no amount of after refinement chemical additives will alleviate the underlying failure modality. You should probably go vote on ethanol and corn farmer subsidies if you want that problem to go away.

Fuel related problems are the number one issue we see at boat shops, and historically that hasn’t changed. Granted IBC goes farther back than most boaters have been alive so take our word on it, the level of laziness in modern users has increased.

You just bought a fancy new 4 stroke motor because you like the lack of smoke and bleeding ear syndrome from old two strokes, that doesn’t mean you are released from proper care and maintenance duties. New motors are a modern miracle, but it only takes one lazy moment to bring things to all stop. These modern carbs and fuel injection systems demand prudent care and attention, it’s not like a car where you can pull over and call a tow truck.Boating has always been a dangerous activity that requires proper care and attention to detail, the modern world’s inventions have just made it easier to get out there without a life’s worth of training like the old nautical days. Pay attention because little details like when you bought your fuel can have big impacts to your enjoyment on the water or lack there of.

Winterize your motors and service them in the spring with us here at IBC and rest easy because we’re always on watch. To schedule service call (503) 235-2628 and ask for Adam.