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Thread: Fuel for old bikes.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Default Fuel for old bikes.

    Guys im new to the old bike hobby, But im just curious ? Being this will be my 1st yr with my 73 XLCH i plan on using 93 unleaded, But what do you guys/gals use for fuel ,on the real oldies. Board track racers VLs Indians? Do u use additives,change to hardened valves like us in the old car hobby. As someday i plan on a 1920s to 1930s Harley or Indian...thanx brett

  2. #2
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    Jan 2003
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    England
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    Dear Brett, on the VLs, these probably ran on 70 octane fuel back in the day, so regular pump gas should be fine. The problem of course is the alcohol in it, but you have steel fuel lines so these should be OK. The alcohol strips the shellac off the original cork carbureter floats, so the float sinks and you get a fountain of fuel for the first ride of the season. Replace with brass or modern foam floats. The alcohol is wet so rusts the steel plugs in the brass gas valves over winter, so the first turn grinds rust into the valve body and you have a $80 leak. I've heard draining the tanks and filling with nitrogen advised, but am not hard core enough to do that. Alcohol also strips early tank sealers, and strips off the protective layer of crud sealing those tiny pinholes in the tinplate tanks. Some riders use Avgas, which apparently has no alcohol. but this is hard to find and expensive.

    On the VLs, I used to fit stainless valves and hardened seats, but now don't with apparently no problems.

    Some of those 1970s Sportsters had ludicrously high compression ratios, needing exotic gas and making them hard to start. If you're not trying to wring out the last horsepower, and the engine needs work, I'd consider fitting softer pistons.

  3. #3

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    Find a gas station that has recreational vehicle fuel. It's basically for off road vehicles like ATC's and ATV's. It doesn't contain ethanol. I use it in my motorcycles and lawnmower that sit for a while. A bit more expensive but worth it.
    Dave

  4. #4
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    Jun 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by ammorest View Post
    Find a gas station that has recreational vehicle fuel.
    But Dave!

    What if you don't always want to ride in a circle?

    And Steve!

    Ethanol is certainly digestive and corrosive, but here in the USA we have dozens of other digestive additives, such as detergents, Federally-mandated intake valve deposit inhibitors, injector cleaners, etc., all of which contribute to the problem, whether ethanol is present or not.
    Combinations of fuels are worse than any one alone.

    And how do you make a brass float float?
    An assist spring like a Bendix?

    Thanks in advance,

    ....Cotten
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    Dumpster Diver's Motto: Seek,... and Ye Shall Find!

  5. #5
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    Jan 2006
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    Menomonie, WI
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    Brett I have run my Knuckleheads all over the country. I always try to use fuel with out alcohol but they run just fine on any pump fuel. I have Cotten's float in them and just try not to let alcohol gas sit in them for long. Jerry


    Quote Originally Posted by brettxlch View Post
    Guys im new to the old bike hobby, But im just curious ? Being this will be my 1st yr with my 73 XLCH i plan on using 93 unleaded, But what do you guys/gals use for fuel ,on the real oldies. Board track racers VLs Indians? Do u use additives,change to hardened valves like us in the old car hobby. As someday i plan on a 1920s to 1930s Harley or Indian...thanx brett

  6. #6
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    if you have a farmer's union coop, they may sell (our's does) 89 octane no ethanol. or a marina, 92 octane no ethanol. i have used ethanol-free for years in all my bikes (modern and vintage (2 and 4 cycle) including my JD) when they sit; of course, over the road, i have to burn the corn gas in my modern bikes. ethanol attracts water and if a tank is not kept full over the winter, will create rust far more quickly than gas without ethanol. when i worked for a shop we regularly saw the damaging effects of ethanol gas; ethanol gas has a particularly hard time remaining stable if not stored in a temp-controlled environment such as unheated garage or worse, outdoors. i say stored, as i suspect many of us may not have too many opportunities to take our bikes out over winter and be able to run them up to full operating temperature over the winter months; basically when a bike sites over winter with a tank full of gas, that gas is being stored in a container...

  7. #7
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    Nov 2018
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    Reno NV
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    For anyone looking for Ethanol free gas, here is a link to a website where you can search by state or town.
    Cheers,
    Mick

    pure-gas.org

  8. #8
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    The water problem with ethanol, Folks,...

    Is why its not energy-efficient, nor "green", to mix it with gasoline.

    Dehydrated (rectified} alcohols naturally absorb moisture from where ever it can.
    (That's the point of the gas-line de-icer "Heet".)

    Once there is too much water, however, ethanol separates from the fuel. Up to that point, it removes water.
    But its primary purpose is supposed be to increase octane....

    Sadly, it takes more energy to produce rectified ethanol than we get back out.
    Yet 95% ETOH/5% H20 is a fantastic 95 octane alternative for 'dedicated' agricultural and stationary motors, as well as public transit vehicles.

    The real reason it isn't sensibly produced and used on a community scale is pure politiks.
    Instead, the general public is compelled to use it in a foolish way.

    ....Cotten
    PS: My background is juggling test tubes for the USDA during the 'energy crisis' of the '70s.
    Last edited by T. Cotten; 02-27-2019 at 10:53 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Oct 2011
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    Some interesting youtube home projects to remove ethanol from gas by adding water and then draining off ethanol/water which have combined.
    Amusing ,simple,and sometimes sketchy set ups. octane is lowered but I guess some think its worth it.Not something im interested in doing.
    A gallon of tru-fuel brand at tractor supply 93 no ethanol is 7.50 a gallon and I use it for the last season run of chain saw ,leaf blower,generator,but not motorcycles at that price.
    Tom

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    One thing I've learned about pump gas, Folks..

    Its constantly changing.

    At any one time, even different brands in your region will digest things differently. Mix them, and there is a synergistic effect.
    Then consider regional differences, and of course, the wide range of "summer blends", many 'proprietary', and those change annually.

    Frankly, the P4gas around here is nothing like the alien spit it was a decade ago. (And it had ethanol a decade earlier than that.)

    ....Cotten
    PS: Just some extraneous variables: Stations locally change brand often, sometimes just moving down the street. Do they drain the tanks?
    (It takes fourteen turnovers to completely eliminate any residuals, or so I was schooled.)

    When hazmat disposal is so expensive, wouldn't it be tempting to dump it into a 10,000 gallon tank?
    Last edited by T. Cotten; 02-27-2019 at 02:01 PM.
    AMCA #776
    Dumpster Diver's Motto: Seek,... and Ye Shall Find!

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