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mbn534

E85 in my '63 R2

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A number of people have written to say that E85 fuel in a '63 R2 would be disastrous. The hot rod magazines say that this works pretty well with today's supercharged engines. Admittedly a 1963 289 Studebaker engine does not share much with a 2014 engine but I'm thinking maybe a mixture of 40/60 E85 with Shell premium (which is what I usually run in my car) might work. Any thoughts? Michael B :wacko:

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Your car, your engine, your choice.

I for one wouldn't take a chance.

I personally don't have the answers.

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Modern cars also have computer-controlled engines, waste gates, O2 sensors, variable timing, etc. Your Avanti has none of that. Maybe some magazine might run a test of E85 in a vehicle contemporary to your car to find the answer...until then, I wouldn't do it.

Maybe you can contact a car mag and volunteer your car for the experiment?

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Sure the R2 will run on a mix of E85, BUT.....the rubber components of an R2 fuel system are not compatible with alcohol and will soon deteriorate. E85 would also be a dry mix on a conventional engine. Don't think that I would do it and I've done some pretty risky ****!

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Everything about it screams, "run away!" Staying completely away from any politics, E85 has a long history of finding and destroying vintage rubber items in boats and cars, there's just no possible advantage in running it unless you have a free source, and then it still may end up costing you more. As Gunsliger mentioned, modern E85/Flexfuel vehicles use constant feedback monitoring to make adjustments on the fly that we'd need a wrench for on our 63-64 cars. On top of that, every component of the fuel system has been selected and approved for the ethanol effects.

Edited by GlennW

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I just was reading a sales brochure for a new Nissan Sentra. It stated that the compression ratio of the standard engine was 9.9:1 and it would run on regular fuel. I believe the lowest ratio in an R-engined Stude was 9.25:1 and Studebaker recomended high-test or 102 octane gas in all the R-engined cars. Kind of shows the difference between then and now as far as engine tuning and management goes.

I personally wouldn't use E-85 in a carburated engine without doing a lot of research and testing and also changing to most if not all modern components. I am thinking of replacing the 2bbl carb on my Lark with a Holley 350cfm unit but until then I will be using all the tricks I can find on these forums to keep things going using the parts that came with my cars. And I still won't be using E-85.

The problem with alcohol is that it likes to evaporate. In a modern car the fuel system is closed and pressurised. Evaporation is not a factor. A carburated car has an open system and the fuel evaporates quite readily, especialy out of a hot engine. The more alcohol, the faster the evaporation. Do you really want to use E-85? Just sayin'...

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I wouldn't recommend it for all the above reasons plus, at least around here it costs the same as E-10 & gives poorer fuel economy. I wouldn't run it in one of my "newer" cars unless it was built for E-85 & even then it would have to be an emergency. Even if it was less than 20% of the price of regular it wouldn't be gaining anything. Cost would be more up front & later down the road in additional repairs.

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A number of people have written to say that E85 fuel in a '63 R2 would be disastrous. The hot rod magazines say that this works pretty well with today's supercharged engines. Admittedly a 1963 289 Studebaker engine does not share much with a 2014 engine but I'm thinking maybe a mixture of 40/60 E85 with Shell premium (which is what I usually run in my car) might work. Any thoughts? Michael B :wacko:

This is one of those, "If you have to ask the question, the answer is no."

E85 has much less energy per volume than E10, so the entire fuel system has to be increased in flow capacity - larger lines, fuel pump, needle and seat.

E85 absorbs more water from the air, so the tank system has to be sealed, with a evaporative cannister.

E85 requires much larger jets in the carburetorand different ignition curve.

E85 doesn't like to sit for long periods of time, so over the winter, the fuel system would need to be drained and flushed with E10.

Having said all that, the hot rodders have it right as to the benefits of E85. One could take an R4 with 12.5 compression, add a supercharger with 7 PSI boost and it would really fly and not detonate, if the entire fuel system was built to handle the E85 and it was tuned by someone who knows how.

jack vines

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One other thing to keep in mind. E85 doesn't always have 85% Ethanol. Your only assurance is that it will be no more than 85% Ethanol. With Flex-Fuel vehicles, this isn't important as the engine's managaement system is able to adjust to obtain stoichrometric balance but with a carburetor, you have not the ability to adjust jet sizes "on the run".

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One other thing to keep in mind. E85 doesn't always have 85% Ethanol. Your only assurance is that it will be no more than 85% Ethanol. With Flex-Fuel vehicles, this isn't important as the engine's managaement system is able to adjust to obtain stoichrometric balance but with a carburetor, you have not the ability to adjust jet sizes "on the run".

Good point on not knowing what % E85 could be vs the obvious 85%. My 2013 E350 van is FlexFuel and only once have I used the E85. That was when I was in the middle of nowhere and running low on fuel, and came across a one-station town that had only E85 because of a underground tank contamination problem. Rather than gamle on the next town I just filled 'er up and drove off. Figure I had maybe a 75% mixture with that top off and when I filled up later on with "real gas" ;) it may have made it more like a 20%-30% mixture. The thing is, the van doesn't care since it's a closed-loop system with an ECU vs a Carter AFB.

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