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  1. #1
    wingspan99's Avatar
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    I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    I think I just dropped the cost of my RC addiction way down over the long haul. Today I converted an ASP 1.08 glow engine to run on E85 biofuel with 18% castor. E85 is available here at about 7 gas stations, and I bought two gallons yesterday for $1.99 a gallon. I used the stock glow carburetor. Since E85 is 85% alcohol, there's no need for a gasoline carb. I added a CH Ignitions spark system to the engine. I installed the spark ignition by drilling a small 1/8" hole/recess in the prop drive washer and installed a tiny 1/8" diameter magnet, added a Hall Effect pickup with hose clamp and timed it to 30deg BTDC per the CH Ignitions instructions, replaced the glow plug with a 1/4-32 spark plug, and connected up a fuel tank with gasoline lines and stopper. Connected spark lead to spark plug, and switched it on. It runs really smooth, and all I had to do was lean the top end 1/4 turn and the bottom end 1/8 turn. The needle wasn't as broad in adjustment as 15% nitro, it was about like FAI fuel, two clicks either side of peak. I think I could run my Raptor 50, my Saito 120, and Saito 90 on this stuff. I am running E85 with 18% castor oil. I wonder just how much castor oil I really need since the 15% gasoline has more lubricity than straight alcohol. I have found a source of beauty supplies on the net that sells castor for $10 a gallon, I'll give that stuff a try. The exhaust smells really good, like straight castor glow fuel. I know it all sounds like a lot of work to beat the cost of glow fuel, but I'm just sick of paying for glow fuel. Maybe I'm a future gasser, but I really don't want to go giant scale and I have all these glow motors. The break-even point isn't that far out on the investment in the ignition module. My tach broke yesterday, so I'll update this with some hard RPM numbers when I replace it. I did get some head temps, they were about 250f. I wonder how much castor I really need with this setup. The 15% gasoline has more lubricity than the usual methanol/15% nitro mix. I tried some 12% castor E85 mix, but I don't know how the conrod's bottom end will do on that. Can someone explain to me why the glow car engines can run on 10% oil? They are revving high with less cooling than an airplane motor, but just a bushing on the lower end.
    -Tom Andersen
    Colorado Springs, CO
    http://www.hoverbatics.com

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    Tom in Yoder, CO

  2. #2
    av8tor1977's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    I too have wondered why the car engines spec less oil. The only thing I can think of personally is that they spend less time at high throttle/power settings than an airplane engine. Kind of "zoom, zoom, zoom, whereas an airplane engine is WAAAHHHH..."

    I think it is also highly likely that a person could run much less the the usual 18% or so oil spec'd for the airplane engines, if you were REALLY careful NEVER to have a lean run. I think other than that, the only real answer will be if/when someone cares to do some extensive testing, and is willing to possibly lose an engine or two "in the pursuit of higher knowledge"...

    Reportedly, OS Engines has developed a modified engine, I believe one of their .46 size engines, to run on ethanol with a glow plug. They said that they modified the head and the glow plug to do so. I would like to know more details about what they did, but that was all the article I read in R/C Report said. I contacted the writer, and he didn't have any more info than had been printed.

    Time will tell...

    AV8TOR
    If it is not SCARY, it is NO WHERE NEAR powerful enough!!
    All R/C planes have expiration dates---> It's just not printed on them anywhere!

  3. #3
    KI8FR's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    A engine on a plane or a bote is under a load at all times. The car engine is under a load only when it is exselarating. ( speeding up. i cant spell) It take much less power to keep a car at one speed. about a 10% of the power of the engine. that is why a plane and a bote needs more oil then the car.

    Paul

  4. #4
    wingspan99's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Yes OS Engines is coming out with a .55 engine. There is a web page showcasing the new AX-55BE engine from OS, I can't find it but I have seen it. They changed the combustion chamber, probably to increase the compression. It's funny that they say it has more power than their .46 engine. Those new glow plugs will be interesting. I wonder how long it will take for someone to make some biofuel glow plugs in standard sizes.
    Tom in Yoder, CO

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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    I found a link to O.S.s BioEthanol engine. it is: http://www.os-engines.co.jp/english/bio_eng/ The article said they were due out in Japan in Summer of '07 and they even have a video clip of a float plane flying with one. The price was 21,000 yen, or about $180.00 U.S. It would be worth it to get away from $30.00/gallon glow fuel.

  6. #6
    KI8FR's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    what is e85

  7. #7
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    E-85 is a new fuel that is being sold optionally at gas stations in some parts of the country. It is composed of 85% ethyl alcohol, and 15% gasoline.

    I tried it in our Gas/Glow experiments and couldn't get it to work very well. It doesn't have the methyl alcohol necessary for the catalytic reaction with the glow plug. That's why I'm very interested to see what OS has done to be able to run it in a glow setup.

    AV8TOR
    If it is not SCARY, it is NO WHERE NEAR powerful enough!!
    All R/C planes have expiration dates---> It's just not printed on them anywhere!

  8. #8
    Moderator w8ye's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Here's the OS site about the 55

    http://www.os-engines.co.jp/english/bio_eng/
    Attended the CutFinger Institute of DirtNap University for years but never did graduate....
    Recipient, Mangledhand award August 2008
    Club Saito Member #7
    Original AMA #31261

  9. #9
    wingspan99's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Today I converted my Saito 120 to spark ignition and E85. The Saito carb is fine on top end and idle, but midrange is very rich. I think these Saito engines were set up to use high-nitro fuels, up to 30%, so they flow lots of fuel in the midrange. This leads me to think that an engine set up for FAI or moderate nitro would work better with the E85. I need to change the spraybar profile a little in the midrange. I know it's the mixture because I can pinch the fuel line and smooth it out. I soldered the hole in the spraybar closed, and then opened it back up again with a little smaller slit. The Saito spraybar is very difficult to work on, I couldn't get it out of the carb body to save my life. I resorted to scraping at it with a sharpened screwdriver and hobby blade. We'll see tomorrow if that is better. I know it's a lot leaner in the midrange now, maybe too lean?
    One thing I recently learned is that nitromethane has a fuel/air ratio of 1: 1.6 which is very different from methanol at 1:6 or ethanol which is around 1:9, or gasoline which is 1:15. I'll bet E85 is somewhere around 1:10 since it's a mixture. So anything designed to run a lot of nitro glow fuel is going to be very rich on low-nitro glow fuel or ethanol or gasoline. I never was really impressed with the way the engine transitioned on even 15% nitro glow fuel, so I know why the midrange is even richer on this carb. The ASP 1.08 I converted was designed to run on low nitro fuel. I was able to dial that carb in to perfection, utter perfection. That motor never ran so good. Oh I also converted my 18cc Poulan leaf blower to E85 today, that was no more complicated than just opening the main needle valve a half turn. I started it up with gasoline in the fuel lines, and gradually it burned that out and transitioned to E85 with 4% castor. That made finding the new needle position real easy, I just kept adjusting it as it ran until it smoothed out and stopped changing. It is so much nicer to work with the E85, it has a slight gasoline odor but it's not a stinkbomb on your hands like gasoline. My experience with this fuel change has shown me why in the past I've had to change glow fuels to really dial in an engine. I cannot imagine flying with 30% nitro like many Saito owners do, but now I know why those engines really like it. -Tom
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  10. #10
    gkamysz's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Yes, I figure around 10:1 for E85 also. Cool projects. I've been messing with diesels, no glow plug, no spark plug.
    Greg

  11. #11
    wingspan99's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Yes, I am very interested in diesel conversions as well. I do like the idea of cheap fuel, high torque, and low fuel consumption but can you get away without using ether in the fuel or buying expensive DDD fuel? I have an OS 46FX I would like to convert.
    One thing I'd like to try is running diesel fuel in my spark converted Saito 120. That's a normal-compression use of diesel, probably not as efficient or powerful as diesel but probably easier to set up and run, but probably not as powerful as the E85 conversion that runs on mainly alcohol. Someone mentioned this was done for an RPV program successfully, but I bet they made it run on JP-8 (or kerosene) because that is what the military requires, perhaps not the optimal fuel for hobbyists, although it's cheap and readily available everywhere. What is homebrew model diesel fuel comprised of, just kerosene and oil?
    Maybe a Perry carb is what I need for my Saito 120, they have a midrange control. Do most diesel conversions require a Perry carb?
    Tom in Yoder, CO

  12. #12
    wingspan99's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Yes, I am very interested in diesel conversions as well. I do like the idea of cheap fuel, high torque, and low fuel consumption but can you get away without using ether in the fuel or buying expensive DDD fuel? I have an OS 50SX-H in a Raptor 50 I would like to convert. I bet the extra torque would be great in a heli. I run 1850 head speed with 8.5:1 ratio, and I use a governor so that's a constant 15,725rpm. Do you think I could get that rpm with a diesel? I could probably do with less rpm about 1700 head speed (14450rpm) if I had more torque to back it up. One reason I use the 1850 head speed is to store some energy for pitch changes and get the engine into it's power band. Maybe a diesel though, would be a little hard on the geartrain in a heli?
    One other thing I'd like to try is running diesel fuel in my spark converted Saito 120. That's a normal-compression use of diesel, probably not as efficient or powerful as diesel but probably easier to set up and run, but maybe not as powerful as the E85 conversion that runs on mainly alcohol. Someone mentioned that was done for an RPV program successfully, but I bet they made it run on JP-8 (or kerosene) because that is what the military requires, and perhaps it's not the optimal fuel for hobbyists, although it's cheap and readily available everywhere. What is homebrew model diesel fuel comprised of, just kerosene and oil?
    Do most diesel conversions require a Perry carb? The fuels are so different, it's got more energy than gasoline even.
    Update on the Saito 120 E85 conversion, my carb modification worked. I closed up the low end of the spraybar with solder and reopened it with a much leaner profile and now it transitions nice, runs smooth in the midrange and ok on top end. The idle is nice, it's very lean and varies a little bit, but definitely flyable all around. I can't wait to try it out.
    -Tom
    Tom in Yoder, CO

  13. #13
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Kerosene fuel in a spark ignition engine is a bit tricky to start. You would generally start it on an auxiliary tank of gasoline, then go to the on board kerosene. Or you need to preheat the engine, or intake manifold. You have to be a little careful with the compression ratio, you don't want to get too high or it will preignite.

    Diesel may or may not make more torque. Not every glow engine conversion makes more power and torque. I have an FX awaiting conversion but don't have any numbers for performance on diesel.

    Visit us at the diesel forum for more diesel fun.
    Greg

  14. #14
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    I am running a SuperTigre GS40 on E85 in a Super Sportster. I add 15% nitro and the oil is 18% blended at 80/20 synth/castor. It runs virtually identical to glow fuel with the exception of about 1 to 200 rpm's lost on the top. I have to run an OS F plug in it to get the idle low and smooth but otherwise it runs great. I also had to lean the HS needle about 1/2 turn and I didn't pay attention to how much I leaned the low needle but it wasn't much, maybe a 1/4 turn or so. It is just a tiny bit rich in the mid range but not unacceptable. Overall it's been a great little project.
    Spektrum DX8i, DA DLE SuperTigre OS FOX Saito Enya Jett TT: John 3:16

  15. #15
    wingspan99's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    That's really neat. I guess the nitro makes it work with the OS F glow plug, which is a hot four-stroke plug meant for colder than normal conditions. I was originally thinking that if I had to heat the plug externally it wouldn't be that bad a compromise but you don't even have to do that. Kudos.
    It's always been said that glow fuel cost is a function of what is added to the methanol, so true, so true. I'm trying to avoid using nitro at all, and run on E85/oil mix with spark ignition, although at the high altitudes I fly at, 6800' MSL, I could probably use some nitro to add extra oxygen to the mix. I could probably just use 30% nitro and gain back the power I had at 500' MSL. With nitro at about $48 a gallon plus high shipping expenses, I'd rather just put a bigger motor in the plane and use the cheap mix. That seems to be the consensus up here, just put a bigger motor in the plane.
    Electrics do well up here, the motors spin a little faster so power loss is less than IC engines. I can't wait to get my new tach and really put some numbers to it all. I may relent and add some nitro but I figure that with spark ignition I can ignite the mixture with a nice hot CDI spark and control the timing and maximize the energy of the E85. Is there anything else I could add to give it some more oxygen, what about propylene oxide? I've heard that 3% works wonders with the little .049/051 Tee Dee engines. Since the ethanol is running the plug cooler, maybe the heat from PO would help? Just brainstorming now, see the smoke coming from my ears? -Tom
    Tom in Yoder, CO

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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    wingspan99: Very interesting data on the use of E85 fuel. How is the fuel consumpion compaired to (1) standard 10% glow fuel or (2) regular pump gas with spark ignition? Most likely ...not much difference. Full size cars...people say the miles per gallon is less on E85...so to break even...the E85 has to be a lot less in price. Best Regards Capt,n
    I never met a engine I did not like !

  17. #17
    wingspan99's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Hi Capt'n,
    E85 fuel consumption is less than glow fuel and more than gasoline. The difference between glow fuel and gasoline is almost a 2:1 difference with E85 falling in between them, probably closer to glow fuel than gasoline. On full size cars, there are differences between FFV's regarding the efficiency on E85. I met a guy last week that gets the same mileage on E85 as he does on gasoline on his new Ford F150. Maybe it wasn't very efficient on gasoline to begin with, and it is more efficent than the average FFV on E85, and the two things evened out his mileage on each fuel? Theoretically with the lower energy content of E85 it should take more volume to make the same power. We are at 6800'MSL up here so maybe that made his truck less efficient on gas? At the time, gas was 2.67/gal and the E85 was 1.99/gal so the difference to him is dramatic, on the order of spending 34% less on a fill-up for the same mileage.
    -Tom
    Tom in Yoder, CO

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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Hoh much acohol is in the E85 fuel?
    I never met a engine I did not like !

  19. #19
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Ethanol 85%, gasoline 15%.
    Greg

  20. #20
    wingspan99's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    E85 is 85% ethanol alcohol, and 15% gasoline.
    On another note, I was able to separate out the 15% gasoline yesterday by adding about 50% water to E85. The water mixed with the alcohol and the gasoline rose to the top in a clear layer. This is similar to the method used to determine if there is ethanol in regular pump gas, which is to add water to the gas and see if the level of water/alcohol rises higher after a few minutes. I was surprised to find no ethanol in some regular pump gas I bought here in Colorado. I figured it would have 10% ethanol in it but evidently the grade I bought, 85 octane, had no alcohol in it. I'm going to start testing all my fuels to figure out what exactly I'm getting. I just need a few graduated cylinders. -Tom
    Tom in Yoder, CO

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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    What do you think the grade(purity) of the ethanol is in that E85. Thanks capt,n
    I never met a engine I did not like !

  22. #22
    wingspan99's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    It is very high grade, which means low water content. If there is too much water in the ethanol, it will separate out from the gasoline while sitting in the underground storage tanks at gas stations. Those E85 storage tanks have to be set up with systems to keep water out, probably some kind of dryer system on the incoming air into the tanks. I've been experimenting with this separation, and I've been able to get the fuel to take about 10% water and not separate out, as long as I mixed it extremely well to begin with. If I just dropped the water in and did not stir it, it started a separation process. I can get about 2% water to mix and blend to a clear state with vigorous stirring. If I add 50% water without stirring, it separates out fast. It's easy to see the gasoline, it's the yellow layer above the cloudy layer. The clouding in the ethanol/water goes away after some time and clarifies. I am definitely going to try some more experiments mixing E85 with glow fuel to try to run on glow plugs. I'll start with 2:1 E85 to glow fuel ratio and aim for 5% nitro, 15% oil by adding more oil.
    Tom in Yoder, CO

  23. #23
    gkamysz's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    The ethanol in E85 should be virtually pure, within what is easily producible. Ethanol sold on the market must be denatured, however when you are talking E85 it is denatured by the 15% gasoline. Some searching would certainly turn up specifications. I've run across them before.
    Greg

  24. #24
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    Good info on the water Tom. I am out of Nitro now so I will probably blend glow fuel like you said and just add more oil. When I get more Nitro I will go back to my original mix. The little ST40 seems to like it. Let us know how your glow experiments work out.
    Spektrum DX8i, DA DLE SuperTigre OS FOX Saito Enya Jett TT: John 3:16

  25. #25
    wingspan99's Avatar
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    RE: I converted a glow engine to run on E85

    I just tried my first E85/glow fuel mix on glow plug with good results. I mixed E85 and 15/16 Powermaster glow fuel at 2:1 ratio then added 7% more castor oil. In an ASP 108 I was able to get a smooth top end, and a decent idle, about 40 seconds. Transition was ok but sometimes cut out if I accelerated fast from idle. With the glow ignitor on, idle was perfect, and transition was perfect. That final mix was 4.7% nitro, 22.2% methanol, 9.5% oil, 54% ethanol, and 9.5% gasoline. I just realized I didn't add 7% castor, I added like 5%, a miscalculation I'll correct on the next batch. When my tach gets here I'll put some numbers to this. I have a feeling this E85/glow mix isn't far off what I was getting with E85 and spark ignition on the ASP 108, and that motor ran perfect on spark. Can someone tell me what their experience has been running alcohol in the spark gassers? I have always heard a bit more power is obtained than on gasoline, and vice versa when converting glow to spark with gasoline. I guess the alcohol just vaporizes better? -Tom
    Tom in Yoder, CO


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