Schenectady County

Boaters losing source for ethanol-free fuel

Power boat enthusiasts in the Capital Region who have been able to fill their tanks with ethanol-fre

Power boat enthusiasts in the Capital Region who have been able to fill their tanks with ethanol-free gasoline will see this product phased out over the next few weeks.

“Our source is drying up soon,” said Ken Ray, owner of John Ray & Sons in Troy. Ray’s company distributes ethanol-free gasoline under the label Captain’s Choice.

Captain’s Choice is sold at many marinas in Saratoga County, on the upper Hudson River and Mohawk River and in Lake George.

The enthanol-free gas comes from a refinery near Montreal, but within weeks this source will no longer be available, Ray said.

Instead, Ray will market a new product that contains ethanol but includes additives that are specially formulated for marine engines. The new Captain’s Choice Marine Gasoline will improve fuel efficiency and fight ethanol-related problems, according to Ray.

Ethanol has been required in most gasoline sold in New York state since 2008. People with power boats find that the 10 percent ethanol alcohol in the gas reduces performance and corrodes fuel systems. The ethanol also causes problems in small engines like lawnmowers and snowblowers.

As soon as ethanol in gas was introduced, Joe Lewandowski, owner of Saratoga Ag Sales and Service in Schuylerville, said people started coming in with small engine problems.

“We see more service-related issues due to carburetion, fuel line issues and vapor locking,” Lewandowski said. Gas with ethanol makes the engines run hotter than gas without ethanol; sometimes the small engines get so hot that the gas vaporizes in the fuel line and the engine stalls out until it cools down again.

Some Cub Cadet lawnmower models he sells provide their owners with an insulated fuel line to keep the fuel cooler than the ethanol-heated engine, Lewandowski said.

“You don’t get the gas mileage [with ethanol in gas],” said Phil Dean, owner of Schuyler Yacht Basin on the Hudson River in Schuylerville. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

He sells Captain’s Choice both to the boats that dock at the marina as well as to people who come to the marina with gas cans and fill up for their small tractors and lawnmowers.

Bob Campbell, owner of the Edinburg Marina and Powersports on the Great Sacandaga Lake, said he carries Captain’s Choice at his business on North Shore Road.

He said the ethanol-free gas will be replaced with John Ray & Sons’ new, specially formulated marine gasoline.

Campbell said he also sells additives that counteract the gas with ethanol in it.

“We like the Star Tron product; it has enzymes in it,” Campbell said; add one ounce of Star Tron to eight gallons of gas and it improves their boat motor’s efficiency and reliability.

“We spend a tremendous amount of time cleaning carburetors due to ethanol,” Campbell said; the average motor overhaul costs about $150.

Campbell says he urges boaters to use some sort of additive in their boat’s fuel tank if the engine won’t be used for a lengthy period of time. The reason car engines don’t have as much of a problem with the ethanol gas is that cars are operated on a daily basis and the ethanol doesn’t have time to cause problems.

Ray wouldn’t say exactly what type of additives he will have in his new Captain’s Choice Marine Gasoline because this information is proprietary.

Categories: Business

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