Generator on kerosene

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Many years ago, I was told that a small (or large?) gasoline engine will run fine on kerosene. However, it will only run after it's warmed up, needs gasoline to get it started and running.
The application for this is remote pump houses, and fire pumps in remote locations. The engine has a valve system for the fuels. A couple galons of gasoline are kept on hand, and replaced every couple months. A larger tank of kerosene is also present.
The operation plan is that if the pump is needed, the operator comes in. Sets the valve to "gasoline" and pours in a galon into the smaller gas tank. Runs the engine to get it started, and warm, and then changes the valve to kerosene. When shutting down, it is then necessary to either run the engine dry, or change it back to gasoline.
Now, to make this personal. I have a Coleman generator at home, with a 5 HP Briggs and Stratton engine. Supposing for the sake of discussion, we have an extended duration power cut. Has anyone personally had experience with this? Is this a correct description?
I've got maybe 5 galons of gasoline at home, and about 20 galons of kerosene. It would be very nice to use a quart of gas to get my generator warmed up, and then pour kerosene into the tank. But I'd sure feel more reassured if someone else out there had done this, and knows that it it will work.
Would have to run the generator dry, when shutting down. So as to allow to restart the next time on a quart or so of gasoline.
I appreciate any ideas, advice, or thoughts.
--

Christopher A. Young
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A few years ago someone came out with low-volatile gasoline. The idea was that you stick a gallon in your car trunk, and if you ever run out of gas, you have the spare gallon. But they removed the most volatile components, so it would not explode in a collision. It would not start a cold motor, but would run in a warm motor. It cost 10X the price of gasoline.
If you could just use kerosene for that, then the product would have been unnecessary. (but since I haven't seen it in a few years, maybe it was unnecessary.)
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Back in the 50s - we had a farm - Dad was a coal miner - but he tried to run a 10 acre farm on the side. One of the ways he used to "stretch" his money was to run a mixture of 50% kerosene and 50% gasoline. At the time gasoline was about 17 cents a gallon and kerosene was 5 cents a gallon - at the time that was a big savings. The tractor would jug along just fine on the mixture - it was a Ford Cub with the spread out front wheels. I used to love to "drive" it on the seat with him.
Today - since home heating oil is "virtually" kerosene - one may be considering running a mixture of fuel oil and gasoline in their car to "save" money because fuel oil does not have a road tax on it. Just remember the government colors fuels for just that reason. I doubt if one would get caught - but it is a risk.
During the 1978 "energy crisis" - I had a friend that bought a VW diesel - and used to run it on home heating oil which was half the price because of no road tax. He used to pull the car into the basement and gravity feed the fuel from the big red oil tank by the furnace. He would have gotten away with it if he didn't brag about it everyday in the faculty room - and some disgruntled soul turned him in. He got a big fine - plus a lot of bad publicity in the newspapers.
PS - one time I owned a diesel Cadillac - never a diesel VW ;-)
Harry
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#2 Heating oil and diesel are basically the same thing. A lot of people were doing what you described and that is why they started putting the red dye in the heating oil (and kerosene). Supposedly if the cops pull over a trucker and they do an inspection, any dyed fuel in the tank will cost them $10,000 in fines.
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With the the fuel filters and precision fuel injcetors, coupled with the computer tuning, I wonder if it would run at all. Years ago, I remember running a 1950 Chevy six with about half and half after a trucker filled the wrong tank.

I think the VW was probably faster . That GM diesel was a god awful engine.
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No wonder I bought it so cheaply. :-) It did cruise well - it was one of the later ones. I set a personal best time record from PA to FL in it with only one stop for fuel. Don't ask. Harry PS - Wife loved it but we never drove with the windows down.
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Harry Everhart wrote:

Initially those had terrible failure rates...they were simply the large-block gas engine w/ higher compression heads--head failures and cooling problems were rampant.
They made modifications over the years and eventually they were servicable if not great...as you note, lack of convenient auto diesel pumps and noise/cold-starting/odor/initial cost made them a no-go w/ the public. Of course, now, w/ diesel as high or higher than gasoline, there's little incentive, either.
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I did NOT love my Caddy diesel - but it was a good dependable car. The reason I bought it was because - it was two years old and it was at least $5000 less than a gas powered one of the same year - like $9000 instead of $14,000. In the winter - I would fuel up with diesel and put 5 gallons of kerosene in to prevent fuel gelling. You had to drive it like a diesel - lots of torque - good top end cruising - low RPM - but noisy - smelly - hated to fuel up - smelly hands. also it has two 12 volt batteries for cranking. Nothing like today's fine VW diesels. Harry
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Harry Everhart wrote: ...regarding old GM diesel...

Yeah, that was the result of the rampant earlier failures and thus the resale value was the pits for them...I considered one once for the same reason but decided not to take the chance...
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Quite frankly - I bought the Caddy with the intention of switching it over to a gas 350 engine. Each time I took it to a shop to do it - they told me I had the "good" diesel engine - and that it would run forever - and I was wasting money. I drove it for 4 years and 60,000 miles - traded in on a new car.
Harry
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Re GM Diesels:: I had an 82 Olds 98 Diesel. We went from San Antonio to Michigan on slightly over 2 tanks of fuel. I finally got rid of it because it looked so ratty, but it still ran fine. I bought it wrecked for $500 in about 1990 or 91. Spent about $50 fixing the wreck damage. A black junk yard fender on a brown car LOL. Kept intending to paint it but never did. The first couple of years they had the Diesel (78 & 79) they were converted gas blocks. They had all kinds of problems. Over the years they improved them gradually- blocks had a higher nickel content, stronger crankshafts, heavier main bearing webs, roller lifters, better head bolts. They still had head gasket problems to the end. The biggest problem IMO is that they only have 10 head bolts. Supposedly there is a set of stainless steel studs available, and some kind of improved gasket, that they claim will nearly eliminate problems. There are still some die hard fans of them. I have seen several Olds and Caddys bring a fortune on EBay. I remember going to a house with my former neighbor, an electrician, to help him on a side job. The guy had an oil furnace-- one of very few around here. There was a big above ground tank, I would guess 500 gal or so. up on legs. On the outlet to the tank was a Tee, on one side was the line going to the house, the other want to a regular fuel hose and nozzle. Parked right next to the tank was a beautiful top of the line Buick station wagon. One guess what engine it had. At the time I think heating oil was about $.65/gal. I had toyed with the idea of putting an oil furnace in my house and doing the same thing, but figured with my luck I'd get caught. Larry
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I have summer home in PA with an oil furnace and one of those big oil tanks. See it at - www.harry.everhart.com. There is a picture of furnace - you will surprised how small it is. It burns maybe 300 gallons a year. My "friend" had a VW rabbit diesel. He even had a spare fuel tank in it where the spare tire went. He carried 30 gallons - went about 1000 miles between fills. He was caught.
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On Tue, 8 Mar 2005 20:13:45 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (lp13-30) wrote:

There seems to be a lot of concern about getting caught with undyed (pink) fuel. When I was working in the oil industry we dyed process oil (I forget the label name) by the barrel and rebottled them by the litre at 10x the price for instrument refills. The dye was alizarin red I believe http://www.chemexper.com/chemicals/supplier/cas/130-22-3.htmland All that was needed was a few millilitres per barrel to turn the whole stuff pink like gasoline. The dye is feely available and cheap. Be careful how you handle that dye for a little bit will leave an almost unremoveable stain.
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One of the major rules of avoiding laws. Do it very, very quietly.
Yes, from 17 to 5 cents -- serious savings.
I've heard kerosene runs just fine in diesel vehicles. Also #2 home heating oil runs fine. But, different taxes, and different color of fuel.
--

Christopher A. Young
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I've seen that in stores. I wonder if a galon of kerosene would do the same job. Or if it's possible to run a gasoline auto or truck engine on kero.
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NO

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Toller,
We're drifting off topic a bit, but for those who want to have a moderately safe gallon of gas in the truck for emergencies, I've sometimes carried one of those sealed 1 gallon containers of Coleman white gas for the Coleman lanterns. It is more expensive that gasoline at the pump, but still far less than 10x.
It is absolutely spill proof since it has that metal seal on top which must be pierced before you can pour out the product. I'm sure that it has been pre-treated with a gasoline stabilizing compound. I do not know about the volatile components - it could still be explosive if/when the container is punctured in an accident. When I've carried it, I have stored it an area of the trunk which I consider to be the safest area. I also protect it as much as possible from moving about.
Note: I've carried these gallon cans but never actually needed to use one. But I have been assured by my chemist friends that this white gas works fine in an auto and that a modern computer-controlled car should start on this gas.
Gideon
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Actually, I posted the question on another group. On the Coleman web site (was it?) we find out that Coleman fuel will NOT run in gasoline engines.
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Christopher A. Young
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Subject: White Gas, Coleman Fuel, and Unleaded Gasoline Date: Sunday, April 27, 2003 4:31 PM
White Gas, Coleman Fuel, and Unleaded Gasoline White Gas, Coleman Fuel, and Unleaded Gasoline 1995 E. Michael Smith
These fuels are all related in that all of them are of similar boiling points and are distilled from petroleum from the same 'cut'. Gasoline is more broad in the 'cut' and has a wider range of materials in it. It also has additives that make it store less well. Coleman Fuel is a particular brand of the more generic product, white gas. White gas is gasoline without the additives in it yet, and may or may not be a broad cut like regular gasoline.
They all have some very nice properties as a storage fuel. They also have some profound differences.
Coleman fuel doesn't age and varnish up the way gasoline does. White gas is not as clean a cut as Coleman Fuel, but I've not done long duration storage tests on it. It might, or might not, store as well. I've used several year old Coleman fuel with no problems at all. Gasoline more than 1 year old is marginal. Store it for a couple of years and it will smell of varnish and have odd deposits on the bottom of the can.
All of these fuels are of a moderately high vapor pressure, so they can puff up cans in a hot trunk. Gasoline does this more, since it has more 'light' hydrocarbons. In some cold climates, these can even include Butane! You will need a fuel bottle that can take some internal pressure if you intend to store gasoline or white gas fuels in a hot car trunk. I've done a multi year test with Coleman Fuel in a Sigg fuel bottle in a Honda. It worked well. I've not tested Unleaded in similar circumstances. If you do store gasoline, use summer gas. It has a higher boiling point and less light hydrocarbons.
These fuels burn very cleanly. They are easy to light. They evaporate readily, so spills are to some extent self policing. The fuels are cheap, and readily available. Unleaded gasoline is about the most commonly available fuel you could want. Stoves and lanterns to use them are available from many manufacturers just about everywhere.
So why not just use gasolines or Coleman Fuel as your camping and preparedness fuel of choice?
Why not, indeed. It would be a reasonable choice for most people. The stoves and lanterns do require pumping, which some folks find a bother. They must be refilled with a liquid, so you have a chance for leakage and spillage. Getting them lit when cold can take a while and does require a bit of a knack, especially for the lanterns. (You wait and wait and just about when fear has led you to believe that the lantern will blow up any minute, the gas finally reaches the mantle and lights, often with a startling POOF!) For folks with no or little mechanical aptitude, Propane or Butane are better choices.
If you have low availability of unleaded gasoline (such as someone living in a country where leaded gasoline still is the most common) or want a safer fuel in storage and don't mind the esthetics of use quite as much, then Kerosene is a good choice.
For most folks, though, Unleaded or White Gas is the fuel of choice, and Coleman Fuel is just about the best brand.
Once per year, about August, I cycle my stored gasoline. The old stuff gets dumped into the car (easy with a gas car, a bit trickier but still doable with a Diesel car). Then I buy a new fresh 5 gallons worth for the next year. The gas, being above the 2 gallon limit imposed by my home insurance for garage storage, goes into a detached shed away from the house. Check your insurance limits for flammables restrictions.
On a general use basis, I use Coleman Fuel. When fishing or camping, the clean burning of it, the lower smell, and the general convenience of a fuel that treats my appliances well is worth the added cost to me. In an emergency, I'd use my stored gasoline. There are an increasing number of stoves these days that can burn your choice of {unleaded, white gas, kerosene}, so the issue of which fuel to choose for storage is a bit less coupled to stove choice.
If you have a gasoline car, I'd opt for Unleaded Gasoline and a 'Dual Fuel' stove/lantern that uses unleaded and improve the storage system by putting the fuel in an insulated container like an ice chest (sans ice). The goal is to cut the peak temperature experienced by the stored fuel. The insulation of the ice chest would help do this.
Coleman fuel is my emergency stove and lantern storage fuel of choice for all things other than my present car, where I use Kerosene, since I can run my Diesel on that in a pinch. For the average person driving a gasoline car, I'd use Unleaded gasoline in a Sigg or MSR type fuel bottle and appliances made for white gas/Coleman Fuel/Unleaded.
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That's the best answer I've gotten to the question. Seeing as how it's off a web site, I think I'll send that on to a few more groups.
Save me burning out the valves, thank you.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org www.mormons.com
----- Original Message ----- Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2004 5:59 PM
Chris, Here is a "cut and paste" that should answer your question. - ------------- Coleman fuel is basically petroleum naphtha with a bit of rust inhibitor. It has an octane rating of 50 to 55 and none of the additives found in gasoline. It has a lighter molecular weight than gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel and cannot be used as a substitute for any of those fuels. The flammability of Coleman Fuel is comparable to gasoline but it cannot be used in gasoline engines. It will burn out the valves. - ------------------- I got the info at: http://www.coleman.com/coleman/faq/faqreturn.asp?question 
Since it is naphtha, you should be able to buy it in bulk cheaper than you can from Coleman, but it won't have any of the rust inhibitors in it. Naphtha is also known as "lighter fluid". Back when I used to smoke, I bought the naphtha (benzene?) by the gallon for about the same price as a large squeeze bottle of Robinson went for.
- ----------- In a message dated 11/13/2004 3:50:12 PM Central Standard Time, snipped-for-privacy@rochester.rr.com writes: Does Coleman fuel have a shelf life like auto gasoline?
Can I safely use Coleman fuel in, for example, my gasoline power generator? Would be nice to burn coleman fuel in my genny if I ran out of gas. And seeing as how gasoline doesn't store well.
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