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  • New Gas Disolving Brass ??

    Back in July of 2014 I had to replace the fuel float in my 74 Lincoln. I started it up one day and the fuel gauge read empty when it was about 3/4 full. Low fuel light was on.
    The low fuel light doesn't come on unless the float arm is close to the bottom of it's travel.
    Wasn't sure what the problem was back then so I dropped the tank. This is what I found. It even unraveled the filter screen.







    I had figured that the ethanol gas may have been a contributing factor since I had put it in there before. Plus the age of the float and sitting in gas for 40 years.

    So, I found an OEM float, brass just like the original. I dropped the tank washed it out, bench tested the float and it tested 100% according to my factory shop manual.
    I put the tank back in and filled it with NON ETHANOL. No more crap gas. It's been fine until late last fall when I took it out of the garage and started it up. Low fuel light is on and gauge reads empty. There is a half a tank of gas in there. I'm guessing the same thing happened again only this time it took five years. I have been putting that K-100 stabilizer in the tank, I wonder if there is any reaction with the brass and that stuff.

    So my question is, even though I'm using premium non ethanol gas is there something in these new fuel blends that could be attacking the brass?? I'll bet there aren't any cars made today that have brass floats, probably all plastic now, have been for years. I found a plastic replacement float and think I will try that.
    I haven't pulled the sending unit out of the tank yet but am pretty sure this is what happened again. I want to have all my parts on hand when I take it out.

    JL.............

  • #2
    Brass is made of copper and zinc. The alcohol attacks and eats the zinc. Lovely stuff isn't it.

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    • #3
      Well I sure don't know the answer(s), but some thoughts occur to me: I wouldn't bet the entire farm that all gas sold as non-ethanol does not have some ethanol in it. Maybe leaded gas, in the early years, was a factor, i.e. protected the brass. Also there's no guarantee that all brass and brass floats of today are the same as 40 years ago. Perhaps that original float was of thicker brass and it just took many more years before erosion caused final penetration, compared with the newer float. Maybe the two brasses were alloyed differently ...that's purely guessing, as I know nothing about brass metallurgy.
      Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by I make chips View Post
        Brass is made of copper and zinc. The alcohol attacks and eats the zinc. Lovely stuff isn't it.
        Yes, I understand that but the new float has never seen ethanol gas. Unless like Lynn mentioned, non ethanol may still contain some ethanol?? I don't know. The ethanol didn't harm the inside of the tank and that's zinc plated, it was stained but it cleaned up bright and shiny with soap and water.

        JL...............

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        • #5
          First time heard of brass being eaten by gas or anything added to gas. But, with the regs in place now, who knows what is being introduced into pump gas. Almost looks like an acid of some sort has attacked it. Anything on your fuel treatment label that might give a clue to reactions to metals? Might check the MSDS sheet. I would but the words used are beyond my comprehension.

          Is there any chance that some kind of electrolysis action might be in play here?. Maybe differing metal of the rod, and the float, in the presence of a conducting fluid, plus some stray current? Could you somehow insulating the float from its holder ? Just guesses here. A real puzzle.

          If this is not a concours type vehicle, maybe just bite the bullet and use a plastic after market float.
          S E Michigan

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          • #6
            If it's something in the fuel I think we'd have heard an uproar from others by now so, I'm wondering if there is some anodic reaction happening?
            Len

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            • #7
              I assume those pictures are of the recent float. It looks like the damage is mainly on one side of the float, as if it was either the dry side or wet side is where the corrosion took place.

              It's been fine until late last fall when I took it out of the garage and started it up. Low fuel light is on and gauge reads empty. There is a half a tank of gas in there. I'm guessing the same thing happened again only this time it took five years. I have been putting that K-100 stabilizer in the tank,
              Those comments suggest maybe this vehicle mostly just sits in the garage rather than a regular driver. That may very well be a factor, at least in explaining the different longevities of the two floats.
              Last edited by lynnl; 05-30-2020, 12:33 PM.
              Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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              • #8
                Fuel additives will attack brass over time. About 20 years ago I repaired an injector cleaning machine for a dealership. The cleaning fluid had eaten away the brass fittings.

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                • #9
                  Tetraethylpolychlorinate if often added to consumer motor fuels in an effort to decrease the effects of fluid flushing on components in the fuel stream.

                  Try magnets attached to the fuel tank, fuel lines and pump(s). These often increase octane, improve performance, increase economy and above all lower the overall cost of ownership.

                  Sufficient magnetic fields negate the use of internal combustion engines entirely.
                  Last edited by Bented; 05-30-2020, 12:23 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bented View Post
                    Tetraethylpolychlorinate if often added to consumer motor fuels in an effort to decrease the effects of fluid flushing on components in the fuel stream.

                    Try magnets attached to the fuel tank, fuel lines and pump(s). These often increase octane, improve performance, increase economy and above all lower the overall cost of ownership.

                    Sufficient magnetic fields negate the use of internal combustion engines entirely.
                    And don't forget the tinfoil hats.....

                    What the ????? is this deal with magnets? There is no "there" there about that idea.......

                    The brass would be attacked by acids that preferentially attack the zinc. Alcohol does not directly attack brass, but something that is associated with alcohol, such as water content, might attack it if carrying an acid residue.

                    I think some refinery processing of oil involves an acid, and there may be a carryover possibility of acids from the pumped well-head oil (not from "light sweet oil" so much) also. Probably less so now, with fuels having to be de-sulfured, but the sulfur content is associated with sulfuric acid content.
                    CNC machines only go through the motions

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                    • #11
                      I was gonna say, the only thing I can think of would be some kind of sulfur. Maybe the gas came from fracking? Or "sour" oil? dunno... I have a vintage jeep myself, will be watching this with some interest. I had to replace two fuel pumps and clean out the tank by hand when I got it. Not a fun job....
                      25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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                      • #12
                        It is definitely an issue, in my experience qxygenated fuels, water content, ethanol content and of course time are all key elements in the degree of corrosion that take place. Many sources of info on the subject as it does have a profound effect on how products that must endure exposure are manufactured and designed. Modern fuel systems still rely on brass components, perhaps the alloy has been changed to better meet the challenges of dealing with new gasoline reformulations. Flexible components have changed significantly in order to handle the demands placed on them by the newer fuels.
                        Also keep in mind that if a component meets the expected life cycle that an automaker sets, anything else past that date is gravy. They don't want or expect a vehicle to last 50 years. It's simply not in their best interest.

                        A short abstract form one study:

                        https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs...yfuels.7b01682


                        Ethanol–gasoline blends (EGBs) can easily absorb large amounts of water because of the presence of ethanol. Acidic compounds and ions can be dissolved in water, and these substances can have corrosive effects on metallic construction materials. With the increasing content of ethanol in fuels, the conductivity and ability of fuel to absorb water increases, and the resulting fuel is becoming more corrosive. In this work, we tested E10, E40, E60, E85, and E100 fuels that were prepared in the laboratory. These fuels were purposely contaminated with water and trace amounts of ions and acidic substances. The aim of the contamination was to simulate the pollution of fuels, which can arise from the raw materials or from the failure to comply with good manufacturing, storage, and transportation conditions. The corrosion properties of these fuels were tested on steel, copper, aluminum, and brass using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and Tafel curve analysis. For comparison, static immersion tests on steel were also performed. The main parameters for the comparison of the corrosion effects of the tested fuels were the instantaneous corrosion rate; the polarization resistance; and the corrosion rate, which was obtained from the weight loss occurring during the static tests. In most cases, E60 fuel showed the highest corrosion activity.


                        Try magnets attached to the fuel tank, fuel lines and pump(s). These often increase octane, improve performance, increase economy and above all lower the overall cost of ownership.
                        These devices are simply a hoax. I worked for a major fuel distributor for several decades who also bought into this hoax in hopes of doing his customers a favor by saving them fuel. These units caused him some serious backlash when customers with $250,000 monthly fuel bills and careful fuel usage analytics wanted their money back.These units had absolutely no effect other than destroying a lot of goodwill that took years to create.
                        This was probably close to 25-30 years ago but I doubt much has changed in the game of the hucksters.

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_s...device#Magnets

                        Magnets attached to a vehicle's fuel line have been claimed to improve fuel economy by aligning fuel molecules, but because motor fuels are non-polar, no such alignment or other magnetic effect on the fuel is possible. When tested, typical magnet devices had no effect on vehicle performance or economy.[






                        Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                        Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                        Location: British Columbia

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by OaklandGB View Post
                          First time heard of brass being eaten by gas or anything added to gas. But, with the regs in place now, who knows what is being introduced into pump gas. Almost looks like an acid of some sort has attacked it. Anything on your fuel treatment label that might give a clue to reactions to metals? Might check the MSDS sheet. I would but the words used are beyond my comprehension.

                          Is there any chance that some kind of electrolysis action might be in play here?. Maybe differing metal of the rod, and the float, in the presence of a conducting fluid, plus some stray current? Could you somehow insulating the float from its holder ? Just guesses here. A real puzzle.

                          If this is not a concours type vehicle, maybe just bite the bullet and use a plastic after market float.
                          Most likely not especially if voltage needs to be present to form the electrolysis process. The battery is disconnected 99.9 % of the time. Only connected when I take the car out of the garage and run it.

                          JL...............

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lynnl;n1878302[COLOR=#c0392b
                            ]I assume those pictures are of the recent float. [/COLOR]It looks like the damage is mainly on one side of the float, as if it was either the dry side or wet side is where the corrosion took place.



                            Those comments suggest maybe this vehicle mostly just sits in the garage rather than a regular driver. That may very well be a factor, at least in explaining the different longevities of the two floats.
                            No. those pics are of the original float that I removed in 2014. I don't know what the condition of the one that is in there now is like until I pull it. I'm guessing it pin holed and sank.

                            JL..................

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ImFred View Post
                              Fuel additives will attack brass over time. About 20 years ago I repaired an injector cleaning machine for a dealership. The cleaning fluid had eaten away the brass fittings.
                              I know gas sours over time, does it chemically change to the point where it could become corrosive to brass??

                              JL...............

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