Your Corner Wrench: Get the lead out?
|driving.ca 04 May 2021 at 12:55|
While I’m not old enough to have worked on vehicles for a living in the lead era, I was in various shops in the early ’80s when you would have expected to see some valve seat fall-outs rolling into service centres and I can’t remember a single case. We certainly saw our fair share of valves damaged by overheating, but none from the lack of lead. About the only thing we did do regularly was ignore the factory ignition timing specs for older engines built for leaded fuel, instead re-setting them to avoid engine knock on the new unleaded gasoline. Still, the price spread between regular and high octane gasolines was a fraction of what it is today, so drivers could avoid even that minor service expense by stepping up to high octane fuel.
How It Works: Ethanol
If you’ve been using unleaded fuel for some time in your classic or antique ride and haven’t had any problems to date, there really isn’t much need to start with additives. Any damage the unleaded fuel might cause doesn’t hide for years and then suddenly spring up. If your chariot likes to display its performance side, sticking with high-octane grades will help with the punch and more importantly avoid any ethanol that’s used today in low and mid-grade fuels. We covered ethanol additives before and warned older carbureted-engine owners (the engines not the owners) against its use as it can be quite corrosive and cause major deposit build-ups among other horrors.
If the use of a lead substitute brings you peace of mind (and couldn’t we all use a little more of that), these additives are readily available at most larger auto-parts’ stores and a small bottle costing around $10 will treat about 80 L of fuel. For many collector vehicle owners, this is usually more than enough for a single season of fair-weather driving