Coping Without Leaded Gas

By Staff

HC 89, Box50B, Eden, Texas 76837

If you own a gasoline engine manufactured before 1974, it
probably was designed to use leaded gasoline.

Since 1986, EPA regulations have reduced the amount of lead that
a refiner can add to gasoline by 91%, from 1.1 grams per gallon to
0.1 gpg. That leaves older and industrial-type engines, such as
those used by many farmers, without protection against valve
damage.

However, some gasoline engines made as early as 1971 were built
with hardened valves and valve seats that are not affected by
unleaded fuel. And most vehicle engines made after 1974 have
hardened valves.

Engines designed to run on leaded gas have soft valve seats,
specially designed for use with leaded fuel. These engines were
designed to use leaded gas to lubricate exhaust valves. The lead is
most important when an engine is running at high speed under a
heavy load.

Even leaded fuel that meets the new requirements is getting
harder to find. To avoid stiff penalties and fines for exceeding
the EPA’s standard, many refiners are keeping lead in gasoline
blends well below the permitted level. In fact, only traces of lead
are present in many ‘leaded’ fuels, making some
companies’ leaded and unleaded products virtually
identical.

That’s why several new lead additives have appeared on the
market. One is Protek Lead, a 100% lead additive that boosts the
amount of lead in low-lead gasoline. When added to 10 gallons of
fuel, a 12-ounce container of Protek Lead produces the 0.2 gpg
level recommended by many manufacturers. Protek officials say it
also provides a 3-point octane boost. No federal law limits the
lead concentration that consumers may add to gasoline, according to
a Protek spokesman.

A product called Equal-Lead is one of many designed as
substitutes for the lubricating properties of lead, without any
lead or alcohol content. One fluid ounce of Equal-Lead treats two
gallons of low-leaded fuel.

Check with your local parts retailer for other available lead
and lead-substitute additives. A few dollars invested in a lead
substitute could prevent costly damage to engines by low-lead or
no-lead fuels.

Reprinted with permission, Progressive Farmer, copyright
March 1992.

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