Tom's Ten Tips for Low Temps (Diesel fuel)
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    Tom's Ten Tips for Low Temps (Diesel fuel)

    Hiya,

    Seeing as we are now in the 2ed Little Ice Age, I figured I would share what I do to keep my Diesel equipment operating in the northern New England ski area over the winter where my "normal winter" sees temps down to about -25 F and maybe lower if we get a cold snap like we have now. I've operated on and off road Diesels in this environment for about 40 years so I have a good set of practices I follow. By following these, I tend to avoid a lot of issues that I see other operators have.

    OK, here we go.

    1) Find a good place to buy fuel and keep going there. This is the number 1 step because it's the most important. Ask around or just keep your eyes open for the place in town that the pickup or over the road trucks fuel up at. These people go through a lot of fuel and they quickly find the place that has the fewest issues with water or algae. Stay away from the small store that has that lone Diesel pump that you never see anyone getting fuel from, I have learned that those type setups are an invitation to no end of fuel problems.

    2) Pick a winter additive brand and stick with it. I'm serious, pick one and keep using it. All major brands work well enough or they wouldn't still be sold. I'm not going to get into a brand contest here, The brands I have used with good results over the years are: Amsoil, Howe's, Optilube, Power Service and Stanadyne. Personally, I prefer Amsoil, Optilube or Stanadyne but I have used PS and Howe's in a pinch in the trucks. The reason you pick one and use it is that when mixed, they may interact and give you a whole new set of issues to deal with.

    3) Treat all fuel for the lowest temps you see yearly. Look, we aren't talking about a large amount of fuel here for most operators, if you treat for winter even in July, if you still have fuel from July in the tractor when that freak cold snap hits in Sept, you won't have low temp issues.

    4) Mix the additive at the ratio listed on the bottle, no winging it. Yup, they pay a bunch of chemists and engineers a lot of money to come up with the ratios and they know best. Don't think more is better, I have found that either it costs you more because your using it needlessly or you end up stuck on the side of the road because it didn't work correctly and that costs a lot more.

    5) Get a spare set of fuel filters and keep them handy. For a tractor this is easy, keep them on the shelf in the garage. If your in a truck, put them in a ziplock bag with a strap wrench and stow it in the cab somewhere. If you do plug a filter, you have them with you to change out. At some point this will mean the difference between getting home to your bed or sleeping on the road another night. Don't forget to get a new set of spares once you use these...

    6) Only buy as much fuel as you will use in 4 to 6 weeks. Remember, the majority of us here are operating a single tractor in a residential setting, these are only going to use 6 to 10 gallons of fuel a month or so, sometimes less. You don't want to be storing 500 gallons for 5 years. By turning over your stored fuel quickly, you assure it's fresh and is blended for the season your operating in.

    7) Fill your tank with a funnel with a paint strainer in it. I have been doing this since I bought my first lawnmower from K-mart when I was 12. I used to cut lawns and my dad's friend who was a drag racer told me to always fill through a strainer so that anything in the fuel container wouldn't go into the tank and plug the line. For these Diesel tractors, the paint strainer is even better as if your fuel is clouded, gelled or has algae in it, the strainer will plug solid the instant the fuel hits it. This will save you from mixing in bad fuel with good fuel. If you have a fuel issue you can treat it in the storage containers, not your tractor fuel tank and engine.

    8) Store your fuel properly. Do so according to safety and local codes however, keep it in a temp stable location as much as possible and keep the container closed tight. The temp swings and venting are what cause moisture to collect in the fuel and then become issues.

    9) Keep your tractor topped up if it sits outside or anywhere with temp swings. See #8, your tractor fuel tank is vented, if it is partially filled, it will expand and contract more allowing more moisture in. Keeping it filled will minimize this. If you park yours in a place that's temp stable this is still a good idea but not critical. I fill mine after every use even though it sits in a garage that is temp stable.

    10) Don't resort to old "trucker fixes". There are a lot of these that just won't die. If you have newer equipment, you can't do what the guys 30 or 40 years ago did to keep stuff running in the winter. Things like mixing in gasoline or kerosene to "thin" the fuel, putting gas line "anti freeze", paint thinner etc. These things may have worked on an old GMC 6-71 to get it off the side of the road in 1960 but they will pretty much destroy newer equipment. (They destroyed the old equipment too, it's just that nobody noticed because those old Detroits came apart so often they were used to it.)
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    Keeper of the GTT Cookies dieselshadow's Avatar
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    Added "diesel fuel" to the title and stuck the thread.

    Thanks Tom, great tips!
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    Very nice!

    I would add only one thing - not to use Power Service 911 unless an absolute emergency - like a truck stuck on the highway. More times than not with a little effort our tractors can be towed into a heated garage. Or if that isn’t possible, a torpedo or electric heater pointed under the tractor with a blanket on top. No electricity nearby? Use a generator. My point is to not use 911 - there usually is another way to warm the engine.
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    Great info!

    What are the realistic temps that we need to worry about this? Here in central Texas we are in our 3rd day of temps in the 20's. Not using our tractor at the moment. The fuel we have for it is kept in a 25 gallon fuel barrel with a hand crank pump. Should I treat this fuel? Same with tractor? I have treated my diesel for algae preventers as I know in our warm weather that can be a problem.

    Forecast puts us back into the 50's by Thursday.
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    tomd999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoomerangJ View Post
    What are the realistic temps that we need to worry about this? Here in central Texas we are in our 3rd day of temps in the 20's. Not using our tractor at the moment. The fuel we have for it is kept in a 25 gallon fuel barrel with a hand crank pump. Should I treat this fuel? Same with tractor? I have treated my diesel for algae preventers as I know in our warm weather that can be a problem.

    Forecast puts us back into the 50's by Thursday.
    Hiya,

    Anything below 40 degrees F can start to get into fuel issues. I treat my stored fuel for the lowest temps I will see over the course of a normal year, this way I don't have to worry about what's in the tractor when it gets cold.

    The thing to remember about treating for low temps is that it doesn't effect performance in hot weather. I also buy my fuel in October so the supply here is already winterized out of the pump. I add my own winter treatment to it, (I have used Amsoil, Optilube or Stanadyne primarily with power service and Howse in a pinch)

    Here is a post I did for someone new to living with a Diesel and the questions they had, I think it will answer your questions. http://www.greentractortalk.com/foru...ml#post2442410
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    Given all the questions about fuel gelling, I would like to suggest this thread along with http://www.greentractortalk.com/foru...ml#post2442410 be merged together and tagged as a sticky.

    There's some really good info in both post that could save one a ton of time looking for information.

    Just a thought.
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    You Southern guys are funny!

    We have 3 different winter blends at the pump depending on the month it's sold. If I treated all my Summer fuel for January temps, I'd probably raise Power Service's (I have no issues with it, and it's available here on the shelf) stock price.


    I treat my fuel as it goes into the tank after September. I start by topping off the machine, then treating what's in the tank. After that, I treat as I fill (5 gallons at a time). Unless I buy new fuel in December, I'm not going to have a proper blend for our lows without doing my own additives. By March, I stop treating and end up diluting whatever proper mix was there as the warm days come.


    I totally agree about buying fuel where fuel gets sold a lot. There's a little hardware store gas station the opposite direction from the county seat (what I consider going into town) that has a single diesel pump and I asked him what his fuel was mixed for back before I bought any, and was mortified with his answer. "I pour a bottle of ____ in whenever they fill it". Then he admitted they don't sell much, so I knew I wasn't going to buy any unless I was in dire need in that area.
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    Tom, Enjoyed reading your post. I've been doing a lot of reading the last few days after my new 2032r gelled up on me yesterday while blowing some snow . Just a couple of comments on your post:

    1) you state hat Kerosene will "destroy" a diesel engine. Isn't #1 diesel essentially kerosene with some additional additives. From what i'm reading #1 is either sold "straight" at the pump or mixed with #2 to make the "winter mix" sold up north in the winter.

    2) Would like to hear your (or anyone else's) experience specifically with Opti-lube winter formula. I started using it in the fall so it would get through the system. I used it at slightly more than the recommended amount, and my tractor gelled up--- and it was only +5 degrees F at the time. Was very surprised to have an issue at this temperature with a winter additive.

    John
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    Quote Originally Posted by john12566 View Post
    Tom, Enjoyed reading your post. I've been doing a lot of reading the last few days after my new 2032r gelled up on me yesterday while blowing some snow . Just a couple of comments on your post:

    1) you state hat Kerosene will "destroy" a diesel engine. Isn't #1 diesel essentially kerosene with some additional additives. From what i'm reading #1 is either sold "straight" at the pump or mixed with #2 to make the "winter mix" sold up north in the winter.

    2) Would like to hear your (or anyone else's) experience specifically with Opti-lube winter formula. I started using it in the fall so it would get through the system. I used it at slightly more than the recommended amount, and my tractor gelled up--- and it was only +5 degrees F at the time. Was very surprised to have an issue at this temperature with a winter additive.

    John
    John,

    To your comments, yes, I lumped kerosene in with other "really bad stuff" like gasoline and gas line anti-freeze that sometimes gets dumped into Diesel to get the equipment running because used at a high enough %, kerosene can cause secondary/high pressure fuel pump wear as it has very little lubricating properties. Also, it tends to drive the exhaust gas temps up, while in the winter, this is somewhat a good thing, if your loading a turbocharged engine hard, high EGT numbers are something to avoid as the turbo is right there in the mix. Since most "winter blend" (the type where #1 and #2 are combined, not "winterized" #2 with a anti-gel treatment additive mixed in) Diesel contains between 5 and 25% already, if the user then figures they will add more kerosene, you could now have a 50% or higher mix, without adding some type of lubrication, that mix may cause accelerated wear to the older fuel lubricated rotary injector pumps. I have several pieces of equipment that have rotary pumps on them, I make sure my winter fuel has no more than 15% #1 or kerosene ratio and only use that in the coldest snaps with some Stanadyne lubricity additive as well as the winter additive. The modern pumps are less susceptible to #1/kerosene however the EGT then can be an issue with the regen cycle and sensors.

    I've used Power Service as a secondary choice for almost 30 years, it's worked well however, I have other preferences such as Amsoil, Stanadyne, Optilube. I've also used Howes with very good results. You will want to use an additive that is a demulsifier to remove as much water from the fuel as possible but you will need to have a water separator for that to be effective, if you have no separator then use an emulsifier, which will break up the water to small droplets to pass through the system however, between the 2, it's always better to remove rather than let water through. One thing to avoid is any additive that contains alcohol as that is an abrasive, and since it's hygroscopic, it attracts and holds water which will lead to no end of issues eventually.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomd999 View Post
    John,

    To your comments, yes, I lumped kerosene in with other "really bad stuff" like gasoline and gas line anti-freeze that sometimes gets dumped into Diesel to get the equipment running because used at a high enough %, kerosene can cause secondary/high pressure fuel pump wear as it has very little lubricating properties. Also, it tends to drive the exhaust gas temps up, while in the winter, this is somewhat a good thing, if your loading a turbocharged engine hard, high EGT numbers are something to avoid as the turbo is right there in the mix. Since most "winter blend" (the type where #1 and #2 are combined, not "winterized" #2 with a anti-gel treatment additive mixed in) Diesel contains between 5 and 25% already, if the user then figures they will add more kerosene, you could now have a 50% or higher mix, without adding some type of lubrication, that mix may cause accelerated wear to the older fuel lubricated rotary injector pumps. I have several pieces of equipment that have rotary pumps on them, I make sure my winter fuel has no more than 15% #1 or kerosene ratio and only use that in the coldest snaps with some Stanadyne lubricity additive as well as the winter additive. The modern pumps are less susceptible to #1/kerosene however the EGT then can be an issue with the regen cycle and sensors.

    I've used Power Service as a secondary choice for almost 30 years, it's worked well however, I have other preferences such as Amsoil, Stanadyne, Optilube. I've also used Howes with very good results. You will want to use an additive that is a demulsifier to remove as much water from the fuel as possible but you will need to have a water separator for that to be effective, if you have no separator then use an emulsifier, which will break up the water to small droplets to pass through the system however, between the 2, it's always better to remove rather than let water through. One thing to avoid is any additive that contains alcohol as that is an abrasive, and since it's hygroscopic, it attracts and holds water which will lead to no end of issues eventually.
    One thing to add here. When you mix your fuel, it should be warm. It will not solve gelled fuel issue once it is gelled.

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