A Nice Fall Day On The Roads

vermont fall motoring tourThe Gypson Tour on Saturday, October 3rd, was a delightful ride. Wow!

Who, besides Bob and Wendy Chase, knew all those scenic roads even existed. They did a great job of arranging such nice weather for it also. We knew it would be a bit nippy so we came in a closed car, figuring that no one would be bold enough to bring an open car. Seeing Eric Osgood bundled up in Silver Annie and Gael Boardman with his Volkswagen “Thing” put us to shame.

The directional clues were insidiously clever. I’m pretty sure nobody got them all and that’s the way it ought to be. I was the “navigator”, trying to keep us going in the right direction(s). If we met a VAE car going the other way, we would figure we were going the wrong way, turn around, and try again.

Turning around was a challenge in itself due to October Fest traffic – where’s power steering when you need it? But the scenery was beautiful, when I had a chance to look, even though that look would make me miss a clue answer. With a few wrong turns, we probably saw more scenery than was intended. Anyway we ended up at the Commodore Inn’s back parking lot and finally gave in and opened “the envelope to find out where we should have ended up ” – duh!! That’s where we were supposed to be. What a lot of clever thinking Bob and Wendy put into those clues – thank you, thank you- it was a great tour. Whoever scores the highest gets to arrange next year’s tour and will have a hard time topping this one. I’m pretty sure it won’t be us.

Bill Sander’s “other hobby”

General Motors SW1500 Diesel

Bill's Lionel Train LayoutBill Sander got the “green light” from his wife Jan, about 10 years ago….at least he went with his interpretation.

Bill had been into the Lionel train hobby for some time when one day there was a comment of him maybe getting a full sized train. Jan made a comment about “that happening will be the day he could find one that fits into his garage” Bill says that was the day he envi-sioned his “mission” and of course that led to a step-up from Lionel… the 7 1/2 inch gauge model train! It fits into the garage just fine and you can ride on it.

The red locomotive on the front page is a model of a General Motors SW1500 Diesel. This unit and a second Elco RS3 model that Bill has were the two main work horses used on Vermont rail roads. They were built much closer to Road Switcher specifications and not yard switchers and were very capable of pulling their loads through our hills and valleys. There were 808 SW1500s built by GM from 1966 to 1974 and the 1500 HP engine was capable of reaching speeds of 60 MPH. The Alco RS-3 is the 3rd design variation and continued to the RS-11 design. The RS-3 was built by the American Locomotive Company and the Montreal Locomotive Works and has a 1600 HP engine. Between 1950 and 1956 there were 1418 built, 1265 for American railroads, 98 for Canada, 48 for Brazil and 7 for Mexico.

Bill’s SW1500 locomotive is powered by a gas 17 HP Briggs and Stratton engine and rides of tracks seven and a half inch wide. The 7 1/2 inch tracks are used mostly in the western states and is said to follow the example of Walt Disney’s layout in California. The eastern modelers mostly use 7 1/4 inch tracks….. Bill went with the western tradition. Bill’s model is hydraulically powered by both the wheels under the locomotive and the wheels under the second car, it has reverse, lights and a recorded sound track of the real deal as he moves along his 450 feet of track.

Making non-ethanol gas out of ethanol gas (E10) – Dave’s Garage

Dave was super busy this month so the staff at Wheel Tracks decided to go with a story that Wendell Nobel mentioned about making non-ethanol gas out of ethanol gas (E10). The hope is that members will not try the process but instead will more thoroughly understand this ethanol problem that we have.

Wendell Noble tells a story of an article he read of someone in the Northeast Kingdom removing ethanol from his gas for his chainsaw use. The gent simply adds water to five gallons of the dreaded E10 gas. The water speeds the separation of the ethanol and settles to the bottom of the gas can. The gent then siphoned off the non-ethanol gas on the top. He uses the “stuff” on the bottom, the water and ethanol mix, to wash his windows! (who wodda guessed). Here is a more detailed process taken from an internet story……

How to make your own ethanol-free gasoline… Ethanol is the scourge of owners of old cars, motorcycles, boats, and many other gasoline-operated vehicles and implements. E10 (10% ethanol) is pretty much the only available gasoline in most of the country now, with a few stations offering ethanol-free gas. And E15 (15% ethanol) is coming soon, recently approved by the EPA for 2001 and newer cars – even though the car manufacturers don’t want it. You can thank the ethanol lobby for that.

What’s the problem with ethanol? The biggest problem is phase separation. Like brake fluid, ethanol is hygroscopic, which means it bonds very easily to water. If there is moisture in the air (which there always is), the moisture bonds with the ethanol. The combination of water and ethanol is heavier than gasoline, so it falls to the bottom of the gas tank, where the pickup is. Let it sit for any length of time, particularly with a partially-full gas tank (because the air space left will contain moisture, and will expand and contract with heat, sucking in more moisture-laden air), and your tank will have a layer of water/ethanol mixture on the bottom. This is called phase separation. Guess what gets sucked into your engine the next time you start it? The water/ethanol mixture will burn in your engine, but it will burn much leaner and hotter, with the potential for serious engine damage as a result. Ethanol is particularly corrosive to plastics, rubber, aluminum and fiberglass when compared to straight gasoline.

So what is the solution? Well, you can check out the web site http://pure-gas.org to try to find a gas station near you that sells ethanol-free gas. Hint: many boat marinas sell ethanol-free gas, because with the added moisture in a boating environment, E10 plays havoc with boat engines. How do you remove the ethanol from E10? It’s quite simple, actually – just add water! Remember, ethanol bonds strongly to water. All you need to do is add some water to the gasoline, agitate to make sure it mixes well, then let it sit for a few minutes. The water will bond with the ethanol, and it will phase-separate out, falling to the bottom of the container. So how much water do you add? It depends on a few things, including the actual concentration of ethanol (which will vary – it’s seldom exactly 10%), and ambient temperature. Dave’s testing shows that the optimal amount of water is 2% by volume of the E10. That’s 2.56 oz per gallon, or 12.8 ounces for a five-gallon gas can. Remember that extra water will simply separate out, so two cups (16 ounces) of water in a five-gallon gas can is safe. You should use distilled water only, to avoid leaving behind any minerals or other additives that your engine may not like (does fluoride keep your carburetors clean?).

Please folks, Wheel Tracks suggests that you do not try this procedure.
Isn’t it amazing the lengths folks have gone to operate their gas engines without E10?

One wonders if you line up twenty politicians in a row and ask why we have ethanol in our gas, what ridiculous answers we would hear.


Please email all inquiries to: Dave
or snail mail
32 Turkey Hill Road
Richmond VT 05477