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Discussion > Is there any hard data on the deterioration of stored petrol?

I can only assume that some volatile compounds are evaporating out of the liquid all the time.

I'm also reluctant to use any of this old fuel in my wife's petrol car. I do, however, have a small collection of petrol blowlamps which will probably burn the stuff.

Nov 11, 2016 at 10:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil G4SPZ

God, I would not dream of firing up a petrol blowlamp. They are dangerous as hell. Stick to paraffin blowlamps.

I imagine that using dodgy petrol in a car (like using paraffin in a petrol engined car) could result in burned exhaust valves.

I read not long ago that a proportion of petrol these days is butane. Presumably it is there dissolved in the heavier fractions. That would explain the bulging plastic cans, and the rapid deterioration of petrol quality with storage.

Nov 12, 2016 at 12:53 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A did you ever get your Zephyr zephing?

On the first page of this thread, SandyS mentioned ethanol problems in petrol in the USA.

I don't think I would want to be near anyone wielding a petrol blowlamp or blowtorch especially if it was not new. Propane or butane no problem, or even parrafin or diesel

Nov 13, 2016 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

gc - thanks for asking about the Zephyr.

Petrol blowlamps seem to have been the norm in France. I have a French soldering iron incorporating its own petrol blowlamp but I have never risked firing it up. Probably originally used by a couvreur on a ladder for soldering zinc gutters.

The Zephyr now has its carte grise and is running well. Although it was in very good condition overall when I acquired it, it was still a bit of a project to get it into running order.

The starter ring on the flywheel was knackered and a replacement flywheel turned out to have different geometry, requiring the manufacture of a new mounting for the starter motor. A previous owner had buggered up the clutch, apparently by using the car to tow a caravan. The replacement clutch cover turned out to have come from a Ford Consul - visually and dimensionally identical to a Zephyr clutch, but slipping at full torque due to its weaker springs. So the clutch cover had to be replaced a second time. The brake system had to be completely rebuilt, including most of the parts of the handbrake system.

Until recently the car backfired through the carb unless the choke was kept pulled out a bit. I suspected an inlet manifold air leak but eventually the problem vanished when I swapped the carb for a spare one.

Now it just remains to fine tune the steering caster angles and to get the radio working.

The car runs well, with the torque from its six cylinder engine making up for it having only a three speed gearbox. It was designed and built in pre-motorway era, so its performance is more suitable for bursts of speed and acceleration for overtaking on A-roads than for motorway cruising.

Nov 13, 2016 at 9:25 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A very impressive!

Hopefully the radio can be fixed with a soldering iron (non-petrol) Presumably Ford had a genuine reason for making such minor, but significant changes to starter rings and clutches.

My first car was a Mk1 Ford Fiesta, which was generally a good car, if it received attention. Like all front wheel drive cars of that era, the engine was originally designed for rear wheel drive cars, so the distributor was in an almost impossible position, under the inlet manifold jammed near the bulkhead. I tinkered with a similar engine in a Mk 2 Escort, the points were so much easier to "gap"..

Nov 14, 2016 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

gc - I don't know why Ford changed the design of the Mk I Zephyr's flywheel. It was done late in the life of the model, so it obviously was not solving a major deficiency. Ford made various small but worthwhile improvements during the life of the model. It is just possible (but purely a surmise on my part) that the new flywheel was destined to be used in the Mk II Zephyr, whose engine is similar to that of the Mk I, and Ford did not wish to produce two different flywheels concurrently.

Distributors. I used to have a Ford V8 Pilot - an early post war British car but with essentially the same engine as a pre-war American Ford V8. The distributor was mounted on the front of the engine, driven directly by the engine's single camshaft. The manual (if I remember) told you to remove the grill and the radiator to service the distributor. But it was quicker to remove the distributor, which you could just about do without removing the rad, and then service it on the bench. Even so, it was not an easy job to remove it, and even less easy to replace it, so replacing a faulty condenser was very far from the 5-minute job it would have been had the distributor been accessible.

Nov 14, 2016 at 9:13 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A
Did you have any problems registering the Zephyr or was it originally French?

Nov 14, 2016 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Hi all. Just a quick update to my earlier post (bottom of Page 1) about my little 2-stroke generator. I can now report that it's running as good as new. A motorcycle mechanic friend suggested dunking the carburettor in an ultrasonic bath. We have a small ultrasonic cleaner that my wife uses to clean her jewellery, so I surreptitiously borrowed it. The amount of gunge and bits that came out of the carb amazed me. It actually took several cleaning cycles, together with careful use of fine fuse wire up the accessible jets, plus blowing out with an air compressor, to remove all the debris. Once reassembled, it started on the third pull and runs perfectly.

I appreciate the advice I received in earlier posts and will ensure that fuel is not left in the generator for more than a month or two. I have two cans, as suggested, and have added some Briggs & Stratton Fuel Fit for good measure.

Thanks again all,


Nov 14, 2016 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil G4SPZ

Nov 14, 2016 at 2:30 PM | Phil G4SPZ

Phil, well done! Prevention is better than cure, but you have used a low tech modern device to achieve what traditionally would have taken a few hours of detailed and careful work. Most petrol engined machines that are only used for less than 6 months of the year and stored for the rest become temperamental/unusable within a few years of ownership. People blame the engines for being cheap Chinese junk/scrap. The engines are fine, it is the fuel and delivery system, blocked by owner abuse/misuse.

They make great secondhand purchases!

Nov 14, 2016 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Golf Charlie

Thank you very much! I agree, the build quality of the engine is actually pretty good. These machines come in many different guises and brand names, but underneath they all appear to be identical. There must be thousands of them out there, not running due to gummed-up carburettors...


Nov 14, 2016 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil G4SPZ

Did you have any problems registering the Zephyr or was it originally French?
Nov 14, 2016 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Sandy S - The Zephyr was originally Swedish. The was no difficulty registering it [other than obtaining all the various forms and certificates needed]. It was just like registering a collector's car obtained from the UK for example.

Another time, if it's really of interest, I can spell out the steps involved.

The one difficulty is the French insurance companies won't insure a car without a carte grise. And to get it roadworthy, so that you can get a CT which is needed to get the carte grise, it's difficult if you can't have it on the road because of lack of insurance. I don't know how people with valuable cars (eg racing cars) with no carte grise get them insured but obviously there must be a way.

Nov 14, 2016 at 8:49 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A, I have never owned or insured a car in another country. I presume the Carte Grise is an old system? The UK Documents for proving ownership, and being able to insure it have tightened up in the last 10? years, but the names have not.

For better and/or worse this has made it:

more difficult to ring or clone a stolen car
prevented excessive modifications
wiped out most of the "kit car" industry
made proving provenance of classic cars more difficult as show cars, and also for elderly Land Rovers etc that may have chassis/engine/bodywork etc replaced with secondhand or new parts as a matter of maintenance

IF this sounds similar to some of the issues you have encountered, it seems like well meant and intended EU legislation, punishing those who like to recycle!

Nov 14, 2016 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Martin A
Thanks for the reply, it was curiosity more than anything else. I have known a couple of people here who have tried to register a veteran car or motorcycles and eventually given up. The motorcycle is currently working its way to be a barn find and the car owner eventually moved back to the UK (not because of the car exclusively).

I think both passed the CT but getting documentation that satisfied the prefecture in Limoges proved too difficult. Like a lot of things in France how easy things are seems to depend on what your local office think the rules are.

Nov 15, 2016 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

golf charlie
The EU seems to have made it easier for those with a mind to to break the rules. It's become a bit of a hobby, especially in winter, to check out UK registered cars on the DVLA website. You might not be surprised to hear that there are a fair number of SORN, or unTaxed and unMOT'd UK registered cars on French roads. It's one of the reasons I took out some personal accident insurance to cover myself whilst cycling. The French insurance companies are getting stricter on insuring UK registered cars so you have to assume these cars are uninsured as well.

Transferring your Driving Licence is a whole different ball game. Here, Limousin, for non-French citizens it is by a appointment on a Thursday. If you don't have the right documents correctly completed that's it and you have to make a new appointment. As the waiting list is 6+ months most people make two about a month apart, not helping the waiting list. You might think they don't want you to have a French licence

Nov 15, 2016 at 8:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

golf charlie, SandyS.

I don't know if things have changed but I swapped my UK driving licence for a French one a few years ago. No appointment was needed. I simply turned up at the Orne prefecture half an hour before opening time. The whole process, once the doors were open, took about 15 minutes.

Carte Grise is an old system?
"Carte Grise" is no longer the official name. it's now Certificat d'Immatriculation. But everybody still calls it the Carte Grise. The notes below are for the current system.

I have had no problems getting French registration for imported collectors cars. Any car 30 or more years old can qualify as a collectors car, although there is no obligation for it to be classified as such. Here are my notes on what is involved.


How to obtain a French Carte Grise for a collectors car imported into France. (For a modern car, the procedure is different.)

[1] Go to the local tax centre and obtain a certificate (certificat des services fiscaux N° 1993 REC) that no tax is owed on the car. You take along :
- sales document transferring ownership.
- registration document from the country of origin.

[2] Obtain (download) and complete the FFVE (Fédération Française des Véhicules d'Epoque) form to apply for a certificate that the car is a collectors car and therefore subject to collectors car rules and regulations. Post to FFVE:

- The completed FFVE application form
- a photograph of the car's manufacturer's serial number plate
- photocopy of certificat des services fiscaux N° 1993 REC
- Copy of the registration document of the car
- Sales document
- Two photographs of the car in its current condition
- A cheque for €60
- Six postage stamps

After a delay of around six weeks the FFVE certificate arrives.

[3] Take the car to a CT centre, taking along the FFVE certificate, to obtain a test certificate, under "véhicule de collection" rules. One way to do this is to get the local garage to drive it to the CT centre on the garage's insurance and "W" number plates.

[4] Obtain (download) and complete form CERFA 13750*5 [carte grise application]
Go to the Prefecture of the department (get there before opening time to avoid too long a wait). This has to be done in person - it cannot be done by mail. You take along:

- Completed application form CERFA 13750*5 (download it)
- FFVE certificate (copy it beforehand - the prefecture will not return it to you)
- Controle Techique (roadworthiness test) certificate
- Certificat des services fiscaux N° 1993 REC)
- Cheque book (the tax to pay is determined by a complicated formula depending on various things and will be stated at the time.)

The Carte Grise should arrive within about one week via the post

[5] Apply for insurance, quoting the car's Carte Grise number and wait for certificate to arrive. Install the certificate on the windscreen.

You are now free to drive the car in France and in other countries.

NOTE: None of the information above should be relied on or taken as authoritative.

Nov 16, 2016 at 11:37 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

That is really useful information.

It may just be Limousin that makes life difficult when changing a driving licence.

Nov 16, 2016 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Martin A, good to see that modern computing has not caused too many redundancies in the bureaucracy that controls France, at a slow and steady pace.

Is Marine Le Pen threatening to drain les marais?

Nov 16, 2016 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

A power drill is a tool which is used for the many purposes like drilling a hole in a wall or to tighten the nuts of cars and other automobiles. you can do a lot of work with this tool and you don't have to apply much effort.

Sep 19, 2017 at 7:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterBest Power Drill

Have found a solution to old petrol where the low volitile fractions have evaporated away, get some cheap paint thinners and add some to the old petrol and shake. Used it on a rotavator which had been unused for 3 years and it started up like it was being used regularly on 2nd pull.

Sep 19, 2017 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered Commenter5breath of fresh air

Well I'm pretty sure regular readers are glad they received those last two pieces of advice from a local Turing-bot.

Sep 20, 2017 at 4:03 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart