Letter Re: Running Chainsaws on Ethanol & Home Alcohol Production Stills

[As a follow-up to the letter about running gasoline engines on alcohol:] In case you don’t know it, most gasoline engines will also run on kerosene. No jet changes, all you have to do it adjust timing. Many small engines like generators and such made by Kohler and Briggs and Stratton have an adjustable timing ring. Many have markings for [setting] use to for gasoline or kerosene. It works well. Now to tell you the truth, I never tried it in a car engine. Though generally what works in small engines should work in a car, and yes, you still need the spark plug to ignite it.. I’m not sure what the power loss is, though something safer then alcohol. and fewer permanent modifications..You can store a lot of kerosene [more] safely then gasoline and alcohol. – ka3ffy

JWR Replies: From what I’ve read, only low compression gasoline engines will run on kerosene without considerable modification. Coincidentally, the following is a snippet of from the oral history of my grandfather, Ernest E. Rawles, recounting his experiences when he works as a surveyor for the New Cornelia Copper Company in and around Ajo, Arizona, early in the last century. Note that a 1916 Ford truck would have had a low compression engine:

“To get there, [to Hat Mountain] we went on Mr. Gibson’s truck. It was a delivery truck. a Ford, stripped down. It was hard to get gasoline in Arizona in 1916. He used to run it on kerosene, if you can believe that. As long as he could keep it hot, he could get it started all-right. Once he got it started, he kept it started.”