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Author Topic:   ValvTect Marine Gasoline
jimh posted 09-04-2007 09:27 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
This past weekend I was boating with some old friends. We were staying at a beautiful harbor at a very up-scale marina. The fuel dock sold ValvTect branded gasoline. This prompted an interesting discussion about the fuel.

Among these fellow boaters there was probably 75-years or more of experience in running outboard motors and Boston Whaler boats. The consensus on ValvTect fuels was very negative. I heard a first-hand report of how it almost ruined an outboard motor, and another of how it was banned in Florida. This was some grim stuff. The recommendation--don't get ValvTect fuel in your outboard motor tank.

Now the odd thing about the situation was that this marine facility was one of the finest I have ever visited. Their grounds were beautiful. Their showers and baths were among the best ever seen. Their staff was very friendly, courteous, and helpful. Every indication was this was a first-class, top-flight place. At their well maintained docks there were yachts worth millions and millions of dollars--yachts of 86-feet in length, custom built by the most famous and prestigious of boat builders and ship yards. And among them were many very expensive and fancy outboard powered boats, such as a new Boston Whaler 320 OUTRAGE with twin Verado motors, and several other Verado-powered Whalers of smaller size.

The juxtaposition of all these fine yachts and a fuel dock selling a dangerous and harmful fuel just did not seem possible. As it happened, I needed a few more gallons of gasoline to finish my weekend, so off I went to the ValvTect fuel dock. I added just enough fuel to finish off my cruise, which is what I would have done, anyways, since I was going to haul the boat and get on the trailer, where any extra fuel in the tank is just extra weight on the road. But I had this nagging feeling that I was about to ruin my motor with this ValvTect fuel.

Now as a practical matter, I really had little choice. As it turned out, ALL of the fuel docks in the vicinity also sold ValvTect fuel exclusively. Was this some dangerous cabal to foist an inferior product on the poor outboard motor owner?

To settle my own misgivings, I called ValvTect on the telephone today to discuss their fuel and its application to two-stroke motors. In a few moments I was on the line with Mike Giannini of ValvTect. He gave me the low-down on ValvTect gasoline.

My first question: Is ValvTect gasoline suitable for use in two-stroke motors? Mike informed me that ValvTect is a special marine gasoline fuel that is recommended for both two-cycle and four-cycle marine engines. The fuel is a blend of gasoline and additives to both increase its shelf life and to add detergents to help keep a marine engine clean. Mike said that "millions of gallons of ValvTect fuel had been used in two-stroke motors."

My second question: Was ValvTect banned in Florida? Mike laughed a bit and told me that Florida was the market leader for ValvTect fuel. More ValvTect was sold in Florida than anywhere else!

Well, so much for the dock talk about ValvTect fuel.

However, I pressed Mike about the nature of ValvTect and its alleged formulation to help four-cycle motors with valve seat problems. He acknowledged that the original formulation, now no longer used, was targeted to help some four-stroke motors which had problems with their valve seats. "But," he explained, "most of those old motors are no longer in use, and modern four-cycle motors have hardened valve seats."

"Was this old formula fuel harmful for two-stokes," I asked.

Mike replied that the older ValvTect fuel was based on a phosphorous additive, but at the same time there was another marine fuel product on the market which used a sodium-based additive. This other product did have some problems when mixed with certain two-stroke oils. It also caused some spark plug fouling. But Mike assured me it was not a ValvTect fuel. Perhaps this other brand was the source of some of the poor reputation about ValvTect. The older ValvTect fuel was a lead substitute fuel, but it was never banned anywhere.

"Does the marina just buy some gasoline and throw in an additive to make ValvTect," I asked?

Mike explained that the marina gets a "finished fuel" from a "certified ValvTect fuel supplier." The supplier delivers a high-quality marine fuel.

"Does the marina make an extra profit from selling ValvTect, more than from just selling plain gasoline," I asked. Mike countered that for most marina operators the motivation for selling ValvTect was not to seek an extra profit margin but rather to give their customers a higher quality fuel. Mike pointed out that marinas often sell gasoline at a higher price than highway gasoline stations. "If the boater can buy fuel on the highway for $2.90/gallon and has to pay $3.50/gallon at the marina for the same fuel, they feel like the marina is just marking up the same product," Mike explained. "By selling ValvTect the marina can differentiate its fuel from the regular automobile gasoline," he continued. The customer gets a custom-blended marine fuel for the price premium, not just the same highway gas at a marked up price. And typically ValvTect fuel sells for the same price at a marina as regular gasoline does at non-ValvTect fuel docks.

"Marinas sell ValvTect," Mike said, "because their customers find their boats run better with it than they do with automobile blended gasoline."

Mike told me that marine fuel tends to sit around in tanks longer than highway automobile gasoline, both at the fuel dock and in a boat's tanks. ValvTect has stabilizers added which give it a shelf life of over a year. That comment prompted my next question: "If you use ValvTect fuel could you store your boat for the winter without adding additional stabilizers?"

Mike replied that if your tank contained only ValvTect gasoline you would not need to add additional stabilizers. The fuel would have a shelf life of more than one year.

"Is ValvTect fuel pure gasoline or an ethanol blend," I asked next. Mike said that this varied from place to place, often depending on the state. ValvTect additives can be mixed with both ethanol and non-ethanol gasolines.

After this conversation, I was much relived. The ValvTect fuel I bought was not going to ruin my outboard. My fears appear to have been unfounded. If you happen to be at a marina fuel dock which sells only ValvTect, I think you can add it to the tank for your outboard motor without any worries. Will it make your two-stroke run better? Let me know your results.

Sal DiMercurio posted 09-04-2007 10:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sal DiMercurio  Send Email to Sal DiMercurio     
Jim, great report.
Last week I filled my 18 gallon tempo tank in my 15' sport with valvetech & mixed XD50 with it,...trolled for hours & hours with not even a hicup from my rebuilt 1997 Johnson 70 hp.
By the way, caught 2 stripers over 30 lbs [ 1 - 35 lbs, & 1 at 31 lbs }in the last 8 days,1 - 24 lbs yesterday, 1 22 lbs last Sunday, 6 between 15 lbs & 19 lbs, another 7 over 12 lbs,......37 stripers in 8 days,.....all trolling, on the Sacramento river.
Most all the big ones released to lay some eggs.
Striper tacos are out of this world.
Sal
Dick posted 09-04-2007 11:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
I can't see any reason that it would harm an engine. It is basicly refinery gasoline with Valv Tec's snake oil added rather than some other.
I am not familiar with thier gasoline but have sold some of thier snake oils for years, good products.
Tom W Clark posted 09-05-2007 08:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Jim,

That is an interesting story. I had never heard of ValvTect gasoline before. Thank you for taking the time to make the call and get the straight story. It makes a nice allegory about the dangers of listening to gossip.

It is amazing how some folks will seize upon some bit of bad information and then go on to share it with others, passing it off as fact and how easily one can be "infected" by such misinformation. Just look at how you felt at the time you went to fuel your boat after that "dock talk".

an86carrera posted 09-05-2007 08:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for an86carrera  Send Email to an86carrera     
I have been using it in Florda for three years now in my 2000 200hp Ficht 800hrs 500 of them on this ValvTect fuel.

I think it is somewhat of a bargain considering I don't have to lug fuel down to my dock and it has some expensive additives that I would not run my engine without.

I also use only Evinrude Ficht bulk oil.

Len

aja posted 09-05-2007 09:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for aja  Send Email to aja     
Interesting to hear some of the story behind this product which a friend has been bragging about their marina having for years. I agree that this sounds like a "snake oil" product and the idea that it is used to justify the more expensive gas which is purchased at a marina is a joke. There are very good reasons why marina gas costs more having to do with storage and delivery of fuel over water, local bonding requirements, spill remediation, relatively short sales seasons (in northern climates), insurance premiums and other issues which shore based filling stations either don’t have to deal with or do so on a much lesser scale.
I guess what I walked away form this with is that I would not worry about using that sort of gas in a pinch, but regardless of what I did I would use stabilizer in my tank over winter and would never drive past a filling station with my trailer boat before launching with the intention of spending more $$ on this “premium” gas on the water.
Thanks for the report Jim!
Liteamorn posted 09-05-2007 10:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for Liteamorn  Send Email to Liteamorn     
My marina has been using Valvetect fuel for years now, I've never had any problems with it. I have been reluctant to add other additives(Quickclean/Ringfree) with it for fear it might be overkill.

I always purchased Quickclean or Ringfree and would pass on the Valvetect but if it's already in the gas that option is no longer available.

pglein posted 09-05-2007 12:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
I vaguely remember seeing a faded old ValveTec sticker on a marine pump somewhere, but I couldn't tell you where, or how many decades ago it was.

To me, I don't pay much attention to the brand of gasoline or diesel I put in my boat or car. I care much more about the condition of the tanks, hoses, and pumps. The most common contaminant in fuel is water. Leaking tanks or hoses don't just let fuel out, they let moisture in. Also, rusting fittings, decaying hoses, or aging tanks can add any number of solid contaminants. I'd rather get cheapo Mexican gas from a brand new facility, than fancy, rose-flavored gasoline from a rusting, leaky old pump with a 1950's era underground tank.

jimh posted 09-05-2007 12:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Many people routinely recommend that automotive blends of gasoline be augmented with marine additives, and those additives, when bought at retail and in small quantities, are quite expensive. If one buys a $8 bottle of some additive, perhaps Ring Free or QuicKleen, and adds that to 20-gallons of gasoline, they have just raised the cost of the gasoline by

8/20 = $0.40 per gallon.

If it is reasonable to increase the cost of gasoline by $0.40 per gallon yourself by the addition of additives, then buying a marine fuel which has already been augmented with additives by the refiner and sells for the same price as untreated fuel (or perhaps at a small premium, say $0.05 per gallon) should not be considered a "marketing scam" and "snake oil." In any case, fuel available on the water at fuel docks has always been more expensive than highway gas station fuel. If you want the least expensive fuel, buy it on the highway, and do not treat it with any additives.

I believe that the history of ValvTect goes back to the days when lead was removed from gasoline and unleaded gasoline became the standard blend. At that time there were many four-stroke inboard engines which probably benefited from the original ValvTect formula. My understanding is that the formulation of ValvTect Marine Gasoline has evolved, and the current blend is no longer intended to be merely a lead substitute. Rather, as I mentioned above, it contains many of the same sort of additives which are almost universally being recommended to be blended with automotive grade gasoline prior to use in a marine engine. So, again, I don't see how buying a pre-blended marine fuel is some sort of silly waste, yet adding expensive additives to highway gasoline represents a smarter course.

I am not endorsing ValvTect, but I think that there is no reason to avoid it on the basis that it might be harmful to a two-stroke motor. If you encounter ValvTect at a fuel dock, it probably won't cost any more than another brand of gasoline at a fuel dock.

JMARTIN posted 09-05-2007 01:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
ValvTect is an additive manufacturer. You can make your own ValvTect gasoline. I have used thier Diesel anti-gel products before out of my cardlock stations. They worked, I do not any first hand information about their marine additives.

As far as cost goes, the "certified Valvtect supplier" buys the additive in 55 gallom drums which is a huge savings over lets say a packaged quart container. Their anti-gel product only added about .015 cents to the cost of my Diesel sold.

John

Dick posted 09-05-2007 02:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
I see that I forgot to add the link to ValvTec in my post.
www.valvtect.com
Mardav posted 09-06-2007 05:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mardav  Send Email to Mardav     
I use the Valvtect fuels here in Florida and they are excellent and seem to reduce 'knock' in my older (1987) two stroke engine. I also use the diesel in my bigger boat and do not add stabilizer. The diesel stays clean, free of algae, and smokes much less than non- valv-tect fuels. I never heard the 'bad' story before, thanks for the interesting insight.
Marc
L H G posted 09-07-2007 11:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
This is a disturbing thread to read, since I am the source of the [firsthand report about a motor problem].

The problem is that in the years 1986-1989, when the original lead additive Valvetect gasoline was being peddled on unwitting Marinas in the Midwest and Florida, I was running around the Greater Ft Lauderdale area in a brand new 1986 18 Outrage powered with brand new twin Merc 115 in-line 6's. During this time, I assume JimH was sailing around the North Channel, with a diesel aux. I have first hand experience, he doesn't, just the word of some snake oil salesman, who is lying. It wasn't SOME OTHER BRAND that created the problems, it *WAS* Valvetect. The name says a lot.

I have first hand experience with the problems of that garbage fuel additive, whatever it was. If you idled or trolled for very long, as I and hundreds of outboard owners did, you broke down. Every Marina I visited had to get rid of the stuff because of the serious problems it caused 2-stroke outboards, all brands. Mercury even issued a bulletin to avoid it at all costs. It completely disappeared form the Florida marketplace, outboard capital of the world, for many years. The whole idea of adding LEAD, a toxic element to all life, back into the gasoline that the government had just banned, was ridiculous. With the Valvetect of those days, now your outboard could once again discharge lead into the waterways of this country! Where was Al Gore when we needed him?

So ValveTect had to withdraw, and re-invent itself, and came out with a completely different additive (still unknown to the end user) and used a new name, "Marine Gasoline", simply a marketing gimmick for Marinas. From what I can tell, it's now relatively benign to outboards, probably just containing a carb cleaner, but I still have bad memories of a $600 repair bill caused by the leaded stuff.

When I put Stabil, Startron or Mercury Quickclean in my gas, I know what I've got. When I pay for "Marine Gasoline" in my tank, I get a "lick and a promise".

jimh posted 09-08-2007 06:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am glad Larry jumped in with his first hand report of a problem in a two-stroke motor due to ValvTect fuel. Indeed, his firsthand experience was the one to which I alluded above. Since ValvTect is from Chicago, I had never encountered it until I hit Lake Michigan a few years ago. It was not prevalent on northern Lake Huron and in Canada where I was doing most of my (diesel-powered) boating back then. I think those five gallons last week were probably the first I had purchased.

However, the conversation with ValvTect was in such sharp contrast to all that I had heard, I thought it was worth remarking about. Perhaps a more gentle way to reconcile the seemingly sharp diversion of opinion is that the manufacturer may have understated the "problems with plug fouling" that were being experienced back in the late 1980's.

As I mentioned already, I am not trying to endorse ValvTect, but I think it is good to hear more reports of experience with it. So keep them coming in. Any others with experience with this fuel?

gcarlil posted 09-08-2007 07:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for gcarlil  Send Email to gcarlil     
I noticed today Valvetech gas at Holiday Marina,Lake Lanier
is sold at $4.50 per gallon. Street price locally is $2.75,
2.85 and 2.95.I realize that marinas have increased cost but that those seem a bit much.
George
jimh posted 09-08-2007 07:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
George--Thanks for the price information. In my case, I paid $3.58/gallon for ValvTect at the fuel dock. No-brand gasoline on the highway in the area was selling for $2.96, and when I returned home I found gasoline was up to $3.24 at my local gas station. I do not feel like I paid a big premium for the ValvTect.
jmorgan40 posted 09-08-2007 08:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for jmorgan40  Send Email to jmorgan40     
Jim,
Great report and information on Valvtect. At our Lanier athering today, the gas dock at Dockside Grill was selling ValvTect. One of the members here was telling us how good it was. My only issue is it cost $4.44/gal on Lanier compared to the gas I bought on the road for $2.59/gal this A.M.. At + $2.05 / gal it would have to have fish jumping in my boat and speak dirty to me at the same time. I believe it is probably a great product but not worth the premium price they get here in GA.
Thanks
Joe

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