Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Reader asks, "Can I convert my Ford to run on E85?"

I received an interesting email from a couple that have a Bronco II and wanted to know what they need to do in order to run it on E85. Now just for the record, I'm not an automotive mechanic or engineer, I don't even do my own maintenance on my truck. But this raised some interest on my part. Their Bronco II is an 88 with the 2.9L V6. So I did an internet search and found the article linked above. It says that at one point it was looking like Conversion kits would be marketed, but Federal rules were too much of a roadblock. But I'm not sure this would apply to do it yourself types.

Now, this is just a guess on my part, but in the case of the Bronco II, there may be an answer using Factory Ford parts. The Bronco II is based on Ranger mechanicals, and Ford did indeed offer Flex Fuel Rangers, capable to run on E85. So many of the Flex Fuel parts should be available in Salvage yards or even from your Ford dealer. In 1999 when I bought my Ranger, there was an option for a 3.0L V6 Flex Fuel, so the computer, fuel tank and lines should be a bolt over swap. It may be advisable to swap the engine and transmission as well.

I'll try and follow up on this subject over coming days.


ThatDudeMike said...

Flex-Fuel vehicles like the Ranger have sensors in the fuel system which detect the type of fuel present and change the engines parameters to best utilize that fuel. Use can make the adjustments yourself, but you wouldn't want to be changing back and for between fuels (gasoline/E85).

Other than changing system components made of non-ethanol compliant materials (mainly injector seals, some plastic components, and possibly any rubber fuel lines), the two main things that would need to be altered are the fuel mixture and spark timing. Ethanol has a higher stoichiometric ratio or air:fuel ratio than gasoline and requires a richer mixture. Ethanol fuels have a slower flame front and are less likely to pre-ignite (ping/knock) so ignition timing can be advanced 5-10 degrees. These are the basics and could easily and quite inexpensively be done to an older carburated engine. They could be done but with some difficulty on fuel injected engines mainly due to the computer tuning and various fuel system components that may only be available in non-compliant materials (plastics).

Big Ford Fan said...

Mike, great information there, thank you. But let me ask, if you swap the engine and computer along with tank and lines from a flex fuel Ranger, it should work right? I almost forgot, the sensors too.

I don't see this as do it yourself job for most people and considering the age of the vehicle in question, it could be cost prohibitive.

ThatDudeMike said...

Well, You'd have to include the complete vehicle wiring harness too, or at least the underhood harness and the harness that connects to the fuel tank and evap system. All this, the motor, computer, then you'd probably have to do the trans (if auto - to work with the newer computer), then you'd run into wiring compatibility problems, cabin electronics compatibility (gauge cluster etc)...

Yeah, it would work, but would it really be worth the effort and cost for a Bronco II (not a knock at the BII)? It would be easier and probably a lot cheaper to just buy a good condition late-model (used) Flex-Fuel Ranger.