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E85 in John Deere LX280, 18 HP V-Twin Aircooled
Ran out of gas the other day...
So I decided to try some E85 in my Lawn Tractor.
John Deere LX280, 18 HP V-Twin Aircooled.

It seems to run ok. Starts. No smoke. No pinging, etc.

However, I'm discovering that it just barely has the power to spin up the mower deck with regular gasoline. I seem to loose enough power with the E85 that it has a lot more troubles spinning up the deck (thus kills the engine).

It does have an annoying feature that every time one hits reverse, it kills the deck (I'll probably bypass that soon).

Other people's experiences? Recommendations?

I'll probably try to purge the system this winter.
Location: Oregon | Registered: October 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Check your owners manual.Many small engines are not designed to run ethanol in any percentage.

David Norwood

2001 F350 7.3 DI purchased new by me and it is the first DI experimented with and talked about on this forum.

Updated 1/2011 Alternative Fuel User Since 2003-vo is always in my fuel. Only one fuel tank. GPI/CIM-TEK spin on filterhead and 10 micron filter. Superchip. Hutch and Harpoon mods 2010. Diesel inline filter between tank and Airtex E2236 fuel pump (rated to 110 psi).Fuel pressure gauge. HOH for fuel line heat from tank to 12v lift pump. Two 12v 36" heaters, one before add on filter and one before OEM filter.

Cool weather mixes updated 2010. 100% vo to 70°. 66% to 35°. 50% to 10°.
Location: Upstate South Carolina , USA | Registered: December 28, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You will need to adjust the main jet in the carborator a bit IF your newer mower even has an adjustable main jet in the carborator (or replace the main jet with something like a 15-20% larger one -or- drill out a stock sized one if a larger one is not available (20% VOLUME increase, not diameter increase, the hole will only be a few thousanths larger for alcohol). Pinging won't be a problem, E85 has an octane rating around 105, the engine could have a compression ratio of 11-to-1 and still not ping.

As a test, if your mower has a mechanical choke you can close it part way and you should notice a significant increase in power.

I have been running an old 1982 single cylinder flat head 12 HP cast iron Kohler engine in an International Cub mower on E85 for the last several years, LOVES the stuff. I did have to open up the main jet about 1/4 turn but after that it runs great, at least 20% more power and uses less fuel since the governor no longer stays slammed wide open like it did with gasoline, I can completely stall the blades with grass but the engine never even slows down. This is an old mower that has never had the engine rebuilt, something like 3000 hours of operation, it used to burn about a half quart of oil on one 1/4 acre yard, after the first season of E85 it had almost completely stopped burning oil, now only uses maybe a half quart over the complete mowing season.

You need to get a bit more alcohol into the engine to run well but not the huge amounts most folks seem to think it takes, these small engines are limited more by the amount of air they can flow rather than by the amount of fuel. If you WANT to double the power you CAN by simply adding more alcohol. Gasoline needs about 14.5 times the volume of air than it does gasoline to run correctly, with alcohol you can stretch the milage by running as lean as 20-to-1 at lower power, or create twice the power by running 5-to-1 air-to-fuel. Since the carborator is designed to operate with 14 times the amount of air as gasoline, and alcohol will burn fine with only 4-5 times the amount of air, you can run up to 2 1/2 times as much alcohol throught this same carborator and the engine will make close to twice the power that it does with gasoline. Normally you don't need all that power so 15-30% more fuel is more than enough to do the job. The fuel milage may be a bit either way on alcohol, my tractor was always working hard with gasoline so the governor held it wide open most of the time, with alcohol I am burning a bit richer fuel-air mixture but using less of it so I actually get better fuel economy by 15-20% (burn 5 gallon of gas to mow the yard but only about 4 gallon of E85 for the same yard).

The E85 starts easier than gasoline, produces more power, gets better milage, runs a bit cooler, and costs less, I LIKE IT.

If the mower is newer than about 2000 it should already have fuel hose and gaskets that are designed for alcohol, all I did on my old mower was replace the fuel line with new hose, the fuel pump gaskets are still holding after 3 years so i guess I lucked out, the gaskets appear to be fiber rather than rubber. Your newer engine likely has an aluminum block so should already be fitted with iron/steel valve seats, probably also a steel cylinder liner, if so it should be fine on E85.

A quick web search says your tractor uses this Kawasaki engine that has overhead valves, cast iron cylinder liners, and a compression ratio of 8.5-to-1, it should respond even better to E85 than my old lower compressioned flat head engine.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Tim c cook,
Location: fisher,illinois,usa | Registered: June 03, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My lx280 also has barely enough power to start up the mower deck. I usually open the throttle about 3/4. Now the engine sounds like the governer is hunting at all RPM`s. Any ideas? I dumped in some carb cleaner, cleaned all filters and plugs, no difference.

As for the reverse shut off? I rewired the whole deal. Now the mower only shuts off if I get off the seat. The engine now stays running even with no operator present(no children around).
Registered: November 05, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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