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Thread: Lead balls in gas tank "WHAT ?"

  1. #1
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    Lead balls in gas tank "WHAT ?"

    Is this something that was done back in the day?,if so for what exactly? buddy of mine has a 64 Rambler,that had these installed over the years by origional owner.at least that's the story he got !
    Joseph R. Zeiger

  2. #2
    President Member Corvanti's Avatar
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    first time i've ever heard of that!!!

    and reading that, i shriveled up a bit...
    Kerry

    '51 Champion Business Coupe - (Tom's Car). Purchased 11/2012.

    '40 Champion. sold 10/11. [IMG][/IMG] '63 Avanti R-1384. sold 12/10.[IMG][/IMG]

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    President Member 63 R2 Hawk's Avatar
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    We used to put mothballs in the tank, it was supposed to boost octane. My Dad was a chemist and he swore it worked. I remember trying to blow up my friend's '51 Plymouth "field car" (we raced it around his vacant lot) by putting a couple of boxes of mothballs in the tank. I swear it made that old six run better than it ever had but it didn't blow up, at least that time!!

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    President Member Johnnywiffer's Avatar
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    So, just exactly HOW did you make those moths part with their....never mind...

    John

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    President Member 63 R2 Hawk's Avatar
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    Don't ask, don't tell...... ; )

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    President Member Lark Parker's Avatar
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    Don't take this as gospel:
    I remember a rumor from back in the old days that you could raise the octaine by putting lead sinkers in the gas tank.
    I never tried it as it didn't sound likely.

    Lark Parker --Just an innocent possum strolling down life's highway.

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    Chief Cat Herder showbizkid's Avatar
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    Ditto what Dale said - I remember that too.

    Clark in San Diego
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    President Member 63 R2 Hawk's Avatar
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    Maybe people confused lead sinkers with tetraethyl lead, the component they used to put in gasoline before leaded fuel became unpopular? Tetraethyl lead was added to reduce knocking and pinging and was considered a major breakthrough in fuel technology at the time. Now, of course, it's considered evil.

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    It gives the mutant scuba squirrels something to chase.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    President Member Son O Lark's Avatar
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    Maybe some gas station mechanic sold the owner some muffler bearings also!

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    Golden Hawk Member Dick Steinkamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 63 R2 Hawk View Post
    Now, of course, it's considered evil.
    Actually it is...

    "Lead pollution from engine exhaust is dispersed into the air and into the vicinity of roads and easily inhaled. Contact with concentrated TEL leads to acute lead poisoning:

    Lead is a toxic metal that accumulates and has subtle and insidious neurotoxic effects especially at low exposure levels, such as low IQ and antisocial behavior. It has particularly harmful effects on children. These concerns eventually led to the ban on TEL in automobile gasoline in many countries. Some neurologists have speculated that the lead phaseout may have caused average IQ levels to rise by several points in the US (by reducing cumulative brain damage throughout the population, especially in the young). For the entire US population, during and after the TEL phaseout, the mean blood lead level dropped from 16 μg/dL in 1976 to only 3 μg/dL in 1991.[19] The US Centers for Disease Control considered blood lead levels "elevated" when they were above 10 μg/dL. Lead exposure affects the intelligence quotient (IQ) such that a blood lead level of 30 μg/dL is associated with a 6.9-point reduction of IQ, with most reduction (3.9 points) occurring below 10 μg/dL.[20]

    A statistically significant correlation has been found between the usage rate of leaded gasoline and violent crime: taking into account a 22-year time lag, the violent crime curve virtually tracks the lead exposure curve.[21][19] After the ban on TEL, blood lead levels in US children dramatically decreased.[19]

    Although leaded gasoline is largely gone in North America, it has left high concentrations of lead in the soil adjacent to roads that were constructed prior to its phaseout. Children are particularly at risk if they consume this"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraethyllead
    Dick Steinkamp
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    Sounds good, but someone flunked elementary chemistry. I don't think I've ever seen a table of lead's solubility in gasoline, but I suspect it's very close to zero. Tetraethyl lead has to be manufactured in a refinery/chemical plant, just like most of the other components in gasoline, past or present. Dropping some lead balls in a gas tank is gonna result in exactly that -- some lead balls rolling around in a gas tank.

    TEL, like moth balls (napthalene), ethanol, and lots of other hydrocarbons, raise the octane reading of a fuel by preventing pre-ignition (pinging), thereby allowing more of the fuel's energy to be used to actually push the pistons down at the right time. It's development in the 1920s by GM was a great advance, as it allowed compression ratios to be raised without pinging on the poor quality fuels available at the time. It took 50 years before anyone realized that a lot of those lead molecules were still in the environment and lowering the IQs of children.
    Last edited by Skip Lackie; 10-11-2012 at 03:59 PM. Reason: typo

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    President Member rockinhawk's Avatar
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    And all this time I thought lead was removed because it damaged catalitic converters. And yes I have big lead sinkers in all my gas tanks. I talked with 2 different chemists. One in pharmicuticals,the other in the field of neuclear power. Both said the lead would dissolve into the gas,but neither could say how quickly.
    Neil Thornton

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    President Member Aussie Hawk's Avatar
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    I don't know about stopping knocking and pinging, lead balls rolling around in the gas tank would make plenty of knocks and pings, and drive me nuts ;-)
    Matt
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    If some previous owner was goofy enough to think that would help make leaded fuel then I'd check the rest of the car out very carefully. I wonder if he put any Tide in the crankcase so he'd have detergent in his oil?

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    President Member shifter4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockinhawk View Post
    And all this time I thought lead was removed because it damaged catalitic converters. And yes I have big lead sinkers in all my gas tanks. I talked with 2 different chemists. One in pharmicuticals,the other in the field of neuclear power. Both said the lead would dissolve into the gas,but neither could say how quickly.
    Well..how about a quality glass jar ,filled with gasoline ,sealed , but allowing for temp expansion/contraction etc ,and a pre-weighed sinker. Shake occasionally. After
    6 months , weigh the sinker again.
    BTW , at Harbor Freight , I bought a 1000g x 0.1g digital scale, that seems to be of decent quality. I am associated with a CMT Engrg company
    and soon will compare it with the NIST scales in our lab .
    Not only has lead accumulated near the roadways , but the where does the rubber , and whatever tires also are now made from go ?
    Maybe Mythbusters has already been here done that .
    Last edited by shifter4; 10-10-2012 at 12:01 PM.
    Bill H
    Daytona Beach
    SDC member since 1970

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    President Member WCP's Avatar
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    Lead absorption by children will lower their IQ - another unsubstantiated myth? I don't believe children today sport higher IQ's than those of my era, some seven decades back.
    Anyways, that aside, I have used lead shot in an empty fuel tank to remove dried fuel crud and found it very effective.With this technique there is no concern of igniting fuel vapours and the inner tank surface isn't altered. I sure wouldn't leave it in there and expect any performance improvement.

  18. #18
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    True story...I visited an old Goodyear plant in Canada many years ago and was told that one of their dirty little secrets was that back in the early 1900's they made baby bottle nipples at that plant and that one of the fillers used in the nipples was lead.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockinhawk View Post
    And all this time I thought lead was removed because it damaged catalitic converters.
    That is my recollection, too. The SCHEDULE of the changeover was driven by the EPA requirement to install catalytic converters beginning with 1975 model year cars. Some 1971 and all 1972 model cars were designed to run on no-lead, as leaded gas was expected to be phased out by the end of the decade. But in fact, low-lead regular was still available in many rural areas much longer than that.

    I do remember that the health benefits for kids was also discussed -- an argument that I felt was exaggerated at the time, as I couldn't see how anyone would ingest much lead unless they purposely ate roadside dirt. But apparently I was wrong, as the lead levels in kids in urban areas dropped almost immediately. That success led to the phasing out of leaded paint in 1978.

  20. #20
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    had a friend whose father put some large ball bearings in his gas tank. the gas guage was not working, so when the fuel level dropped low enough, he would hear the balls rolling in the tank. time for a fill-up. BRILLIANT!
    Frank Remlinger
    Detroit, Michigan
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  21. #21
    Silver Hawk Member JBOYLE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Steinkamp View Post
    A statistically significant correlation has been found between the usage rate of leaded gasoline and violent crime: taking into account a 22-year time lag, the violent crime curve virtually tracks the lead exposure curve.[21][19] After the ban on TEL, blood lead levels in US children dramatically decreased.[19]

    Although leaded gasoline is largely gone in North America, it has left high concentrations of lead in the soil adjacent to roads that were constructed prior to its phaseout. Children are particularly at risk if they consume this"

    Just a question...Has anyone told their kids NOT to eat dirt and paint chips?
    And don't confuse lead fishing sinkers for Tootsie Roll pops.

    Problem solved.
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  22. #22
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    MythBusters could check out two myths, one for the lead being absorbed by the gas in the tank and the other about moth balls raising the octane. I'd like to see Jamie's scientific method for collecting moth balls. One assumes a very steady hand is needed and a very large supply of male moths. He could also do a study on how much higher the moths fly after the procedure(less weight and drag, etc).
    [SIGPIC]

  23. #23
    President Member 63 R2 Hawk's Avatar
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    Actually, Mythbusters did check out the mothball legend and deemed it "plausible". They are talking about the old napthalene mothballs, not the paradichlorobenzene ones or the ones rendered by male moths.....
    http://mythbustersresults.com/episode15

  24. #24
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    For sure for sure, lead balls rolling around in your gas tank should keep all the crud and whatever loosend up so it can flow to your inline filter a whole lot easier!! just a thought for today. Mac

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