Mixing Model Diesel Fuel (with pictures) - RC Groups
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Aug 21, 2010, 04:46 PM
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Mixing Model Diesel Fuel (with pictures)

Mixing your own model diesel fuel has been discussed a lot in the "Everything Diesel" forum of RCU. And it has been discussed here on RCG. Pictures of the various components needed have been posted. But not much on how people were measuring and mixing them. So I have decided to make a small batch and take pictures along the way. Who knows maybe this will encourage more people to try diesel who were reluctant at first since they would most likely have to order all their fuel (high shipping fee).

Anyway here we go:

Model diesel fuel consists of kerosene (K-1 type either hardware or gas station K-1 works also some lamp oils work), some kind of oil (castor, olive, motor oil, two stroke weed wacker oil, the list goes on, it really depends on the engine), ether (finding pure ether is almost impossible so I use engine starting fluid that comes in spray cans which contains about 50% ether 50% and heptane which can be treated like kerosene when mixing), and ignition improver which isn't really necesary. I am going to mix a 4oz batch to make measuring the components easy.

Mix I use: 25% castor oil (Fox castor oil), 31.3% Kerosene (K-1 from gas station), and 43.8% engine starting fluid (50% ether kind)

That is 1oz castor oil, 1.25oz of kerosene, and 1.75oz of engine starting fluid.
1 + 1.25 + 1.75 = 4oz of model diesel fuel

Note: There is more starting fluid than kerosene because the starting fluid isn't 100% ether. Like I said before the 50% heptane can be treated like kerosene.

More detail on where to find the components:

Kerosene (K-1): True Value, Home Depot, etc. sell it by the gallon for $8.99. My local gas station sells it at a pump for $4.39 a gallon. You may have have trouble finding a gas station that sells it. I don't recommend lamp oils since they can have different flash points and what not, but I know for a fact that Lamplight Ultra Pure Paraffin Lamp Oil does indeed run nicely in my MK-17 diesel engine.

Oil: You probably already know where to find the oils I listed except for castor oil. Castor oil is the the best oil to use. You can get it from the drug store in small bottles (6oz or less) for about 5-6 dollars. Vitamin shops also sometime have it, but again it's sold in small quantities and it is expensive. Some motorcycle shops also carry it, most likely the Klotz Benol kind (again pints and quarts). IMO the best place to purchase castor oil is Fox Manufacturing. $20 gets you a whole gallon of it and shipping is very reasonable. A gallon will last a very long time.

Starting Fluid: If you can get 100% ether than use that. The more ether the better. Any auto parts store carries starting fluid. You might even be able to buy it from your local gas station. At my local Shell Station (which also has K-1) in it's little snack shop they sell starting fluid along with other emergency automotive needs. The best starting fluid to use is John Deere brand which is about 80% ether. But 50% ether still works fine.

OK, lets start mixing:

Step 1: Gather the components. Find a glass or metal container with a cap that seals to store the mixed fuel in. Find a straight sided clear plastic bottle with cap and fill it with 4oz of something and mark the level with a pen or something. Dump out the stuff you used. Measure out 1oz of oil and dump it into the plastic bottle.

Step 2: Measure out 1.25 oz of kerosene and dump it into the plastic bottle. There should now be a relatively small space between the kerosene/oil and the 4oz line.

Step 3: Grab your starting fluid and fit a plastic straw to the nozzel. You know the ones that come with WD40 or carb cleaner. Insert the straw into the pastic bottle and into the kerosene/oil and spray until the level rises to the 4oz mark you made earlier. You might want to put a rag over the top while you are spraying to make sure everything goes into the fuel.

Step 4: Place the cap on the plastic bottle and give it a good shake. Then dump it all into your metal or glass container. Screw the cap down tightly.

You are done. Now go fly your plane! That's all there is to it.

Please remember that this is not the only way to do it. Feel free to experiment with different techniques.

I will post the pictures that go along with this after I post this since they are on my other computer.
Last edited by Glue Gun; Aug 21, 2010 at 05:51 PM.
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Aug 21, 2010, 06:44 PM
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Broken Wings's Avatar
Great Post!

We should make it a "Sticky"

Sticky Threads - All sticky threads are moderated by the thread starter. If you want to have a thread stickied (or unstickied), you can accomplish this by reporting the first post in the thread. Choose "Stick/Unstick this thread" from the list of report options.
Aug 21, 2010, 07:08 PM
registered user
That's a great idea!

I just got back from testing this batch. My MK-17 ran nicely with it until the contra piston went on the fritz again. I really need a new diesel engine. This one is just worn out.
Aug 21, 2010, 08:05 PM
Registered User
I have read somewhere that there is another way to salvage the ether from a john deere quickstart container. The eighty percent ether quote sounds about right. No other quick start can on the market has as large a percentage I have been informed as well.
Aug 21, 2010, 08:32 PM
registered user
Me too. Some people turn the can upside down and spray all of the gas out. Then they punch a hole in the can at the top and drain it into some kind of sealing container.
Aug 22, 2010, 01:21 AM
It's Prime Time for Slime Time
b7gwap's Avatar
Yes! Another Glue Gun fuel experimentation thread! I love these. Do you just run purpose-built diesel engines or do you have some conversions too?
Aug 22, 2010, 08:41 AM
Dieselized User
gkamysz's Avatar
Good information. A few comments of my own.

Stick with plain kerosene unless you can determine the flash and autoignition point of lamp oil from the data sheet. Lamp oil has no smell, but stinks just the same after it's been through the engine, so there is little advantage. The Lamplight Ultra Pure Lamp Oil is one of those that are acceptable.

If you do not use JD starting fluid, be sure to take into account the proportions of the fluid you are using. JD for our intents is 100% ether. The MSDS for the product in question usually tells the story, but many spec a very wide range of percentages. Ether is what makes the engine easy to start. Not enough ether can result in damage to the engine.

Oil is important. An ABC engine will tolerate virtually any oil, while an iron/steel setup may wear quickly without castor. If you find that castor doesn't blend with kerosene, don't worry, it will when starting fluid is added. Motor oil is OK, but try to use a 40 or 50 weight and non detergent if available. Motor oil smokes a lot. Two stroke oils run the gamut, and some have very low viscosity which means an early end to iron and steel engines, read the specs. For castor, I like Maxima Castor 927 available from motorcycle shops, any shop with a Parts Unlimited account can get it for you if you ask nice. It is fairly expensive, but runs extremely clean.

Lastly ignition improver is not required, but it will make the engine run smoother. Only 1-2% is common. The easiest to find product is Amsoil's ACB. This is 100% octyl-nitrate and cost about 8USD per 16oz bottle, which should last a lifetime. Check the Amsoil network, I found somebody in the next town that had it.

I pour things into one container while weighing. This makes for less mess, but you have to account for specific gravity to get the correct proportions.

Aug 22, 2010, 10:21 AM
registered user
Thanks Greg for your input. You covered some stuff that I left out.

B7gwap: Thanks. So far my only diesel is the mk-17. But I'm thinking of trying an .049 converstion. Cox international has the heads for only $14.95. Diesels are a lot of fun.
Aug 22, 2010, 12:31 PM
Registered User
Broken Wings's Avatar
Can't you just buy a can of ether from a chemical supply house?

Aug 22, 2010, 01:25 PM
Dieselized User
gkamysz's Avatar
BW, did you notice the restriction? The same restriction prevents it's sale to anyone without a license to purchase it. I've never looked into the details however. Besides, the cost is usually excessive.

Aug 22, 2010, 02:35 PM
Registered User
Broken Wings's Avatar
Yea, it just says you can't buy it on-line.

Due to product restrictions, we cannot sell this product online. Please call customer service at 1-800-766-7000 or send an email to CS.WebEmail@thermofisher.com for assistance.

I guess you can buy a 1 liter or 4 liter container or more... It's got to be easier than draining JD spray cans.

I'm thinking about converting one of my big glow engines to diesel as I never run a diesel and figured it would be a good learning experience.
Aug 22, 2010, 03:58 PM
Dieselized User
gkamysz's Avatar
If you can find a place, any place, in the good old USA that will sell ether to the general public, you'll be a lucky man.

Seriously, there are illicit uses for the stuff and it's tightly controlled. We wouldn't be having this discussion if you could get it that easily. The sources would have been posted right in the first post.

Aug 22, 2010, 04:06 PM
Registered User
Broken Wings's Avatar


I'm not sure it's the right kind....
Aug 22, 2010, 04:36 PM
registered user
30 mL. That won't last very long.

IMHO starting fluid is the best way to go.

Now if you don't want to mess with spray cans, oil, kerosene and what not, you could always order a gallon directly from Davis or from Tower Hobbies.


29.95 isn't really that bad considering it will last longer than a gallon of glow fuel. But then there's the shipping fees...

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