Here we will teach you how
to make your own custom blends of Nitro-Methane fuel for your 2-cycle
radio control car, truck, buggy, airplane, helicopter, boat, anything nitro powered!
the frustrating problems of engine overheating and either being
permanently damaged or flaming out is something that many people who run
nitro engines will experience at one time or another. Understanding
the reasons for these problems is the first step in solving them.
The relationship of
fuel, it's lubricant additives and your engine is a delicate one that is
often either overlooked or avoided due to its seemingly daunting
complexity. This general misconception about its complexity or its
lack of importance is critical to overcome in order to successfully bridge
the gap between the casual back-yard basher and the serious hard-core
This is not to say
that the casual user won't benefit from this knowledge, and in fact, many
such users will find the concept of mixing their own fuels and gaining an
understanding of how it impacts their engines a fascinating venture.
Fuel & Lubricant Primer
Nitro Engine Basics
Nitro engines run on a highly combustible mixture of methanol, nitro methane (CH3NO2)
and castor or synthetic oil. Rather than using spark plugs, such as in typical
4-cycle engines, these engines use a method of combustion similar to diesel engines
(granted diesels are generally 4-stroke).
Using electrical current and a glow plug, a hot spot is created in
the combustion chamber. This, in addition to the compression of the moving
creates the combustion cycle. Within seconds, the combustion chamber and glow plug
become extremely hot and maintain subsequent combustion without the need for the
electrical "jump start". This is what is often referred to as
"dieseling". The only thing that breaks this cycle is either lack of
oxygen or fuel (or an un-timely death of the engine).
Fuels are rated by their nitro-methane content, typically 10-40%. The
higher the nitro-methane, the more power to the engine. Typically in 1/10 scale cars
(with .12 engines), 10-20% is plenty sufficient. More than that on these smaller
scale cars will go wasted, since the engines to not efficiently convert use the
extra-potent fuel and the hookup (traction) is usually marginal, at best. They
heavier 1/8 scale and larger cars can see significant increases in usable power by using
these higher (30% and higher) nitro-methane ratings. Often engine
temperatures are actually improved (lower) with higher nitro-methane
contents because a richer setting can be achieved without adversely
affecting throttle response. This is an important consideration when
deciding on your blend of fuel.
These engines do not use any auxiliary method of lubrication. Instead, they
use the same method of lubrication found in most other 2-cycle engines. Because of
the physics of 2-cycle engines, the fuel passes both sides of the piston, including the
crankcase. This allows a convenient method of lubrication. By actually
combining the lubricants with the fuel, you can continually coat all the moving parts of
the engine as the fuel makes its way to the combustion chamber. Whatever
lubricants are not absorbed by the metal they come in contact with are either burned in
the combustion chamber or are discharged through the exhaust port. This is why
you will often see these broken down oils seeping from the mufflers or tuned pipes.
It is just the normal process of cycling through the lubricants.
Most nitro-engine manufacturers recommend using a special
"break-in" fuel which contain a higher percentage of lubricants for the first
few dozen tanks or so. This is to insure that the engine has plenty of lubrication
in order to properly break in and maintain a good seal in the combustion chamber.
This is also why we encourage users to tune their engines slightly
rich (see Engine Tuning & Maintenance) so that there is a sufficient supply of these
lubricants to the engine. Although running your engine lean may increase
performance (temporarily anyways), it will be short lived if the engine doesn't have
enough lubricant to maintain proper engine temperatures.
Oil content is one
of the largest factors in engine temperature and generally speaking, the
higher the oil percentage, the lower the engine temperature. Finding
that perfect blend is a matter of trial and error, because the more oil
you put in your fuel, the less percentage there is of other
This one is an important one, because we want you to understand that any
modifications you make to the fuel that runs your engine can have
serious side affects. If you are not confident in mixing your own
fuels (for whatever reason, whether it be personal and property safety or
engine longevity issues) please do not attempt to mix your own fuels.
Nitro-Methane fuels are extremely flammable and caustic. If you are
under 16 years old, you should only do so with parental supervision.
I'm not kidding about this one, fuel is not a toy! Respect it and
you'll get along fine, abuse it and you'll eventually pay the price.
We at NitroRC.com cannot make specific recommendations for fuel blends nor
do we or any of the authors take any responsibility for any damage to you or
your equipment. This information is to be accepted as a
"As-Is". For more information about our disclaimer,
A few things to
keep in mind when making your custom fuel recipe:
- Most engines are
designed to run on 14-20% oil content. This variation is
dependant on engine and application, but most sport users should not
go below 16% because of increased engine wear and temperature which
will shorten the life of the engine. Above all, your oil content
should be sufficient to maintain a 200-215 degree temperature
- Colder climates
can handle lower nitro percentages better than higher nitro contents.
nitro-methane percentages yield more power
- Adding any
component to fuel will automatically decrease the percentage of other
components already in fuel. If you have 10 ounces of Substance A
and 10 ounces of Substance B in a glass, for example, you have a 50/50
mixture. Let's say you then go and add 10 more ounces of
Substance B. You've increased you percentage of Substance B,
right? Well, yes, but you've also decreased your percentage of
Substance A. You still only have 10 ounces of Substance A, but
you have a total of 30 ounces of mixture, and only 1/3 of it is now
Substance A. You've decreased Substance A's percentage from 50%
to 33% and increased Substance B's from 50% to 66%. Sound
complicated? Well, not really, that's why we're here to
calculate this for you.
To begin mixing your own fuel, begin by choosing whether to blend your own
fuel with both nitro-methane and caster/synthetic oil, or just the oil by
itself. Adding oil to your fuel will slightly decrease your
nitro-methane percentage content. If you want to retain the same
nitro percentage after adding oil, you will have to purchase at your local
race fuel supplier.
If you can live
with a percentage or two drop on the nitro content, then you can just
add oil and not worry about having to purchase other fuel components to
reach your "perfect" fuel blend. In this case, you can
just click on "Add Oil Only" below and the drop in percentage
for nitro content will be calculated for you.
On the other hand,
if you're going to the trouble of purchasing nitro methane (or just happen
to have some lying around), then you might as well go for broke and
generate a recipe for both oil and nitro by clicking on the "Add
Nitro & Oil" button below.