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Re: 1940's fuels
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Tetraethyllead (common name tetraethyl lead), abbreviated TEL, was commonly used to increase octane rating in automobile gasoline (still used in some applications). It was added beginning in the 1920s as an inexpensive octane booster that allowed engine compression to be raised substantially, which in turn increased vehicle performance and/or fuel economy. TEL was phased out starting in the US in the mid-1970s because of its neurotoxicity.
Tetraethyl lead can work as a buffer against microwelds forming between hot exhaust valves and their seats. Once these valves reopen, the microwelds can pull apart and leave the valves with a rough surface that could abrade seats, leading to valve recession after long intervals. When lead began to be phased out of motor fuel, the automotive industry began specifying hardened valve seats and upgraded exhaust valve materials to prevent valve recession without lead.
There really was never a problem with the fuel; rather the "valve" concerns were related to the materials used in the valves and/or seats.
I'd think that just about any modern available automobile gasoline is arguably a far superior product than what was available, for example, back in the first half of the last century. We've been without lead now for, what, 40 years and seem to have managed to get by. For at least a decade (around where I live in Colorado) ethanol has been a component of gasoline sold.
I don't believe that for use in a relatively low compression and low speed tractor engine, there would be any measurable difference in performance or longevity that could be attributed to presence or absence of lead or ethanol in the fuel.
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