How to Mix RC Fuel

Written by phillip james
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How to Mix RC Fuel
RC fuel is a simple mixture; no chemistry degree required. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Most remote-control model engines don't burn gasoline; they burn a mix of methanol, oil and nitromethane. The oil used depends on the engine application --- aircraft engines have better cooling so they generally use a higher percentage of synthetic oil, while RC cars and boats tend to use a higher castor-oil mix for better cooling and lubrication in hotter conditions. Different engines perform better on different fuel mixes, but they all use a similar recipe. You can mix your own RC fuel to get the maximum performance from your model engine.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Goggles
  • Graduated plastic jug
  • Graduated plastic or glass measuring container
  • Funnel
  • Methanol
  • Castor oil
  • Synthetic oil
  • Nitromethane

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  1. 1

    Determine the total volume of fuel you are going to mix. One litre is a good place to start. RC engine fuel (glow fuel) doesn't store very well, so there isn't much point in making large volumes of it at one time.

  2. 2

    Measure 90ml of synthetic oil and add it to your fuel jug.

  3. 3

    Measure 90ml of castor oil and add it to your fuel jug.

  4. 4

    Measure 100ml of nitromethane and add it to your fuel jug.

  5. 5

    Add methanol to your fuel jug until the total volume is one litre of fuel mix. Cap and shake to finish mixing.

Tips and warnings

  • A good basic recipe for glow fuel is 9% synthetic oil, 9% castor oil, 10% nitromethane and 72% methanol, by volume. If you are mixing for an RC car engine that runs hot, adjust the mixture to include more castor oil and less synthetic oil. When in doubt, check with the manufacturer of your specific engine to get a recommended mix.
  • Methanol absorbs water, making the fuel unusable. Store glow fuel and components tightly capped and in a dry place to prolong their life.
  • The synthetic oil used should be of the lowest viscosity you can find. Aircraft turbine oils work well. Automotive synthetic oils should be avoided. If you can't find very low-viscosity synthetics, just use straight 18% by volume castor oil in your mix.
  • Methanol and nitromethane are used by drag racers and suppliers can be located through racing shops. Castor oil is available from pharmacies, grocery stores or health-and-beauty suppliers. Low-viscosity synthetic oil (turbine or compressor oil) can be found through air-conditioning shops or aircraft-maintenance shops.
  • Methanol and nitromethane are quite flammable. Keep away from ignition sources and don't smoke while doing this work.
  • Don't drink methanol, which is poisonous and can cause blindness and death, or any of the other materials.
  • Avoid getting methanol or nitromethane on your skin; while neither of these chemicals is exceedingly hazardous, they can cause health problems if not handled carefully.

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