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A little history about antique tractor fuels

Many of our customers that are new to restoration ask us about what “Distillate” means and why some tractors have “Starting tanks”. Here’s the short answer. Before chemists discovered how to crack the hydrocarbons in gasoline, the octane rating was much lower and inconsistent in comparison to today. Therefore, many internal combustion engines were fueled by alternative fuels. Farm tractors were often fueled by distillate fuel. These engines started on gasoline and switched over to and run on distillate after warming up. Nowadays, most of our customers simply use gasoline. Some still use the starting tanks, but others bypass the starting tank on the tractor.
Many of our customers that are new to restoration ask us about what “Distillate” means and why some tractors have “Starting tanks”. Here’s the short answer. Before chemists discovered how to crack the hydrocarbons in gasoline, the octane rating was much lower and inconsistent in comparison to today. Therefore, many internal combustion engines were fueled by alternative fuels. Farm tractors were often fueled by distillate fuel. These engines started on gasoline and switched over to and run on distillate after warming up. Nowadays, most of our customers simply use gasoline. Some still use the starting tanks, but others bypass the starting tank on the tractor.