$20 Smoke Machine

Published: 06th May 2008
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I built it and it works. I went down to Wal-mart and bought a little 12vdc tire pump (cost 12 dollars). The tire pump had a little stow-away compartment on the front for the hose and cord. I removed lid and discarded. I used a die grinder to remove top of tire pump body right over top compartment. I cut the hose on the pump about 1 and 1/2 in. out of pump body. I drilled a hole in top edge of side of can (metal can for tire patch glue with screw on lid). Inserted hose (tightly) and sealed with silicone. I did the same for an outlet. The rest of the hose mounts in the other side of can up high. I took a diesel glow plug (champion pn# 168 cost 8.12 w/tax) and installed in center of lid so that it points down into can. I sealed it with ac o-rings and copper drain plug washers. I mounted a crimp-eyelet between copper washers as top for a ground for glow plug. You unscrew pos. wire at top of glow plug and unplug ground wire from spade one inch away from plug, unscrew lid, re-fill, and reinstall to use.

I don't plan on using this on EVAP systems and DO NOT recommend usage of this on EVAP. This is for engine vacuum leaks only (or maybe a water leak in a trunk). I tested it with trans. fluid, it works great. I tried adding UV dye to trans. fluid hoping for UV smoke, but no success. However, MotorVac sells UV sensitive smoke oil. Matco man says $80, Napa can get it too, and they have yet to get back with a price.

Just a couple of suggestions for anyone thinking of building this:

1. Get a tire pump with a built-in pressure gauge.

2. Use a tall metallic can with a screw-on lid. Mount the glow plug in the side down at bottom. And the hoses high up in side (mine requires oil level be so high that air flow can spit a little oil out of it and when oil level gets low, mine requires a little jiggle to splash oil onto plug).

3. Install a check valve in the hose to insure nothing can flow backward up the hose to your glow plug.

4. A pressure reg. might be a nice touch, but shouldn't be required for vacuum-leak-only use since CFM is so low on one of those pumps.

5. A water trap after can in hose might be a nice touch too to stop any oil-spitting.

6. Power the glow plug off of the pump's built-in switch. It is easy to forget if glow plug is hot at all times when battery is hooked up.

This ends up being a neat little package. Also don't forget this can be used often in pinpointing engine oil leaks too and exhaust leaks with the right tail pipe adapter.

I have recently upgraded it to see the latest details check out my website.

Find other automotive articles, advice and technical tips that will make your life easier at www.justautoparts.ca . You can go directly to the list of Articles at http://justautoparts.googlepages.com .


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