DIY smoke machine

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Active Member
1st Gen Owner
V6 Engine
Oct 2, 2006
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Titusville, FL
So, found this on the net while researching ways to find vacuum leaks...

- Drill
- Drill bits

- Mason jar
- Old Bic type pen
- Old soldering iron (30 watt)
- High temp adhesive
- Old socks
- Tubing to fit the pen bits
- Mineral oil

I have tons of Mason jars lying around the house. You can use whatever you have in your recycle bin so long as it has a tight fitting, sealed lid. Mason jar lids can be easily replaced if you screw up (like I did on first attempt). Cost: $0

You gotta have an old Bic pen in your junk drawer. Found one in the pencil draw of my tool chest. Cost: $0

I have a few of these pen-type soldering irons in the garage. They are cheap and not worth buying new tips for. This one was retired years ago. Cost: $0

I used high temp grey gasket stuff. Had it lying around but you can use whatever you have so long as it can handle about 400f for a while. Cost: $0

Plenty of old socks in the rag bin. Use whatever you have that is 100% cotton. Cost: $0

I have fish tanks so tubing is not hard to come by at my house. Cost: $0

Here's where the big money comes in... The mineral oil. You can use baby oil, it is just mineral oil with fragrance. Cost $2

-Locate drill bits of the correct size to match your pen bits and soldering iron.

- Drill your holes in the lid.

- Glue the pen bits and soldering iron in and let cure overnight.
Notice the holes in the shaft of the soldering iron. Make sure that those are outside the lid, if your iron has them, or the jar won't seal and you will lose all your smoke. See the mess of rtv on the soldering iron? Had to rip it out and redo it.

- Stuff in some old socks. You need enough that the soldering iron tip gets buried in the socks but not crammed full as you need space for the smoke. The iron must make contact with the socks.

- Dump in some mineral oil and allow it to soak for a while. You don't want dry socks, that would burn.

- Attach hoses to both pen bits.

That's it, your done. Plug it in and give a minute or few.

Attach one of the hoses to a vacuum line. I used the brake boost line because it is convenient and the hose I used crammed nicely up into it and had a good seal.
Gently blow into the other hose after it has built up some smoke.

So far I have found two leaks. One was a hose that was easily replaced.
The other is the throttle body to manifold seal. That is a job for tomorrow and I will start the test again to look for more leaks.

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