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Cooking Products for Your Engine?

On Thanksgiving we attended a cruiser get-together out at Punta Mita, Mexico, where for some reason the conversation turned to engines and engine hours. Jake and Sharon Howard of the Seattle-based Hunter 45 Jake, who have spent the last six summers in the Sea of Cortez and the last six winters cruising mainland Mexico, reported they have 12,000 hours on their diesel. That’s a lot.

That careened off into a conversation between Wayne Hendryx of the Hughes 45 Capricorn Cat and ourselves over things that can be done to extend the life of a diesel and to improve engine performance. Three obvious ways to extend the life of a diesel are to run it regularly, change the oil frequently, and give it time to warm up before use and cool off after a long run. But then Hendryx said he also likes to use vinegar and molasses on his Volvo diesels — 4,000 hours on each.

Get out of here! Vinegar and molasses?

Hendryx says he pours a couple of gallons of vinegar into a tub, sticks the engine raw water intake into the tub, turns the engine over a few times until the raw water system is full of vinegar, then lets the vinegar sit inside the engine for 48 hours.

"I learned this trick from an old diesel mechanic who had a shop at Svendsens in Alameda," Hendryx told us. "He told me if I left the vinegar in for 24 hours, it would clean out all the salt crystals that form and turn water route curves into corners, restricting the flow of cooling water. I tried it twice and didn’t notice any difference, so I decided what the hell, I’d leave the vinegar in for 48 hours. And that did the trick. I swear my boat goes almost a knot faster at full speed now."

We guess we believe that.

"Do your engine belts ever squeak?" he asked us. "The solution is to coat the pulley with a little molasses. It keeps the belt from slipping."

"What are you going to tell us next, that you use toilet paper as oil filters?" we asked with skepticism.

"As a matter of fact, I do use rolls of toilet paper as oil filters," Wayne responded.

Our question for you is whether you believe Hendryx. If you do believe him, just remember where the vinegar goes and where the molasses goes, because you don’t want to have vinegar on your pulley and molasses in your raw water coolant system.

When you’re done maintaining your engine, you can whip up a killer barbecue sauce.

© 2013 Webb Logg

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