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DIY Smoke Machine for Vacuum Leaks


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#1 wstefan20

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 02:52 AM

I'll start by being the first to admit, this is not my idea although I may have put my personal touch on a few items. I mainly just want to share this build and hopefully help someone out along the way. If anyone is curious, just google the subject and you'll find my sources in the first few links and videos.    I've been chasing a vacuum leak for weeks and no luck with water, carb cleaner, or propane (it was a small leak). Took me maybe half a minute to find the leak after hooking it up!   I found everything local from either harbor freight, lowes, and grocery store, other than the nichrome wire. You might find a local supplier for the wire at an e-cig shop, but it's like $5 with free shipping on ebay so I really don't see the point. Over all, I think I spent around $30, although you can certainly spend less if you already have some of the materials. The regulator was the biggest cost for me. Here's a short list of what you'll need:   - 1 gallon empty paint can (seriously, don't use one that's been used before, I'm not responsible for anyone dying of toxic fumes). It was around $4 at lowes. - mineral oil (fuel for creating smoke. There's other stuff you can use, but this worked fine for me, and it doesn't stink to high heaven) - air compressor (you'll use this to supply the air pressure) - 3/8" or other diameter tubing of your choosing - 3/8" barb to 1/4" npt fitting - 1/4" npt couplers (used these as nuts) - 1/4" npt regulator (some have used propane regulator. I used an actual valve cause it looked better, but the psi is too low to register so it's really not necessary) - 1/4" quick connect fitting - assorted grommets (for sealing around threads) - assorted drill bits - set of small machine screws, washers, and nuts - battery clamps - ring terminals - tiki wick replacements - 20Ga nichrome or kanthal wire cut and measure to 2 Ohms resistance (more will create too much smoke) - wire (at least 20Ga)   You don't need to, but i soldered the wire onto both the ring terminals, and the battery clamps, and the same for the ring terminals and the nichrome.    I installed a ball valve to help regulate the smoke, but quickly found it it wasn't necessary. Probably the best way is to have a switch on one of the terminals to turn the heating element on and off, but I found it wasn't necessary since it worked so quickly. 20180118_233132.jpg I took two wicks and dipped downward into the mineral oil, and half of a third and used it to thicken the bundle 20180118_223950.jpg Used a combo of washers and nuts to clamp everything together and seal. This is where I'm bringing the current to the heating element. 20180118_224007.jpg This is the regulator hookup to air intake. Works well, though the gague is pointless since the flow is so low. 20180118_224017.jpg


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#2 55trucker

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 02:58 AM

hmmmmm.......do it yourself smoke machine.....I guess I come from a different era,

 

 

this is MY idea of a *smoke machine*

 

enjoy

 

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#3 Imp558

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 03:07 AM

I once knew a guy we called "Rob Kabob" he was totally baked and in essence was a smoke machine all by himself. When he wasn't producing smoke he was doing stuff like huffing butane.

 

I'm pretty sure Rob Kabob is dead now.


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#4 vipmiller803

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 09:41 PM

I wanted to test a moderate evap leak on the truck when I got it. I saw people on youtube who did something like what you have . I wanted something that was a little more handheld and mobile. I settled on using an e-cigarette vape combined with a battery powered fish tank aerator pump. Everything got power through a dc adapter, I want to say 5 volts. Both the pump and the vape are a little overdriven at the voltage, but they have lived through ~5 min of constant run time. I have burned baby oil in it and it does work. Sadly, that SES light in the truck is still there. I found countless leaks from dry rubber, but apparently not all. Or maybe the sensor is bad.


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#5 Imp558

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 10:03 PM

Do you have any pictures of it workig? Miller I'd be curious to see what kind of plume yours generated too if you have pics.

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#6 wstefan20

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 11:44 PM

Miller, that sounds like a fun project! Someone over at gpf said they used a cigarette lighter dc plug tire pump without the regulator and it was more mobile. Only reason I like the paint can is that it uses more current and is a higher resistance than an e-cig, so it will produce a lot more smoke, and the pump will output more to catch really small leaks, but I like the portability!

#7 Imp558

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 11:46 PM

I'm thinking about recycling an electric smog pump
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#8 wstefan20

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 02:05 AM

I'm thinking about recycling an electric smog pump

That's a novel idea!

#9 Imp558

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 02:14 AM

That's a novel idea!

 

I use an F-Body one to inflate air mattresses and inflatable kayaks and they move a lot of air.

 

I'm thinking a PVC smoke chamber and pump may fit nicely into a tool box and leave enough room inside to roll up the hoses and power wires with Alligator clips to clip onto a power stud and ground.


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"If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough"  - Mario Andretti

 

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Her Stuff: 1996 SSEi - 2001 Monte Carlo SS


#10 wstefan20

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 02:16 AM

I use an F-Body one to inflate air mattresses and inflatable kayaks and they move a lot of air. I'm thinking a PVC smoke chamber and pump may fit nicely into a tool box and leave enough room inside to roll up the hoses and power wires with Alligator clips to clip onto a power stud and ground.

I wouldn't do pcv personally. That stuff gives off terrible toxic fumes when it burns, and it will get hot. But yeah, you could definitely make a more portable container that is made out of metal or something. I almost got a quart sized paint can instead of the gallon.
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#11 Imp558

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 02:21 AM

What's this? some kind of filter?

 

Attached File  20180118_233132.jpg   100.13KB   4 downloads


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Her Stuff: 1996 SSEi - 2001 Monte Carlo SS


#12 Imp558

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 02:27 AM

I wouldn't do pcv personally. That stuff gives off terrible toxic fumes when it burns, and it will get hot. But yeah, you could definitely make a more portable container that is made out of metal or something. I almost got a quart sized paint can instead of the gallon.

 

So the can gets warm?


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"If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough"  - Mario Andretti

 

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Her Stuff: 1996 SSEi - 2001 Monte Carlo SS


#13 wstefan20

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 02:45 AM

So the can gets warm?

Quite warm. Might just be the resistance I used. If you go lower the resistance, the less it'll smoke and heat up. Oh, and that's actually a ball valve. Ended up not being useful since you can't put too much back pressure on the can. Best to just use the regulator knob.

#14 Imp558

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 03:01 AM

I'm not ready to build yet but maybe I'll use an ammo can I have here to hold the pump and smoke chamber and just use a quart can for a smoke chamber.

 

Then I can still store the wires and hose inside the Ammo box.


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Her Stuff: 1996 SSEi - 2001 Monte Carlo SS


#15 vipmiller803

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 04:38 AM

Yea output volume is obviously a concern. I think the air volume is actually my limiting factor. The smoke is very dense.

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#16 Imp558

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 04:47 AM

That's pretty cool.

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Her Stuff: 1996 SSEi - 2001 Monte Carlo SS


#17 wstefan20

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 04:02 PM

Nice! It should work just fine for most major leaks. Definitely more portable than an air compressor and a 1 gallon paint can!  :mrgreen:



#18 Galaxie500XL

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 04:42 PM

I wouldn't do pcv personally. That stuff gives off terrible toxic fumes when it burns, and it will get hot. But yeah, you could definitely make a more portable container that is made out of metal or something. I almost got a quart sized paint can instead of the gallon.

You could maybe use a bong...it's designed to handle large volumes of smoke...

 

But that's probably a terrible idea. 


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#19 wstefan20

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 04:50 PM

You could maybe use a bong...it's designed to handle large volumes of smoke...   But that's probably a terrible idea.

 

Depends on what you use if for....  :mrgreen:



#20 Imp558

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 10:19 PM

Just watched a video where some cat made one with a quart sized can and it smoked pretty good. I was thinking maybe a windshield washer pump (universal) would move one PSI of air or so and be small enough to make that a very portable smoker.

 

Edit: Wait it's 1 PSI? Maybe a 12V computer fan glued to a funnel, that's like nothing. There are small pumps 2/ $8 on Amazon that do 350 mmHG which is 6.76 PSI.


Edited by Imp558, 23 January 2018 - 10:30 PM.

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"If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough"  - Mario Andretti

 

1996 Buick Regal L67/4T65E-HD swapped - 1995 Buick Regal GS - 1980 Dodge Sno-Commander - 1968 Empi Imp on '67 Pan - 2001 Chevrolet Express 3500

 

Her Stuff: 1996 SSEi - 2001 Monte Carlo SS





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