Jim Dunne and Charles Bishop plan the test sequence, with the various gadgets laid out on the test vehicle’s hood.
Glowing claims and persuasive arguments tempt new buyers of add-on devices every year. Here is our latest on-the-car use report.
Does your mailbox now and then contain letters promising to cut your gasoline costs to as little as one cent a mile if you'll only send the writer a small check and fit his invention on your car? Or do you receive intriguing leaflets boosting products that claim to make your cylinders into miniature gas refineries and triple spark-plug life? Perhaps you have even been tempted to order and install one of these "miracle workers." If so, good luck. If not, we have done it for you.
Here is a report on a series of uniform tests by the PS car-testing team of eight "gas-saving" gadgets. It was run under strictly controlled conditions, though we cannot pretend to the same precision as in laboratory tests. Our test technician, Charles Bishop, runs the repair shop for B. J. Corrigan's Gulf station at Bridge-hampton, N. Y. He installed the gadgets on our test car, a '68 Olds Cutlass S with a 310-horsepower, 350-cubic-inch V-8, four-speed manual transmission, 3.23:1 final drive ratio, and F70-14 tires. The engine was properly tuned and timed, and we never altered the settings.
How we tested. We used the Bridge-hampton race circuit, where we established a test cycle by letting Norbye drive around the track at normal speed (while Dunne made notes), running at 60 m.p.h. on the straights and slowing to 45 on the turns, except for one turn at 30. On the back straight, we made a full stop and let the engine idle for 10 seconds. To eliminate any possibility of partiality toward any gadget, which might show up in the driving, Norbye did not know which one Bishop had installed.
We had a one-gallon fuel container inside the car; the exact distance the gas took us was recorded on an electric odometer (driven by a fifth wheel), giving us a miles-per-gallon reading accurate to within one-thousandth of a mile. To cancel the effect of up or down gradient on the track, we braked the car to a normal stop (0.35g retardation) instead of letting it roll to a standstill when the gasoline was used up.
We also ran a 25-70-m.p.h. acceleration test (average of two runs in opposite directions) with each gadget to check its effect on engine power. Our first test was to run the car in standard form. Temperature was 51 degrees, humidity 40 percent, barometric pressure 30.9 inches, and wind velocity 1.5 m.p.h. from NE. Gas mileage: 10.755 m.p.g. From 25 to 70 m.p.h.: 8.4 seconds.
This unit is inserted in the gas line
between the fuel pump and carburetor, where it is supposed to level out
pressure waves in the fuel flow. The ads claim that it enables your engine
"to extract more raw, blazing energy and more gasoline economy." The
car ran normally in the consumption test but power flattened out at 60 in
the acceleration test, with all the symptoms of fuel starvation.
Gas mileage was 10.9 m.p.g. From 25 to 70 m.p.h.: 9.6 seconds.
Fitting the Gas-O-Miser on the intake manifold was an easy half-hour's jab, said Bishop. This was one gadget that save a slight improvement in both the performance and the economy tests.
This unit is a vacuum-control valve designed to prevent gasoline from being
sucked into the engine by a sudden drop in manifold pressure. It mounts on
the intake manifold and admits extra air whenever the throttle is suddenly
closed. The maker claims better acceleration, better winter starting, reduced
oil consumption and engine wear, plus up to 25-percent savings on gas.
Gas mileage: 10.887 m.p.g. From 25 to 70 m.p.h.: 8.3 seconds.
Octa-Gane installation took twice as long as any of the other test installations, and called for drilling and tapping one hole in carburetor body. The tank contains a 50/50 mixture of water and alcohol, which is injected into the carburetor throat according to manifold vacuum (engine load).
The Octa-Gane kit includes a separate tank for under-hood installation, containing
a 50/50 mixture of water and alcohol. An injector operating on manifold pressure
allows the water/alcohol mix to enter the carburetor throat below the throttle
valve. This is claimed to stop pre-ignition, get high-octane performance from
low-octane gas, cool the engine internally, and improve fuel economy.
Gas mileage: 10.65 m.p.g. From 25 to 70 m.p.h.: 8.7 seconds.
This unit is a fuel-pressure regulator with a diaphragm designed to maintain a
steady four-p.s.i. delivery pressure in the fuel line into the carburetor
(against eight p.s.i. standard) - It has the added feature of an over-ride
on full throttle, so that pressure can rise to a full eight p.s.i. for
acceleration. The maker claims improved fuel economy, prevention of flooding,
stalling, and hard starting.
Gas mileage: 10.19 m.p.g. From 25 to 70 m.p.h.: 8.0 seconds.
The Fire Injector is really nothing but a spark plug with six surface gaps. The
maker claims improved fuel economy, gains in horsepower.
Gas mileage: 10.6 m.p.g. From 25 to 70 m.p.h.: 8.55 seconds.
Three more gadgets remained to be tested at the end of the first day. We
resumed operations the following morning, when temperature was 55 degrees, humidity
48 percent, barometric pressure 31 inches, and wind velocity 0.5
m.p.h. NW. Accordingly, we ran a new base-line test with the car before adding
Gas mileage: 12.288 m.p.g. From 25-70 m.p.h.: 8.4 seconds.
This unit replaces the rotor in the standard distributor. In addition to firing
the right plug, it is supposed to "supercharge the gas-air mixture" by breaking
up the gasoline molecules and speeding ignition.
Gas mileage: 11.44 m.p.g. From 25 to 70 m.p.h.: 8.25 seconds.
The air-flow needle is designed to bleed extra air into the carburetor throat
under high-vacuum conditions. Maker's claims include better idling, reduced
carbon deposits, faster acceleration, reduced oil dilution.
Gas mileage: 11.87 m.p.g. From 25 to 70 m.p.h.: 7.9 seconds.
This unit is a fuel-line pressure-control device, restricting delivery to
three p.s.i. The makers "absolutely guarantee an increase of at least 20 percent
on gas mileage or your money back." They also say the unit prevents vapor lock,
gives smoother idling and faster starts, prevents flooding and stalling, and increases
Gas mileage: 11.784 m.p.g. From 25 to 70: 9.25 seconds.
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