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Torn From the Pages of "Ripley's Believe It or Not"

Jan 4, 2006
3,029
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
This is truly one of the most unbelievable things I have come across in engine maintenance and I wouldn't have believed it, if I hadn't seen it myself. Even at that, I'm doubtful.

Ripley's.JPG


Several months ago, I pulled the mixing elbow figuring it had three years on it (about 300 hrs) and it was time for cleaning once again. Sure enough, it was showing a good sized accumulation of carbon in the gas passage and some corrosion in the water passage. I had my usual selection of hammers, chisels, and explosives, lined up ready for the inevitable hassle of cleaning the gas passage. I usually let the elbow soak in water and detergent for a few hours to cut down on the flying carbon clumps as it makes a hell of a mess where it lands in the workshop. Not so good for finishing woodwork.

For reasons which I won't bore you with, the elbow wound up sitting in the bucket of water, with the 1/3 cup of dish washing detergent, completely submerged, for nine weeks. When I finally got around to removing the elbow, the bucket had about 1/2" of black mud in the bottom. The exterior of the elbow still looked good with no corrosion from the water and it still had the usual coat of aluminum paint which I apply after each cleaning session.

Mixing Elbow Assembled.JPG



Once I started to scrape away at the carbon, it came out as a heavy gum. None of the usual hammering and swearing (which I always find helpful) required. It went so well, with the carbon deposits sufficiently softened, I was able to scrape out the majority of the carbon using a small, rounded, blade screw driver. A walk in the park compared to the usual battle.

Battle B.JPG


From previous experience, I would say the most important ingredient here was TIME which softened the carbon deposits, all nine weeks of it. If this little bit of softening process worked, next time I'll make it a whole lot more aggressive using oven cleaner and warm the solution rather than the leave it at the cool temperatures it saw sitting in the workshop. No worry about using oven cleaner as it's basic and won't hurt the cast iron.

And there you have it, "Believe It or Don't.
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,214
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Have you considered buying a second one so each will have time to soak without affecting your ability to use your boat?

Nine weeks would drive me bonkers (further bonkers since my family says I already am, bonkers, that is:)).
 
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Aug 3, 2012
2,542
Performance Cruising Telstar 28 302 Watkins Glen
I doubt he is missing a lot of sailing in Vancouver's 39 degree January weather, or 41 degree November or February weather.
 
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Apr 11, 2012
324
Cataina 400 MK II Santa Cruz
Stu's still thinking like a San Francisco boy. (He used to be a Salty Seaman, is he now a Salish Sea Seaman??).
 

JRacer

.
Aug 9, 2011
1,124
Beneteau 310 Cheney KS (Wichita)
Can of Carburetor cleaner, perhaps? Wont do the paint any good but should eat up the carbon in a relatively short period of time.
 
Jan 4, 2006
3,029
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
without affecting your ability to use your boat?
Have you not noticed the change in temperature up here ? This is not California any more. We hunker down about late October and don't appear again until April. Then we wait for those two days when it's not raining when we can call the B.C coast the most beautiful place on earth. And that's about it for the year :sosad:.

100_0306.JPG

This is Port Graves (Gambier Island) in our backyard, sometime in October. On a good day.
 
Last edited:
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Jan 4, 2006
3,029
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
Can of Carburetor cleaner, perhaps?
Also tried that along with every other organic solvent I could get my hands on. However, I'll bet if the mixing elbow were filled with carburetor cleaner or other strong solvents, time may remove the carbon deposits. I don't think dish washing detergent is the strongest solvent going but it certainly did a fair job after nine weeks.
 

JRacer

.
Aug 9, 2011
1,124
Beneteau 310 Cheney KS (Wichita)
Also tried that along with every other organic solvent I could get my hands on. However, I'll bet if the mixing elbow were filled with carburetor cleaner or other strong solvents, time may remove the carbon deposits. I don't think dish washing detergent is the strongest solvent going but it certainly did a fair job after nine weeks.
I'm thinking of the large gallon cans of carb cleaner that are intended to allow you to immerse the entire carb to let it soak. Like this:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/17491945?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227017563401&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=40838859392&wl4=aud-273067695102:pla-78652565912&wl5=9024257&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=17491945&wl13=&veh=sem

A couple gallons of that in a container that won't dissolve would cover the fitting entirely. This stuff is nasty!! But, will clean about anything.

And, love that photo, God's Country!
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,214
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Stu's still thinking like a San Francisco boy. (He used to be a Salty Seaman, is he now a Salish Sea Seaman??).
Nope, Scotty, just bonkers! :)

Have you not noticed the change in temperature up here ? This is not California any more.
So noted, Ralph. But, but, but...Wallace Island on November 30th:


IMG_20161130_151553 (Medium).jpg
IMG_20161130_161725 (Medium).jpg


Not all doom & gloom. :) Although everyone I know has accused ME of bringing these historically low temperatures and snow. It's all my fault. I have been out four times since we got here in mid-September. That's about as many times as I got out in four weeks (!) back in California.

But, I ain't in California anymore. :)

And I have to remind Ralph that he is on the mainland, whilst those of us on the island have weather much more like Cornwall than London! :)
 
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Jan 4, 2006
3,029
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
A couple gallons of that in a container that won't dissolve would cover the fitting entirely. This stuff is nasty!! But, will clean about anything.
It would probably work as well or even better given enough time. As previously mentioned, I was surprised that even dish washing detergent could remove the carbon given enough time. I had previously thought that NOTHING could remove the deposits as you couldn't tell where the deposit ended and the cast iron began. It's just a case of what removes it best (at a reasonable cost with the least effort) after sitting for a few months soaking.
 
Oct 24, 2010
2,257
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
Dogonit Stu. You are going to force me to buy more charts, aren't you?
I hope you guys enjoyed your winter meet up.
Ken
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,214
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
I hope you guys enjoyed your winter meet up.
Ken, it's a work in progress. :) They're on their way to Anacortes today!!! 30 knots plus gusts, nasty out there. I'm leaving tomorrow to meet them in Roche Harbor, supposed to calm down a lot tomorrow, 7 knot easterlies.
 
Oct 6, 2007
743
Hunter H30c 1982 Chicago IL
I love this thread. He’s telling us a success story and folks are suggesting he should have done it differently!
Kermit,
Exactly! He has identified a low cost, reduced effort way to do this nasty chore. No doubt works better for us northern sailors who have all winter on the hard to let it soak.
Ron,
I would choose Lemon Joy. I like it when my Yanmar smells all lemony fresh.
 
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Oct 22, 2014
12,836
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Is it one of Mama's pans with the secret family sauce recipe?
We have ways up here to discover the secrets.
 
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