Using simple, standardized hardware, a MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader came up with a water injection system that improved the fuel economy of his car.
Ron Novak (right) explains the subtleties of his water injection system.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
You can improve your car engine's starting ability, pickup, and fuel economy by constructing a homemade water injection system ... for a total cost of under five dollars! And you'll spend that small amount of money (heck, it takes more cash than that to buy one tank of gas nowadays!) entirely on parts, because all the information you'll need to "inject" your own auto is right here in this article!
MOTHER EARTH NEWS' staffers have installed and tested one of the "engine aids" (and, by jeepers, the thing works!), but we can't take the credit for inventing the build-it-yourself device. Nope, all the know-how for this half-hour (or less) shop project comes from a very generous—and clever—visitor to this magazine's seminars: Mr. Ron Novak.
Ron openly shared his under-the-hood "secret" during the July MOTHER EARTH NEWS Week with everyone who was interested. (And once the word of his brainstorm got out, the inventive fellow spent as much of his visit teaching as he did studying!)
Actually, Mr. Novak made two improvements to his 1978 Honda CVCC station wagon before he started the long trek from his upstate New York home to our western North Carolina land. The traveling seminarian's major modification was to install a homemade water injection system that feeds a 4:1 H20/alcohol mist into his vehicle's carburetor, but he also added a drag-reducing "air dam" under the Honda's front bumper to further improve his car's gas mileage. [EDITOR'S NOTE: MOTHER EARTH NEWS' ever busy researchers are hoping to report in the future on this second (the "fender extender') idea.]
Ron got the notion for his water injector from some automotive magazine advertisements that offered a $50 fuel-saving device. The canny Nor'-easterner carefully read the literature about the expensive accessory and realized that the mileage extender consisted of little more than a bottle (partly filled with some "miracle" solution) that was rigged with  an underwater air intake line that bubbled air through the liquid and  a mist-grabbing outflow tube to feed the "foamed-up" vapor directly into the engine's carburetor. The wet air was reputed to help produce more efficient fuel-burning (by "atomizing" the gasoline droplets and lowering the fuel's temperature) and to improve the power plant's overall performance and life span (by cleaning out the engine's carbon buildup).
Novak figured that he could make a similar fuel-saver himself if he could solve one problem: what "gadget" could he put on his underwater air tube to produce those myriad tiny air bubbles? Well, the tinkerer tried just about every device he could think of (including the pinched end of a cigarette holder), but—in spite of his efforts—the bubbler had him stumped. For lack of one simple piece, Ron couldn't get the whole dang system to work!
Then one day, while the New Yorker was running an errand in a pet shop, he noticed a small aquarium "air stone" that was (what else?) busily breaking an incoming oxygen supply into tiny little bubbles to mix air into the fish tank's water. Ron bought one of the low-cost objects, attached it to his homemade injector's underwater tubing, and—eureka!—he was in business!
The entire installation procedure was easy, inexpensive, and legal (Ron didn't fiddle with his car's EPA emissions devices). And Novak's "new" water-injected Honda ran better—and further on one tank of gas—than it ever had in its life!
Since that first attempt, Ron has installed his "bubbling bottles" on all sorts of vehicles, from a BMW R60/2 motorcycle to a 1973 Opel GT to a 1968 Cadillac. In each case, gas mileage improved dramatically! So, folks, there "ain't no reason" why you can't get better performance and gas mileage by building your own water injector no matter what form of gasoline-engined transportation you're driving! All you have to do is head off to the nearest pet store for your "auto parts" and read the following instructions.
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