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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 03-25-2011, 09:55 PM   #61
grtpumpkin
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Matrix733
Just curious. I don't see the glow plug in the picture. All I see on the top of your can is a big hole plug. Do you have more pictures?
I'm in the process of building one of these and have yet to find a steel or aluminum can. I have an old broken portable compressor that I'm contemplating on using the tank from. Does the glow plug need to go in the bottom or could it possibly come in from the side? Also the glow plug threads are 10 x 1.0mm and that makes it difficult to find a bushing or nuts to thread into. If I use the compressor tank, it is thick walled enought to drill and tap so I may go that root. I just happen to have a 10 x 1.0mm tap.
Just thowing some ideas out there. I hope to have one built within the next week or two. Will see how that go's.
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Old 04-10-2011, 02:03 PM   #62
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The glow plug is in the bottom... I soldered it in...If I had a thick container...(which I plan on for my next build) I would do the tap method. I also contemplated running the glow plug from the side but it would be hard to not submerge the whole plug in liquid.
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:34 PM   #63
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I had minimal success with mine. It only lasted a few minutes as the 60G glow plug burnt out. Not sure but I think the glow plugs are not made for constant duty. My first try with the glow plug and baby oil didn't produce enough smoke. I then bought some smoke oil from a hobby shop at $6.99 for 2 oz.'s. That worked well till the glow plug died. So I cheesed out and used some damp leaves and then some ciggarettes in the paint can. Problem was keeping the ciggarettes lit. Had to keep relighting them. I will eventually try another build. I will either buy a smoke generator for a train from a hobby store or I may try to rig up a car ciggarett lighter in the paint can. Oh well. It was fun and I did find the vaccuum leak.
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Old 04-11-2011, 10:05 PM   #64
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what did you use to power the glow plug? I have ran mine several times up to 45 minutes with no burnout issues. I actually bought two but still do not need to use the spare. I did not use baby oil, I used mineral oil which is basically the same but cheaper. I guess the the AC delco 60g plug is self-limiting so it should not burn out that quick. I am just curious if too many amps got to it and that's why it burned out. I also had no issues generating a good deal of smoke within seconds of turining the unit on.
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Old 04-11-2011, 11:14 PM   #65
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I need to make one of these asap. I have not seen the carb spray method work since I had a car with a carb on it lol.
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Old 04-12-2011, 03:02 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by jbeurotech View Post
Build this smoke machine for under $30 and be able to find vaccum leaks the correct way!! Carb clean will not show most vaccum leaks, this will help you find those very small vaccum leaks!! This inert smoke will fill the intake and leak out the smallest leaks, indicating where you have an issue. This is the only way to properly find a vaccum leak!! Our profesional machines work better. However most of you DIY's do not have the money to drop on the tools that we use. But this will get you close!!
I just gotta bump this for an awesome idea!
I've got an older motorvac smoker that works great, buy I also spent 400 bucks on it
Man....wish I'd have seen this sooner
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Old 04-12-2011, 04:28 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by dsblk93gt View Post
I need to make one of these asap. I have not seen the carb spray method work since I had a car with a carb on it lol.
LOL, trust me, I searched till I was blue spraying starting fluid all over the engine. I thought I was going to catch the damn thing on fire.....this method found my leaks and I have been running with no more CEL nagging.
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Old 04-12-2011, 07:09 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by matrix733 View Post
what did you use to power the glow plug? I have ran mine several times up to 45 minutes with no burnout issues. I actually bought two but still do not need to use the spare. I did not use baby oil, I used mineral oil which is basically the same but cheaper. I guess the the AC delco 60g plug is self-limiting so it should not burn out that quick. I am just curious if too many amps got to it and that's why it burned out. I also had no issues generating a good deal of smoke within seconds of turining the unit on.
I used a 12 volt car battery. I fused the Positive lead with a 15 amp fuse as a 10 amp fuse instantly blew. The 15 amp fuse never blew out. I believe the 60G plug draws 10.5 amps. It worked well for about 10 minutes, which allowed me to find my leak. Not sure how the plug died. I just figure it's not meant for constant 12 volt duty.

I will try to rig up something better in the future. I don't like the glow plug sticking up from the bottom as you have to prop the can up on something. Mine tipped over a few times on me. Maybe it was rough handling that ruined the plug. I want to try and use an automotive cigarette lighter element on my next try. Not sure if the lighter is safe for constant duty.
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:21 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by grtpumpkin View Post
I used a 12 volt car battery. I fused the Positive lead with a 15 amp fuse as a 10 amp fuse instantly blew. The 15 amp fuse never blew out. I believe the 60G plug draws 10.5 amps. It worked well for about 10 minutes, which allowed me to find my leak. Not sure how the plug died. I just figure it's not meant for constant 12 volt duty.

I will try to rig up something better in the future. I don't like the glow plug sticking up from the bottom as you have to prop the can up on something. Mine tipped over a few times on me. Maybe it was rough handling that ruined the plug. I want to try and use an automotive cigarette lighter element on my next try. Not sure if the lighter is safe for constant duty.
Check with the truck guys, but I think it's a 10V plug or such. Do a Google search for 'continuous duty glow plug' for more info.
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Old 04-24-2011, 03:18 PM   #70
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question about smoke machine

could i use this to find a leak in the emissions tank side ??? i have a tank side code and my car smells like gas every once in a while but code is there for emission tank side leak
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:13 PM   #71
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Sweet! I will be building one of these this weekend. BUt for clarification purposes, the role of the glow plug is the heat up the oil and make smoke, correct? And if this is the case, any form of heating the oil to smoke could be used?
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:54 PM   #72
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Sweet! I will be building one of these this weekend. BUt for clarification purposes, the role of the glow plug is the heat up the oil and make smoke, correct? And if this is the case, any form of heating the oil to smoke could be used?
Yes and yes!
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Old 07-19-2011, 05:59 PM   #73
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I am loving this thread. Greatest one I have stumbled upon by far. Will save me a lot of trouble
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:35 PM   #74
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And no one has posted a DIY for this yet?
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:42 PM   #75
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And no one has posted a DIY for this yet?
I think some one should =D
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:49 PM   #76
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BUMP for a great idea that no one has DIY'd! I'm in the process of making one of these fine contraptions (yes, I plan on making a DIY) but I'm soliciting ideas on how finalize the poewr and pressure.

The contraption itself is built, it actually looks a lot like ones posted before (i.e. pvc piping, pressure regulator, etc) but I'm still trying to find a good way to power the 12v glow plug. Does the power source HAVE to be 12v with 10amps output or can be the output be much less, say 5amps?

Also, anyone know what I need in order for a bike pump (as in jbeurotech's original diagram) to fit the 3/8in female thread on the pressure regulator? I don't have an air compressor but haven't been able to find a male Schrader to 3/8in male adapter (or any sort of Schrader adapter that isn't a Presta-Schrader adapter for that matter).

The sooner I work out these issues the sooner I'll have a DIY up...and my vacuum leaks spotted and fixed.
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:21 PM   #77
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DYI Smoke Machine

I don't normally register on forums just to put up a single post...but I've been going through the web trying to build a smoke machine for diagnosing a vacuum leak for some time. I found a few useful posts on what people did and the diagram the OP posted...so I went to work.

1) parts you need:
Most everything is from harbor freight to save money:
20oz oil can: $4
compressor regulator: $5
1/4" brass coupling: $2
1/4" quick connect kit: $4
16oz of mineral oil from wally world: $2
used glow plug from my truck: free, but figure no more than $10 bucks if you have to buy new
used 12V battery: old car battery or battery backup (UPS) battery works
wires: need some alligator clips and 16ga wires to run battery to glow plug
compressor: i already have a 60gal standing compressor I used to connect to this. You can use a 10 dollar tire compressor from walmart.

total cost: $17 (if you have an old glow plug and battery) to $60



2) Disassemble the oil can, remove the pump and fittings from the lid, drill the can for oil plug and for the 1/4" NPT air fitting.






3) Attach the glow plug, it should almost touch the bottom of the can so you're not using a lot of oil. Also attach the 1/4" fitting with air regulator and quick connect on the other side. I chose to JB Weld mine in place as the can isn't made of particularly thick metal. If the glow plug dies, I'm going to have to rip it out and JB Weld a new one in place.

I also added RTV under the lid of the can as it didn't have a seal and let that cure at the same time. It unscrews and makes a decent reusable seal.




4) Let cure overnight.




5) Pour in baby oil only to cover the glow plug heating element. The more oil you add, the less smoke you'll get as the oil absorbs the heat and it takes more current to heat the glow plug.

Tighten the lid, connect the compressor and set the regulator to just move a little bit of air. 1-2psi is great.

Connect the battery to the glow plug and watch the smoke start.

WARNING: The can will get hot so carry it by the handle or use gloves or something...basically don't be stupid.



I just finished this last night and I'm still tweaking the amount of oil i use. I definitely see that less oil means more smoke, same goes for air pressure. The smallest amount of air pressure that still moves air provides the most smoke.

Plan to use it to find a vacuum leak tonight, will try and take a video.
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:30 PM   #78
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One guy just used a cigar to blow smoke in through a hose into a port somewhere. Not sure where that port is, but the upper intake boot would be another place to plug into.

That said, great DIY...finally...brings Seth's machine to life! Nice!
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:13 PM   #79
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Smoke machines are so helpful. I use them at work all the time to find vacuum leaks. As well as exhaust leaks!
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:45 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by petik View Post
I don't normally register on forums just to put up a single post...but I've been going through the web trying to build a smoke machine for diagnosing a vacuum leak for some time. I found a few useful posts on what people did and the diagram the OP posted...so I went to work.

1) parts you need:
Most everything is from harbor freight to save money:
20oz oil can: $4
compressor regulator: $5
1/4" brass coupling: $2
1/4" quick connect kit: $4
16oz of mineral oil from wally world: $2
used glow plug from my truck: free, but figure no more than $10 bucks if you have to buy new
used 12V battery: old car battery or battery backup (UPS) battery works
wires: need some alligator clips and 16ga wires to run battery to glow plug
compressor: i already have a 60gal standing compressor I used to connect to this. You can use a 10 dollar tire compressor from walmart.

total cost: $17 (if you have an old glow plug and battery) to $60
Very good idea and DYI.
Did you found the leak ?
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