Join the Car Talk Community!

Backwards Engine Enigma

The Puzzler


TOM: Cleveland.

RAY: Where is Cleveland?

TOM: Cleveland is on the Ohio River.

RAY: No. How about Lake Erie?

TOM: The Mississippi River? Yeah, well I was thinking about boats.

RAY: Well you were --

TOM: I knew Cleveland was near water.

RAY: Then if you were thinking about boats and you had two inboard engines, you would want one of them to go one way and --

TOM: One to go one way and one go the other.

RAY: -- one to go the other way. Otherwise, the boat would just go around in circles all the time. You want the props to wash in opposite directions.

TOM: So that would really make it go nice and straight ahead.

RAY: I would think so. I don't really know, but that's what they do, and I'm taking --

TOM: Do they do that now?

RAY: How do I know? I don't even own a boat. The rumors are all false. I do not own a boat. I have never made a boat payment in my life, so I wouldn't know.

TOM: Buy, why would it matter? I don't, I don't like it.

RAY: It could be bogus. I'm just going on blind faith --

TOM: Blind faith.

RAY: -- and it seemed intuitively obvious that you would want the props to go in opposite directions. For symmetrical reasons --

TOM: If nothing else, but I don't think it's necessary.

RAY: I don't either. I think it's bogus.

TOM: I don't think it's necessary.

RAY: Hey. Who's the one who submitted this? Mike Lydon. He's the one who is going to take the heat.

TOM: Yeah. Ask him.

RAY: In fact, we'll give you his email address if it turns out to be bogus. You can send the nasty emails to him. I fell for it.

TOM: By the way, it ain't easy to get it to turn backwards.

RAY: Well, no. It isn't. That will be next week's puzzler.

TOM: Yeah. And since there, and here is why I think it's bogus. Since there are lots of boats that have two engines, it seems unlikely to me that some of them are running backwards --

RAY: Like half of them.

TOM: Like half of them, because it's not easy to do.

RAY: And if you had one engine, how would you get that to run backwards and forwards at the same time? Figure that out.

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: Do we have a winner? Did someone send an answer in?

TOM: No.

RAY: I didn't think so.

TOM: Why would we have a winner for a bogus puzzler? Yeah, we got a winner. The winner is John Wyant, from Carrolton, Ohio. Carrolton, Ohio. Right up the road from Cleveland.

[ Car Talk Puzzler ]

Support for Car Talk is provided by:

Donate Your Car,
Support Your NPR Station

...and get a tax break!

Get Started

Find a Mechanic


Go



Submit