The Glowing Converter

Dec 08, 2021

It's time to boggle the mind with a new puzzler.

This can apply to a lot of different cars. And this is an automotive puzzler.

A fellow community do-it-yourselfer came into the garage. And he said, Geez, guys, I have a problem." He said, "and I hope you can solve it. I think I have a faulty part." I said, "Oh, yeah. What is that?" I think he had something like an 81 or an 82 Chevy pickup truck. It's not important what he had, but he had a late model vehicle of some kind.

He said, "Gee, you know," he said, "I had a problem where my car had no power. I couldn't climb hills. And one day we're trying to climb a long, long steep hill. I got out night and I looked into the car and lo and behold, my catalytic converter was glowing red. Oh, geez, it must be all plugged up. I listen to you guys all the time."

He is out in the middle of nowhere, unable to climb a hill and his converter is glowing red. So what does he do? He goes out and he buys a new converter. And he spends the whole next weekend busting his knuckles, removing the converter and putting a brand new one. Guess what?

He tried to climb the same hill the same time of day. Didn't make it. Looked under the car and lo and behold, it was all red again!

So he realizes that either he misdiagnosed the problem or as he suspects, he bought a faulty converter. So he goes to the parts store. And the guy says "Unlikely twerp! You did not buy a faulty converter!" Whereupon he comes to our garage, head in hand. Weeping, "Help me, Help me!"

Yeah, the question is, what's wrong here? Was it really is converter.

 

Answer: 

Remember last week's puzzler? The question was, was the brand new converter faulty? And no, it wasn't the converter, as you might suspect, because we even told you it wasn't. What was wrong is that his timing was off. And the reason that converter was glowing red is that the combustion was actually taking place in that first section of the exhaust system. Hmm. Because the timing was so far off that he wasn't getting combustion in the cylinders, rather he was getting it was in the exhaust.

That's why he also had no power. The energy of those explosions was going into turning that pipe and that converter cherry red and not going into pushing the pistons down.

Want to do something great with your old car? Donate it to your favorite NPR station. Here's how.

 

 


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