Jan 8, 2010

The Siloo Engine Flush Incident

In the mid 1970's I went through my "retractable" period. I purchased, in succession, several Ford Skyliners of 1958 and 1959 vintage. These were Ford's so-called "retractable hardtops," in which a steel top was articulated and mechanized to disappear into the trunk area. One of mine was a very low mileage yellow and white one just like the one in the picture above. It had belonged to a young man who had been killed during his army basic training. The boy's father had stored the car for several years as a memorial to his son. After he sold the car, I became its second subsequent owner. The car had about 20,000 miles on its odometer.

The problem with a car that has been static for a number of years is that the deposits on the inside of the engine dry out and harden. The engine on my car suffered from that situation, but a friend of mine recommended a product called "Siloo Engine Flush" to remedy the problem. You merely let your engine oil get a quart low. When you're ready to change oil, you add a quart of this engine flush to the crankcase, run the engine at fast idle for a few minutes, and then drain the oil. Out comes the oil along with some of the built-up crud that was residing inside the engine, waiting to do harm. Nothing could be simpler!

So, for the next several times I changed oil, I used this stuff, and consistently I got lots of garbage out of my engine. (I believe that the product is now sold as CRC Engine Flush)

On a certain Saturday, it was time for my next oil change, but I was on my way from Pascagoula over to Pass Christian, Mississippi, to pick up a date. I stopped at my favorite Gulf station in Ocean Springs and asked Bill, the owner, if he had time to do an oil change on my retractable. "Not a problem," he replied.

I explained that I would like to flush the engine first. He was familiar with the Siloo product and told me to go ahead and put it in the engine and run it for a few minutes, which I did. Then, I pulled the car into the shop bay over the lift and turned off the ignition. Bill raised the car, drained the oil, and replaced the drain plug. He lowered the car and asked me to release the hood. I popped the hood open. Then the excitement began.

Bill leaned over the fender and removed the filler cap from the Cal Custom polished valve cover that I had installed on the car's Police Interceptor 352 engine. He set the cap aside and jammed the metal spout into the first quart of oil. As he began to pour the oil into the filler hole, the back edge of the can must have touched the battery terminal, causing a spark.


A gigantic explosion erupted from the engine. A ball of fire enveloped Bill's head as the can of fresh oil spun wildly out of his hand arching upward and spewing oil in every direction. Instinctively, I closed my eyes, but when I opened them, I saw that Bill had been transformed. His eyebrows were gone. His beard was reduced to ashen stubble. His hair was gone back to a point on his head where the fire had apparently reached. He looked like some occult monk. What neither Bill nor I had thought about was the fact that the engine flush had left lots of explosive vapors in the crankcase. They had ignited in a most impressive display.

Bill said more than a few choice words. He invited me to never bring this #@*&%$) car into his shop again. I looked at the label of the engine flush later on and it read like a recipe for environmental disaster -- acetone, esters, aldehydes, xylenes, butoxyethanol... -- a soup of carcinogens.

I never again found it necessary to use Siloo's most amazing product.

1 comment:

Dwight Place said...

Love the Siloo incident-Just found a can of it in my garage. My roommate hasn't changed her oil in years and I suggested we at least flush it. That's what insurance is for LOL-Think the battery is by the oil filler too. No it's not! Do have a good battery story and why I quit wearing necklaces. I was servicing a Ford truck and semi crawled in the engine compartment. My necklace touch the positive battery terminal and my neck got hot! By the time I knew what had happened, I had a nice red ring around my neck. : )~