Noxious Nostalgia

QuestionI keep hearing about the “station wagon effect.” What is that?

G. Samson, Metairie, La.

AnswerBefore SUVs were begat, there was the station wagon, which had a two-piece tailgate. Many folks ran the rear window down (or lifted the upper window section) mistakenly thinking the suction would pull the heat from the car, but the only way that would happen was when a front window was also lowered. What the suction did if a front window were not lowered was draw the exhaust into the vehicle, and you know how fast carbon monoxide acts.

The same effect takes place with four-stroke outboards. Consider these don’t-dos:

Don’t sit close to the engine (I/O or outboard) while it’s idling.

Don’t do your fishing from a non-ventilated console or seating area — the “isinglass” acts like the station wagon tailgate and will suck the exhaust into the cockpit area.

Don’t think you’re breathing clean air if you’re sitting next to a quiet four-stroke. You’re safer breathing two-stroke oil-mixed exhaust, believe it or not. By the way, we old-timers use the smell of the two-stroke exhaust as a diagnostic tool, rarely possible with a four-stroke.

The four-stroke outboards are magnificent technological showcases. You just need to be less complacent about them.

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