With Winter temperatures plummeting into the single digits, cold starts are especially brutal to the engine. The AeroVee uses pretty thick oil to begin with (20W-50), and chilled to temperatures below freezing it just about turns into playdough! Only after the engine has run for a bit does the oil heat up and begin to flow properly. This creates a situation where a cold (thus tight) engine has less than optimal lubrication when it needs it the most...after sitting all night (or week) and the oil has drained off everything!
To get around the playdough problem, and to ensure quicker starts in general, I constructed a simple engine pre-heater. All the materials were purchased at Lowe's and Wal-Mart for about $40, and it took about an hour to make. This thing really pumps out the hot air, too!
But the real question is, "Does it really make a difference?" The answer, is most definitely! The engine starts pretty well in temperatures over about 40 degrees. When the temperature is below that, engine starting can be more difficult. When the temperature is below about 20 degrees, starting can be downright frustrating, and may result in a dead battery before getting started. Using the pre-heater for approximately 30-60 minutes or until the oil temp reads around 50 degrees, or the EGT's reach about 20 deg. At this point, starting is effortless!
Doing some quick math, I figure that I will use the pre-heater approximately twice a month in the winter months, for 30-60 minutes per occasion (call it 45 minutes average). The heater draws 1500 watts for 45 minutes, so that's 1.1 KW-hr. At $0.10 per KW-hr, the pre-heater costs $0.11 per use. If I use the pre-heater for 5 years (30 uses total), that makes the total cost of construction and usage $43.30, or approximately $1.50 per use.
$1.50 per pre-heat. Is it worth it? You decide.
NOTE: If you do not see a menu frame on the left, click here to reload the full page.
Updated: 04 Jan 08