• Category Archives Education Engine Function
  • These posts will provide a basic understanding of how an engine and its various systems work.

  • Post 3-Improving the Vacuum System

    This is part 3 in a series. If you haven’t started at the beginning, please go to Post-1 and start your training at the beginning, and do it NOW!

    Where does all the energy in your gasoline go? This graphic was borrowed from the EPA website as a confession of sorts, as they admit here for the world to see that at least 60% of the energy in your fuel is lost in your exhaust. That means that over 60 cents of EVERY dollar you put in the tank is spit right out the tailpipe.

    Engine Energy Losses EPA 60 percent

    Look closely at this! As the EPA is willing to admit that 60% of your fuel burns in your tailpipe, how bad do you think it REALLY is?

    (According to my numbers, based on mileage increases in Grooved vehicles, this number is probably closer to 90-95% loss.)

    As our challenge is to glean every ounce of energy in the fuel to deliver power to the piston, from the above graphic you can see that if we are able to get ALL the fuel to burn inside the engine, we could at LEAST double the mileage of every car in the nation.

    (We have known vehicles to gain as much as 600% with The Groove and other adjustments.)

    Because engines are terribly inefficient (what else would you call 60% of your fuel burning in the tailpipe?), and we are working to increase that efficiency, The Groove will many times reveal overlooked maintenance issues. It’s not that The Groove CAUSES them, it is only they become more apparent after The Gadgetman Groove is added.

    The most common deficiencies are found in the vacuum system. There are sometimes hundreds of locations where a vacuum leak can occur. This can make diagnosis a little time-consuming. Fortunately, most leaks will present little issue. It’s the really BIG ones we’re going to be looking for as they represent the greatest threat to your obtaining maximum efficiency.

    The most common places vacuum leaks are located are in the hoses. These are relatively easy to locate and identify. It’s the ones that are most difficult to locate that we’re going to look for. First, I want to explain EXACTLY why vacuum leaks are so bad for combustion in general.

    Here’s what a small leak can look like:

    Notice the small crack. Easy to overlook. Important to repair!


    Here’s what a larger one will look like:

    You better not miss one like this!


    The Gadgetman Groove modification is vacuum-based, so the entire intake system needs to have its full integrity. ANY opening in the intake manifold can cause a vacuum leak. The reason for this can be found when you start thinking in PRESSURES and FLOWS.

    Just think about it like this. Take a garden hose and poke a hole with a straight pin and put 5psi pressure on it. It will drip a little. Now, apply 50 psi to the same hole. It will shoot a stream of water 30 feet into the air. As this applies to vacuum leaks (pressure differentials), consider that The Gadgetman Groove increases the magnitude of the pressure wave that is created by the motion of the piston as is draws in the air and fuel.

    As the pressure drops during the first half of the downstroke, the low pressure is vastly lower, allowing the outside air to enter at VASTLY higher rates than would occur normally. This means that ALL openings (including mechanical parts) will let in more air than usual.

    Under normal conditions, the ECU can adapt to this, effectively masking the leaks. After The Gadgetman Groove is installed, the ECU cannot compensate, and the symptoms of a leak become greater as the airflow into the intake is increased. Additionally, as the wave hits its enhanced lows (which we depend on to effect the vaporization of the fuel) the leak allows more air in, effectively deflating the effects The Groove creates.

    The good news is that these leaks are usually easy to identify and correct.

    The Crankcase Ventilation System is one component that is an engineered flaw in the system. In the interest of reducing HC emissions caused by friction and heat on the motor oil as well as the blow-by gases entering the crankcase, this system was designed to evacuate these gases into the intake manifold so they may be burned in the combustion chamber.

    Vacuum is harnessed to effect this evacuation, in direct contradiction to all principles of engine efficiency. Applying a reduced pressure to your crankcase actually causes more blow-by to be sucked into the crankcase. It also forces the lighter components of your oil to vaporize, leaving your oil thicker and less able to flow through the system.

    Conversely, when you elevate the pressure in your intake (which is what letting air in DOES) you reduce the quantity of fuel that is in vapor state. And it’s GOT to be in vapor state to mix with the Oxygen, and it has GOT to mix with Oxygen before it can burn.

    All in all, this is engineering overkill.

    So, we simply cap off the vacuum port(s) that supply the vacuum. This will then reverse the flow through the system, allowing the crankcase to vent naturally through the breather tube which is before the throttle plate, thus enhancing the level of vacuum available to the combustion chamber, and increasing the vaporization rate of the fuel.

    Capping off the vacuum port to the PCV alone has yielded increases of from 2-5 mpg’s and MORE. So, consider doing this to your own engines and just watch what happens, with or without The Groove.

    It’ll run better, I promise!

    Here’s what it looks like on a late 90’s GM V-8. The PCV Valve is circled in black.

    Taken from the front of the vehicle, Drivers Side Valve Cover


    We will go into the vacuum system in earnest in the next post. For now, you have an understanding of just how important the intake manifold is, and why great care should be taken to ensure integrity of all areas of the intake manifold.

    Here’s a video that shows how Eric the Car Guy does his tests. This is a really good way to find leaks at the intake manifold. (notice this is the 3200 series of GM engines)

    Many mechanics swear by smoke testing. But The Truth is that is NOT an effective test to determine if a system is holding or not holding a vacuum. The ONLY way to know if a system can hold a vacuum is to APPLY a vacuum. For that, you are going to need a hand-held vacuum pump. The one I use is the MityVac 8000, which is used also to make bleeding your brakes a one-man job.

    The testing is really a very simple procedure. I cannot stress strongly enough how important thorough testing is when faced with a fuel efficiency issue, to say nothing about the effects of a leak on your Gadgetman Groove modification.

    So, learn to master this testing procedure and add many many miles to every tank of gas!

    If you’ve done all this, and STILL suspect a vacuum leak, then you will want to visit Post 5. It deals with a commonly overlooked source for reduced vacuum, Valve Operations.

    Next up: Post 4-An Average Installation

    If you would like to learn this amazing fuel efficiency technology, we want to hear about it! Email myself, the developer of The Gadgetman Groove and we’ll see what we can do about that.


    Post 1-Basic Flows in a Gasoline Engine

    Post 2-Intake Flows and Wave-Form Technology

    Post 4-An Average Installation

    Post 5-Varnish and Vacuum

    Post 6-Hidden Weaknesses

    Post 7-Diagnosing Error Codes

    Post 8-The Role of Sensors in Fuel Delivery

    Post 9-Adjusting Your Spark Plug for Maximum Efficiency

  • Post 2- Intake Flows and Wave-Form Technology

    Okay, so now you have an understanding of the modern gasoline engine and how it works. You know more than most people out there! (Ain’t you SMART!) (if you haven’t read Post 1-Basic flows within a Gasoline Engine, please do so now.)

    There are TONS of stuff you can do to your engine in the quest for better fuel efficiency. But what are they and what are the effects of them? The answer to that question lies in the technology you’re applying. Here, we are going to deal with Wave-Form Technology (as created by the Gadgetman Groove) and its effects on fluid flows.

    “What is it?” is vastly easier to answer than “What does it DO?” when you’re talking about a computer-controlled engine because every manufacturer has their own protocols and their own management system. Even this is unpredictable, because about every two years, they change their ECU’s. And THAT changes EVERYTHING.

    Still, an engine is an engine is an engine. They all operate on the same principles. It is only the management system that changes and they still have to abide by some rules. The rules will never change. Only the way they are managed. That, my friend is GOOD news!

    Since the principles of operation remain the same, there are a number of things that ARE predictable. Like how The Groove affects the airstream and how that impacts the fuel and how THAT impacts engine efficiency.

    The second most popular video I have on YouTube is titled: “How does The Gadgetman Groove WORK?” and is quite appropriate for inclusion here. As you watch the following video, pay close attention. It should be fairly easy to follow now that you understand how an engine works. To FULLY understand the effects of The Groove, though, you’re going to have to start thinking in pressures and flows. There, you are going to have a LOT of your understanding enhanced.

    So, in a nutshell, The Gadgetman Groove is exactly what it sounds like: it is a groove (a very specially shaped one!) machined into the intake air stream that, when PROPERLY applied and PROPERLY shaped creates a special kind of turbulence that creates some desirable changes in combustion of your fuel.

    With more than 4,000 engines modified world-wide, I can say with absolute CERTAINTY you will love the results. You just have to be aware there are additional concerns to help you get the most from your fuel.

    Now that you’ve got a better understanding of what’s going to change inside your engine and what is REALLY going on inside your intake system, we’ll move on to Post 3-Improving the Vacuum System.

    If you would like to learn this amazing fuel efficiency technology, we want to hear about it! Contact me, Ron Hatton, the developer of The Gadgetman Groove and we’ll see what we can do about that.

    Email me at Gadgetman@ GadgetmanGroove.com right now!

    You’ll be glad you did.

    Post 1-Basic Flows in a Gasoline Engine

    Post 3-Improving the Vacuum System

    Post 4-An Average Installation

    Post 5-Varnish and Vacuum

    Post 6-Hidden Weaknesses

    Post 7-Diagnosing Error Codes

    Post 8-The Role of Sensors in Fuel Delivery

    Post 9-Adjusting Your Spark Plug for Maximum Efficiency

  • Post 1-Basic Flows Within a Gasoline Engine

    You are at the right place to begin your lessons in how to make the most of your gasoline engine. Whether you’re a veteran mechanic or just learning, you’ve got to understand how they work to be most effective as a developer.

    As with all new technologies, there is a learning curve. When talking about engine sciences (including The Gadgetman Groove modification) it can get pretty confusing when we’re dealing with changing combustion characteristics. Characteristics that have a dramatic effect on the way your engine burns fuel.

    There are many things that will be affected by its application. In order to understand what’s what about that, we’re gong to start by examining the many components of a gasoline engine. We will talk about how they work so that we might have a more full understanding of the effects of The Groove on your engine’s operations.

    To start with, we’ll go through the control system, and consider the role of each in determining optimum efficiency as programmed into your ECU. But we’re going to approach it from the intake to the exhaust with an eye for details.

    If you don’t already have a good grasp of how a normal gasoline engine works, there’s a really great article on MRE-Books.com that goes over the basics of carburetion, the first generation of fuel delivery systems. Here, we’re going to expand on that DRAMATICALLY!

    For you YouTube junkies out there, here’s a real cool video produced in 1941 by Chevrolet:


    (FYI: There are instructional videos by the millions on YouTube. Simply search for what you want to learn about and watch the miracle of the internet occur!)

    As much as I LOVE old information, you may find this video on how an internal combustion engine works more informative.

    The crankshaft turns, starting the whole process. As the crank turns, the piston is drawn down, pulling in whatever is available to it. The air and fuel is pulled in through the valve, then it starts upward on the compression stroke. Just before the top of the compression stroke, the spark plug ignites the mixture, pushing the piston down, thus turning the crankshaft.

    At this point, the piston is lifted by the crankshaft, pushing the (partially) burned fuel out of the chamber through the exhaust valve and out the tail pipe.

    That’s the whole process, but there are a lot of sensors used in modern engines that are used to meter or adjust the “air-fuel ratio” or AFR. They are located everywhere through the system, from your air filter all the way to the muffler. Now, we’re going to start with the process of explaining it all and how they all work together to make your engine run.

    In the old days, it was really simple, as the video above shows. Air is drawn into the engine over the venturi. Fuel was delivered in direct proportion to the amount of air the engine drew in. It is not so simple now. When the carburetor was replaced with more advanced fuel delivery systems, a computer was introduced to control and manipulate the fuel delivery to eliminate all the adjustments we used to have to make every season and at different altitudes on carburetors.

    Since the fuel must be delivered in a certain proportion to the air (AFR, remember?) the amount and density of the air had to be monitored. This is handled by a sensor in the intake air stream, called either the Intake Air Temperature (IAT) or the Mass-Air Flow sensor. The names are different sometimes, as is the appearance but they serve the same function (basically).

    This sensor is located somewhere between the air filter and the throttle assembly.

    After that, the air enters the throttle assembly. This is a round plate on an axle that is turned by either a cable attached to the gas pedal or to the computer directly. Attached to the other side of the axle is the Throttle Position Sensor. This sends a signal to the ECU to help the computer manage other aspects of the fuel delivery system.

    From there, the air enters the intake manifold, where it meets the Manifold-Absolute Pressure sensor. This device measures the difference between the intake (manifold) and the outside (absolute) air pressures to help adjust for acceleration and altitude differentials.

    Think about it. As the piston descends, it pulls on the air, reducing the pressure inside the intake manifold. When the throttle plate opens, it allows air into the chamber, causing the pressure to rise. This device can only tell the differential between the two pressures and then adjusts the AFR to accommodate for the difference.

    From there, the air enters the head on its way to the intake valve. This is where the fuel injectors are located, generally spraying the fuel into the port just before the valve. The downward motion of the piston draws that fuel in along with the air.

    After the air/fuel mix is ignited by the spark plug, the burnt gases are pushed out of the chamber into the exhaust system, where we get to the first Oxygen Sensor (O2A).

    O2A senses the amount of oxygen present in the air stream, and is the first sensor the computer monitors to ensure proper combustion. As the exhaust contains both air and fuel that has not combined (burned), the ECU can detect both the temperature and the content. With more fuel burning, the sensor heats up and the computer will reduce the amount of fuel delivered to the engine. If it’s too cool, it increases the AFR.

    There is only one more sensor we have to be concerned with. The “Post Catalytic Converter Oxygen Sensor” or Post Cat O2 which is mounted either IN or just past the catalytic converter. This is sometimes referred to in your error codes as “Bank One (or two)  Sensor Two”. We’ll just call it O2B for the sake of simplicity.

    Here, it is (allegedly) used to monitor the efficiency of the cat as it burns off the “waste fuel”. That’s fuel that’s not consumed in the combustion process. (Sidebar: The EPA ADMITS to more than 60% of the energy in your gasoline being ‘lost’ in the exhaust. That’s 60 cents of EVERY dollar being burned your tailpipe!)

    Okay. Now you have a good (albeit basic) understanding of how the modern gasoline engine works. What we’re going to be talking about next is what The Gadgetman Groove does, and how it may affect the fuel delivery.

    I want you all to understand what The Gadgetman Groove can do for your engines, as well as how the ECU responds and what deficiencies you may encounter as you start to apply it to your ECU managed systems.

    I invite you to add comments or refinements to this post, for it is only through sharing information that we can make this technology understood. After all, I am only a garage-level tinkerer. I want you to make me SMARTER!

    Now, you’re ready to go on to Post 2- What is The Gadgetman Groove and what does it DO?

    If you would like to learn this amazing fuel efficiency technology, we want to hear about it! Use this form to contact me, Ron Hatton, the developer of The Gadgetman Groove and we’ll see what we can do about that.

    Email me with your questions and I’ll do the best I can!

    Gadgetman@ GadgetmanGroove.com

    Post 2-Intake Flows and Wave-Form Technology

    Post 3-Improving the Vacuum System

    Post 4-An Average Installation

    Post 5-Varnish and Vacuum

    Post 6-Hidden Weaknesses

    Post 7-Diagnosing Error Codes

    Post 8-The Role of Sensors in Fuel Delivery

    Post 9-Adjusting Your Spark Plug for Maximum Efficiency