Unsurprisingly, Bananas Do Not Make Particularly Good Engine Oil

Back in the late ’50s, two French explorers, exploring the Atacama Desert in their equally French Citroen 2CV ran out of oil. Lacking anything but bananas, they mushed them up, slopped them into the engine, and—allegedly—made it to their stopover without major issue. But would it actually have worked?

Not well, if this video from YouTube’s Project Farm is anything to go off. Sacrificing a lawnmower engine to the cause of YouTube science and idle curiosity, the host replaces oil with bananas to see what happens.

Unsurprisingly, the results aren’t great. The engine seizes within 5 minutes and although it can be coaxed into running for 30 minutes (with regular stops to add water), there’s a bunch of blow-by coating the exterior of the lawnmower in burned banana, and before long sparks are shooting out of the exhaust pipe.

It’s hard to say exactly how much better it is than just running the engine without any oil at all, but it seems to be somewhere between “barely” and “I guess.” 

I suppose if you were really in a pinch it might be better than breaking down in the Atacama. As the host points out, the oil systems vary a little between the two engines, but the point remains that bananas do not oil make.

But this video does more than just test a myth. It’s also a fascinating demonstration of how engine oil works and what happens when it doesn’t.

First and foremost, engine oil doesn’t evaporate, like the water which makes up about 75% of a banana does. So when the engine gets hot, you don’t lose most of your lubricant.

Speaking of which, it turns out that there’s more to lubricating than just being mushy and wet. As he shows in his film strength test, bananas don’t coat metal particularly well, which means that the engine parts wear. You can kind of see that after the engine comes apart and the cylinder walls look all chewed up.

Bananas also cook. Which may explain why there’s so much carbon inside the engine after just 30 minutes of running with bananaW-30.

Fortunately, Project Farm proves that there is a foodstuff you can reach for if you’re ever stuck in the desert. As with all things in life, the answer is bacon.

[via: Road & Track]