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View Full Version : Gastester vs. Colortune the debate.



Bret
01-08-2003, 07:34 PM
OK now that I’ve got some input . I’ve decided that because of the equal amount a responses – both pro & con. That I & my 78 “B” will be the guinea pigs in this evaluation all in the name of science. Thanks to all who gave their input.

That said – I have order both the Gastester and the Colortune system. I will forward my results in this forum in both Tools and the MG discussion groups.

Wish me luck?
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John Turney
01-08-2003, 10:26 PM
Bret,

What, a scientific test? Why do that when we can sit at our computers and discuss in the dark for days? graemlins/devilgrin.gif

Thanks for picking up the gauntlet, and good luck!

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John

78Z
01-09-2003, 11:26 AM
Umm ... what are the Gastester and the Colortune systems?

Bret
01-09-2003, 12:17 PM
Here are the two "basic descriptions" form Mossmotors.com.

"Gastester. Tune your car for best performance and low emissions. Gas tester measures carbon monoxide in your exhaust to help tune for best performance and economy. Save the cost of multiple trips to the smog shop, and save our environment. New digital version."

"Colortune is a glass topped spark plug which allows you to see the color of combustion in your cylinders. Colortune takes the guesswork out of mixture adjustment. The kit includes a special glass topped spark plug, reflective viewing system for difficult plug locations, cleaning supplies and a wall chart which includes a three step tuning procedure complete with troubleshooting guide."

As you can see both are spouted to allow you to better adjust the air & fuel mixture of your engine. The Gastester actually looks at the carbon monoxide in your exhaust while the Colortune system simply allows you to use a glass spark plug that allows you to view the color of the flame inside the combustion chamber of the head.

The Gastester seems to be the more accurate system at a glance as it actually measures the emissions coming out of your tail pipe. However of all the folks that commented seem to like the Colortune system best. At a glance the Gastester might be the preferable way to go if you car is still required to be smog tested. However some folks I’ve talked to like to use both, with a slight edge toward the Colortune regardless of any testing.

In the end for most of us it might simply be a matter of cost, as the Gastester is almost 4 times as much as the Colortune system. On the Moss web page the Gastester rings out at about $200 while the Colortune is only about $60. However both can be picked up much cheaper through other Moss distributors like LBCC.
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78Z
01-09-2003, 12:22 PM
Oh ok. Thanks. I look forward to seeing your results.

coldplugs
01-09-2003, 05:12 PM
I've found the colortune to be very useful for balancing carbs and am not sure how an analyzer would apply there. You may need both.

I'll be interested in your experiences.

66 fhc
01-10-2003, 01:35 AM
Hi Bret
I also live in Poway and would be interested to see how these products work. I,m over in Valle Verde.

Bret
01-10-2003, 02:19 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by 66 fhc:
Hi Bret
I also live in Poway and would be interested to see how these products work. I,m over in Valle Verde.<hr></blockquote>

Hi 66 fhc,

I see that your a Jag fan. Nice to meet another British car nut form Poway! I live off of Metate Lane & Carriage Road. Feel free to visit my car page below and drop me a line.

Just so you (& some of the others) know the main driving force behind this endeavor is that I just recived notification from the California DMV that my 78 MGB needs to go to a “Test Only” center for my next smog test.

In the past I’ve just taken my “B” to a reliable (recommended) local mechanic that is certified to perform the smog testing and knows his way around British cars. This way if for whatever reason it failed the test I’d have a couple of options. Depending if the problem is something I could undertake myself or simply let the mechanic take care of it for me. Then retest.

Problem is because at a test only center they only tell you that it passed or failed. No information is provided as to what might have caused the failure or recommendations as to where to take it for repairs.

That’s where the Gastester and Colortune come in. I figure these will at least let me know where I stand prior to testing. As it stands I have two months until my registration is due – so let the games begin.

I’ll try to keep the forum in formed of my progress with updates to both the tool and MG discussion groups.


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piman
01-10-2003, 04:10 AM
Hello Brett,
I have a little experience with a gastester but lots with colourtune. Colourtunes are very useful
and easy to use but both systems only test a car off load and are usually only used to set up the idle mixture.
A better system, to me, is to fit a lambda (O2) sensor and monitor it using a meter to see actual mixture under load conditions. This is particularly useful if your car has been modified.

Alec graemlins/thirsty.gif

John Turney
01-10-2003, 05:14 PM
Bret,

Since I havn't been down the road of "Test Only" stations, can you go to your mechanic for a "pre-test" and then to the "Test Only" shop? On my last test, they could do a pre-test prior to the regular test (not for my LBC).

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John, BN4

01-10-2003, 05:34 PM
I'm glad I don't have to put up with all that b/s graemlins/crazyeyes.gif

Bret
01-10-2003, 08:41 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by John Turney:
Bret,

Since I havn't been down the road of "Test Only" stations, can you go to your mechanic for a "pre-test" and then to the "Test Only" shop? On my last test, they could do a pre-test prior to the regular test (not for my LBC).

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John, BN4<hr></blockquote>

No - There’s no law that says you can’t have a pretest performed by your mechanic prior to going to the Test Only Station. Matter-a-fact I’d already called the same shop I used two years ago and they said they’d be happy to perform a pre-test on my car.

Just so you know - this was actually a part of my plan from the start as a method of controlling the experiment. I figured that in order to truly get a feel as to how good (or bad) the Gastester and the Colortune are. In my plan – I will have at least one pre-test done before I make any adjustments using either of these tools. I will then compare the test results of both products against the results of the pre-test results. Again these measurements will all be taken prior to performing any adjustment for the establishment of a stable base line.

Hers a little background leading up to this important research - The first time I took my MGB in for a smog test was right after I bought her just over two years ago. I got her really cheap from a guy that couldn’t turn a wrench to save his life and knew absolutely nothing about electronics (the kiss of death combination for any would be owner of a British car). Anyway while I figured out most of the Lucas (Prince of Darkness) issues plaguing my B, I couldn’t for the life of me get the engine with it’s pesky Zenith Stromburg to run just right. Oh before you get the wrong idea - I was able to make her road worthy. Problems didn’t come up until I tried to get her to pass smog. So after three attempts and three failures in testing, I just gave up & took my B to a recommended local shop here in San Diego.

Now that I am a little older and hopefully a little wiser - I feel that I’m ready to try this again. Thus is my motivation behind this experiment with the Gastester and the Colortune. I guess like most LBC owners - we have an independent steak. So we opt (whenever possible) to put the fate of our cars in the hands of others only as a last resort.

Bret

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John Turney
01-10-2003, 10:14 PM
Yes, I know of that independent streak. graemlins/devilgrin.gif Fortunately, I don't have to deal with smog and my Healey. I just tune it to go as quick as I can. images/icons/wink.gif

We'll all be interested.

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John

Bret
01-10-2003, 11:01 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Chuck Cougill:
I'm glad I don't have to put up with all that b/s graemlins/crazyeyes.gif <hr></blockquote>

Just to give you an idea how bad it is out here in the land of OZ (California) read this.

The old smog act (law) used to allow a vehicle to be exempt from smog testing at 25 years. But through some sneaky legislation in the northern part of the state – the new laws have upped exemption to 30 years for vehicles. I’m not exactly sure when this took place, because I didn‘t find out about it until after I purchased my 78 “B”. Of all the rotten luck! That means that my car will need to be smog tested until 2008!!!!

Talk about BS!

It's enough to make a guy sick
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01-10-2003, 11:14 PM
didn't they exempt the cars that used to be exempt though

Bret
01-11-2003, 12:23 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Chuck Cougill:
didn't they exempt the cars that used to be exempt though<hr></blockquote>

Before I answer that keep in mind who we’re talking about here?

I would assume you are talking about vehicles that where registered in another state and then brought into California when the owner moved here. Because I moved here after I got out of the Marine Corps in 1981 and had a 97 Barracuda with me that I purchased in North Carolina. When I tried to register the Cuda I was in for a rude awakening. Luckily the only thing I had to do to met the tough California emissions requirements was to disconnect my vacuum advance to my distributor. Of course I reconnected it once I got home and removed it each time I had to go in for testing. I don’t know what the laws are now but I was given a 97 Dodge Intrepid in 98 by a previous employer as my company car. When I tried to register this car I was told I had to pay a onetime environmental impact fee of $380.00 as well as take the smog test. Ouch!

Chances are if you ever move to this Kooky state – don’t be surprised if you have jump through a few hoops as well as comply with the emissions testing for you model year. Never mind that your car was exempt where you came from. So if you removed any emissions equipment you’ll need to reinstall it again.

Now that I’ve said all that I think I’m getting nauseous. Please excuse me while I go back into the living room and have a hart to hart with my wife about execrating our plans to move out of state.


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billca
01-11-2003, 12:29 AM
Thanks for doing the experiments. It will be helpful for all of us.

I have used the ColorTunes (I also got two of them) for years and found them useful for setting idle conditions for single and multiple SU carbs. I think they also provide good overall adjustment for those carb designs, such as SU, where idle conditions and other rpm/load conditions are directly related. (This assumes you haven't tried to get creative with the shape of your needles!)

For another approach, using an oxygen sensor, go to this tools forum, toward the bottom, to "oxygen sensors for older cars." There is some very useful information there from people who have used O2 sensors and commercially available monitors. It means you have to weld an O2 sensor into your exhaust system, but it obviously gives good info.

Bill C.

Bret
01-11-2003, 12:54 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Bret:


Because I moved here after I got out of the Marine Corps in 1981 and had a 97 Barracuda with me that I purchased in North Carolina. <hr></blockquote>

Opps! Sorry about that. That's a 67 Barracuda not a 97? Don't know what my laptop was thinking.

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aerog
01-11-2003, 10:22 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Chuck Cougill:
I'm glad I don't have to put up with all that b/s graemlins/crazyeyes.gif <hr></blockquote>

Took the words out of my mouth Chuck - one thing I'm ashamed to say my native state instituted about the time I left (hand your keys over to the greasemonkey and come back in an hour type thing).

I feel for you guys that have to maneuver through that type system, I'm just hoping they don't make it a federally mandated sysem any time soon. Knowing how things are going in this county (yes, county) I wouldn't be surprised to see some countywide testing imposed either.

[ 01-11-2003: Message edited by: aerog ]</p>

Dale
01-11-2003, 02:43 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Chuck Cougill:
I'm glad I don't have to put up with all that b/s graemlins/crazyeyes.gif <hr></blockquote>

It's coming though, I don't care where you are, it's coming. Bureaucrats are relentless and ruthless in their desire to expand and protect their territory. The only thing a bureaucracy must do is justify it's exsistance and in this pursuit they will stop at nothing. In fact, when it comes to air pollution standards they have already demonstrated that they will not stop even at zero pollution. Remember friends, it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you. Believe me, they are. images/icons/mad.gif

ThomP
01-15-2003, 11:38 PM
I Own both. The color tune came first. I set my Big Healey up with it and had problems. If I set it to the correct mixture at Idle, it ran very lean on the highway. So I set it to run fine on the highway, but it was very rich at idle!

Along came the gastester and the added information allowed me to solve the mystery. One of the needles wasn't seated where it needed to be in the vacuum piston. The offending needle had no shoulder like newer replacements. However, when the needle was set lower in the piston, the car could be set to have about 2.7% CO eading on both exhaust pipes and the car cruses down the road like a dream. I have the added benefit of the car starting more easily when it is cold (if it ever gets cold in Florida).

The gas tester allowed me to see that things were very strange with numerical precision, something even a first time user can understand. If I had understood the color tune indications it would not have been necessary to use the gas tester, but being new to to the color tune, it was not obvious what it was indicating.

I like the numerical display of CO percentages as opposed to the pretty colors displayed by the color tune. I am willing to concede that, if you are experienced, either will get the job done.

Cheers

SoCal
01-16-2003, 03:06 AM
I'm sure glad Triumph and MG didn't make an SUV. The beauroucrats would really be out for blood then....

Charles #677556
02-02-2003, 03:36 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by aerog:

I feel for you guys that have to maneuver through that type system, I'm just hoping they don't make it a federally mandated sysem any time soon. Knowing how things are going in this county (yes, county) I wouldn't be surprised to see some countywide testing imposed either.<hr></blockquote>

Aerog;
That was "attempted" around '93-'94 by our favorite people, the EPA (Federal) with the IMR-240 system.. Seems it had a "small" problem.. New cars from the factory (in the example where I was at were Volvo's and Jaguars) could NOT pass the test. The IMR-240 system tested for all five gases (CO, HC, NOX, Hydroden Sulfide, and I forget the fifth)... Interestingly, my '62 Volvo 122S, with dual SU carbs and no sign of any emission controls, passed the test with flying colors.. Seems the pre-emission cars only produce two gases.. CO and HC..
Wanna "Save The Planet"?? Scrap all cars built AFTER 1973!!

Bret
02-02-2003, 07:06 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Charles #677556:


Aerog;
&lt;&lt;&lt;SNIP&gt;&gt;&gt;
Wanna "Save The Planet"?? Scrap all cars built AFTER 1973!!<hr></blockquote>

Great idea! The only problem I see with this however is that even if we could somehow magically resurrect all of the cars ever made prior to 1973 - I don’t think that would be enough to meet the current demands of the worlds population.

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Bret