The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

ATV creek crossing

How much water is too much for an ATV?

When is the creek too high for an ATV crossing?

I'm not sure, but on Friday the water height was getting close to the level of the dip stick, which has a little rubber plug to prevent water from going in but I speculated that it was better not to risk it.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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The most significant limit is probably the air intake. Combustion engines run very poorly on water.

With these ATVs, the intake also supplies cooling air to the transmission, IIRC. V-belts don't much like water either.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Dec 15 14:19:29 2013

As a kid, our 3-wheelers (yes, I just dated myself) spent so much time in t \he creek, that we didn't bother keeping track of the last oil change. We just used the color of the oil to tell when it needed replacing; black meant all was good, dark grey meant you should probably knock it out unless a good ballgame was on the TV; whitish gray meant you needed to find a way to blame it on your brother ASAP ;-)

As long as it can get fresh air and the exhaust isn't blocked, an engine will generally be good to go. Of course, in those days, the dipstick wasn't fully water tight, which is where ours kept getting water into it. That being said, a little water in the oil won't hurt anything as long as you change it promptly upon returning to the shed. Getting water into the intake, however, will kill the motor in a hurry; especially if it still uses a carburetor.

For the curious, we wake boarded behind our 3 wheelers and generally treated them like boats on wheels. Great, great fun!

Comment by Bobby Nations Sun Dec 15 20:41:30 2013

You can even put a snorkel (common on off-road cars and diesel-electric submarines) on an ATV, allowing it keep running for a limited time even when submerged up to the handlebars. Certainly long enough to cross a creek.

The extra air resistance will probably cut down on the top speed. And if the engine stalls when totally submerged, the exhasut pipe will flood eventually. I'm not sure if you could start the engine again in that case.

If you want to build a system like that yourself, make sure to use dark gray PVC pipe. That should be able to withstand engine heat and UV light.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Dec 16 11:46:37 2013

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