Radial engines make a wonderful noise, but they also can make an awful mess when they are parked because gravity brings the oil into the bottom cylinders and from there it drips down the exhaust pipes and onto the ground.
It kept the oil off the ground, but there was still an issue. “The oil couldn’t be recycled, it had to be thrown away,” he explained. “And that gets expensive.”
Del Bene, who has owned the Stinson since 1973, threw away a lot of oil until about 2000, when he heard about a device that was supposed to keep the oil from draining out.
“I paid about $400 for it,” said Del Bene. “I got the thing in the mail. It was a gallon paint can and a neoprene hose and I thought, ‘Oh gosh, I’ve been snookered! I’ve been had!’, but it also had this little machine part that attaches to the lower part of the engine, and I thought ‘why not try it? He’s already got my money’.”
The device, which attaches to the oil sump when the aircraft is parked, is supposed to keep the oil from going down into the cylinders.
Del Bene was skeptical, but to his surprise and delight, the contraption works like a charm. “It works slicker than snake snot! Which is how it got its name: The Snot Box!” he said proudly.
It’s not just the Snot Box that makes the Del Bene Stinson special. The airplane was used by American Airlines in the 1930s as a training airplane. Back then pilots were required to be familiar with all the airports within 50 miles of the airline’s regular routes. Del Bene said his airplane was used for instrument training and route qualification.