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Wick it up, Bud!

Oil Sorb sheets

One of the many benefits of being an instructor is learning from my students. Usually itís regarding some cool product. Such was the case in January. During my Tread Trainer class, a student mentioned oil-absorbent sheets. It sounded like a great product, so I stopped by West Marine (www.westmarine.com) and picked up a few.

Designed for boats, these oil-absorbent sheets soak up engine oil so you can safely pump out the bilge. Turns out the sheets work quite well on dry land, too. A recent experiment proved that.

My experiment with an oil-absorbent sheet

West Marineís oil-absorbent sheet comes in one size, 17Ē x 19Ē. You can buy them individually at about a buck a piece or a five pack for $4.49.

According to their website, each sheet absorbs 13 to 25 times its weight of #2 oil. Unfortunately, we donít know from the label how much that is. Because theyíre designed to absorb petroleum products, these sheets will not work on any water-based liquids. So, if you spill anti-freeze, use a paper towel.

With the gracious support of my friend Bruce at Bogart Engineering, whose garage floor provided the ideal surface, I was able to experiment with an oil-absorbent sheet.

The result was quite impressive.
About 8 oz of Oil
At 17Ē x 19Ē, the sheet was a bit large for my use, so I cut it in half. I poured about 8 ounces of 10W30 on the garage floor. It created a circle about 5Ē wide. (See image - notice I had already used the sheet to wipe up a few drips.) I laid an oil-absorbent sheet on the oil spot, and within seconds the oil was wicked up. the next image shows the oil stain on the underside of the sheet. It wicked up all that oil in just a few seconds. Notice how clean the floor is above. I didn't even wipe up the floor. Thatís where the puddle of oil was. The oil-absorbent sheet worked that well.
Wiped up


As my next experiment, I dumped the entire remaining contents of the quart of oil on to the same sheet. It held most of the oil. I should mention, though, that the sheet was dripping oil. I mustíve maxed out its capacity. Remember, this was only half a sheet.
32oz of Oil


32oz of Oil







How often can you use each sheet? I donít know. According to their web site, you can wring out the oil Ė into the proper receptacle, of course Ė but I believe the sheets are best for single use the way we use them. I don't want to ride around with one partially soaked in oil any longer then I need to. Make sure you dispose of them properly.

When you might need oil-absorbent sheets

With all the abuse our vehicles take while off-road, itís a wonder they donít drip more than they do. Oil absorbent sheets should be placed on the ground any time your vehicle is dripping oil products. They are handy for spills, as well.

Use oil-absorbent sheets at home, too. Place one under any vehicle that drips oil, and you wonít have that ugly stain to contend with.

Packing oil-absorbent sheets

Because they are so effective, I highly recommend you pack a supply of oil-absorbent sheets. The West Marine sheets are quite large, whereas most spills are rather small. Cut your sheet(s) into halves or quarters, and place in a plastic zip lock bag. Leave at least one sheet full size. One advantage to a large piece is you can hold it down with rocks or other objects. That will keep the wind from blowing it away.

With over 300 retail stores in North America, it is easy to pick up a supply (or replace your stock pile) and they are quite inexpensive. Other oil-absorbent products are available. These include an oil-absorbent bilge pillow from 3M
(www.3m.com) and Spill-Sorb (http://spillsorb.com), which is specially activated peat moss.

Regardless of which product you purchase, itís important to add an oil-absorbent solution to your spill kit. As good stewards of the land, we take care of the property we drive on. Leaving an ugly oil stain on the ground is no different than dumping your trash.

Oil-absorbent sheets and similar products are cheap and effective. Pack a supply so youíre prepared for your next off-road adventure.

For related reading, see, "Clean Up Toxic Spills Promptly, Thoroughly".
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Related Articles from Badlands Off-road Adventures

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Major Events Planned for 2012


Monache Meadows

Badlands Off-Road adventures, Inc. has a number of significant events on the schedule for this year. If you wish to participate, you need to start making plans soon. Some events have early due dates, may require significant preparations, have limited positions and require time off from work.
  1. Wilderness Advanced First aid June 28- July 1 (WAFA)

  2. Rubicon Trail a week in August

And of course we have March trip on the Mojave Road. This will be the only Mojave Road trip in 2012.
See details below.

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March & April Events


Rocks Clinic Example



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OAUSA Amateur Radio Testing plus Meet & Greet March 17


Redondo Beach

OAUSA will hold the annual Meet & Greet on March 17, 2012, at the Ruby's Diner in Redondo Beach California. Ruby's is located right on the beach in Redondo and offers a perfect setting for this get together. There will be a special section for display of outdoor vehicles, a testing session for all levels of Ham Radio Licensing, Ham Radio demonstrations, guest speakers, emergency preparedness information, and great food at Ruby's.

More Details...


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Death Valley March 16 to 19, 2012


Death Valley

This is a 4 day trip on the back roads in Death Valley. We will drive the Panamint Mountains, drive past Badwater Basin (lowest spot in North America), visit Chloride Ghost town, Titus Canyon, check out Ubehebe Crater, Teakettle junction, The Race Track & Lippencott Mine Road, camp at the Warm Springs and leave via Steal Pass up to the high meadows, then take Dedeckera Canyon down to the Eureka Sand Dunes. All four days will see some light to moderate 4-wheeling. Much of the trip is quite remote with random or no cell service.

Click here to check out the details and sign up on the website:

Or register directly here.


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Mojave Road March 24 - 26


Mojave Road

We will follow the Old Mojave Road for 3 days. This was the earliest wagon road into California. Traveling the Mojave Road isn't a picnic but it is a great family style 4-Wheel drive trip / Expedition. It's a 3-day excursion, best made in convoy with other 4-wheelers. The Mojave Road was a main wagon trail for many years between the Beale wagon road in AZ and the West Coast. The terrain is mostly desert; some hills over the various mountain ranges; a dry lake; water crossings; canyons; and areas of soft sand. We will visit tons of history and see some incredible views. The 4 Wheeling is quite mild. More Details

You can register at Mojave Road Registration

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Getting Started Off-road Driving Clinic April 14, 2012


Getting Started Off-Road Clinic

The clinic is held in Hungry Valley State Vehicle Recreation Area near Gorman CA. This clinic is specifically designed to meet the needs of novice off-highway drivers or someone with a bit of experience who is looking for a more complete understanding. This is a one-day session. The session includes classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. More Details...


You can register directly here


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The Badlands Off-road Adventures Store

Click here if you cannot see the full store



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I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-374-8047
http://www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
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Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2012, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.





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