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Subject: Cleaning Spark Plugs

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Dn-N-Tn    Posted 07-23-2019 at 09:36:33 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Cleaning Spark Plugs
  • Just a little advice from an old mechanic---If you have flooded your engine on your tractor and wet the plugs, cleaning, drying or heating the plugs to maintain a good spark is a waste of time. In the old days of leaded gas this would work, but with the unleaded gas we have today, when drowned they are done. Throw them away and replace, no matter how good they look. Example: My BIL put a used engine in his Chevy truck, flooded it real good trying to start it. The ignition was as dead as if if there was no fire at all, but we could pull a plug wire and it would jump to ground. We took two old plugs out of another engine, put them in, and it would try to hit on those two cylinders. He bought another new set of plugs, and it started up and ran perfect. We tried switching a couple of plugs from the first set back in the engine, and they never would come back to life. I don't know why the unleaded gas does this to plugs, but I sure know the results. This is FYI just encase, you are pulling your hair out, trying to get the ignition figured out on your tractor, Dennis.

    Bruce (VA)    Posted 07-23-2019 at 14:58:17 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Cleaning Spark Plugs
  • Based on my experience of 55 years fooling w/ old cars.....as well as what you've read here.....you have another problem. It's not fouled plugs.

    Dean, re the HF plug cleaner, it works great. Mounted it on the wall by the compressor. Only problem is that it does not take Model A plugs!

    Dean    Posted 07-23-2019 at 16:13:03 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Cleaning Spark Plugs
  • Glad to hear it, Bruce.

    I had not seen plug blasters for decades. Perhaps the market is returning.

    Dean

    TheOldHokie    Posted 07-23-2019 at 16:31:29 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Cleaning Spark Plugs
  • Service life of modern plugs is 40K plus. Combine that with modern high detergency fuels and very precisely controlled EFI fuel maps and most spark plugs go that distance and more with no problems. I think plug blasters is very much a niche market.

    TOH

    Dean    Posted 07-23-2019 at 18:27:19 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Cleaning Spark Plugs
  • Agreed. No one needs one for highway vehicles but vintage equipment, small engines,....

    Dean

    Dean    Posted 07-23-2019 at 13:06:36 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Cleaning Spark Plugs
  • While it is indeed true that badly flooding an engine with modern gasoline presents more of a problem than it once did, spark plugs can be effectively cleaned by media blasting.

    The once effective methods, e.g., wire wheel, cigarette lighter, time, etc., are not as effective as they once were, however.

    I bought a spark plug blaster from J. C. Whitney in the mid 1980s and do not remember buying a set of spark plugs for a vintage Ford tractor since, other than to replace damaged or badly rusted plugs.

    Recently, I noticed bench mounted spark plug blasters on the shelf at HF. I found that interesting as I had not seen plug blasters available for sale for decades.

    Dean

    Bruce Dorsi    Posted 07-23-2019 at 17:30:06 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Blasting plugs....
  • Back in the 1960's, our shop had an abrasive blast cleaner which was sold by AC (spark plugs). ...It used a very fine abrasive (possibly aluminum oxide) and cleaned plugs very well if there was no oil on them. ....Dry carbon was no problem.

    In the 1970's or 1980's (CRS) it was no longer recommended to blast plugs because there were concerns about abrasive lodging in the shell and getting into the cylinder.

    I personally experienced new plugs getting flooded and not firing, even after blowing them out with compressed air. ....Only another set of new plugs would allow the engine to start.

    steve19438    Posted 07-23-2019 at 16:36:12 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • Re: Cleaning Spark Plugs
  • "I bought a spark plug blaster from J. C. Whitney in the mid 1980s.

    ME too. just threw it away a couple of years ago.

    R geiger    Posted 07-23-2019 at 13:00:44 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Cleaning Spark Plugs
  • The times I have flooded one of may 8n's to the point it would not start, I have just walked away for 30 minutes or so and went back and started it right up. I have one that o fouls the plugs and always use a torch to clean them up. But I guess if I had more money than sense I could just buy new ones.

    TheOldHokie    Posted 07-23-2019 at 10:35:42 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Cleaning Spark Plugs
  • I have been using unleaded gas in everything I own for several decades. I have dried and reused flooded plugs dozens of times with no problem. How do you explain that?

    TOH

    Dn-N-Tn    Posted 07-23-2019 at 12:24:51 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: Cleaning Spark Plugs
  • Don't know about your situation----Maybe the "dozens" of times explains it. I read on here where guys have a cylinder or two not firing, then, they'll post I cleaned and dried the plugs, and I keep saying to myself, go buy youself some new plugs, because you're wasting your time.

    David D. Smith    Posted 07-23-2019 at 10:27:37 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [Email]  
  • I could be wrong (BUT)
  • I think they changed the formula of the ceramic insulators in the new plugs.
    Dave <*)))><

    Dn-N-Tn    Posted 07-23-2019 at 12:54:26 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: I could be wrong (BUT)
  • Don't know about that Dave. I was working as a certified mechanic at a Ford dealer back in the 1970's when everything was changed to unleaded gasoline, and we noticed the difference right away. You could pull the plug wire boot back about 1/4" from the plug, make it jump and make the spark real hot and you could clear up a plug, that is, on leaded gas, but unleaded gas would not.

    TheOldHokie    Posted 07-23-2019 at 14:05:31 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: I could be wrong (BUT)
  • Let me suggest that what you were actually doing with the plug wire trick was burning off (some of) the lead deposits that had accumulated on the electrode causing a misfire. Lead fouling at cold startup used to be fairly common - it occurred when the engine was cold and the fuel mixture was overly enriched by the application of the choke. Your trick was a quick way to burn off some of that lead. Lead free gasoline eliminated that problem and the usefulness/need for your trick. It also allowed for longer spark plug service life. If you have a misfire today you need to look elsewhere for an explanation of the cause and a proper fix.

    TOH

    Dn-N-Tn    Posted 07-23-2019 at 18:19:59 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: I could be wrong (BUT)
  • Well, at least I got an interesting topic started with the thread:). When unleaded gas was introduced in the 70's, we also did a lot of warranty valve, valve guide, and head work on Fords. Not only Fords, my Dad's new Chevy P/U burned two valve before it ran 10,000 miles. Whether you agree with me or not, you'll have to agree that the engines built from 1939-1964 (especially tractor engines) were not designed to run on unleaded gas. These modern engines today are with computerized EFI systems to regulate the air/fuel mixture based on temperature both ambient and engine, barometric pressure and elevation and timing variations will certainly give longer life to spark plugs and valve train components. The lead was in the gasoline to help dissipate the heat in combustion related components. The gap from the plug wire to the plug increase the temperature at the plug electrode to a point that it would fire the mixture.

    TheOldHokie    Posted 07-23-2019 at 19:18:09 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: I could be wrong (BUT)
  • I think this discussion is really quite useless.

    TEL was used first used in gasoline as a patented (by GM) way to raise the octane rating and prevent detonation at advanced timing and higher compression ratios. While it had a few other beneficial side effects I don't think they played any real role in engine design. I have 40's, 50's, and 60's cars and tractors that run just fine on modern unleaded gas.

    TEL was also a spark plug killer and still is in aircraft engines where it's continued use requires very specific and regular maintenance to keep the engines functioning reliably. Remember when a used plug commonly looked like this? That buildup is lead oxide created by the combustion of TEL. Your trick with the plug wires was a well known way to burn off some of those deposits and won't work today because those deposits are now a thing of the past.

    TEL as a gasoline additive was a very bad idea when it was introduced in 1920 and still is today. It "only" took 50 years for one thing to become abundantly clear. The cons far outweigh any benefits and there are better and safer ways to do the job.

    TOH


    Dn-N-Tn    Posted 07-23-2019 at 20:50:25 [URL] [DELETE]        [Reply] [No Email]  
  • Re: I could be wrong (BUT)
  • I'm no mechanical engineer or patent lawyer---just a dumb old country boy who has worked as a mechanic on everything from tractors, cars, trucks, tanks, lawnmowers, weed eaters, motorcycles, chainsaws, generators, heavy equipment, buses, motorhomes, farm equipment, bicycles and roller skates for over 55 years. I'm just dumb enough to actually believe lessons I've learned the hard way. It's useless to argue, so, I won't. By the way, blast that plug, put it back in the hole and it'll look the same way in a few days, because that cylinder is pumping oil.

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