A Sticky Situation

Looking for things to do and decided that it was time for a little update again. A few posts ago around Christmas 2020 I replaced my chrome 40,000v coil to a black version. The reason then was that I had erratic starting issues and decided to change the coil just for the sake of it to see if it helped. It didn’t and the coil turned out to be fine and is now a spare just in case.

The original look was a chrome coil with the original Ford coil clamp in black.

On the coil was the Ford sticker to say what it was and add a little bit of authenticity.

I went to visit Mustang Maniac for a replacement as the pics above. I tried to peal the old label off and reuse it. But it rolled up like a toilet roll and just wouldn’t stick again.

I started to undo the clamp for the coil and lifted out the coil.

The old bolt was fine, but as my new bracket is chrome I wanted to polish the bolt with the Dremel, some nylon brush wheel and some final metal polish.

The supplied clamp was a screw head with a nice zinc finish.

My old bolt was a chrome Allen headed style and would look better.

The polished result was quite good and looked better than zinc and chrome. The new bracket was a direct replacement for the old one and bolted straight in.

The coil just drops back in and and then you can tighten the thin clamp bolt to hold it still, and then the single bolt for the bracket to the engine.

The new look is black and chrome, the old style was chrome and black.

The new sticker just needed to aligned up properly and then stuck on.

So the silvery coloured text on the black finish is more visible than the former silvery lettering on chrome.

Although the old bracket was restored and looked OK, I can’t bring myself to chuck it out now. Yes it’s old, it’s worth nothing, it’s the original, it’s pitted and not ageing very well.

The bracket will now be stored with the other old parts that have been replaced, either at the time since then. Will the chrome bracket last fifty five years like the old one? Of course it won’t, but I like the new look of black and chrome.

Bring on the car shows. We need the fresh air and to get out and about.

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What Goes Up Can Stay Up

I admit it, I’m so bored of the lockdowns, no car shows and there is talk of longer lockdowns again. To cheer myself up I decided to do a bit of upgrading that I have been thinking about for a while.

The stock Mustang aerials are usually on the right side fender and cant be retracted. Not a problem most of the time, but if you are out and about there could be some jealous vandal who wants to bend it. Then 1) you lost signal for the radio, 2) it’s a whole heap of hurt to swap out for what it is. Hence often wire coat hangers are jammed in the hole after.

In my case it’s more the fact that I want to cover the car and not have to make holes in the cover. Plus I can raise or lower the mast as I see fit.

There are lots of styles of aerials, standard mast, push down mast, stubby aerials, rubber aerials, rear window integrated, shark fin, fully automatic, semi automatic etc.

The fully automatic aerials works via a pulse signal from the radio when it turns on that in turn activates the aerial up, and another signal to lower. This needs a radio outlet to work it, and once the radio is on, you can’t listen to a cassette or blue tooth without the mast being raised.

Semi Automatic runs of a positive and earth via a manual operated switch which will raise the mast, then reverse the poles on the motor to lower the mast. This way I can have the radio on, without the mast up, or only half up, a bit up almost up or any variation in-between.

Let me explain why I wanted the semi auto option; my radio is an original stock item for a ’66 from the USA. But, I had it modified to take a 3.5mm jack point when I press a certain radio pre-set. That means that I can run an mp3 player, my phone for sat nav or a blue tooth dongle to the radio.

I’m going on the assumption that you already have the hole in the fender. If you don’t have a hole, work out where you want the aerial to go and make that hole.

Removing the old aerial;

I managed to do this with the car jacked up on axle stands and with the wheel off. How you get to the fender aerial is up to you and what works for you.

We need to remove the old aerial from the fender. Unplug the aerial lead from the back of the radio and make if fall loose into the footwell.

Under my fender are the splash guards that I fitted during restoration. If you don’t have them then your task is that much easier.

There are four bolts that hold this splash guard in place. One from under the hood at he very top. Then there a two at the sides on the middle picture, finally one at the bottom that also holds the fender in place too.

To remove the splash guard undo the bolts and will pull towards you and free of the chassis. On mine there was a layer of silicon to stop water ingress between the gaps. I managed to scalpel the silicon away and the guard broke free.

Here the guard is removed and the chassis behind it on the right pic.

The rubber on the sides of the guard were still supple and could be refitted and they had not torn. On the right pic you can see the aerial mast and just to right where the grommet goes into the chassis which protects the wires.

On top of the fender undo the hexagon nut and the mast will fall away from the fender.

That’s the mast out, now you should be able to pull the aerial lead through the grommet from inside the car.

Assembly:

Here is the Harada HA-50D. There are only three wires brown and white which control the motor mechanism and the black one for the coaxial.

For the most part fitting the part its a reverse of the above. I threaded the aerial coaxial cable back through the grommet and also the two coloured wires for the up down operation of the aerial.

In the kit there is a bar which is used to support the bottom of the bracket and is pliable to be able to be bent where you need it. There is a switch, and mounting bracket. To allow the the wires to pass into the body the brown and white wires have been bullet connector separated.

I made a test fitting to see where the bottom of the mechanism will roughly be. I worked out that I could re-use the bolt to hold the back of the fender in place. In the pic below you can see that loosened it to show you.

With the Aerial’s soft steel bracket I fitted it to the bolt and then replaced the nut back onto the fender’s bolt.

Thread the two power wires brown and white into the body via the grommet.

Now we can thread the mechanism up through the fender hole and randomly place the caps and hexagon fixing bolts loosely to hold the aerial in place. That way when you can move it around to the correct position and clearance a little later.

With the aerial roughly in place I loosely fitted the aerial in place and held in place with the bracket for support. The mild steel will bend so a pair of pliers twisted the strip and bent it to the aerial hole, which is arrowed above.

It says on the instructions that the aerial will ground under the fender. I’m not happy to go to bare metal in this case, so I made a small solder joint to the case of the aerial mast and attached that single wire to the bottom bracket. The smaller of the two black wires above. This will then also provide an additional ground. But not essential.

Take the aerial coaxial inside the car now and fit to the back of the radio.

The two wires will now need to be connected to the switch. connect the switch’s brown and white wires to the aerials brown and white wires.

The switch to control the aerial is a “Double Pole – Double Throw – Momentary Switch”

A live feed which is the green wire and an earth which is black will need connections as well.

I have a similar switch to this in stainless which I thought would look good. But when I trial fitted it, the switch didn’t look right in the car, but I did use one bit from it! (More on that in bit.) Below is the wiring diagram from the box. Due to the age of the box and the tape some of the diagram was missing, it had been crudely re-drawn on for the missing bits back on.

There aren’t many diagrams on the net for the wiring of these switches. If you need to change the switch out for a different style or want to know how it works here is the diagram I made.

In the diagram the brown wire is obvious, but the white wire is shown as a grey.

A point to note is that the up and down poles are reversed on the switch. ‘A’ and ‘D’ are engaged when the switch is held up to make the aerial go up and spin the motor in one direction.

When the toggle is push down then ‘C’ and ‘F’ are used to spin the motor in the other direction. They can’t be wired the same or the aerial will only go up or only go down.

To overcome this, the switch will reverse the polarity by crossing the wires over; ‘A’ to ‘F’ and ‘D’ to ‘C’. Thus the “Double Pole” part of the switch. The “Double Throw” is the up and down movement, the “Momentary” is that the switch will only work while you activate it and drop to the off position in the middle of the switch.

Power to the switch is provided by the 6A fused green wire to ‘B’, and the ground to ‘E’.

I made a temporary fitting for the power and ground to raise the aerial fully.

Adjust the aerial to the correct verticals. Then tighten up fully when you are happy. Lower the aerial to make sure that it’s full functioning.

Now we can look inside the car for the correct positioning of the switch and the power you are going to use. This is your choice where you want it to be. You could make a feature of it or just hide it.

I decided that the switch would look best under the dash as I didn’t want to drill holes in the dash facia itself. The bracket supplied has two two holes for screwing up under the dash.

I found a hole right next to the aircon blower unit which I would use. As there would only be one hole in use on the bracket the air-con bracket could be used to clamp the bracket in place.

With such a large hole I didn’t need to drill that either. I found a course threaded screw and a matching self tightening clamp to put behind the dash itself to hold everything in place. It was at this point I now used a part of my stainless switch; the wording plate instead of the up and down arrows on the plastic. Screw on the retaining ring and all was in place.

(Now take the brown and white wires and connect them back up again, if you disconnected them after the test fitting.)

I wanted a switched live from the ignition. So with that in mind I need to remove the current open connector on the end of the green wire and replace it with a piggy back spade fitting.

The best place I could see was to junction of the heater motor. I connected the heater motor spade to the new fitting and connected both.

Now I could tidy up the wires, tape them with wire loom cloth tape to look like stock fitting.

The black on the switch matches the black camera case inside and the stainless wording label is not too intrusive on the inside.


Now everything is working and in place we can get back under the fender. There is one last thing for the aerial which is the drain pipe. This just pushes on to the bottom. Me being me didn’t want any water dripping inside the fender and accumulating with the tube which was only four inches long. I found the old radiator overflow rubber pipe which was a the same bore and I managed to squeeze it inside the polyurethane pipe. I heat shrink a sleeve over it to make sure it stayed in place. and now comes out at the bottom of the fender.

Now we can finish by refitting the splash guard. This will just press back into place, making sure the rubber edges are not pinched.. Replace the four screws.

The additional part is the silicon. Place a little on your finger and smear it into the gaps metal to metal.

That’s it all done.

I now have a working aerial which can be raised or lowered from inside the car. I won’t need to make a hole in the car cover and it’s protected from vandals or accidental bending.

The results are great and everything is subtle in appearance. I don’t know of any other classic Mustang’s have an electric aerial either full auto or semi auto. There will be others out there of course, but I hope it puts me into a unique club now.

On a side note a question; how often do I use the radio? Hardly ever, but I can put it up just for a car show for the original stock look if I want to.

I’m running out of things to do on the car, best I get the car back out and clean it yet again!

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Filling The Void

A while ago I spotted a a Mustang with a grill to radiator cover plate fitted and I liked the look of it. Over the years I have sort of kept an eye out for one for my car and eventually found one a couple of weeks ago. This is a little post on me fitting it as it doesn’t warrant a full fitting guide as there are only four bolts to hold it in place.

The old look of the car was fine but there is always that gap after the grill to radiator, it’s just an empty void.

The part was ordered from the USA and arrived about ten days later well wrapped in a box with plenty of padding.

The “Show Panel” as the company called it done a few variations; natural finish, anodised black or a brushed steel finish. As my under hood colour scheme is naturally a satin black with chrome, I went for the black anodised look.

This panel is the single flat panel type and my preference, as it covers the gap, but leaves the natural look of the radiator top rail. The other point is that it will allow just a little more airflow to the radiator as well. There are other designs on the market where the panel is bent up into an “L” shape to then cover the front of the radiator support.

With this panel there comes a roll of edging strip and four plastic washers.

On the first test fit it was obvious that the panel was not going to fit with the horns in their correct locations mounted on top of the radiator support.

The supplied instructions (which came on a post it note sized bit of paper), advised you to move the horns out of the way lower down. Where you wanted to move them to is your choice of course, but lower down to keep things looking clean made sense instead of cluttering inside the engine bay.

I removed the first one and it just happened to be that the top radiator bolts would be perfect, but the horns would need a little mod. The mod came to the holding brackets of the horns which need a more pronounced “S” curve to move it away from the support panel. I could have left them untouched if I pointed them both towards the centre of the radiator, which could have a detrimental effect on the cooling.

The test fitting here shows the initial bracket ‘modification’. The locating pin to stop the horn twisting in the original position(s) was straightened out to allow a flush fit.

Both horns were removed and cleaned before they were refitted to their new locations.

There was enough slack in the horn wiring loop to allow the connection again all be it through a different hole where the aircon radiator pipes would have passed through.

That was the worst part done, now it was time to fit the edging strip to the panel. This was a nice touch and finished the panel of nicely. I made sure that the join wouldn’t be seen as it would be hidden under the fender lip.

The instructions advise to cover the panel with masking tape to protect it from damage while fitting along with the edges of the fenders and around the hood latch. As I was being super careful and I didn’t actually need it.

Two bolts from the middle hood latch and two that hold the top of the grill in place to the headlight buckets needed to be removed. As they were satin finish I thought they would look better in polished finish. I think that was a good call, same bolts here, but one was polished and the other still in natural satin.

The panel needed to be slotted under the radiator support top rail, while bowing the middle up to slot under the front edge of the fender lip.

With the panel in place it was a case of refitting the two centre latch bolts and the two end bolts for the headlight and grill. The supplied plastic washers were used to protect the panel.

The two end bolts didn’t quite line up, so I had to loosen a few smaller bolts to locate the panel where I could then refit the bolts. With everything aligned it was simple case to tighten everything back up again.

With everything in place, I could then clean the show panel from my finger marks.

As it was getting dark now. I decided to call it a day there and fit the remaining edging strip to the hood bump stop holes.

In hind sight I should have done it before fitting, arrowed.

So there you have it, my new panel that I made dirty again with my finger prints, which needed another clean. I can see me constantly cleaning this panel as it shows any finger prints.

the final step was to fill the holes in the radiator support where the horns were with black grommets to finish the look.

Before………………………………….After

I just think the panel neatens things up a bit and I’m really pleased with the result. 🙂

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Spring Doubles Up

I decided to make a little upgrade to the car to help with a very minor issue that I decided to rectify. The modification also added a little blink under the hood and something else to clean while I’m at it.

The issue was that on the odd occasion when lifting my foot of the throttle and stopping the idle would be a little too high. This could be cured by tapping the gas pedal and it would settle down again. On investigation it appeared to be the throttle return springs on the standard throttle rod didn’t strong enough to return the carb throttle body to it’s correct closed position every single time.

For a stock set up there is a single spring to return the angled throttle rod. Not very safe if the spring breaks or stretches as it could leave an open throttle. So the simple fix is to fit a secondary larger spring around the outside of the smaller spring. Although this configuration was fine the throttle feel was very light under foot.

I spoke to Adam who advised a rose joint billet throttle rod would help with the feel, but an alternative spring return would be needed if you swapped the rods out, more on that in bit. So I came home with a new throttle rod. I wasn’t to keen on the billet satin finish, so I spent a few hours sanding and polishing down to a shiny version which came out really well.

The first job was remove the old rod from the carb throttle body which was held in place by a lock nut. The two springs on the dog leg part of the old rod simply unhooked.

The second task was to remove the other end from the gas pedal bushing which is held in place by a split pin.

With the old rod removed I could compare the length of the original stup to the new rod which was also adjustable. The first pic shows the shine I managed to get on the billet rod.

These billet rods have a left hand thread and a right hand thread, so when twisting the rod in the middle it winds out both ends in or out for a synchronous adjustment. I set the rod to be the same length by default as the old one for now. The gas pedal needed to be a little higher inside the car for my liking as well, again more on that a little later.

I unscrewed the carb end of the new rod which has a conical fixing to fit inside the larger carb throttle body nearer the top for a test fitting and to see how the rose joint fitting would locate. The fitting was bit loose and required a single washer to pack out the gap in order to pull the rose joint firmly into the throttle body without any lateral movement. The movement now all comes from the rose joint itself.

(Note the old satin finish here.)

We now leave the throttle rod fitting at this point as the new return springs had to be fitted next. This would also make life easier with everything out of the way.

The return springs are Holley kit upgrades with an additional bracket, a spring levelling ring body fitting bolts and a choice of springs.

The original return spring is on the left. Although it’s shorter and slightly fatter, it had less distance to cover. The other springs have a much bigger gap to span and they have a different stronger positive tension when stretched. You will also notice the double loop closed ring ends on the Holley springs where they simply can’t become detached from the brackets.

Depending on the combination of springs, it will determine the overall feel of the throttle. I decided that the stronger pair for a max return would be my choice. There are two holes on the carb fitting ring (left picture), and two on the bracket. I made the mistake of putting the springs on the ring first.

This made life very difficult while trying to attach the pair of springs to the bracket as there wasn’t enough movement to allow the second spring to attach without tangling the other spring. So I had to remove one of the springs in order fit to the bracket first then onto the throttle ring. The secret is to fit first spring to the ring as you normally would, then the second spring fitting needs to be twisted in reverse first to allow the open ring to untwist and end up where it should be. If you don’t the springs will tangle and be twisted once fully fitted. I won’t deny it, it took me a few attempts to get right, the air did turn the same colour as the car, very blue as the springs tangled up on the first couple of attempts.

Eventually I manged to connect both sections.

To fit the bracket it needs to locate over a corner stud with the bigger hole that holds the carb in place. If the stud was longer then a second nut would bolt the bracket down.

A second smaller bolt nearer to the front of the bracket that also holds the spring bracket in place and to stop the bracket twisting when the springs are under stress.

As I have a 1″ phonetic spacer the bolt that bolts the carb down sits at the top end of the stud. That means I couldn’t bolt it down without changing out the stud. However, the top of the stud was protruding enough to act as a locating pin to stop any twisting.

To make sure the single bolt holes the bracket in place I fitted a large washer. The down side was that the washer was overhanging the bracket and snagging on the throttle body. This meant that I had to grind two edges flat to align with the carb body and then finish at the bracket’s edge. You can just about see odd shape in this picture. A smaller washer would have been fine I just wanted max hold.

With the bracket held firmly in place the tricky task of fitting the spring ring to the carb throttle body. In an ideal situation you could do with a third hand to do it easily. You need to thread the screw through the rose joint, washer and the conical spring ring in that order.

With the cone in place and the ring under tension to the bracket, you need a larger washer to stop the spring ring coming of the end. I didn’t use provided lock nut, but I still wanted to lock the bolts in place. Nut number one labelled holds it all together, number two locks the two together.

From the pic above you will see that I found it easier to have the rod unscrewed to fit it all together. Below pics are from the back and front views.

Now I could thread the rod back onto the rose joint.

The other end was a simple case of push the bolt through the gas pedal bushing using the supplied washer and locking nut to hold in place.

Now all was connected up I could test the range of the movement and nothing was snagging. Of course I was now pumping fuel into the carb which probably wouldn’t start as it would be flooded.

I sat in the car to check the height of the pedal I wanted. I was quite low so it needed to be adjusted. This is a simple case of turning the rod which would pull the gas pedal towards the carb for a higher pedal, or towards the firewall for a lower pedal.

Hold the rod in place with a spanner on the flats and tighten the nuts to hold the set distance in place pointed with the arrow.

Last job was to grease the moving metal to metal parts and replace the air filter.

That’s it job done.

The test drive after was good and the throttle was much snappier and returned much quicker to idle. The result I was looking for, it remains to be seen if the strong springs are to much or not. But for now, they feel fine under my size twelve feet.

Bring on the first car show of 2021!

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Making Contact

I mentioned in my last post that the car had a bit of a starting issue which is now cured with a replacement Pertronix Ignitor system from Mustang Maniac. To avoid such instances again I have a back up plan.

The new plan is to have a set of old school points to hand in case of the electronic points breaking down. I ordered a metal tin, I was going to get an old tobacco tin, but decided against it and went for a nice new shiny one instead.

To hold the new points and condenser I got some chunk of polystyrene and cut it to size and pressed it into the tin. As the cable to the points was removed as I replaced it with the Pertronix set up. I made a new cable one with fresh connections and soldered while I was at it. I then marked out the shape of the points and cut it out with a sharp scalpel. I didn’t take any pictures at the time as I wasn’t sure how it was going to come out or if it even would work.

As the polystyrene is a bit brittle I leaves little bits everywhere so I sealed it with a good few layers of clean PVA glue. To stop damage to the components I got a thin foam padding and lined the cut out as well and stuck that into place. The wires were held in place my a shallow cut out groove. The last part was a set of feeler gauges to set them once they were held in place. The mini kit is then all held firmly in place and doesn’t move at a all. Just to be sure I added a little cut out to lay on top.

The lid has now got a printed out label (along with a spare sticker I had), for the gap setting in case I have to use the kit. Even if the points only last me enough mileage to get me home in an emergency – then it’s gob done. I can easily replace the the points with another set which costs less than shop bought sandwich!

The tin looked a little plain on the outside so I have ordered a little Ford Parts sticker to go on the top.

Under the hood I decided that I wanted to replace the HT cable tidies or clips. I wanted something a little more meaty rather than the thin plastic clips. I ordered online a set of v8 plug clips for the 8mm cables I have. There are two four hole, 2 three hole and two hole clips one set for each side. These normally go by the spark plugs to keep them neat and tidy. As I already have a nice polished cable set holder, these were going to be a little more visible.

Me being me wasn’t happy with the finish of the screw heads, they were a bit dull and cheap looking, not how I like them to look.

The next step was to get my trusty ol’ Dremmel out with some metal polish and the appropriate felt buffing attachment. A simple case of a little polish and buff over, they came out nice and shiny.

The before and after is quite obvious and now up to my OCD standards.

Fitting these style of clamps is very simple, it’s just a case of clamping the two halves around the cables and screwing together.

Will anybody notice the difference? Probably not, but I know they are there. They also do the important job of keeping the cables neat and tidy and routed where they need to go cleanly and out of the way.

Following on from the last post I have been asked if I had the fitting instructions of the Pertronix II Ignitor kit. I do and I have added the PDF file here.

A short little post, but I’m just looking for things to do now. I need a car show or two to get me out of the house and some fresh air and a change of scenery. Already this year 2021 we have had two car shows cancelled and it’s only January. 😦

Keep Safe & Take Care.

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2021 Off To A Bad Start

Over the course of the Holidays and various forms of tiered forms of lock down that nobody really adhered to, I took my Mustang out. Now to be within to rules I took the car out to place where I could exercise after parking the car up. It just so happens that the car was parked in a pretty good place to take some photos while I was out exercising. There was nobody about, the odd car now and again going past, that was about it.

The garage was opened and the dust cover removed and placed on top of my tool chests. Excited to see the car after a number of weeks I got in and started the car, well tried to start it. The car was turning over fine but it didn’t fire up. I opened the hood and had a general look round under there. Fuel filter, yep fuel in there. I took the air filter off and checked the carb was squirting fuel, yep it was. After putting the bits back on I jumped in the car thinking it was just standing time issues. Turning the key the car started to turn over again, still but no fire up. Now I could smell fuel quite strongly, so I decided to leave it for a few minutes with the hood up to evaporate the fuel a bit. As it was getting late in the afternoon it was worth one more try before I give up and look at it properly another day. Third time lucky? She again spun over the crank slowed down and “BANG”. The backfire sounded like a grenade going off in my garage which made my ears ring, timing was obviously out to ignite at the wrong time. The car was running now a few seconds of really rough idle then it settled down to a smoother choke running. I backed the car out OK and drove of fine. However, there is a lot more to this story a little later…

The pictures:

I parked up and took some pictures before my little walk somewhere different. It just so happened where I was parked up would make a good backdrop. I took over 200 pics that afternoon, but this little selection are my favourites so far. I even done a black and white variation on a few of them. The pictures are variations on angles and lighting etc.

The next couple of photos I tried to start of with colour on the right and gradually fade it to black and white on the left. I played with the contrast to make the bottom one more antique and faded too. It sort of works I think, let me know if I hashed it or smashed it! I may even do some sepia variables as well.

The Journey Home.

I got back into the care and started the car, eventually after a few seconds it did start, but it was unusual to take that long. The drive back was about ten minutes and were not right. I got a few hiccups under mild acceleration from a standstill and the odd flat spot on a 40mph straight. I can’t deny that I was a bit worried. The car was parked up in the garage and covered her up with a nagging feeling in the back of my mind.

Next day I went out to the garage to just start her up. Turn of the key and the car spun over, then over and over. I tried to start her a number of times and smell of fuel was quite strong. I had a problem that was evident.

I sent Adam a text at Mustang Maniac to ask for a little advice when he had a moment. Adam being the kind soul that he is told me to get to my tools and he would call me back in a few minutes when I was ready. To his word he called me and talked me through some tests to look at with him over the phone. We swapped out the new coil with an older one that I had with the same result of spinning over with no fire up. We swapped over the coil HT lead to the distributor after testing with my multi-meter Ohm settings. Nothing. We then earthed out the coil HT to the engine to see if a spark jumped over to the engine. How did I manage that? Simple I talked sweetly to my wife who came out for a couple of minutes to turn the car over for me.

The diagnosis was narrowed down to the Pertronix ignition sensor which has gone to the great scrap yard in the sky! I needed a new one, it was a simple as that. Adam said he would get one out to me via mail ASAP as their location was in a high tier restriction for Covid reasons.

The next day my courier turned up with the part. I took a drink along with the part into the garage, unlocked the tool chests and settled down for a few hours. The distributor cap was removed and the single screw was removed the Pertronix sensor. The downside was the wiring loom had to be cut open to expose the wires for the sensor.  The fitting of the Pertronix sensor can be found here.

I done a rough fit without the neatness of wiring loom and connected up ready for the start up. I got in the car and turned the key. The car fired almost instantly and run smoothly all the way to the choke coming off. I let the car cool down and got back to routing the wires back into the loom and neaten it all back up again. A couple of hours later the work was finished and up to my own self imposed high standards. The aftermarket part is now looking like part of the stock loom again and I’m happy. I need to take the car out for trip to make sure everything is still as it was. But, as we are in a current national lockdown that is out of the question right now.

All that remains is for me to thank Adam at Mustang Maniac for his time, even though he was officially “Closed” over the holiday season. I needed the part and I paid for the next day courier service from his WebShop. I was offered the multiple choices of delivery and the costs options. Normally I would drive and pick it up, and it’s also a good excuse to catch up for a chat with some friends. There is a an advantage of being a loyal customer and personal friend with a Mustang parts supplier, who will help go out of their way for you when you need the help.

Since I refitted the new part, I have been on a number of forums about the Pertronix Ignitor series. It seems that I was a lucky boy after all in the fact I got home at all. Most of the time these units are absolutely fine and last forever and a day. But, if you get a bad unit they just stop dead. You could go down the road, pull out of a junction and it stops dead in the middle of the road as one person reported and that’s it. The same symptoms I had – no restart. I had issues where I had a cut out which progressively got worse to the point it didn’t start again. Now I intend to get an old school set of points and condenser to carry with me as an emergency get me home kit. If the points burn out after a few miles due to the hot coil 45,000 volts with 0.6ohms I won’t mind. As long as I get home they are cheap enough to replace again.

My 2021 didn’t start very well, in more ways than one. It could have been much worse of course, I’m just lucky it was a simple problem to replace. Onwards and upwards I guess.

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Merry Christmas

Just wanted to say to all my readers and visitors:

Merry Christmas & much better New Year.

Keep safe everybody and lets look forward to a 2021 being a normal year. But the way things are looking at the moment – that could be wishful thinking!

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Feeling A Bit Dizzy!

On my last post (rather a large post), I explained the critical settings of the spark plug and the benefits of quality ignition leads. That’s all well and good, but if you don’t have the correct pulses or power going down those leads at the right time then you will have problems. While I was checking and replacing spark plugs, I decided to strip down and rebuild the top end of the distributor.

Firstly what is a distributor?

A distributor consists of a rotating arm or rotor arm inside the distributor cap, which sits on top of the distributor shaft. This shaft has an insulated body to the vehicle’s ground or earth. The distributor shaft is driven by a gear on the camshaft on most overhead valve engines, and attached directly to the camshaft on most overhead cam engines. The distributor shaft usually also drives the oil pump. The metal part of the rotor contacts the high voltage cable from the ignition coil via a spring loaded carbon brush on the underside of the distributor cap. The metal part of the rotor arm passes close to (but does not touch) the output contacts of the distributor cap which connect via high tension (ignition) leads to the spark plug of each cylinder. As the rotor spins within the distributor, electric current is able to jump the small gaps created between the rotor arm and the contacts due to the high voltage created by the ignition coil. The voltage then travels down the HT leads to the spark plug where it again jumps a predetermined gap to ignite the air fuel mixture in the cylinders providing drive to the crank and thus power to the wheels via a transmission. (In a nut shell description.)

The principles are the same for a 4 cylinder, i6, v6, v8, v10, v12 etc. The rotors may travel in a different direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise), the number of leads on the distributor cap may be more, the firing orders will be different etc.

To show those principles of the spark, here is a simple 4 cylinder diagram with points. A v8 just more of plugs, more cap points, more cam lobes to open and shut the points etc. but you can see the idea on a less cluttered diagram.

Modern cars tend not to have points, but have electronic sensors to replace them. Latest technology has a sensor on the cam shaft which fires the spark plugs without the need for a distributor or even a coil, as the power for the spark is handled by ‘coil’ packs which are mounted on top of the spark plug lead fittings.

This post is a going to be a very cut down version of the whole process I have documented. The full rebuild with all the photos, explanation step by step can be found here. I will only be covering the Pertronix ignition process on this post, but I do cover the points process or refitting and setting as well on the full walkthrough.

* Disclaimer (just in case): If you are in any doubt on your ability to try this – DON’T. Get it wrong you and could damage the insides of the distributor, the car wont start or run properly. This is a guide on how I done it, I can’t held be responsible for your actions.

Dismantling:

First thing is to make a note of where the HT (spark) leads go and to what cylinder. Take a few photo’s if you’re not sure, label the leads up with a marker or sticky label of some sort. If you look closely the top of the Mustang distributor caps it has the number ‘1’ on the top, this is where you plug the lead for cylinder one. The diagram below right is for the firing order of 260/289/302 with a standard cam. Check your manual if you’re unsure.

Take the leads off and unclip the front and rear retaining clips to release the cap. The rotor arm can now be removed and the small usually oil soaked felt pad under it can be removed. Both my rotor and felt pad needed to be replaced.

Depending on your set up there will either be a set of points and condenser picture below left, the points gap is covered on the full process here.

An upgraded set of electronic points as mine (below right) will be set to the manufacturers recommended gap, more on that later once the rebuild is completed.

I removed the electronic set up, but once the condenser and points are removed (above left), the principle is exactly the same for dismantling and re-assembly up to the fitting of the Pertronix or points and condenser.

My Pertronix is held in place by a single screw at the bottom of the shoe which also pivots at the top where the original points screw would have held the top part of the points. Then remove the black sensor collar.

Disconnect the vacuum pipe to the front of the vacuum canister which goes to the carb. Check for any leaks or cracks on the pipe if you find some replace the pipe.

Next there is a metal lever that goes into the distributor (which will now be known as “dizzy” from now on). There is a tiny clip that holds the bar onto the pin. Remove the clip very carefully and make sure you don’t loose it. Remove the vacuum can from the dizzy.

Check for signs of perishing on the diaphragm on the inside. To check the function of the vacuum you can suck the can from the front and you should see the arm move towards the inside of the can, repeat a few times. If all is good you can clean it up and keep it safe, if not replace. Next remove the screw that holds the earth strap to the lower dizzy plate.

Next to the cam lobes there is another e-clip at the top of a pin. This holds a washer and under that a fairly strong sprung washer. Slip a small flat ended screw driver and gently tease it away. If you’re not careful it will ping up and be lost in the depth of the engine bay. Remove the washer, sprung washer and keep safe with the e-clip.

With the washer and spring washer out the way, you should now be able to lift the plate up and lift it up over the lobes of the cam.

The lower plate is now only held in place with a single screw the opposite side to where the cables come into the dizzy. Undo the screw and remove the lower plate.

Removing the lower plate there should be three raised points which separates the upper plate and should be smooth. I noticed one of mine was loose so I removed it then re-stuck it back on later.

With the lower plate removed you can now see the advancing weights and springs.

NOTE: The springs are different tensions. The one has less tension and and allows the weights to swing out under rotation to advancing the timing. The other spring is stiffer and at certain centrifugal force this spring takes over slowing down the advance. The larger and stronger spring is a loose fit to the anchor points and is normal.

On top of each weight there is again a an e-clip. Remove with a small flat ended screw driver and make sure it does not ping off. Make a note of which weight goes where and repeat for the other side.

Keep them separate or mark up a piece of paper and lay them on the paper so you know which pair go together and if they are the 13deg weight side or the 18deg weight side. Without taking the whole dizzy out this is about as far as you need to go.

You could possibly remove the springs, the two springs making careful notes on what one goes where. I decided against that just in case I stretched a spring putting it back on. This would have a detrimental effect on the timing and advance. My springs weren’t to bad so I decided not to chance it.

Now you need to clean the inside and remove any old dried grease and debris. Don’t go mad in here with the fluids, use just enough to clean. I found carb cleaner is good, and also sprayed onto a cotton bud to clean the springs and surrounding area.

You can move the move the weight plate with your fingers to clean parts that are partially covered. Don’t go mad with forcing open of the springs, you don’t want to stretch them. Make sure there is no bits of debris in the bowl or trapped anywhere.

The bowl should now be clean of all debris and old grease.

Assembly:

I started with the weights. take each weight and either clean with a degreaser or similar, or take some ‘000’ grade super fine wire wool to take the roughness of the weights.

Make sure that NO wire strands are left on the weights or fall into the dizzy bowl.

I used a small punch to wrap a little wire wool around and then clean the inside of the holes. You are lightly cleaning – not reboring the hole. Also clean the clip, any rough edges or rust could impede the movement of the weights.

With the weights and clips cleaned it was time to fit them back to the dizzy. You will need some proper lubrication. I researched a fair bit and the general recommendation is an engine assembly grease. Light smears not huge blobs!

If you examine the weights it easy to see where the wear marks are, apply a little grease to the weight. wear points and into the holes. Note that the whole weight doesn’t need greasing, just the hole, outside edges, the top where the clip holds it in place and the underside where it rests on the pin base.

Place the weight over the pin and lower it into position. There may be some excess grease, but that can be removed later. Make sure the weight is free to move and rests within the cradle. Apply a film of grease to the clip and place onto the weight.

You need to press the clip onto the post into the recess. I found again a small flat headed screw driver would do the trick. It can take a few goes to get right. Just make sure it doesn’t ping away. With both weights and clips in place it should look something like this.

Lower plate needed some love in respect that the plastic/nylon stop had worked a bit loose. Both the front and the back of the lower plate was cleaned with fine wire wool. You can see the slide pads are just hot pressed into the holes of the plate from the factory. With the plate now repaired I cleaned the yellowish and two red pads of the old grease and debris. I took some 5000grit and then 8000grit to remove any rough parts. Not sand it down, but more of a polish. Check the vacuum post has no wear and burrs.

Again make sure NO wire wool or cleaning material is on the plate before refitting. Place the plate back into the bowl area to cover the plate with the post side facing upwards. Align the hole and screw into place.

Take your assembly grease on a cotton bud and apply a film over the plastic pad areas and the post.

The upper plate may need a clean with wire wool or degreaser depending on the state of it. Pay attention to the brass bush which sits on the post of the lower plate. Brass is a soft metal and you don’t want to create a problem so be careful not to damage it with the small punch, degreaser with fine wool. Remove any burrs on the top side of the bush to allow the sprung washer to move without snagging.

On the underside of the upper plate you can see where the plate has moved across the slide pads over the years. Apply a film of the grease on these areas and into the brass bush and the vacuum post.

Place the upper plate onto the lower plate, locating it via the brass bushing. make sure it’s free to move all the way. Clean the components that hold the top plate to the bottom plate. Top washer, sprung washer and the e-clip all need to be clean and smooth in order to not snag the movement.

To refit a further film of grease over both sides of the of the sprung washer on top of the top plate brass bush with the curled edges facing up. Top washer with grease applied on the top and bottom, place the washer on top of the sprung washer.

Next refit the cleaned up earth strap for the top and bottom plates.

On the Pertronix setup, wipe over the plastic collar and slip it over the cam lobes with the recess facing upwards.

With the vacuum advance module clean the arm at the back and apply a film of grease on both sides near the hole and in the locating hole. The vacuum module can only fit on in one way following the curve on the outside of the dizzy.

With the arm located take the e-clip clip with some grease and again fit into place so that the arm is held down. Secure back in place with the two screws.

Setting up the Pertronix or points, don’t use grease here as you want the srews to hold in place. Place the Pertronix on the plate, and the other end of the earth strap that is attached to the bottom plate on top of the Pertronix while aligning the top pin to the other locating hole.

With the sensor and the collar in place you need to set the correct gap. A ‘tool’ is supplied with Pertronix which is a plastic strip to set the gap which is 0.80mm. Left pic shows the gap is to small. The right pic shows the correct way to gap the sensor. Keep the plastic gap tool flat to the sensor face and slide the the unit until there is a slight drag between the collar and the sensor. Tighten the screw fully.

In the centre of the dizzy where the rotor arm sits is a recess. This has a felt pad to oil which is to keep the cam lubricated lower down. I would recommend this is replaced with a new one and filled with fresh oil, or reuse the old one with the old oil it’s up to you. Most people use a drip of the engine’s dipstick at oil change. But my research leads to me to say that this should be a very light engine oil to allow the oil to run through the felt. It’s debated if this is still required. However, Ford wouldn’t have milled out the centre shaft and put a felt pad in there for no reason!

Place the rotor arm on top of the dizzy shaft and locate into place. These can only fit in orientation as there is a keyway on the inside of the rotor to match with the shaft cut out.

Now take your marked up HT leads or follow the chart and fit back onto the dizzy cap. Job done.

If you made it this far thank you. Another long post but still cut down a bit from the original page here.

I’m looking forward to using up some holiday and time off over the Christmas break, hopefully I will be posting some more, hopefully less technical or intense.

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The Humble Spark Plug

The ignition systems on modern cars is highly complex. Even on classic cars that technology has moved on, but you probably don’t realise it. The humble spark plug is a highly complex part of the engine and the plug leads that supply the power are no exception.

What started out as me showing you how I remade a broken lead and setting my spark plug gaps, turned into a bit of a monster research project. I didn’t realise that there was quite as much involved for a throw away part that only costs a few quid (bucks). From what I have learnt I will try to explain; cause of bad plugs, incorrect gap setting, how spark plugs and their leads are made, how they work and how you can make your own custom plug leads!

Costs:

HT ignition cable sets can vary from £15 to £150 (or more depending requirements).

Spark Plugs can very from £2 each to easily over £20 each

Crimping tool £5 to £25

Spark plug gap tool or feeler gauges £2 to £30

What is an Ignition, Spark Plug or HT lead?

It’s a simple, but critical cable which transfers the power from the distributor cap to the spark plug, where it then provides the energy to create a spark at the plug electrodes, which in turn ignites the air/fuel mixture to give you the power to turn a crank which will eventually drive the wheels.

The ignition lead is comprised of a conductive material surrounded by a silicone jacket. The primary purpose of the silicone surround is protection and looks to a degree. Ignition leads sit in close proximity to the engine itself and so are subject to dramatic changes in temperature, caustic chemicals and frequent abrasion. A silicone outer layer helps to protect the conductive core from external damage, extending its lifespan.

The core itself, which carries the current, will either be made of copper or carbon, depending on the age of the vehicle. Older vehicles used copper, modern ones carbon. Now days older cars can use the modern carbon style for better reliability and consistency and still look stock.

See the source image

It’s a common myth that bigger and more elaborate HT leads will give you more horse power. What they will do is provide the optimum efficiency and stability that may have been lacking on older worn leads. They should last longer and keep performance at a constant level.

How do you know if the HT leads have gone bad?

1. Decrease in power, acceleration, and fuel efficiency

One of the most common symptoms of an issue with the ignition cables is engine performance problems. The ignition cables carry the spark from the coil and distributor to the spark plugs so that engine combustion can occur. If there is any issue with the spark plug wires the engine spark can be disturbed, which can result in engine performance issues such as misfires, a reduction in power and acceleration, as well as a reduction in fuel efficiency. In severe cases bad cables may even result in engine stalling.

2. Visible wear or damage to cables

Visible wear or damage are symptoms of issues with the ignition cables. Old cables may dry out or perish, which may lead to cracks in the insulation. There are also instances where the cables may rub up against a hot manifold or engine components, which may cause them to melt and burn up. Both of these issues may compromise the cable’s ability to transport the spark to the spark. This can lead to misfires and other performance issues, and in more serious cases may even lead to the cables shorting against the engine.

3. Check Engine Light comes on (modern cars)

Faulty cables can lead to engine misfires as well as excessively rich air fuel ratios, both of which can set off the Check Engine Light if detected by the computer. Many modern vehicles are now being manufactured without the good old fashioned ignition cables, however they are still found on a very large majority of older cars.

Process To Make Your Own:

Regardless of the vehicle, making the wire is the same in principle. Most of the time the ‘generic’ HT leads tend to have the spark plug boot already connected. Most kits will give you an option of metal crimp ends and rubber boots depending on application.

These can be straight, 90deg or 115deg angles (as below) etc. depending on the manufacturer, engine fitting, style, age and type of engine etc.

These HT leads can be single colours, multi coloured, cloth wrapped, silicon covered or custom variations of anything in between.

The spark plug boot fittings can be pretty much anything on top of the spark plug terminal, to nothing with just the thread or a simple screw down for the clamped earlier designs.

See the source image

Or any of the following styles; stud, clip, screw, solder or crimp etc.

My Mustang leads are set to the 115deg from the plug with an open end which allows you to cut the wire and route where you want it. Or you could buy prefabricated leads without the hassle or making them of course. But you may be limited to the routing of the wires that you wanted.

Process to attach the fittings.

Making your cable connection will require a plug crimping tool, usually around £10 to £25 for a ratchet set. They have the main crimping section at the bottom of the jaws, outer layer cutting jaw and then the inner cable crimp at the top, if needed.

Measure the length of the cable you need and trim approx 1″ longer than you need, this will allow for trimming and crimping the core. Better to be a fraction to long than too short and put stress on the cable.

Depending on the connection you have you may need to trim to the inner core and crimp twice.

If there are no boot(s) on the cable you will need to put these on first. Make sure they are the correct way round. This is so often forgotten and will lead to a wasted crimp and an even shorter cable when you have to redo them. To make life easier to slide the cable through the boot is apply a little dielectric grease. this protects the rubber and also allows electrical current through it just in case it gets on the centre core.

My cables needed to expose the inner core only. Trim of the outer silicon and the inner layer to leave an exposed amount of core.

Fold the core cable over back on itself. making sure that the core is on the back of the fitting.

Place the fitting and cable into the crimps with the open side on the fold part of the jaws.

Slip the boot over the fitting and make sure it seats correctly. With both ends crimped and ready to fit test the integrity of the lead via a multimeter ‘ohms’ setting with a tester prong at each end of the cable. With everything in place you can fit the cable.

Note; the distributer cap boot fittings (male fit) tend to extend past the rubber as it has to sit deeper into the distributor cap as in this pictures here to make a contact.

Repeat for each lead you need.

Spark Plugs:

This is probably the least thought about part of the engine and least understood. Yet these relatively cheap disposable parts can make a huge difference to the running of the engine, and the designs behind them can get highly technical. i will try to break it down into smaller sections.

What is the Spark Plug?

This is the part of the engine that detonates the air fuel mixture in the engine’s cylinders to make the explosion to force the piston down to rotate a crank, which in turn drives a shaft to the gearbox.

Basics:

Design of the plug will dictated by the engine manufacturer, such as where it will be located how far from the chamber etc. things like centre mounted plugs on an over head cam tend to be thinner and longer to reach the top of the cylinder. Traditional side mounted mounted plugs can be shorter or fatter depending on where it needs to sit in the cylinder head.

A good rule of thumb for the correct depth is something like this, all the information will be in the manufacturers guides.

To shallow a plug and the spark will not ignite the fuel/air in the cylinders correctly. To long a plug and there is a danger that the top of the piston could hit the plugs. The incorrect depths could also play a part in heat dissipation, fuel economy, power and even the overall drivability of the car.

A selection of various designs from short to long, to thin to fat and marine application.

The firing end has a number of different ways to create the spark, single, double and even quadruple toe electrodes, angled etc. Each design will give a specific spark for a particular engine. Here is a description of the more common ones.

Standard spark plugs typically feature a traditional ground electrode.

Double fine wire electrode (DFE) spark plugs apply a fine wire pin to the ground electrode in addition to a fine wire center electrode. A smaller electrode requires less voltage to jump the gap, resulting in fewer misfires, which translates to increased fuel economy and horsepower. A smaller electrode also reduces flame quenching.  Reducing the electrode size on a standard nickel plug would result in a drastically shortened life span, so smaller electrodes require exotic metals such as platinum or iridium to maintain (and at times surpass), the longevity of a traditional spark plug.   

flat ground electrode is shorter and closer to the metal shell and center electrode, providing a faster path to transfer heat away from the ground electrode. Its low profile design is resistant to vibration.

Developed for engines that tend towards increased carbon depositing as a result of their design, hybrid spark plugs have a standard ground electrode as well as two smaller ground electrodes on each side. When the insulator becomes clogged with carbon, the ignition voltage jumps over to the side electrodes, enabling the plug to operate even under severe conditions. Once the plug has reach operation temperature and the deposits are removed, it returns to “normal” operation, with the spark jumping between the center and main ground electrode.

low angled ground electrode is shorter and closer to the metal shell and center electrode, providing a faster path to transfer heat away from the ground electrode. Its low profile design is resistant to vibration. A smaller electrode requires less voltage to jump the gap, resulting in fewer misfires, which translates to increased fuel economy and horsepower. A smaller electrode also reduces flame quenching.  Reducing the electrode size on a standard nickel plug would result in a drastically shortened life span, so smaller electrodes require exotic metals such as platinum or iridium to maintain (and at times surpass), the longevity of a traditional spark plug.   

Some engine designs require the spark plugs have the ground electrode placed to the side of the center electrode rather than below as on a traditional plug. This may be for combustion chamber design as in the case of a rotary engine, or a surface gap design as used in leaner air/fuel ratio’s on industrial engines. The side electrode design tends to wear faster than a traditional plug. Erosion at these points creates a larger gap between the center and ground electrodes, causing plug misfire. Thus, if the engine design requires a side discharge plug, more ground electrodes extend plug life.

Multi-Ground plugs are offered in 2, 3 and 4 ground electrode designs. It is important to note that multi-ground does not mean multi-spark, there will still only be one spark at a time. Caution should be made in selecting a “high performance” plug. 

If your car came OE with a multi-ground plug, your engine will likely wear through single electrode plugs, especially fine wire plugs, at a rapid rate.

Projected square platinum electrode (PSPE) spark plugs apply a square shaped tip of platinum to the end of a shortened ground electrode.This ground electrode shape allows the spark to be focused between the fine-wire center electrode and projecting platinum ground electrode. A smaller electrode requires less voltage to jump the gap, resulting in fewer misfires, which translates to increased fuel economy and horsepower. A smaller electrode also reduces flame quenching.  

In a semi-surface discharge design, the voltage path skims across the surface of the insulator. When the spark discharges, it burns off any carbon build-up. The wide gap improves ignition capability and is less sensitive to gap growth. Additionally the concave cut in the ground electrode promotes even gap growth.

slant ground electrode is shorter and closer to the metal shell and center electrode, providing a faster path to transfer heat away from the ground electrode. Its low profile design is resistant to vibration.

A thin square pad of platinum is welded to some ground electrodes to ensure durability.

True surface discharge or surface gap spark plugs have no side electrode, instead utilizing the entire face of the plug shell as a ground to ignite. Thus the gap remains constant through the plugs entire life. They have no given heat range as the electrode design prevents the firing tip from overheating, and the insulator is flush with the metal shell to dissipate heat quickly. Therefore, these plugs are susceptible to fouling in cold applications.


Surface discharge plugs may be required in high compression applications or with high energy ignition systems. They are also used in rotary engines as they present a flush face to the combustion chamber, eliminating interference with an electrode tip and exposing the spark to the entire air/fuel mixture for improved combustion.

Many variations of the surface discharge plug exist, including the semi-surface discharge, intermittent gap, supplementary gap, and surface air gap plug. All designs create a spark along the insulator nose to remove carbon build-up.

taper cut ground electrode serves a similar function to a cut back ground, fine wire ground and angled ground electrode. Also known as an inverted v-tip, tapered v-profile, trimmed side, v-trimmed or wedge shaped ground electrode, all trimmed designs have the same purpose: to reduce quenching and shadowing by reducing the surface area between the electrodes which could hinder the growth of the flame nucleus.

trapezoid cut ground electrode is a variation of a taper cut ground, which serves a similar function to a cut back ground, fine wire ground and angled ground electrode. All trimmed designs have the same purpose: to reduce quenching and shadowing by reducing the surface area between the electrodes which could hinder the growth of the flame nucleus.

Heat Range:

When the air temperature is high, as in the summer, the inlet air temperature becomes higher, increasing the load on the engine. In times like this, it’s better to choose a plug with a higher heat range.

Various circumstances such as engine conditions and driving conditions are rough measures for choosing a plug. If you are doing lots of strenuous driving for a considerable time using normal plugs, the plug will overheat. This is why the idea of a Standard plug fits all for all car’s doesn’t work.

The heat is controlled by the design of the inside of the spark plug head More material that can be in contact with the cylinder the greater the cooling. (The dark grey shading represents a hollowed out area between the insulator and the thread.)

Each manufacturer has their own coding for heat ranges, this is a comparison of some popular plugs.

Horse Power:

If the horsepower has been increased through tuning, the increase in explosive power leads to an increase in combustion chamber temperature, making pre-ignition more likely; in such cases it is necessary to choose a plug with a higher heat range and a higher level of heat resistance provided by Denso. The same with other plugs of course just different numbering approach.

Types of Spark Plug Cores:

Sparks like to jump from the sharpest point on the center electrode to the sharpest point on the side electrode. Ideally you want a plug that retains its sharp edge for the most amount of miles covered. Precious metals like platinum and iridium are harder metals and have higher melting temperatures than the nickel alloy electrodes found in traditional copper spark plugs. The smaller the diameter of the center electrode, the lower the voltage needed to start the spark.

Copper Core:

These plugs have a solid copper core, but the business end of the center electrode is actually a 2.5mm-diameter nickel alloy. That’s the largest diameter electrode of all the spark plug types. Remember, the smaller the diameter, the less voltage required to initiate the spark. Nickel alloy is also softer than either platinum or iridium, so the sharp firing edge you get right out of the box tends to wear out quickly. Despite those shortcomings, copper spark plugs are still a good choice for certain applications. Copper spark plugs are best for older (pre-‘80s) vehicles with low voltage distributor-based ignition systems. Don’t use copper spark plugs in high-energy distributor-less ignition systems (DIS) or coil-on-plug (COP) ignition systems. They’ll wear out too quickly.

There’s one exception to that advice. Some late-model high-performance engines were designed specifically for copper spark plugs. In those cases, copper spark plugs are considered to be high performance spark plugs. If your owner’s manual calls for copper spark plugs, don’t upgrade to platinum spark plugs or iridium spark plugs.

Platinum Core:

single platinum spark plug is basically styled after a copper spark plug with a platinum disc welded to the tip of the center electrode. Since platinum is harder than nickel alloy, it holds its sharp edge for as long as 100,000 miles. Platinum spark plugs also run a bit hotter, preventing spark plug deposit build up and fouling.

Platinum spark plugs are usually the best spark plugs for newer vehicles with electronic ‘distributor-based ignition systems’ (DIS). If your owner’s manual recommends platinum spark plugs, don’t downgrade to copper spark plugs to save money. However, you can upgrade to either double platinum spark plugs or iridium spark plugs.

Double platinum spark plugs were designed for “waste spark” DIS. In a waste spark