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 system, the spark jumps from the center electrode to the side electrode for the cylinder that’s on the compression stroke. To return the electrical pulse back to the ignition coil pack, the spark jumps backwards (side-to-center) on the partner cylinder. Since the partner cylinder is on its exhaust stroke, nothing ignites and the spark is “wasted.”

You can’t use single platinum spark plugs or traditional copper spark plugs in these systems because the side electrodes aren’t designed to handle the reverse spark. But double platinum spark plugs, with a platinum disc welded to their side electrode, work exceptionally well. Both the center and side platinum discs remain sharp, allowing sparks to fly easily in both directions without causing rapid electrode wear.

If your owner’s manual recommends double platinum spark plugs, then those are the best spark plugs to use. You should never downgrade to single platinum spark plugs or copper spark plugs. However, you can upgrade to an iridium/platinum combination plug (an iridium center electrode with a platinum-tipped side electrode).

Iridium Core:

Iridium is harder than platinum, and in most cases, iridium spark plugs last approx 25 percent longer than comparable platinum spark plugs. Because iridium is costly, iridium spark plug manufacturers reduce the diameter of the center electrode to as little as .4mm. In addition to saving money, the “fine wire” center electrode on iridium spark plugs increases firing efficiency.

Many carmakers require iridium spark plugs or iridium/platinum combination spark plugs for coil-on-plug (COP) ignition systems. If your owner’s manual specifies iridium spark plugs, don’t downgrade to platinum spark plugs, or double platinum spark plugs, or even copper spark plugs. They won’t perform as well as the iridium spark plugs and cause some potential problems with running.

As the spark ignites the air/fuel mixture, the colder side electrode tends to “quench” the flame. To combat quenching, some spark plug manufacturers cut a “U” or “V” shaped channel into the “spark receiving” surface of the side electrode. The larger channeled area reduces quenching and allows the flame to grow more quickly. Other manufacturers split the end of the side electrode to reduce the flame’s contact with the side electrode and allow the flame to shoot straight down into the cylinder.

Are these type of plugs better? There’s no general consensus or conclusive evidence on whether these designs work better or not. However they will perform at least as well as a non-channelled plug, if not better.

Condition of the Spark Plugs:

These little pieces of technology can tell you an awful lot about the condition of your engine, at each service you could take them out and check, but you don’t have to. Many years ago when spark plugs were a standard core, they used to be replaced with every car service along with points. With modern computer controlled injection, you should be running ‘normal’ most of the time.

On carburettor cars the tuning and air/fuel mixtures are much easier to spot.

A visual inspection of the spark plugs could like the following;

Normal Condition

Normalconditions

If the firing end of the spark plug is brown or light grey, the engine condition can be judged to be good and the spark plug is functioning correctly.


Deposits

Deposits

The gathering of different deposits on the firing end is influenced by oil leakage, fuel quality and engine operating period. The deposits can come from Carbon, Lead, Bromine, Calcium, Sulphur, Barium and Zinc.


Dry and Wet Fouling

Dryfouling

Dry and Wet Fouling is another way the firing end can be damaged. If the insulation resistance between the centre electrode and the “shell” is over 10M ohms the engine can start up normally, however if the insulation resistance drops to 0 the firing end is fouled by either wet or dry carbon.


Lead Fouling  

Leadfouling

If your spark plug firing end looks yellowish brown on the insulator nose, this is found on spark plugs that have been damaged by lead. Also, this particular type of damage cannot be detected by a resistance tester at room temperature.  Lead compounds combines at different temperatures; those formed at 370-420 degrees Celsius have the biggest influence on the resistance.


Overheating

Overheating

If your spark plug has overheated, the insulator tip is glazed or glossy. Deposits which have gathered on the insulator tip have melted, and there is a chance that the insulator will have blistered.


Breakage

Breakage

Breakage is normally caused by a thermal shock due to sudden heating or cooling – replace immediately!


Normal Life

Normallife

A worn spark Plug not only wastes fuel but also strains the whole ignition, this is because is requires a higher voltage. A worn spark plug can reduce the engine efficiency by reducing the fuel economy and increases the exhaust emissions. For your reference, The normal rate of gap growth is about 0.01 0.02mm/1,000 Km for four stroke engines and about 0.02 0.04mm/1,000 Km for two stroke engines.


Erosion, Corrosion, Oxidation

Erosion

The electrodes have oxidized, and when the oxidation is heavy there will be green on the surface.  The surfaces of the electrodes are also fretted and rough.


Abnormal Erosion

Abnormalerosion

An Abnormal Erosion is caused by corrosion, oxidation,  or reaction with the lead. This results in abnormal gap Growth.


Lead Erosion

Leaderosion

Lead Erosion is caused by the lead compounds in the gasoline which react chemically with the material of the electrodes (nickel alloy) at high temperatures. Crystals of nickel alloy fall off because of the lead compounds permeating and separating the grain boundary of the nickel alloy. Typical lead erosion causes the surface of the electrode to become thinner and the tip of the electrode looks like it has been chipped.


Melting

Melting

If the firing end is melted, this means it has over heated. Mostly, this will result in the electrode surface being rather lustrous and uneven. As note, the melting point of nickel alloy is 1,200 – 1,300 degrees Celsius.

What’s important is to inspect the condition of your current plugs, and then choose a plug accordingly.

Fitting the wrong plugs could damage your engine.

Comparisons:

A chart for comparing different makes and designs of spark plugs.

Some cars run on better brands than others. In my past experience NGK were a great plug, but didn’t last long. Bosch platinum were great when warm on lots of motorway miles, but a little lumpy when cold. Trial and error depending on your driving style and engine will get the best results for economy and power.

Longevity:

Spark plugs are designed to last and give optimum performance for as long as possible. Racing plugs in racing engines tend to be designed to give the max for shorter periods of time. They wouldn’t necessarily make big performance gains in road cars, unless you intend to drive it like you stole it!

Copper cored plugs you can expect between 10,000 to 20,000 miles.

Platinum or Iridium tipped plugs can be expected to last 60,000 miles.

Some top quality branded plugs are expected to last 120,000 miles before changing.

You pay your money and take your chances. Buying cheap plugs where bits can break of in the cylinder could possibly destroy a good engine.

Setting the Spark Plug’s Gap:

The gap sizes are pre determined by the manufacturer to get the correct combustion in the engine’s cylinder or combustion chamber. These should be adhered to unless specialist tuning requires the changes.

Such an instance to increase the gaps could be changing from old school standard points ignition to a Pertronix electronic ignition. The sensor in the distributor cap does not have metal contacts to take the voltage. The sensor sends a signal to the ignition coil which can produce more voltage and power as a result. This in turn can allow a small increase in the spark plug gap to give a stronger more powerful spark. The theory is that the better spark gives better combustion of more fuel air mixture and could give you more horse power with the correct carb settings.

* Narrow Gap

When the spark plug gap is too narrow, or under specifications, the amount of room needed for the air-fuel mixture between the hot tip and the ground strap is decreased. The duration of the spark has less travel distance, thus not remaining hot enough with sufficient charge to ignite the air-fuel mixture. The symptoms of narrow gap include a noticeable (continuous) cylinder miss, hard starting if all the plugs have narrow gaps, rough idle and engine hesitation. A spark plug that does not fire, resulting from a narrow gap, will appear black or wet when inspected. The black or wet appearance indicates unburned fuel.

* Excessive Spark Plug Gap

Excessive spark plug gap results when the voltage has too far to travel. The increased length of the spark travel weakens it, robbing it of the hot, strong ignition charge it needs to fire the plug. Excessive plug gap also results in cylinder misfiring, a possible no-start condition, wet, black or fouled plugs, engine hesitation and rough idle. Excessive spark plug gap also happens as result of normal electrode wear and age.

Incorrect spark plug gaps as above can cause the following symptoms;

* Rough Engine Idle

An engine that has a rough, irregular engine idle is often due to spark plugs that are incorrectly gapped. Spark plugs that are gapped incorrectly it will upset the air/fuel mixture, which in turn affects engine combustion and idle.

* Engine Hesitation

If spark plugs are gapped too wide, the ignition spark loses some of its strength as it crosses the spark plug gaps. This can result in engine hesitation.

* Engine Missing

Spark plugs gapped incorrectly can cause an engine to miss, or run erratically, especially during idle. The incorrect spark plug gaps can cause uneven firing of individual spark plugs and delay engine combustion; both of which can cause an engine to miss or idle erratically.

* Poor Engine Performance

For an engine to run at optimal levels, its spark plugs have to be gapped according to factory specifications. Any spark plugs that are gapped incorrectly can result in poor engine performance by altering engine combustion, weakening the ignition spark, and delaying the arcing of the ignition spark as it crosses each spark plug diode.

* Engine Knocking

Engine knocking, or engine pinging, is a classic sign of an engine that has incorrectly gapped spark plugs. Engine knocking is the result of incomplete or delayed engine combustion, especially under acceleration.

To set the gaps.

Remove the spark plugs and inspect them for damage. Inspect the firing end for condition and to see how the engine is running.

Remove any loose fowling or oil on the plug first. Take a small brass wire brush and remove the deposits until the metal surfaces are clean. Brass is a softer metal than the spark plug and will not damage it, but should be strong enough to remove any build ups.

If your spark plug has a terminal cap, check that it is fully done up. Use a pair of pliers to pinch it tight. If the cap is loose this will cause issues for connection and will give you erratic sparks.

Use you spark plug gap tool of choice to set the gap if you need too. There are the disc styles, feeler gauges and open loop styles. I like feeler gauges or the hoop wire design. These can be metric or imperial measurements depending on your choice.

Once I know the current gap by placing the correct gap setting tool into the gap, I can either open or close the gap as required. To close you can gently tap the electrode on a solid metal surface, or use T-shaped part of a special plug gap tool to close it. In order to open use the tool again and lever it upwards. If you don’t have the tool, be careful not to damage the electrodes at the bottom when trying to open the gaps.

Two different ways to gap spark plugs. Remember that when tapping the electrode at the bottom, the weight of the plug itself is enough to close the gap.

DON’T over tap it when closing the gap, little and often. Check, repeat.

The gauge or setting tool that you use, should have a slight drag on it when you pull it through the gap.

When refitting the spark plugs back into the engine always tighten the first few turns by hand first to avoid cross threading. Don’t knock the spark plug when inserting it. This could alter the spark plug gap and give you problems as described above.

If in doubt – recheck it.

Replace the spark plug boot with a very thin smear of dielectric grease to stop the rubber boot sticking to the top of the plug.

I hope that helps with an understanding of a forgotten and abused part of the engine. If not please read if you are having trouble sleeping. 🙂

Keep safe everybody.

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What’s On The Menu?

Over the years my little ol’ blog has evolved from the restoration of my Mustang to looking after it, pampering it and showing my treasured car. The restoration how to, guides and pictures are all still there in the menu headings, along with another called “Car Detailing Reviews” appearing about a year ago.

That was an idea that came to me when I was asked what I used to keep my car looking nice and clean. So I thought I would let people know what I used, that included what I liked and what I didn’t like. The reviews of many different detailing products had been born.

I must be said that ALL of the products that I reviewed or will review, tools, parts or detailing products have been bought by me or bought for me. Therefore my reviews and comments are completely independent and not biased in any way, I have nothing to gain from giving top marks. On the other I would have liked to have got some free products to review (who wouldn’t). Alas, none have come my way and I haven’t asked for them from companies either. Maybe in the future I may get some, but my reviews will always be the same; independent and not biased. I don’t like giving top marks just for the sake of it.

Where am I going with this? Well, the menu bar at the top of page had been updated with each product I used and reviewed. All was fine until I did a few additional product reviews a couple of weeks ago. The problem was when I tried to save the additional reviews in the updated menus. WordPress crashed and wouldn’t save the changes I made and corrupted my headings, I was not a happy bunny. Since then I have been in correspondence with WordPress about the problem. It seems that the menu headings has reached a limit that I was trying to go beyond. When saving my changes an error caused the ‘overload on their server’ so they tell me, I was in a no win loop. Some of you may have seen a real mess for a few hours over the weekend while I was trying to sort it out.

An example of the menus presentation that I liked and used is here, the manufacturer, sub menu then a list of products to choose from. Easy to see and look for.

The menu errors now means that I have had to find alternative ways to do it. Particularly aggravating I must say and not a slick process that I wanted it to be. 😦

I have been thinking about alternatives a fair bit and tried a few options on my dummy site. The best idea i came up with is to create an ‘Index Page’ for each particular manufacturer such as Mitchell & King, Meguiar’s, Chemical Guys, Auto Finesse, DoDo Juice and the others. Those pages now have a list of each of the products and links to the actual review. Instead of going to the Menu, Car Detailing Product Reviews -> Mitchell & King -> Waxes -> Lily etc. and clicking on the title for the review to appear. The new style is a page per manufacturer with hyperlinks on the images and the product name, a few examples as below.

Mitchell & King page;

Meguiar’s page;

Chemical Guys page;

I think the format works with actual pictures of the product and links to the corresponding review from the title of the product or clicking on the pictures. I even copied a few bullet points for a few summary points from their relative websites.  

I have already made the changes and hope that my readers like the new style and format. It has taken me umpteen hours to trash previous ideas and create this one. With any luck finding your way around the site and the review pages. The massive downside is that the heading menus now won’t update with the newest reviews, but the pages will.

I do apologise to those that don’t like it, but it appears that I sort of outgrown my blogsite now. What’s on the menu? Less than before at first glance. I also suspect some more changes as I try to slicken the feel a bit more going forward and stop the rather annoying menu crashing when I try to save.

Keep Safe Everybody.

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Short & Sweet

The last official car of the ‘Season’ if you can call it, for me was back at Stonham Barns. This was to be the American Car Show on the 27th September 2020. I woke up to a grey sky completely devoid of any colour at all, but no rain was forecast all day, well not on any apps anyway. The wife did tell me that it would rain, woman’s intuition I believe it’s called. I was having none of that and set off with high hopes.

I got there just after nine and there wasn’t a lot there, maybe fifty cars or so. I got told to park up with a two meter distance between the cars. No argument from me there.

There was a few ‘stalls’ setting up, but nothing great to be honest. When I walked around one guy told me that he had booked a pitch months ago, he wasn’t going to come on the day but thought why not? He wasn’t expecting to sell much due to the Covid restrictions and the weather.

Ah yes, the weather; it was now starting to spit that very fine mist almost rain. You know the stuff, it gets you damp and it made me miserable. Yet again this show was cursed with bad weather for the umpteenth year on the trot.

I watched a few more cars turn up and get parked up. If you were part of the ‘Knuckle Busters’ club you got to park in the main central ring area.

The rest were lined up outside.

The car that really took my eye was this little AMC, a little rough in some places, but well loved.

A few big toys were on show too.

Perhaps the car with most interesting history was this Jeep. Apparently it was documented that this was the first vehicle to arrive on the scene of the Rendlesham Forest ‘UFO’ sighting in 1980. For more details on the incident click here.

After just one and a half hours I was cold and damp so I left early to go home. So the last show of the year had less than eighty cars there when I left. When I got home I had to clean and dry the car in the garage. Shortly after I had a snooze on the sofa, which sort of summed the day up really.

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Hat Trick (Part 2)

Continuing on from yesterday’s post, I will continue with the rest of the photo’s I took.

I want to start with this car which perhaps was my favourite of the day:

Again in no particular order more from the Glemham Hall Car Show;

There were a few Super cars there:

There was also some stalls there but nothing worth looking except this one, ‘Are you not entertained?’

There was a commercial vehicle section;

Military vehicles;

There was even some rather nice motorcycles too;

It was a good show but marred by the queue to get out as well, this time not as bad but still filtering out through a single path for the want of a better word took about fifteen minutes and I even left an hour before the close.

I bet you thought I had forgotten to mention the weather? Well I can’t believe that I have been to three shows and it hasn’t rained on me. So that has to be a hat trick of good luck.

As I type this post, the rumour of the last show I was intending to attend is under threat due to the Covid issue. Will I get to the all American show at the end of the month? Or was the three shows I visited this year it? I just don’t know, yet.

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Hat Trick (Part 1)

The third show of the year was Sunday 6th September at Glemham Hall. This was a new show for me and located the other side of the Suffolk county for me, not far away just a thirty five minute drive with as many miles. We all had to be there before 10am so I left a little after eight fifteen as I had to get some fuel. I eventually got there at just before nine. Then it happened, I hit a traffic jam. I sat in traffic for forty minutes trying to get to a single track lane to get to the fields. I was watching my fuel go down and the temperature go up. Not the best start to the day I must say. To compound matters we had to cross to the other side of the road, that means the cars coming from the other side of the road just kept pilling in before we got a break by some kind soul to let us in. I later found out that the queues were five miles long later in the day. The local constabulary weren’t to impressed apparently.

Not only that when we got inside they then had side by side queues, they were let in a few at a time into the field. Which helped a bit, but there should have been a public access and exhibitors entrances. I hope the organisers are reading this as well.

Anyway this was a huge show and I will have to split it over two posts. I took loads of photos and I have filtered them out to my favourites. Panoramic 360 view is new one for me but here it is.

I parked up just anywhere so it seemed, as there was lots and lots of space.

As always in no particular order a selection of cars that caught my eye as I wandered around.

I will post part 2 tomorrow.

Teddy – Part 2

On the 30th of August 2020 I was at a car show at Lavenham where my little Mustang mate Teddy had a pic with my car. A very polite and respectful little guy. This was the photo I took at the time.

I mentioned that I didn’t manage to get one of him sitting in my car. His dad Graham emailed me the missing picture.

Thank you Graham for your permissions and for sending me the photo.

There you go Teddy – You’re famous again 🙂

Same time tomorrow for part two of this show.

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Round Two & Teddy

Yesterday was Second car show of the year for me and the weather held out. It was overcast and the rain was in the air as few spots landed on the car at one point. It was chilly, but more than acceptable compared to the rain. The sun even made an appearance once or twice. Only a short thirty minute drive from my home to the sleepy and old village of Lavenham in Suffolk. The village has some beautiful very old beamed houses and shops, ‘The Swan’ hotel (Inn) held our wedding reception a good few years ago which was an old coach house a couple of centuries ago.

I set off at eight thirty with a view to have a real gentle drive through the countryside, a great little drive that I always enjoy. Arriving just after nine I was pointed to USA reserved area which was on very slight elevation to overlook the rest of the ground. the numbers were strictly limited compared to last year due to the Covid crisis. I managed to find this area drone footage from 2019 of the layout of the show, the picture was taken before all the cars arrived on the day to fill it to capacity. The unusual thing about this event it that it’s arrange in circles. My car is on here, bottom left corner of the tennis courts just in front of the small gazebo.

Lavenham 2019

After a quick wipe down to remove the damp road debris from the car pretty much all the car that were going to arrive were in place so it was time for a wander round.

I will round off this webpage with a special dedication, after all I did promise Teddy that I would. Here’s to my new Mustang mate!

Anyway back to the pics for now and in no particular order taken just as I wandered around:

An AC which was the predecessor to the now legendary AC Cobra which a certain Mr. Carroll Shelby stamped into the history books.

In the centre was plenty of space for the three super cars. The Lamborghini Diablo was only the second time I had seen one in the flesh, this car was one of the many car posters on my wall as a teenager. It was, and still is a dream car for me, a lottery win would have one of these in my extensive garage next to a AC Cobra, Eleanor GT500, Aston Martin DB5, well you get the idea!

Then the modern day supercar offering from Mclaren. An old model now but still a beautiful car.

Back to the future movies had the after effect of ruining many of these DeLorean cars, by the people who want them to look like the movie car with light ropes, plastic lights stuck all over it, fake computers etc. In my mind this is a pretty enough car to stand on it’s own, as such I have seen more movie replicas than I have untouched examples of these cars.

Did you know that the DeLorean was first powered by a Ford Cologne V6, then that was swapped for a ‘more reliable’ Citroen CX2000 running gear. The engine was deemed to be underpowered and when Citroen found out that the DeLorean wanted to bolt a turbo to it Citroen told them to look for another engine option. That final unit turned out to be the V6 PRV engine (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo). Only 9000 cars were made between 1981 & 1982.

Ferrari made an appearance too, not what I would call a ‘Classic Car’ as you can still get these with relative ease. The owner was a nice enough, but could be clearly heard talking up his car saying all sorts of rubbish comparing it to F1 style performance.

Parked up next to the Ferrari 355 (above left) was the oldest car there, a pictorial oxymoron if I may be so bold to say.

A rare right hand drive high wing Lotus Esprit turned up late in the day, one of only twenty three remaining.

The Japanese market was there with a few cars that again aren’t on my classic list, just yet, but I many eyes the GTR is already there on performance alone!

Plenty of British there: