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Ford Truck Club Forum > GARAGE TALK > Garage Talk: Shop Class 101



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  #1  
Old January 7th, 2012, 11:54 PM
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Default Reading Spark Plugs

Being able to "read" a spark plug can be a valuable tuning aid. By examining the insulator firing nose color, an experienced engine tuner can determine a great deal about the engine's overall operating condition.

In general, a light tan/gray color tells you that the spark plug is operating at optimum temperature and that the engine is in good condition. Dark coloring, such as heavy black wet or dry deposits can indicate an overly-rich condition, too cold a heat range spark plug, a possible vacuum leak, low compression, overly retarded timing or too large a plug gap.

If the deposits are wet, it can be an indication of a breached head gasket, poor oil control from ring or valve train problems or an extremely rich condition - depending on the nature of the liquid present at the firing tip.

Signs of fouling or excessive heat must be traced quickly to prevent further deterioration of performance and possible engine damage.

Heat Range Reference:

NGK - The larger the number after the dash the colder the plug is. Example a R5671A-7 (a good street/strip plug) is a cold plug where a R5671A-10 is a very
cold plug used for large 400hp and up nitrous and other power adder applications).
Autolite - The larger the last digit in the part number, the hotter the plug is.
Example a AR3935 (good street/strip plug) is hotter than a AR3932 plug which is very cold used for lots of nitrous.
Champion - Typically Champion numbers in the same series the larger the number the hotter the plug.

Normal Life:
A worn spark plug not only wastes fuel but also strains the whole ignition system because the expanded gap (due to erosion) requires higher voltages. Normal rates of gap growth are as follows: (0.000126~0.00252 inches/1,000 miles).

Normal Condition:
An engine's condition can be judged by the appearance of the spark plug's firing end. If the firing end of a spark plug is brown or light gray, the condition can be judged to be good and the spark plug is functioning optimally.

Dry and Wet Fouling:
Although there are many different cases, if the insulation resistance between the center electrode and the shell is over 10 ohms, the engine can be started normally. If the insulation resistance drops to 0 ohms, the firing end is fouled by either wet or dry carbon.

Overheating:
When a spark plug overheats, deposits that have accumulated on the insulator tip melt and give the insulator tip a glazed or glossy appearance.

Deposits:
The accumulation of deposits on the firing end is influenced by oil leakage, fuel quality and the engine's operating duration.

Lead Fouling:
Lead fouling usually appears as yellowish brown deposits on the insulator nose. This can not be detected by a resistance tester at room temperature. Lead compounds combine at different temperatures. Those formed at 370-470°C (700-790°F) having the greatest influence on lead resistance.

Breakage:
Breakage is usually caused by thermal expansion and thermal shock due to sudden heating or cooling.

Abnormal Erosion:
Abnormal electrode erosion is caused by the effects of corrosion, oxidation and reaction with lead - all resulting in abnormal gap growth.

Erosion, Corrosion and Oxidation:
The material of the electrodes has oxidized, and when the oxidation is heavy it will be green on the surface. The surface of the electrodes are also fretted and rough.

Lead Erosion:
Lead erosion is caused by lead compounds in the gasoline which react chemically with the material of the electrodes (nickel alloy) as high temperatures; crystal 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 ground electrode to become thinner, and the tip of the electrode looks as if it has been chipped.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oil Fouled

Oil Fouled

Carbon Fouled

Too Cold

Too Cold

Cold or Rich but OK

Cold or Rich but OK

Cold or Rich but OK

OK

OK

OK

OK

Better

Best

Better

Good

Good

Good

OK

OK

Kinda hot but OK

Hot or Lean, Questionable

Hot or Lean, Questionable

Hot or Lean, Questionable

Too hot or lean, Pre-ignition Range

Too hot or lean, Pre-ignition Range

Too hot or lean, Pre-ignition Range

Too hot or lean, Pre-ignition Range

Too hot or lean, Pre-ignition Range


Last edited by BigBlue79; March 30th, 2012 at 08:54 PM.
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HawaiianF150 (January 8th, 2012)
  #2  
Old January 8th, 2012, 01:33 AM
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HawaiianF150 HawaiianF150 is offline
 

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Plug breakage can also caused by being in too much of a hurry to think about what your doing.

Especially true when (re-) installing... little bit of anti-sieze goes along way with the right amount torque



What we leave behind are our words and our deeds. Nothing else really matters.





  #3  
Old January 8th, 2012, 11:44 AM
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Default

No Anti-Seize for the threads on the
4.6L 3V, 5.4L 3V, 6.8L 3V

see the TSB http://www.etoolcart.com/06152.pdf

http://www.saac-mcr.com/main/2008_TS...park_Plugs.pdf

and forget the 'Rotunda Tool' they break; get a 'Lisle Plug Remover' http://www.denlorstools.com/home/dt1...65600_alt.html


For Those Who Fought For It...
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Last edited by JSoko; January 8th, 2012 at 03:45 PM.
  #4  
Old January 8th, 2012, 03:19 PM
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HawaiianF150 HawaiianF150 is offline
 

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Big J - On that TSB - check pages 2, 3, 5, & 10 for the 2004-2008 model years with 4.6L 3V /5.4L 3V / 6.8L 3V engines.

"NEW PLUGS SHOULD BE INSTALLED USING A FILM COATING OF MOTORCRAFT HIGH TEMPERATURE NICKEL ANTI-SEIZE LUBRICANT
ON THE GROUND ELECTRODE SHIELD. DO NOT COAT THE ELECTRODE STRAP."

At least they are chasing the spark plug well threads at the same time they are using the tap to 'catch' all the busted porcelain debris with grease.

Most of us would rechase the well threads again after all the debris is verified to be removed and clean. Most likely not a real world action for a stealership's tech mech to do unless it was his or a friend's motor.

I have no faith and lots of doubt in stealership mech quality or that they have real pride in their workmanship ... Not even close to piss cool fuzzy feeling!



What we leave behind are our words and our deeds. Nothing else really matters.






Last edited by HawaiianF150; January 8th, 2012 at 03:45 PM.
  #5  
Old January 8th, 2012, 03:26 PM
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there were 2 TSB's
the first says no anti-seize on the threads only the electrode shield
the other does not mention the threads

INSTALLED USING A FILM COATING OF
MOTORCRAFT HIGH TEMPERATURE NICKEL
ANTI-SEIZE LUBRICANT (XL-2) ON THE GROUND
ELECTRODE SHIELD OF THE NEW SPARK PLUG
(FIGURE 7). DO NOT COAT THE ELECTRODE
STRAP OR THE PLUG WILL MISFIRE.
PLUGS SHOULD BE INSTALLED WITH NO
LUBRICANT ON THE THREADS AND TORQUED
TO SPECIFICATION, 25 LB-FT (34 N•m).
Figure 7 - Article 06-15-2


For Those Who Fought For It...
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Last edited by JSoko; January 8th, 2012 at 03:33 PM.
  #6  
Old January 8th, 2012, 03:50 PM
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HawaiianF150 HawaiianF150 is offline
 

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Sounds like the blind leading the blind with different directions - no wonder I have no faith in workmanship. Thier leadership cant even get the TSB's clear.

How much you wanna bet some tech does coat the threads and the shield?



What we leave behind are our words and our deeds. Nothing else really matters.





  #7  
Old January 8th, 2012, 04:09 PM
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not sure why to coat or not coat the threads

steel threads aluminum head use anti-seize
use anti-seize and over torque plugs

anyway the threads are not the issue on the 3 valve engines its the carbon build-up on the electrode shield


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  #8  
Old January 8th, 2012, 08:40 PM
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If we're talking generalities about regular thread, bolts and such...

We both know that it is always best to correctly use the proper type of Anti-seize where temperature, pressure and elemental exposure factors (i.e., application, wind, water, chemical reactives, etc...) are introduced.

It protects as it allows easy assembly and disassembly and can ensure proper torque.

What was that old saying about teaching someone how to learn?
The hardest thing about learning - is learning to listen.



What we leave behind are our words and our deeds. Nothing else really matters.





  #9  
Old January 26th, 2012, 03:55 PM
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WORLDWITHIN@VERIZON.NET WORLDWITHIN@VERIZON.NET is offline
 

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I agree with this statement and about most all professional. They have the experience and knowledge to do good work. But, they are forced to fight the clock to provide large middleman profit (the fat cats ). Plus they can't be expected to love other peoples rides like the people on this forum tend to with their own. Im not a fan of home a/c repairmen or construction workers or even electricians.
However, i do like the entrance standards and continuing classes that some pro societies require. It helps to have the knowledge.but, how to have profits without greedy excessive profits ???
  #10  
Old February 23rd, 2012, 09:58 AM
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I'm updating this, I have added a chart to the original post, check it out and tell me what you think


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