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Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Sparky High Voltage Wiring
Rob Spiegel   11/18/2011 12:19:35 PM
NO RATINGS
Hi OhmsLaw,

You can send along your name (for the Sherlock posting) by email if you like:

 

rob.spiegel@ubm.com

 

Thanks much.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Sparky High Voltage Wiring
Rob Spiegel   11/16/2011 11:06:00 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks OhmsLaw,

I really appreciate these Sherlock postings. But I still need your name.

 

OhmsLaw
User Rank
Gold
Re: Sparky High Voltage Wiring
OhmsLaw   11/16/2011 10:44:44 PM
NO RATINGS
I sent a short bio 6 mos ago I think.

Start life as a EE Design Engineer in 1975 with Telemetry design, Aerospace design, Nuclear Robotic Inspection design, and other Instruments, then joined to ISL to design T1 Test equipment and manage debug on an ISDN BB WAN in early 80's then Burroughs with Disk Drive Test Eng10 yrs then IRIS with AUtomated Meter Reading on ISM cell network, then COntract Mfg Eng Mgr... now retired. doing home reno's.

Not much time to re-write it. Both would be fine.

THe case of the intermittent stalled car in sub-zero (C) freezing weather. 

My Dad let me drive his 2nd car a 1963 MDB convertible to university 40 yrs ago. One winter storm when it was drifting more than a foot across the highway. My car stopped dead in -20'C weather. No traffic late at niight. I opened the hood and after 10 minutes , it started again.  

A few minutes later it died again as quickly as before. I knew it was no spark and then I saw faint corona around the distributor. A crack aha. My intuitition told me it was ice melting that caused the failure and when I opened the hood it froze quickly and then started.  THis was before the days of cell phones and I had no CAA or AAA. SO it was fix it or freeze to death or walk a mile in the blizzard.

Ohm's Law on H2O says insulation is better when frozen. So I sprayed some WD40 to displace the water with its magical mix of fish oil used to prevent rust in military parts and I was good to go home, non stop without the moisture causing flashover on the carbon impregnated distributor crack.  . Carbon & grease removal gave it another year's life and WD40 saved my life.
                            = ~ =
Case of the furnace with no flame just an ignitor pilot flame. 

Recently my rental home in Winnipeg gas furnace stopped and it was freezing out. I knew the previous renters replaced the furnace motor at my suggestion for rent reduction. It had an electronic spark ignition for a pilot light but the wire beside was to sense the flame temp and that sensor wire was free to rotate in the bracket. So I surmised that the wire moved, which relocated the flame sensor wire which stopped the furnace from going from pilot to operating mode. 1st I used some adhesive which could secure the roating sensor wire at high temps. Then I bent the wire so it sensed the outer cone of the blue flame rather than the center.  Voila, the sensor heated up quickly and the main flame started a few seconds later.  The furnace appeared to be fixed and it shouldn't drift with vacuum service.  It was wise I used an insulated handle pliers to adjust the flame sensor wire as it tends to arc from the ignitor to flame sensor with metal filling the gap when the pilot arc starts. (otherwise hit the furnace kill switch,adjust then turn on and wait 45 seconds or so until arc starts on pilot gas. ) Murphy & Ohm's law says YOU don't want to be the path of least  resistance.

Only problem now is half the time the furnace motor won't cut out after the flame stops. But recycling the power or the slow speed switch on resets the motor to the off state.  Hmmmm.. another Murphy's law.  Perhaps excess dust is insulating the hot air sensor now and reading too is offset on the high side from stiction with hysteresis on the threshold . recycling the power seems to fix it... 

I'll let you know if it is the hot air sensor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OhmsLaw
User Rank
Gold
Re: Sparky High Voltage Wiring
OhmsLaw   11/16/2011 10:44:42 PM
NO RATINGS
I sent a short bio 6 mos ago I think.

Start life as a EE Design Engineer in 1975 with Telemetry design, Aerospace design, Nuclear Robotic Inspection design, and other Instruments, then joined to ISL to design T1 Test equipment and manage debug on an ISDN BB WAN in early 80's then Burroughs with Disk Drive Test Eng10 yrs then IRIS with AUtomated Meter Reading on ISM cell network, then COntract Mfg Eng Mgr... now retired. doing home reno's.

Not much time to re-write it. Both would be fine.

THe case of the intermittent stalled car in sub-zero (C) freezing weather. 

My Dad let me drive his 2nd car a 1963 MDB convertible to university 40 yrs ago. One winter storm when it was drifting more than a foot across the highway. My car stopped dead in -20'C weather. No traffic late at niight. I opened the hood and after 10 minutes , it started again.  

A few minutes later it died again as quickly as before. I knew it was no spark and then I saw faint corona around the distributor. A crack aha. My intuitition told me it was ice melting that caused the failure and when I opened the hood it froze quickly and then started.  THis was before the days of cell phones and I had no CAA or AAA. SO it was fix it or freeze to death or walk a mile in the blizzard.

Ohm's Law on H2O says insulation is better when frozen. So I sprayed some WD40 to displace the water with its magical mix of fish oil used to prevent rust in military parts and I was good to go home, non stop without the moisture causing flashover on the carbon impregnated distributor crack.  . Carbon & grease removal gave it another year's life and WD40 saved my life.
                            = ~ =
Case of the furnace with no flame just an ignitor pilot flame. 

Recently my rental home in Winnipeg gas furnace stopped and it was freezing out. I knew the previous renters replaced the furnace motor at my suggestion for rent reduction. It had an electronic spark ignition for a pilot light but the wire beside was to sense the flame temp and that sensor wire was free to rotate in the bracket. So I surmised that the wire moved, which relocated the flame sensor wire which stopped the furnace from going from pilot to operating mode. 1st I used some adhesive which could secure the roating sensor wire at high temps. Then I bent the wire so it sensed the outer cone of the blue flame rather than the center.  Voila, the sensor heated up quickly and the main flame started a few seconds later.  The furnace appeared to be fixed and it shouldn't drift with vacuum service.  It was wise I used an insulated handle pliers to adjust the flame sensor wire as it tends to arc from the ignitor to flame sensor with metal filling the gap when the pilot arc starts. (otherwise hit the furnace kill switch,adjust then turn on and wait 45 seconds or so until arc starts on pilot gas. ) Murphy & Ohm's law says YOU don't want to be the path of least  resistance.

Only problem now is half the time the furnace motor won't cut out after the flame stops. But recycling the power or the slow speed switch on resets the motor to the off state.  Hmmmm.. another Murphy's law.  Perhaps excess dust is insulating the hot air sensor now and reading too is offset on the high side from stiction with hysteresis on the threshold . recycling the power seems to fix it... 

I'll let you know if it is the hot air sensor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OhmsLaw
User Rank
Gold
Re: Sparky High Voltage Wiring
OhmsLaw   11/16/2011 10:44:41 PM
NO RATINGS
I sent a short bio 6 mos ago I think.

Start life as a EE Design Engineer in 1975 with Telemetry design, Aerospace design, Nuclear Robotic Inspection design, and other Instruments, then joined to ISL to design T1 Test equipment and manage debug on an ISDN BB WAN in early 80's then Burroughs with Disk Drive Test Eng10 yrs then IRIS with AUtomated Meter Reading on ISM cell network, then COntract Mfg Eng Mgr... now retired. doing home reno's.

Not much time to re-write it. Both would be fine.

THe case of the intermittent stalled car in sub-zero (C) freezing weather. 

My Dad let me drive his 2nd car a 1963 MDB convertible to university 40 yrs ago. One winter storm when it was drifting more than a foot across the highway. My car stopped dead in -20'C weather. No traffic late at niight. I opened the hood and after 10 minutes , it started again.  

A few minutes later it died again as quickly as before. I knew it was no spark and then I saw faint corona around the distributor. A crack aha. My intuitition told me it was ice melting that caused the failure and when I opened the hood it froze quickly and then started.  THis was before the days of cell phones and I had no CAA or AAA. SO it was fix it or freeze to death or walk a mile in the blizzard.

Ohm's Law on H2O says insulation is better when frozen. So I sprayed some WD40 to displace the water with its magical mix of fish oil used to prevent rust in military parts and I was good to go home, non stop without the moisture causing flashover on the carbon impregnated distributor crack.  . Carbon & grease removal gave it another year's life and WD40 saved my life.
                            = ~ =
Case of the furnace with no flame just an ignitor pilot flame. 

Recently my rental home in Winnipeg gas furnace stopped and it was freezing out. I knew the previous renters replaced the furnace motor at my suggestion for rent reduction. It had an electronic spark ignition for a pilot light but the wire beside was to sense the flame temp and that sensor wire was free to rotate in the bracket. So I surmised that the wire moved, which relocated the flame sensor wire which stopped the furnace from going from pilot to operating mode. 1st I used some adhesive which could secure the roating sensor wire at high temps. Then I bent the wire so it sensed the outer cone of the blue flame rather than the center.  Voila, the sensor heated up quickly and the main flame started a few seconds later.  The furnace appeared to be fixed and it shouldn't drift with vacuum service.  It was wise I used an insulated handle pliers to adjust the flame sensor wire as it tends to arc from the ignitor to flame sensor with metal filling the gap when the pilot arc starts. (otherwise hit the furnace kill switch,adjust then turn on and wait 45 seconds or so until arc starts on pilot gas. ) Murphy & Ohm's law says YOU don't want to be the path of least  resistance.

Only problem now is half the time the furnace motor won't cut out after the flame stops. But recycling the power or the slow speed switch on resets the motor to the off state.  Hmmmm.. another Murphy's law.  Perhaps excess dust is insulating the hot air sensor now and reading too is offset on the high side from stiction with hysteresis on the threshold . recycling the power seems to fix it... 

I'll let you know if it is the hot air sensor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Sparky High Voltage Wiring
Rob Spiegel   11/16/2011 2:56:10 PM
NO RATINGS
Hi OhmsLaw,

Id like to use either or both of your stories as a Sherlock Ohms posting.

If you're interested, it need to be fleshed out a bit to reach at least 300 words. Also, we would need a short bio. Two or three sentences would be fine. 

This blog depends on real-life stories such as the you have here. So please consider this request.

We can't offer payment, but fame will come in plentitude. 

OhmsLaw
User Rank
Gold
Re: Sparky High Voltage Wiring
OhmsLaw   11/10/2011 11:37:51 PM
NO RATINGS
My Dad let me drive his 2nd car a 1963 MDB convertible to university 40 yrs ago. One winter storm when it was drifting more than a foot across the highway. My car stopped dead in -20'C weather. No traffic late at niight. I opened the hood and after 10 minutes , it started again.  A few minutes later it died again as quickly as before. I knew it was no spark and then I saw faint corona around the distributor. A crack aha. My intuitition told me it was ice melting that caused the failure and when I opened the hood it froze quickly and then started. Ohm's Law on H2O says insulation is better when frozen. So I sprayed some WD40 and it was good to go home, non stop. Carbon & grease removal gave it another year's life.  

But recently my rental home in Winnipeg gas furnace stopped and it was freezing out. I knew the previous renters replaced the furnace motor at my suggestion for rent reduction. It had an electronic spark ignition for a pilot light but the wire beside was to sense the flame temp and that sensor wire was free to rotate in the bracket. So I surmised that the wire moved, which relocated the flame sensor wire which stopped the furnace from going from pilot to operating mode. 1st I used some adhesive which can hold the sensor wire at high temps. Then I bent the wire so it sensed the outer cone of the blue flame rather than the center.  Voila, furnace fixed and it shouldn't drift with vacuum service.  It was wise I used an insulated handle pliers to adjust the flame sensor wire as it tends to arc from the ignitor to flame sensor with metal filling the gap when the pilot arc starts. (otherwise hit the furnace kill switch,adjust then turn on and wait 45 seconds or so until arc starts on pilot gas. ) Murphy & Ohm's law says YOU don't want to be the path of least  resistance.

David12345
User Rank
Platinum
Sparky High Voltage Wiring
David12345   10/21/2011 11:33:54 AM
NO RATINGS
The high voltage path between the coil distributor, and spark plugs seemed to be a common problem area with older cars.  I agree that most of the power gains from aftermarket ignition wires, coils, and plugs was from replacing defective components.  I have multiple instances of this problem:

1) I had a 1969 Corvair.  It ran terribly.  Eventually when I opened the hood (rear) at night, I saw all the Saint Elmo's fire of the blue arcs around the top of the coil and the oil-soaked spark plug wires.  Replaced the o-rings to take care of the oil leaks, degreased the coil, replaced the spark plugs, wires and distributor cap.  It's amazing how well an engine runs when it's not misfiring.

2) Same Corvair I later dropped an 327 Chevy V8 into it.  Wow, what a rocket, but it kept popping back through the carburator and fouling #5 and #7 plugs.  Two problems, A) the #5 and #7 wires were too close to each other and cross-firing from induced voltage, and B) the ballast resistor for the 6 cylinder engine was 1.8 ohms and I needed to change that to a 1.2 ohm ballast resistor for a hotter spark with the V-8 (my bad).

3) A friend had his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro with a small block V8 die by the road.  He had a big 50K volt Accel Coil and aftermarket wiring.  We stuck a wood handled screwdriver in #1 plug wire and held it to the block . . . no spark.  I checked the wires to the coil and distributor.  The wire from the coil was loose in the dirtributor cap.  I snapped it in.  Next test, the car fired-up on 7 cylinders, and I got shocked through the wet wood handle each revolution until I got my happy buddy to shut-off the engine so we could hook-up #1  plug again.

4) Last example, I came upon a group of people trying to get a college coed's 1960's vintage Dodge Dart started.  They had jumper cable out, but it was cranking well, but with no spark.  I found the coil wire was loose and after snapping it in the car fired right up.  They had been working for awhile, and thought it was weird that I jut touched the wiring and the car would then start.  (As if by magic.)

 

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Sparky McSpark and Aftermarket Ignitions...
Battar   10/21/2011 11:06:27 AM
Thanks for the informative ans well written post.

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Sparky McSpark and Aftermarket Ignitions...
Amclaussen   10/20/2011 3:27:52 PM
NO RATINGS
Noswad:  I worked on quite a few old cars back in the 70's, 80's and 90's; mainly because my own daily driver car was an old Ford Falcon 289 4-Barrel V-8 (1967 model), given to me by my father.  I had to work on it constantly, improving it in order to keep it driveable in Mexico City, famous for its fast and temerary driving style (either you pass NOW, or you don't pass and other will crash you!")... I tested at least 6 or 7 different brands and types of "specialty" ignition systems: Dual point, Dual points plus transistor switching, Optical, Magnetical, Centrifugal Advance, Vacumm Advance, Combined Advance, computer and sensor advance, single coil, even multiple coil!... silk "wires", metallic wires, resistor plugs, non-resistor plugs, single ground electrode, dual, triple and cuadruple ground electrodes, magneto vs distributor and coil, Capacitor discharge, Multi Spark discharge... ALL of them.

I badly WANTED to "extract" additional Horsepower.  Never got more than a measly couple of the often 15 to 20 promised by the car magazines advertisements, and loudly endorsed by industry paid racers swearing by them!

What I've found was that so called "aftermarket", "Performance" "Sport" or "Competition" labeled ignition systems are only really needed (or, in other words: their installation is distincly felt as an improvment) when the original factory system was defective.

Most times (say 99% of the time), the factory ignition design was perfectly OK in regard to power, economy and emissions.  There were a few occasions where a bigger aftermarket coil gave slightly better results, BUT, there were some other cases when the "bigger" coil only delivered a higher voltage, albeit at the expense of a WEAKER spark, due to a higher internal resistance or a winding construction with too many coil secondary turns.  The only sure way to check if the much over-hyped "competition" coil really worked better, was to measure the emissions, exchanging it two or three times and comparing with the emissions obtained with the factory coil.  Only when a certain combination of older silk and carbon ignition "wires" presented a higher resistance and rendered a more effective spark waveform, the bigger coil worked slightly better, but when using more modern metallic spiral wound ignition wires, the bigger coil actually delivered a weaker, orange colored spark, while the more modern epoxy encapsulated, more compact factory coil reached lower voltage levels, but produced a visibly fatter, higher energy, blue colored spark (and slightly lower hydrocarbon emissions). Dynamometer readings scatter was actually greater than the real horsepower gained by the "improved" ignition vs a proper original ignition.

Even the much touted "Multi-Spark" ignition systems only gave a marginal improvment, at idle and midrange RPM's, but were equal to the standard system at higher RPM's...  My conclusion, after spending several hundred dollars and much testing in several old cars, was that specialized aftermarket ignition components were more a perceived, pychological "improvment" than a real one, unless the factory system was bad (defective coil with shorted turns, leaking capacitors, too high resistance and/or intermittent wires, or poor quality distributor caps (deformed excentrically, tilted top or with carbon traces inside, or were not properly vented, which resulted in a lot of ozone being generated inside).

I'm shure your perceived "much more power" , was only because of the affected performance of the cheaper cables producing a lot of visible arcs bleeding the available voltage to other ground points all around the engine bay, that caused a lot of missing and then reducing the effective horsepower of the engine.

Automobile ignition systems require a definite voltage threshold, and some reserve voltage to overcome the gradual rise in voltage requirement as the sparkplug central  electrode loses its sharp edges and becomes more rounded as a result of erosion in the harsh environment of the combustion chamber, specially in the old days when the thinner platinum or other precious metal electrodes were not common or available.

A much higher voltage in not necessary or desirable, specially when it is achieved by a higher voltage secondary side of the circuit, WITHOUT enough current capability to sustain a proper spark for a long enough duration. A too high initial voltage is of little benefit if the spark cannot sustain a hot, durable arc.  The frequent result is a spark capable of jumping larger gaps, but stinguishing soon and/or producing a weak thin spark with less energy.  An excessive spark energy is not beneficial too, because it erodes the electrodes and places very high dielectric strenght requirements on the rest of the system.

Another misconception is that those special metallurgy electrodes "produce extra power", when actually a thinner electrode can only produce a smaller spark kernel, and frequently is prone to overheating in Supercharged or turbocharged engines... causing pre-ignition. Turbocharged engine fans already have discovered this, and now favor the older plug designs with larger diameter central electrodes, the standard ones that still need to be changed more frequently in order to keep the engine working properly. As they say: There is NO free luch! Iridium, Rhodium or even Gold electrodes do NOT produce more power (but could raise profits for the plug manufacturers, from overly enthusiastic power hungry but ignorant aficionados).

ANOTHER MYTH: multiple gound electrode plugs. Developed in order to maintain at least one firing electrode in the dirty, oily-fuel needed in those grasscutting engines... BUT MORE THAN one single ground electrode only shrouds and shadows the flame front, REDUCING the performance, certainly not enhancing it in any way. (Well, they may enhance the plug manufacturer sales!).  At the last automotive industry Expo in Mexico City, I strongly questioned the salesman from a famous german company for promoting such a wrong product application: it only works better in 2-stroke oil-mixed fuel engines, not in a car engine, unless the car owner pretends to keep the same plug set for many years of use, in which case the extra ground electrodes could be of some help)... After explaining them how the flame front is propated from the spark kernel and it initiates the combustion, finally the crowd assisting to the talk gave me their approval.  Sorry, no more gimmicks for me!  amclaussen, R&D Mexican Petrolum Institute.

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