I don't know what kind of anti-seize compound has been used by others, but I used a copper-bearing anti-seize compound for the many years that I raced my Quasar D-Sports/Racing car at Road America and other Midwest tracks. I built this power plant, a 750cc Suzuki water-cooled 3-cylinder, 2-stroke that I routinely wound to 9500 rpm. I used three ignition coils (one per spark plug), each of which was driven by its own Hall Effect sensor. This engine had cast iron liners in its aluminum cylinder block and its aluminum head's threaded spark plug holes required anti-seize compound. I never had a plug (Champion and also NGK platinum electrode) fail to come free for service or replacement. I raced this car for years winning the 1982 Midwest Council DSR Championship.
William, that yet another example of the "feels right" or "sounds right" way of telling whether things are right. Much of that is going away as technology solutions proliferate. In plants, diagnostics and prognostics are replacing the "check by listening" strategy for detecting flaws.
I can see that a deposit of almost anything could lead to a potential backfire if it held enough heat to ignite the incoming mixture towards the end of the intake stroke. The mystery I see is the allegation about the plugs being so special that "they used the threads as a part of the circuit". The alternative woulld be a plug with two terminals, and I have not seen one of those on an engine. Undoubtedly, since the engine does not have a distributor, instead, as a cost savings, there are two plugs in series and the coil center is not grounded. This is a cheap trick that cuts costs and reduces reliability in half. Now if one plug wire falls off two cylinders don't fire, and there is a larger risk of the spark finding an alternate path to ground that becomes permanent.
Of course, steel plugs in aluminum threads is a poor choice, no way around it. Yes, they can be made to work, but even a good band-aid is still a band aid.
My method of avoiding the very real cross thread problem is to turn the plug in by hand until it seats. It is much easier to tell when the threads are not right doing it that way, and for the cost of having even one Heli-Coil installed it is easily worth the effort.
My Mistake the Renolds 390 block was extended to the "CosVeg." inrerestingly so few of the dealers were ready to etch the block that most repairs were sleeved. I knew 2 people that had them, and they were very rare with less than 4000 sold. Both of those units had been sleeved, probably by previous owners. The little car was great fun to drive, it had a better running gear than the standard Vega along with the Rev happy Cosworth heads. The problem was the price. "One Vega for the price of two!" was a common comment about them. The block did require some beefing up as at least one was reported cracked durring dyno testing.
The high silicon block went on to success in several other cars. Also some motorcycles.
The Cosworth Vega engine block was made of the high silicon content aluminum, but it did not have the iron liners in the cylinders. There was a special procedure for boring and resurfacing the cylinder walls. Once the bore and hone was done the cylinders were etched to remove a microscopically thin layer of the aluminum to expose the harder silicon for the wear surface. Once you exceed the bore spec, a cast iron liner can be installed and then bored and honed conventionally. A lot of current Cosworth Vega owners have made the conversion to the cast iron liners as the process for the original block is specialized and there are not many, if any, companies or shops who can do it properly. If you want more history of the Cosworth Vega, check out the Cosworth Vega Owner's Association's website at cosworthvega.com.
The Cosworth Vega used a clean sheet of paper engine and was actually a very nice car. It used an aluminum head and block, but the block was conventional using sleeved iron liners. The Block material of the Vega was later vindicated BTW. The reason many of the Vegas smoked turned out to be poor valve guides, but like the fuel injected 327s of earlier days that got converted to carburettors, all new technology is suspect! The no liner block material has been used by several Porsches and Mercedes V-8s.
This is rather far from the original misfire caused by anti-sieze however. :-)
With all manner of electronic devices on modern cars and motorcycles we must be careful about how we service and modify them. A simple ground problem can create a very difficult to find problem.
You're absolutely correct. It was a REYNOLDS METALS high silicon content aluminum alloy. The idea was to eliminate the cast iron cylinder sleeve liner used in other aluminum-block engines. But, I also seem to remember that some VEGAs also were fitted w/ an aluminum head in the later years of their production cycle. Towards the end of its life there was a COSWORTH VEGA also. I remember that very well because a good friend of mine had one. When he got married, he sold it and bought the CHEVROLET MONZA, another "classic" vehicle from the skunkworks of GM technology!!!!
I'm very familar witht the Vega. GM did all the learning curve with the Renolds 390 (If I recall correctly) The high silicon aluminum is touchy and was easier to gall to plugs than most AL alloys. Much maligned the funny part is that the Vega used an iron head with the aluminum block. An inverse of the standard set up.
Well, maybe you're technically correct that two dissimilar metals do not "weld". However, I challenge you to tell that to the many customers that my brother saw in his garage 40 years ago who brought their VEGAs in for tuneups, and the spark plugs were "welded" into the cylinder head. That was long before all this fancy dual spark plug, no earth ground ignition system that you are talking about. The BIG thing back then was a "Transistorized" iginition system, so the points didn't bear the brunt of the ignition coil field collapse current. Plus, using a transistor allowed for more precise spark, since the make-break signal was a more perfect square wave shape.
Properly torqued spark plugs don't "weld" to the cylinder head. They are dissimilar metals and thermal working can cause the plugs to tighten up. That and the fact that it can take as much as 150% of install torque to remove plugs they can gall.
The backfire problem can be made worse by the fact that many manufacturers are using distributorless ignitions, with dual lead coils. 4 cylinders use 2 coils with a floating secondary. The high-tension portion of the coil is not grounded. The circuit is made through BOTH spark plugs. The important part of this is that one plug fires normally, and the second plug fires BACKWARD from the sidewire to the center electrode. The system fires a wasted spark near TDC of the exhaust stroke. The center electrode can wear quickly and the required voltage to fire the two plug set can go way up. The addition of a anti-sieze that may increase the combined resistance could cause added problems. Remember this resistance is added twice as both plugs are active at every firing. The 1 & 4 plugs and the 2 & 3 plugs fire every time at TDC. DIY's should check plug pairs, to check for the wear on one of the two plugs if they have a misfire problem.
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