Monday, October 17, 2011

Spark Plug Fouling Q and A

               Do your Spark plugs look like this?

Q: Richard in Western Australia asks about misfiring , loss of power and a breakdown resulting from sooty fouled spark plugs. What’s causing the plugs to foul?

A: There are many possible answers to this question starting with the fuel. If the carbon on the plug is dull black (as above) it’s likely due to a rich fuel air mixture. Alternatively the problem could be oil burning if the carbon looks glossy. Usually these problems clear up to a degree if the engine is running at higher speeds – try checking your plugs after a high speed run to see the difference.

The fuel we get now is formulated for fuel injected cars with EFI computers which doesn't help things however many people find they can get their engines to run OK with it. If I have a choice between 91, 95 or 98 octane ( Australian fuels) I go for the 95.Possible causes:
  • Overly rich idle mixture
  • Oil burning
  • Spark plugs too cold – incorrect heat range
  • Excessive use of chokes
  • Weak ignition or coils
  • Excessive idling and low speed running
With the fuel we get now we expect a bit more soot on the plugs with slow speed riding. Check the heat range and consider going hotter but also check the plugs at high speed to make sure they are not getting too hot. Minimise warm up and low speed riding and keep the revs up.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tri-Spark Powered Rocket3 wins at Manx Grand Prix 2011

Riding the 850cc Tri-Spark powered Rocket3 entered by Steve Robins in the Formula Classic event was Mark Parrett who took victory as all other riders in the class had retired. But, don't think for one second that this made it an easy victory for Mark. His victory was hard fought as he had no back brake for much of the race and was also black-flagged in error. He later received a time credit resulting in a final interval timing result of 09:40.

Helping Robins and Mark at the Isle of Man were quite a team of guys including Phil Packham, John Ford, Pat Brown and John French and according to Robins without this team they would not have got the bike to the grid. He said, "You've got no idea how much work is required at an event like this.

"What's more it was all done while suffering from sleep deprivation and stress. These guys delivered beyond the call of duty." Humour appears to have helped them all through the low moments with everyone's high skill levels solving many a problem on the fly.

Robins also said that without the support of their sponsors they would just not have been able to take part. "The products supplied showed how robust these solutions were when tested in the ultimate test of the island. I would highly recommend them to all." Included in the list of suppliers is Tri-Spark who supplied the electrics and ignition.

Mark took the ride on the 850 at late notice winning the respect of everyone as he had never ridden it before and what's more had to contend with a right shift which is not his preference. That didn't stop him from achieving lap 2 speeds of 95MPH and winning the event. "It was astonishing," said Robins, "And to bring the 850 home for a win more so."

"I am in total awe of the riders," Robins said. "It takes a brave and very skilled man to ride these old bangers at the speeds they do on the island roads, total respect."

Finally Robins said, "Those who came over to the island to watch and support us many thanks, you've got no idea how much it all helped."

Jo and Stephen Kelly certainly enjoyed themselves. This comment from Stephen sums up the thrill and fun of participation perfectly, "We went, we saw and we'll be going back!"

If you want to read more of what Steve Robins had to say go to the Triples online forum.