Tools, & Craftsmanship
& Drying Fish
Pegs, & Lashings
Clutch & Chain
& Vapor Barriers
Lamps & Gas Stoves
& Spark Plugs
Motor Lower Unit
Motor Cooling System
- Collect as many different kinds of spark plugs as you can find
in the village. How many different kinds do you find? How many
different companies are represented by the plugs? What differences
do you notice among them? How many different kinds of engines
do these plugs represent?
The differences are numerous. The diameter and length of the
threads that go into the cylinder heat, the diameter and length
of the porcelain, the electrodes etc. A collection of 10-15 different
ones is small.
- Compare the length of the plugs, the length exposed within
the cylinder, the length of the threads, and the diameters. Why
do you think there are such differences? Can you find some plugs
that are golden brown, some black, and some that burned too hot?
(You may not, as the golden and white ones might be still in machines.)
- What are the differences in the identification numbers of hot
and cold plugs from the same manufacturer. If you cant tell
by looking, a manual will tell the difference.
Snowmachine plugs will best illustrate this.
- Find old flywheels. Test the magnets for strength. Are they
strong or weak magnets?
- Get an old and a new spark plug of the same kind. Put the plug
wire of an engine (chainsaw is easiest) on each plug. Hold the
base of the plug against the cylinder of the engine, and crank
the engine over. Do you see a difference in the color of spark
in the new and old plug? (It is hard to see the spark in a bright
If the old plug sparks at all it will probably be yellow or
red. The new one should be blue or white. As stated above, do
this in a dark room, not in direct sunlight. Be careful. You can
get a good shock from this. The person holding the plug to the
cylinder head should not touch any other part of the engine.
- Find a plug that will not fire in the above manner because
of carbon and dirt. Carefully clean the center post with a hairpin,
or other slim object. Can you clean it well enough to give a hot
blue or white spark?
Now is the time to learn. In the middle of a snow or rainstorm
is not the time to experiment.
- Close the gap on an old plug, and test it against the cylinder.
Did the color of the spark change when the gap was made smaller?
It should improve a little, but this doesnt always work.
- Look up the recommended spark plug gap for three or four different
engines. The recommended gap should be in the manual for the machine.
Pick some high and some low compression engines. Why do you think
there are some differences in the recommended gaps?
High compression engines have more resistance to the spark
jumping the gap. However, the manufacturers know this, and make
the coil stronger. The gaps should all be about .0020-.0025
- Find out about sandblasting spark plugs. Ask how long a sandblasted
plug will stay clean and why.
Sandblasting works for a short while, but the rough surface
created will accumulate carbon fairly soon.
- Put the end of a fouled spark plug in the flame of a propane
or Coleman stove until it turns red hot. Carefully let it cool.
Test the spark before and after this. What difference do you see
in the spark? Why do you think this is so?
This cleans the plugs, as it burns the carbon from them. They
wont work as long as a new plug, but will get you home if
you are stuck out in the woods.
- Find a coil that people say is bad. Is there anything visible
to indicate that it doesnt work well?
The sad answer is
no. There is nothing visible
about a coil that would indicate its functioning.
- On a working engine, pull the wire that goes from the magneto
to the coil. While holding the wire, ground your hand against
the cylinder and pull the starter rope. Put that wire back and
pull the wire from the spark plug. Put a screwdriver handle up
the spark plug cap and again ground your hand against the cylinder.
Pull the starter rope again. Do it slowly! Can you feel the difference
in voltage? (You should!) This will be uncomfortable, but shouldnt
hurt unless you pull very fast.
The voltage coming from the magneto to the secondary coil is
hardly noticeable. The voltage from the secondary coil to the
sparkplug is strong. If you dont pull the engine fast at
all, it will give you a little jolt, but wont hurt. Dont
touch the engine with any other part of your body other than the
hand held against the cylinder. The spark will go through your
hand, and not thru your body. This might sound a little dangerous,
but when you are stuck out in the woods, this is one of the ways
to tell if the spark is strong enough. It is better to learn how
to do it safely.
- Ask around the village to see if anyone knows the difference
between a generator and an alternator. What is the difference?
A generator has a permanent magnet in the armature. An alternator
has an induced magnet in the armature. An alternator can generate
more electricity, particularly at low rpms, but it needs
some electricity in the battery to induce the magnetic force.
That is why a car with a completely dead battery cannot be jump
started by pushing. All new cars have alternators, and they need
a little electricity to activate the magnet.
- Draw a cylinder whose timing is too advanced. Draw one whose
timing is too slow. Look in an owners manual of a four-cycle
engine and find how many degrees before top dead center (BTDC)
the timing should be set.
The drawing is in the text.
- Make a simple drawing of the parts of the spark system of an
outboard motor from magneto to spark plug.
- Where is the electricity generated in an engine?
In the magneto
- Where is the voltage increased?
In the secondary coil
- What does the spark plug do in an engine?
Ignites the fuel
- Draw and label three cylinders, one firing too soon, one firing
too late, and another firing at the proper time.
- Explain why a spark might jump the gap in open air, and not
in the cylinder.
There is more resistance in the cylinder. There are more air
molecules in the way.
- What colors indicate the hottest sparks?
Blue and white
- What colors indicate the weakest sparks?
Red and orange
- What two things could keep a sparkplug from firing well?
The gap is not set properly
There is carbon on the plug, shorting it out.
- List five things that could make the sparkplug black with carbon?
Fuel mixture too rich
Spark is too weak
Wrong kind of 2 cycle oil
Too much oil in the gasoline
The plug doesnt retain enough heat
- Draw a picture showing how a dirty plug allows the spark to
ground out, not jumping the gap.
- What kind of plug should be used in an air cooled engine during
cold weather? Why?
A hot plug. It can thoroughly burn the fuel on its surface.
A cold plug will carbon.
- Why would an outboard be able to use one type of plug all the
time, and a snow machine need different plugs in different seasons?
An outboard is cooled by water that is a fairly constant temperature.
A snowmachine is cooled by air that might be from -50° to
- List five things that could cause the voltage to a sparkplug
to be weak.
Dirty or worn magneto coil
Improper distance between the magnet on the flywheel and magneto
Broken or dirty wire connections.
From the magneto to the secondary coil
From the secondary coil to the ground
From the coil to the ground.
Secondary coil shorting out
Dirty or cracked spark plug.
- The voltage generated by a magneto is 50 volts. The coil increases
this to 15,000 volts. If the magneto is fixed so that it now generates
75 volts. How many volts will the coil produce?