Author Topic: Another way to make spark plugs  (Read 17831 times)

Offline gbritnell

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Another way to make spark plugs
« on: December 16, 2009, 11:47:25 PM »
So as not to hijack Chuck's thread I'll start another on the same subject, making miniature spark plugs.
My plugs differ in that they have a ground strap on them. I have used the surface gap type but have had better luck with this style. The first thing I do is take a piece of steel large enough to accommodate the hex on the plug I'm making.
I then turn it and thread it leaving a small portion on the end who's outside diameter is the root diameter of the thread I'm cutting. The thread could be chased or cut with a die.





The piece is then cut off.


The plug blank is then mounted into a threaded bushing for the next machining steps.
The first step is to center drill the part.


The next step is to drill the smaller diameter down to within about .04 from the end of the plug. This will show up later.
Now I drill out the upper diameter.



I have made a counterboring tool out of drill rod and hardened it. It has 3 cutting flutes on it but could be made with 2 depending on the size of the plug you are making. I then counterbore the first drilled hole down to about .035 from the end of the plug.



Now I turn a small collar on the body of the plug. I make it about .008 wall thickness.


The bushing is transferred to dividing head where I do the remaining cuts on the plug body. First is the hex.


Next I clamp the plug body by the hex and mill away the material from the collar that I left on the bottom of the plug. You can see where the counterbore left the material at the end of the plug. I only side mill the opening. After this is done the ground strap is snipped with a pair of cutters, first the vertical piece and then the horizontal piece. I leave enough on the horizontal piece to file it just to the edge of where my center electrode will be.



The next operation is the insulator. I use a large enough diameter piece of Teflon so that it's rigid while I'm turning it. I first drill the hole for the electrode. I drill it the same size as my electrode wire because the Teflon will spring back a little after drilling making the hole fairly snug. I then drill a short way into the insulator with a tap drill for a 3-48 thread. The hole is then tapped. Depending on the size of your plug these sizes might be different. These plugs are 1/4-32 thread with a 5/16 hex.



When turning the Teflon make the diameters size for size with the hole that you drilled. The Teflon doesn't like to be forced when it's this small. Now insert the insulator into the plug body. If it's a little long it won't hurt, you can take a hobby knife and trim it off. With the insulator pushed into the plug mark where the .008 collar is on the plug body and put the piece of Teflon back into the lathe and put a little angular notch in it just a little below your mark. Now cut the insulator off from the stock. Reinsert it into the plug body and chuck up the plug. Now turn your cutoff tool at about 30 degrees and rotate the chuck BACKWARDS with the tool against the collar slowly rolling it into the notch in the Teflon. Keep checking the insulator. When it won't rotate any more, quit crimping.


Now you can turn a small taper onto the insulator.


The final operation is to make up the center electrode with the threaded cap. In my case I have a 0-80 thread on the outside but you could make any configuration you like. The inside has the 3-48 thread to match the insulator. The cap is also drilled to accept the electrode wire. Once the cap is made the wire is soft soldered in place. If you find that the center hole in the insulator has tightened up from the crimping operation just chase it with the drill to clean it out.







I used to just press the center electrode into the Teflon but when I made some snap on plug wires they would have a tendency to pull the electrodes out so that is why I made them this way. It also has a side benefit that when the electrode wears you can unscrew it, chuck it up and take a light cut off the cap and screw it back in. Another caution: when you screw the cap into the insulator be gentle, it's only Teflon. It will thread in very nicely, it just doesn't like being overtightened . The last two pictures are of the finished plug.





















Offline gbritnell

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2009, 11:54:41 PM »
I should have added, if anyone would like a drawing of this plug let me know and I'll post it for you.
George D. Britnell

Offline dsquire

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2009, 12:28:45 AM »
George

Very nice work. You make it look so easy. I like the way that you crimp them together, clean, simple and efficient. I'm filing this one away for future use. Thanks George.  :ddb: :ddb:

Cheers  :beer:

Don
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Offline sbwhart

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2009, 02:16:40 AM »
Great work George well shown.
 :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Thanks for sharing

Stew
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Offline NickG

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2009, 03:35:03 AM »
Yes, very nice method and lovely result george.

Nick
Location: County Durham (North East England)

Offline Divided he ad

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2009, 04:28:46 AM »
George..... They look awesome!!



Sorry, would talk more, lift's just here so got to get to work    :whip:






Ralph.  :)
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Offline tel

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2009, 05:40:18 AM »
 :thumbup: Nice George, and I, for one, would like to see the drawing

Offline Stilldrillin

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2009, 06:05:07 AM »
Very nicely done & shown, George!  :thumbup:

David D
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Still drilling holes... Sometimes, in the right place!

Still modifying bits of metal... Occasionally, making an improvement!

Offline gbritnell

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2009, 08:27:21 AM »
No sooner said than done.
George

Offline Bernd

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2009, 04:37:58 PM »
Excellent write up on plug making George.

Thanks for posting the drawings too.

Bernd
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Offline sorveltaja

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2010, 02:18:36 PM »
I hope this isn't too  :offtopic:, but I'd like to ask an advice.

I have made several spark plugs for my test engine, using ptfe as an insulator. Problem is, that the insulator wears out really fast, and finally causes sparking to appear in a wrong place.

Also the insulator, while it erodes away, gathers black dirt, that makes sort of bridge, that leads the plug to shortcut.

Ignition system, that is in use:

An old computer psu 12V 2.5A as a power supply.
Automotive 12V ignition coil.

Could that 2.5A be too little?

Fuel that I use is gasoline without an oil addition.

« Last Edit: January 01, 2010, 03:06:04 PM by sorveltaja »

Offline chuck foster

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2010, 02:58:46 PM »
george i thank you for showing a much better way of making plug's and the end result look's way better than mine.  :thumbup: :thumbup:
the next time i need a plug i will be making it your way.

chuck  :wave:
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Offline Dean W

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2010, 01:48:23 AM »
I saw this one on the other forum, George, but I liked it just as much the second time around.
And thank you.  Again!

BTW
I have a little Atlas lathe, just like yours.  There's something wrong with it, though.  Mine won't
make the same kind of things that yours will..

; )

Dean
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Offline NickG

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2010, 07:07:19 AM »
George,

When I was buying some metal over the weekend the guy there mentioned freezing ptfe before machining it and it behaves more like metal. Have you ever heard of this or tried it? By the looks of your thread you don't need to as long as you take light cuts etc.

Nick
Location: County Durham (North East England)

Offline gbritnell

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2010, 08:36:58 AM »
Gentlemen, sorry I haven't gotten back to you sooner. Here's a couple of answers to your questions.
Sorveltaja, I have used an automotive type ignition setup on my four cylinder OHV engine quite extensively. It consists of a 12 volt battery with an automotive 12 volt coil and a dropping resistor. I find that it erodes the Teflon away a little but the plugs last through many hours of running before they need replacing.

Nick, I haven't heard of freezing the Teflon, at least not with the modelers that I talk with. I use a larger diameter piece of stock to keep things as rigid as possible when machining.
George

Offline Artie

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2010, 05:58:15 PM »
George,

When I was buying some metal over the weekend the guy there mentioned freezing ptfe before machining it and it behaves more like metal. Have you ever heard of this or tried it? By the looks of your thread you don't need to as long as you take light cuts etc.

Nick

Hi Nick, this is a valid procedure BUT, you have to work fast as it doesnt stay frozen for long, but yes it does work in making the teflon much more rigid.

Cheers

Rob
South Wales, wait...NEW South Wales... Batemans Bay.

Offline tel

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2010, 03:49:31 AM »
Well no Artie, it wouldn't stay froze for very long at your place (or mine) this time of year. I got some 5/16" stuff here that is quite limp - like cooked spaghetti.

Offline sorveltaja

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2010, 07:30:30 AM »
How about freezing spray, that is used to find loose solderings on circuit boards? Should be more instant, I guess.

Offline Brass_Machine

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2010, 09:10:06 PM »
Neat write up. Pretty amazing results... to think making ones own sparkplug.  :thumbup:

Eric
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Offline madjackghengis

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2010, 08:48:21 AM »
I hope this isn't too  :offtopic:, but I'd like to ask an advice.

I have made several spark plugs for my test engine, using ptfe as an insulator. Problem is, that the insulator wears out really fast, and finally causes sparking to appear in a wrong place.

Also the insulator, while it erodes away, gathers black dirt, that makes sort of bridge, that leads the plug to shortcut.

Ignition system, that is in use:

An old computer psu 12V 2.5A as a power supply.
Automotive 12V ignition coil.

Could that 2.5A be too little?

Fuel that I use is gasoline without an oil addition.


Sorveltaja,  Just for your information, a conventional car engine with points uses a primary current of approximately 2 amps at 12 volts as pretty much the industry standard of points and thirty years ago.  You are probably running rich, and you may be burning the edge of the PTFE which would leave a sticky carbon "smut" on the face of the plastic.  If you are running well, and smoothly, and you are a bit lean, the extra heat of a lean burn could be burning the face of the plastic.  For what it's worth, mad jack

Offline gldwight

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2010, 03:12:12 AM »
George:
That's beautiful work!!

George

Offline madjackghengis

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Re: Another way to make spark plugs
« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2010, 08:22:35 AM »
George,

When I was buying some metal over the weekend the guy there mentioned freezing ptfe before machining it and it behaves more like metal. Have you ever heard of this or tried it? By the looks of your thread you don't need to as long as you take light cuts etc.

Nick
Hi Nick, I was just reviewing George's log on spark plugs and noted your statement.  I've used that method, with a liquid freeze spray to supplement the keeping it cold while turning, with rubber, for high voltage electrical isolation, and it does work.  The best way is with dry ice, but a freezer that has a really cold corner is almost as good.  Part of the problem with teflon, is when it does get hot enough to burn, it leaves a residue heavy with carbon, and conductive.  :thumbup: mad jack