Spark plug dating guide

Chad Windham, President of the Spark Plug Collectors of America, identified the Coso artifact as a 1920s-era Champion spark plug, which was widely used in the Ford Model T and Model A engines.

Other spark plug collectors concurred with his assessment.

In the case of certain Ford engines, many technicians and consumers have found that even modest amounts of torque used in removing the two-piece OE-style plugs can cause the plug tips to separate and become trapped in the cylinder head.

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Well, “burn up” is more like it, because when a spark jumps the gap between two electrodes, it actually burns off (erodes) minute amounts of metal from each one.

The nodule surrounding the spark plug may have accreted in a matter of years or decades, as demonstrated by examples of very similar iron or steel artifact-bearing nodules, which are discussed and illustrated by Cronyn.

An investigation carried out by Pierre Stromberg and Paul Heinrich, with the help of members of the Spark Plug Collectors of America, suggested that the artifact is a 1920s Champion spark plug.First: spark plugs should never be removed or installed while the engine is hot.There are exceptions to this rule, but for our purposes, the engine should be stone cold whenever you’re working with the plugs.But even with higher melting points, metals like yttrium (2,779 degrees F), platinum (3,222 degrees F) and iridium (4,429 degrees F) can't stave off erosion forever.The electrodes eventually erode, increasing the gap, and, well, you've already heard the rest of this story.Although the days of routine plug failure are well behind us, spark plugs—like oil, filters and tires—are expendable items, requiring periodic inspection and replacement.