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Old 02-22-2011, 11:21 PM   #1
MagicRat
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Solid core spark plug wires with electronic ignition

I am wondering if there is any practical benefit with using copper-core (not carbon core) wires with an electronic ignition.

Many points -type ignitions use solid copper core wires, because they have minimal voltage drop, for a hotter spark with the relatively weak points ignition.

The carbon- core radio suppression wires (used with electronic ignitions) have a resistance of about 1000 ohms per foot or so. According to Ohm's law, this means less voltage reaches the plugs than with solid core.

So... copper core wires will get more voltage to the plugs and a hotter spark, right?

Are there any disadvantages to using such wires with a high energy electronic ignition.... (besides lighting-up every police car radio within a block radius)?

Would they run more risk of arcing? Plug electrode erosion?

Any thoughts?
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Old 02-23-2011, 02:02 AM   #2
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Re: Solid core spark plug wires with electronic ignition

This document says it can do damage to the fuel system and other equipment in the engine.

http://www.magnecor.com/magnecor1/truth.htm
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Old 02-23-2011, 06:01 PM   #3
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Re: Solid core spark plug wires with electronic ignition

An advantage is that they will not break down like carbon wires. If the insulation isn't damaged they should last for years/miles. I have solid core wires that are over 20 years old still running.
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Old 02-24-2011, 11:50 PM   #4
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Re: Solid core spark plug wires with electronic ignition

Quote:
Originally Posted by CL8 View Post
This document says it can do damage to the fuel system and other equipment in the engine.

http://www.magnecor.com/magnecor1/truth.htm
Interesting article. Thank you.
It is biased in that it supports a manufacturer of ignition products. But it makes a good point that the RF interference might affect modern car electronics.

This had occurred to me, although I neglected to add that I was considering such plug wires only in older vehicles without any electronic engine controls.

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An advantage is that they will not break down like carbon wires. If the insulation isn't damaged they should last for years/miles. I have solid core wires that are over 20 years old still running.
excellent point. I have never needed to change any of the solid core wires that I have in older vehicles. Some of my motorcycles are 30+ years old with the original solid core wires.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:16 PM   #5
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Re: Solid core spark plug wires with electronic ignition

"Solid core spark plug wires have been outlawed in California for decades due to radio interference. Try operating your CD stereo or car radio using copper core wires. An obnoxious whine is created that increases in pitch as you accelerate the engine.... will affect other vehicles surrounding you. I have no idea if this is a load of crap, but a local sheriff deputy once told me it messes up radar as well."

http://corvaircenter.com/phorum/read...,247982,248628


Are they legal where you live? : /
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:57 PM   #6
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Re: Solid core spark plug wires with electronic ignition

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[/i]
Are they legal where you live? : /
They're still used in about a zillion off road vehicles all over the US and canada etc, such as snowmobiles, off road motorcycles, many marine engines, construction equipment, and small engines, such as weed whackers, chain saws etc.

Most of these engines specify "resistor" spark plugs which help RF supression..... so resistor plugs sure help if you use solid core wires on the street.

But solid core wires without resistor plugs will broadcast (in my experience) a nice buzzing noise on the AM band for a 50 yard radius or so.

I made a crack about lighting up the police car radio because legality is driven by complaints. If a cop encounters RF interference on their equipment you can bet they'll take a look around for the vintage hot rod and hand out a ticket. No interference means no ticket, even if you have solid wires.

Also, I am not sure if modern police radio equipment is sensitive to RF interference. It is all digitally scrambled these days, I think......
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Old 02-26-2011, 02:15 PM   #7
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Re: Solid core spark plug wires with electronic ignition

True, many of the larger municipalities have switched to digital radios which will make them less susceptible to noise, but not immune.

If you go with solid wires but resistor plugs are you really gaining that much?

-Rod
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:01 PM   #8
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Re: Solid core spark plug wires with electronic ignition

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Originally Posted by shorod View Post

If you go with solid wires but resistor plugs are you really gaining that much?
Good question. I guess it depends on the resistance built into the plugs.

It seems many plugs specified for use with carbon filament wires already have resistors in them, so I imagine the resistance is not too great, for each plug.... or else the combined plug and wire resistance would be overwhelming.

There is also the issue about deminishing returns for the size or energy in each spark. If its reasonably strong, does one gain much by making it even stronger?

I guess a stronger spark would allow a wider electrode gap, which might have some benefit.
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:36 AM   #9
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Re: Solid core spark plug wires with electronic ignition

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Also, I am not sure if modern police radio equipment is sensitive to RF interference. It is all digitally scrambled these days, I think......
That quote I found was from 2009, would they have turned digital since then?
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:04 AM   #10
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Re: Solid core spark plug wires with electronic ignition

Back when I was in college in 1998 I worked a summer job at a communications company and we had a contract to install a digital system for our local police, fire, and ambulance services.

-Rod
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