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Old 11-05-2017, 04:38 PM
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Default Tech tip: Fuel fouled spark plugs

It happens to all of us at one point or another--a choke sticks shut, a needle & seat sticks, a float sinks, too many cold starts w/o enough warm-up time, or sometimes it's simply a matter of a carburetor with a foul attitude--pun intended.

You can often salvage a spark plug that's been lightly fuel fouled. By "lightly" I mean something that was only run for a short time under little or no load. When this happens, the plug porcelain, electrode and ground straps get covered in a soft layer of soot. Thankfully this soot is usually relatively easy to remove, and there are two ways to remove it.

The first method is to use paint stripper that contains methylene chloride--that's the stuff that USED to be in carb cleaner back in the days when carb cleaner actually worked! You can drill a piece of wood to hold the spark plugs inverted and apply the stripper to cover the soot. It will usually take a few applications (once the stripper has dried I blast the plug with carb cleaner to remove the loosened soot, blow it dry and re-apply the stripper as necessary), but I've had a very good success rate with this method.

*Note* carb cleaner by itself won't do much to remove the soot, in case you were wondering.

The second method is to soak the plug in a commercially available "purple" cleaner--note that it needs to be high on the pH scale (caustic) for this to work. Allow them to soak for ~12-24 hours, then give them a rinse with carb cleaner. Note: this will dull the plating on the steel plug body.

It should go w/o saying that either method requires hand and eye protection--both of these chemicals are more than a little unfriendly to flesh.

Again--these processes will ONLY work on a plug that's been lightly fuel fouled. If the plug has been run for an extended amount of time or has been under heavy load, the deposits will embed themselves solidly to the plug, and nothing short of media blasting will remove that--and I do not advise media blasting plugs--too easy for media to remain lodged in the plug and find its way into the chamber when the plug goes back into service.

Hopefully someone will find this useful and save themselves a few bucks, or get them out of a pinch.
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Old 11-05-2017, 06:06 PM
AMANOCC AMANOCC is offline
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Thats great info, thanks!
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Old 11-05-2017, 09:07 PM
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What do you (Eric & others) think of those small plug cleaners that use air pressure (compressor hose)and media?
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Last edited by bbbentley; 11-05-2017 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 11-05-2017, 09:23 PM
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As I mentioned in the original post, I don't care for the plug media blasters.
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Old 11-06-2017, 12:54 AM
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My bad! Did not make it to the last paragraph when I read the 1st time
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