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Old 24th November 2002, 09:20 AM   #1
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Default Looks like snake-oil but really works.

The same way that audio is surrounded by false claims for devices supposed to give better sound, internal combustion engines have for a long time been subject to the same indignity. There have been many silly add-on devices for spark plugs for example, promising greater power, reduced fuel consumption etc. There was one though that caught my eye. It is basically a 90pF capacitor with very low series inductance, and it goes across the spark plug. The idea is that as the voltage rises the cap charges and then the plug gap breaks down and fires it causes the cap energy to be discharged in a *very* high current short duration arc. I was pretty skeptical, but a friend had one of these things and seeing it was just one only, I attached it to my motor mower(!) I had to get a plug that was the same thread length as the mower plug but also the full external length as a car plug. Anyway, what a difference! Cold starting was the same as usual but hot starting was way better, was more responsive to revving up, and ran quite a bit more steadily. (is a 4-stroke). Under high load you could feel the individual power strokes much more defined. Idling was a little improved. I have messed around with gasoline engines for about 30 years now, and in particular I *listen* to them. I could hear the difference straight away. I don't have any connection with this company. I'd recommend them to anybody. http://www.directhits.com/
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Old 24th November 2002, 09:37 AM   #2
AKSA is offline AKSA  Australia
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Hi Graham,

I too have messed around with infernal combustion engines for yonks.

Did you replace the spark plug at the same time at adding the 'Direct Hit' gadget?

There's a company called Crane Cams in Adelaide, SA, which produces multiple spark CDIs for passenger cars. These really work. I saw a dyno on a Walkinshaw Commodore with 242Kw at the back wheels. After fitting the MS CDI, and with no other changes, power increased to 270Kw. I suspect there is a great deal not yet understood about the ignition of fuel/air mixtures.

Cheers,

Hugh

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Old 24th November 2002, 09:50 AM   #3
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<b>I'd recommend them to anybody.</b>

For lawnmowers perhaps.
I haven't used these, but have seen enough crap touted as a performance part to be hugely sceptical. I've seen the damage they can do to hi-po motors, and there's no way I'd attach such things to the performance motors I play with, without some proof they don't do damage. Items like this come and go regularly, but good engineering is what works, and there are a number of great CDI and TAI modules available.
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Old 24th November 2002, 10:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by AKSA
There's a company called Crane Cams in Adelaide, SA, which produces multiple spark CDIs for passenger cars. These really work. I saw a dyno on a Walkinshaw Commodore with 242Kw at the back wheels. After fitting the MS CDI, and with no other changes, power increased to 270Kw. I suspect there is a great deal not yet understood about the ignition of fuel/air mixtures.
I've used multi spark CDIs on cars for many years, and am very pleased with their effectiveness. Good engines will often have a very turbulent combustion space during the 'squeeze' part of the cycle, and can easily blow out the spark. Multi-sparking also helps keep the plugs cleaner, and a more even burn to the mix.

Like your experience with the Walkinshaw, I've seen MS CDI units make big differences on the dyno. I've also seen some engines not make any significant difference with the same ignition and fuel mapping, yet a very large one when tweaked to optimise for the MS CDI. Lots of the performance increase is had at lower RPMs (below peak torque) and during the ramp up between lower RPM/low load and higher rpm/higher load conditions, ie responsiveness, often a more important attribute than outright power.

I spent part of today working on a mate's turbo 13B, doing the intake and exhaust design, looking for 400 + streetable, reliable HP with a fat midrange and very responsive. My last 13B turbo was 350-ish HP, but it only had to push 800kg.
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Old 24th November 2002, 10:08 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by AKSA
Hi Graham,
Did you replace the spark plug at the same time at adding the 'Direct Hit' gadget?
Gidday Hugh! Yep, I did but the old plug wasn't so terribly bad anyway, although there is some room for error I'll admit. The spark pictures on their website are no exaggeration. On my bench it changes a 1/2 inch spark from a nice "snap" to a good solid "crack" and very much brighter. Extremely short duration though, but it doesn't seem to matter. I actually cranked the thing so hard I drew an arc down the side of the white insulator and also set the coil tower on fire. Had all these black floaty things in the air in the workshop like someone just lit an acetylene torch. Your right there, there is still much to learn.
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Old 24th November 2002, 10:31 AM   #6
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Default CDI vs TAI

Quote:
Originally posted by Brett
I've used multi spark CDIs on cars for many years, and am very pleased with their effectiveness.
In recent years I have leaned toward TAI rather than CDI for various reaons, but as you probably well know there are good and bad examples of both. But I will say this - I can't remember the exact details (but I can find out), a local fellow had an LH or LX Torana with small block Chev and *hydraulic* cam and it was in the VERY low 10 second bracket. He finally yanked out AUD$1700 worth of MSD ignition stuff and put in one of our microcontroller TAI boxes and associated stuff and woohoo! he became the first in the world to get a SBC/hyd cam car into the 9 sec bracket. Ahhh.... the track must have been downhill that day.
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Old 24th November 2002, 01:24 PM   #7
Cobra2 is offline Cobra2  Norway
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Default Snake-oil...

There is a lot of it around...
Problem with ignition enhancers, is that we don't want a short duration spark! We want fat and long! And this requires energy!

And, somethimes we don't want fat & long, because it wears out the cap/rotor/wires/plugs........

And, also remember the different load-modes & rpm & temp & mixture-changes for an automotive engine...makes the ignition demand shift all the time.

I have tried most types ignition systems, and none is ideal all the time, but the newer multi-spark systems usually gets the job done better (IMHO). Y(racing/street)MMV.

Arne K
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Old 25th November 2002, 01:00 AM   #8
alvaius is offline alvaius  Canada
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Seems that those interested in Audio are also interested in performance engines. I am curious as to how old your lawn mower is? It has been my experience that most lawn mowers run a pretty rich mixture to ensure an easy burn. For a rich mixture, having a "massive" spark could definately enhance the performance. However, I would be very concerned when running with a lean mixture engine such as most car engines are these days. The problem with those big sparks is that similar to using an explosion to put out a fire, the big spark asks as an explosion and blows all the mixture away from the spark. I think it will all depend on how the combustion chamber is designed, how the chamber swirls during compression, etc. As long as it does not change the timing, I would not expect serious damage to a vehicle, and even if it does change the timing, most modern engine controllers will at least avoid detonation. I could see it interfering with modern ignition systems where the ingition coil is actually used more like a transformer and the spark is actually monitored to see what happens. In this case, that extra capacitor could prevent the ingition "amplifier" for lack of a better word, see the load "spark plug" properly.

FYI, I am very interested in any new ingition systems for Nissan 3.5L VQ series engines. Jacops ingitions systems have made it into a few of my cars in the past with great results, especially after the other modifications, but I don't think they are quite the leaders they once were.

Alvaius
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Old 25th November 2002, 01:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by alvaius
Seems that those interested in Audio are also interested in performance engines. I am curious as to how old your lawn mower is? However, I would be very concerned when running with a lean mixture engine such as most car engines are these days. Alvaius
Audio stuff and performance engines both produce very nice sounds when they are runnning properly. That must be the connection. Nothing like the sound of a 7000rpm V8 (not that I have one though) The mower has a 3.5 HP Briggs and Stratton and I got it second hand at a junk auction. I would guess it is mid 70's. I just did a valve grind on it recently but apart from that the compression is pretty low. The whole thing is about as low tech as things can get. Side-valve you know. Modern cars don't run lean mixtures as such, they run stochiometric i.e 14.7 to 1 by weight, courtesy of closed loop feedback via the oxygen sensor in the exhaust manifold, so by definition it is neither rich or lean but just right. If it were not then the 3-way catalytic converter would not work properly. I always was a fan of long spark durations too, but with this thing I imagine the spark finds it's way across the gap from one petrol (gasoline) droplet to the next and when it enters or leaves the surface of one it boils off a little bit of vapour, and if you have sufficient energy then it lights up. Up to a point, the more the better. Anyway, the point is, for me on this application it worked really well. Q.E.D.
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Old 25th November 2002, 02:28 AM   #10
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Graham, you should put your Victa on a dyno.....

I once saw what looked like a coil in series with the distributor centre lead, and that helped the idle, and the seller claimed overall better power and economy - I did not buy one though.

Eric.
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