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Spark Plugs and Gapping


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Are my plugs pre-gapped from the factory?

Some are but read on.
A spark plug part number might fit hundreds of engines, and although the factory will typically set gap to a pre-selected setting, this gap may not be the right one for your particular engine, and may not take into account modifications that you may have performed to the engine.

Insufficient spark plug gap can cause pre-ignition, detonation, even engine damage if not detected early enough. Too much gap can result in a higher rate of misfires, noticeable loss of power, plug fouling, and poor economy for starters.

When you raise compression or add forced induction (a turbo system, nitrous, or supercharger kit), you must reduce the gap (reduce gap about .004" for every 50 hp you add on an V-8 engine, for a Harley-Davidson V-2 engine every 12.5 hp you add). However, when you add a high power ignition system you can open the gap back up about .002"-.005".

Just for an example, let's use a 350 Chevrolet LT1 engine build. The standard gap is .050" for an un-modified LT1. We'll add 150hp Nitrous shot, so we must lower the gap about .012" to .038". We then decide to add that killer MSD 6A/Crane Hi-6 box and, using our guidelines as outlined above, we can now open the gap up .002"-.005" to about .040"- .043". By following this basic guideline should get you very close.

Further experimentation may be necessary, but by always starting with a larger gap than it thought necessary to reduce the risk of detonation, you should be safe rather than sorry.
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