Ignition Spaghetti

I was recently advised to change out the plug wires in my car.  Actually, the shop offered to do it and I declined, figuring that I could do this of all jobs.  Pleasantly, I could, which has historically not always been the case.  I like to think of my optimism when confronted with this sort of decision as being endearing.

This is one of the easiest jobs to do on an old engine – everything falls readily to hand.  Later engines (I’m looking at you, transverse V6es) can be much harder to do this work on.

The new wires went in with a pleasant “click” as the ends clipped onto the plugs.  Due to the age of the old wires, I hadn’t realized that this was supposed to happen (the clips had long since lost their springiness).  It is entirely possible that some of my recent ignition problems were simply due to loose plug connections caused by the aforementioned loose clips.  One of the problems with learning a subject with old/broken/suspect gear is that you don’t necessarily understand how it actually functions, working backward from the problem rather than forward from knowledge of the correct behaviors.    The problem is that learning this way means you need to repeat the past mistakes of the engineers who designed the item so as to understand the current design.  When confronted with what appears to be a nonsensical design decision, it’s usually a good idea to assume that there is an historical reason for it.  Whether or not that reason is a good one is a often decided by time.

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