How a Magneto Powers Your Lawn and Garden Spark Plug

Gasoline-powered lawn and garden accessories use a spark plug but these small engines do not have a battery on board. Push lawn mowers, edging tools, hedge trimmers, chain saws and blowers all have an engine. So how does the spark plug get its fire? Instead of relying on a battery for the burst of energy, these engines use a magneto to generate the power. Because magnetos are extremely reliable and don't have to be repeatedly charged, they are among the most popular ignition devices. Some gasoline-powered propeller driven airplanes also use magnetos. To crank an engine, the ignition system has to generate an extremely high voltage at exactly the right moment. To ignite the fuel in the motor, this initial burst of energy needs to be in the neighborhood of 20K volts. The sudden burst of...

June 20, 2017
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There Lots of Ways to Lose a Race...

Anyone who has been around motorsports knows there are numerous ways to lose a big race. Mistaking a fellow competitor for a track official is a new one to add to the list. That's exactly what happened to an ill-fated Toyota Racing team at this year's 24 Hour of Le Mans. At the previous year's event in France, the Toyota petro-hybrid had victory in sight when the TS050 coasted to a stop while leading the race at the 23 hour and 55 minute mark. A Toyota team car took second in class but again victory had eluded the automotive giant. Toyota had high hopes to stand on the top step of the podium at this year's 24 Hours. After all, Kamui Kobayashi had put the Toyota TS050 Hybrid on the pole. With one of the fastest cars in the world and a favorite to win, the Toyota team ran at the front...

June 20, 2017
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Laughlin Nails a Perfect Light at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Just below a mile high at 4,549 feet above sea level, the Thunder Valley track at Bristol Dragway crowned a first time winner in Top Fuel. Tennessee native Clay Millican laid down a 3.825 pass to post a top speed of 316.38 mph to defeat Leah Pritchett in Sunday's finals at the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Having made very few mistakes during the 2017 season, Pritchett nailed the start with a .058 RT to Millican's .095 RT but dropped a cylinder early in the run. At the line, Clay Millican had piloted the Great Clips/Parts Plus Top Fuel dragster to his first ever NHRA National win in his ninth final round appearance. The win moved Millican to seventh overall in the points championship. Pritchett holds on to second just eleven points behind points leader Steve Torrence. So...

June 19, 2017
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When to Change the Spark Plugs in Your Vehicle?

Today's automakers claim the spark plugs in your new car or truck may not have to be replaced for up to 100,000 miles. However, that doesn't mean those plugs will be operating a peak efficiency at that distance or even half that mileage. It is always prudent to rely upon your judgment as the owner rather than blindly follow a manufacturer's hype. These small but mighty components of your ignition system play an important role in bringing your vehicle's engine to life as well as maintaining a smooth burn of the compressed air/fuel mixture while you drive. But, spark plugs reside in a world of high voltage and heat, and both can take a toll over time. As the final link in the ignition process, a spark plug receives a high voltage burst from the battery or magneto based upon the type of...

June 16, 2017
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Sunday's Results - E3 Spark Plugs Summernationals

You gotta say it as "summernationals". At Englishtown, its one word not two. Antron Brown leaves the E3 Spark Plugs Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ leading by seven points over Leah Pritchett in NHRA's Top Fuel Division. Although every driver wants to take home a "Wally" from this historic event, Brown had to settle for the points lead instead, as defending event champion, Steve Torrence ran a 3.85 ET at his hometown race to Brown's 3.93 ET. This was a rematch of their recent clash in the final in Topeka, where Brown beat Torrence for the 22nd time in 23 tries making this win all the sweeter for the CAPCO Contractors team. Torrence made it to the final round by eliminating Doug Kalitta in the semifinals. This year Antron is making a habit of...

June 11, 2017
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World's Fastest Women Take Two of Three at NHRA New England Nationals

The fastest women on the planet came with .02 seconds of a historic trifecta in Sunday's final rounds of the NHRA New England Nationals at Epping, NH. Top Fuel driver Brittany Force and Pro-Stock driver Erica Enders took top honors in their respective divisions. Enders was first up winning her 22nd career victory in Pro-Stock putting her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet ahead on teenage sensation Tanner Gray. With nearly identical reaction times, Enders simply outran Gray with a run at 213.16 mph. Pro Stock cars look the most like a factory vehicle but among the most technologically advanced machines in drag racing running gasoline and restricted to a maximum of 500 cubic inches. Next up was Courtney Force who is one of the two racing daughters of the legendary John Force, and wife to Indy...

June 5, 2017
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Still Too Young to Rust -- Dungey Calls It Quits

Seldom can you say that a professional racer has nothing left to prove at age 27. But, that's exactly what happened when Ryan Dungey announced his retirement from motorcycle racing. Just days before the start of the 2017 AMA Lucas Oil Motocross Championship at Hangtown, Dungey told members of the media that he would not participate in the upcoming outdoor season. Not only had the KTM factory pilot been a dominant rider for the past eight seasons of AMA supercross and motocross events, he just polished off a brilliant career by winning the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Supercross title two weeks earlier. Setting records hasn't been anything new for one of the most respected motocross racers of all time. In 2009, he turned heads by winning the 250cc Lites Supercross title followed by 250cc...

June 5, 2017
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Why Do Ignition Coils Fail?

Ignition coils are typically very reliable, but like any mechanic or electronic car part, can fail. To understand the range of coil failures, it is important to understand how different coils work as well as how heat fits into the equation. Whether your coil is the older canister type or your vehicle uses a coil-on-plug, coil-per-cylinder or coil-near-plug ignition system, a coil is a transformer consisting of an iron core surrounded by primary and secondary windings. The ratio of turns between the two sets of windings determines the coil's maximum output voltage. When voltage from the vehicle's battery flows through the coil to the spark plug, it ignites the fuel mixture in each cylinder. Regardless of the type of ignition system, all coils are subjected to heat with the constant...

May 18, 2017
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GM Encourages Competitors to Use Sustainable Rubber

As Americans become better educated about irresponsible acts of devastation around the globe, they are choosing to purchase sustainable products. Even the local fish market has seen "the writing on the wall" and only purchase fresh fish from environmentally responsible sources. Some have taken their protests to social media and rallied boycotts against companies that have been slow to change their hazardous practice. Unfortunately, little attention has been given to an expendable product that most of us rely on every day -- the tires on the vehicles that transport us from one place to another. Automotive giant General Motors recently announced that the company would commit to buying sustainable natural rubber for the 49 million tires that are sold on GM cars and trucks annually. The...

May 17, 2017
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Carl Edwards Tops 230 MPH in Retirement

Ask a retired NASCAR driver if they want to drive something fast and the answer is usually an unconditional "Yes". Recently retired from behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota Camry, Carl Edwards admitted that he really didn't ask enough questions before agreeing to pilot the fastest SUV on the planet. Thrilled by the idea, Edwards just showed up with helmet in hand at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. Toyota had introduced the Land Speed Cruiser at SEMA 2016, and for the most part, the shiny black truck with chrome wheels simply looked like any other high-end SUV on the market today. The first clue as to what Toyota might be up to came with a peek under the hood. Although the new sports wagon featured a stock 5.7-liter V8, two Garrett turbochargers...

May 16, 2017
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