A Study of Engine Sensitivity to Spark Plug Rim-Fire
A recent study of engine sensitivity revealed that spark plugs used in conventional spark-ignited gasoline-fueled engines do not always fire in the intended fashion. Rather than firing to the ground strap during each ignition event, the arc frequently travels to the “rim” or “shell” of the spark plug. This behavior is termed rim-fire and although observed by other researchers in industry, its effects on engine performance are not widely reported. This paper addresses some of the quantitative effects of rim-fire on engine performance. Combustion data were recorded for various repeat conditions on a Ford 1.8L Zetec engine. The first set of engine tests used four, new, conventional, automotive spark plugs. The second set of engine tests used four modified spark plugs that induced 100% rim-fire when the ground strap was permanently removed. The study focused on part- and full-load engine performance, EGR tolerance, and step-transient characteristics.