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-   -   Spark Plug Removal (https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1268683)

Brewtus79 01-06-2020 06:03 PM

Spark Plug Removal
 
In the midst of troubleshooting a misfire and was trying remove a spark plug. At first it was relatively loose, but the more I turned it the more difficult it became to turn to the point I was afraid of stripping the threads.

So here is the question, I was attempting this w the engine hot, just returned home from 60 mile commute. Does it matter if the engine is hot or should I hold off til the engine cools down?

I tried 2 cylinders and both reacted in the same fashion. I have never had them out during my ownership so 30k miles and 1.5 years. Therefore I cannot speak to how they were installed.

Thanks for the help!

05 330xi for reference.

PabloCruise 01-06-2020 06:30 PM

I always prefer to remove the plugs when cold.
If I were you, I would let the engine cool before going after the plugs again.

LeverThis 01-06-2020 06:33 PM

A warm engine should make spark plug removal easier, so its good to try after a drive when its still warm. Perhaps try tightening back down and then loosening again, repeatedly, to see if you can make progress with out using much force on them. I usually feel a bit of resistance or "crunchiness" as you unscrew them, but never enough where I thought I'd strip threads.

Definitely back down if it feels wrong, don't force it. They can be a struggle to get out sometimes.

Newbimer 01-06-2020 06:38 PM

In theory it should be easier when hot, but remember the plugs are steel and the head is aluminum so they will expand differently when really hot. If the steel expands more then the aluminum they will be harder to remove and doing so my strip the threads in the head.

Cheap Trick 01-06-2020 06:43 PM

Aluminum will expand more than steel - cold maybe better. Back out as far as you feel comfortable squirt a bit of ATF around threads and screw in and out to work it in should come out easily then

LeverThis 01-06-2020 06:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cheap Trick (Post 18696345)
Aluminum will expand more than steel - cold maybe better. Back out as far as you feel comfortable squirt a bit of ATF around threads and screw in and out to work it in should come out easily then

Fwiw, I'd try it on a WARM but not HOT engine, not to get burned mostly but also in case that means the steel spark plug hasn't expanded too much vs the aluminum head. The ATF or penetrating oil idea is a good one.

OP,

There was a long thread about stubbon spark plugs a while ago:

https://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=1234006

Brewtus79 01-06-2020 08:00 PM

Thanks for the replies. I waited a bit and was able to retorque the original plug. (I gave up on removing them for the night bc I need to use the car again tomorrow.) The second plug was a bit more stubborn so I let it go. Going to try tightening it again now. If I get it back in all the way tonight ill try removing again tomorrow or Wednesday when it's just warm.

@LeverThis, I did try the working the plug in both directions and it worked for awhile loosening it, but eventually it got to point that it got tight w/ 1/2 " ratchet. So I threw a torque wrench on it set at 18 ftlb. It was uncomfortably tight and way more than 18 ftlb.

After walking away I pondered the same as you guys mentioned with the metals expanding at different rates potentially causing issues. It was just very odd for the plug to feel borderline loose at first turn and become tighter as I loosened it. It wasnt the normal feeling of a bolt or nut breaking free and becoming easier to turn.

So the suggestion of atf to aid in removal of plug, are you guys referring to auto trans fluid?

Thanks again for the support.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

Brewtus79 01-06-2020 08:41 PM

Everything is back together for now. The second plug was uncomfortably difficult to torque down. The thought of stripping the aluminum head is absolutely miserable.

Keep the insights coming and I'll report back what happens over the next few days.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

Newbimer 01-06-2020 09:48 PM

Wondering if any of those holes have had a thread repair gone bad that's causing the problem? I don't think the metal expansion is the issue, if that was an issue, then this problem would appear anytime you removed the plugs with a hot engine to do a compression test. At this point the only way to know would be to pull them out.

jmo69 01-06-2020 09:49 PM

And people get flamed for suggesting a little anti-seize on the threads when installing plugs.

sickf4i 01-06-2020 11:40 PM

There also might be dried burnt oil in there. I've had the valve cover seals weep oil into the spark plug tubes and make plug threads grimy/sticky to get out. I was able to get them out on a cold engine. There was resistance the whole way out but they came out.

LeverThis 01-06-2020 11:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18696415)
Everything is back together for now. The second plug was uncomfortably difficult to torque down. The thought of stripping the aluminum head is absolutely miserable.

Keep the insights coming and I'll report back what happens over the next few days.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

Yes, ATF as in auto transmission fluid. Its a good substitute for penetrating fluids/oils in general if you have no PB Blaster, Kroil, etc., on hand. A 50/50 mix of Atf and acetone is basically a homemade penetrating fluid and is actually pretty effective. Any penetrating fluid should work though.

Try an incremental approach. Unscrew plug until it tightens up, spray Liquid Wrench, etc, on threads. Tighten loosen back and forth. If still stuck, then tighten back up and let soak overnight. In the morning, more liquid wrench plus tighten and loosen. If still stuck, clean up all the pf spray and run engine for 10 minutes to warm up a bit and more tighten and loosen. Let it cool down and start over. Some variation of this routine should get it out safely at some point.

Knight 01-07-2020 12:03 AM

I've always done plugs when the engine is cold.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmo69 (Post 18696445)
And people get flamed for suggesting a little anti-seize on the threads when installing plugs.

NGK, who makes the plugs, says to not use anti-seize which is where the recommendation comes from.

You can still use it, but need to be super-careful when it comes to torquing them down (same reason why anti-seize isn't recommended on wheel bolt threads).

What the OP is experiencing is unusual. I pulled original plugs at 110K miles with no issues and that was without any anti-seize from the factory.

Sapote 01-07-2020 12:22 AM

Removing plug with hot engine could strip the softer hotter threads. Cold head has stronger threads.

Old plugs might have the protruding threads covered with burned oil and hard carbon; hence it broke loose then jammed by the mentioned dirty threads.

Go slow easy back/forth with lube oil, and best of luck.

74123 01-07-2020 03:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18696305)
In the midst of troubleshooting a misfire and was trying remove a spark plug. At first it was relatively loose, but the more I turned it the more difficult it became to turn to the point I was afraid of stripping the threads.

So here is the question, I was attempting this w the engine hot, just returned home from 60 mile commute. Does it matter if the engine is hot or should I hold off til the engine cools down?

I tried 2 cylinders and both reacted in the same fashion. I have never had them out during my ownership so 30k miles and 1.5 years. Therefore I cannot speak to how they were installed.

Thanks for the help!

05 330xi for reference.

May I suggest you use a torque wrench to undo the plugs to reduce the risk of stripping them? It's a good idea and common practice when removing glow plugs from diesel heads, for example, which are notorious for breaking. Spray penetrating fluid in there over night. Work them back and forth as you go.

Brewtus79 01-07-2020 04:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18696531)
May I suggest you use a torque wrench to undo the plugs to reduce the risk of stripping them? It's a good idea and common practice when removing glow plugs from diesel heads, for example, which are notorious for breaking. Spray penetrating fluid in there over night. Work them back and forth as you go.

I'll try the various methods suggested by all. The above by Ray is what I did when the abnormalities began. I knew they were tight with the ratchet so I set the torque wrench for 18 ftlb and tried loosening w/ it. It clicked immediately. That's when I decided to abort.

I dont feel they are stripped at this point since I was able to torque them in last night. Car ran fine this morning.

The suggestion regarding exposed threads being gunked up with carbon is a distinct possibility since I have no idea how long they've been installed.

I have many a penetrating fluids available and will use one of them tomorrow when I attempt this again - when the engine is cold!

Thanks again.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

74123 01-07-2020 04:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18696541)
I'll try the various methods suggested by all. The above by Ray is what I did when the abnormalities began. I knew they were tight with the ratchet so I set the torque wrench for 18 ftlb and tried loosening w/ it. It clicked immediately. That's when I decided to abort.

I dont feel they are stripped at this point since I was able to torque them in last night. Car ran fine this morning.

The suggestion regarding exposed threads being gunked up with carbon is a distinct possibility since I have no idea how long they've been installed.

I have many a penetrating fluids available and will use one of them tomorrow when I attempt this again - when the engine is cold!

Thanks again.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

The carbon build up is a strong possibility. Perhaps you might slacken them off leaving them loose and spray some SeaFoam in there see if it will travel past the threads and onto the carbon build up help dissolve it.

Knight 01-07-2020 07:14 AM

Sea Foam or ATF would be a safe bet since both can be mixed with engine oil (used as short-term cleaners).

A long-needle industrial syringe would also simplify the process: https://www.amazon.com/GRIVER-Indust...8402762&sr=8-3

MrMCar 01-07-2020 07:25 AM

Removing extremely reluctant spark plugs is unnerving. There's always that question in the back of ones mind "Am I stripping the threads?"

When we're presented with such, we usually loosen the plug a turn or two. Spray penetrating oil down the hole and let sit for 5 min. Then turn in a turn or two and wait again. The idea is to get the penetrant into/through the threads.

How much should you force it out...? It's an experience thing that can no way be translated to you in typing. :>((

Using a torque wrench in reverse is generally not a good idea.
Almost any fastener will require more torque than installation once it's set.
Torque wrenches last longer if only used for tightening purposes. Higher end torque instruments such as some of the ones in my shop only work in one direction for that reason.

BTW, Yes I'm a member of the apply anti-seize to spark plug threads. Always have been.
BTW some MB cars recommend removing spark plugs on some of the "Service B" if the car has time but low mileage for the reason you are now confronted with.

Brewtus79 01-07-2020 07:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MrMCar (Post 18696609)
Removing extremely reluctant spark plugs is unnerving. There's always that question in the back of ones mind "Am I stripping the threads?"



When we're presented with such, we usually loosen the plug a turn or two. Spray penetrating oil down the hole and let sit for 5 min. Then turn in a turn or two and wait again. The idea is to get the penetrant into/through the threads.



How much should you force it out...? It's an experience thing that can no way be translated to you in typing. :>((



Using a torque wrench in reverse is generally not a good idea.

Almost any fastener will require more torque than installation once it's set.

Torque wrenches last longer if only used for tightening purposes. Higher end torque instruments such as some of the ones in my shop only work in one direction for that reason.



BTW, Yes I'm a member of the apply anti-seize to spark plug threads. Always have been.

BTW some MB cars recommend removing spark plugs on some of the "Service B" if the car has time but low mileage for the reason you are now confronted with.

Summed up perfectly. I ordered the syringe suggested above to apply the thread lubricant. Agreed on the anti-seizure as well, always apply a small dab.

MrMCar, any thoughts on the temperature of the head and plug making a difference for when to remove/install the plugs?

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

74123 01-07-2020 07:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MrMCar (Post 18696609)
Using a torque wrench in reverse is generally not a good idea.

Not only is that cr*p it doesn't even make any sense. You are arguing for ZERO CONTROL over a controlled approach to the application of force. Like THAT makes sense. Who cares if you stuff a torque wrench? (which you're not actually going to do). Torque wrenches are a hell of a lot cheaper to replace than a cylinder head.

Knight 01-07-2020 07:43 AM

https://ricksfreeautorepairadvice.co...-plug-threads/

Some straight-forward info and also an interesting point about using anti-seize only if re-installing spark plugs that were once removed.

To the anti-seize on new plugs crowd, just be careful on torquing the plugs down.

Quote:

Originally Posted by NGK
NGK spark plugs feature what is known as trivalent plating. This silver- or chrome-colored finish on the threads is designed to provide corrosion resistance against moisture and chemicals.

The coating also acts as a release agent during spark plug removal. NGK spark plugs are installed at the factory dry, without the use of anti-seize. NGK tech support has received a number of tech calls from installers who have over-tightened spark plugs because of the use of anti-seize.

Anti-seize compound can act as a lubricant altering torque values up to 20 percent, increasing the risk of spark plug thread breakage.

https://ngksparkplugs.com/en/resourc...ut-spark-plugs

MrMCar 01-07-2020 07:50 AM

Great question and two schools of thought:

Cold engine: Everything is contracted and removal can be more difficult, albeit aluminum is slightly tougher?

Warm engine: Everything is expanded and parts should come apart easier? Albeit aluminum is slightly softer.

We're splitting hairs, but if in my shop and confronted with what you have, I'd likely (?) try "warm".

Knight 01-07-2020 08:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18696621)
Not only is that cr*p it doesn't even make any sense. You are arguing for ZERO CONTROL over a controlled approach to the application of force. Like THAT makes sense. Who cares if you stuff a torque wrench? (which you're not actually going to do). Torque wrenches are a hell of a lot cheaper to replace than a cylinder head.

A few variables to consider here before jumping to any conclusions:

1. Not all torque wrenches work in reverse. If one were to assume theirs did when it actually didn't...they would effectively be using a mini breaker bar on seized spark plugs.

2. What if the calibration is off (which impacts many wrenches)? You could easily be applying double the torque that you set the wrench to, especially if setting the torque on the lower end.

The only torque wrench I'd be comfortable using in this application is a beam-style one, which provides the most control possible.

shadetreemech 01-07-2020 08:07 AM

My two cents - YMMV. Some Ford V8's have a 'spark plug ejection' problem do to a design oversight. When removing the plugs at the recommended service interval the aluminum threads in the head are damaged. Even though the new plugs are torqued properly the threads are weakened enough to 'pull'. After leaving the shop the plug flies out of the head - with the aluminum threads. BMW's do not suffer from this. The relevant point is Ford insists the plugs be removed with the engine hot. Some DIYers go so far as to change one plug a day after driving home from work.

On spark plugs that have compression type gaskets - like BMW uses - if you use anti seize on the threads do not use a torque wrench. Torque them with the 'angle method' described by the plug manufacturer. You will not over tighten them this way. For 'tapered' plugs without a compression gasket- like Ford uses - you must use a torque wrench with nothing on the threads. If you over tighten those on a Ford head you have a high risk of damaging the threads in the head.

MrMCar 01-07-2020 08:16 AM

Not only is that cr*p it doesn't even make any sense. You are arguing for ZERO CONTROL over a controlled approach to the application of force. Like THAT makes sense. Who cares if you stuff a torque wrench? (which you're not actually going to do). Torque wrenches are a hell of a lot cheaper to replace than a cylinder head.

Alright, then I'll bite. At what point is the safe torque value (Nominal value sought) for the safe removal of a spark plug?
Without ego my hands have a very good idea of just how much torque I'm applying to any fastener w/o torque wrench, give or take a few ft. lbs. It's from experience, more than anything.

If there was a value for "go-no go" on removal of spark plugs out there (and if it was realistic?) I'd bet over 50% of the cars I touch would never get new plugs?

As I suggested it's an experience thing and through experience and feel, good technicians can tell if (usually) threads are being pulled.
Any critical part is then finished off with the torque wrench.

I'm here to help. ;>)) BTW....

74123 01-07-2020 10:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Knight (Post 18696637)
1. Not all torque wrenches work in reverse.

No sh1t Sherlock. You know what you call the ones that aren't? Pry bars. You really, really think you needed to point that out?

Quote:

2. What if the calibration is off (which impacts many wrenches)?
When was the last time you had your arms calibrated? Sheeesh.

Overboost 01-07-2020 10:27 AM

So hostile. You mad bro?

https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/0n...ro-625x416.png

74123 01-07-2020 10:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MrMCar (Post 18696645)
Not only is that cr*p it doesn't even make any sense. You are arguing for ZERO CONTROL over a controlled approach to the application of force. Like THAT makes sense. Who cares if you stuff a torque wrench? (which you're not actually going to do). Torque wrenches are a hell of a lot cheaper to replace than a cylinder head.

Alright, then I'll bite. At what point is the safe torque value (Nominal value sought) for the safe removal of a spark plug?
Without ego my hands have a very good idea of just how much torque I'm applying to any fastener w/o torque wrench, give or take a few ft. lbs. It's from experience, more than anything.

If there was a value for "go-no go" on removal of spark plugs out there (and if it was realistic?) I'd bet over 50% of the cars I touch would never get new plugs?

As I suggested it's an experience thing and through experience and feel, good technicians can tell if (usually) threads are being pulled.
Any critical part is then finished off with the torque wrench.

I'm here to help. ;>)) BTW....

Sure.

Let's deal with the idea that it can harm your wrench first. Before we start it must be said that you can damage a torque wrench in either ACW or CW mode if you ignore the click that informs you that the set limit has been reached. You can actually use a torque wrench as a normal wrench in most cases if you don't care about its health and just keep swinging on it like it's a breaker bar. You can use it as a hammer if you like. So there is nothing special where ACW mode is concerned in that regard.

So what makes you think the wrench gives a toss about whether it is loosening a right hand bolt or tightening a left hand bolt when it is in ACW mode? It is designed to apply a rotating force in an ACW direction up to a limit that you set that you can onlt set within the design limit of the tool?

As for what you set the tool to initially you start 15% below the documented torque for the application, whether it's a plug or not, and you apply the torque. If the torque wrench clicks before you get to the documented torque you increase the torque setting and try again. At some point the fastener (or in this case the plug) will move before the wrench clicks. Limit yourself to 115% of the documented torque. If that doesn't shift it then you know you have a problem and that care or special engagement is required. It is impossible to determine that manually and the first you are likely to know about it is when the threads fail or the fastener shears.

jmo69 01-07-2020 10:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Knight (Post 18696503)
I've always done plugs when the engine is cold.



NGK, who makes the plugs, says to not use anti-seize which is where the recommendation comes from.

You can still use it, but need to be super-careful when it comes to torquing them down (same reason why anti-seize isn't recommended on wheel bolt threads).

What the OP is experiencing is unusual. I pulled original plugs at 110K miles with no issues and that was without any anti-seize from the factory.

The last plug I pulled had even resistance all the way out, more than I expected but it didn't increase. I replaced it and haven't had a problem.

74123 01-07-2020 10:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Overboost (Post 18696735)

That's not hostility. It's charm. Scouse charm.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dullhunk/352840552

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6k2YEc6dozA

PabloCruise 01-07-2020 11:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmo69 (Post 18696445)
And people get flamed for suggesting a little anti-seize on the threads when installing plugs.

OMG, now you have done it! That and whether or not to use anti-seize on wheel studs - people lose their minds!!!

74123 01-07-2020 11:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmo69 (Post 18696445)
And people get flamed for suggesting a little anti-seize on the threads when installing plugs.


If it was meant to have anti-seize don't you think the manufacturers would slap a bit on the threads like they do with O2 sensors and glow plugs?

Knight 01-07-2020 11:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18696725)
No sh1t Sherlock. You know what you call the ones that aren't? Pry bars.

Torque wrenches that don't work in reverse...are still called torque wrenches. :idea:

What do pry bars have to do with anything?

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18696725)
You really, really think you needed to point that out?

Generally, no. However, in response to your silly suggestion to use a torque wrench to loosen spark plugs, the obvious was politely stated.

You can be as riled up as you'd like. Fact is your bad "advice" could lead to some poor schmuck snapping a seized plug in the head when they grab a 3/8 Crapsman clicker that is badly out-of-calibration and not realize how much mechanical leverage is being applied to a very brittle part.

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18696725)
When was the last time you had your arms calibrated? Sheeesh.

Good one, Ray. Let's see what you come up with next time.

74123 01-07-2020 11:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Knight (Post 18696807)
Torque wrenches that don't work in reverse...are still called torque wrenches. :idea:

What do pry bars have to do with anything?

It was a joke. Christ!!

Quote:


Generally, no. However, in response to your silly suggestion to use a torque wrench to loosen spark plugs, the obvious was politely stated.

You can be as riled up as you'd like. Fact is your bad "advice" could lead to some poor schmuck snapping a seized plug in the head when they grab a 3/8 Crapsman clicker that is badly out-of-calibration and not realize how much mechanical leverage is being applied to a very brittle part.

You are clueless. Champion Auto parts. Manufacturers of spark plugs and glow plugs for 112 years. Maybe they know better than you hey? You should educate yourself before you call others out.

"First off: Only remove and fit glow plugs using a manual torque wrench".

Same process for glow plugs and spark plugs is recommended.

https://www.championautoparts.co.uk/...d-removal.html

Knight 01-07-2020 12:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18696817)
You are clueless. Champion Auto parts. Manufacturers of spark plugs and glow plugs for 112 years. Maybe they know better than you hey? You should educate yourself before you call others out.

"First off: Only remove and fit glow plugs using a manual torque wrench".

Same process for glow plugs and spark plugs is recommended.

https://www.championautoparts.co.uk/...d-removal.html

C'mon Ray, you forfeit the right to call anyone clueless on the topic when you post instructions for glow plugs. :rofl:

No, they are not same. Not even close. Seized spark plugs are rare while seizing is inevitable when it comes to changing glow plugs. You know this, too, so why put them in the same boat?

I checked their spark plug process. Says to use a torque wrench to loosen (probably to keep it simple with one tool since there is no mention of setting any torque) but also places caution on stopping immediately if seized.

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18696531)
May I suggest you use a torque wrench to undo the plugs to reduce the risk of stripping them?

This, is BS my friend. You are relying on an instrument to give you a safeguard that is likely not accurate in the first place.

Very simple scenario:

1. A plug is seized.
2. You set your torque wrench (assuming it goes in reverse) to a safe breaking torque.
3. The torque you set it to is wildly off.
4. Thinking you're safe, you keep gradually applying pressure.
5. Snap.

A safer option is to use a 1/4 drive ratchet. Go by feel and scale up to a standard length 3/8 drive if needed. If that doesn't easily work, penetrating fluid.

LeverThis 01-07-2020 01:57 PM

Daaaang, my browser just refreshed after posting and saw all the mornings posts ...

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sapote (Post 18696513)
Removing plug with hot engine could strip the softer hotter threads. Cold head has stronger threads.

Old plugs might have the protruding threads covered with burned oil and hard carbon; hence it broke loose then jammed by the mentioned dirty threads.

Go slow easy back/forth with lube oil, and best of luck.

Any idea above what temperature aluminum alloy begins to weaken? Or, better yet, does Al alloy maintain its strength until a certain temp is reached and then it weakens?

I googled this a bit and found some threads suggesting that above 350F al alloy weakens. A different guy in same thread says stay below 200C, but that's not far from 350F.

https://www.practicalmachinist.com/v...stener-273942/

If weakening begins at 350F (~ 176C), that is way hotter than the "warm" temp (by hand feel) that I would typically be trying to remove a spark plug at.

Brewtus79 01-07-2020 02:09 PM

[emoji115]. Do you think the aluminum gets that hot? The coolant is maintained at 94C. I know it is not exactly apples to apples, but I would not think the Al gets twice as warm, if that is what you're suggesting.

Edit: I suppose one could use a heat gun on an exposed piece of the head to get an idea.

Regardless, after my experience last evening I will not attempt extraction w a hot engine. Ill shoot for cold or just warm as recommended by others in this thread.

Even w all the digressions that have taken place here, this thread has been very useful so far and I appreciate it!

VpointVick 01-07-2020 02:21 PM

Where does one even begin to look up the maximum loosening torque?

Champion seems to be the only place that it's mentioned and even they don't list a spec. It has to be greater than the tightening torque, but how much is too much? With a question like that is there any point in asking if the tool is calibrated or not?

Sapote 01-07-2020 02:30 PM

Ok, maybe this is the real reason why not removing plugs with hot engine: aluminum head expanded more than steel plug threads, length wise. This would cause more friction on the threads and so the removal torque needed to be higher than room temperature.

74123 01-07-2020 02:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VpointVick (Post 18696917)
Where does one even begin to look up the maximum loosening torque?

Champion seems to be the only place that it's mentioned and even they don't list a spec. It has to be greater than the tightening torque, but how much is too much? With a question like that is there any point in asking if the tool is calibrated or not?

That was a joke. Right?

74123 01-07-2020 02:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sapote (Post 18696923)
Ok, maybe this is the real reason why not removing plugs with hot engine: aluminum head expanded more than steel plug threads, length wise. This would cause more friction on the threads and so the removal torque needed to be higher than room temperature.

No. The expansion is volumetric not linear. It occurs in all 3 dimensions. The pressure between head and plugs reduces. The friction reduces accordingly. Makes them easier to remove. It's the same pricinciple that you employ when fitting a wheel bearing into its housing. You heat up the housing in the oven and put the bearing in the freezer. Then bring them both together. What you NEVER do is INSTALL plugs when the engine is hot because when the engine cools down everything shrinks and then you can end up with thread damage and/or tear the threads out when you try to remove them cold.

LeverThis 01-07-2020 03:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18696899)
[emoji115]. Do you think the aluminum gets that hot? The coolant is maintained at 94C. I know it is not exactly apples to apples, but I would not think the Al gets twice as warm, if that is what you're suggesting.

Edit: I suppose one could use a heat gun on an exposed piece of the head to get an idea.

Regardless, after my experience last evening I will not attempt extraction w a hot engine. Ill shoot for cold or just warm as recommended by others in this thread.

Even w all the digressions that have taken place here, this thread has been very useful so far and I appreciate it!

No, no I wasn't saying to heat it up that hot, quite the opposite. (Nor that Al gets warmer.) If aluminum BEGINS to weaken at 200C, then there is nothing to worry about because you wont be working on it if its that hot (the headgasket would be toast) ... but I was merely asking the question if that is a valid way to look at the issue.

All along, what I meant was a warm engine that wont burn your hand when you touch it. That won't be hot enough to worry about weakend threads, if that 350F/200C figure is anywhere close to being correct. Try it cold first, using penetrating fluid. If still no luck, then run engine a little bit to just start getting it warm. Then try again. Still no luck, run engine a little longer.

yup, the digressions can get a bit heated (and entertaining) ... :argue: ... but at least usually some good info also comes out from them. Anyways, good luck.

Brewtus79 01-07-2020 03:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LeverThis (Post 18696977)
No, no I wasn't saying to heat it up that hot, quite the opposite. (Nor that Al gets warmer.) If aluminum BEGINS to weaken at 200C, then there is nothing to worry about because you wont be working on it if its that hot (the headgasket would be toast) ... but I was merely asking the question if that is a valid way to look at the issue.

All along, what I meant was a warm engine that wont burn your hand when you touch it. That won't be hot enough to worry about weakend threads, if that 350F/200C figure is anywhere close to being correct. Try it cold first, using penetrating fluid. If still no luck, then run engine a little bit to just start getting it warm. Then try again. Still no luck, run engine a little longer.

Understood. What you laid out here is my plan for tomorrow.

Brewtus79 01-07-2020 03:38 PM

One other thing I will say about heating up aluminum. I had great success extracting exhaust manifold bolts on my GMC 6.0L by heating the aluminum head. That was a couple years ago and I have not noticed any ill effects from using the torch on the head. The trick there is the same as here with respect to not using too much torque. I used nothing bigger than a 3/8 ratchet applying moderate effort and if i could not break it free with that I put more heat to the head until the bolt succumbed.

Sapote 01-07-2020 03:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18696947)
No. The expansion is volumetric not linear. It occurs in all 3 dimensions. The pressure between head and plugs reduces. The friction reduces accordingly. Makes them easier to remove. It's the same pricinciple that you employ when fitting a wheel bearing into its housing. You heat up the housing in the oven and put the bearing in the freezer. Then bring them both together. What you NEVER do is INSTALL plugs when the engine is hot because when the engine cools down everything shrinks and then you can end up with thread damage and/or tear the threads out when you try to remove them cold.

I know that thermal expansion is volumetric, and the head threaded hole is bigger than plug OD with hot engine. But I wanted to talk about plug thread length and the hole thread length. With a torqued down plug at room temperature, then when the engine is hot the head grew taller and its thread pitch is longer than the plug pitch. The interference must create more thread friction.

VpointVick 01-07-2020 05:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18696931)
That was a joke. Right?

I don't know, was it?

You seem to be the only one amongst this whole rather knowledgeable bunch, some factory trained techs, who has ever heard of this technique. Google returns nothing except the Champion site when I searched for torque values for loosening plugs, and that doesn't give any values.

74123 01-08-2020 02:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VpointVick (Post 18697051)
I don't know, was it?

You seem to be the only one amongst this whole rather knowledgeable bunch, some factory trained techs, who has ever heard of this technique. Google returns nothing except the Champion site when I searched for torque values for loosening plugs, and that doesn't give any values.

I was referring to Where does one even begin to look up the maximum loosening torque?. Of course there's no untightening torque spec. It's a pretty comical notion. Hence the comment. You start at the TIGHTENING torque spec. If the plug is less tight than that then it will start to move. If not you increase the torque slightly and try again and you repeat that until it moves or you get to about 120% of the tightening spec. If you get to that point you know you have a probem and special precautions are necessary. It's a technique that is used on diesel glow plugs in particular because they are about half the diameter of spark plugs and prone to snapping. There are lots of techniques for dealing with obstructions that are born of experience that you wont find on the internet. The fact that they are not on the internet doesn't negate their usefulness. I reference the Champion site because it's a company with considerable expertise in the matter and they think it is necessary. Mandatory in fact according to their website.

VpointVick 01-08-2020 07:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18697283)
I was referring to Where does one even begin to look up the maximum loosening torque?. Of course there's no untightening torque spec. It's a pretty comical notion. Hence the comment. You start at the TIGHTENING torque spec. If the plug is less tight than that then it will start to move. If not you increase the torque slightly and try again and you repeat that until it moves or you get to about 120% of the tightening spec. If you get to that point you know you have a probem and special precautions are necessary. It's a technique that is used on diesel glow plugs in particular because they are about half the diameter of spark plugs and prone to snapping. There are lots of techniques for dealing with obstructions that are born of experience that you wont find on the internet. The fact that they are not on the internet doesn't negate their usefulness. I reference the Champion site because it's a company with considerable expertise in the matter and they think it is necessary. Mandatory in fact according to their website.

I thought it was a pretty comical notion too, hence why I thought you might be joking.

"Start at the tightening spec." It will always take more force to break a fastener, or plug in this case, loose than was used to tighten it, so all you're doing is serve to get an immediate "click" and have to up your setting. "Increase your torque slightly..." is saying about the same thing as what Knight and MrMcar have been saying except that they support just using regular ratchets and experience as to how much force you're applying.

Frankly, I don't see any value in using a torque wrench when there's no known safe value that you can set it to, and I agree with MrMcar that trying to do so could lead to a false sense of security that could lead to problems. Until anyone can post a chart of torque settings for loosening different sized spark plugs, something that even Champion doesn't seem to be willing to do, I'm going to discount it as an oddball idea at best, and continue wondering why you so strongly defend it, even though you're all alone on this.

If this works for you then you keep right on at it, but please stop trying to tell everyone else that they're idiots for not going along with you. This technique is an outlier, and generally outliers that don't get made commonplace are so for a reason.

74123 01-08-2020 07:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VpointVick (Post 18697363)
It will always take more force to break a fastener,

Google "does it take more torque to loosen a bolt than to tighten it". See if you can find an article that confirms that claim. There are plenty that confirm the OPPOSITE. Let me know how you get on.



Quote:

Frankly, I don't see any value in using a torque wrench when there's no known safe value that you can set it to, and I agree with MrMcar that trying to do so could lead to a false sense of security that could lead to problems. Until anyone can post a chart of torque settings for loosening different sized spark plugs, something that even Champion doesn't seem to be willing to do, I'm going to discount it as an oddball idea at best, and continue wondering why you so strongly defend it, even though you're all alone on this.
It's simple really. Until you can show me a calibration certficate for your arms, or even a relaible method of calibrating them, I'm going to claim better accuracy and a more predicatable outcome can be achieved with a torque wrench. How's that?

Quote:

If this works for you then you keep right on at it, but please stop trying to tell everyone else that they're idiots for not going along with you. This technique is an outlier, and generally outliers that don't get made commonplace are so for a reason.
I didn't call anyone an idiot. Only you made that call. I've never broken a spark plug or a glow plug or stripped a hole. So it works for me. I would suggest there's a lot of smart mechanics out there who have a plethora of great hnts and tips born from experience that nobody knows about. One of the reasons for this site is to pass them on. You can take them or leave them. Who cares?

VpointVick 01-08-2020 08:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18697379)
Google "does it take more torque to loosen a bolt than to tighten it". See if you can find an article that confirms that claim. There are plenty that confirm the OPPOSITE. Let me know how you get on.

Only if immediately undoing the fastener Ray.
https://www.boltscience.com/pages/untightening.htm
Quote:

As the time passes from when the nut was tightened, the torque needed to untighten it tends to increase. After half a day or so, the release torque can be typically up 10% greater than the tightening torque.
For example.





Quote:

It's simple really. Until you can show me a calibration certficate for your arms, or even a relaible method of calibrating them, I'm going to claim better accuracy and a more predicatable outcome can be achieved with a torque wrench. How's that?
Sure. That all makes sense as long as there's a known, engineered value to set your calibrated tool to to begin with. In this case it's "gradually increase the torque setting", which can just as easily be done by an experienced hand.



Quote:

I didn't call anyone an idiot. Only you made that call. I've never broken a spark plug or a glow plug or stripped a hole. So it works for me. I would suggest there's a lot of smart mechanics out there who have a plethora of great hnts and tips born from experience that nobody knows about. One of the reasons for this site is to pass them on. You can take them or leave them. Who cares?
You seem to care a lot. You've invested a lot of time in staunchly defending this idea and while it's true that you've stopped short of actually calling anybody names there's certainly been plenty of implication in your posts.

Just let it go.

MrMCar 01-08-2020 08:22 AM

W/O taking ideas out of context. Can you use a torque wrench in the opposite use of it's intention, surely. But why would one?
Use the torque wrench for removing a stubborn fastener (spark plug in this case) and one keeps increasing the limit of the setting and finally the stubborn part releases. What happens to the beam and/or innards of the measuring mechanism when that sudden jolt gets applied to the inside of the tool when the stubborn part finally lets go?

I'd bet 99% of DIYers will take the torque wrench and put it back into their toolkit for use at a later time. Maybe in an hour's time when installing the spark plugs?

Torque wrenches are designed to be brought up to the predetermined limit slowly and to have the applied force released once achieved. Not to be tested by using in the wrong fashion and then suddenly breaks free.

My point was to have longevity of a useful tool to be able to continue to function with a slight modicum of comfort that it's somewhat correct.
I don't think that anyone would apply egregious amounts of force with a 1/2" bar to remove plugs? That's bollocks.

I think that was your intention albeit misconstrued.

74123 01-08-2020 08:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VpointVick (Post 18697391)
Only if immediately undoing the fastener Ray.
https://www.boltscience.com/pages/untightening.htm

I don't buy that frankly. Nobody invented lock washers and loctite because nuts and bolts get tighter over time. They are used to prevent fasteners backing off through vibration and other environmental factors like heat cycles which is particularly relevant where spark plugs are concerned. I have stress tested many a fastener and bolted joint in my time in the construction industry. Never found that to be the case.

Quote:

.Just let it go.
I did. hence the Who cares?.

LeverThis 01-08-2020 12:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18697409)
I don't buy that frankly. Nobody invented lock washers and loctite because nuts and bolts get tighter over time. They are used to prevent fasteners backing off through vibration and other environmental factors like heat cycles which is particularly relevant where spark plugs are concerned. I have stress tested many a fastener and bolted joint in my time in the construction industry. Never found that to be the case.



I did. hence the Who cares?.

You dont believe that rusted thread and bolt surfaces will need more torque to break free than they were tightened with?

74123 01-08-2020 01:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LeverThis (Post 18697591)
You dont believe that rusted thread and bolt surfaces will need more torque to break free than they were tightened with?

Have you ever seen a rusty spark plug on a E46?

Cheap Trick 01-08-2020 03:10 PM

How about a little more controversy with a new idea for loosening spark plugs - there are now many different small cordless impact drivers for screws and other lower torque applications. Why not use one of these to some what "gently" apply a hammer/tapping action on the plug to break down what ever is bonding the threads together? We know how well a higher power impact wrench can break loose corroded fasteners. However the big guys would most likely be quite damaging for spark plugs and aluminum threads, but a less forceful impact action might just do the job with less chance of damage than just pulling on a wrench, calibrated break-a-way elbow or not. Of course penetrating oil - back and forth motion etc. still are good practices, but you first have to get some movement started. Food for thought.

Sapote 01-08-2020 04:25 PM

No power tool here. Just by hand and incremental back/forth a little at a time until it's out. You don't want a broken plug in there.

Brewtus79 01-08-2020 04:59 PM

Still fighting the good fight. Working 1-3 right now w decent results. None are out yet, but I'm making progress. I've opted to use a 1/4" drive ratchet. I get to the point where my arm clicks [emoji6] and go back the other way. Repeat.

I appreciate the input fellas and will report back as progress is made.

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Brewtus79 01-08-2020 08:24 PM

1 plug out. At first I thought the last thread and a half was boogered up. After closer inspection and some wire brush, scraping at the threads it appears the anti seize baked into the threads making them look flat.

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LeverThis 01-08-2020 10:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18697601)
Have you ever seen a rusty spark plug on a E46?

Luckily no, but spark plugs do tend to be harder to remove than the original torque used to fasten them. I have however seen 02 sensors and exhaust studs/nuts rust welded in place and way beyond original torque spec to remove.

Sure some fasteners shake loose (oil pump nut e.g.) but some others bind up due to rust or dirt.

PabloCruise 01-09-2020 04:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18697895)
1 plug out. At first I thought the last thread and a half was boogered up. After closer inspection and some wire brush, scraping at the threads it appears the anti seize baked into the threads making them look flat.

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That darn anti-seize!

I asked my friend who is a professional wrench. He says, "Supposedly better to remove plugs warm/hot as it makes the carbon more gooey instead of hard."

Newbimer 01-09-2020 04:47 PM

Spark plug OEM does not recommend using anything on the plugs. If you have to use anti seize a very light coat on the first few threads is all you need.

Brewtus79 01-09-2020 06:18 PM

Alright peoples, all 6 are out. All but #4 fought w/ equal resistance. #4 came out easily. All have what appear to be anti-seize cooked on the last 2 or 3 threads at tip. My local sources said it is aluminum, not antsz on end of plugs.

When I had the opportunity to compare the new plugs to old, the old is 1/4" longer from the washer to the tip of the plug[emoji50].

Not sure how far the oem plug is supposed to protrude into the combustion chamber, but holy hell that seems like a large difference. Perhaps the extra length of threads were exposed inside.

I threaded a new plug into #1 cylinder and it seemed to go ok. I will report back when I'm done. For reference, the plugs I removed are the first link.

https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...hoCJ30QAvD_BwE

These are the plugs from FCP I ordered.

https://www.fcpeuro.com/products/bmw...lus-0242236562

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Sapote 01-09-2020 07:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18698555)
All have what appear to be anti-seize cooked on the last 2 or 3 threads at tip. My local sources said it is aluminum, not antsz on end of plugs.

I don't think anti-seize compound would cooked as this. The 1/4" extra long plugs had the threads exposed and covered with burned oil and carbon, hard stuffs, and so the covered threads might have taken the head threads on their way out. Unbelievable how careless people just used any plugs on car.

Brewtus79 01-09-2020 08:13 PM

All 6 are torqued to 18 ftlb. To the masses, do think they would torque to spec if the head threads were wasted? I suppose there is a possibility the spark plugs shoot out of the head upon ignition. What is the consensus?

Thanks again fellow Fanatics.

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LeverThis 01-09-2020 08:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18698619)
All 6 are torqued to 18 ftlb. To the masses, do think they would torque to spec if the head threads were wasted? I suppose there is a possibility the spark plugs shoot out of the head upon ignition. What is the consensus?

Thanks again fellow Fanatics.

Did you find aluminum in the spark plug threads? If not, you should be good.

I've used 18 ft lb before with no problem, but I did find out recently that the torque spec was bumped up to 30Nm, or 22 ft-lb. Seems that some plugs were getting loose at 18 ft lbs. I haven't gone back to retorque anything, but now when I do pull a plug for some reason I retorque it to 22 ft lbs.

https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/e...-plugs/5rctKot

I thought there was a thread about this recently but can't seem to find it.

Brewtus79 01-09-2020 09:18 PM

There was material in the bottom couple threads of each. Not sure how you determine if its aluminum, anti-seize, etc. It is packed in tight. I'll retorque them to 20 ftlb tomorrow.

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VpointVick 01-10-2020 07:29 AM

I think that you should be fine, although I would retorque to the slightly higher value per the tis.

Whoever put those plugs in are lucky that there wasn't contact with the piston. Can't really just throw in a random spark plug that happens to have the same thread!

74123 01-10-2020 07:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18698637)
There was material in the bottom couple threads of each. Not sure how you determine if its aluminum, anti-seize, etc. It is packed in tight. I'll retorque them to 20 ftlb tomorrow.

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Got a picture? It would be good to know whether it is anti-seize or carbon. Mind you, you would have to be pretty liberal with the anti-seize when installing the plug for it to become problematic like that. You only need a smear if you use it.

MrMCar 01-10-2020 07:58 AM

Glad you were able to get them pulled out. Not starting any debate (I'm confident they'll be a retort anyway) of anti-seize on plugs, albeit only a small amount. The idea is to provide a modicum of protection against galvanic corrosion and or thread adhesion.
Just makes it damned easier in the future....

I surmise, the car isn't in front of me and I can only glean information via your replies (thanks for sharing for the benefit of ALL!) that the longer spark plugs had the usual carbon build up on the threads that were (Now) exposed into the combustion chamber and the buildup greatly inhibited extraction and likely put a small amount of cutting into the threads?

All the more reason to use a torque wrench on your car for future spark plug replacement. I'll bet you'll be fine.
BTDT on wrong plugs a number of times during my career. Only had an issue on that one once in all my years.

Brewtus79 01-10-2020 09:10 AM

2 Attachment(s)
Here a comparison. Also, any thoughts on the state of the Bank 1 Precat O2 sensor I pulled?

Also, I applied a tiny dab of Copper anti-seize on each plug.Attachment 791437Attachment 791439

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doukas007 01-10-2020 09:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RayPooley (Post 18696621)
Not only is that cr*p it doesn't even make any sense. You are arguing for ZERO CONTROL over a controlled approach to the application of force. Like THAT makes sense. Who cares if you stuff a torque wrench? (which you're not actually going to do). Torque wrenches are a hell of a lot cheaper to replace than a cylinder head.

Very few torque wrenches operate in the opposite direction, you with all your expertise should have known that. Also applying the same torque for unfastening that is used to fasten the bolt isn't how things work, engineering says. It's just that it doesn't matter in this application provided you will SLOWLY unscrew the plug.

Brewtus79 01-10-2020 11:22 AM

If we are done at the Chocolate Factory, let's get back to reality.

All 6 plugs set at 20 ftlb. Started car up and idles ok. A little rough at first and then smoothed out after 15 secs.

I have some fuel system troubleshooting to do and then will take for a test drive.

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doukas007 01-10-2020 11:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18699049)
If we are done at the Chocolate Factory, let's get back to reality.

All 6 plugs set at 20 ftlb. Started car up and idles ok. A little rough at first and then smoothed out after 15 secs.

I have some fuel system troubleshooting to do and then will take for a test drive.

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Good news. Did you try and loosen the new spark plugs to see if the problem persists? And sorry for messing the thread

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Brewtus79 01-10-2020 11:29 AM

I did not try loosening after they were torqued. When I ran the new plug in the #1 cylinder I did so in steps by unthreading it and checking the threads. They looked fine so as long the others threaded in in a similar fashion I figured to hell w it. My hands and forearms were beat after cranking each one for hours w 1/4 and 3/8 ratchets.

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VpointVick 01-10-2020 11:32 AM

How did the new ones feel on the way in? Damaged threads usually feel damaged in my experience.

doukas007 01-10-2020 11:39 AM

In my previous m52 engine the plugs, new or old , needed an enormous amount of torque to be removed or installed and that without any apparent thead damage. I suspect it had to do with the aluminum block creeping. I am talking about all the plugs but especially the third I think. It may was crossthreaded, how knows

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Brewtus79 01-10-2020 12:00 PM

All were started a few threads by hand afterwhich I couldn't them anymore. So after ensuring they weren't cross threaded I used a 3/8 ratchet w nothing more than what I could expend w my wrist.

#4 cylinder was the exception. It came out the easiest and went in the hardest. It never felt cross threaded, but required more force than I was interested in exacting. I backed it out to check the threads many a time. In the end, I was able to set it @ 20ftlb.

I'm feeling a bit relieved at this point, but reserving any celebratory activity [emoji481] until its proven.

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MrMCar 01-10-2020 12:13 PM

OP, You're extremely fortunate they didn't hit the tops of the pistons. Must have JUST missed. OMG

I really don't like how the end threads look on the wrong one, yikes. Leave the new ones for as long as you can and install new with a T Wrench.

Number of posts? LOL

There's an old self help book from way back: Games People Play
One of the chapters is; "Make me right by making you wrong."

Something my old partner (at my older Bosch BSC) did frequently. Really pisses people off.
I digress.....

Knight 01-10-2020 12:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18698555)
When I had the opportunity to compare the new plugs to old, the old is 1/4" longer from the washer to the tip of the plug[emoji50].

Not sure how far the oem plug is supposed to protrude into the combustion chamber, but holy hell that seems like a large difference. Perhaps the extra length of threads were exposed inside.

Quote:

Originally Posted by MrMCar (Post 18699081)
OP, You're extremely fortunate they didn't hit the tops of the pistons. Must have JUST missed. OMG

I really don't like how the end threads look on the wrong one, yikes. Leave the new ones for as long as you can and install new with a T Wrench.

Seriously...wow.

For reference, I checked 5 different types of spark plugs that are compatible with the M54 (3 physically in my possession, 2 from clear photos online) and all of them have ~12 rings of thread.

Something is very odd with the ones you pulled. I think your theory (bolded) is accurate. In your photo, the "extra" threads under the electrode are mangled & shiny, which to me means they were probably weakened from exposure in the combustion chamber and chewed up on the way out.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brewtus79 (Post 18699067)
All were started a few threads by hand afterwhich I couldn't them anymore. So after ensuring they weren't cross threaded I used a 3/8 ratchet w nothing more than what I could expend w my wrist.

#4 cylinder was the exception. It came out the easiest and went in the hardest. It never felt cross threaded, but required more force than I was interested in exacting. I backed it out to check the threads many a time. In the end, I was able to set it @ 20ftlb.

I'm feeling a bit relieved at this point, but reserving any celebratory activity [emoji481] until its proven.

Chances are, you're fine moving forward and the relief is justified. Nice work on approaching this methodically and getting it sorted. :thumbup:


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