I would like to put a continuous spark generator on my 10 HP Stanley.
I suppose the system consist of a spark plug, a wire, and an electronic box working with a 9V battery. I suppose the spark plug works continuously until hot, and that it starts automatically when cold. Am I right ? Is there a switch on/off on the box ? Does the length of the wire have some importance ? In an older issue of The Steam Car, Mike Clark speaks about a Valor spark generator : is this system sold by house heating systems suppliers or by caravan/mobil home heaters makers ?
Any tip/information/advise is welcome.
Yes the one I use is from a Valor domestic gas fire but I suppose many other makes have the same item. It is powered by a PP3 9v battery which fits into the unit, however I found that the battery only lasts a couple of days touring if switched on all the time so I have connected it to the 12v battery which powers my lights. This does the sparker no harm - I suspect it is based on some form of condenser which just charges more quickly and therefore sparks twice as often.
The unit has a slot for the battery to fit into so I made a block of nylon of the same shape with two connecting buttons wired to the 12 volt supply. The sparker is turned on by a pair of wires which go to a switch which is not part of the unit. The on/off is entirely manual and not related to temperature. i just leave it sparking all the time the pilot is lit.
You will find that a sparking plug is too short to place the spark where you want it by the flame of the pilot so I use an electrode which is used for the same purpose in the gas fire and is just a ceramic stick with a steel rod through the centre which has a terminal for the HT supply at one end and projects about 50mm form the other to apply the spark where you want it. Make sure you get an electrode for which you can buy replacements as they tend to erode away. Best to find the slimmest one you can get say 10mm as there is not much space on the face of the pilot. If the electrode has a metal mounting clip you will probably have to cut that off and make a holder to fix the electrode into the front flange of the pilot. I found a sort of gland fitting with a string type gland packing was the easiest way to hold the ceramic in place.
I used a rather stiff multiple strand steel wire to connect to the electrode with an eyelet end which fits onto the electrode and is held by an old fashioned spring clip from a spark plug. The wire is stiff enough not to sag away from its intended course and is connected, at the side of the car frame to the light electrical wire leading to the sparker unit. The steel wire is insulated with "heat shrink" - the plastic tubing which can be contracted onto the wire with a little heat.
There is no need to disconnect the wire when heating the pilot with a blowlamp as the blowlamp flame is no closer than 30mm to the wire, which in any case can tolerate a bit of heat.