ISBN: 978-0-9556595-3-9 Panther Publishing (UK) 2010
16 pages, photos, illustrations and charts. List Price: $24.95
At only 16 pages, Spark Plugging the Classics is probably what Sherlock Holmes would call a “monograph” rather than a book.
It was recently written by Stan Dibben. Does that name ring a bell? Sharp webBikeWorld readers (are there any other type? – Editor) will recognize the name from another webBikeWorld book review.
Stan Dibben wrote a popular book (definitely not a monograph!), also published by Panther Publishing, entitled “Hold On“, which is an autobiography of Mr. Dibben’s very interesting life as a sidecar racer and more.
Part of that life included 25 years working in the spark plug industry, so Mr. Dibben probably has forgotten more about spark plugs than most people have know in their lifetime. Spark Plugging the Classics is a very brief condensation of his hard-won knowledge, focused on the recognition of spark plug problems, their causes and the cures.
There’s a lot in the book that most casual mechanics may know, or think they know, including photos of spark plugs with problems and suggestions on the cause and treatment.
Yes, this information can be found relatively easy in 2010 through many internet sources. But this is the real thing, from “the horse’s mouth” (sorry, Mr. Dibben; it’s a figure of speech!). It includes good quality color photos and a discussion on how to best read the plugs; a logical explanation of when to use “hot” and “cold” plugs; the differences between spark plugs of the past and today’s very reliable designs and more.
Modern motorcycle engines using unleaded fuel, fed by fuel injection and with palladium or iridium electrodes ignited by computer-controlled electronic ignitions are virtually sealed units, needing very little of the maintenance tricks and tips now known only to vintage bike owners.
Today’s modern motorcycles rarely need to have a plug pulled before many thousands of miles — much less on a regular basis — for the cleaning, gapping and reading that was part of “The Knowledge” necessary for enjoying the sport back in the old days.
Spark plug reading is becoming somewhat of a lost art, but it still pays to understand what role a spark plug plays in engine ignition, especially for owners messing with fueling or exhaust system modifications.
The most grateful reader of Mr. Dibben’s book will be the (perhaps new) owner of a classic or vintage motorcycle of the type still fueled by those old-fashioned pumps called “carburetors” and possibly even with a points-based ignition system (Huh? What’s that?). Reading the spark plugs and understanding what they are telling you is a very important part of vintage motorcycle ownership.
So as long as you understand that this is only a 16 page monograph and not a Tech School course on spark plug and ignition theory, your expectations will be met. There is a nicely condensed wealth of information here, and the fact that it all comes from a man who has lived and breathed (literally) motorcycles and spark plugs his entire life is a definite bonus.
Spark Plugging the Classics is available worldwide for only £4.00 in the UK through Panther Publishing or $5.95 in the U.S. through Motorsport, who also distributes all of the other wonderful Panther Publishing books, along with British motorcycle magazines such as Bike and Ride and many other classic motorcycle books and magazines.