Spark Plugging The Classics By Stan Dibben


This clever booklet covers the basics about spark plugs to help you choose the best type for your classic bike, and use it to diagnose what’s going on inside your engine…


This 20-page A5 booklet is offers an easily accessible guide on how to read spark plugs to diagnose engine faults, and to select the correct grade of plug for your engine. It explains the differences between modern plugs and those from the classic period, and shows how to select modern plugs for use in older engines. It explains everything most classic owners need to know about spark plugs, the types available, the difference between hot and cold plugs, and the relationship to the ignition system such as coil or magneto.

All the likely states of your spark plugs are illustrated, explained and remedies suggested and there is also a table of the common plug equivalents, showing hotter and colder plugs.


Sidecars on :

Jeff Smith MBE, famed ISDT rider and world motocross champion, spotted a copy of the booklet and whisked it away. Here’s what he had to say about it: ‘The spark plug is a mystery to most riders. There is the question of reading it for carburettor settings, and whether it should be hot or cold. In ‘Spark Plugging The Classics’, Stan Dibben helps us resolve these two important matters, and beyond that provides a handy reference chart which allows our old Lodge and KLG plugs to be cross-referenced with easily obtainable NGK and a plethora of Champion plugs.


‘Stan had an exciting career with his various accomplishments, including his sidecar passenger days with Norton’s Sidecar World Champion Eric Oliver. I remember hearing Eric Oliver expound on sidecar passengers in the Birmingham Motorcycle Club sometime in the early 1950s. I happened to be sitting with Cyril Smith and Oliver. Smith was also a World Sidecar Champion in the same era. Oliver, well into his beer by this time, said that he could easily replace a sidecar passenger with a sack of potatoes on a little outrigger which he would kick out to go left and pull in with a piece of string to go right.

‘I was amazed at this, believing that the sidecar passenger must be a vital part of the team. So I, as an innocent youth, asked him why he would want to dispense with the indispensable. He said “the monkeys want feeding, and after a time, they begin to believe what you believe, and expect to receive money as well! So I change them OFTEN!”

After Stan helped Oliver win the World Championship, he may have brought up the taboo subject of money. Hence his move onto other things, including NGK where for 25 years he learned spark plug craft, and eventually released this most useful ‘Spark Plugging…’ publication which dispels most of the mystery. This is an indispensable guide that every classic motorcyclist should own.’

We also gave a copy of RC reader Roger Henderson, for an opinion from the man in the saddle. And he reports that ‘the reading and interpretation of spark plugs has long been regarded as one of motorcycling’s “black arts” The author of this little book, Stan Dibben is perhaps better known for his exploits in the chair of racing outfits. What is not as well known is his extensive experience within the spark plug industry, having been instrumental in setting up the NGK organisation in the UK

‘When I was teaching motorcycle technology one of the subjects almost guaranteed to cause confusion was spark plugs, with the description of plugs as “hard”, “hot”, etc. Stan explains this very coherently and also provides a clear and concise guide to the interpretation of the appearance of the plug and the necessary action to take. Anyone who has suffered the sometimes catastrophic effects of incorrect ignition timing or carburetion will appreciate the advice given and those lucky enough to have escaped disaster will be able to ensure it never happens to them!

‘I do have some reservations about the comparison chart at the back of the book though, which contains some glaring errors. For example, some extra short (3/8 inch) reach plugs are listed as ½ inch reach and some gold palladium plugs – eg Champion L3G — are listed as standard plugs. To be fair though, the list is really included as a sample.

‘All in all this is an extremely useful little book, which though aimed primarily at the novice, is certainly useful for the more experienced. It could repay its modest cost many times over.’


Grab a FREE copy of ‘Spark Plugging…’ by signing up for a RealClassic Special Offer subscription. You pay just £14.95 for five magazines and the booklet too, saving over 30% of the normal price in the process…


‘Spark Plugging The Classics’ by Stan Dibben is available for £3.50 plus delivery from Panther Publishing:



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