Archive for May, 2016


May 28, 2016

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Photos by Genghis

H-D NUMBER 3 PLUGS: Old plugs for an old girl.

Before I took Mabel (my 1971 Shovelhead Stroker) out this morning, I decided to change her plugs. Not that there was anything wrong with the old spark plugs. Every couple of years, I change to new plugs just for the hell of it, and because the ‘ole girl deserves ’em. My Harley is the Queen of The Highway, and like all royalty, she deserves to be pampered.

I’m extravagant that way.

All I’ve ever used in Mabel for the past three decades, are Champion J12YC plugs. There’s nothing wrong with other brands of plugs. I am just a creature of habit. It’s just part of my personality, that I feel a comfort level in using the same things, that I’ve always used. I hate change.

CHAMPION J12YC: The spark plug I always use.

When I rummaged around the tool box this morning, I found something that I totally forgot about. There, ensconced in an orange package, were two pristine Harley-Davidson Number 3 spark plugs! Holy shit! What relics! I must have bought these at the Harley dealer around 1985. Hey man, why not? Thirty-one year old spark plugs for a forty-five year old Harley!

FOUND 31 YEAR OLD PLUGS: H-D Number 3 spark plugs.

There’s nothing dramatic to report about what transpired, when I started Mabel up with her 31 year old Harley plugs. Just the same as always, that exhilarating roar and rumble, that never gets old. That’s okay, man. I hate change, remember? I would have expected nothing but the same sound and musical fury, that I always hear when I start my bike up.

Doesn’t matter. What I had in my bike, were rebranded Champion plugs, and this did make me think about the Champion-Harley connection, a connection that began with The Firm’s introduction of the J Series bikes in 1915.

1925 CHAMPION AD: Made plugs for H-D since the 1920s.

Champion was a company founded in 1908, that has made specialty spark plugs for Harley-Davidson since the J series bikes of the 1920s. In 1948, Harley switched to the standard size 14mm (from the previous 18mm) spark plug, with the 1948 introduction of the Panhead. Champion continues to make spark plugs for The Firm.

CHAMPION’S “HARLEY” PLUGS: 14mm H-D plugs from the ’60s and ’70s.

I have a great appreciation for the spark plug. It is amazing how such a small item can bring great joy and satisfaction, when our bikes are firing fine with a pair of clean plugs—and conversely, how miserable we are when these miniscule items are dirty. Electrodes rule, man! A Biker’s Happiness Quotient, is directly related the the spark plugs’ Cleanliness Index. Change to new Champion plugs man, and you’ll happy. Later.