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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2023 7:52 pm 
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Sometime in early-1981, I came across a short article by motoring correspondent Anne Hope, in my father’s copy of PULSE – The Doctors’ Newspaper, about an improved range of Unipart spark plugs and an innovative alternative to conventional spark plugs called “Autoflash”, which read as follows:

« Accessories – Longer Lasting Spark Plugs »

« A maintenance-free ‘spark plug’ offering 10 to 15 per cent better fuel economy – through instant starting first time every time, even in damp or freezing conditions – and more than three times the life of a conventional plug is now available here. »

« Produced in Switzerland, Autoflash uses ‘space-age technology’ and isn’t really a spark plug but a polythermic converter. »

« Though it looks like a conventional plug, the air/gas mixture is compressed in a pre-combustion chamber built into the body and ignition is obtained by an ionising rotative spark which can be produced at any point on the convector head. It behaves as a ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ plug. There is no gap to adjust and it is self-cleaning. »

« One snag – Autoflash costs £14•95 for a set of four. But a life of 35,000 miles or more is claimed, and this is backed by the experience of the police. »

« Tests on patrol cars produced an average fuel consumption improvement of 12•7 per cent – and the convectors were still at peak efficiency after 35,000 miles whereas conventional plugs had to be changed every 6,000 miles. »

« News of Autoflash nearly coincided with the announcement by Unipart, a subsidiary of BL Components, that improved spark plugs had been developed. ‘They are ideal for cars with long interval service schedules on new generation models such as the Metro or Ital’, enthused Unipart. »

« Interested in Autoflash? Interested in Unipart spark plugs? Details from Anne Hope, motoring correspondent, PULSE, 30 Calderwood Street, Woolwich, London, SE18 6QH. »



From the wording of the article, it was not entirely clear whether “Autoflash” was also a Unipart product or originated from another manufacturer. In reply to my letter of enquiry about these products to Anne Hope, she sent a reply postcard as follows, dated February 1981:


« PULSE, Morgan-Grampian (Professional Press) Limited
30 Calderwood Street, Woolwich, London, SE18 6QH
Telephone: 01 – 855 7777 »

« Many thanks for your letter. Have been inundated with requests! »

« UNIPART SPARK PLUGS – details from :- »

« P. A. M. A. Fitz-Gibbon, Esq., »
« Unipart House, »
« Cowley, Oxford, OX3 2PG. »

« AUTOFLASH – I am not sure how many cars it is suitable for and am investigating, so please watch for news in PULSE. »

« Anne Hope »



Following my subsequent letter of enquiry to P. A. M. A. Fitz-Gibbon at Unipart, dated 11th March 1981 about “Autoflash” and the revised Unipart spark plugs, I received a reply letter dated 13th March 1981 from David Roberts, Product Planner (Ignition) at Unipart, enclosing a photocopy of Unipart News press release from January 1981 announcing the revised range of Unipart spark plugs, together with a copy of the revised spark plug catalogue MMM 1112 FEBRUARY 1981; all of which I still have.


« UNIPART, Unipart House, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2PG. »
« Telephone: 0865 – 778 966 | Telex: 83331 | Cables: UNIPART Oxford »

« The improved Unipart spark plug bears no relation to whatever to the Autoflash product. »

« The benefits of the new spark plugs are outlined in the recent Unipart News Letter. I also enclose our latest spark plug catalogue, showing the relevant Part Numbers for most models, which are available from local Unipart Shops or Centres. »

« I trust this information will be of help to you. »

« Yours faithfully. »

« David Roberts »
« Product Planner (Ignition) »
« Product Marketing »
« REF. DR/HHP »


« UNIPART NEWS | JANUARY 1981 »

« PLUG INTO UNIPART’S NEW SPARK »

« Over the past few months, Unipart has completed a sweeping programme of technological improvement on the Unipart Spark Plug range. »

« Previous to the new Unipart range, spark plugs lasted for 6000 miles before they needed attention or replacement. Unipart zooms through the 6000 mile limit – doubles it in fact to a full 12000 miles. This makes them ideal for long interval service schedules on new generation models like the Ital and Metro, as well as effecting major economics on shorter interval service models. »

« The secret of the Unipart GSP range is the self-cleaning thermo-dynamic insulator tip. Engine heat, normally a major wear factor for spark plugs, is used to extend life and improve efficiency. Heat is retained by the insulator and used to burn off carbon deposits before they can interfere with performance. Result, a clean powerful spark, for fuel-efficient combustion over the full 12,000 mile service life. »

« Yet another feature is the new electrode fitted to our new additions, GSP 163 and GSP 263 (these part numbers alone covers over 60% of cars on UK roads). Wider than conventional electrodes, the new electrode gives increased flexibility, performance and economy over a greater range of temperatures making it equally suitable for high speed and stop-start motoring. »

« The full Unipart GSP range comprises of 24 part numbers giving 99•5% coverage of all vehicles on UK roads, as well as offering extensive coverage of motor cycles, lawn mowers, outboard motors and other petrol engine machinery. »

« The price of the new spark plugs, despite all the design improvements, remain the same as before. So Unipart spark plugs are better than before at the same prices. »

« Further Information: Patrick A M A FITZ-GIBBON – Oxford (0865) 773533 »

« (37185) »



In the JAGUAR ROVER TRIUMPH section, the revised spark plug catalogue MMM 1112 FEBRUARY 1981, lists the following spark plugs for BLMC Triumph car models:


« Dolomite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1972 onward . . . . . GSP131 »
« Dolomite Sprint (Normal driving) . . . . . 1973 onward . . . . . GSP361 »
« Dolomite Sprint (Hard driving) . . . . . . . 1973 onward . . . . . GSP381 »
« GT6 Mk.I, Mk.II, Mk.III . . . . . . . . . . . . 1966 ~ 74 . . . . . . . GSP163 »
« Herald 1200, 12/50 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1961 ~ 70 . . . . . . . . GSP541 »
« Herald 13/60 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1967 ~ 71 . . . . . . . . GSP163 »
« Spitfire Mk.I, Mk.II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1962 ~ 67 . . . . . . . . . GSP541 »
« Spitfire Mk.III, Mk.IV . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1967 ~ 74 . . . . . . . . . GSP163 »
« Spitfire 1500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1974 onward . . . . . . GSP131 »
« Stag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1970 ~ 77 . . . . . . . . . GSP131 »
« Toledo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1970 ~ 76 . . . . . . . . . GSP131 »
« TR4, TR4A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1962 ~ 67 . . . . . . . . . GSP541 »
« TR5, TR6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ------------ . . . . . . . . . GSP163 »
« TR7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1975 onward . . . . . GSP131 »
« Vitesse 1600, 2 litre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1962 ~ 71 . . . . . . . . GSP163 »
« 2.5 P.I. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1968 ~ 75 . . . . . . . . GSP163 »
« 1300, 1300TC, 1500, 1500TC . . . . . . . . 1968 ~ 75 . . . . . . . . GSP131 »
« 2000, 2500 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1968 onward . . . . . GSP131 »



Following the postcard in February 1981 from Anne Hope, I found no further information about “Autoflash” in my father’s subsequent copies of the PULSE (he probably threw many of them away, before I had a chance to read them, when I was home for the weekends from Cranfield Institute of Technology, where I was a postgraduate engineering student from October 1979 until May 1984), so on 2nd August 1982, more than 1½ years later, I again wrote to Anne Hope enquiring whether there had been any updates about this product, which prompted the following reply letter, dated 9th August 1982.


« PULSE – The Doctors’ Newspaper »
« Morgan-Grampian (Professional Press) Limited »
« 30 Calderwood Street, Woolwich, London, SE18 6QH »
« Telephone: 01 – 855 7777 | Telex: 896238 | Telegraphic Address: Industpress•Ldn »

« Thank you for writing »

« Yes, I have written about Autoflash a number of times. I cannot recommend it – sorry. In fact, I’d go further and say don’t fit Autoflash units to any car. »

« Best wishes with your Toledo and do write if you think I can help with any other motoring problems in the future. »

« Yours sincerely. »

« Anne Hope – Motoring Correspondent »

_________________
Regards.

Nigel A. Skeet

Independent tutor of mathematics, physics, technology & engineering, for secondary, tertiary, further & higher education.

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=308177758

Upgraded 1974 Triumph Toledo 1300 (Toledo / Dolomite HL / Sprint hybrid)

Onetime member + magazine editor & technical editor of Volkswagen Type 2 Owners' Club


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2023 5:04 pm 
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Having rediscovered the long-archived correspondence about “Autoflash” polythermic converters (i.e. substitute “spark-plugs”), which was covered by a thick layer of dust, I recently initiated an Internet search to try and find out more about “Autoflash” and the technology upon which it was based, but so far I have found NOTHING!

However, I did stumble upon an on-line article on the Newatlas.com (previously known as Gizmag.com) website, dating from April 2011 (i.e. nearly 12 years ago), about research into the use of laser igniters at the Japanese National Institute of Natural Sciences – NINS, which might potentially be used as a substitute for spark plugs. It suggests that a larger volume of the fuel-air mixture could be instantaneously ignited and leaner fuel-air mixtures could be used; reducing the creation of Nitrogen Oxide (one or more of NO, NO2 & N2O).

https://newatlas.com

https://newatlas.com/automotive/

Ben Coxworth, “Laser igniters could spell the end for the humble spark plug”, Automotive, Newatlas.com, 21st April 2011

https://newatlas.com/laser-ignition-spa ... ive/18469/

_________________
Regards.

Nigel A. Skeet

Independent tutor of mathematics, physics, technology & engineering, for secondary, tertiary, further & higher education.

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=308177758

Upgraded 1974 Triumph Toledo 1300 (Toledo / Dolomite HL / Sprint hybrid)

Onetime member + magazine editor & technical editor of Volkswagen Type 2 Owners' Club


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2023 7:45 pm 
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I also posted the same information on The Samba VW forum in North America as follows, which turned up some links to a small stash of NOS – new-old-stock “Autoflash” polythermic converters (i.e. substitute “spark-plugs”), at a vintage-car parts, mail-order seller in a European, French-speaking country at €7•75! :shock: ).

Forum Index > Performance/Engines/Transmissions > "Autoflash" - Alternative & Updated "Spark Plug" Options

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewt ... p?t=777105

_________________
Regards.

Nigel A. Skeet

Independent tutor of mathematics, physics, technology & engineering, for secondary, tertiary, further & higher education.

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=308177758

Upgraded 1974 Triumph Toledo 1300 (Toledo / Dolomite HL / Sprint hybrid)

Onetime member + magazine editor & technical editor of Volkswagen Type 2 Owners' Club


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2023 7:49 pm 
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Two sizes of “Autoflash” polythermic converter are listed. Both appear to have M14 x 1•25 mm threads, of either 17•5 mm reach (reference No. 419-071 S *) or 19 mm / ¾-inch reach (reference No. 419-070 /E *). It’s a pity they don’t have a catalogue listing specific applications.

Early-1980s vintage "Autoflash" polythermic-converter spark-plug substitute

Image

Image

Image

_________________
Regards.

Nigel A. Skeet

Independent tutor of mathematics, physics, technology & engineering, for secondary, tertiary, further & higher education.

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=308177758

Upgraded 1974 Triumph Toledo 1300 (Toledo / Dolomite HL / Sprint hybrid)

Onetime member + magazine editor & technical editor of Volkswagen Type 2 Owners' Club


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2023 7:50 pm 
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Links to European suppliers of "Autoflash"

https://www.tracauto-1950.com/5600--bougies-d-allumage

https://www.tracauto-1950.com/5600--bou ... lumage?p=2

https://www.tracauto-1950.com/-bougies- ... rting.html

https://www.tracauto-1950.com/-bougies- ... rting.html

_________________
Regards.

Nigel A. Skeet

Independent tutor of mathematics, physics, technology & engineering, for secondary, tertiary, further & higher education.

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=308177758

Upgraded 1974 Triumph Toledo 1300 (Toledo / Dolomite HL / Sprint hybrid)

Onetime member + magazine editor & technical editor of Volkswagen Type 2 Owners' Club


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2023 9:54 pm 
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More early-1980s vintage "Autoflash" polythermic-converters on another French website; also listed on French E-bay.

https://picclick.fr/Lot-de-8-bougies-da ... 54329.html

https://www.ebay.fr/itm/363120454329?mk ... EVEg%3D%3D

_________________
Regards.

Nigel A. Skeet

Independent tutor of mathematics, physics, technology & engineering, for secondary, tertiary, further & higher education.

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=308177758

Upgraded 1974 Triumph Toledo 1300 (Toledo / Dolomite HL / Sprint hybrid)

Onetime member + magazine editor & technical editor of Volkswagen Type 2 Owners' Club


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2023 9:58 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 06, 2014 4:38 pm
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Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

_________________
Regards.

Nigel A. Skeet

Independent tutor of mathematics, physics, technology & engineering, for secondary, tertiary, further & higher education.

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=308177758

Upgraded 1974 Triumph Toledo 1300 (Toledo / Dolomite HL / Sprint hybrid)

Onetime member + magazine editor & technical editor of Volkswagen Type 2 Owners' Club


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2023 12:25 pm 
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From my time in the former USSR, I've seen these before, there is/was a Ukrainian company called PLAZMOFOR making them (рус. Плазмофор). If I search in Russian, I find mostly negative reviews. There was a well-known "tuning guru" who was importing and selling these for OHV Triumphs, reviews were mixed too. Snake oil?
Image
Image
Translation:
"Lets light a fire together?
New construction of PF-plugs provides:
-Fuel economy up to 10L/1000km
-Lifetime 100,000 km
-Works with any fuel
Space Technology"


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2023 6:26 pm 
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Quote:
From my time in the former USSR, I've seen these before, there is/was a Ukrainian company called PLAZMOFOR making them (рус. Плазмофор). If I search in Russian, I find mostly negative reviews. There was a well-known "tuning guru" who was importing and selling these for OHV Triumphs, reviews were mixed too. Snake oil?
Image
Image
Translation:
"Lets light a fire together?
New construction of PF-plugs provides:
-Fuel economy up to 10L/1000km
-Lifetime 100,000 km
-Works with any fuel
Space Technology"

They certainly look very similar! :shock: I wonder when they date from?

Could this be another case of Russian industrial espionage, similar to the Tupalev TU144 being almost identical to the Concorde!?!

Fuel economy of 10 litres per 1,000 km (i.e. 100 km per litre or 62•14 miles per litre or 282•49 miles per Imperial gallon or 235•21 miles per US gallon) seems rather unlikely to me, even for a small-engined, lightweight moped, scooter or motorcycle.

n.b. 1 Imperial gallon = 4•5461 litres | 1 US gallon = 3•7853 litres | 1 statute mile = 1•6093 kilometres

It appears that Plazmofor also still make conventional spark plugs.

https://plazmofor.prom.ua/ua/

_________________
Regards.

Nigel A. Skeet

Independent tutor of mathematics, physics, technology & engineering, for secondary, tertiary, further & higher education.

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=308177758

Upgraded 1974 Triumph Toledo 1300 (Toledo / Dolomite HL / Sprint hybrid)

Onetime member + magazine editor & technical editor of Volkswagen Type 2 Owners' Club


Last edited by naskeet on Fri Feb 10, 2023 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2023 2:31 pm 
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The first I heard of them was in 2010 or so, I can find sporadic references online until around 5 years ago, maybe still available but they never seemed all that popular. I also found a Russian patent RU2055432, applied for in 1990, granted in 1996. It seems that the AutoFlash ones predate them, but I wonder what caused the AutoFlash ones to disappear so quickly in the 1980s?

There's an interesting article from a Russian car magazine that tested them - https://www.zr.ru/content/articles/1670 ... ili_iskra/
It translates okay with Google translate, as long as you understand that in Russian spark plugs are called candles (like in French, I think).

I'm still not convinced by the design, we would really be using them if they worked, especially with the current focus on lean burn engines for the sake of emissions. An interesting curiosity nonetheless.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2023 8:20 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:12 pm
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Snake oil for suckers IMO!

About as much use as dropping a bag of lead pellets in your fuel tank to make up for unleaded fuel!

Steve

_________________
'73 2 door Toledo with Vauxhall Carlton 2.0 8v engine (The Carledo)
'78 Sprint Auto with Vauxhall Omega 2.2 16v engine (The Dolomega)
'72 Triumph 1500FWD in Slate Grey, Now with RWD and Carledo powertrain!

Maverick Triumph, Servicing, Repairs, Electrical, Recomissioning, MOT prep, Trackerjack brake fitting service.
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