Home How-to Articles Moses Ludel’s 4WD Mechanix Magazine – HD Video How-to: Time-Sert Repair for Damaged Spark Plug Threads

Moses Ludel’s 4WD Mechanix Magazine – HD Video How-to: Time-Sert Repair for Damaged Spark Plug Threads

by Moses Ludel
In this video how-to, a Time-Sert Permanent Repair for Spark Plug Thread Damage eliminates the need for an expensive cylinder head casting replacement. This is not only a repair but also a distinct upgrade for aluminum alloy cylinder heads. 

 Spark plug thread damage is increasingly more common, mostly due to the popularity of aluminum cylinder heads on automotive and powersports engines. This HD video how-to demonstrates the Time-Sert® permanent repair for damaged spark plug threads. This insert kit allows for head-in-place installation of new spark plug threads. The candidate shown is a popular Honda XR650R motorcycle. The affordable repair saved a lot of time while providing a major improvement over OEM spark plug threads. 

Time-Sert 4412 Kit
Time-Sert tooling is part of 4412 Kit


 Time-Sert® is a permanent repair for spark plug threads. The #4412 Kit that we used in this project came with each of the tools shown at right. The #44111 16.8mm length inserts were selected. (Sold five to a package, we only used one on this single cylinder “thumper”.) This tooling permitted a repair with the cylinder head in place on this Honda XR650R motorcycle engine. Follow the comments and steps in the video, and consult the Time-Sert® catalog or online listings at http://www.timesert.com.

Loose spark plug threads
Copper coated steel thread inserts


At left are the damaged spark plug threads, the cause is overuse and heat distortion. At right is the 16.8mm length replacement insert package, one of these inserts made a permanent repair on the Honda XR650R cylinder head. Motorcycle engines with aluminum heads are even more vulnerable than the automotive applications, as motorcycle plugs get removed far more often.

Time-Sert hand machining work
Cutting threads with Time-Sert tap

Cutting threads with the Time-Sert® two stage tap uses the first stage to align the tool with the original spark plug threads. The “Standard” inserts work with loose or slightly damaged threads that can still support the pilot portion of the tap. There are even “Oversize” inserts available, and these kits address common washer seat, tapered seat and Ford Triton type spark plug designs.

Time-Sert cutter for chamfer and spark plug washer surface
Time-Sert insert driver and special oil


The cutter at left is a unique part of the Time-Sert® spark plug thread repair kit. This is a two-phase cutter that first cuts the chamfer for seating the top edge of the Time-Sert® copper-coated steel insert. At right is the driver tool and special lubricant that thread the insert into freshly cut threads, pushing through the insert to form and expand the insert’s special locking threads. See the video for details.

CAUTION: When cutting/tapping the insert threads, be certain to remove all debris from the cylinder!  We elected to perform the tapping operation with the piston rising on its compression stroke and all valves closed.  On this Honda motorcycle engine with a decompression mechanism, the valve lash adjusters must be backed off to provide full seating of the valves before performing this procedure.  Some perform this procedure with the exhaust valve(s) open and use compressed air to move the thread cutting debris from the cylinder and out the exhaust.  To avoid risk of clogging the exhaust system, our choice was all valves seated and the piston down in the cylinder on the compression stroke, far enough to clear the cutting and installation tools.  After tapping, we used a strong shop vacuum to pull debris through the spark plug hole.  Make sure all debris is removed!

Finished Time-Sert spark plug thread installation
Method for installing spark plugs in awkward locations


At left is the finished Time-Sert® insert installation. The spark plug washer’s seat is like new, the insert seating squarely and neatly, flush with the washer threads. This provides a perfect compression seal and restores threads to, in this case, better than new! At right is a sensible method for installing spark plugs into recessed, difficult to access aluminum spark plug threads: A rubber hose on the plug end enables finding the threads with the lightest of pressure. This helps prevent false starts and forced damage to the spark plug threads. Many performance engine builders install Time-Sert® spark plug inserts into their custom aluminum cylinder head work!

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