What is a Timing Light, and do I need one for my classic car?

A timing light or timing gun is a device that allows you to see the exact moment a spark is firing. It works by flashing a beam of light for every spark, allowing you to set the timing of your engine for maximum performance.

By placing an inductive pick up on the HT lead, the timing light can detect the spark energy and produce a brief, intense flash of light at the exact moment the spark plug fires. When you point the timing light at the timing marks on the crank pulley of a running engine, the bright flashes of light have the effect of freezing the position of the timing marks on the pulley, thereby showing the exact ignition timing of the engine.

By watching the timing marks as you rotate the distributor body, you can set the ignition timing very accurately. Prior to the arrival of electronic timing lights, ignition timing would be set statically, i.e. with the engine switched off. This method involves a fair amount of trial and error, and is not as accurate as dynamic timing with a timing gun. As cars moved from points to electronic ignition, and then on to distriburless crank fired ECU systems, the use of timing lights in vehicle workshops has declined! At Powerspark we offer a range of timing lights, from a basic no-frills design to a more complex gun with a digital readout.

Improve your Land Rover Defender Turning Circle with the Bulldog Drop Arm

This extended drop arm gives you a smaller turning circle and more response from input on the steering wheel.

You only need one, for the side that the steering rack is on.

A much cheaper solution than an expensive steering box replacement!

Identical to the genuine Land Rover item, but 20mm longer giving a reduction in turns ‘lock to lock’ and quicker steering.

A one piece forging, MADE IN ENGLAND using high grade Chrome Molybdenum steel. Supplied fully machined, painted and ready for ball joint RBG000010.

The Steering drop arm is the “integral ball joint type”.

Suitable for all ADWEST Power Steering Boxes (Not Gemmer Steering Boxes)

Available in LEFT and RIGHT hand drive variants.

Suitable for:

– Land Rover Defender
– Land Rover Discovery 1
– Range Rover Classic (Late Models)

Due to the additional length of the arm, the front cross tube length will need adjusting/extending to connect to the longer arm and maintain full lock to lock travel.

In other words the steering wheel and box should remain in the straight ahead position after fitting the lengthened arm and the cross tube lengthened so the ball joint can be connected with the steering in this position.

Existing lock stop positions do not need changing. Full lock to lock movement should be operated to observe clearance, some aftermarket steering guards may need modifying to provide clearance with the new longer arm. It is not recommended to fit this longer arm to vehicles with large tyres, increased wheel off set or for off road speed events due to the increased shock load that can be caused on the steering Ideal for trial vehicles and road use only.

What are Wheel Spacers and Adapters… what do they do for my classic car?

Wheel Spacers and Adapters are essentials for keeping your car looking sharp, widening the stance or changing the bolt pattern of the wheels. Should you go for steel or aluminium? What type do we sell, and where can you find them? All of these questions and more are answered in this little video!

Buy your wheel spacers here:


Buy your wheel adapters here:


What is a distributor… What does it do in my classic car?

A distributor is the key part of a classic car ignition system, tasked with controlling the output of the ignition coil and sending the spark to the relevant cylinder.

Going into more detail, a distributor works in conjunction with the coil to perform two functions:

1. It makes and breaks the low voltage or LT circuit of the coil at precise timing to generate the high voltage within the coil.
2. It distributes the high voltage, or HT energy from the coil to the appropriate spark plug via the distributor cap and rotor arm.

The critical function of the distributor is to control the advance (or the ignition advance) whereby the spark occurs earlier as the engine speed or load increases. This is achieved via centrifugal forces acting on springs and weights within the distributor body, or the vacuum generated by the carburettor, or a combination of the two. The distributor position needs to be carefully set so that the correct spark timing is obtained. The distributor needs regular maintenance to ensure that the points gap and dwell angle remain correct. Typically the contact breaker points need to be adjusted or replaced every six to twelve months. A Powerspark ignition electronic conversion kit replaces the points with a magnetically triggered electronic circuit, using less moving parts and eliminating tedious maintenance.

Our kits are easy to fit at home, are fit and forget and are available for a very wide range of cars in both positive and negative earth.

Points and Condenser classic car ignition… What is it and how does it work?

How does a points and condenser ignition system work, and what are the pitfalls?

The points are a mechanical switch which are opened and closed by a cam on the distributor shaft.

When closed, the circuit is complete and the coil becomes energised. When the points open, the circuit breaks causing the energy to be released from the coil, creating the spark. The condenser reduces arcing across the contact points, helping the points to last longer.

At a cruising speed of 2,500 rpm, with a four cylinder engine, the points will be opening and closing more than 83 times per second, or 5,000 times per minute. That could be 30 million sparks in 6,000 miles. Although they are made from a tungsten alloy, it’s no wonder that the points need maintenance. At regular intervals the the maximum gap of the open points needs to be measured and adjusted if necessary. If the gap between the points becomes too small, the coil will be energised for too long and will overheat. If the gap is too large, the coil will not be fully energised between each cycle resulting in a weak spark. Eventually pitting on the contacts themselves and wear on the rubbing block mean that the contact breaker set will need replacing, usually after about 6,000 miles.

What is electronic ignition… do I need it in my classic car?

How do you convert a classic car to electronic ignition? Electronic ignition explained

A Powerspark Electronic Ignition Kit replaces the mechanical points and condenser inside your distributor with a magnetically triggered ignition module.

Contact breaker points make and break an electrical circuit by opening and closing a mechanical switch. A Powerspark electronic ignition kit does away with these moving parts, instead replacing them with a magnetically triggered electronic ignition module. While conventional points need replacing and the timing adjusted after approx 6,000 miles, our electric ignition kits are fit and forget – there are no moving parts giving it a much longer life than a points set, and once set the timing will never need adjusting again.

With a points system, setting the points gap sets the dwell to a specific angle – dwell is the period that the points are closed, thus energising the coil. With a fixed dwell angle, the coil is energised for too long at low RPM, and insufficiently at high RPM. Our electronic ignition systems feature automatic intelligent dwell, so that the coil saturdaration is always optimised. From the 1980s onwards, car manufacturers adopted electronic ignition as standard, resulting in cars that were more reliable and required less maintenance. A powerspark electronic ignition kit provides the advantages of modern technology with minimal changes to your classic car. Without removiing the distributor cap it is virtually impossible to spot the upgrade.

What is an ignition coil… What does it do in my classic car?

An ignition coil is a small metal canister containing two windings of wire around an iron core, that generates the electricity that’s required to produce a spark.

The ignition coil is the powerplant of your ignition system, and should be checked regularly as part of your ongoing maintenance. Traditional coils feature two metal rods, wrapped with copper wiring and immersed in oil, inside a metal canister. The oil is there to insulate the windings and keep them cool, however these are prone to leaking and overheating. Modern ignition coils are set in resin, making them ideal to be mounted on any angle. The ignition coil was present on most cars up until the 1990s, when coil packs and more complex ignition systems began to take over.

When the points close, the current flows through the primary windings inside the coil creating an electro magnetic field. When the points open, this field collapses creating a high voltage in the secondary winding, which finds it’s way from the ignition coil to earth via the rotor arm, distributor cap, HT lead and then spark plug, generating a spark at the critical moment. Modern systems that don’t have a distributor will use multiple coils, either one per plug or one shared between a pair of plugs. At Powerspark we offer a range of ignition coils, all of which are tried and tested products that we stand behind. Our range includes the well known names of Lucas, Bosch and Viper, as well as our own Powerspark coils, products that have been carefully chosen by our team of experts.

What are HT leads… What do they do in my classic car?

What are HT leads, what do they do and why are they important in my car?

HT leads, or High tension leads, high tension cables or ignition leads, connect the ignition coil, distributor and spark plug. They need to be high quality, and capable of withstanding high temperatures.

The ignition coil first transfers the electrical spark energy to the distributor cap, which via the spinning rotor arm, travels down to the HT leads to the spark plug. Traditionally, ignition leads would have been made of a copper core tightly wrapped with a cotton braid, however modern performance HT leads are more likely to be made of silicone with a carbon core.

Our HT leads have a carbon ferroflex core, connected to a brass terminal via a conductive brass spike. This makes for a strong, flexible and durable lead. Many of our HT lead sets are available to buy off the shelf, however we also custom make HT lead sets for a wide range of automotive applications. If your car uses electronic ignition, you’ll need modern HT leads as copper leads will break down the ignition module, causing it to fail. Your HT leads are classed as a consumable, however our modern HT leads have a very long life cycle. Always check your HT leads as part of your general maintenance checks.

What is a trickle charger… What does it do for my classic car?

What is a trickle charger and what should I look for when buying one?

A trickle charger is designed to charge your battery at a low current, which takes a little longer than a fast charger, but will keep your battery good health for longer. A good trickle charger will take care of your battery, keep it topped up and switch off when necessary. They are perfect for rarely used vehicles, boats or motorhomes.

Any battery will drain if left unused for a period of time, more so with electrically complex vehicles such as motorhomes. A good modern ‘smart’ trickle charger will intelligently read the battery status and go through a series of charging stages to optimise battery condition and keep it charged and ready for use. An intelligent trickle charger can be left permanently connected whilst a vehicle is in storage, These are easy to use products that plug into the domestic mains supply and connect to the battery with a clip connection for each of the battery terminals.

Unlike a ‘dumb’ charger that will contiue to push voltage into a fully charged battery, a smart charger such as our B6001 is programmed with multiple automated steps to prepare the battery to accept a full charge. A typical smart charger can have up to 8 or 9 distinct steps to get the best performance from a battery.

They usually start with a ‘desulphation’ step that attempts to counteract the effects of a deeply discharged and neglected battery.
This will be followed by a high current phase that gets most of the charging done, before a ‘bulk’ charging phase optimises voltage but allows the current to drop which brings the battery up to near full charge. Once the battery is fully charged, a maintenance phase periodically monitors the battery condition and tops up the charge as necessary.