Replacing Bluestar igniters and spark module (36-inch RNB)

thullOctober 13, 2011

[I apologize if the external links don't work; I tried and couldn't figure out what else to do]

I had problems for several months with the igniters on my 5-year-old 36" RNB. The simmer burner and a couple others would not stop clicking. Basically had been using the range as a 3-burner to avoid the bad burners.

I copied and saved a post (by p10rs) from a long time ago about trading out the igniters and spark module for Viking-purposed parts from Guy Banks. Honestly, it was a bit tough to follow and read like the process would be challenging (even more so than it actually is). But I went ahead and ordered the parts. Then they sat there forever while I had an extremely-busy spring and summer.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I finally made time to work on the stove one weekend. I thought I'd write up what I did so others can follow if desired. The bottom line is that it's a challenging project- I'm pretty mechanically adept and I think anyone who expects it to be plug-and-play maybe shouldn't take this on. The usual disclaimers apply as to not being stupid and realizing it's free advice that's worth what you paid for it. That said, here's what I did:

Diagnosis: Before buying parts, I did try to tweak the igniter positions to push the wire end a little closer to the flame. I also traded a couple of igniters among burners to see that the clicking continued even with a different igniter. I came to the conclusion that I had at least one bad channel (simmer burner, left-rear) in one of the spark modules. I also noticed that the interior of most of the igniters were rusty, and that a few of the ceramic insulators had cracked (though not apparently badly enough to fault).

Igniters: The Viking igniters (PA 020028) are an improvement over the stock Bluestar ones (and they're much cheaper at $42 for 6, unless Bluestar's prices have gone down). They have flat tops that seem to keep water out, and that should make them last longer since water in the open top leads to internal rust that cracks the ceramic insulator, too. The wide top seems to make the flame sensing a little more sensitive, but it also means that your placement has to be more precise to get the spark to arc at the right spot to ignite the gas. I had to do a lot of position tweaking to get this right, but it also let me adjust the low flame even lower than they were before on one 22k BTU burner and a couple others.

Igniter Replacement Steps:

1) Take all the burner bowls and rings out so that everything's easier to get to. Might be a nice time to run them through the dishwasher.

2) Remove old igniters: Easier said than done. The bullet connector on the wire pops loose, easy peasy. Getting the rusty mounting screw loose from the bottom of the cast iron burner, not so much. You pull the burner and tube out (and to a work bench or other handy spot). On a few burners where the screw didn't immediately loosen, I sprayed the screw with WD-40 and let it sit. Not sure if heat would've worked better than the WD-40. I still managed to break two of them off. This then required the use of the drill press and an extractor to get them out. I really am glad I didn't have to re-tap the burner for something larger b/c that's something I haven't really done before.

3) Modify wires: The old igniters have the wire terminated inside the ceramic insulator. The new ones have a 0.110" (2.8mm) tab on the bottom. You need new insulated spade connectors in the 0.110" size with a 20 gauge wire size and a crimper.

-Cut off the wires just below the old ceramic igniters

-Strip back ~1/4" of insulation

-Crimp the new spade connector onto the wire

I didn't plan well and ended up running around on a Saturday to find the spade connectors. I (finally) found what I needed at Pep Boys. I wasn't sure if the insulation would take the heat, so I have fired up a 10-gal pot to boil ~4 gal of water on the 22k BTU to check. The insulation survived fine, but I went ahead and ordered non-insulated connectors and high-temp heat shrink tubing in the event that these get toasted with time. I also think having the heat shrink over the whole connector would be better.

4) Mount new igniters: p10rs' writeup talked a lot about breaking the old igniters in order to salvage the metal mounting tab/flange for use with the new igniters. The igniters I bought already have a longer flange (two screw holes at either end, ceramic insulator in the middle) at about the same height. I couldn't really figure out a reason to go through removing the tab from the old ones, especially since both new and old tabs are swaged (force fit) so they're locked in place along the ceramic insulator.

The issue I found is that the head of the igniter is pointed 90 degrees away from the mounting holes, where the wire tip on the old one is over the mounting hole. Here's what I did, and we'll see if it lasts. I held the top of the igniter (metal head only) with pliers, held the mounting flange with my hand, and turned the igniter head 90 degrees counterclockwise (holding it rightside up) in the insulator. I think this is just twisting the wire/tab inside the insulator slightly. Note that I did turn one clockwise by mistake, and I felt the metal break inside (and the head started turning freely). Surprisingly, it still worked (for now) but I'm sure it'll fail more quickly. I went ahead and ordered a few more igniters to have as spares.

Might as well replace the (rusty) screws that hold the igniter to the burner. They're 6-32 (#6, 32 threads per inch, machine screws) and you should get as short as you can find (3/8" in my case, which even still a touch longer than original) with pan or button heads. You'll need #6 washers in part to space the longer screw out of the hole and also to make sure the screw holds the whole thing together (mounting hole a little big, heads on cheapo screws from HD a little small). I got zinc-plated steel for both, and I put a little oil on the screws when I threaded them back in, thinking that may help stave off rust. If I'd been more motivated, I might've dug out my Tetra grease (Teflon-based) instead.

5) Put the burners back in place, plug in the wires, and fire each one up. You want to make sure each lights in a reasonable amount of time. If the spark is going too much to one side or the other, you'll have to tweak the igniter orientation. You can do this by loosening the mounting screw and rotating the position slightly, then re-tightening. And you can also bend the mounting flange to move the igniter closer to the burner (or further away, though that's less likely). I especially had to do this on the simmer burner. Since the igniter has that tab that you aren't using that's hanging in the middle of the burner, you can use something with a hook (machinist's pick for me) to pull up and a screwdriver to push down to adjust the igniter tilt without removing the burner.

Spark module: There was a lot of talk a while back about Bluestar's Invensys modules having quality problems (not particular to BS, as it was a problem across multiple range brands). My c.'05 range has two of them, but I believe that newer ones have just a single spark module (for 6 burners in my case). I bit the bullet and bought the single 6-burner Tytronics module (PA 020042) from Guy Banks. This made replacement a challenge b/c I had to re-route the wires from the 2nd module (for center-front and center-rear burners) and I had to mount the new (bigger) 6-burner module where the other module was. I also didn't want to have to drill any new holes in the stove or to make mounting brackets for the new module. And this made the most sense for getting all the existing wires to hook back up to the new module. Here's what I did:

1) Turn off power to the range. Breaker is easier (for me) than sliding and unplugging.

2) Remove knobs (rubber gloves or a jar opener help with gripping). Remove drip pan (and clean!).

3) Unscrew control panel- there are screws underneath plate holder and just above drip pan (easier to take out with oven door open). Remember that the self-drilling screws go back underneath the plate holder along the top edge of the control panel (I didn't at first).

4) Either let the panel hang down or rotate it up and over to rest on the plate holder (be careful of the oven thermostat capillary tube when doing this).

5) Unscrew the brackets that the module on the right is attached to the stove with. You do this with a screwdriver from inside the burner area.

6) Unscrew the module from the brackets. Leave the module wired up and just hanging there. Pull out the brackets.

7) Make a mounting plate for the new module. I had a scrap of stainless sheet that I cut to the size of the new Tytronics module. I used the module to mark the mounting hole locations and the old mounting brackets (after measuring the original gap between the two brackets from the holes in the control panel) to mark where to drill holes to attach the new mounting plate to the old brackets. This is tricky, and I didn't get it perfect- after I got done, the brackets only lined up on one side. I settled for 2 out of three screws being sturdy enough to attach the module brackets to the control panel.

8) Mount the new plate to the old brackets. There isn't tons of room between where the brackets are screwed to in the back of the control panel and the gas manifold. So I didn't want to screw the plate to the brackets and add plate thickness plus screw head height to the spacing. I ended up using aluminum pop rivets to attach the plate to the two brackets.

9) Mount the new module to the plate with the old mounting (sheet metal) screws.

10) Move wires from the old 4-burner module to new 6-burner module. I did this one by one so that I didn't have to label the wires (like you would if you took them all loose). I'm kinda forgetting exactly how I did this- I either pulled the old module partway out under the gas manifold, slid the new one in back, then traded, or I slid the new one partway in and traded there (then you just pull the old module out over the gas manifold). There's the power (L- line, N- neutral, G-ground), 4 wires to the switches at the knobs, and 4 wires to the igniters at the burners. The two wires for each burner (wire from switch at knob; wire to igniter) have to go to tabs on the new module with the same number.

11) Mount the new module where the old one was using the existing screw holes.

12) Move the 2 switch wires and 2 igniter wires from the 2-burner module to the new 6-burner module. Keep the order the same (i.e. 1 and 2 go on 5 and 6 in the new module).

13) Unhook the 120V line, neutral, and ground from the 2-burner module. These need to be capped off so that they don't accidentally ground/short to something inside the control panel. On my range, at least the 120V line is passed through this connector to the other spark module (i.e. you can't just cut it off and put tape on it). I used some heat shrink tube I had to make a long sleeve on the connector that I folded over on itself and zip-tied in place. I'm sure there are lots of other ways you could do this.

14) Remove the 2-burner module (and brackets if you want).

15) Reinstall control panel (remember where self-drilling screws go) and knobs. Reset breaker to re-power. Test burners.

Old spark modules:

New spark module: The extra wires are above the gas manifold with black heat shrink tube over them; blue zip tie holds them in place.

Hope that's useful info. Just one of many ways to tackle this.

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Hi Thull, thanks for posting such a great description. A year or so ago I ordered a new spark module from bluestar, I think it was also a Tytronics and cost about $35.

I did not change ignitors, and while the module looked different than the Inversey, no modifications were necessary.

I think you can use the teflon pipe dope that plumbers use on iron pipe on your screws that fasten the ignitor to the bottom of the burner. Its like a white paste and comes usually in a can.(they also have a 'yellow teflon tape' for gas pipes, but I think the screws are to small to bother.

If I find my invoice, or pics, I'll give the model #.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 1:02AM
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alexr- did yours have the 4 burner/2 burner setup with two spark modules like mine? I guess I may have been working off old info when I made the order for the module.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 8:48AM
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Regarding rust prevention on the igniter screws:

I recently replaced all the burners on my 2005 RNB30 due to rust on the underside of the burners. (BlueStar was kind enough to provide replacements free of charge). I ended up having to drill out pretty much every fastener, both those holding the igniters and those on the gas pipes. On the new burners I used anti-seize compound for all the screws. I am no expert but from what I was able to find on the internet, anti-seize seemed like the best choice for this application.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 12:36PM
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mrblandings- you're probably right about the anti seize. I'm glad I didn't need to replace burners b/c getting those screws loose looks like it would be a real pain. How did yours look compared to mine?

I pretty much fight for every minute of weekend time- I was trying to blaze through this in order to get to nephew's b'day party on time. So, I did what I could with what I had. I may go back and put something different on those screws.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 2:53PM
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Thull, I only have a 4 burner. The comment about rust on the burners is sort of interesting, simply because burning gas does create moisture, so that's not unusual, but because the burners are such a thick cast iron, I would think it would take 30 years or so to rust through. Like leaving a cast iron skillet outdoors for a decade.

I mean even my griswold skillets get a thin sheen of rust on the outside occasionally, still I would think a wipe or a scrub and some oil would cheer everything up.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 2:18AM
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alexr: the rust on the burner surface is not the main problem -- as you say it could probably be taken off with steel wool like you'd do with cookware. The bigger problem is the screws and screw holes -- if they rust to the point where the screws have to be drilled out (as mine were) then you're talking about having to drill and re-tap all the screw holes, which is not so easy to do in cast iron unless you happen to have access to a good drill press.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 8:02AM
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I would love some advice on what to do with my front right burner. The ceramic igniter cracked, and like mentioned above, the mounting screw is rusted over. I tried to unscrew it but I'm close to stripping the screw. Should I try unscrewing with pliers? WD40 first?


    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 4:23PM
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Soak with a penetrating oil (PB Blast is one type).

Failing that use a screw extractor for that size screw.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 4:33PM
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That's the best I can offer, also. You might heat it up with a plumbing torch until it's mighty hot as an alternative. The good thing for me was that the ones I broke off extracted pretty easily.

It could be worse- I just attempted to DIY replace an O2 sensor on our old Toyota. It was frozen in the exhaust manifold but hard. Managed to crack the manifold while attempting to loosen it. Now it's at the dealer for an expensive repair as a result of my attempt to be cheap.

Another update- I had trouble with my followup Guy Banks order. It never showed up and they responded to e-mail but just never shipped the 3 ignitors I ordered to have spares on hand. It was one of those things where it wasn't important and I'd only remember to follow up every 3-4 weeks. Finally got them but it was like pulling teeth. I'd just stay on top of them when ordering to make sure they fulfill the order in a timely fashion.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 5:18PM
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For rusted screws- Liquid wrench, WD-40, etc. let sit and tap with a hammer lightly. The vibrations loosen the rust. Before drilling or using an "easy-out" I would attempt using vice-grip pliers. You'd be surprised how often this will work.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 10:29PM
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I know it's a longshot that "mrblandings" is still around low these many years later, but I'm bumping this very helpful thread I was recently directed to in hopes that maybe he or someone else in the know can answer ...

"Regarding rust prevention on the igniter screws:
I recently replaced all the burners on my 2005 RNB30 due to rust on the underside of the burners. (BlueStar was kind enough to provide replacements free of charge). I ended up having to drill out pretty much every fastener, both those holding the igniters and those on the gas pipes. On the new burners I used anti-seize compound for all the screws. I am no expert but from what I was able to find on the internet, anti-seize seemed like the best choice for this application."

... First, good for you, I wish Bluestar would have replaced my burners free of charge for rust ... But that small rant aside, for the non-handy among us, what is "anti-seize" compound and how would I apply it?

As I said on another thread, I've had quite a few issues with ignitor screws rusting in place, even on burners I've never once boiled liquid on, though Bluestar continues to say that only "frequent boil overs" can cause these screws to rust tight. I'd much rather prevent the problem up front than fight to get it fixed later.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 10:18AM
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Anti sieze compound is lubricant that is used on threads which is supposed to make it less likely that they will be stuck when you go to remove the screw. I linked to one type, any auto parts store should have an anti seize compound

Here is a link that might be useful: anti seize at autozone

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 9:02PM
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Has anyone who used the anti-seize back in 2011, when this thread was new, have any good news to report, re: no more rusted tight ignitor screws?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 9:52AM
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Just checked...none of my circa 2008 screws are rusted and nothing has been done to them. I even tried loosening them to check and they all loosened with ease.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 8:14PM
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I am 2/3 of the way through replacing my six 2006 igniters with the new closed-top BS igniters - all 4 so far have been rusted solid and had to be drilled out and re-tapped. The new screws sent with the igniters are aluminum - so they know they had it wrong originally. Bluestar didn't offer to replace my burners - the rep, however kindly suggested I buy replacement burners though. Hell no!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 4:44PM
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Can you post a pic of the closed top igniters? I looked for them on the bluestar website but couldn't find them


    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 4:49PM
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I would also be interested in knowing if there is a new ignitor design, because we recently (as in, still waiting for them), ordered new ignitors direct from Bluestar for our 36" RNB and I wonder what we'll receive.

EDITED: To correct typo

This post was edited by applnut on Mon, Jun 2, 14 at 16:54

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 4:52PM
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Below is a shot of a circa 2006/7 igniter (the worst looking of the bunch), an example of a rusted steel igniter screw that had to be drilled and tapped, and the new style igniter that I purchased (6 of them) from Bluestar a couple of months ago.

All six igniter screws were rusted in place. Even if I could get enough of a grip with an extraction tool, the screws were rusted solid and sheered. Each the four burners I have serviced thus far have had a fair accumulation of rust dust/charred sediment of some sort inside the burner cavity so I took the opportunity to shop-vac them clean. I still have two igniters and one ignition module to go. And my first tap snapped in the original screew hole so I had to tap adjacent - that igniter needs to be readjusted somehow to improve the spark distance.

I live four houses up from the ocean and use propane so theoretically those are tough on the cast iron of the burners. The grates and bowls, however, have never shown signs of rust.

I'd still buy another Bluestar rangetop because the cooking experience far surpasses the effort to keep it in working order. The rose colored glasses I wore eight years ago, however, have ... rusted off.

Here is a link that might be useful: Igniter - old and new

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 9:48AM
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Interesting. We, too, are 2007 vintage ... And we live nowhere near an ocean (sadly), have natural gas, and our screws are same. The solid igniter does seem like it might be less prone to cracking than the open top. Hopefully those are the replacements we get this time around.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 12:50PM
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Here is a pic of the bottom of my most used burner. Original everything here (circa 2008]

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 11:40PM
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OK, tyguy, I'm jealous! My 2007 36" RNB has had both 22K burners replaced because the igniter screws grew into the iron burner and the screw heads broke off, and i need to replace them again. I've replaced the igniters 2-4 times and had the modules (including the oven!) replaced once. I do live less than a mile from the beach and turn off the central heat/air unit in favor of fresh Gulf breezes when the weather is nice, and, yes, I've had boil-overs--doesn't everyone?

I don't really know how to do things like drilling out screws and modifying wiring and I'm wise enough to not try it. What type of professional would I look for to do this for me? Would it be less expensive than ordering yet more burners and igniters?

I love way my BlueStar cooks and the ease of cleaning, but I may have made another choice if I'd known I needed to be a machinist/electrician/??? in order to maintain my range. Life is complex enough!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2014 at 8:22AM
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@Agrippa: "I don't really know how to do things like drilling out screws and modifying wiring and I'm wise enough to not try it. What type of professional would I look for to do this for me? Would it be less expensive than ordering yet more burners and igniters?"

Anyone handy with a drill can drill out the screws. Sometimes letting the screw soak in rust penetrant helps.

Wether you get new or remove the old screws, I would try screws of dissimilar metals. Use brass screws. Secondly use an anti-seize compound (looks like silver grease) on the screws.

Loosen and tighten the screws every year.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2014 at 1:04PM
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Seems like a lot of people have the rusting screw issue on the igniters. I don't know what I'm doing different. I don't live anywhere near salt air, so that may be one thing and I don't have a lot of boil overs, but i do have some, evident from the stains and such you see on the parts in my picture. I have never replaced an igniter yet, but I do have to replace the spark module. It has been out of commission on one half of my 48" for a LONG time now....probably much more than a year now, but can not remember. I just use a bbq lighter for now, but do need to find time to fix the module in the next year or so lol

    Bookmark   November 16, 2014 at 11:38PM
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Try vise grips (tighten down hard along the edge). Remove burner and use correct sized phillips head to remove. Place upside down and put all your weight on the screw head to prevent stripping. Also give the screwdriver some light taps prior with a hammer.

Go to a good hardware store and get stainless steel allen head bolts that will fit the same thread as the screws. The will be very tiny but very effective. Problem gone forever. No stripped heads or stuck screws. Use of an allen wrench gets you future leverage and no striping.

All this gets back to BAD BAD Bluestar design/quality. Period. They really stink and totally rob you blind with ignitor costs. I used a lighter for over a year because I refused to pay them. I finally tried an aftermarket version being sold on ebay.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 10:28AM
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