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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

I have searched as ever but not found anything, to be honest I’m unsure how to even Google it!

Basically I’m timing my 1949 FL with manual advance distributor by the book, step by step exactly as it says and every time I get it done and go to check it by rotating the engine one full turn, as in the book, I check in the timing window and the flywheel mark has moved.
I start with flywheel timing mark just inside the right side of the window, time it up and make one full rotation, check the mark in the window and it’s right in the middle, rotate it again and it’s right by the left hand edge.

Someone, please, what the hell is going on? Am I mis-interpreting the book? Is my bike cursed? I am just about at my whits end.

I had the engine rebuilt by one of the best in the UK and finished building the bike about 6 weeks ago and so far I have got it running a couple of times and done a total of about 15 miles in 4 short test rides but now I’ve got nothing.

Pushrods are adjusted correctly, I have spark, battery is charged and I know the mikuni carb on there runs. I have a linkert to swap over but unsure if it runs so want to get it all good on a carb I know works before testing the linkert.

I’m sorry for the essay, I’m sure I’ve forgotten useful information…
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Seems by “one revolution” I maybe meant two?
I’m rotating the engine enough to give one full rotation on the distributor cam lobe, right to where the points were about to open as when setting the timing initially.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Im using the narrow lobe to time the front cylinder, ensuring I’m on the compression stroke by spinning the pushrods. I’ve timed it from scratch like 10 times today and on the last one I noticed the flywheel moving.
earlier in the day I did get it to pop a few times immediately after timing and then not again till retiming, which would make sense if for some bizarre reason the flywheel isn’t making even rotations?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yep full advance, turned counter clockwise till it stops. Timer is brand new and I replaced the capacitor already. Very confused
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Back to basics. In your initial post you say that you are rotating the engine one full turn after setting the timing, and that you find the mark in a different place in the window. What are you using as your reference to determine "one full turn"?
The point at which the points are about to open with the points follower lining up with the timing mark on the cam lobe is my reference for a full turn

How are you turning the engine over and are the plugs out while turning it? Back wheel in gear blocked up off the ground to turn the engine. You maybe just going past the mark trying to get it.
At this point I’m turning the engine with the kicker, can’t actually remember if I had the plugs in when I noticed, I may have done. I’m definitely going past my mark, I’m turning it in minuscule increments with the kicker until my timing light glows telling me the points are about to open
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I sort of knock the kicker so it makes only tiny movement on the engine, it’s the way I was shown so stuck with it. I will try jacking the bike and turning the engine with the wheel in gear.

I’m running a fairly standard 12v coil which shows good health. Battery is the same, fuel delivery fine, no loose connections, plugs, ht leads etc all fine.

i understand the timing marks movement in a single instance isn’t a worry, my concern is that it’s moving forward with every revolution effectively untiming the bike. Maybe that’s impossible!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks man will do that today and report back. Something is definitely off, hopefully it’s me, haha. Timer gear is fine, if anything it’s a tiny bit tight to spin by hand but there’s zero play on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
OKAY... its running, still no idea what the flywheel weirdness was about fuck it it ticks over now.

new question though, how much should one be retarding the timing to start? i've found that if i retard all the way i get nothing, but bike starts pretty easy retarded about half way. is there a set amount of movement any timer should have? i suppose my fear is if it's starting halfway retarded, then is it fully advanced when the timer is pushed against the stop?
i expect the answer is that it varies bike to bike depending on parts, wear, etc but i want to be sure before i try and run in the engine and kill it because it's horribly out of time.
that all said, it start easy and ticks over nice when i advance, so feels right to me...

thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I’m grabbing the timer itself, it’s a chopper so that’s fine for me.
inwas told to to take it easy for 100 miles, change oil, take it easy-ish for another 500 miles, change oil and then have at it. I’ll add keeping just off full advance to that then!

thanks mate really appreciate all your help
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
OKAY, still having a little trouble. It’s running and that’s almost rad enough, however…

i retard timing about 1/3-1/2 of the way, bike starts east 1/2 kicks and idles nicely, when I advance the timing to ride away however the idle speeds up as it should but gets very rough. If I try to to ride away retarded it backfires and rough, but is smooth to take off when advanced.

am I right in thinking this could be because the timing is a little retarded?
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Yep, exactly what I’ve been doing, exactly by the book, not sure how I can be going wrong tbh. I wonder if my circuit breaker is fucky or slipping or something. Anyway I’ll have a look at it tomorrow. The book says flywheel timing mark right in the right hand edge of the window, some people say bang in the middle. Mark to the right of the window is further advanced, correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
okay so a little more research has shown that the PIECE OF SHIT v-twin timer i bought i because i was a in a rush, in rare cases has been marked incorrectly. fuck knows how this can happen. anyway i did get it timed and it's running okay and have my eye on a decent oem timer for when i have some cash, might even look for an auto advance unit.

next up is a horrible oil leak from the front of the cases, it never ends!
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Welcome to owning an old Harley. The best part is you'll stop the leak and it'll be great and then it'll leak somehwere else!!

Yeah a lot of v-twin stuff i'd give a massive wide berth - OEM is expensive, but if it's not tired out and useable then it usually lasts. I run mags on all of mine and I bought a few new mags.. not my taste I'm using a Fairbanks with all fairbank guts - probably 70 years old. Works better than most of the new stuff.

Glad she's running!!
yeah man I won’t be making the v-twin mistake again that’s for sure. The irony is that in the time I’ve been fucking around trying to get it sorted I could have had an oem one delivered from the states ffs. The other fucker is that I’m only running the dis/coil ignition because my Morris mag failed and I can’t find anyone in the uk to look at it.
 
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