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  #1  
Old 1st September 2018
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Cool Static Timing: Identifying Wide/Small Cam Lobes

Howdy guys. I'm trying to set timing on a 77 XLH Sporty. My old 76 had electronic ignition so this is a 1st for me. There's a good 10 minute video on YouTube where it shows how to do it. I got the points set right at .018, then used a 12v light to show when points open as advancing cam (light comes on when points begin to open, although you have to have ignition on for this to work). Got it right on the money to where light would just come on when I advanced the cam. I then tightened down after-market plate but bike was worse than before and would not even start. If it is the timing, I'm thinking I must have set it to wide lobe rather than small lobe. As I understood, when that vertical timing mark is dead center it could be coming up on either lobe. However, I can't see much difference so how can I be sure I'm coming up on the small lobe when timing mark is dead center? Not a lot of viewing space in there either.

The bike was running good but seemed to miss a little at higher speed so thought timing might be off, points gap as well. The only other thing I did with the bike was reroute the petcock to carb fuel line to make it more direct (no kinks of course) but surely that couldn't have caused the problem. Was getting all kinds of backfire after I messed with that but don't recall if I set gap too at that time, may have. I know, I am a firm believer in if it ain't broken don't fix it, but still wanted to be able to do this. Resetting the point gap alone fixed the dying problem on my 73. You guys said it was ignition and it was. Did not mess with timing there, although when you reset gap timing does change.

There's LOTS of knowledge here so all ideas are welcome. First goal is just to identify small lobe is coming up when vertical timing mark is dead center, as it is now. Second goal is if this doesn't work, what else could it be. My thinking was a more direct fuel line surely couldn't cause a backfire missing problem since carb regulates fuel anyway.

Thanks again, in advance. Will post resolution when I get it. I know this bike runs good. Wish I had not messed with it BUT I've 2 with points so figured I needed to know how to do this right anyway.
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Old 1st September 2018
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I don't have points but I attempted static timing on my 85 with a Dyna s Single fire. Reason was I thought I had detonation. My flywheeel has two marks. One is a line which is top dead center front cylinder, an there is also a dot which indicates the advance timing mark where it should fire. Well I had surge, buck, and it ran like crap. Wasn't totally my problem but a lot of it. So, I set it with a timing light and adjusted the plate until I saw the single dot in the window. That made 99 percent better. The bike pulls like a beast now. Still a little carb issue but not related to timing. So, any advice you receive from some of the more experienced folks on here with the ironhead take it because they know these monsters well.
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Old 1st September 2018
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After gaping the points I pin the advance at full advance with a washer and O ring, then place a piece of cig paper in the points and slowly turn the base plate until you can just pull it free. Remove the O ring and washer , done
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Old 1st September 2018
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The front cylinder must be on compression stroke, first. Whether you watch for both front push rods to become bottomed out or (if you have a kicker) cycle the kicker until it pushes your thumb off of the spark plug hole. Either way will produce the same result. Now you can look at your point cam. There are two “sides” that allow the points to make contact because they are narrower than either lobe. Then you have a narrow “point” and opposite to that you have a noticeably wider arc. This wider arc is for the rear cylinder. If your advance mechanism has the indexing roll pin intact, you can only install the cam in the correct orientation. If it is missing though, the cam can be installed either way. when on front cylinder compression stroke if the wide lobe is closer to the points arm, simply remove the cam and reinstall it 180°. My roll pin was broken off some time ago, and I mistakenly put the cam on backwards and the bike backfired horribly and wouldn’t rev at all. Reversed the cam and all was right again. Hope this helps you out!
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Doodah, compression stroke? That is a key point left out of video I watched. I must have been on EXHAUST stroke when setting timing. Is easiest way to do that on an XLH to just put thumb over spark plug hole as you come up on TDC to feel compression? I'm thinking it should also show it by blowing light paper off of hole. Can't really tell if rods are bottoming without removing tops of heads otherwise. Correct? An XLH is an electric start. Thanks!
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Jack rear tire off ground.
Remove sparkplugs.
Shift to 4th gear.
Pull tire to rotate engine.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4th of July View Post
...can’t really tell if rods are bottoming without removing tops of heads otherwise. Correct?...
For this method you would just pull the keepers and collapse the push rod tubes to be able to see the push rods bottoming out. When both lifters are at their lowest point both valves have closed and you are the compression stroke. Probably easier to have a helper - one spin the rear tire and one to watch the push rods and find the timing mark.
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No problem rotating tire and finding timing mark. The difficulty was 2-fold: 1) Assuring I'm on small lobe; and 2) Assuring on compression stroke, which was not mentioned at all in video I watched. Have no helper so this is a solo mission. Thank you. This sounds absolutely critical since you can't use timing light until you're able to start the bike. Should have gone there 1st while it was running. Hindsight! This is such a basic function too. Have timed old Nova's & Chevelle many times. 😕
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Old 2nd September 2018
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If there's a good video or instruction on pulling the keepers and collapsing push rod tubes I'd like to find it. I know this must be basic but 1st time through this I want to make sure I don't do any damage. Once again thanks. Doodah, you got me close man, once I ID the compression stroke I should be good. Need to put the keepers back on too, once I get them off. "Do no harm".........that's a pretty ambitious goal in Life as well. Once again.....Thank You!
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The keepers are no big deal; the collar in the middle of the tube is spring loaded and will slide down and you can pull on the “loop” in the keeper and pop it right out. Carefully leverage a large flat blade screw driver between the head fins and the collar to force it down just enough to remove the keeper - it doesn’t take much to free them. Then, when putting them back start one edge of the keeper into the rocker cover with the upper tube all the way up and let the bottom ride up the shank of the screw driver that is leveraging against the collar and the keeper will slip right into place. It’s easier to do than it is to explain!!
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