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Ironhead Sportster Motorcycle Talk (1957-1985) For all those that wanna talk about Ironhead Sportster Motorcycles

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  #21  
Old 3rd September 2018
The Doctor71 The Doctor71 is offline
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Sportster/Buell Model: xlch
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needspeed & 4th of July.....

thx for clarifying the 12v test light procedure(s). I haven't used a test light "in that fashion" before, but I think I get what's going on. Cool. Learn something new everyday, which is why I come here.

I'm still going to verify it on my own bikes at my next opportunity.... but, like I said, it's always cool to learn something new.
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  #22  
Old 3rd September 2018
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Thanks Doc, think I'm benefiting the most here but I try to give something back. On test light, not having to turn ignition on may be better way, hooking directly to the points is likely no more accurate. Going to try coil hook-up too. Thank You (all).
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  #23  
Old 6th September 2018
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Talking It Was Timing/Points!


YeeeeeHaaaaa!

Set static timing last night and points. Runs like a friggin top! Thanks for your help. Love this group, help me every time. Always been a loner, never liked the group activity stuff, but that doesn't apply here. REAL friends, even though we'll never meet in person. Solid anyway.

I tell ya, really needed a boost tonight, recently got divorced and lost girlfriend too, but never mind that, the Ironhead Sporty is running good

OK, I learned a few things here which many of you guys already know. I have worked on 70's Nova's and older bikes to a certain extent, but had never set points & timing on Ironhead before. My last 76 Ironhead had electronic ignition. Here's what I picked up in case it helps anybody else:

1. Timing & Point gap is critical on these old bikes. Just a little bit off can make all the difference in how bike runs or even if it runs at all.
2. There is a good video on YouTube re: Ironhead Points & Timing, about 10 minutes and easy to find.
3. You CAN use a test light with + hooked right to + on points and - to ground. When points open, light will come ON, BUT ignition has to be ON. This seems to be very accurate since bike seems to be now running perfect AND you are hooking directly to points, as opposed to upstream location in the ignition circuit.
4. The lobes, small vs. large are easy enough to identify IF you know what you are looking for. See previous photos on this thread. Small lobe is easy to miss, only about 1/16th inch, compared to large lobe (about 3/8 inch). I must have been on large lobe when setting timing 1st try, would not even start.
5. While you can set gap on either lobe, I'd recommend small lobe since once points are clearly open, they won't open more as flywheel is rotated. If on large lobe the points may only be partially open which would throw off your setting for gap.
6. Getting the vertical timing mark centered in the timing hole is tricky. You have to rotate the flywheel (via back tire), in minute increments or you will miss it. At 1st I thought it was not there.
7. If you do this right you may not even need to mess with the timing light. Don't think I will, at least at this point since it seems to be running great. Why fix it?
8. At one point, after cleaning points with abrasive and before setting timing I noticed some backfiring and test light did not come on when points began to open. Then cleaned them off with some alcohol and swab and light began to come on, may have caused the backfiring as well. So if you clean them with abrasive, make sure you get the debris off.
9. Bought a new aftermarket plate that already had points & condenser installed, very cheap. However, that plate fit a bit too snug and made it difficult to rotate. I'd recommend sticking with original plate, buying points & condenser separately.

Bottom-line is this is fairly easy once you know what you're doing, BUT the points and timing apparently are a very sensitive area with these old bikes so you have to do it carefully to get it right, and keep everything in adjustment. Did not have to mess with any of this on electronic ignition 76 that I used to have. Sill kinda miss that bike.


Hope this helps somebody else. Thanks again guys. All good comments. Really appreciate it. Know what I'm doing with this now. And, I can always find another girlfriend. ��

Last edited by 4th of July; 6th September 2018 at 09:45.. Reason: Additional Point
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  #24  
Old 6th September 2018
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Keeper video

keepers and adjust valves


He mentions the xl forum way of adjusting vavles in his video.
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  #25  
Old 6th September 2018
The Doctor71 The Doctor71 is offline
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Good to see you having it running now.....

Some additional food for thought, you or the next guy might want to consider. These are my personal preferences.... feel free to use them.... or not.
  • when setting the point gap.... I prefer a several iterations of rotating the motor to the next lobe. Set it at 0.018" on one lobe, then rotate the engine & check it on the other lobe, then rotate it again, and check it again. Repeat as necessary. It is easy to NOT have the rubbing block on the high point of the breaker cam lobe. This alleviates that for me & verifies I have my desired 0.018" gap on BOTH lobes.
  • before I consider the job done, I always use a timing light. Why ? When troubleshooting my next problem in a 2-3 months or whenever, I have a base line knowing exactly when & where my timing was last set. Simply, troubleshooting is so much easier if you know your timing is on the money.
  • once timing is accurately set with a timing light.... take a Sharpie or other permanent type marker (even a lead pencil will do) & draw a line across the timing plate & engine case in a couple of spots. This is now your base line. Next time you change your points or go in to look at the mechanical advance.... you have your timing marks already pre-set. With the marks pre-set, your next timing light check becomes less time consuming & pretty simple.
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  #26  
Old 6th September 2018
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#5 - the points gap should be checked on both lobes and should be the SAME on both lobes.

Any difference between the two will be timing error on the rear cylinder.

Have the patience and take the time to get this right, the difference in the way it runs and starts is amazing!
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  #27  
Old 6th September 2018
Iron Mike Iron Mike is offline
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I personally would avoid marking anything near my points with a pencil. Sharpie is fine.
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  #28  
Old 6th September 2018
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Quote:
#5 - the points gap should be checked on both lobes and should be the SAME on both lobes.
Exacto mundo. I tap my long center bolt that holds the points cam lightly with a dead blow type mallet to center the cam to achieve the above results.

Edit: It aint the end of the world though if a thousandth off or so between the two. Because of bushing wear because of age.
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  #29  
Old 7th September 2018
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Agree. This does make one hell of difference and is worthy of taking time to get it right.

Electronic ignition would be SO MUCH easier, may go to that someday. My old bike had a Mikuni carb on it too but there is something to be said for originality if you appreciate that, which I do. Thanks for valve adjustment video and think marking timing plate/case is good idea.

I added 1 point to my list of things learned (#9). I bought an aftermarket plate that already had points & condenser installed, very cheap. However, that plate fit a bit too snug and made it difficult to rotate. I'd recommend sticking with original plate, buying points & condenser separately.

Thanks again guys, will have to post photo of my new girlfriend.

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  #30  
Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Originally Posted by IronMick View Post
I was never able to identify and distinguish among small lobe, big lobe and whatever not-a-lobe falls between them. So I quickly gave up and installed the Ultima electronic ignition.

I think most of the guys have no trouble ID'ing those parts and assume it is easy for everyone. I think it is easy for those who get it, but is a mystery to the rest of us.

Someone should post a very clear picture with the large and small lobes very clearly identified, and distinguished from the not-a-lobe parts...

i was confused for a long time ,,, until hacing a cam lobe in my habd and checking it right out.
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