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

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mag, magneto, xlch

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  #1  
Old 7th May 2016
Nailbomb Nailbomb is offline
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Default '59 xlch Magneto issues...

So late in the fall last year I came upon the issue of my '59 XLCH not starting. Initially this in and of itself didn't raise concerns, as its been a bear to get started for some time, but eventually with the help of a friend holding the plugs grounded to the engine I realized that I was getting no spark. The ground off the mag was removed to eliminate the wiring as a potential fault, still no spark.

I ordered a complete Morris MRA-R kit figuring it covered me for a basic points and condenser update, and the ability to retard the timing sure couldn't hurt either.

With that installed I'm still having no luck and have ordered a coil from Morris as well. I figured if that didn't take care of it, I would just pull it and send it out for restoration.

Prior to my cracking it open for the MRA-R kit, the last known time the magneto was open would have been in the early 80's. To my knowledge all that was done then was points and a condenser as well. For all I know this is the original coil still in here and it just gave up the ghost, and the hard starting problems could have been a weak spark signaling its death cry. Of course early ironheads with fixed timing have never been known for being the easiest to start, thus my possible denial of the situation.

Basically Just want to make sure I'm not overlooking anything, and that I'm on the right path to getting this thing sorted out. Thank you in advance for any help or advice.
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  #2  
Old 7th May 2016
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scottfisher scottfisher is offline
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Default

Remove the mag from the bike.
Clean everything and double check your previous work.
with it back together, put your fingers on the coil and give the gear a snap with your fingers. Even with finger snapping speed, you should get a nice jolt.

Unless you are in a completely dark space it is tough to see spark at the plugs. Furthermore, a dirty cap, plugs etc will also aggravate the process.

Then take care to ensure you install it correctly or it won't start.

There is some really good stuff in the stickys regarding maggy maintenance.

s
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  #3  
Old 7th May 2016
GA_Ironhead GA_Ironhead is online now
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The stickys that SF mentioned - http://xlforum.net/forums/s...d.php?t=465866

Welcome to the forum!
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  #4  
Old 7th May 2016
Nailbomb Nailbomb is offline
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Default

During re-assembly of the engine the mag was tested in a similar method, and spark was rather easy to see(this was six years ago however) Wires and plugs are very new, and ignition troubleshooting should always start with basics like that.

It received a new cap with the MRA-R, so that is fresh also.

Thank you for the link to the stickies. Some very cool information there, the sifton cam specs in particular.
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  #5  
Old 7th May 2016
bobber58 bobber58 is offline
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Default

I tried that MRA kit in mine, it made it worse instead of better. Sitting that long the points could be dirty. Chances are your original coil is just fine. What plugs and wires are on it? Are you sure it's set correctly?
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  #6  
Old 7th May 2016
GA_Ironhead GA_Ironhead is online now
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Did you find the mag troubleshooting sticky section?
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  #7  
Old 7th May 2016
Nailbomb Nailbomb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GA_Ironhead View Post
Did you find the mag troubleshooting sticky section?
Yes I did, I'm not about to dive into it today however, I have two bikes still running and the weather is nice, so I'm jonsing to go on a jaunt. I'll be more than happy to update this thread as I go, and list what I've done.

Its rather disheartening to hear that people have tried the MRA kit and found it to not act as advertised however...

Thanks for the welcome to the forum.
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  #8  
Old 7th May 2016
Nailbomb Nailbomb is offline
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Default

Plugs are NGK B-6L and wires are Accel 8.8

Yes timing has been checked, so it is set correctly. Timing was checked with a timing light while bike was running. Even with the timing off it should produce spark.

If your asking if the MRA is installed correctly, I followed the instructions to the letter and had the points set at .019 at largest gap in the retarded position.
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  #9  
Old 7th May 2016
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Are those plugs resistor plugs and are those wires suppressor core?you should have non-resistor plugs and metal core wires

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  #10  
Old 8th May 2016
Iron Mike Iron Mike is offline
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I have been running the same mag in my ch for almost 30 years. If and when it sits for a bit, I go through the same kick, kick, kick, no start. I know they can be finicky. I go through the same drill as you have, eliminate wiring, check points, timing ect. I then remove mag and do the spin test against a good piece of steel. hold coil springs about 1/8 - 3/16 away and give mag a quick snap. If that produces a fat spark,put it back in and start the bike. If no spark, I put mag into lathe, bridge a paper clip in close proximity to coil springs. Use the cap screw holes to ground and support paper clip. Hold body of mag and turn on lathe (300rpm ish). Keep arms ect away from rotating lathe and sparking mag. Mag should spark brightly. This works for me every time. If no lathe, 1/2 drill should work.
Not sure what this does, perhaps help recharge magnets?? Old timer showed me that long ago. My $.02.
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