In this instructional video, guru Frank Kaisler takes you through the care and service of Harley-Davidson's popular Ironhead Sportster engine. Applying four decades of motorcycle experience, Frank shares the hard-earned tips and tricks that served him so well over the years. Many aspects of engine tune and service are covered in this video: changing fluids, valve train, ignition, timing, fuel system, electrical. Follow Frank's tips and tricks and you'll build the skills you need to resurrect that old project and keep your bike running strong with confidence. Over 2 hours of killer content and you can own your very own copy of this DVD!
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You can read the full full transcription of this video below:
Frank Kaisler: Hello my name is Frank Kaisler, Wes and Tyler asked me to help illustrate this DVD by demonstrating the proper way to do certain aspects of maintenance on your Harley-Davidson motorcycle. I've been riding custom-Harley motorcycles for over 40 years. I've been involved in their custom motorcycle magazine business for about 30-some years. Starting with Easyriders magazine. I've worked in custom motorcycle shops, I've worked in Harley-Davidson dealerships, I've worked in my own garage, I've had my own shop.
A lot of what we're going to pass on to you today has been gleaned from years and years of making mistakes. You make a mistake, you learn the right way to do it. That's all we're going to show you, is the right way here. You can take it for what it's worth, you can follow what we ask or tell you or you can't, but we know that what we are going to show you works.
We've proven it to ourselves, we've proven it to other people, we've proven it to customers over the years. It's not just going to be the last word. There's always going to be someone who has a different way to do it, to arrive at the same end results. We're going to show you what works for us. I hope you enjoy it and I hope you have a safe riding afterward, thank you
Okay, what we have here is a Ironhead Sportster in a custom frame, that we're going to do some basic maintenance on. First thing you do is we're going to pull the plugs. Before we pull the plugs, we have to clean around them. Easiest way to do that, just take some compressed air, blow any dirt around the plugs before you remove it, so that it doesn't fall in the hole.
The root plug wires, you give a little twist as you pull. Like that, like that. Take them out of the way, plug wrench.
The reason we're going to pull the plugs first is because when we go to adjust the valves and the timing, we're going to have to rotate the engine. It's much easier to rotate the engine when there's no compression in the cylinders. This plug is a little bit dirty. Black, that means it was a little bit of oil-fouled and a little bit gas fouled. Both plugs are out. This one s a little better than the front one. Easy way to rotate the engine is with the kick-starter or by rotating the rear wheel.
Rotate the rear wheel, we just jerk it up. We have a little jack we bought from the auto parts store, it's a used Toyota jack. We made a little flat on it and welded another one. You just use a ratchet or a wrench, raise the rear wheel enough so it spins like that. We'll put it in gear and we like to go to fourth gear because that's the easiest ratio to push. I can see the pistons coming up and down the cylinder so we're good. All right, now we're going to move to the other side and go ahead and adjust the valves first.
Okay, we're going to adjust the valves-- Actually adjust the lifters, then we open pushrods. To do that, we're going to get rid of some of this stuff that's in the way, to make it easier on ourselves because we want to pull the carburetor and the ignition, the magneto, later on. Air cleaner is pretty simple, it has one screw that holds the cover, and one to the backing plate. It'll just come off like this.
Air cleaner is inside, we'll deal with that. Easy way to test that is hold up to the light, if you can see the light through it's pretty good. That was not so bad, the back
See how that opens up everything, so we can see better and get our fat little fingers in there? There's also the magneto that's in the way, so we're going to remove that and we're going to take the cap off first, so it makes it easier to see where the rotor is. When we go to reinstall the mag, which is very easy, we'll rotate the engine around until we get the timing mark in the time and hole where it's supposed to be for this year and model and then we'll just put the mag back in and tighten it up.
Very easy. A lot of people think it's intimidating but it's not. Cap comes right off, no problem. Here's your two contacts for your two springs for the coil. That's what's nice about mag, it's a self-contained ignition system. This is a brand new one. All right, next thing is to get the mag out, so we're going to take this adapter underneath here, there are two bolts that hold it in place.
When we're ready take the mag off the base, you'll see there's a nut and a washer that'll probably fall off when we pull this up like that and it comes out like that and that's what it looks like underneath. It's a Fairbanks-Morse style body but it's driven by this hex, the piece of steel. The hex goes down and is driven off the front intake camshaft. I'll just set that aside. We got all that stuff out of the way so we can adjust the valves. These are custom pushrod tubes, they actually thread together to extend up so they seal, the head with rocker box to the engine cases.
What we did, is we unthreaded those so we could collapse them. You can see how the pushrod tubes move up and down. When I let go of them, gravity takes over and the pushrod tube comes down and gets in a way of your adjustment. In the past, we've used a couple of different devices to hold the pushrod tubes up out of the way.
This is the cheapest and cheerful throttle return spring you can get from an auto parts shop like AutoZone or someplace and you would raise your pushrod tube up, catch it on the bottom and then hook it on to your rocker box like so. There you can see that your pushrod adjustment is exposed. No problem, easy to get to or a couple of years ago a friend of ours who we forgot his name, that's how good a friend he was, gave us this apparatus which is basically a couple of hooks with some cable and you can actually hook both pushrod tubes at the same time so you can adjust both of them simultaneously.
One there, one here. Come on, and then hook it onto the rocker box. There we are. Now we get to both of them. Now we're going to rotate around like we started before. See the intake pushrod just went down which means you're coming up on your compression stroke. When you keep bumping it and you see that it's not moving that means it's on the heal the cam.
The piston is up during compression, so now you want to reach in here and turn the pushrod with your finger. This is very loose, it turns very easy but what you want to do is check for up and downplay which this has a little bit. Which we would require that you adjust it. To adjust them, it has a locknut at the bottom which is a 7/16 inch hex and you have the adjuster on the top of the lifter which is half-inch, so you would hold the top of the adjuster and just loosen a little bit the locknut.
You don't want to loosen it all the way unless you have to collapse the lifter down and take the pushrod out. Once you just loosen a little bit you elongate the lifter, turn it upwards to tighten the clearance. You just have to go a little bit when you're adjusting. Takes a little effort between two fingers to turn the pushrod which is good because this top-end is going to grow when the engine reaches operating temperature and you don't want the pushrod to be too short. You got it where you think it's right, you come back in and you hold the adjuster and tighten the locknut then you come back and check it once again, fine.
All right the final test when you think you got them adjusted, is you come back, you turn the rear wheel again, and completely rotate the engine. There goes, the intake pushrod up, it comes down, and as it comes down, you stick your fingers in here and try and rotate it. Okay, that's fine. Up there it's a little on the loose side so you didn't have it all the way down and this is just a matter of practice. Sometimes you get lucky and it happens right away, sometimes you don't.
When you only have a little bit to go, I always just hold the locknut in place and you could take the adjuster and just give it a little movement. Double-check your pushrod again, spin it around. There it goes up. Come down and it's perfect. Okay, that one is done. Now we're going to watch the front exhaust pushrod. There it goes up, he it comes down and stick your fingers in there. That one is just a little bit on a tight side. Which means we can't move it with our fingers.
Hold the locknut and see if we can just bump it down with the adjuster a skosh. Reaching it, yes that feels good. We'll do the same thing. Rotate it around one more time. Here it comes down, stick your fingers in there. Okay, your finger is a little bit oily so you want to wipe them off, get a good grip on it. Perfect, okay that one's done. Then we'll move to the back, so we just take our little cables off, so come on to the back pushrods and repeat the process.
It's not that difficult, you just want to be conscious that you won't get them the first time unless you're super lucky which we aren't. That's why we like to check them after a couple of engine rotations. Just to make sure we have it the way it should be. All right, we're going to look for the rear intake to go down. Here it goes up, coming down, everything is on compression and that one's a little loose.
Actually, that's got a little bit up and down play, which we don't like. Hold the locknut and turn the adjuster and you only want to go like maybe not even a sixteenth of a turn. Just enough to take a little grip and there we are. That's nice. It should be a little bit of resistance like if you took a pencil or something and you held it on one hand and you tried to turn it with your other fingers. It's going to move but you just want to have a little bit of resistance.
Okay, we're back to checking, going down. As soon as it starts to go down, that's when you want to check it. Right there, that's good. See, it just loosened up a little bit right there. One more little bump right like that, nice.
Perfect. All right, one to do, coming up, going down. That one is a little on the tight side. It wasn't reaching out? That's good, but is it good all the way? Here we go
Perfect and what I take is 15-20 minutes. It's easy to do and the only time you really have to do it, if you can hear your valves clatter or click a little bit because they're solid lifters. There's no hydraulics in it and it's easy to do. Okay, all we have to do now after the pushrod adjustment is put the pushrods back in place. What we've done is we've taken the pushrods in each individual circumstances and take all the slop out and make them adjusted perfectly.
To do that we extended it or collapsed the lifter to the final adjustment and then we rotate the engine to at least two or three times checking the tension as we go. It takes another tough couple of minutes it's easy to do and you're here working with your motorcycle, it can't be that bad. The other thing is when we get the pushrods back up you want to make sure that they're tight and they're sealed, and the only way you find out is once you start it.
Then you want to take this off. When I have the motor like this where the pushrod tubes are loose, you turn them a couple of times you just see black soot and stuff from road grime and whatnot, I always like to clean them while I have them so that I can get to the whole circumference. You just wipe them down, you look down here in the tappet block, there should be a cork gasket that should be intact, these are. Up here in the rocker box, there's a cork gasket that seals the top of the pushrod tube. Stock pushrod tubes have another cork in the middle. These have O-rings since these are customs.
The next item to attend to is a primary chain adjustment, primary chain hooks engine to the transmission. You adjust it on a Sportster by checking it through this access hole. You undo the plug, and you can stick your finger in and reach the chain. The chain should have about a half-inch up and down play, maybe 5/8. This is a little bit excessive, but you always want to adjust your primary chain at the tightest spot.
To do that we pull the plugs back out, we put the bike back in fourth gear, we're going to rotate the rear wheel and rotate it a few degrees coming here and check the tension. There's a tight spot there, and loosened up considerably. That's all right.
Okay, there we are. That's got about maybe three-quarters of an inch play. Which is not much, but it's still more than the factory specifies. To adjust the primary chain on this model, Sportster, which is covered in your service manual, there is a bolt and a nut here at the bottom.
To create more tension, you would turn this shaft in here. You got to loosen that first. You would turn this and check. Turn it, this slot's ground away on this so it's going to be a little bit more difficult but there we go. Can you see that all right?
Adjust a little bit and check, adjust a little bit and check. It feels good right now. We got a real snug but we're going to run it around again, make sure we have it at the tightest spot.
Okay, there's a real loose spot but that's good. That's good. That's good. All right, all we need is probably new primary chain probably next year or so. When you get a loose spot like that. It's not bad as long as you got predominantly a tensioned chain.
Too tight and you're actually going to pull the transmission main shift, and it will start to wear out the bearing. Which also affects the clutch operation since the clutch plates move in and out of the clutch drum. You start putting tension on it by a too tighter primary chain, you're going to make the clutch plate cork which makes the clutch wore. No problem because we got ours adjusted properly.
I'm going to go back here and double-check that we have this tight. Okay, that's fine. Since we can't drain the primary crankcase and transmission on this model, mainly because this is a custom frame, the drain plug is directly over the frame rail. We would go ahead and pull the primary cover off. Tip the bike over on its kickstand and let the oil just drain out into a pan.
Put everything back together. We will pour oil. The proper Sportster chaincase and transmission lubricant in here until-- We took this screw out, there would be a hole. When the oil starts to come out of that hole with a bike upright you’re at the proper level. We will put the screw back in, tighten it up and then go back and put our access plug back in and we'd be done.
This model has a custom oil tank. We have a stock oil tank to show you how that works, but basically, all oil tanks on all Sportsters have three oil lines. You have a feed line from your tank to your oil pump which provides fresh motor oil to the engine. You have another oil line coming off the pump that returns excess oil back to the tank. Then you have a vent line, as your pistons go up and down, it creates pressure at the combustion chamber which makes power but as the pistons come down it also creates pressure in the lower end which has to be vented to the atmosphere or to the oil tank.
The oil feed is always at the bottom or lowest part of the tank where your drain plug is. The two lines we have coming up here. The front line, the highest line should always be your vent, so oil can't get back into your event, back to the motor and swamp the motor. The line right next to it is your return, you always want that at the highest point so you're not pushing oil through oil. The oil would come back from the engine drop down on top of the oil level, the oil level goes down from the engine running. It's a constant reverse process but you don't want the oil level too high because you have no room to vent and you have no room for oil return, no problem.
We will look down here when we move around. Whoever set this up, set up the oil drain or old feed pretty weird. It's got a heavy kink in it which you don't want. Right next to it, and we stick our finger on, is the drain plug. We move around to the other side of the bike and attack the drain plug. Anytime you do a service you should change the oil. Oil is cheap insurance about it giving a good clean long-living motor. Here we have a custom oil tank, custom oil lines. There're three oil lines. There're always three oil lines; feed, return and vent.
We're going to go ahead and drain the oil which is via, usually, the lowest part on the oil tank, so you get all the chuck out of it. This has got an Allen bolt drain plug that has been damaged from the chain flopping around. You can't get an Allen wrench in it, so we're going to have to revert to channel lock pliers to remove. Which work quite effectively. Not as effective though. My fingers are not cooperating. We have a handy drain pan in close proximity to where we think the oil is going to flow out. Geez, you going to need somebody to get this out of here.
This is all part of the fun working on custom motorcycles. Especially new ones you just got. You can actually see there how the chain has worn away the bolt, so you can't get that proper hex key in there.
Wes: We've got some oil in there?
Frank: There's some. There we go, not much. We're going to catch it? Yes. The first thing I look at when I pull the drain plug out of a motorcycles oil tank is the top and you feel for any kind of metal debris or you look for any kind of-- This has got a little bit. A couple of little particles.
This is a cut-off Allen bolt, so this is not the proper drain plug. Most drain plugs will have a small magnet in there to attract any kind of metal or debris that the engine, as it wears in would put back in the oil, and the oil will carry it back to the tank. The filter usually would trap all of this. This motorcycle does not have a filter. All stock bikes would have a filter. This being custom, it's got no filter. That's one of the reasons that you would want to change your oil more frequently. Like every thousand miles, every 1500 miles. Rather than 2500 or 3000. Normally associated with an oil change from a factory motorcycle.
We'll let that drain a little bit. I'm going to turn around and get off the bench our stock oil tank. This is basically a stock tank for each model. Meaning electric start Sportster. It has mounting tabs, all rubber isolated. This would mount to the back of the battery box, here would be your feed from your oil tank to your engine to feed fresh oil. This would be your return from the engine back to the oil tank. This is your vent line. This is your oil fill cap which also houses the oil filter.
You would undo the wing nut, rotate it around and pull it off. There's no filter in there now but we have just purchased a brand new filter from Custom Chrome. Which is a canister style. To install it you would just drop it in, put your cap back on till it stops and tighten it down, as simple as that. Very cheap easy to use insurance to keep your oil nice and clean. The original factory one had a canister where you would put a fiber element down inside the canister and put the canister back in. These are great. You just take it out, throw it away, put a new one in, you're rocking and rolling. This is a nice pleated paper element that traps I think down to 10 microns. I think it does it.
No problem, it doesn't look nearly as nice as a custom chrome or a chrome one with a custom application but this custom one is not rubber-mounted, it doesn't have your battery hold-down and no oil filter provision. There are aftermarket oil filter provisions you could have that you would bolt up somewhere on a motorcycle and run separate oil lines from the engine back to the tank. Not that hard to do, is just the one person who built this bike decide not to go that route.
If you bought something like this and you're more worried about your engine longevity I would recommend putting an oil filter in place. I've done that much. There's plenty of room here behind the seat post they call it, or the frame that you could hide an oil filter there, it's close to the tank you could run short lines up, it'd be good to go. You'll notice on this model it's got braided steel oil lines that run all over the place. Which is not good because braided steel eats other steel. If it lays on there and vibrates it can eat through an exhaust system in a couple of months.
Here we have it laying on the frame rail which already made a little bit of indentation and it just runs haphazardly. It's nice to have nice tight stuff where it doesn't hang below the frame. For instance, this one the oil feed line comes out of the oil tank, makes a hard turn to the back and then loops all the way around up to the oil pump to feed oil. It's just shoddy looking workmanship. Whoever built this bike wasn't taking their time, they just want to get it done or whatever the case may be.
We're going to remove this rear exhaust pipe while the oil is draining out of the tank to show you one of the pitfalls the oil lines have to bypass on a Sportster motor and that is the rear-drive sprocket. Which is right here behind the cover where your kick arm comes through. We're going to loosen this because one of your oil lines or a couple of them feed down there, real close to this sprocket and if anything can ruin an oil line's life quicker is being rubbed by a rotating chain at high speed.
Come on. We'd loosened this up earlier. There's a nice tight fit you won't have to worry about exhaust leaks. Ok now we are gonna just slide this off hopefully with... Nice and clean, you'll notice the brake pedal and the brake cable line all fit inside here and it's all hanging all over a place but if we move this forward and take this cover out if we can get it out or rotate it around, you'll notice that one of the oil lines feeds down through here. This is your return line from the pump, it's about a fingers width away from the sprocket and the chain.
The factory originally came with a little clip that would hold that oil line and tight, you wouldn't have to worry about it walking out. In fact, you could actually see here close that at one time this oil line walked out, touched the chain freight a little bit of the steel braiding and then it was tucked back in where it is now. Before we put this all back together and give it back to the customer what we're going to do is we're going to take this and tie it in with a couple of cable ties to make sure it doesn't come out, rub the chain or the chain rub it, and we're going to clean up and probably tie it up under here too.
Okay, looks like our oil tank is done, one or two drops. If you just bought this motorcycle or you've had it for a while and you're worried about contaminants it wouldn't hurt to pull the filler plug and take a long screwdriver like this and stick it down in the tank and slide it along the floor of the tank as close as the drain plug as you can get, and pull it out and see what you got on the end.
This has a little bit of sludge. Not much just a little. If you were that much worried about it you could take a little bit of kerosene or diesel, put your plug back in, take your feed line off and put some diesel in there and shake the bike back and forth, then let it drain out. That'll take that sludge with it and move it all out of the picture then you put fresh oil back in. I would reroute the feed oil line and it'd be good to go with a nice clean sense of mind that there're no contaminants in that tank any longer.
If it's your first oil change since you bought the motorcycle, I would take the return line off the pump where it comes to the tank and I would put three quarts in, get the motorcycle started and pump the first half a quart back into a separate container because all the oil that's already in the vehicle or in the motor is contaminated, it's used. If you're making an oil change, you put the fresh oil in the tank, you want fresh oil throughout the motor so the half a quart that's in the motor circulating you would dump it into a clean container.
You could look at it and see where it is. When the oil returning to that container starts to be clear like fresh oil, you just turn it off, top off the tank, close it up and you're done. That can go for Sportsters, Panheads, Shovelheads everything. You just want clean oil, because clean oil means long life. Okay, we'll stick this in. God, can you get a close-up of this? Wow, that thing has been beat up. Anyway, we'll find a replacement for it before we give it back.
Last thing to do for an oil change is put fresh oil in. Here we're going to use some Valvoline racing oil 60 weight because it's summertime. I've always followed the first rule of thumb. Is the first frost, for you guys other than California you can change to 50 weight because it's colder. In the summertime, you use 60 weight, better protection. We're going to put some 60 weight in here. Just dump it in. In fact, just dump it up like this and it'll finish all by itself. You need a funnel? After you put the first quart in, just slice the bottom of the oil bottle off, and you have an instant funnel. It'll work for this, for your primary, whatever.
If by some unknown reason you want to use some slightly used oil which you should never do, you can strain that oil through a paper towel in a funnel. Stay. If you use the funnel, just take a paper towel line in there, pour your oil and you're going very slowly, but if there're any contaminants, you think you may have gotten something in there, you'll capture it before it goes back in the tank. Oil is cheap. You're going to use like $3 or $4 bucks a bottle. You should never use anything but fresh oil, period.
When you change the oil in the primary-- I was growing up on the East Coast where it gets cold in the winter which is like 10 months out of the year. Guys who ride Sportsters, the oil in your primary chaincase is shared by your transmission gears. You'd like to have a little heavier weight gear oil for the transmission gear so they don't damage themselves but the heavy oil in a cold climate when it's like 30 degrees and you still want to ride, God knows why, the clutch would dag because the oil has to warm up enough for the clutch to separate the plates when you pull the clutch in to shift gears.
We ran ATF in the winter months back there in Sportsters. ATF is running automatic transmissions behind V8 automobile engines and truck engines and it's got the viscosity, and it's got the molecules in to protect the gears, it's also got the lightweight that'll let the clutch discs separate when you come to alight. It warms up quickly, you don't have to worry about-- Back then for like a 30-degree weather, if you're out riding, it would take you 16 to 17 miles of running about 40 or 50 miles an hour for your oil to come up to even working temperature.
Working temperature for oil is 160 degrees right around there. At 160 degrees you start to cook off any water vapor that has contaminated the oil. How did water vapor get into your oil? Through your vent system. Sportsters have two vents; they have the vent line that goes back to your tank above your oil level. It also has this tube that comes out of your generator opening in your timing chest. I've seen bikes in the wintertime sitting at idle maybe 10, 15 miles on the engine puffing water vapor out of the vent tubes. That's the easy way to get rid of the water vapor, by heating the oil.
Heating the oil is only accomplished by running the engine down the road, and ATF works, but as soon as summer would come, say March, April we would take the ATF out and put the heavyweight back in. A lot of guys ran ATF all year round it was just personal preference to them, but it's just something to consider when you're in a cold climate a Sportster is your only means of transportation to work, to school, to the old lady's house, whatever.
All right, the last item to be adjusted on this is the rear chain. It's pretty much the same as the front chain. We're going to adjust it, so it has about a half-inch up and down play between both sprockets; transmission sprocket to rear wheel sprocket. We're going to rotate it around, find out where the tightest spot is, and we're going to adjust it to the tightest spot. See, you'd almost make that thing hit the drain plug now. Right there, that's the tightest spot. Doesn't need to go far. Okay, to adjust the chain you got to remove the rear wheel rearward, makes sense. You'd want to loosen your axle just slightly. You want to loosen-- This is the backing plate support bolt that actually anchors the backing plate so when you hit the brakes the whole back plate and drum don't want to rotate. You need to have that loose slightly, so that slides with the axle.
You put an Allen bolt in to adjust the axle. How are you going to get Allen bolt wrench in the Allen bolt. We'll refer back to our trusty pliers and we'll just have to rotate it back a little bit. Still looking tight. You don't want the axle too loose. If you have it too loose, the frame will spread if somebody didn't make the wheel spacers perfect. I'm assuming that the way this thing looks sometimes is that they're not perfect. Regardless, we can move it back.
You want to move it back the same amount on both sides. Wrong wrench.
Okay, it's tightened up a little bit. I'm going to go a little more. Okay, that's nice, right there, but we're going to double-check. There we are. We're back. The other thing you do before you tighten the axle up is you're going to spin the wheel in direction of travel two or three times and you're going to come back and look at your sprocket, how the sprocket falls in between the side plates of the chain.
For the sprockets to be aligned as you spin this, the sprocket will be equal distance from the inside links. This one is a little bit closer to the inside links, closer to the wheel. You can adjust that out but we got proper tension. This thing's a little bit on a weird side, we're going to roll with this. We come back reaching here, tighten our axle.
Okay, one of the tricks one rigid frame brakes is, you'd like to tighten your backing plate bolt and that centers the brake shoes. What we're going to do is we're going to sit here, we're going to spin the rear wheel and hit the brakes. That'll automatically center those shoes in the drum. I like to do it two or three times. All right, you get it down tight to the last third time, you hold the brakes on which means the brake shoes have been centered in the drum, you reach in here and tighten.
Okay, once you get a semi-snug, you can come in and tighten it the rest of the way.
It still has a loose spot but where it's tight it's perfect. We're done. We go back. There's no locknut on this adjuster. There's one on the other side. We're going to go over and lock the locknut down and we're done. Put the exhaust pipe back on and address all the problems.
Okay, obviously, you've seen we've changed motorcycles. This motorcycle has a rigorous points style ignition system that we're going to show you. The points are located here inside the timing cover. We're going to take the cover off. This little gasket should be complete but this model doesn't have it. Somebody modified it on their own and here's the points assembly. Points, condenser and it's got the points rotor. Behind the points rotor is actually advance weight mechanism that when you start the motorcycle up, it's turning to one speed, so when you increase the speed of the engine, the flyweights will rotate, changing the advance of the points opening.
All right, to pull the points out, there's just two shouldered screws that hold the points plate to the timing cover. Take the bottom one off first. Since we don't know where this timing is on this motorcycle, before we take the Points plate out, we're going to make a little mark. Up here in the corner of the Points plate, there's a little V that you would stick a screwdriver in and actually be able to adjust the Points plate clockwise or counterclockwise. We're going to make a mark on the end of the V so that we can actually put it right back the way it was when we change the points and inspected the advance weight mechanism.
I'm going to do that right there like that and there's a little silver mark that we can go right back to. Okay, now we can take the top screw out and there is a little washer that helps hold the plate again. You got to open the points a little bit to pull the plate out like this. This is your wire going to your coil that winds back up. This is your Points plate, but these points look like they've had a long hard life. You'll notice right here, the rubbing block that actually rides on the rotor is worn quite thin. The points, if you can look in there and see them, which is a little tough are burnt and are a little uneven. We're going to put a new set of points in.
Back here is the rotating flyweight assembly. Do you see? The weights will move like this. As the weights move, it turns the rotor. This is a 9/16 bolt head but it's on like a 10/32 screw, you'll see in a second. You do not want to over-tighten this bolt. It'll just snap right off inside your cam because this whole flyweight assembly is driven off your rear intake cam. You see what I mean? Big head, small shank. The flyweight assembly comes right off in your hand. A couple of things to note on the flyweight assembly. There's a small roll pin that indexes this flyweight assembly onto the camshaft in one direction, and one direction only.
You can feel when you go to re-install, you put it in there and it'll actually just fall in place like that. The rotary cam you want it to have this, so it's real nice and smooth and free. Like I said before, the engine spins these flyweights go like that, change the direction of your cam-- Not direction but changes the amount of opening at certain engine speeds. The rotor comes right off. It's nice and smooth but you'll notice there's a flat ground on one side. If you look in here close, there's a roll pin driven into the base of the flyweight assembly. What that does, it limits the amount of rotation the points cam will go.
Right now you can see it's in there. It's touching the flat of the points cam. This is a nice unit. It's nice and clean, it's not gummy. It works fine, so we're going to put that right back in. You can feel, it looks nice and solid, it feels solid. Put the rotor bolt back in and we're only going to use Loctite on this. You want to choke up on the wrench and just give it a couple of good snugs. That's it. All right, that's in you want to reach in here and tap. You can hear it rotating back and forth. The rotor is nice and free and we're good to go.
Okay, let's change the points on this mess. I have to undo the screw here. It holds the condensing wire and coil wire to the points. Usually, it's got like a little groove thing. You can pull that right off. This has a little groove which is pretty horrible. It looks dirty, to know the points played out in the hand. I need a Phillips screwdriver. Mr. Wes, please.
Wes: Small, large?
Frank: Small. Danke. One screw holds the points to the plate. We have a new set of points right here from the factory. You'll notice they're the same configuration but look at the rubbing block in the height of it here and our rubbing block on a brand new set. You can see how one's worn way down. These are made of superior material. Here's an early set that has the felt that you will put a drop of oil, one just like the magneto points and that would lubricate the point’s cam. We'll take this back on the plate. We going to run them and then snug them.
Now we have a small problem. The new plate, we can take this and take the condenser and push it down here behind the spring. Sometimes it’s a little tough but that’s that. We'll do the same for the points wire, I mean for the coil wire. We see how it's dirty, we're to come in and just dress it up a little bit with this points file and get nice and shiny. I'm going to bring that up and do it the same way we can right back here. Now we're wired in. We're going to carefully take this. Of course, that came off. This is not the stock factory set up. The factory set would have a spade connector here and a little tab that would come out here to hook the wire to the points.
This is one of those operations where it's nice to have three hands. Just like that. Slide the condenser wire in. Now, we're hooked up again. Back in there. Finally. Here we are. The next thing to do is set the points, the gap. One of the points lobe there is two. I have a separate point lobe here. You can distinctly see a narrow lobe, which is the front cylinder and a wide lobe, which is the rear cylinder. You always had the points at the highest point on the narrow lobe, the front cylinder. We're going to rotate the engine. I'm going to come up on the rear lobe. Golly this thing is tight.
We're right on a narrow lobe. The points gaps on this should be 22,000 so I'm going to take a 22,000 fuel gauge. You'll notice the points are closed up. Up here is a little V on the points that you can use a screwdriver with that when you twist it, it will actually move the points over so they open. Stick the points' fuel gauge in and just snug the gauge and go back and check it. You want just a slight drag on one the points, on the fuel gauge itself. That's perfect right there. We'll do the back and tighten the screw a little more and check the gauge again. Good.
Now to make sure that we have everything centered, what we're going to do is rotate the engine around and check the same points’ gap on the rear lobe. It should be within a thousands of each other. Here we are. We're on the rear lobe. It is a little on the loose side but we can live with that. Now we just time have to time it the same way we time the mag. Everything's timed on the front lobe so what we're going to do is we're going to get the front cylinder on a compression stroke and then get the timing mark in the middle of hole. To do that, we wait for the intake valve to go down.
This is a standard Sportster pushrod tube assembly. You remove the front clip, front intake clip, it comes out like that. The pushrod two telescopes down and you hold that up where you can see the same lifter, a locknut and adjustment. We got the points plate back and we got it wired, we got the timing mark in the middle of the timing hole on the front intake stroke, or a front compression stroke. Now what we do is we're going to rotate the points plate around using our much used, much-loved cellophane.
Once again, we're going to take this cellophane and put it between the points like that. Cellophane is tight. We're now going to rotate the points plate until the cellophane pops out.
Looks like this way. Here we are. Back it up. Right there. Strangely enough, the mark we made before to the old points out is within a thousands or two of the mark of where we have the point set right now for timing. Now this is static time just like the magneto. Once we get the bike running again, what we do is put this timer light on, shine it through the timer hole, and get the points at 2,000 rpm since we have a flyweight assembly that automatically advances as the engine rpm goes up. We'll run up to 2,000, look in there, put the timing mark right in the center of the hole, lock everything down and we're good to go.
Right now, the motorcycle will start, so we're just going to snug this down. Obviously, this bike has got a little way to go before it's going to be ready for the road, we'll go ahead and put the cover and the points plate back on the motor. Before we do that, you've seen our points plate: points and condenser. In fact, here's a good example of the little spade connector that the factory supplies that would have the wire coming from the coil would slip right on there.
There's also a late-model stuff, electronic ignitions. This is one version, this is from Custom Chrome. Instead of a points plate, you would get something like this. Embedded in this epoxy are two little Hall effect switches. In this rotor are two little magnets. As this rotor comes by, spins passed that would trigger one plug or the other to fire. This rotor replaces the rotor we have here to open the points. Instead of the points being opened by this, the flyweight assembly would just spin this rotor, pushing these magnets past the Hall effect switch, triggering ignition.
You don't have to worry about the points loading up, burning out or the rubbing block wearing down to closing your points up. This will be constant. The only thing you would have to worry about that type of assembly is the flyweight mechanism gumming up. The reason it would gum up if you got any kind of condensation or dirt in there, or leaked a little bit of oil from the timer chain, which is not too prevalent these days because they make such good seals.
Another type of ignition is like this. It's a Dyna ignition, and this would have the same type of rotor or a rotor. This would go in just like that. The rotor on this would only be as big as this here, and it would go around and do the same exact operation. As a magnet goes by the Hall effect switch, it would trigger the ignition to fire. This is what they call a single fire ignition because there's two contacts. This is a dual fire ignition, where both plugs fire every time the points would open or it would go by this signal. Here every time that one magnet would go by, it would fire the front plug then a rear plug. Front plug and rear plug. There's not a wasted spark.
There's real been no proven effect one's better than the other. Some people think it's just more efficient that you don't have a wasted spark. In this situation, every time that point opens, both towers, both plugs fire. One zone of compression stroke, making power for that cylinder. The other is what they call the wasted spark cylinder. It's firing on the exhauster. Next time around, it'll fire the other cylinder and the wasted spark will be on the opposite cylinder. Dual fire like this would eliminate that.
The one example we don't have right at the hand now but we'll have tomorrow, on the end of that cam, instead of this flyweight assembly, will be a little pressed steel cup with openings in it. A system like this, similar, would fit over the cup. Every time an opening in the cup would pass the sensor, it would fire the coal which in turn fires plugs. Basically, you would time to thing the same exact way except electronic ignition, it's hard to tell when your rotor comes around. You will have to make a mark on your plate, get it closed, put the time and light on it, and adjust it so it's perfect.
Then we would just stick this all back together. We would take a business card like we did before. In this case, we just need a box. We'd open our points up, stick our business card in and pull it out. You can see this has a little bit of dirt on it, a little bit of dirt there. Get the points nice and clean so they don't burn and give them one final look. The points themselves are round. You want them to fit together perfectly round, hit perfectly flat like these. You can tweak them a little bit with a pair of needle-nose pliers if they're not setting together exactly perfect. It has a rubbing block that's made of superior material so there's no reason to have any type of felt wick or lubricant on the points cam.
Now we're ready to put it back together. Our gas goes on first, which should be a full circle like we said. Then the cover, of which there's a million different styles. Once this is all tight, we'll roll to the other side, put the timing plug back in, the spark plugs back in, and the plug wires after burping back one. Another point about the difference in ignition systems: the point ignition system is one style, a coil; electronic ignitions use a different ohm count. You try not to mix them up. Both of them will fire both ways, but if you use a point style coil in an electronic ignition, it'll burn the ignition up or it could burn the coil up.
Another point is the plug wires themselves. If you take a plug wire part or cut it in half on this point style ignition, you will have a multi-strand copper wire inside. That's flexible, transmits a great amount of electricity but it's not really compatible to electronic ignitions. They have almost like a string with carbon embedded in it that transmits electricity. It has a certain property that does not allow for what they call radio interference that will mess with your stereo. Actually, if you run it, you can have static on your TV set inside the house. So you want to match the components of your point system to the coil, to the plugs, to the wires.
Electron ignition, the same thing. You want the ignition in here to be free and working fine, you want the proper ohm count coil, and you want resistance wires. After that, you got it. Setting the time perfect, you don't have to worry about anything on electronic ignition unless somebody comes along and pulls a plug wire off or your foul plug which is in tune to something else, not your system. Point systems, they wear out. The points wear out. They get burnt. You have to reset them every once in a while.
Electronic ignitions, once it's in and good, they'll go for 100,000 miles. There's no reason not to have electronic ignition unless you're scared that you may be stuck on the side of the road. That's what they made AAA for. That's it.
We got the valves adjusted. Now we're going to put the magneto back in and time it. To do that, we have to align the timing mark on the flywheels inside the crankcases. There is a opening through this threaded plug between the cylinders that will allow us to view the timing mark. Remove the plug, set them aside and we're going to rotate the engine until we see the timing mark. Since the timing mark is timed off the front cylinder, we want the front cylinder on compression stroke, which means when the intake valve closes. We're going to rotate it around. I can just see the intake pushrod come down over here.
Now we have to get down here and look through that hole for the timing mark. Here we are. We want it dead in the center of the hole. Now we're going to move around to the other side and reinstall the magneto onto its base. Here's our mag. Here's our base. The mag is driven by this hex piece of stock that goes in here. It's adjusted by these two studs that fit into the grooved base. What we want is the narrow lobe to open the points at the proper time. Proper time is set with the engine. We're going to stick this on here like this, move it around. Make sure it sits nice and flat. We'll install a washer and a nut on the base so we can lock it down when we get into position.
Now, we don't smoke anymore but we have certain friends who do and the way the static time these is with a piece of cellophane paper off of a pack of cigarettes. This is what we want off the-- What we're going to do is the easiest way is you take the cigarette cellophane and actually stick it right between the points like that. Put some resistance on it and it won't pull out because the points aren't opening. First, I'm going to snug this bottom nut up first, so we get up there I'll do it one time. I've used cellophane paper to do this for over 100 years. Regular cigarette paper, if you had a cigarette and took the tobacco out, would work just as well.
You could use an ohmmeter, where you would set the ohms and put one lead on the point spring and one on the other side and when the points open, it would change the meter reading. Usually, I'd have to have three hands for that, and I left my third one at home. We're just snug right there. We got the mag-base back on. We got a couple of bolts to snug it down. We've taken the cellophane from the cigarette pack and inserted it between the two points. What we're going to do now is rotate the magneto base to the cellophane paper just pulls out of points and then your static times. You just swivel it around easy. Right there.
The paper just came out. We want to lock it down right like that and we're done except we will take a clean business card, in this case, we're going to take part of the cigarette pack. It's nice, clean, white both sides. We're going to take this and put it between the points, all the points are tight, and drag it out like that. You can see that there's a little bit of dirt on the points. This is crucial because any grease or dirt or anything that's on those points will help but not fire and when you have magneto, you want that thing to fire as soon as possible. Do it once, you see a little bit of dirt, you got that, you turn it over. Do it one more time. Nice and clean, no marks.
Before we put the cap back on, I like to take dielectric grease which is the most unheralded grease in the world. It prevents corrosion inside your magneto cap. Take a little dab right here on your springs for your coil, just a little. I also put a little dab right here on this piece of cotton fiber. What that does, put a little bit on top and take your finger and rub it in down the sides and that acts as lubricant for the points cam. On the point itself, there's a fiber block. As the points cam comes around, it pushes on a fiber block opens the points.
Way after a while, if you have no lubrication on that little block, the block wears down, your points close up, you lose fire. It don't take but a second to put some on there and rub it in. It makes your points last that much longer. Easy to do. If you don't want to get it on your springs, you would take your cap on the copper contacts and put a little bit of dab right there. A little bit of dab right there and just stick your cap back in place. Hold it in place like that and make sure your gasket doesn't squeeze out. Thread the screws in and you're done. Easy. There's nothing intimidating about this at all.
Of course, this is not the first one I've done either. It's a lot easier to do this in your own garage or driveway than it is on the side of the road with semis blowing by. While we're here, we'll probably get this a little bit later but dialects grease is good right there. Prevents corrosion. A little dab will do you. Right back in. Magneto is statically timed. This will get your motorcycle started. It'll get you down the road. It could probably last the whole summer if you really wanted to but if you want the last ounce of performance out of your motor, you would take a timing light and time this motor.
You would remove the timing plug again and you would hook your timing light up to the front spark plug and your battery or a battery source. Since you have magneto, it's most likely you don't have a battery. You would start your motorcycle, warm it up at least to 100 degrees which is just below operating temperature and you would hold the throttle while you shine the timer light in the timing hole. You want that timing mark to be centered in the timing hole while it's running. If it's not, you would have your buddy over here maneuvering the magneto clockwise or counterclockwise until the timing mark showed up in the middle of the hole.
Once it did, he would lock it down. You would check it again. Everything is fine, close it up and you're there. That will give you every ounce of performance out of that motor you can get via the timing in the magneto. To finish off the ignition system, we're going to put the plugs back. Plugs are pretty simple. You take them out of the package, you check them, put them in. Here's how we will check them. We have new plugs. These are Champion J12YCs. It's the short-reach, meaning the short amount of threads and your gap is going to be 20,000s with a magneto.
Most of the time, you'll see these little disks that are incremental from 20 to 100,00s. That's what you would set the gap with. You would just slip the gap and gauge onto the plug and rotate it around to the proper size. This one is a little bit big, so you would actually just tap this and resize it to 20 like that. Pretty easy. These come in different sizes by different companies. There's also professional gauges with a wire. Each wire is marked the different thickness and you would use that to set your gap.
Also, it comes with this clip that is actually used to bend down or bend up your electrode to achieve the proper gap. The one thing you want to do before you put the plugin is you want to look at your ground electrode, the top electrode that folds over. You want to make sure that that is centered over the center electrode. That's where you get your best flame to ignite your mixture. All it takes is a little pair of pliers. Hold it in your hand and tweak it one way or the other. Come back and recheck with your gauge. Everything is fine. Good. The last thing we want to do before we put the plug into the engine is put a dab of Never-Seez anti-seize. This is made by Permatex. It's good stuff.
A bottle the size will last you almost a lifetime. What this is is a special formulated chemical. This is silver in nature and this provides a little bit of protection. That's all you need, is that a little bit there, so the threads don't mate to those threads and stay there forever as in corrosion. Just take it, make sure it goes in a straight and just thread it in till it touches. Then you can just pick up plug wrench and put them into the proper torque for your motor.
The first time you put a spark plug in its new, the little washer here, the ceiling washer will compress a little bit more because it's never been compressed before. Once it's been done once, it usually stays that way. Your plugs are in. Now, it's ready to put the plug wire on. Well, first, you want to look at the plug wire, make sure it's not cracked, dry-rotted, split, anything like that. You look inside your plug cap. It's nice and clear and shiny in there. Well, we want to keep it that way. We're going to revisit our dielectric grease.
Easy way is just put some on the spark plug here, a little bit on the porcelain and we're going to burp the spark plug boot. I know it sounds weird but all you need is a cable tie. You stick to cable tie in the plug boot like that, put the plug boot onto your spark plug and make sure it seats all the way. You can actually hear a click on there. This is what you have. The reason you're doing it this way is this dielectric grease will lubricate and protect the metal. Anytime you put the plug boot back on a spark plug, you're trapping a certain amount of air in there.
Air has moisture. Moisture is what forms the corrosion. You're burping it, there's a way out for that air and that's when you pull the cable tie out like this. Now, your plug boot is sealed. There's no contaminated air in there and you've got the dielectric grease. You just want to swivel it around. Make sure it's spread even and move on to the rear plug. Check the plug for dry rot, cracking. It looks nice and shiny in there. Do the same thing. Sometimes you only have to pull the brush out of the can. You just take it and just touch it like that and you got a nice little spot.
Of course, once you get this stuff on your skin, it's going to take you two days to wear it off because it's so good. Like I mentioned before, your service manual have your torque spec for your plugs, but only racers and most people who are just anal will torque it there. You just want to go and touch the gasket maybe an eighth to a quarter of a turn with a ratchet and you're good. Work it down to it. I don't know if you could hear that, but it clicks. Move it back and forth, pull it out. Not much more than that and you're pretty much bulletproof on your ignition system.
For a long time, Sportster has been considered the hot rod motorcycle of Harley-Davidson Motor Company. One of the reasons is that they were lightweight, they had unique construction and they had decent carburetors. As we're going to see in a moment with this next Sportster we have, it has a Bendix carburetor that has been probably the most prolific carburetor on the Sportster market. There's also been Tillotson carburetors when it first came out and what they call a DC linker. Behind me is a linker carburetor on a pinhead. The DC linker had a set of float bowl that you could reverse from side to side.
The most popular aftermarket carburetor for a Sportster or a big twin is this, it's an S&S E type shorty carburetor. It's got a bigger throat. It'll pass more fuel. More fuel, more air, more horsepower. Another popular late-model carburetor is a Keihin carburetor and this is a CV Keihin carburetor. It means constant velocity. It's got a vacuum-operated slide. As the engine needs more vacuum, the slide goes up, pulling the needle out of the main jet allowing more fuel into the air stream. It has a spigot mount. You would get an adapter to bolt it to a Sportster carburetor and just plug this spigot mount right on. Put your carburetor air cleaner assembly on, lock it down.
One of the great things about this late-model CV carburetor, being the constant velocity, it gets the best fuel mileage of any carburetor out there. The reason is if the engine doesn't need fuel, it doesn't ask for fuel as opposed to when you have the S&S. You open the throttle, it's putting fuel into the motor so you're going faster. This is a great high altitude if you're going to go over mount ranges. Your fuel mileage will stay right up there, well, like you'll be on the flat ground. It has a spigot mount.
You would buy an adapter from a place like Drag Specialties or Custom Chrome. Fit the mount or your intake manifold that's already on the engine. Plug this on. Run your cables, your fuel line and air cleaner and you're good to go. It's cheap. You can buy then at Swap Meets for $25, $30. Needles, low-speed jets, high-speed jets, everything is available for this. It's got a diaphragm up here. It's got the push and pull throttles from Harley-Davidson. It's easy to do, cheap to put on and it's a lot better than the early model linkers or Bendix. They don't leak nearly as bad.
The S&S, like I said, it's high horsepower. S&S supports this carburetor completely. If you wear it out, which is highly unlikely, you could send it back to S&S and rebuild it. They have every single jet, every adjustable replacement o-rings. They have blocks. They have velocity stacks. They have air cleaners, everything you could possibly want to make this carburetor work on your motorcycle.
There's other carburetors out there like the SU. They have been popular and have gone out of favor and they're back in now. There have been Weber carburetors which are a little expensive, too hard to find these days, and they require a lot more tuning effort. These two carburetors you could have up and running on your motorcycle in an afternoon, easy, no problem.
Got the mag time. Got the valves adjusting everything. We're going to take a look at the carburetor. This is a Bendix carburetor. It was pretty prevalent in the '70s, '80s on Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. For a carburetor to work properly, you have to get fuel in it and you have to get air through it. We're looking here, fuel starts in the gas tank, obviously. It goes to a petcock through a fuel line, usually, rubber hose. More than likely, it'll be a quarter-inch inside diameter, sometimes 5/16. Then you go to a fuel filter, loops back around and feeds the carburetor inlet valve.
The first thing you want to look at is, one, do you have gas in the tank? Second, do you get fuel flow through your petcock, through your filter into your carburetor? The easy way to tell is you would turn the petcock on, you hear it gurgling and you would twist the throttle. Well, this one, we're going to have to do some about throttle, but you would have an accelerator pump, you see a little squirt of gas. That's good. You inspect all your hoses for dry rot or cracks. It's easy to replace, it's pretty cheap. You don't want to have a hose crack and then leak gas on to your motor, catch your bike on fire. That's not good. In the back, you should have some type of support to support the carburetor up and down. On a Sportster, 90% of the time they would have a bracket that would come down here and go to one of the tappet block bolts. On this model, the magneto's in the way. You would just reverse it back. The guy we borrowed this bike from hasn't done that yet. The other important thing is the air cleaner of which we removed earlier has a backing plate and the filter element.
The filter element could be either paper or a foam type of material, the easiest way to tell if your filter is clogged is you would look at it from the inside and hold it up against a bright light. If you can see light through it, 90% of the time it's ready to rock. You can put it right back on. But while you're here, you want to take your throttle and open it all the way to make sure that the butterfly inside the carburetor opens completely. The choke plate here closes and will close down so you can start the motorcycle. When the choke closes, you reduce the amount of air into the carburetor which increases the amount of fuel the engine gets, it's easier to start.
Once the motor warms up, you would open the choke like that for maximum airflow which means maximum charge into the cylinders. When this has a carburetor throttle cable that actually clamps onto what they call the throttle wheel or a pinwheel on the carburetor. Carburetor usually has three circuits: An idle circuit, a mid-range circuit, and a high-speed circuit, or a main jet. On this Bendix, this screw on top with a hex head is your low-speed fuel Richmond adjustment. What that does that it allows you to adjust the amount of fuel and amount of air coming through the carburetor at low speeds from idle to about quarter throttle.
That's mainly where you're going to live most of your time. The intermediate circuit is built into the emulsion tube inside and then main jet screws onto the bottom of the emulsion tube which is situated at the very bottom of your fuel bowl. As the engine is accelerating and using fuel out of fuel bowl, it'll never starve, the main jet sucks off the bottom of the fuel bowl. That's one reason too you would like to have a fuel filter because dirt will inevitably get into the carburetor but you want to keep it to a minimum. Dirt being heavier than gasoline will settle to the bottom of the fuel bowl. You want to be able to have the sediment go away and still feed the main jet fine.
The way to adjust a carburetor for pretty much 99% of the carburetors out there is when you get the engine up to operating temperature, you would run your low-speed needle in until the engines just start cough or like auto rough. You would back that screw out until idle is rough. Somewhere in the middle is the perfect adjustment. I've always been taught and I've always practiced that when you screw the idle or jimmy the mixture adjustment back in, you get the highest RPM at idle and that would be your optimum mixture. Sometimes people like to back it out a little bit, give yourself a little bit more richer mixture.
Because when internal engines were designed, the optimum fuel to air mixture was 14 parts air to one part fuel. I like them around 12 to 1. It gives you a little bit more fuel and it lets the motor run a little cooler because when it's running 14 to 1, it's running right at the edge of leanness. If you have to go any farther, then you would have to pull the fuel bowl off to get to your low-speed jet and your main jet. There's a company called Mikuni who makes a carburetor in the aftermarket carburetor out of Japan, they had a technician who worked for them for years named Joe Minton who is a columnist for a couple of different magazines.
He wrote the tuning manual for Mikuni carburetors, it is excellent. You can get it online, you can find reprints of it, places. He basically walks you through tuning the carburetor. Yes, it's a Mikuni carburetor but the way he presents that material is he would put a piece of tape around your throttle and mark it and you would go out and when you experienced a problem with that carburetor, you would look at your tape and see if it was a quarter throttle, half throttle, three-quarters, or wide open. That way to tell you right then what's part of the carburetor you want to go adjust. Whether it be a main jet or the low-speed mixture, it's worth getting a reading.
It sheds all kinds of light on the internal workings of a carburetor, which are not that difficult. It's basically a hole that you mix fuel and air in. It's just how well it mixes depends on you. Cleanliness is next to godliness, somebody said that, and when you see a carburetor that's blackened inside or blackened right here or around the throttle tip, a can of brake clean, when you're cleaning your motorcycle, spray it in there, no problem. If you just experience problems with your motorcycle being hard to start, you've checked your valves, you've checked your ignition, you may have a problem with the carburetor.
90% of the time you have a problem with a carburetor, it's either got dirt inside that got past your fuel filter or you've developed an intake leak. The intake is sealed to the engine usually with rubber or some type of gasket. A gasket between the carburetor and the manifold or between the manifold and each cylinder head is usually an o-ring, a rubber o-ring that's got a clamp around it. When you squeeze the clamp, it seals it. Okay, no problem. To determine that, you would take maybe some carb cleaner or some brake clean or some starting fluid with the motorcycle running at idle, you would spray around where the clamp is, like that.
If the engine idle picks up, then you know you have an intake leak because the spray that you just put in there went through the opening and got into the engine and gave it more fuel. More fuel, higher RPM. You would take and spray on both individual heads to see if it leaks but when you do this, you want to spray from this side and from the other side. When you spray from the left-hand side of motorcycle, you have to be careful that the spray does not come in the back holes of your air cleaner and come through the carburetor and increased the fuel mixture, which increases the RPM, which means you think you have an air leak, which all you did was just introduced more fuel.
You could just hold your hand like this put a bag or something or sharp tail, drape it across here and hit the rear intake manifold. If it doesn't do it, then you don't have an air leak. No raise in RPM, then you want to go look for something else. Then you would maybe take the carburetor off, take it apart and maybe blow on the passages or check for dirt or something in the fuel bowl itself. The other thing that may allow the bike not to start or be hard to start is the gas cabin. In any vessel which is a fuel tank now, you have fluid. For that fluid to drain from the vessel to the carburetor and be used in the engine, you have to be able to replace the fuel with air.
If your gas tank is sealed, there's no way for the air to get in to displace the fuel and what you've done is create a vacuum. The vacuum only flows for a certain time until it sucks the air then everything stops. To check for the vent, you would take the cap off and there is your vent. Inside that vent is like a little plate or bearing or ball and that has to be loose. Easy way to check an early one or any of them is to shake it. If you can hear it shaking back and forth, then your vent's good. If it doesn't shake, then you would try blow on it. If it doesn't blow, then you have a problem.
An easy fix on the side of the road, is take a pair of dikes or tin snips and cut here and shake that ball out so you would have positive airflow. It may cause a little bit of gas to come out of the gas cap past the gasket here at full tank. Now, that's for a Sportster's tank. If you were running Sport Bob's or a set of aftermarket dual tanks, the left-hand tank is never vented. When you lean it over the kickstand, you don't want the gas to run out. It would only be on the right side or in a middle cap like this. You can tell if your cap is vented or if something gets stuck in it.
You're riding along in the bike just stops and you take the gas cap off and you hear like a whoosh, that means there was no vent you just released a vacuum. The bike will run from maybe another quarter mile until it does it again. Other than this one specific carburetor, that's pretty much true for all carburetors. You want to make sure it's getting clean fuel, clean air all the time and you'll never have a problem with it. We've looked at the carburetor determined that's fine, but to control a carburetor you have the control with the throttle on a right handlebar, which is a twist grip.
Twist grip pulls on a throttle cable that runs down to the carburetor and opens the rear butterfly. I like to lube that. Easy to do is you would remove the twist grip by loosening it up and just pulling it off the handlebar where you can get down to it. It's more manageable, like that. You see the throttle assembly consists of the cable and two halves and the twist grip in the middle. What you would like to do is lubricate that cable and put a little grease on the inside of the twist grip itself. Easy way to lube cable is just to drip. See here is our two halves, here's a throttle pipe and the cable comes up. Let me set that down. There's your throttle cable right there, a little barrel, it fits into the pipe.
When you rotate it around it pulls the cable up opening the carburetor. We'll set that here. Take the little barrel off because it has this screw here. Drop that on the floor a couple times to make sure you aggravate yourself. I'll swing this around. I like 3-in-one oil to do the lubrication. It's nice, lightweight and it flows down the cable easy. You just take it, put a couple drops, it'll run down the inner cable. Just a couple of drops. Sometimes depending on the bike, the handlebars, you can just place this like that and let the oil run its way down through the spiral. You think about it, you come back, and just a couple more drops.
On the throttle pipe itself, you want to look at the surface here and the back surface here because since that rides inside the housing in this groove you want to make sure there's no obstructions or no plastic flashing, which is little pieces of plastic that enter there and interfere with the housing. This turns fine but it doesn't hurt when you're getting ready to reassemble a little grease. I like a little bit of white lithium but this would we have right here. A little bit in there, and a little bit in there, same for up here on the throttle side and then a little grease now.
You'll notice that there's some cutouts the way this throttle pipe was formed. You take the grease and you want to get it down where the grip actually rides on the handlebar. It doesn't hurt to put a little bit up here but usually enough in here will take care. Here is where the throttle cable would ride as you're rotating the throttle. You want to feel there, make sure there's no sharp edges or protrusions that would hinder the cable from working together. You've got everything done. Take this, bring it around here, double-check that everything is in place.
Here's a little sheet metal shoe that adjusts your-- what they call a throttle fix or a throttle stop. You would turn this screw inwards raising your little shoe that rubs against the backside of your throttle pipe. That way you can ride along and set this for tension than use your arm muscles to hold the bike at proper speed. If you need to turn it off, it's just quick jab and it'll turn the throttle right back off. We're going to put our little barrel back on. This may take two or three times since you're going to drop it at least once, like that. I caught it, all right.
The barrel is on. Goes in like that, you'll notice this is your throttle stop. When it rotates around like that it stops, you can't go any farther. When you open the throttle, you are to go like this, pulling the throttle open, which opens the carburetor. As you're holding that in place, you drop the top half one, get your screw started. Like that. Get the other one. Get everything started, you want to twist it a couple of times down here, make sure it works. You take it and slide it back on to the handlebars, like that, like this, and just tighten it back up. Double check it once you have it snug, and since we have a bike on the lift we can't rotate the front end.
What you want to do is before everything is locked up solid tight, you would want to rotate the front wheel to full left lock, make sure the throttle works nice and smooth, rotate the front end full right lock and make sure the throttle works nice and smooth. The final check would be when you start the vehicle up and it's running, then you would perform the same full left and full right test and you don't want the engine to accelerate. If it accelerates, when you just move the front end that means you actually are pinching the cable or you're stretching the cable and it's not going to return to idle which can cause problems when you're out riding at slow speed situations like maneuvering through the bar parking lot.
We're tight. You would like to twist the throttle a couple of times, works fine. Open it all the way, look in here, the throttle's disc is opening all the way, you're fine there. You want the throttle to snap back closing fully the butterfly. If it doesn't close fully that means your engine's going to run up at higher rpm. You want positive closure and you're done.
Part of the electrical system consists of battery charging system. This bike has a magneto so it really does not have to have a battery. All it has to do is run and the generator will provide electricity for the lights. The generator runs through a regulator, the generator will put out as much voltage as you spin it. The regulator keeps that voltage in check. The generator on a Sportster model is here on the front of the motor. It's driven off a series of gears via the cam gears to a generator drive gear. On this model, the generator has a solid-state regulator bolted to the end of it.
Early models from the factory came with a mechanical regulator inside here, which we'll pop the cover off real quick and show you, is a series of coils and contacts. It has four terminals: one terminal to each of the terminals on the generator, a field and an armature terminal, and one terminal goes back to feed electricity to the battery or to your switch governing your lights. The mechanical regulator has these coiled wires and contacts and as electricity is developed it would close a contact and that electricity coming in would go divert to ground if it's already charged or the system that needs getting all the electricity that it needs or it would go back and charge the battery.
When the battery is charged, the contact would close. When a battery needed some more juice to bring it back up to perfect 12 volts or higher, the contact would close. Solid-state regulators as a cycle electric model does all that for you, you don't have to think about that. It's nice. On a mechanical regulator like we just had you need to flash two of the terminals two of the terminals to get the electrons in electricity to flowing in the right direction. It's too complicated to go into why it's got to go in that direction, you just need to know that it does.
What you would do to flash that is you would take a jumper wire with the whole electrical system hooked up, ready to rock, but not running. You would take and flash meaning momentarily touch the generator terminal to the battery plus terminal, you would just go like that and you would see a spark. That’s it. You be done. You don't have to do it repeated times, you just do it once and you're set to go. Now you have your generator pushing electricity through your regulator, comes to the battery. This is what is known as a wet battery, in that, it has fluid that you would add acid to the battery to make the electricity happen inside.
The plates are led: when you put battery acid with it, the chemical reacts to generate electricity. There are six cells, only six caps. Each cell is for 2 volts, total battery 12 volts. Pretty simple. You would add acid, electrolyte, until it fills up then you will put the battery in charge. I always like to charge a new battery for 12 hours because even though modern technology says batteries don't have a memory, I like to. I've been doing it forever.
You'll notice on this wet battery there are levels, upper and lower level. That's for the fluid inside. Once it's charged and you're using the battery, you want to check and make sure the fluid level never goes below the lower level, which will expose the lead plates inside each cell causing them to corrode, which will determine the life of the battery and go down dramatically. A wet battery also has to have a vent. On this battery, it's right here. You would have a clear tube that would run down underneath the motorcycle and vent any gases.
That only really happens when you're running high speed for a long time and as the battery cycles, charge-discharge, charge-discharge, it would make heat and boil a little bit of fluid and the fluid would run down your tube and vent itself to the atmosphere. You got to watch where you put your vent tube. If you put your prevent tube on the left side of the motorcycle like this and you have the -- I guess the term is gangster lean on the kickstand -- the bike leans way over like this and you try to start your motorcycle. Invariably the fluid is going to get hot, it's going to run out of the tube, and if you get to park so long, or parked a lot, then you're going to start losing some of your electrolyte.
You would have to keep monitoring it. If you have it so the battery vent tube is over here, when it leans like this like a gangster, you're not going to worry about losing your fluid. Pretty simple. Sometimes you can't have that option because sometimes your battery box or your container or how the battery is mounted is dictated by other aspects: oil tank, rear fender, whatever. It's just something to keep in mind. Another thing to keep in mind is the bottom of a motorcycle gets dirty. Top does too, but the bottom really gets dirty from road grime, oil drips, you're running over oil, small animals, whatever.
Your vent tube as it exits can pick up the grime because it would have a little bit of moisture, electrolyte or battery acid drip through, the dirt adheres to that, next thing you know, you could block the opening of the tube. Then all of a sudden your venting system is done. That means the battery could overheat, the sides could swell up, shortening the battery life. We’ve in the past have taken a needle or a small pin and just as a tube is put on the battery you put a small hole in it up near the top on the front side.
That way if the battery vent tube ever gets blocked below it can still vent to the atmosphere if it needs to but it's something when you wash your bike, whatever, once a week once a month you’ll pay attention to that. You should try and keep just the minimum amount of cables on your battery. Your battery like if you have electric start, the main heavy cable goes to the battery terminal first because you're transferring the most electricity through the cable. Then if you have any kind of ancillary wires like the feed your ignition switch to feed this switch or whatever, that goes on top.
We like to use -- where did it go -- a wired in-- Sorry about that. This is a Yuasa Super Shot battery charger. Battery tend to make the same thing. You plug the battery charger in. It has a two-prong hookup. You can either get this with two alligator clips that will clip on a battery and charge it, and you can also get this which is a hardwire system with a fuse. You would hardwire this to your battery like this and when at night or if it sits a long time you would just plug your charger right here like this and walkaway. You don't have to worry about taking the seat off, putting the alligator clips on, everything is all ready to go.
You want to go for a ride, disconnect, put the cap on, you're ready to go. We have that on pretty much every bike. One other trick is when you have your battery cables on, everything is clean, tight, everything's wired up, we coat the terminals and the bolts with liquid electrical tape. That's not the brand name, for this is called Liquid Tape, but what it is it's a sealer, and this is black, you would just take this like that and coat your cables, you’re nut, everything. Not only is this good for batteries, on the back of your ignition switch, on your brake light switch, anywhere a wire is connected to a device that's somewhat out in the elements, you would coat it with this.
This bus stuff is only $7 or $8 a bottle, it works fantastic. It keeps nuts and bolts from vibrating loose. It protects it from corrosion and once it dries, it's not that hard, you can take your figure nail and actually just scrape it off to get to your connection to break it if you want to. The battery is up, you got a new battery, you charge it for 12 hours. You want to load test it. A load test puts a load on the cells and will actually tell you what the condition the battery is in. This is a battery tender load tester, it's got a positive and negative jumper. I'm just going to stick it right here after I just ruin my good liquid tape, like this, and you would press test.
This one has 9.07 volts in it, which means it’s either junk or it's not fully charged. We'll determine that later. Another way if you don't fool around batteries enough, you may not want to spring the dough for this but you must have or should have a volt ohmmeter. This is a craftsman unit, it’s pretty nice. What you would do is it can tell you volts AC, volts DC, and ohms. Ohms is resistance. This is volts DC. Wow. There you go. Put it around to the 20-scale and you would just hold your probes negative and positive and it will tell you what your voltage is.
This one likes it a lot better, this is 10.1. That test, this actually measures. You would have this type of device, this ohmmeter, voltmeter, for when you get into testing the charging system. When a motorcycle is running the charging system will put enough voltage back into your battery to keep it like 13 volts, fully charged, plus run all the components you have. Say you have a stereo, a CD player, a small in-room television set, whatever, you’ve got to make enough electricity as the engine turns over to run the motorcycle, the ignition system, plus all the accessories. If you got a dresser with 100 lights on the back, you're going to need more amperage.
Later model bikes with fuel injection systems have a fuel injection pump. You need more electricity. That's why every year the motor company always jumps up to how many amps that your charging system puts out. I think it's now 48 or something like that. The other option is a gel battery. A gel battery we have not right here on the spot, we'll have it in a couple minutes. A gel battery is sealed at the factory and charged at the factory. When you buy it across the dealers counter, it's already 13 volts. It's ready to rock and roll. I always put them on charge anyhow, that way you don’t have to worry about the filling of the acid, you don't have to worry about a vent hose because it has no vent hose.
In fact, when Buell motorcycles were still in existence, a Buell battery was actually laid down on the side and tucked under the oil tank. You could mount them upside down. There's no worry about leakage, seepage, nothing, and they last a little bit longer because the vibration of the gel material between the plates actually insulates it. The biggest killer of a battery is heat, the second biggest killer is vibration. The vibration would shake the plates letting some of the material, the LED material, fall to the ground or into the bottom of the battery. It would oxidize and then short out plate to plate, something you don't want to. Gel cell batteries have no problem like that.
A shaker like this, a good gel battery would be good four to three years depending on how much you ride it, how much you beat on it, and how you keep it charged and clean. You keep your cables and your connections clean with this, you don't have to worry about corrosion. Corrosion increases resistance. You have to put out more amperage to get through that corrosion to charge your battery to run your accessories. Okay, told you about the battery, told you about the charging system, one thing we haven't mentioned about the charging system that you should carry on, you should have a service manual.
Which we've already told you about at the beginning of this DVD, but the service manual has all the steps, step by step, to check the charging system for your motorcycle. You should follow that. It's too complicated for me to tell you every aspect of it now. We'll show you a couple a little later but when it comes to the electrical system if you're charging systems working but your lights aren't or your ignition system like a switch is not working, the first thing you do is you check for loose wires. Easiest way to do that is like this tail light, y ou would pull on the wire. If it comes out, it's bad.
If it doesn't pull out but you're still not getting any electricity back there, you could employ this, which is a test light. It has two ends: the sharp end and a clamp one. The clamp end would go with the positive terminal of your battery. This does not have a battery, so you could take a battery like we have sitting on the lift table, put a ground to the motorcycle frame and clip this to the hot. Then you could go and test the wires with the pointed end and if it goes in and makes contact and it lights, that means you've got electricity back to that point. Still don't light here then maybe your bulb's bad, you take the lens off and stick your probe into the little pad that would make contact with your light bulb.
That's why it's called a test light, you can test it all the way along the wire route. If you're getting electricity here at this wire and that wire comes to here while you could probe it with your test light and you're getting electricity there, we're fine. If you come back here and there's another device like your brake light switch and you test it here and there's no electricity, that means you've just eliminated everything but this one small section of wire. That's where your problem would be. You would go back and see if there's abrasion, a cut or whatever until you can get electricity all the way back to your device.
The device would be in the taillight, same as a headlight, brake light switch, ignition switch. This dirt bike doesn't have an ignition switch because it has a magneto. If it had ignition switch you would turn the ignition switch to on, make sure you got electricity to the battery terminal, then you would just go around the back of the switch. You turn on the ignition, there should be battery juice from the battery terminal and the ignition terminal. You turn the switch to lights, it should have all three terminals lit up. Pretty simple, but all this again is described in your service manual per your motorcycle model.
Okay. Another use of our liquid electrolyte, which I love so much, is back here in your prod, you may have put a little tiny dent in the wire to check if you're getting electricity. Just come back with your liquid electrical tape, just a little bit like that seals it up. No problem. You can see on these two wires there's two connectors. This wire was wired out of place rather than run wires new out of here out of the socket all the way down and make your connection somewhere where it's not visible. Someone just put them in here, there's a red to red. You may want to make sure those things, those connections are watertight you, just dab a little bit here and there. No problem.
Again, sealing the wires up from moisture in the air which would cause and lead to corrosion. You would take and do this wiring test on every single component you have if you have a problem. Say you have a problem with your brake lights. Brake lights won't work, you go your brake light switch, which is on the other side of this motorcycle; because when you turn the ignition on electricity would go from the ignition switch to one side of brake light switch. When you step on the brakes, mechanical movement would make a contact with another pole in the brake lights switch, which would send that electricity back to your brake light filament.
If you're getting it on one side, not the other, you know your brake light switch is suspect.