Technical Q and A for classic motorcycle maintenance and repair.
Editor’s note: If you’re having trouble with that old Suzuki, BSA or BMW, Keith Fellenstein is your guy. From motorcycle tuning tips to detailed motorcycle engine repair, he can draw from a wealth of experience to help guide you to success. Send questions to: Keith’s Garage, Motorcycle Classics, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an e-mail with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.
Q: I have a 1969 BSA 441 Victor Special that I purchased out of the crate from England way back when. I have it stored in my hangar and I want to keep it pristine. It is hard to start. I replaced the battery when I purchased it with the battery replacement kit (a blue capacitor) since we rode a lot of mining roads in the mountains. If I were to replace the ignition what would I look for? Also, where can I purchase some decals? – J.E.H. Knutson/Boulder, Colorado
A: If you’ve had the bike this long on the original capacitor, it’s long past time to replace it. Those capacitors dry out and lose the ability to store electricity, and sometimes fail with a bang, too. Timing is critical on those big singles. If you’re not spot on they can be hard to start or prone to kicking back. Make sure your points advance unit is working smoothly, as sometimes they can stick. It sounds to me like you don’t ride the bike every day, so including a battery in the mix is just going to be another source of frustration when it shows up dead just when you want to ride. I was at a meet awhile back where a similarly aged Victor started up easily. Here’s how it worked that day: Taps on, tickle the carb until the bowl flooded. Pull compression release and kick through three times. Turn the key on, pull compression release, kick with vigor and release the compression release. Walridge Motors and other Brit parts houses stock decals. MC