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, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an e-mail with “Keith’s Garage” as your subject.
BSA Victor issues
Q: There are only 2,500 original miles on my Victor. Since it only gets ridden occasionally in the summer I have drained all the fluids and replaced them. From new, this machine has always had a loud valve noise (I’m presuming that’s what it is), which I have accepted as normal. However, since setting the points gap, cleaning the carb and replacing the fluids, I have acquired a new disturbing clinking sound when I accelerate moderately hard. I’m still not clear on timing, so I have left that alone. It is a higher sounding “tinkling,” almost like pennies rattling around somewhere in the top end. Once up to speed and just riding it is gone, but as soon as I crank it on it sounds off. The spark plug is a perfect color, and the exhaust is clean with no smoke of any kind at any time. The tailpipe has a slight amount of grease in it, but it is fairly dry and the same as it’s always been. Other than the noise, the bike sounds, accelerates, rides and responds the same as it always has. Before setting the points gap, upon kickstarting, the machine made some bucking sounds during one of its periodic kick backs. Could something have been damaged? Or is the points gap setting causing this? Under “specifications” in the owner’s manual it says the points gap should be 0.020-0.025in. However, on another page it says the points should be set to 0.015in. Do you know what the correct setting is? — Larry Bush/via email
A: The 0.020-0.025in will be for the spark plug; there may be a misprint in the manual. Most points for any motorcycle will be in the 0.012-0.016in range, and I usually strive for 0.015in. If you have the points set to 0.020-0.025in, you will have overly advanced the timing. That leads me to the new noise. It sounds to me like you have “pinging,” the common term for the noise you hear when you have detonation/pre-ignition. It’s a dangerous condition, one that can burn a hole in the crown of the piston and subjects the piston and connecting rod to explosive stresses they aren’t meant to have. It’s usually caused by one of two things: low-octane fuel or overly advanced timing. Start by re-setting the points gap to the proper 0.015in setting. The Victors were high-compression machines meant to run on premium, so fill it with premium fuel and see if the pinging remains. If it does, you will have to check and set the timing. Once the timing is correct, your bike should be easier to start and sound fine. Good luck! MC