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Tech Corner

Technical Q and A for classic motorcycle maintenance and repair.


Setting the Points

Motorcycle Classics tech expert Keith Fellenstein

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 email with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.

Setting the points

Q: I am having trouble setting the points on my 1976 Triumph T140 Bonneville. I am using the timing pointer behind the inspection plug drive side. With the pointer lined up and point side cylinder on compression stroke I set the points to just open. The book said the black-and-yellow wire is the point side cylinder. How incorrect am I? It will not start now. — Leland/Orlando, Florida

A: The pointer you are looking at is really meant to be used as a reference with a timing light. With the engine running it would indicate the fully advanced timing. If you are using it to set the timing with the engine not running, it’s important to also lock the auto-advance unit in the full advance position. To do that, you must first remove the bolt holding the advance unit in position. Next, find a washer with a center hole large enough to clear the center pivot pin of the advance camshaft. Place it on the cam, and replace the bolt that holds it all together. Rotate the cam to full advance and tighten the bolt just enough so the washer will hold the cam in the fully advanced position. Now you can move the plate to get the points to just opening, using a buzz box or lamp to indicate when they open. Final adjustment is best done with a timing light, and by setting the points for each cylinder individually. MC