MC How-To
Step by step: From general maintenance to complete restorations, we share tips and tricks for working on classic bikes.

Adding a Remote Oil Filter Kit

The Legend Cycle Remote Oil Filter Kit starts at $157.50 and includes everything you see here, including your choice of oil filter.
Photo by Keith Fellenstein

If you’ve ever rebuilt an older Triumph motorcycle engine, you’ve probably heard from everyone that you must tear it down completely to clean the sludge trap.

It’s true. To completely trust that all that hard work won’t be in vain, you have to clean that primitive oil filter. Once you’ve done that, you certainly don’t want to have to ever do it again.

The best way to ensure that the oil stays clean is for the oil to run through a spin-on filter that can be changed on a regular basis. So for this How-To, we’re going to install an aftermarket oil filter kit from Legend Cycle ( on this 1968 Triumph Bonneville so you never have to worry about the sludge trap again. Here’s a short link directly to the kit. A printed copy of the instructions comes with the kit, but it can also be found online at Legend Cycle if you’d like to read the instructions before purchasing it. There’s also a video done by Legend Cycle showing installation of the kit — Keith Fellenstein

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

1. Most of these classics were built to use non-detergent oil. The sludge trap used the centrifugal force of the rotating crankshaft to remove any particles from the oil. If you’re not using non-detergent oils (and you shouldn’t) modern detergent oils will hold those particles in suspension, to be removed by a modern paper filter.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

2. Of course, since this is a classic bike, you don’t want to mar the classic looks with an obvious modern add-on, so we start by hunting for an inconspicuous location for the mounting bracket.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

3 .It looks like there is room behind the left side cover, also behind the main frame tube, to hide this from all but the most scrupulous rivet counters.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

4. Next we install the pipe to hose adapters to the oil filter plate and install the plate to filter adapter stub. Use a small amount of Loctite on these. The manufacturer warns against overtightening these tapered pipe threads, as you don’t want to split the aluminum plate.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

5. Install the oil filter adapter pipe to the filter plate, short threaded side to the plate. Seal the threads with Loctite.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

6  You can attach the hose adapters to either side of the filter mount, depending on where you choose to place it. For our purposes, we’re putting the hoses on the side closest to the oil tank. Use the supplied pipe plugs to seal off the unused ports, again with a little Loctite.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

7. Connect the oil hoses to the adapter plate and use the supplied hose clamps to secure them to the pipe elbows. It’s important to get the flow through the filter correct, so I marked the hoses both at this end and at the tank and engine attachment ends as a reminder.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

8. We’ve mounted the filter mount as high as possible to allow the easy removal of the filter. Test fit the filter before final assembly to be sure you can replace it without problems.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

9. Disconnect the oil return pipe at the tank fitting. Be prepared for a small amount of oil to drain from the return tube in the tank.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

10. Disconnect the oil hose from the return side of the oil pump manifold on the engine.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

11 . Run the hoses from the oil filter bracket to their destinations at the pump manifold and oil tank. You can barely see the faint E painted on the hose to remind me of which end goes where.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

12. Install clamps on the hose ends and tighten them.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

13. Before installing the filter, prefill it with oil. You should do this a few times, waiting for the oil to soak in and displace the air in the filter until the filter stops bubbling. Rub a film of oil on the gasket surface for final installation.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

14. Finally, carefully holding the filter so you don’t spill the oil, thread it onto the filter bracket. As always with these spin on filters, avoid over tightening them. Usually a quarter turn after the gasket contacts the base is sufficient. Reinstall your side cover, start the bike, and check for oil returning to the tank. All done!

Installing an Electronic Ignition

Our full kit for the upgrade includes new coils from Rick’s Motorsport in addition to the ignition kit from Elektronik Sachse. Elektronic Sachse makes ignition kits for many vintage motorcycles. Rick’s has coils to replace most vintage bike ignition coils. Photo by Keith Fellenstein

Our project this issue is upgrading the ignition system on a 1977 Suzuki GS750 from points to Elektronik Sachse solid state ignition. Once done, we won’t have to worry about points and condensers any more and can just enjoy riding. This project is relatively simple, as you don’t have to disassemble anything more than the points assembly. A good set of metric wrenches and JIS screwdrivers are all you need to complete the project, along with wire crimpers and strippers, and some zip ties. — Keith Fellenstein

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

1. Our subject bike is up on the lift. It currently still sports the original-style points ignition. Not for long!

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

2. After disconnecting the battery, we’ll start the process by removing the points cover. Three Phillips type screws hold the cover on. This is a dry assembly, there should be no oil or fluid inside it.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

3. With the cover off, remove the three screws holding the points plate in the engine. These are a combo Phillips/flat blade screw, but the Philips part was burred out beyond use, so I used a flat blade to remove them.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

4. You may need a shot of penetrating oil to help with removing the nut holding the points cam in place.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

5. A 12mm socket and wrench will remove the bolt holding the points cam in place.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

6. Once the bolt is out you can remove the points plate and the timing plate behind it. You won’t use either of these anymore, so put them somewhere you can find them if you should for some reason want to convert back some day.


Photo by Keith Fellenstein

7. The points cam just lifts out. Store it with the other spare parts.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

8. Now it’s time to remove the gas tank. It’s best to have an empty tank, but if you can’t empty it, make sure the petcock is not set to Prime. Disconnect the fuel hose from the tank and with a wrench and 12mm socket, remove the bolt at the back of the tank.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

9. Wiggling the tank while pulling back on it will ease it off the rubber buffers at the front. Then you can lift it off and set it aside in a safe place.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

10. The old coils still worked, but since we’re upgrading the ignition, we may as well upgrade the coils too.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

11. We’re reusing the plug caps, so unscrew them and put them aside for now.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

12. These resistor caps can get corroded and increase their resistance over time, so it’s a good idea to take them apart and clean them. Usually there’s a slot in the part that captures the thread at the top of the spark plug. Use a screwdriver to disassemble them as shown here.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

13. It’s a good idea to make note of the cylinders the coils fire as a reminder for reassembly. Also note if the plug caps have different configurations for the inner cylinders.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

14. Use a 10mm wrench to loosen the nuts holding the coils in place.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

15. Notice the unused (for now) mounting holes on the frame bracket.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

16. The new coils are shorter in length than the old coils, so we’ll make use of those other mounting holes.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

17. Move the mounting bolts and stand offs from the old coils to the new coils.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

18. Now the coils fit perfectly in the unused holes in the mounting bracket.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

19. I could have just modified the wiring harness to fit the spade terminals on the new coils, but I hesitate to change the harness. I wouldn’t want to be called the DPO (Dreaded Prior Owner) when the next owner changes them again.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

20. I didn’t have any wire that matched the original harness colors, so I made more notes to keep the circuits organized.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

21. With the harness adapters wired in to the coils, it’s now time to mount them permanently.


Photo by Keith Fellenstein

22. After cleaning the resistor plug caps and trimming the high voltage wires, the plug caps are screwed back on. Getting a good connection here is key, and it will take some effort to get them started. Don’t forget to put the rubber end caps on the wires first.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

23. The new pickup plate is a little oversized for the mounting location, so there will be some fitting required here.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

24. I started off with emery cloth and a file, but soon moved on to a Dremel with a sanding drum to speed things up.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

25. Now the sensor plate fits snugly enough, but can still be rotated for timing the ignition.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

26. Place the new rotor stub on the end of the crankshaft, aligning the notch in the stub with the pin in the crank.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

27. Center the pickup plate screws in the middle of the slots on the plate so you have room to fine tune the timing.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

28. Slip the magnetic rotor over the rotor stub. Leave it loose for now.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

29. Tighten the bolt that holds the stub to the crankshaft end. It’s a small bolt, so don’t overtighten it.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

30. Find a suitable place to mount the black box ignition controller. We’re using some space behind the left side cover.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

31. Trace the leads from the old points plate back to where they connect to the wiring harness and disconnect them.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

32. Fish out the old leads that connect to the points plate and remove the old assembly.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

33. The kit came with a round weatherproofing grommet for the points cover but we wanted to use the old fitted grommet, so we carefully slid it off the old harness.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

34. It slid right on the new wiring for a neat appearance.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

35. Here is the grommet fitted to the case with a nice, neat wiring arrangement.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

36. Run the new ignition harness back through the places where the original harness ran, to the new ignition controller location.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

37. Here they are, ready to connect to the new controller.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

38. Connect the wires to the appropriate terminals on the new controller.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

39. We had to make a couple of short jumpers to connect the controller to the main harness to the coils.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

40. Finding a source of switched 12-volt power was easy, but getting a focused picture was not.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

41. We crimped a lead to the switched 12v source and prepared to heat shrink some insulation over it.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

42. After applying a little heat from a heat gun, we now have an insulated power connection.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

43. Now it’s time to set the timing. Rotate the engine until the outer cylinders are at TDC. Turn on the ignition. Rotate the magnetic trigger until the LEDs just go out and lock the plate with the set screws.

Photo by Keith Fellenstein

44. Using the supplied Velcro tape, attach the controller to the space chosen for it. Replace all the parts you removed for access and enjoy your new maintenance free ignition system.

Replacing the Clutch Friction Discs on a Honda CL450


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For this How-To we’re going to replace the clutch friction discs in a 1969 Honda CL450, but this procedure would work for CB450s too, and is similar on the 350s. We undertook this project because the motorcycle had been stored so long that the petcock leaked gasoline into the sump, and after fixing that problem the clutch slips. You will need clutch plates and possibly clutch springs, though those are rarely bad. A new gasket for the right side case would be useful, and a new seal for the kickstart shaft, if needed. If the oil sump plug O-ring is flat you’ll need to replace it too. Dime City Cycles will have some or all of these parts. You’ll need oil of the correct weight and amount also, in this case 1.8 liters of 10w40. A good set of metric sockets and wrenches, particularly 10, 12, 14, 17 and 19mm sizes. Start by draining the oil through the sump plug on the bottom of the engine. You’ll need a 19mm wrench, preferably a socket. Most of the sump plugs have been mangled over the years from people using SAE or adjustable wrenches in the place of metric. They also suffer from overtightening.- Keith Fellenstein


1. Using needle-nose pliers, remove the spring that actuates the rear brake light switch. This spring looks suspiciously like something found in the previous owner’s junk drawer, but it works.


2. Slacken off the brake adjuster nut at the rear wheel. A deep 14mm socket works to get it started, but you should be able to remove it by hand once the spring tension is reduced.


3. Remove the right footpeg. One bolt is the lower motor mount stud and the other is a through bolt. You’ll need a 14mm wrench and a 17mm wrench for this step.


4. Prop the brake lever down against its spring using a suitable flat piece. We used a wood scrap, but a metal piece would work too. You’ll need it out of the way to easily remove the right engine cover.


5. Remove the 12mm bolt holding the kickstarter and carefully lever off the kickstarter. The seal was worn out and will be replaced. It’s a 17 x 20 x 7 available from many sources, including Dime City.


6. Remove the screws holding the right case cover. There are two different lengths of screw, the longer ones are for the two case holes with hollow dowels.


7. With a rubber mallet, tap around the case until the gasket breaks free and remove the right-side engine cover. You will have a small oil spill even though you already drained the sump, so be prepared. If you’re lucky, you can reuse the case gasket, but best practice is to use a new one.


8. With the cover removed you can pry out the old kickstart seal; ours was so brittle it came out in two pieces.


9.Clean out the seal cavity with brake cleaner and a rag to remove any oil that has leaked in. Put the new seal squarely in place in the opening of the case.


10. We used a scrap of nylon as a backing plate to apply even pressure to the seal, then pressed it in place with the palm of my hand. I tapped it home the final millimeter or so with an appropriately sized socket and rubber mallet.


11. Moving back to the clutch. Using a 10mm socket (assuming you can find one), back off the clutch spring bolts. Do them evenly until you have released most of the spring pressure, then remove them completely.


12. Remove the springs, then pull the pressure plate off of the clutch pack. See anything odd about the clutch?


13. Pull the clutch pack, steel plates and friction plates out as a unit. Separate the friction plates and the steel plates and inspect the steel plates for bluing and warping. Replace any that show either sign.


14. Here’s something unexpected, a de-laminated friction plate. Perhaps sitting in a bath of oil and gasoline as this one did had bad effects.


15. Briefly dip the new friction plates in oil. Soaking them for long isn’t necessary, you’re just trying to get a thin film on the surface.


16.Start to reassemble the clutch pack one plate at a time. We start with the special metal plate that nests in the bottom of the basket, followed by alternating friction and plain plates until we have a complete stack.


17. Place the pressure plate over the stack, making sure it completely engages the stack. On this bike it would be possible to install it incorrectly and never pressurize the clutch pack. This first photo shows the pressure plate in the wrong position.


18. Here’s the correct position, 90 degrees rotated from the first photo. Notice the pressure plate comes in contact with the clutch pack.


19. Place the clutch springs in their places and start the screws that bolt them in place. Snug the 10mm bolts down. They’re small bolts so don’t overtorque them. A short handled 1/4-inch socket wrench will remind you to take it easy.


20. Before replacing the right side engine cover, wrap electrical tape around the kickstarter shaft to prevent the splines from nicking the new kickstart shaft seal.


21. Push the engine case back into position, making sure the dowels are in place and seated. Remove the tape protecting the kickstart shaft seal.


22. Reinstall the screws that hold the case in place, remembering where the two longer screws go. Reattach the footpeg, brake switch spring and brake control rod.


23. With the cover back on, refill the crankcase with the proper weight and amount of oil.


24. There are a few more steps to complete the job, these are not strictly necessary but are good practice since you’re already working on the clutch. First slacken the clutch cable at the handlebar adjuster.


25. Next, loosen the locknut at the cable adjuster just outside the left cover over the clutch release mechanism. Turn the cable adjuster to provide more slack in the cable again.

26. With a 10mm wrench, unlock the large slotted adjuster that tensions the clutch pushrod.


27. Using a suitable tool, screwdriver, or as here, a washer that fits the slot, turn the adjuster clockwise until you feel it stop.


28. You have now taken all the play out of the clutch pushrod. Since we don’t really want any pressure on the pushrod unless we are pulling in the clutch, turn the adjuster back a small distance counterclockwise and relock the adjuster with the 10mm bolt.


29. Take most of the slack out of the cable using the adjuster we loosened in step 25. Tighten the 12mm nut and lock that adjuster.


30. Final adjustment of slack is at the handlebar control. Up to 1/4 inch of play is about right. Now go out and ride, checking to make sure the clutch releases and engages as you want it to.

Installing a Colorado Norton Works Electric Starter


BikeMaster logoBack in 2018 we installed an Alton electric starter on editor Hall’s Norton Commando. This time around we’re installing the other easily sourced electric starter kit, from Colorado Norton Works. As you can see from the photo above, this is a comprehensive kit that includes a belt drive conversion in addition to the starter. Like the Alton, this kit requires you to replace the inner chain case. The CNW starter requires you to remove the stock ham can air cleaner, as the starter motor takes up some of that space. Fortunately they also sell the K&N compact air cleaner that does fit with the starter. There’s rumor of a smaller stock looking air cleaner in the works from CNW. We’ll look at that when it comes out. Sometimes belt drives change the primary ratio, but this kit barely changes it, from 2.19 to 2.188. The included instructions are comprehensive, follow them and you’ll do fine. If your battery has a few years on it, replace it, preferably with an AGM battery, the largest that will fit in your battery space. We sourced a DEKA ETX16L from our local battery store. 
Keith Fellenstein


1. Begin by disconnecting the battery. Find the two wires running from the alternator to the wiring harness and unhook them. Disconnect the wires running to the rear brake switch and remove the rear brake pedal. Remove the center bolt from the outer chain case and drain the primary case. Remove the primary cover.


2. Remove the clutch-adjusting nut and clutch rod.


3. Using a clutch spring compressor, tension the spring so you can remove the retaining clip. Remove the clutch pressure plate and clutch plate pack. You can reuse your friction plates if they are not too worn. Ours had worn spline teeth so we purchased new Barnett friction plates.


4. Bend back the lock tabs on the clutch hub nut retainer and remove the clutch hub nut with an impact driver. Remove the alternator rotor nut also. Remove the alternator nuts and place the alternator on top of the chain case while you remove the front sprocket and clutch wheel. Disengage the sprocket and chain wheel from the chain. Take the alternator in one hand and slide the chain over it and off, then hang the alternator off the center stud.


5. Bend back the locking tabs and remove the three bolts holding the primary case to the engine. We’ve placed the alternator back on top of the inner primary while we do this.


6. Pry the old clutch basket retaining clip out of its groove using your pointed tool of choice. You’re not going to reuse this, so there’s no need to be gentle. Once this clip is out and the three bolts holding the case to the engine are removed, place the alternator back in the case and remove all as a unit. If your Norton wet sumps (like mine), be prepared to replace the lowest screw back in the engine to stop the leak, or place a pan under to catch the oil.


7. Here’s the machine minus the primary case. Inspect the primary sprocket and replace it if it shows signs of wear. You might also want to go up or down a tooth to change bike performance. The swing arm is off of this bike for bushing and pin replacement. I think the British say “In for a penny, in for a pound” or in this case many Pounds. The result should be a better handling bike.


8. Back to the current task. As mentioned, the ham can has to be removed. Once that is out of the way, you have easier access to the breather stub off the back of the timing case. Unscrew it. CNW has provided a slightly shorter one that won’t foul the starter motor. Replace the stock pipe with the supplied shorter pipe.


9. Place the new inner chaincase in place, along with the new gasket. Install and finger tighten at least two of the supplied screws that hold the case in place. This is so you can measure the gap between the cover stud and the back of the chaincase. You’ll fill the gap with a combination of the supplied shims.


10. I used a mirror to see up under the case to show the gap, and then used feeler gauges to measure that gap. I also used a zip tie to hold the feeler gauges together to get the correct measurement.

11. Once you have the correct measurement, select shims to fill that void. You can then attach the inner case and bolt it into place. I like to seal the threads on the bolts with a little (very little) RTV silicone. Tighten down the bolts and bend over the tabs on the locking plates.


12. Carefully spread the new clutch circlip and push it into place on the mainshaft of the gearbox. The supplied circlip is designed to be used with snap ring pliers so you can spread it just enough to get it started on the mainshaft. It will click into place when home in the slot cut for it. Next you can place the backing washer over the circlip.


13. Remove the blue painter’s tape covering the bearing. Take the intermediate gear assembly and determine which end fits that bearing and press it into place in the inner case. Carefully remove the washer and gear from the shaft end projecting out from the case. Take note of the orientation of the thrust washer on the end of the shaft. Later when you assemble it back to the shaft you will need to be sure the shoulder of the washer is facing you.


14. Assemble the clutch basket over the mainshaft splines and push it home against the retaining washer. Spin it by hand listening for any contact between the basket and the inner chaincase. If there is interference, you will need to add shims until there isn’t.


15. Fit the woodruff key into the crankshaft. Taking the belt, front pulley and clutch basket as a unit, fit the belt drive assembly onto the crankshaft and gearbox mainshaft.


16. Adjust the belt tension using the gearbox adjuster until the bottom run of the belt can be deflected up to the bottom of the alternator grommet. In this case, a little too loose is better than a little too tight. Once you have the setup to your liking, assemble the intermediate gear on the splines, meshing it with the gear on the crankshaft, and place the thrust washer over the end of the intermediate shaft, with the shoulder facing you.


17. Remove the painter’s tape holding the bearing in the alternator carrier and bolt the alternator carrier to the inner case using the supplied bolts and a little blue Loctite. Test the assembly by spinning the gear exposed at the top of the inner case. It should turn easily clockwise and not at all counterclockwise.


18. Insert the woodruff key for the alternator rotor and fit the rotor on the end of the crankshaft. Using the supplied belleville spring washer and nut, tighten the rotor nut until you just flatten out the belleville washer. A strap wrench (not shown) can help hold the rotor while you do this. Also at this time feed the alternator leads through the grommet in the chain case in preparation for reconnecting them to the main harness.


19. Proper gap between rotor and stator is important, I use four brass shims of .008-inch-thickness to help set it. Once you have the gap set all around, tighten up the mounting screws. Then remove one at a time and apply a little blue Loctite to the threads and tighten them.


20. Insert the clutch plates, plain and friction, beginning with the extra plain plate supplied. The extra plate increases the stack height, making a much easier clutch pull at the lever. Holding the plates together with your spare hand, tighten the clutch hub nut until you just flatten the supplied belleville washer. Attach the clutch pushrod seal to the exposed threads of the mainshaft, using a small amount of blue Loctite for security. Refit the pressure plate and diaphragm clutch spring.


21. A nice combination starter/kill switch comes with the kit, mount it inboard of your throttle and run the wires alongside the existing wires and into the headlight bucket.


22. Now is the time to lay out the wiring harness supplied with the kit alongside the frame backbone and run the long single wire into the headlight bucket.


23. For the kill switch, you’ll need to be able to interrupt the power to the ignition. In our case that meant disconnecting the power wires and running long leads from the splice into the headlight bucket where we can connect them to the kill/starter switch.


24. Connect the yellow/green wires together with the supplied Wago connectors. Connect one of your ignition power wires to the red lead from the kill switch and connect the other to the red/white wire.


25. Mount the starter relay behind the rear downtube, using the supplied stainless bolt through the lower screw of the side panel mount. This bolt is longer than stock to accommodate the relay bracket. This step can take a little of what the Britishcall “fettling,” it may be easier if you remove the rectifier, mount the relay and then reinstall the rectifier. Connect the wiring harness plug to the relay and route the harness behind the battery carrier.


26. Place the starter motor loosely into its place on the inner case, meshing the pinion with the gear, and connect the solenoid wire (red spade connector) and the starter motor connector (ring connector). Tighten the ring connector but don’t overtighten it, you don’t want to spin the wiring stud inside the starter. Route the oil line from the rocker feed. Then fasten the starter to the inner case with the allen bolts and decorative cover supplied.


27. Use the shorter breather stub, 90-degree elbow and pipe to connect the timing case breather to the breather hose running to the oil tank.


28. Hook the battery to the main cables, paying careful attention to the polarity of the wires. This one was positive ground, so the thick cable from the back of the primary case went to the positive terminal of the battery. Tickle the carbs, turn on the key, press the starter button and be amazed at how fast it starts.


29. There is one more task to perform and you have to be very careful doing it.


30. There are two screws and locknuts on the alternator carrier. The screws are captive spring balls and they are there to stop the intermediate gear from turning all the time while the engine is running. These have to be adjusted with the engine running, thus the extra care needed. Start with the engine off, back off the locknuts so you can screw in the spring balls. With the engine running, turn both screws in 1/4 turn at a time until the idler gear just stops turning. Stop the engine and use the locknuts to lock the screws and then check your work. That’s it. All done!

Converting a Triumph 6-Volt Charging System

All the new (and used) parts needed to convert our 1964 Triumph T100SC Tiger, laid out and ready for installation.

There comes a tiBikeMaster logome when practicality overcomes originality, and a good example of that is our project for this issue, converting a 6v Energy Transfer (ET) ignition Triumph over to 12v while retaining the original no-battery look of the ET system. For that we used a 12v Lucas alternator and a Boyer Power Box, both sourced from Klempf’s British Parts in Dodge Center, Minnesota. I explained to Mitch Klempf that I wanted better lighting, but didn’t want to alter the look and he agreed that changing the alternator and putting a Power Box up under the seat would keep the look while allowing me to see the road ahead at night. This How To will show you how you can do this too if needed or wanted.

Keith Fellenstein


1. We’ll begin by removing the left footpeg and lowering the brake lever for access to the primary drive and alternator.


2. You’ll also need to slacken off the primary chain tensioner and drain the oil from the primary. As the primary screws are of various lengths, it helps to draw a schematic on a piece of corrugate and punch the screws through in their proper places.


3. Remove the nuts holding the alternator in place. Disconnect the five leads from the wiring harness and remove the alternator. Due to age and heat, the wires and sealing thimble may be stiff. Gentle heat from a heat gun can soften things up for easy extraction.


4. The original ET alternator was unencapsulated open wiring and most have failed by now. The original ET coils likewise had perished and had been replaced with EMGO coils that worked in the same way as the originals. This alternator appears to have had some epoxy applied to it in the past.


5. Hang the new alternator temporarily from one of the studs and feed the wires first through the new sealing thimble and then the inner primary case. It can be hard to feed the wires through, you may have to strip away some of the PVC jacketing to allow you to pass them through one at a time.


6. Clearance between the rotor and the alternator is vitally important. You must have .008-inch clearance around the gap between the two. Using a single feeler gauge is not enough. A better method is using a piece of shim stock .008 inch thick and getting enough for 4 strips. I couldn’t find plastic of the correct thickness, so I bought brass shim stock and added adhesive tape to reach .008. When you have the correct clearance, tighten the alternator bolts to 20lb/ft.


7. After some disassembly it was apparent the original wiring harness was butchered beyond use, so we are moving forward with a new one.


8. Find a place to mount the Power Box. We put it here, where the battery would be if we had one. Attach the two leads from the new alternator to the yellow leads into the Power Box. This is AC so it doesn’t matter which lead from the alternator goes to which yellow lead.


9. Now comes the tricky part, wiring. We’re turning an unregulated low output AC system into a fully regulated high output DC system. We begin with the alternator, the old system had five wires from the alternator. Four of these wires carried AC current and the red one was the ground. The easiest way to use the old harness (or a new one) is to connect all four of those wires to the black lead from the Power Box. That powers up all the wires with -12v. We’re keeping it positive ground for simplicity’s sake. Connect the red lead to the red lead from the Power Box.


10. Remove the points cover for access to the points plate, auto advance unit and points wiring. Remove the pillar bolts and pull the points plate out of the cavity. Disconnect the points wires.


11. Remove the bolt holding the auto advance unit to the cam. Ideally you will use the auto advance extraction tool shown in the next step to pull the advance unit out.


12. Start by loosely threading the tool into the threaded portion of the advance unit. Then screw the inner pin in until it touches the end of the cam inside the timing cover. Tightening the bolt then will break the taper connection holding the advance to the cam. If you don’t have the tool, you can thread a 5/16-inch x 24 bolt into the end of the advance unit and gently tap it from the side to break the taper connection.


13. Due to the odd nature of the ET system, we will have to make some changes to the points wiring. We’re also taking this opportunity to change from the old 4CA points plate to the newer 6CA points plate with individually adjustable points timing.


14. We’re changing the old 5 degree advance to a 12 degree advance, taking advantage of the steady 12v from the Power Box. The advance is limited with the ET ignition due to the need to fire the coils at the peak of the AC waveform from the alternator.


15. The ET coils (modern version by EMGO) will be replaced by a pair of 12v Lucas coils I had in my junk box. Both bench tested ok.


16. New 12v prefocus headlight bulb and standard 12v tail/brake light bulb. Also, a 12v instrument bulb (not shown). The old 6v horn will work ok on 12v for the intermittent use it gets.


17. Mount the coils. I had modified extra condensers for the ET system, they can be repurposed for the new system. Alternatively you could use a Lucas 2 condenser pack. The wire fasteners are a more modern version of wire nuts, and work very well to connect where you don’t have Lucas bullet connectors to use.


18. With the alternator bolted up, find TDC on the piston closest to you. You can use a TDC tool as we did, or a soft piece of wire. When you have found TDC, mark a point on the alternator opposite the lower rotor mark. Also mark the wire or screwdriver. Measure up on the tool 8.4mm or .330 inches, this will be full advance. Rotate the engine backwards until the top mark is aligned with the spark plug hole. Make another mark on the alternator opposite the lower rotor mark. This is full ignition advance.


19. On the timing side of the bike, look at the points in the points cover. One set should be open and the other closed. Using a feeler gauge, set the fully opened points to .014 inches. Rotate the engine one revolution and repeat for the other set of points. You now have the points gap set correctly.


20. Use a small screwdriver to push the advance to fully advanced on the set of points not yet opened. They should just open as you reach the end of the travel. If they don’t, or if they open sooner, move that set of points until they are just opening. Lock them down.

21. Rotate the engine one revolution and repeat the last step for the other set of points. Now you have set the static ignition timing. This bike has no easy way of doing dynamic timing, no indicators other than the ones we just put on the alternator. Later machines have a window and pointer you can use with a timing light to double check your work. The original alternator has separate ignition and lighting circuits. The new one doesn’t, so starting is easier if you remember to turn off the headlight at the bucket switch. That’s it. All done!

Painting with Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray Paint

A Honda CB450 triple tree and a Triumph 500 headlight bucket and a steering damper knob, ready for a fresh coat of paint.

Have you heard the old joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!  Well, something similar can be said about how to get professional paint results from spray cans, but here the trick is preparation, preparation, preparation.

BikeMaster logoIn this How-To we’ll show you just how you can get durable professional results from modern spray cans, and how to do so safely. Cans of Eastwood’s new 2K Aero-Spray Epoxy Primer ($25 per can) and 2K Aero-Spray Chassis Black paint ($25 per can) plus shipping are available on the Eastwood website. Clear coat is also available. Get a paint respirator ($25) from your local big box home improvement center, along with some blue painter’s tape. You should always use a respirator when painting, and this is especially important when you are using epoxy-type paints.

Wear rubber gloves if you don’t want to spend time scrubbing paint from your hands. Old clothes will keep the inevitable overspray from ruining your favorites. If you don’t have a dedicated paint booth, then pick a calm day, open up the garage and build a cardboard three-sided booth to reduce overspray and keep dust off your painted parts.


1.) Safety first! You may look silly, but it’s important.


2.) Here’s the headlight bucket from my Triumph. Other than touch-ups over the years, it’s probably original paint. The media blaster booth will take all that off fast and efficiently.


3.) It’s necessary to remove all the old paint first, we’ll do that using the blast cabinet we have from TP Tools. Once the paint is removed we’ll inspect the parts and clean them again with chemical cleaners. Just before we paint we’ll do it again with a chemical cleaner.


4.) Time for surface prep. Mask off any surfaces that you don’t want painted, like threaded pieces or clamping parts like the top of this Honda CB450 steering yoke.


5.) We’ll be using Eastwood two-part spray paints. These differ from the usual rattle cans in that they have an epoxy activator. Once activated you have about 48 hours to use that paint in the cans, so it pays to plan ahead and have all the parts you want painted ready.


6.) To activate the paint, first shake the can well for three minutes.


7.) Remove the red button from the top of the can and place it over the stem on the bottom of the can. Press firmly to puncture the can within the can, releasing the epoxy activator for the paint. Shake again for three minutes to thoroughly mix the activator with the paint. Once you do this, you have 48 hours to use the spray can.


8.) After final chemical cleaning of the parts, primer them. Move the can parallel to the part. Start spraying before you reach the part and stop after you’ve passed the part. Many light coats are better than one heavy saggy coat. The same technique is used for the gloss black paint.


9.) Between coats, when dry enough, sand out any spatters with foam-backed wet and dry paper of 2000 grit. Again, this applies to the gloss black finish paint.


10.) Resist the temptation to use the absolute last of the paint in the can, as delivery pressure and spray pattern suffers as the can is exhausted. This part took a little extra effort because I was trying to use the dregs of a can.


11.) The final product. It looks good. Primered over two days (life of the can), then painted over two days (same).


12.) The finished parts back in place on my Triumph. Now the rest of the top looks like it needs work. Time to buy more paint!MC

Adding a Carb Gantry to Your Norton Commando

All the new parts that came in Donald Pender’s Norton carburetor gantry kit, laid out and ready for installation.


A few issues ago we installed a pair of Donald Pender’s version of the Lansdowne dampers on a 1974 Norton Commando. While looking through his list of available parts, we noticed another cool upgrade we were interested in trying out. Don manufactures a gantry setup for the Norton Commando. The kit, once installed, does away with the 1-into-2 cable throttle setup and greatly simplifies carb synchronization.

BikeMaster logoYou’ll search in vain for it at, so instead your best bet is to email Don directly at That’s what we did, and for just $134, shipping included, exactly one week later (from the Phillipines!) we had the kit shown here.

In this How-To we’ll show you the steps necessary to change over from the 1-into-2 cable system to the single-cable gantry. One might ask whether this is really a necessary upgrade, and the answer, of course, is no. Norton Commandos with dual carburetors have been running their stock cable setups for decades and are functioning just fine.

A close-up of the gantry, which simplifies carb synchronization.

This is a modification that would definitely be labeled a “farkle,” but it is a practical one, as the setup delivers a smoother, easier throttle pull. It’s just one of those things you do to your machine to make it your own.
Keith Fellenstein



1.) Start by removing the seat then the tank for easy access to the throttle cable and carburetors. Next remove the balance tube between the carburetors.


2.) Remove the carburetor top screws and extract the slides and needles.


3.) Pull the return springs back and carefully remove the metering needles. Note the position of the dip on the needle in case it gets displaced and you have to reset it. Free the cable ends from the slides and remove the cables from the carburetor tops.


4.) Once the carburetor ends of the throttle cable are free, disconnect the existing cable form the twist grip.


5.) Unscrew the cable adjusters from the carburetor tops; they won’t be needed.


6.) Take the supplied length of silicone tubing and screw it into the carburetor top as far as possible (usually about 1/4 inch).


7.) Trim the excess off with a razor blade, flush with the top of the carburetor top.


8.) With a pair of needle nose pliers, grasp the new slide cable close to the slide ferrule and push it through the silicone tubing. Repeat for the second carburetor.


9.) Inspect your work. Both tops should look like this.


10.) using your preferred method, replace the slide return springs, using the new ones supplied with the kit. I like to snap the spring coils over the cable and essentially screw the spring onto the cable. IT seems much easier than trying to compress the spring. Hold the cable and slide all at once.


11.) Now we go back to the bike and loosen the manifold to head screws about one turn each. I’ve got a 7/32-inch allen key that’s cut down on the short end to fit between the carburetor and manifold. I’ve also crudely cut a ball end on the long end since I didn’t have a spare ball end key to butcher.


12.) Once the carburetor mounting screws are loose, attach the gantry plate with the carburetor top screws and carefully tighten them. This aligns the carburetors to the plate.


13.) With the carburetors linked together with the gantry plate, re-tighten the mounting screws with the cut down allen key.


14.) Going back to the gantry plate, remove the top screws from one side and loosen the other so that the plate is loose on the carburetors.


15.) Take one new slide assembly and carefully place it into the side of the gantry plate where you have removed the carburetor top screws. I say carefully because it is all too easy to snag the needle on the needle jet when inserting the slide. Take your time and it will drop into place.


16.) Replace the top screws but don’t tighten them yet, then remove the screws on the opposite side and replace the slide assembly there. Once you have both slide assemblies in place, tighten the top screws evenly and snugly, but remember they have farther to go then they did originally, so not as much thread engagement with the bodies.


17.) Place the rotating trunnion in the actuating arm of the gantry, pull the slide cable up through the slot, making sure the locknut rests squarely between the shoulders of the trunnion. Repeat on the other side.


18.) Pull the cable up only far enough to slip it into the trunnion; it is possible to pull the slide up far enough to snag on the gantry top (ask me how I know that). That’s outside the operating range of the slide so not likely to happen in use.


19.) Now that everything’s assembled you can take up the slack in the gantry with the new idle adjustment screw.


20.) When you have the slack out of the new setup, back the old idle speed screws out about one turn each. They now have no purpose in speed regulation.


21.) Fit the throttle grip end of the new throttle cable to your grip. Now is a good time to renew the grease in the assembly and check for good function of the assembly.


22.) Run the gantry end of the new throttle cable through the frame and attach the cable end barrel to the rightmost slot in the gantry arm.


23.) Pull the cable back, attach it to the gantry and adjust it until there is minimal slack. Test for smooth operation and full return.


24.) Refit the balance tube, passing the left carburetor end through the hole in the gantry. Clamp it to the stub. A small outside diameter hose of sufficient strength fits better than the one I originally fitted.


25.) If possible, before you refit the tank, check your carburetor synchronization. I used a TwinMax, but there are many options.


26.) In this case, the carburetor on the left was slightly more open than the right, resulting in a lumpy idle. Use a 9/32-inch or 7mm wrench to adjust the cable.


27.) with the tank and seat back on the bike you can’t even notice the change. What you will notice when riding is a quicker throttle response, so you’ll have to retrain your wrist to the new reality. MC

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