Tech Corner
Technical Q and A for classic motorcycle maintenance and repair.


OSSA Pioneer Kickstart Lever Troubles

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, Motorcycle Classics, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an email with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.

Q: Hi, Keith, I’ve been a longtime reader and now I actually have a question of my own. The knuckle of the kickstarter on my beloved 1971 OSSA Pioneer snapped violently. Read, mid-kick! To my great surprise there are new knuckles available. But here is the problem, post dismantling the broken knuckle from the lever. My question is about the little rod. Now obviously this rod mates to the dimpled areas on both the original and new knuckles, acting as a position locator or such. My question is, how and where in relation to the kicklever itself is this rounded-end little rod inserted and kept in place during reassembly? I have all the pieces, I think. What I think I am missing may be a tiny spring which acts on this rod. But I can’t find a drawing that tells me exactly where and with what, if anything, this little position rod is mounted. Please, Keith, I do love my OSSA and want to be sure this goes back together properly. And thank you for your bimonthly column.

Max Rockatansky/via email

A: I haven’t found a good engineering drawing of the kickstart lever assembly, so I’m going to have to make an educated guess as to how it all goes together. There is probably a hole in the lever part of the assembly that may even still have the spring in it. Triumph/BSA have a similar setup as do many other vintage bikes. If the spring is found, I usually pack the hole with heavy red grease and push the spring and plunger back in place. Often I find I can then hold the plunger in place with a finger while pushing the splined shaft back into the lever. If that doesn’t work you can use a closely sized socket, pipe or a shim as a guide/shoehorn, to push the new shaft in while compressing the spring and plunger. Hope this helps. And thanks for your kind words. MC

Triumph T100 Plug Fouling

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, Motorcycle Classics, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an email with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.

Q: I have a 1965 Triumph T100 500cc. I’ve restored it externally to look like my 1964 but have not cracked the engine. My problem now is the plugs are fouling. My solution so I can ride is to carry clean plugs and change them when fouling occurs. I’ve run a compression test and the readings are a little below the minimum value. My local mechanic, who is quite good with Triumphs said he has seen them run with levels lower than mine and not have problems. The plugs are wet black and I assumed oil. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s gas which would be carburetor. May I have your thoughts on this? I’m trying to sell the bike and I’d like to fix the problem. Both plugs foul at the same rate. Thanks!

- Ed Gottshall/via email

A: Ed, you didn’t mention how many miles were on the engine, but a common problem with these engines is worn valve guides. With that you would have fairly normal compression, but constant oil leaking down into the cylinders. If you want to investigate further, pull the intake manifold and exhaust pipes and look for fresh oil on the back of the valves. If those seem normal, then I’d try dropping the carburetor needles one notch and with new plugs; see if that changes the plug colors. MC

Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery Charging Advice

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, Motorcycle Classics, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an email with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.

Q: I have a 1966 BSA Lightning, a 1970 Honda CB750 and a 1974 Norton Commando that all use Podtronic or other aftermarket solid state rectifier/regulators for lead acid batteries. I would like to upgrade to lithium iron phosphate batteries and would like to know if I will be okay using the current voltage set points for lead acid batteries, or do I need to use rectifier/regulators specific for lithium batteries? Thank you for any help.

- Wayne Robertson/via email

A: My opinion for a long time has been that most of the older bikes don’t have the robust charging system necessary to keep a lithium iron phosphate (LiFe) battery fully charged. I recently spoke with Rick of Rick’s Motorsport Electrics to see if things had changed. He said that most LiFe batteries like the charging voltage to be 14.2 volts, and not much higher or lower than that. I don’t know what the charge cut-off point is for Podtronics, but the older Lucas Zener diode starts dumping voltage to ground in the 13-volt range. For the British bikes I’d stick with my usual recommendation of a good absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery for energy density and leak-proof design. Rick did say that he had a plug and play regulator rectifier for the CB750 that would work well with a LiFe battery. MC

 

Ethanol Gasoline and Fuel-Injected Bikes

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, Motorcycle Classics, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an email with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.

Q: I enjoy reading your column every month and I turn to you with a question. Are fuel-injected bikes less affected by the ravages of ethanol gasoline than bikes with carburetors?

- Robert Lazzaro
Hopewell Junction, New York

A: The short answer is no, ethanol affects fuel-injected bikes too, but in different ways. The fuel still seems to go bad faster than pure gasoline, and will still draw moisture out of the air. Most fuel-injected bikes are going to have a fuel pump, which can get gummed up and seize. I suppose the injector nozzles could crust over too, but would hope the injector pressure would overcome that. My routine for
carbureted bikes is to turn off the taps on the way home and try to enter my garage on fumes to help keep the carburetor bowls clean. Since you can’t do that with a fuel-injected bike your best bet would be using a fuel stabilizer additive. MC

1967 Suzuki T20 GP Kit

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,
Motorcycle Classics, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an email with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.

Q: Hello, Keith, I hope you don’t mind my asking a few questions of you. I just purchased a 1967 Suzuki T20 barn find and it appears that the gas tank and headlight shell are plastic. Would this be correct? Also, can you tell me what the original color options would have been? The bike is very rough and will need extensive work to get it running. Thanks!

-Joe Malpezzi/Carlisle, Pennsylvania

A: At first I thought you probably had a bike that had had the gas tank replaced at some time, but as I dug deeper I began to think you have a T20 (X6 Hustler is another name for them) with the GP kit, consisting of fiberglass tank and seat base. Suzukicycles.org has magazine advertising from that model year and more info as to how the bike came to have the tank and seat. We did an article on the more standard configuration T20. From what I have seen of the period advertising, they were available in the GP version in blue or red. If you revive this bike, never put any gas in the tank that contains any amount of ethanol; it will dissolve the resin and eventually the tank. Check the tank carefully for soft spots. I’d be inclined to find a steel tank for it and put the glass tank away for show use only.

Norton Commando or Triumph Trident?

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,
Motorcycle Classics, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an email with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.

Q: Hi, Keith, I enjoy your column and the entire magazine. My wife and I have been riding large touring bikes for the last several decades and now due to age and injuries we find long distances are no longer on our agenda. So I have been thinking about a smaller bike like a Norton Commando or a Triumph Trident. I had a Commando when my wife and I met nearly 40 years ago but always wondered how it compared to a Triple. I would be looking for a ’75 electric start of either but would like your opinion as to the pros and cons of each (you can’t ask an owner and expect it to be unbiased). Thanks for your help!

- Rob Bowen/Fontana, California

A: Rob, I don’t know how unbiased I can be since I own one of each of those bikes. My Trident is a 1974 model but I’ve retrofitted the 1975 electric start parts. It’s now so easy to start that it gets ridden more than before. I’m hoping to fit an electric start (Colorado Norton Works) to my 1974 Commando this year, and after that I’ll probably sell my 2008 Triumph, affectionately known as “The Appliance.” With two electric start classic bikes, I don’t really need the newer one. Like you, I had it to cover longer distances, but find that I don’t have the stamina to ride the miles I used to. I think for two-up travel you would find the Trident to be smoother running, but nothing really beats the torque and sound of the Norton. Horses for courses is the phrase the British use for this situation. I think you’ll find the Trident to be the less expensive initial purchase, though the 1975 models are rarer and bring better prices. The Commandos are fairly expensive across the years, at least restorations or reliable runners.

1985 Suzuki Madura Fuel Pump Issues

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, Motorcycle Classics, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an email with “Keith’s Garage” as the subject.

Q: Hi, Keith! I’m having fuel issues with my 1985 Suzuki Madura and after spending hours online reading different forums, I’ve concluded that I probably need a new fuel pump. Problem is I can’t seem to find one for my bike anywhere! I read your answer to someone’s question about their Madura being hard to start and you suggested a new fuel pump and said that you found an inexpensive one at NAPA. I cant seem to locate any technical info on the stock pump and therefore I don’t exactly know what I’m looking for. What did you find at NAPA?
Anthony Valdes/via email

A: It’s been so long I can’t remember which fuel pump I got at NAPA, but what you want is a 12-volt 3 or 4psi pump. I see that folks are installing Yamaha V-Max pumps or copies, and a quick search of eBay shows several choices. Good luck!







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