Rita Ignition, Tire Tubes and Carburetors Q and A with Keith


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Lucas Rita ignition

Q: Hi Keith. I read your article on Triumph T140E wiring and the Lucas Rita ignition. My 1976 Triumph T140, which has been heavily customized, has this system fitted. The bike is being recommissioned, very slowly due to time, but I’m working on the electrics at the moment. I noticed when I was testing the ignition that when a spark is triggered both plugs spark each time. Is that correct? Thanks.

Michael Atkinson via email

A: Both coils firing is normal for the twin Rita, as it is a wasted spark ignition. One cylinder is on the compression stroke ready to fire and the other is on the exhaust stroke with nothing to fire. I wanted to check my memory so I just looked at the wiring diagram and the giveaway is that the coils are wired in series. The first time I see the Rita show up in the parts books is for the 1979 range of twins so yours was indeed added later.

Triumph carburetor issue

Q: Hi Keith, you are my “go to guy” for British motorcycles, so here are a few questions for you. My 1965 Triumph is winterized every year, but I still start it up every few weeks. I use a fuel stabilizer and have never had any problems. This year, I had trouble starting it. When it did start, it backfired and ran rough. Eventually, it smoothed out and I took it for a ride. After a few miles, it died and wouldn’t start. Fortunately, I was only a couple of blocks from my shop so I pushed it there. While checking it out, I noticed the battery was weak. The battery was several years old so I wasn’t going to waste my time with it. I installed a new one and it started right up. I drove it several miles and it was fine. When I returned, I left it running on the side stand. As I walked away, it loaded up and died. It acted like it ran out of gas. I started it back up, and when I leaned it over to put on the side stand, it died again. I started it back up. Every time I leaned it over to the left, it started sputtering. When I returned it to upright, it lined out. I then leaned it to the right, and engine speed increased. OK, what’s going on? I looked both carburetors over, and remembered that it had two identical carburetors on each side. They are both left hand carburetors. Same numbers, float bowl cover installed on the left side, ticklers on the left side. Do you think this bike left the factory like this, or do you think someone might have changed the right carb out and replaced it with a left one? I was going to check the float on the right carb, but would have to remove the carburetor as the cover is on the inside. Have you ever heard of anything like this? Could the wrong carburetor be part of the problem? I know you’ll have the answer for this, you’re the best! Thanks in advance.

John Botts/Ponca City, Oklahoma

1/21/2021 8:56:04 PM

Keith, I have 2 Garelli 50s similar to the one I saw in the last article. They are not boy racer models, but I have had them over 20 years and are both low mileage and 1 as complete and original as I can tell. The other close but was more used and worse shape. They are identical models and ruby red color. The one with less than 200 miles I would like to keep original, though clean it up etc. The other I'd probably semi restore. But I've never worked on the strange Dell Orto carberators, though I think I saw a pair on an MG once. What should I know before attempting to pull one apart? Are they jsut gaskets, or Orings too? I imagine the cylinders are also a little frozen from sitting so long. Any help with sourcing parts (especially like the beautiful chrome stinger exhaust) would be much appreciated. thank you, Ken

11/12/2020 4:51:04 PM

I know of a number of success stories about use of tire balancing beads in tubeless tires. At least one source (Dyna Beads) says they are OK to also use in tube type tires. Two dealer service advisors think it is not a good idea to use them in tube type tires for fear of wearing through the tube and obvious problem with sudden loss of air. What do you and other readers think? Any experiences one way or another?

10/30/2020 11:05:22 PM

Re Rita: Yes this is a wasted spark ignition, both (or all three) plugs spark at once Pretty much all electronic ignitions for these bikes operate that way except for Tri Spark. I really miss the Rita, it's one thing which Lucas did right. Re Tires and tubes: The response is correct, the speed rating goes down when the tire is used with a tube. Nothing you can do about that, and there are very few tires made for tube only installation. The problem as far as I'm concerned is that tubeless tires are more difficult to mount, the new Road Riders are a bitch to mount compared to the old K81s.

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