Originally Posted by Dirty Ernie
I gotta nooby question about points and timing. This is my first Harley, so please bear with me.
When I adjust the point gap, do I have the breaker plate positioned in the center of the slots? Then adjust the timing after the points are set? Or doesn't it matter? Also, when I set the timing, according to the manual, if I can see the circles and line at any time, the timing is close enough. That doesn't sound very accurate to me. My son just turned the plate clockwise (against the rotation of the cam) and tuned it by ear. Will that work? It fires right up, but it doesn't have the zip I want. Also, it's running rich, according the plugs, so we're gonna replace the main jet one size smaller. Could that be why it doesn't have a crisp throttle response? Does that sound feasible? I just replaced the drag pipes with Cycle Shacks. Does that explain the running rich? So many questions, so little time to ride.
The timing plate will probably wind up mainly to the left. Some folks actually use the timing hole on the left side with a timing light but I never did. I always set the timing plate mostly to the right. Your son is on the right track.
Then set points and go for a ride. If it feels retarded, (flat and slow) I move it a little farther to the left....if it feels too far advanced (i.e. kicks back on start or pings under load) then I retard. It's as accurate as you will need. Works for me.
You didn't say what jets you may have but assuming it's a stock HD Carburetor, like a regular Keihin, if it is too rich at anything other than competely WOT, you probably need either: (1) adjust idle jet...maybe 2 turns out, or (2) smaller mid-jet. or (3) adjust float, or (4) all of 1 through 3.
The main jet is really of little effect for most things. The idle jet and mid-jet will have greater effect for most riding. I seldom ever reach the main jet in my riding style. I get on the road and never, ever go above 3,000 rpm. That's 75 mph with the high gearing I run on my old Shovelhead.
By the way, the best way to check plugs is to do about a mile and a half of WOT and then quickly fan the throttle and pull off the road and quickly shut the engine down. The, wrench in hand, pull a plug or two and look at them. Should be nice and tan, IMHO, although this is debatable depending upon who you are talking to.