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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Group. My buddy has a 1955 FLE and recently had the original motor completely rebuilt, balanced abd blueprinted. Other than having been bored over a bit, it is pretty much stock. Has kick start, magneto and SS shorty E carb. THe issue is this......

The motor appears to have been done nicely by a reputable guy. BUt it is a bitch to start. My buddy is a big guy and needs to kick it like a hundred times to get it to start. Even then, it usually doesnt start and he has to tow it with a chain and jump start it. He's being told that the motor is real tight and needs to break in before it can become an easier starting motor.

What needs to be done to get this thing to be a one-kick start? Please comment on timing issue, etc. that need to be checked before claiming the motor is just tight and wont spin freely. SHe appears to be gettin good spark
and my buddy claims timing is dead on.

ANy help to get this thing a bit more reliable would be of great help! If I can get it running right......I can ride it!!!!!!
 

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I think the S&S E carb is to much carb for a stock Panhead. I hand a S&S B on a Knucklehead and the bike was hard starting.
 

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Bwahahahah! a one kick Pan with a mag...good luck :hystria:

It will be tight for a while till it's broke in.
Then if it's in a perfect state of tune it may fire on the first kick with the mag on ( after a primer kick or two with power off) Every one of the old kick start bikes is a little different and he'll have to find the magic combination that makes her spring to life.
The S&S Super E will help since it has an excelerator pump to give it a squirt of gas or two.
There again the magic # of just how much gas and how many primer kicks if any will be a trial and error learning curve.
Good luck with that fine old classic but don't expect it to start like a new bike all the time IMO.
Y2K
 

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Weasels said:
I think the S&S E carb is to much carb for a stock Panhead. I hand a S&S B on a Knucklehead and the bike was hard starting.

Nah, the E will be fine if it's jetted right.

I had a B carb on my Ironhead Sporty stroker back before the E carb came out and the reason they are hard starting is the B carb doesn't have an excelerator pump like the E carb does.
Lots of guys run the E carb on Ironhead Sportys so a Pan should handle it no problem again if jetted properly.
Y2K
 

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After priming and it wont start, turn switch off, throttle wide open, kick through 3times. Then close throttle, switch on and try it.
Plugs that wont gas foul easily like NGK are helpfull.
Also, the spark from the mag should appear blue in color, if its yellowish, the coil is weak.
 

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As I recall,

it was just on the good side of impossible to spin the motor fast enough for a good spark off of a mag if the motor was cold. Breakin helps, but its a long ways to the mileage where it starts to turn easily, and that probably means its time for a top-end job.

This was one of those eternal arguments, were you better off with a battery (which was destroyed rapidly by heat and vibration, usually late at night when you were as far from home as you were going to get) and reasonably good starting while the battery lasted, or with a mag which would always be hard to start, but, at least in theory, always start. Always carry at least one spare set of plugs for a mag, and gap 'em .20, like he says.

Joe Hunt was about the only brand of mag that was worth trying to use, by the way, I think you can still get parts for them, they're in some of the big catalogs...those things have points in them, too, and might need changeing or adjusting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
GUys,

Thanks for teh feedback. I know the gapping of the plugs may be an issue. My buddy informed me that, when he redid the motor, there was disconnect between the gap the mageto people recommended vs the gap the carb people told him. Carb folks said 18-20 gap, while magneto told him 26-28 gap.
I know the gap now is somewhere just shy of 30, which is where he feels it was the easiest to start.

I like the feedback regarding the various rituals to start, i.e., a few kicks with the power off, then put it on, etc. I guess there are alot of variables to consider. Please keep the tips coming and I'll post the results. One kick? I'd be happy if it starts within 25 kicks!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
could have it backwards regarding different gap recommendations. Point is, he's getting different advice. ALso, he definitely has a Joe Hunt magneto.
ALso, once the motor is hot, it tends to kick over a bit easier (duh).

Can anyone elaborate regarding the proper procedure to adjust the timing?

He feels the carb is jetted properly; plug color is nice mocha brown, which he considers to be good.
 

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FLSTNI said:
One kick? I'd be happy if it starts within 25 kicks!!!!
Lol...reminds me of the 86" XLCH I had :rolleyes:
If it didn't fire in two or three might as well walk away for 15 or 20 minutes then come back and try again.
Saves a lot of wear and tear on the kicker leg.:laugh:
 

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If the Exhaust pipes (or muffler) has black buildup at the exit hole; then it's probably too rich. A Dark Grey is prefered. When kicking the bike thru (key ON) I would recommend that you keep your hand OFF of the throttle twist.....the hand will naturally twist when kicking thru hard; thus you may be flooding it unintentionally. Mags seem to have to spin faster to get them to spark good. Blue fire. Are you sure that the valves are seating properly? No seat/no start. Have you tried a hotter plug? Timing.....oh man,,,it's been years.....uh...remove engine timing plug on the right side of engine. Kick engine over until you see the big timing mark just slightly back from the center of the hole. This is when it should fire. (Correct me if I'm wrong here guys...it's been a while) Good luck.
 

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the pan should be and can be a one kick starte.first, ditch the s and s, it is too much carb, second, make sure you can retard the timing for starting-then advance to run. a properly tuned stock compression pan can be started by hand!! i kick a 120 inch pan all the time, its mostly a timing thing,and BTW, no such thing as its too tight until it is broken in, if properly built, it will stay tight for many, many miles.
 

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claydbal said:
the pan should be and can be a one kick starte.first, ditch the s and s, it is too much carb, second, make sure you can retard the timing for starting-then advance to run. a properly tuned stock compression pan can be started by hand!! i kick a 120 inch pan all the time, its mostly a timing thing,and BTW, no such thing as its too tight until it is broken in, if properly built, it will stay tight for many, many miles.
Yeah, that's what I meant to say, retard the timing, not advance.
 

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It can take you 100 kicks on a 45" (really low compression)to get it going if you don't know how to do it, and even then it will only start because you got lucky and you'll never repeat what you did. I know the best way to start a 45" is exactly by the manual.
 

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I've been kicking pans for 35 years and almost every time I have trouble starting it's because I'm not getting a good kick.

Little know fact is that a panhead clutch, if it will ever slip, is that it slips during the kick. Just the slightest pressure on the clutch (adjusted too tight), will cause this.

Make SURE that the clutch release arm has a hint of slack. Then, you'll get a good kick.
 

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claydbal said:
the pan should be and can be a one kick starte.first, ditch the s and s, it is too much carb, second, make sure you can retard the timing for starting
I agree retarded for starting...I had a 68 XLCH and that's what the book said. It was a two - three kich start
 

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About spark plug gaps....

The thing is this....the greater the gap, the greater the resistance to a spark being created, so the greater the voltage needed to cause a spark. You'll see some late model high-energy ignition systems using .50 thou or so, 'cause the voltage output of the spark module is very high. But a magneto works very differently, when you kick it, you're spinning a shaft in the mag which spins a magnet inside a coil to generate the electricity for a spark.

Since you can't spin the magnet very fast with a kick, it doesn't generate much electricity, so there isn't enough to overcome the resistance of a wide gap. Back in teh day, coil insulation wasn't that good, so if you made the magnet stronger or the coil bigger to generate more electricity, it'd just burn out at the higher end of normal revs. (Limeys did that a lot anyway)

By the way, the resistance of the air is GREATER at full compression than it is at normal atmospheric pressure, so if a system's kinda marginal, you can see a nice spark with the plug in air, but it won't fire in the cylinder. Likewise, if the insulator is a little dirty with carbon or traces of metal, (used to see it sometimes with the old leaded gasoline, there'd be traces of lead on a plug) the leectricty will leak down through the dirt and carbon (carbon is a conductor) and not fire across the gap. There's great debates about the size and location of the spark for optimum combustion, but just about any spark at all will light the mixtue, so when in doubt, go with a small gap.
 
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