Timing a Pan

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leroy

Timing a Pan

#1

Post by leroy »

Pan head was running poorly, loss of power and hard starting.
Points very pitted, so I filed them clean and reset gap (.020).
Still hard to start, many more kicks than I care for and still seemed to idle rough. So I thought I'd look at the timimg. I haven't had to mess with timimg for about 3 years so I thought it was worth checking.
My old HD manual "Electra Glide 1959-1969" says that my test light, that I connected between coil and + battery, should come ON with points CLOSED and go OFF with points OPEN. Now I've done this test and set the timing several times the last 15 years and I don't remember the manual being wrong but I just did this and the damn test light is ON with the points open and OFF with the points closed, this is just the oposite of what the manual and I remember.

Anybody know what might be causing this??? besides old age, I'm 20 years older that the Panhead.


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Re: Timing a Pan

#2

Post by kell »

I think you connected the light in the wrong place. I was just reading the Clymer book and it says you're supposed to connect the light to a ground and to one of screws in the distributor -- can't tell you right off the top of my head which one.
But why is your light coming on at all? For this to happen there must be a complete circuit from the batt + through the light and to ground, somewhere. That is, there is some kind of path to ground other than through the points, since they are open when the light is on. Could be a short. Maybe you have damaged wiring or something wrong with the coil. Or maybe I'm wrong about the short and you just need a new condenser.
Good luck.
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Re: Timing a Pan

#3

Post by dirtpandan58 »

Doesn't matter if the light comes on or goes off. The only thing a light tells you is the exact time of the points opening and closing.
I've hooked it up both ways.One way the light comes on when they open. The other way it goes off when they open.
I used to use a rolling paper years ago. I would put the paper between the closed points and pull with very little preasure. Then advance the timer 'till the papar pulled out. That's when the points just began to open. If the paper tore, it ment I was pulling to hard,and the points weren't opening yet. Some people argued that you should use the cellophane from a cigarette pack,but that's to strong'and you can pull it out with points completly closed.

Now I just use a timing light.
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Re: Timing a Pan

#4

Post by VintageTwin »

Yo! What year? The points are set to 0.022", up to 1960. 20's too skinny. I've had the same problem. Make the timing light come on or off just as you retard the spark from full advance after you position the flywheel mark in the correct place. Beware of reading the OE '59-'65 H-D manual. Their push rod adj. is for hydraulics, their timing can be for Electra Glides. Clymers tells you how. I love my '59 and '46...(choke)..just bawls me up inside to talk about it. But they both run manual timers and points set at 0.022". The OE 1940-1947 manual is the only one to give soild lifter push rod adj. and single lamp timing procedures.
My 74", '59 was running tip-top and snappy before our 120 round trip ride out to Campo. We ran them pretty good. When we were riding on that three-lane; if I decided I wanted to pull away from any traffic; I would just twist the throttle (therapy) and know what they meant when they called it the "King of the Highway". Way out in front. Power to spare. Then coming back on the last 60 mile leg my Pan started running "off", like timing. I think it's because the "cam" part of the eccentric screw that is in my timer, that holds the points setting in place, once you have tightened the points set screw; yep well, that eccentric screw head is the original one and that makes it 43 yrs old. It's all burred up. Cam action of the screw is rough and sloppy.
I think that when I run the motor and run it harder than usual, that the eccentric screw loosens up and the points close a little. However, the last time it happened, 500 miles ago, I wrote a post called "Erratic Timing" here or on http://www.antiquemotorcycle.org/ with the same problem and that time the points had opened up or I didn't set them right in the first place; but a 0.22" blade would rack around the opened points. That weren't right!
This time I'm first going to adjust my solid lifter pushrod lash (if needed); then use the single bulb timing method. Note:Hard starting, or one fire and no starting is many times a condenser. Note: If you can't get the timing bulb to light, as soon as you retard the timer from full advance; then your flywheel mark is in the wrong position. Look at a manual, for this flywheel mark position. Then, go and look at the timer shaft mark.
If it is DIRECTLY under the points fiber, you're good to go. If the timers slash/mark is ahead or behind the points fiber, then loosen the timer head's timer adjusting stud nut (note: the timer stud gets scored and grooved, then stiff to move. Replace. It's a V-Twin part # 37-9235) and adjust the timer head so the points fiber is directly under the points fiber. Then tighten the adjusting stud lock nut. To make lamp go "on" when testing: Connect a (dual lead) test bulb to the low tension (rear) terminal of the coil and the other bulb lead to the positive pole of the battery. Make up a 12" lead wire w/clips. Clip one end on a Pan "D" ring, clip the other end to the negative pole of the battery. Lamp will light. TURN THE IGNITION "ON". Lamp will go "out". Have the flywheel mark in "correct" position. Have timing slash mark (on timer shaft) centerlining' the fiber rider on the points.
Just as you retard the timer the lamp should light. If it doesn't, TURN THE IGNITION "OFF", re-check the position of the flywheel timing mark. Don't remove the timing plug until the flywheel mark is ready to appear (front intake tappet has just about bottomed out), or you'll get a blast of sump oil on your shirt.
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Re: Timing a Pan

#5

Post by 58flh »

Take your testlight & the wire from the light with the alligator clip on it-Put it to a motor bolt (GROUND!). Wreap a wire around the point part of testlight & tape it there!-Then connect the other end to the points screw where the condensor all hook-up!.--Bring the mark in genter of timing hole!-If you go past it DO NOT GO BACK!--Continue again until your on compresion stroke & set line in center of hole!.--NOW with points set at .022 ADV. the points cam Turn IG on first!-ADV. the points cam & at full ADVANCE the points should just start to open!--THE LIGHT WILL COME ON!---IF you see a wide gap at the points,-loosen the 2-plate screws & Retard it a smidge-tighten them & check it again,-with the points cam at full advance!--When the light comes on the points are open!-(you should not see a gap with the naked eye!) Its to small!--Thickness of a rollingpaper!. When you achieve this ,Check the points for .022 on both cam-lobes! ,.001 or .003 difference is nothing to worry about!--Its most likly from warpage in the plate!,& play in the pointscam!.--If your measurements are way off!--You will have to replace the pointscam!--I have seen this plenty of times!--Usually when a guy puts a timinglight on the motor & cant find the line or its all over the place (& hes holding a steady 2000RPM)--NEW-POINTS CAM!-Assuming all else is in order like timer shaft endplay & runout!,& no broken springs on the flyweights!. If you find you need a new pointscam--its usually because the owner forgets to dab a little grease on the cam!--Good points like BLUESTREAK & ECHLINS have a fiber follower that holds the grease & keeps it lubed!---NAPA Carries the ECHLINS (ask for 1970 or earlier chevy 6-cylinder points & condensor!)-Same for BLUESTREAK!--The ones from HD are crap!!!-The arms are chincy(no meat)& the points themselves are small surface area contact compared to the others I mentioned!--The ones I mentioned have a beefy arm & the points surface of gontact is significantly larger!--Also the Echlins & Bluestreaks have all the connections bolt-up!--Not that slip-on set-up that you get from Taiwan junk!--(The spring pull on HDs points is 19 OZs of pull!--The GOOD ones have 22OZs of sring pressure-pull!---Which means that if you have a hotrod motor, you wont have to worry about point-bounce at hi-RPM!---I have been using both since I was 13 years old & working with dad!--& since my first 69 shortster at 16!--Ill admit I tried Drag-specialties, & accels & stock HD,& none of them can compare to the 2 I mentioned!--just my 2 from EXP. SORRY for the long rite-up, but I hope this answers a few questions guys may have!---RICHIE 8)
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Re:1959 FL Duo Glide Panhead Timing Mark.

#6

Post by Panhead Joey »

Hello Gentleman and fellow Riders,

First of all, I would like to thank you all for this website with all the contents, the information and knowledge base you all share. I have learned so much from all of you who volunteers in helping newbies like myself. My question is, I have a 1959 FL Panhead where should the timing mark be set too? Even though I have been reading the forums and my manuals I’m still uncertain some say in the middle but my manual say to the right? This would be my very first timing the pan so before I start I would like to know where the timing mark should be. Little nervous in doing this but I am confident With all your help I will be victorious.

Cheers ,
Panhead Joey
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Re: Timing a Pan

#7

Post by George Greer »

Joey,

If you can, lift the ass end of the bike, so you can rotate the rear wheel.

Take out your spark plugs, and use your finger to plug the spark plug hole, using the kicker, kick the engine over until you feel the front cylinder coming up on compression stroke, put the bike in 4th gear.

Now look at the timing hole and turning the rear wheel, bring the timing mark into position. If you overshoot, do it again.

On my 58, I set it slightly to the right of the timing plug hole.

Not in the middle, straight up, and not at the extreme right side of the hole.

Now with it set, adjust your circuit breaker (timer-distributor), to the manuals specs.

George
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Re: Timing a Pan

#8

Post by Panhead Joey »

Thank you George for the reply!

Regarding the circuit breaker it does not have the original single contact breaker with the manual advance when I purchased the bike. It’s possible that it has automatic advance single contact breaker or a double contact breaker I have not removed the circuit breaker head or cap to check as of yet. Regardless the type of circuit breaker are the procedures the same when setting the points at 0.022 for all circuit breakers and is the timing mark still set to the right side of the inspection hole? I was reading in another post that if your circuit breaker does not have the original manual advance your timing mark should set be middle is that correct? Or simply, the different type of circuit breaker does not effect the timing mark?

Regards,
Panhead Joey
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Re: Timing a Pan

#9

Post by RooDog »

Joey....
If you don't know what you've got, I would suggest you pop the cap off of that dizzy and have a look-see. If you are still in the dark, how about posting some sharp well lighted pictures, and then maybe the fellas here can lend you some illumination on the subject.
Also get a hold of both the Harley-Davidson Service, and Parts manuals appropriate for your machine, available on eBay. A V-Twin catalog is also very helpful.....
....RooDog....
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Re: Timing a Pan

#10

Post by RUBONE »

Panhead Joey wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 8:54 pm Thank you George for the reply!

Regarding the circuit breaker it does not have the original single contact breaker with the manual advance when I purchased the bike. It’s possible that it has automatic advance single contact breaker or a double contact breaker I have not removed the circuit breaker head or cap to check as of yet. Regardless the type of circuit breaker are the procedures the same when setting the points at 0.022 for all circuit breakers and is the timing mark still set to the right side of the inspection hole? I was reading in another post that if your circuit breaker does not have the original manual advance your timing mark should set be middle is that correct? Or simply, the different type of circuit breaker does not effect the timing mark?

Regards,
Panhead Joey
At the top of this page is a section marked documentation. In it there is a factory service manual (59-69) that covers all points type ignitions up to the nose cone. It is also available as a download.
There is also the Knowledge Base, which has dozens of threads on timing. Every new owner asks the same questions, and they have all been beaten to death. A little research will yield much benefit.
Robbie
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Re: Timing a Pan

#11

Post by Panhead Joey »

Getting back to ya and appreciate the follow up Roodog and Robbie!

Robbie, as suggested I digged in deeper in the knowledge base to find what I was looking for. Under the “Ignition and Timing” section there are many post titles from “Timing a Pan”, Circuit Breakers/Distributor’s “ etc, etc. Many hours scouring through many post titles. Yes, great knowledge and info. and have a much better understanding and theory now with the timing aspect and combustion cycle. I was able to find past by 58Flh and fourthgear that with an auto advance circuit breaker the timing mark on the fly wheel will be set in the middle of the inspection hole, a manual advance the service manual did indicate for an FL towards the right of the inspection hole. I hope after many hours of my research that this is correct. Roodog, I will shoot a pic.of the circuit breaker as soon I get it out of storage which has been sitting for 5 years. This is my very first time I am doing a whole service and maintenance on the pan and Iooking forward to get those hands dirty😀. The weather here in “Down under” is starting to warmup and will be hitting the those long country roads and bushy tropical areas after 5 months of lockdowns due to Covid.

Cheers and thanks again,
Panhead Joey
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Re: Timing a Pan

#12

Post by RooDog »

Joey....
Where are you?
Your profile list you in Irvine, California...
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Re: Timing a Pan

#13

Post by Panhead Joey »

G’day Roodog,

Yes, my main residence is currently Irvine, California I have been traveling back and forth to Sydney to help out my elderly mother. As stated earlier in the posts will be pulling the 59 FL pan out of storage in a few weeks to perform a complete service and tune-up. My only concern was performing the timing but should be comfortable with it now and I will send a pic. of the circuit breaker hopefully you can identify the breaker type.

Cheers from down under be safe,
Panhead Joey
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