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  1. #1
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    Default Getting a '68 Ironhead started again

    So I went and bought myself a decent looking ironhead xlch. Never owned an ironhead before, let alone a kick only bike. Pulled the plugs and they are both getting spark from the mag when kicked. still wont start. Plugs seem pretty dry. Could this be a sign of valves not opening to let fuel in? Plus with the plug out it doesnt seem to blow much out of the plug hole? Remember I know nothing, so any advice or small detail is not to small, I probably over looked it. would it be valves or timing or both? or something else?

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    Did it run before you bought it? If the guy you bought it from could get it started, and you can't, you might ask him what his start routine was. If you bought a "ran when parked" bike, you could be in for an expensive repair. Check all the obvious things, ignition timing, point gap, valve timing, intake leaks, compression... If it's been sitting for a while, rebuild the carb. It doesn't take long for gas to turn to varnish and gum up the carb. On a 68 you should be able to retard the timing for easier starting. Lastly try and find someone close to you who can help you out. Having a guy in your garage with even limited Sportster knowledge is going to be a lot more effective in solving your problem than anyone trying to diagnose it over the internet.

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    All of the above/ I'd start by checking all the valve timing, then a quick compression check. It's kick only so I wouldnt look for huge numbers, but at least 100psi a cylinder or so cold should do the trick. If it's low on compression try a little oil in the cylinders and see if it bumps it up to determine if it's piston rings or top end.
    For it to fire it's spark/air/fuel assuming compression is okay. so if you've been kicking for ten minutes and the plugs are dry when you pull them that'll kill the equation. You're getting spark, so that kills spark, you're getting air assuming your butterfly is working on the carb? so maybe it's just fuel. Try a little gas in the carb, after priming it several times with the kicker. if it'll fire up that way maybe it's just a dirty carb. easy enough to fix on the cheap.

    As with all old bikes, check your timing and points first. I would guess points are at least semi okay since you're getting decent spark. Just follow the manual for setting valve timing and static timing and see to the rest. There's a great youtube video from a fellow over on the xlforums for valves, point gap, and static timing. I probably watched them twenty times before I got a manual to get me started.

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    good deal guys, thanks for the responses. I have a manual ive been reading, but I know so little that its hard to even make it make sense. Hopefully Ill get started this week after work looking into it. The guy I bought it from didnt have it running, but the carb has been rebuilt, and is spotless, doesnt mean its right though i guess. What do you mean by priming the carb? I kicked the shit out of it last night, would that have primed it? Thanks again.

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    By priming I meant kicking it over to make sure everything is lubed up. You always kick a bike over a few times to oil it before even turning on the gas and trying to start it.

    Just make sure the carb has gas in the bowl. Not sure which one you're working with, but there is always a drain plug on the bowl. Turn on your petcock and let it fill, then if you don't have an inline see through fuel filter unscrew the drain plug a little and make sure there is gas in it. It'll pour out on you if there is. A few videos you may want to watch:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti1wDOpi-ek

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S2qbld6m-c

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKVh4pbyh2A
    Last edited by Daverous; 10-14-2012 at 4:57 PM.

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    thanks alot man, watchin the timing video made so much more sense then just reading that damn book. Im hopin I can find some damn time this week to get some more done on it. I bought it as a winter project, but I cant stand to wait that long. I want it running now. haha I always do it that way.

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