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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Posts
    4

    Default No start condition 56 pan

    After ten years down, brought the pan back to life. After the usual buying one thing after the other, back together, and satisfyingly enough, fires up no real problem. Engine was not torn down or anything, needed a trans.

    So now, after a few good test drives, it’s not wanting to fire, no spark at the plugs. Everything tests good, and when it does start, starts normally (not three hundred kicks later) and runs fine.

    Literally everything checks out by meter, etc, new battery, coil, plugs, points, condenser. I don’t dee any fuel jetting from the main discharge tube in the super e when cranking the throttle, but it’s runs and drives down the road normally once started.

    Rechecked the valves just for the hell of it, etc. nothing obviously incorrect.

    Been running champion rj12yc plugs for 20 years with no problems, but they’re resistor plugs and “shouldn’t” be used on a points system.

    What in the world am I missing?

    Started up last night, didn’t take it out. No spark at the plugs or plug wires today, even with battery charger supplying 16 volts.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2018
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    Default

    First, resistor plugs were used with point and coil ignition since resistor plugs were invented. What do you think they were for? Some say that resistor plugs don't work well with magnetos. In any event, the plug type is not your problem.

    Your ignition system is dead simple, so diagnosing it should be the matter of an hour or less.

    You say everything checks out with a meter, but have you done a systematic analysis of the primary ignition circuit from battery to point contact? What are the voltage drops across each component? How are you testing the coil (even though you say it is new)? With ignition switch on, you should have battery voltage minus maybe 5% tops, at the coil, and with the points open, you should read that same number at the point contact. With points closed, you should read zero at the point contact. Anything else, and you have a wiring or switch problem, or the points are bad.

    Something you can't easily check is the condenser, but a bad condenser will allow the points to spark visibly and can cause hard starting. With the points closed and the ignition switch on, the coil should produce good spark when you open the points with a probe. On a dual fire system, both plugs must be attached to the wires, or one plug on a wire, and the other plug wire grounded, to test for spark.

    From your description, my first WAG (Wild Ass Guess) at the problem is that the coil- to- point wire is shorting to ground intermittently. Second guess is that your ignition switch is bad, especially if it is a stock type dash mounted switch.

    Jim

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Posts
    401

    Default

    Try these seven, one at a time (Im assuming you only have kickstart)

    1. Is the circuit breaker set tight against the engine case (not slipping/turning on its own)

    2. Take your fingers and push/wobble the circuit breaker center post (The one with the lobe on it): If it wobbles, your bushings are shot and will not open/close the points correctly

    3. Double check points Are they opening/closing, and is the gap set correctly

    4. Get a new condensor, even if its new: If no joy:

    5. Remove hot wire (battery side, not the points side) at the coil, and any other wire that might be at the battery side of coil. Take jumper wire and connect at battery positive post, the other at the bat side of coil. (You are now "Hot wiring") What this does is bypass the ign switch. Try to start (Dont forget to remove the hot wire when you are done. You dont want to leave the jumper wire in place when not attempting to start). You will run the battery dead and possibly damage the coil over a period of time

    6. Remove POINTS side wire at coil, and any other wire that might be there. Disconnect wire at pionts. Take jumper wire and connect at points side of coil, the other end at pionts. (You are bypassing the old wire to see if you have a unintentional short) Ensuring you have 12v at the bat side of coil when you are ready to start, Try to start

    7. If no joy on either, get another condensor. Faulty condensers out of the box are common

  4. #4
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    Default

    You didn't mention if you have the factory 1948 -1960 single contact point manual advance ignition timer, or other unit.
    Do you know what you have?

    Harley Davidson Panhead ignition timers and coils
    "Harley Davidson Panheads used three types of ignition timers from 1948 to 1965"


    1948 -1960 used a single contact point manual advance ignition timer.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    1961-1964 used a dual breaker point manual advance ignition timer
    Click image for larger version. 

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    1965 models used single point automatic advance ignition timer
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Electronic ignition upgrades for your panhead
    mallory unilite distributor
    Click image for larger version. 

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    for Harley Davidson big twins 1936-1969.
    *requires a 12 volt electrical system

    QuickStart 2000
    For stock Harley Davidson distributors for 6 volt or 12 volt systems

    https://justpanhead.com/harley-david...ers-and-coils/


    Timing marks, distributor-timer, log book.
    *includes info on re-bushing shaft

    "I checked my timing marks on the bikes' flywheel. I used a degree wheel to accurately determine TDC. Then I moved the flywheel to the 35° point on the degree wheel (full advance).
    I drew pictures of the marks for reference. They were perhaps a degree out compared to factory pictures...
    ...I've since changed it for the old Delco condenser the timer came with. This gives less visible sparking at the points with early indications of better running and easier starting as well. Testing shortly...
    Update: A problem remains, especially starting...
    My ignition switch was losing one volt through the switch so I soldered the contacts to their tabs. The crazing is actually electrical spray grease by Wurth. It came out pretty good so I'm proceeding to reassemble and test..
    Ultimately I fitted a relay to bridge battery to coil directly. This eliminates voltage drop at switch, etc.

    Re-bushing the timer...
    Click image for larger version. 

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    https://harleypanhead.blogspot.com/2...-log-book.html
    Last edited by TriNortchopz; 3 Weeks Ago at 12:22 PM. Reason: ei

  5. #5
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    Sep 2010
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    Default





    There's ^^ a new look ...!!
    (Single fire too)

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Thanks to all, good info and gives me more to do, especially jumping the coil and the points to isolate the wiring in between for a check.

    I have the stock timer, in excellent condition, no slop, west or trashed anything on it. I set the timing long ago and went through all the standard maintenance procedures intermittently the first 20 years of having the bike, usually more just to do them instead of to repair something. I have never ridden it hard enough to break something or even really wear something out prematurely, I have plenty of experience doing that with cars. I used to keep a box of clutch discs in the trunk of one of my shoebox chevies, blow it out on Friday night on the main drag, roll to the curb, pull the Muncie and be out being a nuisance again in twenty minutes. Worked at a heavy equipment body shop in slc past the tracks, in the winter invariably one three inch high rail would shear all five lug studs, right rear only, on the 56 i was driving at the time. Got to where the old lady in the coffee shop would have a cup ready for me as I walked my wheel back up the street to jack up the car, punch the logs out, and pull five new ones from the box full in the trunk. Comedy.

    At any rate, I did line trace all the wiring when restoring what was disconnected from pulling the trans in the first place, replaced some of it with new, soldered joints and shrink wrap, no butts and tape, etc.

    Key switch is new, all the electrical wear items are, points, condenser, coil, plugs, battery. Tested each multiple times, and then only because of the starting problem, if something somewhere wasn’t wrong, they’d just prove themselves in operation.

    Biggest mystery is that when it has started, it has started normally enough, not three hundred kicks or pouring raw gas in, and then, runs normally and continues to run, runs and drives very normally, doesn’t buck, surge, lag, etc. idles perfectly, lights work correctly, battery shows correct voltage.

    Flashed the alternator correctly, shows as charging when running.

    No voltage drop anywhere, running or static.

    But I will keep testing, both of my test lights are shit from being antique and never having been used for decades, so I need to get a new one today. One thing I’m not seeing is spark at the points when I cycle the kicker, but the one time it started after swapping out the coil, eliminating a possible short to ground AND jumping the shit out of it with a battery charger (so if any of those things made the difference, they’re blended in together now for notation purposes) I had the timer cover off, and of course the points were sparking because they were working. Not pitted or mistimed (and I reset them and changed the condenser out anyway.)

    So desperate for a solution I even dissassembled the handlebar stop/run switch housing to inspect for short, nothing, all good. And I use that switch to kill the engine, not the key switch, which is new also, mounted off the kicker cover, not a dash mount.

    Keep the info flowing, your help is greatly appreciated. I’ll report back after I jump the coil and the points, in turn.

    I worried a little that sitting forever may have dried out the cylinders enough to give some blowby, enough to oil bath the plugs, after the first few test runs they were darker than tan, so I replaced them. New ones, after a run, perfect dry and tan, and the ends of the exhaust pipes are dry and tan/raw, no oil.

  7. #7
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    "5. Remove hot wire (battery side, not the points side) at the coil, and any other wire that might be at the battery side of coil. Take jumper wire and connect at battery positive post, the other at the bat side of coil. (You are now "Hot wiring") What this does is bypass the ign switch. Try to start (Dont forget to remove the hot wire when you are done. You dont want to leave the jumper wire in place when not attempting to start). You will run the battery dead and possibly damage the coil over a period of time "

    Last week I ran a temporary wire with a small toggle switch off of the battery (15a fused), bypassing the ignition switch
    on it's way to the coil, on my panhead, and found that my ignition switch was intermittently
    cutting out. I then replaced the ignition switch & all is good. I'll bet that is what His problem is.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Posts
    4

    Default

    That sounds as right as anything, it just acts like a connection issue, not a voltage generation issue. New switch, and I’ve learned from electricians to wire and connect things, shall we say, “firmly”... (there’s a reason that generally, electricians have a real tiny sense of humor...) but of course, if you can’t trust a fifteen dollar switch mass produced in china, what can ya trust... next thing they’ll expect ya to believe wrestling is fake and politicians are crooked....

    Before I swap back to the original switch that lived on the bike for forty years problem free (actually just the grandfather of the new switch... literal same design, etc... just made 40 years ago, so....) I’ll do the fused bypass to test. I only put a new one in because I hadn’t come back across the og switch yet, when I did I figured I’d baby the ol girl and give her a new part.... and you know how that goes.

    Thanks, and if I didn’t mention it before, with the key on, I have 12+ volts delivered to the points, so that’s “good” circuit wise, at least static. And the voltage path behaves correct across the points, nothing shorted or otherwise not up to spec, new condenser that does test good.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Posts
    401

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    I'm with ya......... My 7 points is from my experience with "on the road diagnoses, at 0200hrs, in the middle of nowhere".....

  10. #10
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    Jan 2020
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    3

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    I had a similar problem with my 57 Pan. I had accidentally caught the wire from the coil to the points under the horseshoe plate under the timer. When I rotated the timer, it would sometimes short, causing no spark.

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