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  1. #1
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    Default Will my chop ever be a first kick?

    Itíd be nice to have a first kick bike, especially after emptying the wallet for a rebuild. The real issue lies in kicking it to the point of my battery draining so much that when it finally starts, it barely has the juice to survive longer than 5 miles. Iíve been stranded probably 3-4 times since finishing it last May.

    Itís a 74Ē 72 shovel with super E and dyna S electronic ign. (Newly timed)..When I finally get it started itís sounds and rides great. Iím paranoid about taking it on any long trips brave off the frequent breakdowns.

    What do you guys think, kicking too much is draining the battery? Only other thing Iíd think it could be is a bad charging, but my meter is showing itís holding a charge.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks for any help

  2. #2

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    Sounds as though you should be looking at the charging system. Once the bike is running, it should support the ignition AND charge the battery. Electronic ignition systems can be very touchy about how much charge is in the battery.
    Last edited by 45Brit; 03-13-2021 at 12:15 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45Brit View Post
    Sounds as though you should be looking at the charging system. Once the bike is running, it should support the ignition AND charge the battery. Electronic ignition systems can be very touchy about how much charge is in the battery.
    Damn yes, my kick only shovel has a small battery, usually fires first kick after two priming kicks (Super B). Can't see how once yours is running it doesn't stay that way IF the charging system works . Note- I run points.

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    Kickstarting a Shovelhead.


    Walk to the bike, fingers crossed, say a prayer....
    Ensure all the normal leaks are present....
    Look for tranny seal oil spot on the ground to ensure it has fluid.
    Turn on the choke.
    Kick the bike over a few times with the switch off to get it primed.
    Spin it through until you get compression.
    Turn the switch on.
    Kick until you have to wipe the snot from your face.
    Take a break to catch your breath, count the number of people who gathered around, try to look like this is standard procedure.
    Realize you are now in middle of the street, roll the bike back onto driveway, that explains the horns blowing.
    Try to act as if you don't notice the crowd snickering.
    Think, must be flooded.
    Turn off the choke.
    Hold the throttle wide open.
    Kick..kick...kick...
    Notice new paint spots on the tank and realize your nose is bleeding.
    Wipe the tear/snot/sweat/nose bleed combo from your face.
    Cuss.
    Kick some more.
    Cuss.
    Ignore the old man who says......you know, back in the day.......
    Kick until you hear horns blowing again.
    Cuss.
    Don't even wipe, just swallow the combo.
    Check the points.
    Turn on the choke.
    Hold the throttle WFO, kick until the neighbors wife says.......you don't look so good.
    Wipe/swallow/cuss
    Check the plugs.
    Turn off the choke.
    Notice you never turned the fuel on.
    Cuss.
    Turn fuel on.
    Turn choke on.
    Prime engine.
    Threaten motorcycle.
    KICK !!
    Pick youself up from the ground in front of motorcycle.
    Put out the fire in the air cleaner.
    Remember to retard the timing this go-around.
    Turn on the ignition.
    Kick.
    Engine starts.......dies.
    swallow.
    Kick.....success
    Check gas in tank, realize there is only about a 1/2 a gallon, meaning you will have to go through this again in about 15 minutes.
    straddle bike, look both ways for traffic, realize you are in the middle of the street again.
    Ride away thinking........ screw those electric start pooftah's......I'm the real deal!!

  5. #5
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    Amen brother, amen

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45Brit View Post
    Sounds as though you should be looking at the charging system. Once the bike is running, it should support the ignition AND charge the battery. Electronic ignition systems can be very touchy about how much charge is in the battery.
    Thanks for the advice. I actually just installed the electronic ignition, so maybe that will help. I’ve only been on it once since install and it did well for the 5-10 miles I rode it around town. All the times I’d been stranded I had points, but really don’t think the type of ignition is the catalyst.

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    Man, that little scoot is nice.

    Any H-D in near stock configuration should start with a couple of kicks when cold. Plenty of gas and a hot spark is really all that is needed. Full choke, a couple of prime kicks, switch on, and start. Likewise, if the top end is in good shape, when the motor is hot, it should be a reliable easy starter. Switch on, crack the throttle, kick and go. The above is with a good top end, no leaky valves, worn out rings, vacuum leaks, flooding carb, weak ignition, etc. If your bike is NOT an easy starter cold or fully hot, YOU got mechanical or tuning problems that YOU have not rectified yet. So, you have some more work to do.

    Now, with a lot of H-Ds, the not quite cold, and not fully warmed up no-man's-land can be a challenge. My stroker FLH is one of those. I've had it 31 years and still don't know the secret handshake for when it is partially warmed up. Like, run 2 or 3 miles to the gas station, and then try to start it after a fill-up.

    And if you have a hot rod motor, pan or shovel, kicking those to life can be an ordeal at any time. Very temperamental no matter how carefully tuned. (Lots of overlap in the cam timing is NOT conducive to reliable kick starting.)

    F,
    You have some work ahead of you, not the least of which is to get your battery and charging system sorted, as pointed out above.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by firstripholdmybeer View Post
    Thanks for the advice. I actually just installed the electronic ignition, so maybe that will help. I’ve only been on it once since install and it did well for the 5-10 miles I rode it around town. All the times I’d been stranded I had points, but really don’t think the type of ignition is the catalyst.
    In my opinion, the Dyna S is THE ignition for a kick start H-D. I have 3 bikes up & running, all with a Dyna S. Good hot spark all the time.

    Jim

  9. #9

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    I don’t mind admitting that having had a couple of panheads over the years, both my Shovelheads were electric start and I never regretted that. I’ve presently got an ironhead Sportster which is kick-only in the workshop and I can’t get the starting reliably sorted, but the electric-start one that came before it is a different beast altogether, starts first pop, hot, cold or warm.

    I had various British machines and starting the hotter singles was always challenging, especially Velocettes for some reason. BSAs were usually easy, assuming the magneto was in good shape. I have a Yamaha TT500 just now and that is easy, provided you don’t do anything silly like over-choking it, or not making sure you are JUST past compression.

    I’ve never had any problems getting Harley 45s going, hot, cold or warm.

    ... nice looking old-school chop, by the way.
    Last edited by 45Brit; 03-13-2021 at 3:16 PM.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the compliments Jim and 45Brit

    Jim, thanks for all of the pointers, all VERY good info.

    I’d been pretty certain my points were just off and it was a timing issue in that regard, but no. Found out it wasn’t once I switched over to the Dyna S and no difference. It’s timed up with the vertical line advance mark (72’ motor) on the flywheel (dead center in the peep hole).

    If I had to guess I’d say I haven’t even broken the 500 mile mark on this thing since it’s been rebuilt by DC Choppers last year. I’ll say that even when I went to pick it up he had a tough time starting it up. He kinda blamed it on my air filter/cover since it wasn’t a S&S teardrop. But would that really make the difference between a first kick and a 10-20 kick bike?

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    Quote Originally Posted by firstripholdmybeer View Post
    Thanks for the compliments Jim and 45Brit

    Jim, thanks for all of the pointers, all VERY good info.

    I’d been pretty certain my points were just off and it was a timing issue in that regard, but no. Found out it wasn’t once I switched over to the Dyna S and no difference. It’s timed up with the vertical line advance mark (72’ motor) on the flywheel (dead center in the peep hole).

    If I had to guess I’d say I haven’t even broken the 500 mile mark on this thing since it’s been rebuilt by DC Choppers last year. I’ll say that even when I went to pick it up he had a tough time starting it up. He kinda blamed it on my air filter/cover since it wasn’t a S&S teardrop. But would that really make the difference between a first kick and a 10-20 kick bike?
    Short answer, no.

    Newly rebuilt motors can be difficult to kick start because with the rings not seated, they don't build much cranking compression. But that issue should go away within 10 - 20 miles of break-in, because modern rings seat fast. Dead nuts set-up of the carb and ignition is a must! A carb not tuned correctly will give you fits. And the often overlooked advance unit will bother you as well, whether points or Dyna S.

    If in doubt, do a valve adjustment and then leak check the motor cold and hot. A decent used shovel will leak about 12% cold, in my experience, and a warmed up fresh motor with rings seated should leak about half that or less, maybe as little as 3 or 4 per cent if it was carefully built.

    And last but not least, check and VERIFY that the timing marks on the flywheels are what you think they are. In these old motors, there is no telling what flywheels are in there, and H-D did change the marks in late '80 or '81.

    Jim

  12. #12
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    I'll add to make sure the o-rings on the manifold are not leaking, THAT one is a Panhead favorite.

  13. #13

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    I don’t know the S&S carbs, they are rare this side of the water, as are kick-start older Harleys other than 45s. FWIW, my experience is that Bendix carbs on Shovelheads and ironhead Sportsters start easily, although the fuel economy isn’t great; Linkerts, just the same only more so; Amal Concentrics are more trouble than they are worth on bigger engines, although they suit 45s very well.

    My personal vote would be the round-slide Mikuni VM, or the Keihin cv carb fitted to later Pre-EFI Sportsters - the best all-round carb for most Harleys in the 883-1300cc range, IMHO.

    The MoCo fitted electric start early in the game, and abandoned the kick starter before that was usual, and I’m sure there was good reason for that. I notice with my present bike - an Evo Sportster - that it starts easily, but typically on the second revolution of the engine, or the first spin when warm or hot. The ironhead was the same, so were the Shovelheads. That tells me that any older Harley in a reasonable state of tune ought to start with a couple of primes and a “hot” kick, or just a “hot” kick when it’s been running, but the requirement is to spin the engine quickly and continuously - which the kicker won’t do.

    None of this helps you, of course.

    A few things which haven’t been mentioned, but don’t take long to check;

    - inlet manifold seals. Do a “soapy water” check, look for bubbles or suction while running, or bubbles after kicking.
    - carb float level. This is another of those things which causes endless problems, particularly hard starting and isn’t hard to fix.
    - ignition advance mechanism. This has already been mentioned I know, but I wouldn’t use an old advance. Personally, I’d ditch the mechanical advance altogether and fit an electronic advance, but if you want a mechanical advance, get a new unit. Those little springs get tired and cause endless trouble.
    - do you have a strobe? If not, get one of those acrylic timing plugs (DON’T try this without a plug in the hole! I’ve seen this attempted and it’s pretty funny to watch, but no real help in timing the engine) and a strobe. They’re not expensive and give you a positive check on your fully advanced timing, although that doesn’t sound like your problem right now.
    - what plug caps do you have? A common problem I find with the Yamaha TT500 particularly, is that if the plug cap isn’t 100% seated in the plug wire, it is almost impossible to start.
    Last edited by 45Brit; 03-14-2021 at 12:33 AM.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    Man, that little scoot is nice.

    Any H-D in near stock configuration should start with a couple of kicks when cold. Plenty of gas and a hot spark is really all that is needed. Full choke, a couple of prime kicks, switch on, and start. Likewise, if the top end is in good shape, when the motor is hot, it should be a reliable easy starter. Switch on, crack the throttle, kick and go. The above is with a good top end, no leaky valves, worn out rings, vacuum leaks, flooding carb, weak ignition, etc. If your bike is NOT an easy starter cold or fully hot, YOU got mechanical or tuning problems that YOU have not rectified yet. So, you have some more work to do.

    Now, with a lot of H-Ds, the not quite cold, and not fully warmed up no-man's-land can be a challenge. My stroker FLH is one of those. I've had it 31 years and still don't know the secret handshake for when it is partially warmed up. Like, run 2 or 3 miles to the gas station, and then try to start it after a fill-up.

    And if you have a hot rod motor, pan or shovel, kicking those to life can be an ordeal at any time. Very temperamental no matter how carefully tuned. (Lots of overlap in the cam timing is NOT conducive to reliable kick starting.)

    F,
    You have some work ahead of you, not the least of which is to get your battery and charging system sorted, as pointed out above.

    Jim

    When I had my panheads, I used to plan my fuel stops! I mostly filled them from a can before setting out, and fuel stops on the road were coffee and comfort breaks too .. I would stop for at least half an hour... saved a lot of problems...

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    Short answer, no.

    Newly rebuilt motors can be difficult to kick start because with the rings not seated, they don't build much cranking compression. But that issue should go away within 10 - 20 miles of break-in, because modern rings seat fast. Dead nuts set-up of the carb and ignition is a must! A carb not tuned correctly will give you fits. And the often overlooked advance unit will bother you as well, whether points or Dyna S.

    If in doubt, do a valve adjustment and then leak check the motor cold and hot. A decent used shovel will leak about 12% cold, in my experience, and a warmed up fresh motor with rings seated should leak about half that or less, maybe as little as 3 or 4 per cent if it was carefully built.

    And last but not least, check and VERIFY that the timing marks on the flywheels are what you think they are. In these old motors, there is no telling what flywheels are in there, and H-D did change the marks in late '80 or '81.

    Jim

    +1 on the timing marks thing. I have a gauge which fits in the plug hole for finding TDC, and I use that with a degree wheel. Mostly it just confirms the mark on the wheels, but occasionally I learn something.. my kick-only Sportster has some odd marks on the wheels, as well as the correct ones...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    Short answer, no.

    Newly rebuilt motors can be difficult to kick start because with the rings not seated, they don't build much cranking compression. But that issue should go away within 10 - 20 miles of break-in, because modern rings seat fast. Dead nuts set-up of the carb and ignition is a must! A carb not tuned correctly will give you fits. And the often overlooked advance unit will bother you as well, whether points or Dyna S.

    If in doubt, do a valve adjustment and then leak check the motor cold and hot. A decent used shovel will leak about 12% cold, in my experience, and a warmed up fresh motor with rings seated should leak about half that or less, maybe as little as 3 or 4 per cent if it was carefully built.

    And last but not least, check and VERIFY that the timing marks on the flywheels are what you think they are. In these old motors, there is no telling what flywheels are in there, and H-D did change the marks in late '80 or '81.

    Jim
    Good to know, Iíll see if I can find a trear drop at the next swap and see if that helps at all, worth a shot and theyíre plentiful there. Valves were also something I was questioning so I did end up readjusting the pushrods, they were a tiny bit too snug, so I donít think that was much of an issue. Iíll have to call the shop that rebuilt it and see if they used period correct flywheel for it. I did try timing it to TDC and that wasnít doing the trick, then the vertical line did (as in theory it should, for that year). The advance mark seems to be correct with where the front piston sits when I feel it through the plug hole.

    Leak down test seems to be the next best thing to do along with some soap on manifold seals as 45Brit mentioned. Also will check my super eís jetting.

    While Iím here, Jim or 45Brit, maybe once of you know why my shovel leaks like crazy after sitting for a few weeks. It leaks directly from the breather hose coming from the case (next to oil pump). Sometimes it can be as much as 8oz roughly. I know a few drops is normal, but Iím talking a puddle. I wonít start the thing cold without having cardboard under the hose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 45Brit View Post
    +1 on the timing marks thing. I have a gauge which fits in the plug hole for finding TDC, and I use that with a degree wheel. Mostly it just confirms the mark on the wheels, but occasionally I learn something.. my kick-only Sportster has some odd marks on the wheels, as well as the correct ones...
    Thanks for all the pointers man! I’m going to check manifold leaks today. As for carbs, I’ve considered a CV as I’ve heard they’re the best. A lot of people swear by these super Es on shovels. I had one on my 1200 sporty and loved it. I’ll take all of those into consideration though, cheers.

    I do have a strobe, that method seems like a savior and just a great thing to have. I’ll get one of those plugs. When I replace my points with electric the advance unit looked brand new so I’m assuming it was replaced in the rebuild.

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    Battery update:

    I went on maybe a 10 mile ride yesterday and made three stops while I was out. She ran great the entire time.

    Starting it cold at the house it was holding a charge at 12.3 volts, I got back later and the reading was 11.82V. Turned the bike off, waited 10 minutes and charge returns to 12.22V.

    So is it ok for the battery to drop below 12V while operating?

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    No, a modern alternator should give 14.2 - 14.4V with full lighting load at pretty much any rpm above idle. That's one of your problems, so diagnose the alternator and fix it before proceeding to other tuning.

    A modern AGM battery is fully charged at 12.8V, no load, and that figure drops as the battery ages. Around 12.3V or so is 50% discharged, and anything below 12V is about 75% discharged.

    Jim

  20. #20

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    There are plenty of threads on here and elsewhere about leaking breathers, but long story short, the check valve is leaking, most likely because the ball isn’t seated correctly. Do a google search and you will find all the details.

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