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Thread: Sparking ignition points

  1. #31
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    Well this is a great thread. I was actually looking to see if people were having trouble finding replacement points for our bikes, cause the ones for the 79 750 seem to be pretty scarce. Especially LH ones.

    I'm not anxious to convert to electronic ignition but maybe I'll have to - unless it's just covid related shortage like millions of other things. I am already looking at going to resistor plugs as soon as I decide on leads and whether to replace the coil or not. I was thinking just caps at first but one of my leads has breaks in the insulation so...

    I -did- replace my condensers recently after one of them obviously (to me anyway) was bad. It seemed to fix the problem for a red hot minute, then the misfiring returned. I looked at the plug caps and found a dead one (infinite resistance is, like, not groovy) -YES! But, it still runs rough. I messed around with point gap, got it to run better, then sanded the contacts with wet/dry - doesn't run??? Well this thread illuminated THAT issue. I've had that happen before now that I think of it, and didn't know why.

    SO, although even a fuss penny such as myself just wants to replace the points and have done with it at this point, I guess I'm forced to go out and try to file the points with something else, and double check the condenser leads to make sure they're making good contact.

    The day my condenser failed I could see crazy arcing on one side (especially at night) and the other points had occasional sparks. After replacing with aftermarket, both sides had more arcing than I am used to seeing, but nowhere near the Nikola Tesla Fever Dream that was happening before.

    Today I was checking the timing and noted the timing light cutting out on Cyl 4, coinciding with low speed misfires. Cyl 3 was rock steady, along with Cyl 2 on the other side. Cyl 1, you guessed it, made the timing light flicker. That's what led me to widen the gap on the 1-4 points as it was a bit tight, and at the same time ruin the points with some we/dry. Now there's no sparking at the points, or the plugs, and no flicker from timing light - yay! For such a simple system there sure are a lot of ways to mess it up.

    Hahah while I was waiting for the new plug cap I knocked the valve cover off and checked my clearances - I hadn't done that in a million years but they don't move as much these days. All quite acceptable except 3 and 4 exhaust are getting really close to bottom of tolerance. Too bad I have completely totally lost my little stash of shims. DAMN! I'm sure I have no possible idea where they are. That's really frustrating. Welp it's good till winter I'm sure...

    Well thanks for letting me think out loud.
    Last edited by Allie; 08-14-2021 at 04:29 PM.
    "Men will never be free until Mark learns to do The Twist."

    -Denis D'shaker

    79 GS750N

  2. #32
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    After replacing the bad plug cap, and replacing two plugs that had stupid high resistance, and finding some NOS points from Cycle Recycle, the bike ran, but like crap. Grrr... Just for fun I placed a .1 uf cap in parallel with the 1-4 condenser, and the bike perked right up! I found a decent condenser from a previous tune-up and replaced the band new one, and took it around the block. It didn't run great but at least it went. I pulled over and took that capacitor out of my pocket and jimmied it into the 2-3 circuit, and it ran MUCH better. I went back home and found another decent condenser and put that in, and it runs perfect now. So both of those aftermarket condensers are junk. So now I have do figure out which way to go before one of these goes, they're not spring chickens after all. Electronic ignition is looking better and better. For now I'll be carrying a couple of spare capacitors with clips soldered onto the leads...

    This *@%^$*@%^$*@%^$*@%^$ has basically blown my summer.
    "Men will never be free until Mark learns to do The Twist."

    -Denis D'shaker

    79 GS750N

  3. #33
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    Barring any more hurricanes, you should be able to get a lot of riding in before the snow flies

    Your ordeal is what I try to explain to the " you can fix points on the road side, you can't fix a Dyna S" crowd
    You can't fix a condenser, either, and that's more likely to fail.
    1978 GS 1000 (since new)
    1979 GS 1000 (The Fridge, superbike replica project)
    1978 GS 1000 (parts)
    1981 GS 850 (anyone want a project?)
    1981 GPZ 550 (backroad screamer)
    1970 450 Mk IIID (THUMP!)
    2007 DRz 400S
    1999 ATK 490ES
    1994 DR 350SES

  4. #34
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    I'll get my son to Hot Dog Johnnie's this year, for sure!
    "Men will never be free until Mark learns to do The Twist."

    -Denis D'shaker

    79 GS750N

  5. #35
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    I've concluded that I will go with a Dyna S in the near future. I just don't see the point in staying with the stock system any more. In the mean time I've made a spare condenser out of two .1 uf 630v caps soldered in parallel to two alligator clips. If one of my old condensers go it's easy to clip into place as needed. These caps are rated to something like 105C but I guess it gets REALLY hot in that little space... I'd probably leave the cover off to get myself home. There's probably better (remote) options but this is a good stop gap.

    Casual reading indicates that your condensers 'ring' at 300 ish volts so you actually want them rated much higher. I don't know exactly what that means except I guess when they discharge in use the 'pressure' is much higher than 12 volts and making close personal contact will really 'ring' your bell. Also most point ignitions use a condenser between .18 - .22 uf, and these are no different. I think Kokusan uses .19 and ND uses .21, something like that. It's in the shop manual. Also while too little capacitance causes arcing as the points open, too much can cause arcing as they close and discharge. So there is an optimal value, tho at casual riding I'd imagine it's pretty forgiving.

    Lastly, with the good condensers installed I took careful note with the garage light out of the amount of arcing taking place at idle and moderate revving of the engine. That value = ZERO. At higher revs obviously you can get occasional arcs and bouncing but the baseline is no sparks!

    This is just personal research and observation as I strive to better understand what's going on. YMMV.

    Now for those front forks....
    "Men will never be free until Mark learns to do The Twist."

    -Denis D'shaker

    79 GS750N

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allie View Post
    I've concluded that I will go with a Dyna S in the near future. I just don't see the point in staying with the stock system any more. In the mean time I've made a spare condenser out of two .1 uf 630v caps soldered in parallel to two alligator clips. If one of my old condensers go it's easy to clip into place as needed. These caps are rated to something like 105C but I guess it gets REALLY hot in that little space... I'd probably leave the cover off to get myself home. There's probably better (remote) options but this is a good stop gap.

    Casual reading indicates that your condensers 'ring' at 300 ish volts so you actually want them rated much higher. I don't know exactly what that means except I guess when they discharge in use the 'pressure' is much higher than 12 volts and making close personal contact will really 'ring' your bell. Also most point ignitions use a condenser between .18 - .22 uf, and these are no different. I think Kokusan uses .19 and ND uses .21, something like that. It's in the shop manual. Also while too little capacitance causes arcing as the points open, too much can cause arcing as they close and discharge. So there is an optimal value, tho at casual riding I'd imagine it's pretty forgiving.

    Lastly, with the good condensers installed I took careful note with the garage light out of the amount of arcing taking place at idle and moderate revving of the engine. That value = ZERO. At higher revs obviously you can get occasional arcs and bouncing but the baseline is no sparks!

    This is just personal research and observation as I strive to better understand what's going on. YMMV.

    Now for those front forks....
    Very good observations..The differences between ND and KOK....Thanks..Good info..I learned how much timing was important,when adding a little nitro with points in a 2 stroke, Constant headache ..Holed a lota pistons..lol..But yep a Dyna S probably the way to go..
    Last edited by gs11ezrydr; 09-15-2021 at 06:40 AM.
    82 gs1100ez 1168 Wiseco,Web .348 Cams,Falicon Sprockets,Star Racing Ported Head,1mm o/s Stainless Valves,APE Springs,Bronze Guides,etc.APE Billet Tensioner,36CV Carbs,Stage 3 Dynojet,Plenum w/K&N filter,Trued,Welded,Balanced,Crank w/Katana rods & Billet left end, FBG backcut trans, VHR HD Clutch basket,APE nut,VHR High volume oil pump gears,1150 Oil cooler,V&H Megaphone header w/Competition baffle,Dyna S,Coils,Wires,etc.Other misc.mods.

  7. #37
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    If the points are not scrupulously clean they will arc. I clean mine with paper. I would not go with electronic. There's nothing wrong with points on these old bikes.
    You can usually do something on the side of the road in the event of a problem with points ignition. A CDI there's no chance of a fix.


    Don't say can't, as anything is possible with time and effort, but, if you don't have time things get tougher and require more effort.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatu View Post
    If the points are not scrupulously clean they will arc. I clean mine with paper. I would not go with electronic. There's nothing wrong with points on these old bikes.
    You can usually do something on the side of the road in the event of a problem with points ignition. A CDI there's no chance of a fix.
    Reminds me of a conversation with a dealer when I bought a new Citroen BX in 1990.
    Why is there no tool kit ?
    They are so reliable you won't need it and so complicated it wouldn't be of any use anyway!
    80 GS850GT
    79 Z400B

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatu View Post
    If the points are not scrupulously clean they will arc. I clean mine with paper. I would not go with electronic. There's nothing wrong with points on these old bikes.
    You can usually do something on the side of the road in the event of a problem with points ignition. A CDI there's no chance of a fix.
    I hear what you're saying but right now at least, availability seems to be an issue with points AND condensers. Quality too.
    "Men will never be free until Mark learns to do The Twist."

    -Denis D'shaker

    79 GS750N

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatu View Post
    If the points are not scrupulously clean they will arc. I clean mine with paper. I would not go with electronic. There's nothing wrong with points on these old bikes.
    You can usually do something on the side of the road in the event of a problem with points ignition. A CDI there's no chance of a fix.
    You can't fix bad condensers on the side of the road. That was Allies problem.

    I haven't had to fix my Dyna in almost 40 years. I did check my timing back in 2008, it was still good
    1978 GS 1000 (since new)
    1979 GS 1000 (The Fridge, superbike replica project)
    1978 GS 1000 (parts)
    1981 GS 850 (anyone want a project?)
    1981 GPZ 550 (backroad screamer)
    1970 450 Mk IIID (THUMP!)
    2007 DRz 400S
    1999 ATK 490ES
    1994 DR 350SES

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