Question about Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster Motorcycles

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Setting Points 1960 sportster magneto - XLH 1000 Sportster Harley Davidson Motorcycles

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Set the points gap to 0.020". For more information on the magneto, go to this site or do a search for Fairbanks Morse Magneto.

Hope this helps,

Posted on May 21, 2011


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78 ds80 no spark

This ignition design relies on proper setting of the points in relation to the magneto to produce a spark. It is possible that your aligning pin sheared causing the magneto to be out of place in relation to the points opening. Dirty points, improper gap, and a bad coil will all result in a 'no-spark' condition. Check out the attached video. It is not your bike, but the procedure is the same. How to Set Points

Mar 05, 2014 | Motorcycles

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How to replace ignition points of 1960 Corvair

You real that a person has to be 70 years old to
even have worked on one of those

You need to find a Corvair internet forum

Mar 08, 2013 | 1960 Chevrolet Corvair

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1964 xlch sportster oil leaks

Hi Michael, sure can there is an o-ring on the magneto shaft that should be replaced. Good luck.

Feb 19, 2013 | 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

1 Answer

I need to install a magneto on a 57 xl harley sportster. I need to know the procedure to accomplish this. Thanks.

Been a long time since I've done one of those. Let me brush some cobwebs aside and see if I remember how I did it. The magneto fired Sportster engine was equipped with a mechanical left handlebar ignition advance mechanism. You retarded the timing, got the engine fired, and then advanced the timing using the left handlebar grip that was similar to the throttle. When installing the magneto, make sure you install it with it in it's retarded position which is with the body of the magneto at it's maximum clockwise rotation when viewed from the top of the magneto.

The manneto drive shaft will turn as you drop the unit into the cases. You must turn the drive shaft to a position so that when you drop the magneto into the cam gear case it rotates to a point to where it is just about to open the points. I remove the timing plug of the engine and bring the front cylinder up on Top Dead Center on the compression stroke with the mark in the middle of the hole. Then I'd connect an ohm meter, a "buzz box" or simply use a piece of celophane wrap off a cigarette pack placed between the closed points to give me an indication of exactly when the points began to open. I'd rotate the mag until the points just barely opened with the Front Cylinder TDC mark in the hole. This is setting your initial timing at Top Dead Center on the front cylinder. Once the engine is started, you can set the timing using a timing light to set it the max advance timing to the front cylinder advanced timing mark. With the engine running, advance the timing using the handlebar grip. To adjust the front cylinder timing, connect a timing light to the front cylinder spark plug wire. Shine the light in the hole, loosen the clamp that holds the mag and adjust the magneto position until the front cylinder advanced timing mark is in the hole. Tighten the clamp. When you kill the engine, you turn the handlebar grip back to ****** the magneto. Usually, this results in an initial retarde timing of about 5-7° BTDC.

I hope this helps.


Jul 01, 2011 | Harley Davidson XL 53 C Sportster Custom...

1 Answer

Have a1975 175 enduro, acts like needs timeing, can't figure out how to check or adjust. Got any help?

Before I explain the timing, I want you to check the crankshaft bearing on the left side, (shifter side), of the bike. Just remove the left side case cover and then hold the magneto firmly in your hand and then lift up and down then left and right. If the magneto is not rock solid you will need to install new crank bearings and seals. Any movement in the magneto means the timing will be jumping around.

Now, the timing. This bike is timed at 1.8mm BTC. Race timing is 2.0mm BTC.. You need a dial guage and an olmmeter to set it properly. Remove the spark plug then screw the dial gage mount into the spark plug hole. GENTLY run the piston towards TDC. At tdc setthe guage to zero then back the piston down, still on the compression stroke. Attach the olmmeter to the points and to ground. Run the pisten back towards TDC and set the points such that they open at the 1.8 or 2.0mm advance point. Setting the points is simply a matter of rotating the points base plate left or right as needed to achive opening at the proper piston position, 1.8 or 2.0..

There is a notch in the base plate which you can use to set the points. You can make the adjustment by loosning the base plate and useing a flat screwdriver to move the base plate. It has been 30 years since I worked on a 175 Yamaha. I dont recall if the magneto has a timing mark on it or not. I think it does. If so, the first of two marks is the timing mark. The second mark is TDC. You can start the bike then use a timing light to check the timing. Stop the engine, make an adjustment, start again and check with the timing light, etc., etc., until is is set where it should be. There will be a mark on the center case that the magneto marks will line up with if there are indeed marks on the magneto. It would probably be advisable to file the points as they may well be pitted from usage. Please rate my answer.


Sep 16, 2010 | 1974 Yamaha DT 360

1 Answer

I have a 1967 Harley XLH Sportster. I rebuilt the

"Backfiring" is a pretty broad term depending on where you live. Some people refer to backfiring as popping from the exhaust while others refer to it as the engine spitting through the carburetor.

I'll assume that you're talking about popping out the exhaust pipe. If it does this after you rev the engine and it backfires on the way back down to idle, this is typical of an exhaust system sucking air. The mixture is extremely rich under these circumstances and will not ignite. But, if your exhaust system is sucking air, it combines with the fuel air mixture already there and bring it to an explosive mixture thus the backfire.

You can check you valves but I've always found that if the valves on an Ironhead are too tight, it's extremely difficult to get it started due to the low compression on that cylinder.

Check you ignition timing and points setting. Also, what kind of condition is your mechanical advance in the distributor in? I'm assuming this is an XLH model and not the magneto equipped XLCH.

What type of carburetor is on the engine? Hopefully not the original Tillotson that it came with. If it's an S&S, the low jet should be a 28 and the main jet a 66 to 70.

Jun 10, 2010 | 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

1 Answer

My walk behind mower wont start..has no spark with new plug or old one could it be a rusty magneto

Rust on the magneto has no bearing on the output of a spark. The magneto or the points if it has them could be the problem. If the unit has points they may be under the flywheel. If so equiped, that would be the logical place to start. If no points, I would replace the magneto. When you place the new one on, place a piece of paper between the flywheel and the magneto. When you tighten the magneto, pull out the paper and turn the flywheel by hand. If the magneto turns without touching, put everything together and try it out. Good luck...Lee

Sep 09, 2009 | Garden

1 Answer

It wont start it has a light spark is it the coil

With a new spark plug set at .020", there should be a fat, snapping, blue spark with a magneto. Electronic systems require several good pulls in succession to generate good spark. Other than setting pole gap, there is not is not much you can do for electronic types except replace the whole unit. Magnetos have points and condenser to play with. The points are usually the prime problem with dirty/oily contacts or improper point gap (.020") at the high point of the cam. Coils are a more rare problem.

Jun 29, 2009 | Garden

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