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Need help with static timing...

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by jakefromstatefarm, Jun 1, 2016.

  1. jakefromstatefarm

    jakefromstatefarm XS650 New Member

    Hey guys. I'm rebuilding my first bike (1979 xs400F according to title). It hasn't ran in a little over 30 years, so things are a little guess-and-check, but it's been a fun learning experience.

    I'm finally getting to the ignition timing tonight. I have the gaps at .015 inches and am using an automotive voltage tester to check for when the light comes on and off.

    Here's my situation (please excuse any ignorance - I'm eager to learn all I can).

    If I hook the tester up to the battery's positive mount and to the left cylinder's timing coil, I get a solid light that won't even flicker as I rotate the engine manually. However, if I mount the tester to the engine block and the timing coil, I get zero light.

    As for the right cylinder, hooking up to just the ignition coil and the engine block still results in zero light. However, the light will go from normal brightness to extra bright at what I am almost convinced are completely random intervals as I rotate the engine, if I have the tester mounted on the positive battery terminal and the right cylinder's coil.

    Something else that might be worth noting... The tester will light up even with the key out of the ignition. I assumed that when the key was off or out, the circuit was broken and you wouldn't be able to get the tester to light up anywhere. Does this mean something else is drastically wrong? Will my battery likely drain?

    I've been in over my head since the beginning but have managed thus far, knowing all along that the electrical components would be my greatest struggle. Any advice in troubleshooting this situation would be more than appreciated.

    Thanks guys, you're the best.
  2. DogBunny

    DogBunny Motorcychologist Top Contributor

    Disconnect the point lead wire from whatever it plugs into. One probe goes on the wire you just disconnected, the other goes to ground, such as an engine fin.
  3. jakefromstatefarm

    jakefromstatefarm XS650 New Member

    Thanks for the quick reply. I posted this in a similar thread and realized I made the mistake of calling the sheet-spring that gives the gap point its tension a "coil."

    Will having the probe on this sheet-spring achieve the same outcome as disconnecting the wire and hooking the probe to the wire's end? That's what I've seen done on how-to videos.

    Again, thanks so much.
  4. DogBunny

    DogBunny Motorcychologist Top Contributor

    Look, until you disconnect the points lead wire from whatever it plugs into you will be reading through the ignition coil and you will get all kinds of confusing results, such as you outlined in your initial post. Once disconnected you can put the probe on the spring steel, but at this point why not use the wire since it is now disconnected?
  5. gggGary

    gggGary When a whole one is just too much. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

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