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Switching from TCI to PAMCO

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Rlauchard, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict

    Hi all,

    Me again. So if you don't remember the back story the brief history is:

    - have an 81 TCI bike, decided to switch to points using PAMCO ignition plate
    - found out that camshaft was in backwards (pause on PAMCO change)
    - rebuilt top end of motor
    - attempted the points install and the disc plate on the right side snapped in half
    - got new part shipped from Mikes (1/3), they shipped to wrong address
    - UPS delayed the reroute, just got back from ATL, part arrived on 1/15

    So...I've got some questions that I need answered. Remember please that I have never owned a bike, this is my first. Since it's my first and it's TCI, I don't know how points work or are supposed to work.

    1. The rod that goes through the engine. Mine has some play in it and no resistance at all. Here is a video of how easily it slides in and the play.

    2. The instructions that I am reading say:
    16. Hold the rotor firmly to the right (clockwise) when tightening the nut on the shaft.​
    17. Hold the nut on the advance mechanism firmly when tightening the nut on the "rotor". ​
    So....16....the rotor is the piece that fits over the PAMCO plate right? And if so, I 'twist' it clockwise while I hand tighten the nut/lockwasher over the big washer?

    Does the big washer need to be 'centered' on the rotor? The lock washer that I got from Mikes is almost the size of the hole on the big washer and makes that pretty impossible. Here is the video..is this right?

    Now....back to 17....this is saying, hold the nut on the end of the shaft on the right side of the bike while you tighten the nut on the rotor? My rod doesn't seem to move once the plate/rotor and such are on there.

    Sorry if this is basic.

    Questions needed answered:
    1. Should the advance rod have play and slide through the engine easily?
    2. Is the rotor the 'T' shaped piece that fits over the PAMCO plate?
    3. Twisting the rotor while hand tightening will make sure that it's fully clockwise?
    4. Does the big washer need to be centered on the rotor?
    5. Should the lock washer be so close in size to the big washer hole as shown in the video?
    6. Am I supposed to hold the nut on the right side of the bike while tightening the left?
    7. Should my rod move by hand with all the pieces/parts installed?

    Thanks...sorry for this.
  2. retiredgentleman

    retiredgentleman XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Have you reviewed Pamcopete's web site?

    It appears that you have not installed the bushings that go inside the camshaft at each end. That is why you have so much side clearance with the advancer shaft. 2 bushings go into the right end and 1 bushing goes into the left end. That is mentioned on Pete's web site.

    The large washer you have is not correct. The hole is to large. The hole should only be large enough so that it fits onto the threaded end of the advancer rod.

    The Pamco rotor is the round aluminum disk with 4 small magnets in it. My picture shows the rotor for the 90 degree dwell. Your magnets may be in a slightly different position if you have the 60 degree dwell.

    The other picture shows the large washer, which should be self centreing ,if the hole is the correct size.

    Attached Files:

  3. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict


    I have....hours of reviewing. I've also watched pamco installation videos on YouTube. I've also read any thread on the forum that deals with pamco.

    1.the bushings were installed. 2in the right, 1in the left (picture attached)

    2. The large washer is what I was sent by mikes (the hole is 3/8" diameter) (in that same shipment, is when I got the disk that snapped in half on the advance side)

    Did I get screwed on my parts that I ordered?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  4. pamcopete

    pamcopete Ride.Enjoy.Life is Simple

    1. Yes.
    2. Yes.
    3. Yes.
    4. No. The hole in the big washer is 1/4". The threaded part of the rod is 6mm
    5. Yes.
    6. Yes. The reason for this is to relieve any torque on the weight tabs as you tighten the nuts and to ensure that the right side nut is tightened as well as the left. Hold the right side wrench with the weights floating and not being torqued.
    7. Here is a video of how the advancer should snap back when installed properly:

  5. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict


    4. No. The hole in the big washer is 1/4". The threaded part of the rod is 6mm

    OK...so the big washer does not need to be centered. The hole on the washer that Mikes sent me is bigger than 1/4"...it's 3/8". Since the washer does not need to be centered, I can assume that the bigger hole is fine so long as the lock washer can not slip through that hole...right?

    Thanks for your help.
  6. XSLeo

    XSLeo XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Yes, the lock washer will hold fine. If you want you can take your large washer to a hardware store and get a washer like it but with a 1/4 inch hole. Cost less than a buck.
    The purpose of the large washer is to prevent the magnets from falling out.
  7. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict

    Thanks all,

    I am feeling lucky today. I actually got Mikes to call me directly and walked them through the sizing of my washer.

    They confirmed what Pete said in that the diameter of the washer should be 1/4", but mine is measuring 3/8". They are shipping me out a good washer.

    While it will only cost me a buck for a washer, I am of the type that if I ordered the kit, I should get the right pieces. Mikes really did step up here and provided very good customer care. Thanks for your help guys...until I get the new washer, I am on hold.
  8. pamcopete

    pamcopete Ride.Enjoy.Life is Simple


    PM me your PayPal account name and I will send you the $1 for the washer so you can get on the road this weekend.
  9. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict

    :bike: :D

    I'm not being cheap. There is a principles thing here. I ordered a product, it wasn't fulfilled...or rather, it was, but the parts were defective/not to spec. I wouldn't do that to my customers, if I did I would get fired.

    While I hope you are joking on me, which I welcome, I still had to bellow from my soapbox.

    Besides, even if i ran out and got the washer, I have no wheels. :)
  10. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict

    OK...so I got over myself this weekend and found a washer in an old bucket that had the right dimensions including a 1/4" ID center. I installed everything, re-read the directions and fired the bike up. No issues.

    I used my timing light to get the rotor mark between the F mark as described. So at this point, I have a points bike and can remove all TCI components.

    Of course, I'm never short on questions, so here goes.

    1. Prior to the points installation, my carbs seemed to be in a good place. After the points installation, I'm getting a LOT of backfire at idle and at the beginning of the throttle rev. The ignition should have NO bearing on this right, I just haven't found the right jet/mix screw combination?

    2. If Pete is reading...in your instructions on your site, item 4 says 'Connect the timing light. Note that with a dual output coil, some timing lights may be erratic due to the fact that there are opposite "polarities" in the plug wires. If the timing light is erratic, then clip on to the opposite plug.'. I don't believe that mine is erratic, but I don't know what that would entail.

    If I'm right, then this is expected...I hook the timing light up to the left side spark plug wire and use it to adjust the timing mark. If I then hook the timing light to the right side spark plug wire, the mark would NOT be within the F mark lines, but rather before it/after it (I can't remember which).

    I've made this too difficult, but I'm almost to another milestone.
  11. XSLeo

    XSLeo XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Ok, on the Pamco the coil is a Dual Fire coil, this means it fires both plugs at the same time. So hooking the timing light to either plug will show the timing marks the same.
    Now when the coil fires current flows out through one plug wire to the plug, jumps the gapto the head. It now flows across the head to the other plug, jumps the gap, up the plug wire back to the coil.
    As a current flows through a wire a magnetic feild is created around the wire. The part of the timing light that clips around the plug wire sences this magnetic feild.
    Now as the flow of current is from the coil to the plug the magnetic feild will have a positive polarity. If the current flows from the plug to the coil the magnetic feild will have a negitive polarity.
    Some timing lights need to have one polrity or the other. The clamp usualy has a marking that the unstructions tell you to have pointed toward the coil. If your timing light acts erratic clip it to the other plug wire or turn the clamp over so the mark points to the plug.
    Erratic timing light is where the light doesn't flash everytime. Try hooking the clamp both ways on the plug wire and watch how it flashes. If it makes no difference then you have a good light. If not then remeber which way work the light best.
  12. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict

    Thanks for the explanation. Not sure what is going on...I just went and hooked the timing light up on the left side of the bike...everything is good (I can put the clamp on either way and it's the same).

    Now, I hook it up to the right side plug wire (which on Saturday was giving the 'off' reading...now I am getting no pulse. The timing light won't work at all. Since it's a new coil, my guess is that there is a bad connection with the plug wire and the cap and I need to redo that. 1 plug firing would make for a not sound running engine and would cause the backfires upon throttle increase.
  13. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict

    Re-Checked the connection on the right side plug wire. It's seated good and the wires are touching the 'screw' on the plug cap.

    The timing light only works on the left side. Any thoughts on what to check? I followed all the rules I read regarding the PAMCO to not leave the key on, not turn things on until finished, etc.

    I would think I didn't fry anything in the coil since I get a good timing on the left side wire...
  14. pamcopete

    pamcopete Ride.Enjoy.Life is Simple


    Do you mean it will not work with either orientation? Is the engine running now? As XSLeo said, some timing lights will not work at all if you happen to clamp them on the positive spark plug wire, so if you haven't done so yet, try reversing the clamp.
  15. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict


    Correct. I can start the engine and while running, I do the following:

    - On the left side of the bike, clamp the timing light on the SP wire (timing light works)
    - Reverse the clamp on the SP wire (timing light still works)
    - Move the timing light clamp to the right side SP wire (timing light doesn't work)
    - Reverse the clamp on the SP wire (timing light doesn't work)
  16. pamcopete

    pamcopete Ride.Enjoy.Life is Simple


    Well, it's the same coil, so if either side is working the ignition system is OK. The clamp that drives the timing light is what is known as an inductive coupler. It is activated by the current flow in the spark plug wire, as XSLeo explained. If there is an open condition in the spark plug wire, spark plug cap or the connection to the coil, then there will be no or diminished current flow and the timing light will not work. So, use an Ohmmeter to measure the resistance from one spark plug cap to the other. Should be in the neighborhood of 15 to 25 K ohms. That's 15,000 to 25,000 Ohms. If you measure infinity, then that indicates that there is an open condition somewhere in the wire, caps or spark plugs.

    Another condition that can also cause the timing light to not work is if the spark plug is badly fouled. Fouled meaning that there is a buildup of carbon that shorts out the gap.

    Also, be more specific when you say that the engine is running. Do you mean that it is running normally on two cylinders or just lopping along on one?
  17. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict


    Thanks again for your help. I read your response and watched you zoom over my head. :)

    Testing the resistance. I have a digital ohmmeter. To test, can you please tell me what I set it on, and what I touch the black/red to? Sorry, I'm sure that this is basic.

    My plug on the right side is pretty black. I imagine I should switch my plugs and see if I can see the behavior reversed.

    More specific...how do i tell if it's running on one cylinder or two?
  18. pamcopete

    pamcopete Ride.Enjoy.Life is Simple


    1. Set your digital meter on the 200K Ohm resistance scale. That's 200,000 Ohms.
    2. Connect the black test lead to the inside of the spark plug cap making contact with the metal inside the cap.
    2. Do the same with the red test lead to the other spark plug wire.
    3. Read the resistance on the meter.

    If the plug on the right side is "pretty black", then replace it. Swapping the plugs is like swapping your socks when they are dirty. Get new spark plugs. Get a half a dozen new spark plugs because you may go through a few before you get this all resolved. They will not go to waste. Do not buy expensive Iridium spark plugs. Buy either NGK BP7ES or Autolite #63 spark plugs, whichever is the cheapest.

    The cylinders produce heat as a byproduct of power so you can tell if the cylinder is not producing power by seeing if it is cold. This can be done by spraying water or Windex on the head of the cylinder or the exhaust header coming directly out of the cylinder head.
  19. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict

    AWESOME! On it sir.
  20. Rlauchard

    Rlauchard XS650 Addict

    Tested resistance on the spark plug wires, 25.2.

    Replaced the plugs with Autolites #63.

    Fired the engine up and ensured that the timing light was working on both wires...check.

    Waited about 4-5 minutes and checked the timing. Attached a drawing I put together. The red line is the left side timing mark, it falls in between the F mark. The blue line is the right side, it falls on a different place.

    When timing the right side the mark is 'jumpy'. The left side is smooth, not jumpy.

    I checked the new plugs and they are black after the 5-7 minutes, so I'll need to figure that out...

    Any thoughts on the timing?

    Attached Files:

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