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One cylinder firing

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jd222
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 12:05 pm

One cylinder firing

#1

Post by jd222 » Tue Jul 13, 2004 2:50 am

After a winter of work on my 59 FLH (thanks for the advice over that time) I started it last night for the first time, no front cylinder fire although pushing plenty of air out the pipe. I was so tired I just quit for the night, but will check spark when I get home from work tonight. I did install a repop (cheapo) originaol style coil, which I guess might be bad, but I'll check today. I had the pushrods out this Winter to replace the oil pump, so I guess this might be the problem if I'm not getting fuel/air to the cylinder, right? I'm no ace mechanic, so any diagnostic advice/troubleshooting you can lend would be helpful, as I'm anxious to get this project on the road after a long winter of work and it was a struggle. I was bummed when it started (hard) and only the rear cylinder fired, but I was so beat I just couldn't do anymore last night. I hop[e it's as simple as the spark, as I really don't know enough about adjusting the pushrods although I can learn.
One thing I did notice was that oil was pissing out the primary case nipple- was this just because it had sat and a lot of oil has settled there, or is there some way to stop this oil from dripping everywhere..or will it stop once the bike is run refglulary? The bike ran before I started on it in November, and it didn't pee oil like it's peeing oil now. I don't have a drain tube connected, although I will if this will help. Right now I left an oil trail dowm my driveway and street when I did ride it fo 2 minutes (one cylinder-not fun).
Any advice would be great as to what I should do to figure out why the front cylinder is not firing.

Thanks
Joel



fourthgear
Posts: 1390
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 1:12 pm
Location: north florida

Re: One cylinder firing

#2

Post by fourthgear » Tue Jul 13, 2004 1:06 pm

jdc22
Having spark is a good start , but is it at the right time . Could be something simple like a bad plug or wire or coil or all . Is it timed properly? Whats the compression like ? How close are the two cyl. to compression specs. There are several ways to adj. lifters , hyd. or solids ? If its pumping air , that could or could not be a good sign , a compression check will tell you. Is the timer ( distributor ) in correctly ? You could be timed off the rear cyl. instead of the front. If you have a org. type coil , those org. coil wires have to be plugged in there right to make a connection , you can miss the post in there. You can take the plug wire off the front and put it on the rear just to see if its working , if it won't start on that one cyl. , you may have something ,but if it starts you know its not the coil because you just tested it and the wires . If you don't have another set of plugs handy , just switch them and see if the same thing happens and you just tested the plugs.There be others here that will add to this I'm sure. good luck.

kell
Posts: 404
Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2004 2:58 am

Re: One cylinder firing

#3

Post by kell » Tue Jul 13, 2004 10:33 pm

Do you have the usual setup with one set of points that fires both cylinders? If so, getting fire at all means that the coil and the spark plug cables are okay, because each time it fires the spark goes through both plugs.
See if the gap on the front plug got squashed shut or very narrow, or if the plug is fouled.

King
Posts: 387
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 5:05 pm

Re: One cylinder firing

#4

Post by King » Wed Jul 14, 2004 1:11 pm

jdc222

I'm with Forthgear on all of the above.
My guess is lack of spark at the front plug.
When it is dark remove the plugs, ground them against the motor, and kick her over. Look for a good blue/white spark on both plugs. Yellow not good . A marginal spark in the open air will be almost no spark under the conditions inside the cylinder.
No spark in that front plug means either a poorly seated plug wire or a bad plug. Like Forthgear said, switch the plugs and try again. Still no spark follow the plug wire to coil seating procedure as described in the manual.
If you have good spark in both plugs then you need to check the timing and the push rod adjustments. If you have the original hydraulic lifters then the pushrod adjustment will be as described in the manual. If you have solids there are good threads in the Forum that describe the process. The same goes for timing.
If the problem persists then it probably is very low compression (hope not).
Don't worry about the oil thing that' s a phenomenon known as "sumping". It results from a poor seat of the check valve ball that is supposed to prevent oil from entering the motor while it is not running. A very common and correctible Pan problem. It should puke the oil out in a few minutes of running and then if you run the bike every couple of days it will not be too big of a deal.
I know that the frustration level must be high but you are almost there so hang in and good luck!!

King

Cotten
Posts: 6911
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 9:09 am
Location: Central Illinois

Re: One cylinder firing

#5

Post by Cotten » Wed Jul 14, 2004 10:12 pm

When you get sick of chasing your tail, pressuretest your manifold.

...Cotten

jd222
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 12:05 pm

Re: One cylinder firing

#6

Post by jd222 » Thu Jul 15, 2004 1:03 pm

Thanks guys...it turned out to be a bad plug....new plugs and she fired right up!I even took it doen the street and back even though it;s raining cats and dogs I was so excited. It's oing to take some getting used to shifting with my left hand and having the heel of the clutch up to drive (the opposite of my right hand shift/heel down drive Chief) but I can't w3eait for the sunny weather. As for the oil peeing all over, I turned the chain adjuster screw in on my oil pump and backed it out just a hair, and I'll see if that helps at all as I couldn't tell in the rain. I hope it does, as the screw was out about 3 turns which I'm sure must have contributed to the stream of oil out of the primary. I'll keep you posted-thanks for all of the help!!

Joel

King
Posts: 387
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 5:05 pm

Re: One cylinder firing

#7

Post by King » Thu Jul 15, 2004 5:57 pm

Joel
Good to here you are up and running. And it was the simplest possible fault. Usually is.
If you haven't done the manifold pressure test follow Cotten's advice and do it. The first three years I had my pan I "chased my tail" trying to tune it when all it was was a leaky manifold. I even had a respected mechanic say that couldn't be the problem when he sprayed the manifold with carb cleaner and the motor didn't stumble. Only the 10-15lbs air pressure and soapy water will tell the tale.
Sounds like you will have to develop multiple personalities to handle both the Pan and the Chief!!

Good Rides

King

Cotten
Posts: 6911
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 9:09 am
Location: Central Illinois

Re: One cylinder firing

#8

Post by Cotten » Fri Jul 16, 2004 5:45 am

Joel!

You haven't stopped to wonder what made the plug foul?
A fouled plug is a symptom, not a cause.
Better carry lotsa spares.

....Cotten

jd222
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 12:05 pm

Re: One cylinder firing

#9

Post by jd222 » Fri Jul 16, 2004 5:07 pm

Cotten- I am wondering and thinking (still) that it's the crappy repop coil . Does this make sense as a possible source? The bike still isn't running great and the other plug has begun to foul so I'm thinking the plugs aren't burning hot enough if the coil is bad? By the way-tested the intake manifold as suggested and seems fine. An old timer once told me to take an unlit propane torch and blow it around the edges and see if rhe carb popped or motor revved...interesting technique. I also checked the carb and it seems to be set correctly although not tuned perfectly yet since it's not been run (hardly) yet. I still am going to swap out the coil just to see if it makes a difference, as I have heard very mixed reviews on the quality of these repopped jobs.
Thanks for the advice...keep it coming

Joel

fourthgear
Posts: 1390
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 1:12 pm
Location: north florida

Re: One cylinder firing

#10

Post by fourthgear » Fri Jul 16, 2004 10:02 pm

jdc222
What carb. are you running and how are the plugs fouling ? sooty black, oily black, crusted brown, etc.? Weak coil ? IMO they ether work or don't. Are you running 12V or 6V ? Hows your Batt.? Fully charged ? It can be tested for load draw and while your at it, hows your charging system ?

Cotten
Posts: 6911
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 9:09 am
Location: Central Illinois

Re: One cylinder firing

#11

Post by Cotten » Sat Jul 17, 2004 11:55 am

Joel!

If you have patiently and properly pressuretested with a constant air supply, then you can dismiss that variable, and go on to trial-and-error testing of other possibilities, one at a time.
The best way to test a coil is to replace it with a proven coil to see if it cures the symptoms.

(As far as the propane trick, it's damn hard to do it while installing, and massaging the assembly to find the 'sweet spot' where there is a perfect seal. And it will not display a microfissure like bubbles will, nor show you exactly where trouble lies.
I have a local late-model associate that likes to use a fire extinguisher for no other reason than it entertains his naieve customers.)

....Cotten

jd222
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 12:05 pm

Re: One cylinder firing

#12

Post by jd222 » Sat Jul 17, 2004 8:05 pm

Well..I certainly didn't test the manifold as you suggested, as I don't have the tools for that so I can't elimiante that possibility...but the manifold looked good when I installed it this winter with new clamps and seemed like a good fit....but I could be wrong
As for the plugs...I have not checked the rear cylinder plug since yesterday's brief run but will today when I get home from work. The front plug was black, not quite oily, not quite sooty..not sure what this means. I am running a 6 volt system with a fully charged battery (new last fall, on a charger all winter until this week) can't really say about my charging system...I assume it is working ok as it appears to be charging and the gen light goes off when it's running...but I guess this could be a problem although never had this issue when it was running last year. I just always look to what has changed since it ran well, and the coil was the only part of the electrical system changed and I was worreid about it from the start based on some other opinions I had heard. I will swap out the coil tonight with the old one ( a newer style 60's american made one) and seeif that makes a difference...again, start simple and work my way out. Any suggestions and tips to test the gen/charging system are welcome. I know the Battery reads 6+volts at the battery, but I know this doesn't mean much.

Thanks
Joel

fourthgear
Posts: 1390
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 1:12 pm
Location: north florida

Re: One cylinder firing

#13

Post by fourthgear » Sat Jul 17, 2004 9:15 pm

well..I certainly didn't test the manifold as you suggested, as I don't have the tools for that so I can't elimiante that possibility...but the manifold looked good when I installed it this winter with new clamps and seemed like a good fit....but I could be wrong


Hi Joel,

You absolutely, positively, HAVE to test the manifold before you try to track down other fuel mixture problems. You can't go by how the manifold looks or how it fit when you assembled it. And never, EVER, use those split two-piece clamps. (I learned that the hard way).
Listen to Cotten... he's been preaching this message for a long time and has made believers out of a lot of us.

jd222
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 12:05 pm

Re: One cylinder firing

#14

Post by jd222 » Sun Jul 18, 2004 5:01 am

I used the improved clamps and not the split jobs, and again I'm not sure it's a fuel mixture issue as it seems to be more of a spark issue at this point. I want to eliminate spark issues first, than move to fuel/air if needed. I'm not sure that a brand new plug can get fouled in 5 minutes of running to the point where it won't fire at all (?) I have an old Norton that fouls plugs as fast as any bike I've ever seen or owned, but even that runs for a 150 miles or so before fouling to the point of needing to be cleaned. The rear cylinder stopped firing after I stopped the motor after 5 minutes, if even that. On restart, nothing. This sounds more elctrical than simple fouling or bad fuel mixture, and the fact that it switched from the front cylinder to the rear (front was running fine yesterday, didn't run at all Weds) also says to me electric- If the manifold was the problem with the front 2 days ago and rear fired fine, then the problem wouldn't suddenly shift to back with nothing done to it...am I on solid ground with this analysis or no? I'm sure there could be many causes, but again I look to what I changed from the fall when it ran fine (no problems at all) and it points to the coil, but I'm certainly no expert wrench and I am all ears.

Thanks for the help
Joel

fourthgear
Posts: 1390
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 1:12 pm
Location: north florida

Re: One cylinder firing

#15

Post by fourthgear » Sun Jul 18, 2004 5:43 pm

jdc222
Th manifold check is the only way to make sure that thats not the problem.You can get a large plug from a utility sink( 1 1/2 or 1 1/4 I will have to look at the one I have, I used one to check my head side nipples after repair ) to test the manifold , can be bought at home depot or plumbing supply and put in a barbed fitting in it , you will need a helping hand to hold it with air pressure on it . It will be hard to hold and doesn't matter if it seals completely like the ones we use that bolt on , so keep the pressure low . with carb. removed just stick it on there and put pressure to it ( at least 5# )with some one holding on there and use a soapy solution around you clamps and the D-ring bolts above them to see if it bubbles ( you can use the stuff kids blow bubbles with if ya want , just clean it off when your done. )
You didn't say what carb. you have on there . You could have a run of bad plugs, Just because you had the batt. on a charger all winter does not mean it is good , it needs to be tested . Was the volt reading you took @ 2000rpms ? I can not off the top of my head remember the exact specs , but you should be in the ball park @ over 7 volts @ 2000 rpms. The light going out when up over idle just means you have over 6 volts or over batt. voltage out put. Changing to a known good coil as has been said , is a sound idea.
I know its a lot to think of , but thats why they call it trouble shooting. Just eliminate one at a time and the manifold is the one I would start with.

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