Fuel, spark and start up! 4 Feb 2016.

A few days ago (back before I burnt my hand on The Fire Bike) I added engine, gearbox and final drive oil to Rhino. Here’s what I use.


20W-50 engine oil with a high ZDDP content. 80W-90 GL4 spec gear oil for the gearbox and final drive. The final drive gets some Molyslip as well. The ATF is for the forks.

It was then over the road to the garage to buy fuel. Petrol in the tank, turn the key and…

…no go. The engine cranked over but no sign of any attempt to start. Close examination showed the electric fuel tap was leaking slightly and when I took the spark plugs out they seemed to be bone dry. To make things worse, there didn’t seem to be much of a spark at the plugs either. I had checked the plug gap and tested for a spark like this


I have experience of holding a plug by its cap against a cylinder to check for sparks. Back when I was but a lad I had a Yamaha RD400 which was running on one cylinder. My father suggested I hold the plug against the engine in the time-honoured way and he would kick it over. I did as suggested but steadied myself by holding on to the metal upright to the car port. Suffice to say I got a series of shocks. Unable to speak for a moment my good old dad gave it another kick for good measure repeating the experience and proving that the insulation to the metal shielded plug cap had definitely broken down.

Back to Rhino. I decided to order a pair of manual fuel taps from Gutsibits. These are the type found on loads of Guzzis from the late 70s onwards and are cheap. They are a matched pair so both taps are turned toward the front for “off” and toward the back for “reserve”. “On” is down.

The new taps arrived quickly and today I’ve been back to basics checking the points and ignition timing just in case.

Points gap and ignition timing.

This is what it looks like inside the contact breaker housing. Each cylinder has its own set of points.


The top set are for the right cylinder and the lower set for the left. Points gap is 0.37 to 0.43mm when fully open so I set them with a 0.4mm feeler gauge. They didn’t seem to be far out.

I moved on to checking the ignition timing. It’s no good having a decent spark if it’s delivered at the wrong time. Now this was a bit out. I think I had intended to check this once the wiring was done but never did.  I do static timing only and this is how it’s done. You can use a strobe light and do it with the engine running but I’ve never found the need. It’s very important that the points gaps are adjusted correctly first though.

Start by pulling the rubber bung out of the right hand side of the clutch bell-housing and removing the rocker covers from the engine. Take the spark plugs out, then engage top gear so that you can use the back wheel to turn the engine over.

Start with the right hand cylinder and its contact breaker and turn the flywheel anti-clockwise (the teeth moving upward when viewed through the bell-housing hole) with the back wheel. Stop when the “D” for destra (right in Italian) with a line immediately above it lines up with the middle of the hole. The piston should be at top dead centre and, if it’s not, you’ve got trouble. However you need to check it’s the compression stroke. If it is, both valves should be closed and the rockers loose. If not go round again till the “D” comes back into view.


Now turn the flywheel back, clockwise (downward) until the next line comes into view. On the V7Sport it’s about 25mm above the “D” TDC (top dead centre) mark. This is the fixed advance (13° BDC) point and is where static timing is set. You’re still not finished as it’s necessary to go beyond this point then back to it to take up any backlash in the system. There is another line even further on which is full advance. You don’t need that one.

So now we have the engine set at the static timing point for the right cylinder and the top set of contact breakers.

Connect a light between the contact for the top (RH) set of points and the engine block. My cheap test lamp fits nicely between the cylinder fins to give a good connection. Slacken the two bolts that clamp the distributor to the engine block. Not too much but just enough so it will turn. There is a special tool to get at these bolts which makes the job easy. I haven’t got one so I take ages struggling with various 13mm spanners instead.

With the ignition switched on, turn the distributor body until the light just comes on. Then clamp it back in place.


The left hand side is similar. Again you get the engine to TDC on the compression stroke with the valves closed and rockers loose. This time the line is immediately above an “S” (sinistra for left) on the flywheel. Go on till the next line (fixed advance) shows. Then beyond it and back again to take up any backlash as before.

The lower  (LH) set of contact breaker points are fixed to a moveable plate. So instead of turning the distributor body you slacken the plate mounting screws to adjust them. This time connect the light between the contact for the bottom (LH) set of points and the engine block and move the plate until the light just comes on. Tighten the screws for the plate, replace the cover on the distributor and refit the rocker covers.

The covers are secured with allen-headed M6 screws. If over-tightened they will strip the threads in the cylinder head. To prevent this, I never use a long allen key to tighten where too much leverage could be applied. I use the “standard” short length and not the extra long sort. I only use the long one for loosening.


I checked for a spark again on each side and must have done something right as there was a significant improvement.

Fuel taps.

It was easy enough to remove both fuel taps from the tank and to fit the later matching manual ones. They have much taller filter screens but the reserve stand-pipes inside are actually the same as the originals.


Once again the taps are fitted with that strange twin-threaded nut. It has a left hand thread in one half so that you can fix it so that the handle is where you want it. I found that I could tighten the securing nut with a 19mm spanner while holding the tap body with a 17mm one.

Before putting the tank back and connecting the fuel lines, I insulated the unused wires for the electric tap at the tap end and tied them out of the way. I don’t want a live wire floating about under the tank. I did the same with the live feed at the fusebox end. I could have removed the wires completely but they might be needed one day.

These fuel taps seem much better made than the type fitted to older Guzzis.


They seem to work well and there’s no risk of the handles dropping off!

Start up.

Petrol was put back in the tank, chokes on, ignition on and…

…the battery was too low to crank the engine properly. I only fitted the new battery to The Fire Bike yesterday so that was pulled out and used to jump start Rhino. He started immediately.

I’m hoping I didn’t spend time making a new battery carrier for nothing and don’t need to buy a second battery in two weeks. However, I’ve prepared the wife for the worst! The little Odyssey battery has been charged up this evening with no error warnings from the battery charger. I’ve disconnected it from the charger and will see if it’s still got a good charge tomorrow.



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