From the shed
In this day and age there are so many technological advances that it is impossible to keep up with them. Sometimes when I get to hear about them they are already outdated. I have decided that I will briefly look at who is providing services and products for the old and new in the motorcycle ignition field, that is, magneto or electronic ignitions.
Firstly I called to see Chris ZOCH, a retired Industrial Chemist who worked in the textile industry and recently moved to Harrington on the NSW north coast. As a youngster he toyed around with old radios then later with hi-fi amplifiers. As a child the family lived on a farm in Victoria when his father purchased a 1942 Chevrolet Ambulance which had an ex-PMG BSA Bantam in the back, and when he was about 16 he started playing around with this machine. However he did not really become an avid motorcyclist until about 1995 when he had a ride at Amaroo Park on a machine loaned to him by the late Brian Kemsley. This resulted in him purchasing a 350 Gold Star. About this time he got to meet the late Ivan Brown who I also had dealings with. Ivan was a very astute and knowledgeable auto electrician who at that time was in the Penrith area before moving to Mudgeeraba, Queensland. Chris developed an electronic regulator which he supplied to Ivan for approximately ten years. He tells me that he started spending time with Ivan and learning about the restoration of magnetos and generators. Sadly Ivan passed away in July 2010 and Chris purchased the stock and equipment which he then moved back to his then residence at Seven Hills, Sydney. Chris is able to undertake repairs to magnetos, generators and regulators. With magnetos this includes both primary and secondary rewinding, magnetising and bearing replacements. He tells me that winding is the most critical part, ensuring that it is done properly and then insulated. He pointed out a couple of other common problems such as the worn cam rings causing a variation in the timing between the two cylinders. These can either be ground or replaced with new cams. Also wear can take place in the pivot pin for the points which frequently goes undetected. In some instances he has had magnetos sent to him where the owner had been unable to obtain the correct one for his machine. One instance of this was where one for a JAP was to be used on an early model Harley-Davidson. This required reversing the direction as well as shifting the timing. He tells me that the funny side was just after he had returned this magneto he got one for an early H.D. to convert to run on a JAP. Had they both been at the same time with the customer’s approval he could have exchanged the components and involved less work and cost. Chis can be contacted on (02) 6556 1521, 0424 011 767 or email [email protected]pond.com
Steve Kelly is the proprietor of Adelaide-based firm Tri Spark and is a Canadian who migrated here in 1995. In Canada he qualified in Electronic Technology and undertook designing and building sub-station monitoring systems. When he came here he brought with him a 1986 Triumph Trident which he still owns. He toyed with this machine where at times he found there was a supply of poor quality parts. In 2005 he began to toy with the Trident ignition system, and spent about a year toying around testing and making changes.
Tri-Spark is not self-generating and needs battery power to start; it does have a built in advance and retard mechanism. The coils have a double spark hence there is the wasted spark. Steve has a small body to carry this system which will replace the earlier magneto housing, however it does not have the appearance of the Lucas or BTH bodies. This type he has supplied to Godet in France for fitting to Vincent machines. The majority of his buyers are those wanting these systems for Norton Commandos and Triumphs. However they can be adapted to any configuration of cranks with him supplying them for those who have undertaken a 76 degree conversion for Triumphs or Nortons. This utilisers the FireBox Pro kit which is also used on the Honda Four machines.
Tri-Spark requires the removal of the points system and can usually be fitted by the machine’s owner in half an hour or so by following the instructions supplied. Steve points out that these systems have a consistent static timing. Steve can be contacted on (08) 8371 1664 during business hours or email [email protected] I point out here that there are many owners of earlier machines who wish to retain the machine as was originally manufactured, in which case they will stay with the magneto. Bear in mind that magnetos have proven over many years to be operationally effective and given many years of good reliable service. I have provided this information to give a very brief overview of what is available and from whom.
See you next issue, Pete
LEFT Chris Zoch at work on the automotive test bench he acquired from the late Ivan Brown. ABOVE The Tri-Spark housing to replace magnetos.