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Thread: My 1961 XLCH I need help

  1. #1
    jvmills Guest

    Question My 1961 XLCH I need help

    I bought the bike a few years ago. Had alot of problems starting the bike. I got a new S&S super B carb and had a local dealership work on geting it to run better without much success. What few times I was able to start it, it ran okay. I checked the sparkplugs and found them gapped way too narrow and covered in black soot. I got new plugs, again, once gapped properly and only got a weak spark.(Yes, new point and condenser) I bought a new Joe Hunt magneto, installed it and was setting the timing. when I tried to get it in gear, the shifter lever came free inside the case. I took the transmission out and found nothing other than the shifter arm out of the shfter mech. Now I'm not sure if I can put it back together right. I haven't found a shop locally that I'm comfortable with doing the job. Is this somehthing a guy with no experience but intermediate wrenching skill can do? It'd been sitting now for almost 2 years and I want to get it on the road. Any and all help welcome

  2. #2
    koanes Guest


    Sounds like you have problem with the ball end casting on the rod. There is no way it should fall out of the pawl assembly. The aftermarket had a lot of trouble producing these parts correctly. some were pinned on with a soft pin that would easily shear, others welded with a big blob on the end that would prevent the ball from sitting all the way into the fork. If you want to do the repair yourself, get a factory shop manual and follow it closely, make sure your shafts have the correct endplay. While you have it apart be sure to have a good look your gears. The countershaft 2nd gear was very weak from the factory and splits easily, usually causing major case destruction. If there are holes in the bottom of the clutch dogs in that gear it is likely an original and should be replaced with a new gear from Andrews. The gear is only about 50.00.

  3. #3
    VPH-D Guest


    When you say the plug gap was "way too narrow," are you aware the magneto Sportster plug gap is 0.20? Be sure to H-D number 5 plugs. If you need a laugh, go to a dealer and ask for a set. I don't remember what the Champion cross reference number was for a no. 5, but a no. 4 was H8.

    The S&S B carb is not the easiest starting carb on a mag model.
    The E starts much easier and has a better lower end. Try a 28 idle and maybe a 68 or 70 main jet. Another carb to consider is a Bendix, easy starting and it hides well behind the stock round or oval air cleaner. You don't want to wear out the ratchet gears in your kicker.

    On your trans problem, you're gonna have to check around to find someone who cares about old Sportsters, and will work on them. Most dealers are clueless about anything older than about 1990. Your trans is functually the same as the 71 thru 83? unit, but some of the gears differ. The the dry clutch will give the average bozo fits. Perhaps you can locate a place that works on XR models, they used the same trans and clutch at least thru the 80s. Who likes old Sportsters anyway? I do!!

  4. #4
    mmoore Guest


    hey vph-d will a e fit with a mag? I would like to run one as I dont run a battery so a kicker is all I know (or ever knew in the last 30 years) even tho I shattered my right knee 5 years ago at work I still have one leg left to kick with so it might be a while before i get a button If you know any modifications to make a e work I would like to know them thanks grandpa told dad who told me "if you can't kick it then you can't ride it" thank god I have no sons to pass this curse on to

  5. #5
    VPH-D Guest


    I don't think the 'E' will fit a mag XLCH, or an XLH with tach drive either. I ran a 'B' for 15 years on my shovel, but the 'E' is a big improvement. My wife's 69 XLH is fitted with a 36mm Bendix, which is [was] a good carb for Pans and Sportsters. It will accept the old style solid wire throttle cable and oval air cleaner. If your throttle is still set up for a Toiletson, switch your right bar spiral to a -58 spiral which will pull the Bendix open. You may also need the old 1" S&S carb spacer for clearance.

    The 36mm Bendix was installed only on Sportsters back in the 70s. Look into the throat of the carb at the roof of the venturi, and you will see a 36 or a 38. That is how to tell the size.
    A 38 mm carb may work as well, but my experience is with the 36s. I did, however, have bad luck with the adjustable main jet Bendix carb offered by Andrews Products. I was never able to get it to run right. IIRC the 'A' idle tube is the smallest, and the 'C' is the biggest. 1.05 was a good size main jet at sea level.
    Good Luck

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007


    Maybe the Zenith Bendix carb is what my '60 CH needs to make it start more easily. It has an "E" S&S on it now.
    George Tinkham
    Springfield, IL

    1941 Indian 841
    1948 Indian Chief
    1956 H-D KHK
    1960 CH
    1964 BMW R69S
    1966 Honda Touring Benly (aka "150 Dream")
    1984 Moto Guzzi V65Sp

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Northern Colorado


    I don't think you'll see much difference in starting between a Bendix, and an E. The E is the best of the S&S carbs. The mag's condition is the key to your starting problems.

  8. #8


    Check that you have copper strand plug wires. I see a lot of older bikes fitted with high energy silicone plug wires. They’re not for any type of ignition with points but are particularly bad with magnetos especially when starting them.

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