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1941 Chief Ignition System Woes

Moderators: Curt!, Pa

Post Mon Jan 20, 2003 2:35 pm

Posts: 5
Location: Wesley Chapel, Florida
I have a 1941 Chief. A few months ago, I rode the bike in the rain and the thing died just as soon as I got it home on one cylinder. I let it cool off and dried everything up, but I had no spark in either cylinder. So, it was about time for a tune up, so I ordered a new cap, rotor, plugs, condensor and points from Kiwi and finally got around to installing it this past weekend.

When I firt put the parts in, I had an OK, but not great spark in both plugs. But, it wouldn't start, in fact it didn't even pop when I tried, which is unusual, because I can normally start it in 1 or 2 kicks.

So, I took the plugs back out and I have no spark again. The battery is fine as the lights and horn work, but I think I might have a short someplace, or maybe Kiwi sold me some bad stuff, which I doubt.

I suppose it could be the coil or the condensor, but I don't know how to test those components.

Any tips or technical article referalls would be most appreciated. I am trying to get the bike in decent enough shape for bike week this year.

ON a related note, I was thinking about maybe converting to a magneto ignition system, or at least a system that is more waterproof and has less components. Does anybody know where I can get a magneto for this thing, or should I just put it back to a point ignition system.



Post Mon Jan 20, 2003 4:11 pm

Posts: 3133
Location: Central Illinois, USA
Although moisture can play hell with the coil as well, the first thing I would check is the fishpaper insulator inside the distributor. It is the "L"-shaped gasket along the wall of it that surrounds the screw to the external terminal.

And the new hardware is certainly suspect. I found that the rotors from the supplier you mentioned often had to be altered to properly fit the shaft. (I used a soldering iron.) If they sent you a light brown cap, they are prone to cracking from a poor fit upon the body.

Good luck!

[This message has been edited by Cotten (edited 20 January 2003).]

Post Tue Jan 21, 2003 8:28 am

Posts: 252
IL believe the brown dist cap is the heavy duty one but I forget. Your NAPA dealer can get all the parts you mention. Tell them its for a 6 volt 2 cylinder Schramm indistrial motor. Same as the Indian stuff except the rotor does not have the long pick up shoe like the original Indian. Just got to tune it closer!!!

Post Tue Jan 21, 2003 2:09 pm

Posts: 3133
Location: Central Illinois, USA
Here's the NAPA numbers:
Distributor Cap------AL-143.
Point Set--------------CS-709.

Post Tue Jan 21, 2003 5:06 pm

Posts: 5
Location: Wesley Chapel, Florida
Thanks for all the suggestions.!!!

Turns out, I had an intermittent short in one of the wires. I traced it down, replaced the wire and now she fires right up on the first or second kick just like she used too.

Thanks again,


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