boyer oh boyer

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Well, I couldn't leave well enough alone. Decided to put a Boyer on the 72 combat. Why? Dunno. I guess the bike was starting to run too well so I had to invent a problem. Anyhoo, I installed the system and now have absolulely no spark to the left cylinder. Rechecked all connections, then used the Old Britts troubleshooting guide. I ran a direct line from a fully charged battery to the black box white wire and touched the black/yellow and black/white black box lines together and separated them. Good spark on the right sparkplug, nothing on the left one. I then switched the coils with the same result so it seems the coils are fine. I'm guessing that the black box is kaput but I'd appreciate some feedback before I have to put out some more cash into another box. I enjoy a challenge as much as anyone else who finds therapy from working on Nortons. I could go back to the points but that's not the er, ah, point. Now it's the challenge! Debby, you can throw in an "I told you so!" cause I recall your good logic on keeping the poinst on another thread.

Thanks, Jack
At the risk of...

At the risk of sounding redundant, you have checked that the plug itself is good and you didn't accidently drop it and close the gap or perhaps the spark plug lead or cap are bad?
Might be worth swapping the left and right and seeing if you the problem reverses.
Man, don't things like this make the mind race! This is the kind of problem that club members think about at night and quietly whisper before ending their nightly prayers that thank God it didn't happen to them.
C'mon readers, admit it, we all have done that.

If Debby won’t, I will: I told you so!

Boyer ignition systems are superior to points-ignition, in theory. Historically, however, the Boyer system has proven to be quite the opposite. The one and only Boyer system I owned caused way more grief than all my points-ignition systems combined. Deb reports that someone is peddling a redundant Boyer system. Should one unit fail, you simply switch over to the backup system. Sounds like a worthwhile investment if you’re planning on sticking with that diabolical Boyer.

Having said all that, don’t overlook the obvious when troubleshooting your Boyer malady. For example, is the spark plug and wire OK? What about all other wires dedicated to the dead cylinder? A simple check with an ohm meter should be all that’s needed to indict the guilty component.

If I can't figure out how to log in properly, how can I figure out the Boyer? After soldering the crimped connections I checked the lines with an OHM meter. I did check the plug wires and swapped them and the plugs with no change. Actually, the only thing that I can't further check is the black box which makes sense because if I could, it wouldn't have that nefarious title "Black Box" attached to it. I'll Just keep Plugging away on the beast. At least I can sit in the garage and stare at those newly resleeved amals that I recently got back from Bruce Chessell. With those, I bet the bike would run much better, if it ran. Actually, the bike does kinda sorta sound good running on one cylinder. At least that's something. If I didn't have a sense of humor, I'd have bought a Yamahondasuki.
I appreciate everyones advice.
I won't say I told you so. I have points and amals on my bike because they work for me and I like having things original when feasible.

"Peddling a redundant system" is a bit of an overstatement. The peddler is OldBritts and what he sells is a very nice looking machined alloy bracket for mounting the boyer box. The bracket accomodates two boxes so you can carry a spare and quickly switch over should the first one fail.

Have you guys seen the latest Norton News? There's an interesting article written by a guy down in Peru who restored a basket case Commando and rode it all around Peru, including hundreds of miles of dirt roads. All I can say is wow! He had a variety of problems along the way including a boyer box that died, but had the necessary tools, spares, and mechanical savvy. He was able to fix everything and complete his tour. Quite a story.

For a trip like that I'd definitely carry a spare box. For riding closer to home I'd think a cell phone and a friend/spouse with a trailer would suffice :)

DEBBY, Yeah I heard about that guy. Isn't his name Che Guevara? If you havn't seen the Motorcycle Diaries you might find it interesting. His old Norton did make it a surprisingly good way before giving up the ghost. I missed about 1/4th of the movie trying to read the subtitles. They didn't slow down the spanish for the gringos. Nortons are great bikes and I know that they can be reliable, but stories about the long trips still amaze me.

Well Well the old reliable boyer again. I did the sme thing one winter.Got bored because my fastback was running way too good and thought I would treat it to a new boyer, accel coil and new battery. Boy it ran smooth for a short while.I think once my bike realized what I had put it on it probably thought I would spend less quality garage time with it carresing the point system and said enough is enough. I checked out all the boyer hot lines as I like to call them and realized the point system never let me down. Well to make a long story short I was off to a rally the next weekend and the prospect of a 1000 mile weekend with the boyer was not looking good. I went out to the garage, apologized to my bike and changed back. It started up instanly, wagged its mufflers and off we went.A friend was over the other night wanting to check the reading on the accel coil.I said it should be ok it has only had a few hours on it. He saw the lovely bracket I made for the box and wanted to buy it. I said no I have a 72 to put it on when I finish it. After all this is why we drive british bikes isn't it.

I don't think that was Che Guevara that she mentioned.
Then again, maybe it was a Boyer that turned him against Capitalism!
No, this was in modern times. Just last year I think he said. The guy's name is Jeffrey Powers and he lives in Cusco, Peru where he owns a bar he calls The Norton Rat's Tavern. Sounds like a great pitstop when you're out on one of those dark rainy nights doesn't it?

For a trip like that I'd definitely carry a spare box. For riding closer to home I'd think a cell phone and a friend/spouse with a trailer would suffice :)


Somehow all this Boyer talk makes me nervous....I've had mine go a couple of times since 76 and I wouldn't want to go back to points....don't know where the old parts are anymore..anyway.
Mine has always decided to go broke less than three miles from home. I've been lucky I guess...trips through the CSSR and Isle of mann and even Mexico and such...all without a spare, come to think of it. Maybe should buy one.
Mine broke last time in the next town, down the mountain. Had a nice fellow offer his barn to keep it in till I got a chance to get it home...the mountain is very steep and Hulk Hogan couldn't push the machine up THAT hill. So it took a couple of days till I got back. The cow had eaten a hole in my seat....the cat had clawed up the tank and seat and even decided to pee his "Mark" on it like cats do.... and I didn't even have to pay storage costs!!! The nice fellow even offered to start up his tractor and drive me and the bike back up the we got it loaded into his trailer, the one that he used to haul the hungry cow's poop to the field. It took a few moments to make enough place beside the steaming pile of cow poop, and I sat on the bike and held it upright all the way home. The tank is still scratched, the seat still has teethmarks in it, but the new Boyer still works just fine...most likely will take a ride today and scare the natives on their new Jap bikes. Won't take the handy with doesn't work anyway! Best!
Did you buy a secondhand Boyer ?
The Black Box, if it is faulty from new should be under warranty.

Or did you buy a secondhand one..........................?
You have stated that you don't want to have to buy another one, so it makes me think you brought someone elses problem maybe ??

Assuming you purchased a new boyer........
If it worked on points & you have swapped the coils, are you absolutely certain that you have wired it up correctly ? Did you put your own connections onto new wiring ? If so, are you certain they are all ok.

User error is often the case in the end, hard to admit but is often the case.

I wonder how many boyers are actually sold new that just keep going without a problem compared to the ones we hear about that give problems.............................quite a few I reckon.
One thing to check

I always found those crimp connectors that Boyer uses from the plate out to be very suspect, even bad direct from the factory.
"I always found those crimp connectors that Boyer uses from the plate out to be very suspect, even bad direct from the factory."

Agreed, so the connectors should be soldered/replaced with "ring" connectors from new where they are mounted on the coils. They can't vibrate off then.

Down in the stator area, I colour code mine with new "spade" type connectors. Have the black/white female connector on the stator side & put a male connector on the black/yellow staor side. This is just to help make sure I don't put the "wrong" wires together, as we all can do if we aren't careful.

I also run an earth straight from the left coil to the frame with another ring connector at the top engine isolastic point. From there it runs straight back to the common earth for the battery.

The only time I have had to "push" any of my bikes home is because of a bad connection somewhere.

So, the trick is to either solder every ignition connection and/or be very diligent replacing the "crimp" connectors.

It really isn't much work to get this area "bullet proof".

I met Jeff Powers a couple of winters ago and again at the national in ohio. I did his exhaust ports and gearbox cover.He mentioned his trip he was going on. I forgot to ask him if he was using good old reliable flint and steel or a boyer at the time. Especially in the middle of nowhere.
Right here in Michigan not far from Bruce C. we have an active Norton owners club I know of at least 15 Nortons running Boyers for at least 10 years. The only problem has been the short wires braking over time. I have never seen a true black box fail, only bad wiring. Start counting Triumph's with boyers and the numbers go up lots, same story. norbsa

I only see one way that a spark to one cylinder and not the other can be attributed to the Boyer box, since both plugs fire together. The only possibility I see is that the system is marginal and there is something about the bad coil/plug/wire that makes unable to fire. I think that's unlikely. If you didn't already do this, swap the coils and wires from one side to the other and see if the problem moves. Also, recheck your wiring. The coils are supposed to be wired in series with the Boyer. My experience with the Boyer, aside from the damn trigger wire problem, is that it either works or it doesn't. I've had one black box failure and the symptom was one minute riding happily and the next minute total silence.
all this nice talk about the boyer...isn't there another type....another brand. Can't remember the name....does anyone have one of those, and how are they compared to the Boyer?

There used to be a comparable electronic ingnition. I think it was called Rita; I don't know if it's still around.

Electronic ignitions

The two main electronic ignitions available for Commandos have been Boyer and Lucas RITA (Race Ignition Transistor Amplified). Dyno Dave mentioned last year the RITA box was no longer going to be manufactured. I switched to a RITA more than a year ago putting the Boyer that was on my '72 combat onto my '74 JPN. The RITA has a better advance curve for high compression engines (combat).

I used the Boyer Digital for over 5 years with no electrical problems other than having to replace the low tension wires from the pickup printed circuit board - they broke internally from vibration. There were always more Boyers in use because they're cheaper than the RITA
If you are using the original type Lucas coils, make sure you have 2 SIX VOLT coils wired in series. 6 and 12 V coils look identical except for the markings on them.


64 Featherlastic 850 with boyer
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