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Jun 3, 2005

Can somone tell me what the timing is on a Commando 850 using a timing light. I have been told off someone that it is 31° before TDC at 5000 RPM, why such a high RPM?

Is there any other method of setting the timing? At 5000 RPM the bike moves across the ground on the centre stand and the neighbours aren't too pleased with the noise. Around about 3000 RPM would be easier to set.



This is part of owning a Norton. If you don't have scars all over your garage floor from the centre stand and P.O.'ed neighbours, then you are not getting the full effect!! :D :D :D

But seriously...

I am assuming that you have a Boyer installed. If not, then this is not applicable. Consult your manual/pertinent documentation for your ignition system.

5000 rpm is the point at which the Boyer reaches full advance. There is enough variability within the Boyer advance curve between units that timing at a lower RPM may not yield the same full advance timing in every case.

What I usually do when timing the bike is have an assistant operate the throttle and hold the bike upright (off of the centre stand), while I use the timing light and perform adjustments.

Regarding the noise, as Reverend Johnson said to Sheriff Bart in Blazin' Saddles, "You're on your own...."


Just invite a few Harley guys over with their very anal exhaust. After they have gone your neighbours will love your Norton.

If your setup is even close you will find that it will only take a few seconds at 5000 to find your mark.
Hi Neil,
The timing needs to be set at 31 degrees only for the boyer. Points require 28 degrees advance and this is at 300 rpm, not 5000.
If you find you have a boyer, I use the old blip the throttle method. Don't rev it up and hold it there. find a friend wife neighbour or all three and get in a position to see through the timing hole with the light going then just blip the throttle a few times each time making the revs run a little higher. It makes it easier on the ear drums less stress on the bottom end and you'll see fairly quickly whether it is too high or too low.
Steve Jowett

Your concerns about revving your Norton engine to a whopping 5,000 rpm while in neutral are justified. It scares me just to think about all the flying concrete from the center stand grinding itself into the middle of your garage floor at those crazy revs. Not to mention the aluminum alloy piston rods slinging themselves into a frenzied vibration that exceeds the endurance limit of the steel end caps and shortens the life of the alloy rod section by 1/3, if they survive the brutal timing procedure at all.

Rumor has it that 1 out of 100 Boyer owners ends up throwing a rod right through the block during a “fantic” attempt to set their ignition timing at 5,000 rpm. Then there are reported instances of catastrophic center stand failure from vibration induced fatigue that sent Nortons crashing into the concrete or, worse, into a beautifully restored classic automobile parked next to it, like a vintage E-type. Thoughts of suicide soon follow.

Yep – those electronic ignitions are scary stuff all the way around, I’d say.

But, hey, it’s not too late to save yourself from a horrific incident. Install a points and condenser ignition. Then gently rev the engine to 3,000 and set the advance at 28 degrees before top dead center. It’s that simple!!!


Gonzo Jason
Jason, NNNOOOOO!!!!!

You said the P-word!!!!

Now we're going to have another Points - Boyer Debate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This thread will have 300 posts before tomorrow morning!!!!

:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D



Not to worry - I think most forum members are too weary of this debate to respond. I'm not sure what came over me, but I suddenly had the urge to defend points and vehemently condemn electronic ignition systems.

Most forum members know I’m a points guy and will blow past this post with a sneer and comment like: “won’t that crazy old points guy ever wise up and get a Boyer.”

Rasputin’s Revenge,

I'll bite......duhhhhhh.........why?

PS (to everyone else) sorry, couldn`t resist...must be the "naughty" in me.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
alright you guys...im gonna throw in my 2 pence worth[or would that be tuppence?]...a boyer is a fine unit if you have the patience to work with a whole different set of problems than points present and there is no 'get ya home' backup....the wires that are generally used to hook up a boyer are the genuine lucas type that will break off at the coil plate...it seems that the copper work hardens from the vibration and are easily damaged either by more vibration or poor connetor installation....unless you hve a really good-as in expensive-crimping tool and are really careful just squeezing down the connector will cause a failure point in the wire...the screw on connection that some boyers have is even more damaging to the wire...the best solution i have come up with is to get rid of the lucas points wires and use a good grade of cabtire extension cord wire SJO or SJOW or some other rubber -not plastic- covered wire....preenex toaster wire is also good as long as it is very flexible and made of that really fine wire....unsolder the pigtails or the screw connector right at the plate and solder the wires directly to the printed circuit foil on the back....line up everything and set the timing then silicone the wires to the plate to keep them from vibrating.....if you are lucky this will eliminate the biggest cause of boyer problems but....there is still the pickup coil failure....back in the days of the great white i discovered that the tiny wires in the coil could break,robably vibration again....the coils should have been varnish or epoxy impregnated to prevent this but noooooooo! typical brit its good enough ship it mentality that the whole norton society has had to deal with since the beginning of the industrial revolution....ever notice that boyer is not an oem part on anything?any guesses why? it is a great piece to get you going like all of the accessory cdi ignitions were way back when but its a cheap piece of overpriced crap that gives a false sense of reliability to the people who are more electrically inclined than mechanically...[for the record i currantly use a boyer because it was the easiest to adapt to my vacuum advance ignition setup to prove feasabilty]...if you are mechanically skilled enough to get a norton to run at all you should be able to make a set of points work if you follow a few simple guidelines; use only genuine lucas parts...anybody that tells you that the oriental replacement points are any good at all has never put a set on a bike...genuine lucas...got that?...make sure that the advance unit is not worn out and is lubed with some light oil so that it actually advances...put some grease on all the electrical connectors and switch contacts to keep corrosion from starting...i have not had any problems with lucas electrics if i went through every piece and cleaned and greased where necessary....and perhaps the most important aspect of the points system is the single cylinder backup get ya home factor....it might not be the fastest time you can make on a norton but its a lot more dignified than loading it in the back uf a truck....a boyer will usually let you know when failure is immenent, it will give you one backfire or missed stroke....when you hear that be prepared...i should charge money for information like this but being the generous guy that i am its yours free...you are very welcome :roll: barry
"...but it's a cheap piece of overpriced crap (BOYER) that gives a false sense of reliability to the people who are more electrically inclined than mechanically..."

That's music to ears!!!

OK guys let me get this straight....your evidence that Boyer is crap is that no one uses it as OEM. Last time I checked, OEM was Lucas. Hmmm....ignition switches that readily corrode because they are not sealed, bullet connectors that turn into resistors, a centrifugal advance system so soft that it will wear a groove in single riding season, a charge light assimilator so fragile that it must be isolated in a spring, an alternator system that can barely keep a 65 watt bulb glowing. Need I go on??

Boyer may not be the greatest piece of kit ever to be used on a motorcycle, but compare to Lucas??? Come on!

P.S. - As far as oriental points, I ran them for years (pre-Boyer and RITA) with no problem. What was a problem was the condensors.
Ron L said:
P.S. - As far as oriental points, I ran them for years (pre-Boyer and RITA) with no problem. What was a problem was the condensors.

Yes, I've been running Japanese-made points with no problems for the last two seasons. I've put almost 1000 miles on them now (bike has been down a lot :roll: ). I do have Lucas condensors though...

Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Put me down for BOYER.

Who's keepin' score here, anyway? I nominate hewhoistoolazytologin!!

While we're at it, let's get a Amal-Mikuni Mexican Standoff going here too!!! :lol:


Good evening folks...this is Sandy Corners bringing you "on the road" coverage of another running of the Dark Rainy Night Sweepstakes at Sparkplug Downs...located right here in good old Birmingham England...land of wet summers and a great sense of humour...

They're bringing in the entries in this months race and I can see that all of them are what you might refer to as ....old hands at this business we call plug racing. Being led into box number one is that old favorite Lucas Pointman on "Neverdie". Right behind him in box number two is last months winner, Boyer Branston on "Blackbox" and...if I'm reading my program properly....yes! Folks.......this is going to be one race to remember....Swearby Rita has just gone into box three on her entry, "Powerband".

This is going to by one heck a race folks...all these entries have at one point or another won the Dark Rainy Night Sweepstakes and none of them is going to give up easily on another chance at this...the triple crown of English plug racing.

There's the gun..... and they're off!

"Powerband" gets a jump on both "Neverdie" and "Blackbox" and as they enter the first curve...it's "Powerband" in the lead. Seems those other riders are just warming up though, because both of them are making headway and closing the gap. That talented lady on "Powerband" has just thrown a look over her shoulder and I'd say both those other plugs have their work cut out for them.....Swearbys not going to let either one of them win this race without a fight. The other two have caught up though, and it's electrode to electrode as they enter the far straightaway. Wait a minute.....maybe I need new glasses...but it looks like "Powerband " is pulling ahead again....yes...folks...."Powerband" is starting to leave the others in the dust!!!!! I can't believe it. This is the stuff legends are made of....but wait a minute....Something is wrong with "Powerband"..... looks like she has cracked an insulator....sparks are flying all over. OH, no! Thats' all for "Powerband"....she's out of the race.

The other two plugs have now reached the final curve and ...there's no looking back...those two boys mean business. Looks like it might prove impossible for "Neverdie" to get by "Blackbox " though......"Blackbox" looks mighty strong and if "Neverdie" can't get past the interference coming from "Blackbox" , it looks like Pointman will go home empty handed. Coming into the final stretch....it's "Blackbox" by an electrode.........Branston must be getting nervous because it looks like he is starting to flog his poor plug. This can't go on for ever...something's got to give.....


"Blackbox" just broke a lead.....that poor plugs as dead as a doornail.......ten feet before the finish line...........and "Neverdie" is over the wire. Lucas Pointman on "Neverdie" has just won the Dark Rainy Nights Sweepstakes for the third time.......here at Sparkplug Downs. The crowd is going wild.

This has truly been a race to remember folks......what a finish!!! Bet they'll all be back next time for another running of the Dark Rainy Nights Sweepstakes here at Sparkplug Downs. These riders won't let it just stay like this.

Sooooo......before we have a word from out sponsor... remember........this is Sandy Corners........... wishing you a great evening, a wonderful weekend.....and remember.....keep your connections tight!!!
A little too much Brandy after dinner, eh?? I'll take some, pass it over here please.

Fantastic essay! I laughed to myself all the way through it!

And thanks for letting me, "Neverdie the points man," win the race!

Points vs Boyer

Golly Guys, I just love the views here. I would love to get ya'll to my house, have a few beers, eat some good West Texas Steaks, Rib and sausage and then let the arguing begin!! Would be a good time and a lot of info exchanged. I still have both of my Norton's on Points however have a Boyer on the shelf--from all my reads, I am in no hurry to change anything out. Good luck and hard riding to all. Semper fi devildog
A little too much Brandy after dinner, eh?? I'll take some, pass it over here please.

No....these days I seem to be able to act stupid without chemical assistance. Earlier in the day I had been cleaning out the closet and found my old clown suit...and unlike my old motorcycle club colors.....it still fits, after all these years.
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