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A Pig to Start ?

Some say that long stroke singles can be. Mine isn't !Pigs


Richard, there is nothing sweeter than confidently knowing, despite how many are looking, that your machine will start with the correct procedure every time.  I have it with my dominators, model 50 and V/venom ( despite a totally different approach).  The one that eludes me, and makes me a little nervous is the 37 long stroke inter MS.

Rebuilt engine,  10 and 18 thou tap pets, TT carb( 320 main , 109 needle, no5 slide, refurbished magneto, ignition timing 12 thou gap at 37degrees, NGK BP7 ES (20 thou), fresh fuel, and a kick start conversion.

No centre stand, which does diminish your confidence when struggling to get this machine fired up. It seems best when fuel is dripping out the back of the carb and after several failed attempts a change of plug and it will start first time.  

 When it runs it’s fine, it needs miles to bed it in but it just drains all my energy to get it going. I’ve had several but none have elude me to this level.

What do you recommend as a sequence of steps to get this thing to be a more reliable starter?

I sometimes think I should go a bit more modern on the carb. (Concentric) to eliminate the feeling side, then progress through the varying elements tha can cause the issue.  I’m just a bit bewildered why it is so reluctant to go.  The others all have a routine but I never expect them to fail to start, even the velo now I understand the method is a reliable starter.    Any advise welcome.




Jon...mine was problematical just like yours seems to be. I think it's OK now, but haven't really had enough time to play with it. Mercifully it normally startles onlookers by starting first kick, even from cold, later in the day after it's been parked up. It's not easy to analyse, but it seems to be very sensitive to timing. I have painted a line across the timing lever to make sure I have it spot on.

Also, I tickle but don't over flood. Then turn off the fuel to make sure it doesn't carry on dribbling past the float lever an flood.

I have an internal screw on top of the jet block so it just holds the jet block up enough to give a reliable it doesn't stop when I open the garden gate. That alone has made riding it far more relaxing.

Also...I did take time to adjust the pilot screw, and that improved things.

It it is any consolation, I totally failed to start a Velocette I toyed with buying...



I think I will do a carb swap just to eliminate feeling before I go further. I have to be certain of plugs as as the act of changing them usually brings life straight after but is suspect it’s the clearing of the chamber that aids the next attempt.

 The lack of centre stand aggravates the issue.


ill persevere as it’s an expensive ornament at present 





My 500 had a TT carburettor and would take the best part of the morning to start.  It ran well when it finally started, though.  I replaced the TT with a 1&5/32 Amal 389 carburettor and bought slides and needles that were closest to the TT settings.  It now starts first kick from cold every time and runs well.  I can understand the logic of keeping the TT fitted in terms of looks, but if I did that I wouldn't have any energy left after several dozen kicks to ride it anywhere!


.. to an OHC bike but as far as I'm concerned if it's hard to start it probably won't be ridden. My ES2 has a monobloc instead of a 276 (fitted by previous owner) and is a very reliable first-kick starter. I have no plans to revert just for the sake of "originality".


I'm sorry, Jonathan but I have no experience of TT carbs and little of Norton exotica in general.

I'm using NOS mica KLGs now and it's starting more consistently than ever. This may or may not be a co-incidence. It doesn't like being over-retarded to start, but that's typical of Lucas mags. I also use choke a lot as it minimises the effect of the big handful as I kick which I can't un-learn from my Commando technique.

The 76 / 276 is a fiddle to get fuel-tight if in poor condition, but it seems to work well enough.



I'd rather not leave this conversation for future readers to believe an Inter won't start.  Just went out to the garage.  Clutch free, fuel on, oil present, air control closed, prod it over a couple of times on decompressor to make sure clutch is free.  Tickle just enough to be sure there is fuel in the float chamber.  Up and just over TDC on decompressor.  Very small throttle opening, one prod and it's off.  Advance ignition a bit straight away, and very slowly open the throttle a bit and open up the air. I never blip the throttle.  I don't see the point of giving an engine big gulps of air when there is no accelerator pump to compensate.  Tickover at about 1100rpm.  Retard ignition and if the rev counter is to be believed it drops to about 500-700rpm.  Much the same as the 16H, and lot easier than the Dommie (why did the 'heavy twins' not have an exhaust valve lifter?)

I do think the jet chamber top screw to hold up the throttle slide a couple of mm open made a  big difference.  I don't have to worry about keeping the throttle open by just the right amount, so I don't accidentally let the motor stop.

I'd have an even bigger smile if it stopped raining, and if I was allowed to go out to play...

I don't see why a TT carb should be inferior to any other, unless maybe it's badly worn.  Mine had the Martin Bratby (I think) treatment some years ago.  Trouble is - how can one know? 


And a few more ticks in boxes. What’s annoying is that it runs quite well once it’s warmed through.  Unfortunately there is no decompressor on an MS engine.  It’s more of a pull back onto firing stroke and kick away from that. All jets are renewed, new slide, enrichment slug replaced and air leak tested. The NGK plugs do seem to have a history of poor starting so will source alternatives.  I am in the process of installing a timing disk under drive nut and get the timing light out. TDC is easily found, I just need verification of what I believe to be 37 degrees fully advanced and what the range is on my manual advance .

 All points noted and will continue to experiment. Even an ES2 I have recently helped with is a half kick starter, which gives me faith in what I do but this beaut is testing my nerve a little.    

Thanks for all your comments, can’t wait to do the triumphant video


Best wishes all




Jon please share your secret of how to start your Velo, I seem to have lost the knack


Best way to start a Velo is to do exactly as the Hall Green Procedure. Though on mine, previous owner changed primary ratio, so I have to only go halfway down. Though if it had stood for a long time, it will never start until you emptied crankcase of oil.


It starts if you follow the procedure in the manual.  I'll post a copy of it next time I'm in the    garage. The  difference  between the Velo and the Norton is that the Norton requires to be over or  backed up to TDC and a long kick; the flywheels will do the rest.  The Norton(Single) likes a lot of fuel and only a small opening of the throttle, more than 60% of advance depending on how you set it and again choke is dependant on how you have jetted it.

With the velo you kick it from BDC up into the firing TDC as the flywheels are lighter than a Norton and you need to sustain the pressure.  The kickstart is short so you have to make sure the end of  the kick stroke is taking the piston into firing position and beyond.

Whilst they are a nice engine the riding experience is a bit pipe and slippers...




... my Venom responded much better to the classic big single technique (even with an audience which is when they usually misbehave). Velo flywheels are perfectly heavy enough to take the engine over the compression TDC. The problem with the Red Book method is that it assumes standard primary gearing - and in any case the Viper and Venom (for instance) have different engine sprockets giving different primary drive ratios.

Maybe it's just me?



But it was, not responding to the big heave ho method I use on the Nortons'.  I even went to the   VOC meetings and observed the "engineers" priming their steeds.  I converted to their method on the basis that short kick start with appaulling ratchet system was going to give in if I kept pounding on it. 

But as you say, "maybe  its just me".   My dommies start on half a kick, my singles also respond after a little adjustment, (Except the Cammy, but that's another thread),  and the Velo, well we  both take a long look at each other before the game of chess begins.   

Coincidently (or not) its the only old machine in the shed with electronic ignition, the rest are Magneto.   AO put me right on the voltage level and vast amount of amps they consume which got me out of the "no go" period. Then it just became the "knack".


Best wishes




Most of the time, all start first kick, even my grandson on my M50 said after the ride a couple of months ago, he was impressed with the handling on the Norton.

Very proud with my son, and grandson with me ( I ended up on theA J S !)


I believe that different singles need different starting methods. Even same model ones can be different. So experience with your machine is needed. If I rate mine, the Vincent is easiest followed by the 16H and the Venom. I've not figured out the B40 and the Victor Special yet as they are fairly new to me. The ES2 is worst of my running bikes. Sold the Goldie as I never managed to kick start it. Though the Manx for obvious reasons can't be kickstarted, it is a four stride push.


I've not figured out the B40 and the Victor Special yet as they are fairly new to me.

I have both, the B40 is easy in standard form as the primary gearing is good. But on the B44 the primary gearing is changed (engine sprocket goes from 23 to 28) and lowered so reducing the amount of piston travel when kicking. So it needs the Velo type procedure ie use compression lever to get to TDC and then go a bit further before kicking. I also fitted a choke which oddly is of more help on starts 15 mins after stopping than on first cold start of the day. Also I fit extended throttle stop screws (gloved hands can turn them) and turn it in 1 to 1.5 turns in for cold starts, then it will tickover when cold without needing the throttle blipped, turn out over the first mile which is the first T junction for me. On a single the differences between engines, even supposedly exactly the same spec, are amplified so experimentation is needed.


When I ran a Panther 120 650 the fuel height was critical to stop kick back. The TT is notorius in Goldie owners of old for lousy starting. I had a neighbour who broke his leg as his 500 spat back due to low fuel in the float chamber. Have you tried a remote float chamber on an adjustable rod to get the fuel level to  a workable height? Four star leaded petrol had a better atomising effect and was not as wet as this ethanol based stuff. Have you tried Tesco Super Unleaded with a drop of lead replacement addictive, it worked well in my racing Jaguar, which needed five star.


The fuel level in the float bowl has been set with a clear hose off a drain screw tapped into the bowl (bottom fed).  I use Esso Synergy and a lead additive.  To eliminate the carburation I am fitting a 930 Amal; There are some minor issues in doing this and I was caught out by the flange bolts which will not fit behind the tickler so have to make up studs.  5/16” CEI thread not too common in my box of bits, or dies to tap my own, so I’m into eBay for a few nuts and bolts to modify accordingly.

What Jag are you racing Paul? Saloon or sports?  Had a few, but most enjoyable was an XK140 a late uncle had.

Thanks for advice.




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