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Tri-Spark ignition

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Hi. I have recently bought a MK111 Commando fitted with Trispark Ignition. As the bike had been standing for a while i chose to service her which naturallyincluded changing the plugs. The bike then developed a fault where-by the engine would cut out when warm. This problem slowly became worse to the point of me, being a dork when it comes to electrical problems, passed it onto someone who knows. Today i had a very interesting chat with a friend that had a similar problem with his Trispark powered Trident. he claimed that when fitting a Trispark unit you must ensure that reisitor plugs are fitted and/or supressed caps with wire leads only??? I fitted NGK7ES plugs which are if i am correct not a resistor plug but arethe same as i have always used in my 1972 Commando fitted with a boyer unit. Can anyone clarify any of this information.

Many Thanks.

Mark.

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Previously mark_chapman2 wrote:

Hi. I have recently bought a MK111 Commando fitted with Trispark Ignition. As the bike had been standing for a while i chose to service her which naturallyincluded changing the plugs. The bike then developed a fault where-by the engine would cut out when warm. This problem slowly became worse to the point of me, being a dork when it comes to electrical problems, passed it onto someone who knows. Today i had a very interesting chat with a friend that had a similar problem with his Trispark powered Trident. he claimed that when fitting a Trispark unit you must ensure that reisitor plugs are fitted and/or supressed caps with wire leads only??? I fitted NGK7ES plugs which are if i am correct not a resistor plug but arethe same as i have always used in my 1972 Commando fitted with a boyer unit. Can anyone clarify any of this information.

Many Thanks.

Mark.

Tri Spark installation instructions recommend that: '..spark plug suppressor caps be used with this system. Use 5k Ohm caps....'

They also stress the importance of the rotor clearance and wiring in general.....

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Hi Mark

I fitted a Trispark to my 73 850 in early 2014 and have done 8,000 trouble free miles since. I was fitting an Alton starter at the time and saw that the 'Roadholder' review of electronic ignitions which gave it a very good write up when it came to limiting kickbacks, hopefully protecting my investment in the Alton (which incidentally puts a smile on my face every timeI hit the starter button) . So now you've made me do that thing abhorrent to all males - I've read the instructions and although I can't see a reference to resistor plug caps in the main part, when you come to trouble shooting there it is and I quote;

"It is recommended that spark plug suppressor caps be used with this system. Use 5k ohm caps such as NGK LB05EP"

So now you've made be panic and shoot out to our local motor factors who had LB05E in stock, when we checked his manual the 'P' applies to 'special waterproofing'. As there seemed to be adequate rubber boots for both the cable and plug end of the suppressorand he had them in stock I bought the E version.

I must admit I was initially a bit wary of the Trisparks' electronics being all contained in the hostile timing cover environment but up to now I have certainly been pleased.

The fault finding notes state that if the unit was supplied afterJan 2013 then there is a test button and instructions on how to use the test feature for fault finding. If you don't have these I can happily send you a copy.

Oh and by the way I have Champion N7YCsfitted.

Regards

Bob

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Mark - Do not fit both suppressed plugs and caps - one or the other - I use BP7ES with NGK suppressed caps. I had trouble with a Trispark 4 years ago (so it was an early unit) - was running fine and it just stopped - middle of N.Yorks moors on a VMCC run - the little light was working on the unit but no spark - Trispark sent me another but you don't carry a spare at £210 each - replacement is still on the shelf unfitted. I currently use Wassel EI which are about £80 so I always carry a spare - I have had to replace one of the connector plugs with a junction block as it kept cutting out and also swap the black box as it was giving problems, so these electronic units are definitely not fit & forget IMHO.

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If you have an digital electronic ignition, you need to fit resistor plug caps otherwise electronic noise (thats a technical term!) can upset the ignition's processor. Some ignition manufacturers will not accept Gtee claims if resistor plug caps are not used.

Simplest to used NGK 5000 Ohm plug caps, easy to find and cheap as chips.

Other things that can upset electronic ignitions are dodgy earths and cutout switches.

Tri Sparks do seem to be a little unreliable for some people, my personal view is that however well the ignition black box is made, i would prefer to fit it outside the engine.

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I've just bought a Trispark system direct from the maker, Steve Kelly in Australia. The Aussie dollar is low so it cost me £160.65 including P&P I haven't got round to fitting it yet but the concensus of opinion in the States is it's the way ahead. I too was concerned about the operating temperature but engine cases don't reach massive temperatures. Jim Comstock posted some temeratures he had measured on the accessnorton website. They tend to deal in Farenheight over there. I'll see if I can dig out his figures

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Previously david_evans wrote:

174 degrees F so well below the boiling point of water

its not only the heat, you need to consider the vibration as well, my experience with airheads is that those makers of aftermarket ignitions that mounted the black box in the outer cover of the engine, had more problems than the Majority who fitted it outside.

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As I said before I have done 8000 miles with my Trispark and haven't had any problems (so far!). I did / do still have concerns about the unfriendly environment where the Trispark lives but so far so good. However my experience over the years with electronic ignitions,has always been with poor connections and dry joints particularly in the low current sender wires and dry joints on the timing cover mounted stator. Most problems have been withBoyers but even on one occasion with a Pazon (which is a good bit of kit). So one good advantage to the Trispark is that it doesn't have any of these external wires.

Finally I would add that if Jim Comstock has a view on this subject I would certainly respect it. When I visited Jim in 2007 he had his Commando running on an ECU that he could adjust from his laptop while the bike was running on a rolling road in his garage. A wonderful engineer.

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I've got a piece of alloy plate for a ventilated points cover. I was thinking along the line of a tiny NACA duct with exhaust to cool the trispark. I don't think a bit of rain in there would make too much difference.

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Well I've finally managed to road test my new Trispark ignition and all is not good. Starting and idle is excellent but riding reveals an intermittent brief cut in the ignition that gets worse as the revs rise above 3000. re-fitting my 30+ year old Boyer reveals no problem (same coils, HT leads, plugs, resistor caps and good earth and power supply) so the Trispark is going back for testing. Recorded delivery, time, expense, re-fit etc. Bol--cks!

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Just to throw in my two penn'orth.....

I've had one of these sat in it's box upstairs for a while now, hopefully this week will see it fitted! My one big gripe so far was, having decided to go the whole hog and fit their super duper high ouput coils too.... the postage cost from Oz was way above the quote on the website (the ignition unit itselfwas bought from RGM, the Tri-Spark warranty stating the purchaser is resonsible for cost of freight etc to and from the point of purchase.... if neccessary!)

Watch this space..........

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Trispark ignitions and coils are stocked by LP Williams.

Had a trispark ignition fail on my 850 about 4 years ago so was one of the earlier ones - sent it back to Oz and another returned FOC (they crossed in the post) - haven't fitted it as I now carry a spare and am using Wassell, which again has let me down once but the spare black box gets you going again

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I'm planning on leaving the Boyer in place and having the option of a quick swap of rotor and stator should anything fail again. A photo on my phone will serve as a reference for positioning of the bits to get the timing in the ball park.

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I've had a Tri-Spark on my 750 for 7 years or so and it's the best thing since sliced bread. The bike starts first kick and has never kicked back, I have even betted people it will start first kick and it didsmiley I only use a 6amp battery as well. I didn't know about the resister plugs or caps, I haven't got resistors in either of mine. I've had a few Boyers in my Commando and my Trident and they went in the bin and I converted it back to points, which I never really had a problem with. I eventually fitted the Tri-Spark because when it didn't want to start with points it was a pig..!

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I've messaged Stephen Kelly at Tri-Spark about resistor plugs and caps, this is his reply.

Hello Dave,The resistor caps are meant to reduce the electrical noise radiating from the ignition system. Sometimes that noise can affect electronic ignition systems but that is not my experience with the Classic Twin.Regards,Stephen KellyNorthstar Electronics - Tri-Spark Ignition

So it looks like it's no necessary on the twins.

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Which is totally at odds with the recommendation he makes in the installation instructions!

'Suck it and see....' I suppose

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my trispark unit would allways start the commando and idle but ran rough over 3000rpm carbs off clean head off check valves evetually contacted stephen kelly (trispark) ran some tests he said posibly stator failure.

(the red timeing light would stay on and blink off it should be off and blink on)

any way got a new unit from him and commando ran.

it now runs well and has done for the last 1000 miles

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My Trispark is back from Oz after testing. No fault found but they replaced it anyway. Fitted it yesterday and tested and there is still an occasional fart from the misfire at about 5500-6000 rpm. I have been meticulous with the installation and had to space the stator plate out to get the 2mm airgap from the rotor. Starting is excellent and tickover rock solid but it's not right yet. A bit annoying really, I'll give it another go but it will be going back for a refund if it continues to give grief.

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I've checked over the wiring and the 2mm air gap and it's still cutting out at above 4000rpm. I can change plugs and leads but they were working fine with the boyer and the same plugs and leads but with 12v coils worked ok on points. Any ideas?

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Sorted it out at last. By wiring the supply to the ignition direct from the battery via a switch the problem has ceased. I have a Boyer powerbox fitted and also a digital voltmeter. I noticed that coincidently to the ignition cut out, that the voltmeter was going blank. I wonder if the Powerbox delivers it's charge in steps and that was interfering with the ignition supply. It never effected the old Boyer ignition.

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The trip to the AGM in April in the rain resulted in a misfire. Re-fitted the Boyer, fine. Try again with the Trispark, Rimini rally fine until the San Marino run and a shower had it misfiring again, Boyer on, fine. Try the Trispark again to the Kendal rally, more rain more misfiring. (dropping down to one cylinder at low revs) Boyer on, fine. Try again, trispark on, all well until I wash the bike after a dirty ride. finally got it started but only on the RH cylinder. After some time drying things off with a hot air gun it works again. With two 6 volt coils in series and a wasted spark, I can't work out why there is a problem firing two coils in a little bit of rain when Boyer or points works the same coils and leads with no problem. thinking of going to a twin output coil, any thoughts?

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I'd stick with the Boyer. Mine has been on my 850 Mk3 since 1989 with no issues, wet , dry, hot or cold. I carry a spare new kit on longer distances so any part can be replaced but never had to open it! Starts first lick from cold too. My twin coils are the 1975 originals, BTW!

Just make sure your battery is in good order, I find the new gel battery's hold their charge for longer.

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I can't quite understand, if the Boyer ignition was (and is) working ok, what prompted the change to Trispark. The Boyer system, on my old Commando was, literally, an absolute pain, and probably accounts for my current knee problem!

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Whilst my Boyer is working well enough, I decided to take advantage of the (at the time) favourable exchange rate and upgrade my 35 year old Boyer. Also the extra bit of retard at low revs to facilitate good tickover and easy start appealed. The idea of improving the old girl and taking her into the future has proved to be a tedious experience.

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I might have got to the bottom of my problem.. While checking the resistance of the two coils I found an intermittent break in the LH HT lead. The plug cap needed a couple of extra turns to make good. Strange that it only showed up on the trispark when damp and not the points or Boyer. I have a dual output coil on it's way to put this issue to bed. Maybe I didn't need itFrown

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My Trispark (from LP William) which I fitted a couple of years back, runs fine. And the retarding for starting is wonderful.

I had the same rain issues as david_evans with my old Boyer. I haven't been out in the rain much lately, but am happy to have the Trispark inside the case in the dry.

I'm running 6V coils in series, and have not fitted the suppressor caps yet. (As noted I expect it to only affect radio interference).

Steve

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Hi I have just fitted a Tri-Spark after my bike failed to even consider running on Boyer Digital , I was at a state of considering reverting to points , I followed the Tri-spark instructions to the letter and it appears to be working fine . I have not been out on the road as I need an MOT or wait until May 20 th

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Previously david_evans wrote:

Well I've finally managed to road test my new Trispark ignition and all is not good. Starting and idle is excellent but riding reveals an intermittent brief cut in the ignition that gets worse as the revs rise above 3000. re-fitting my 30+ year old Boyer reveals no problem (same coils, HT leads, plugs, resistor caps and good earth and power supply) so the Trispark is going back for testing. Recorded delivery, time, expense, re-fit etc. Bol--cks!

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I have exactly the same problem so I sent it back to Andover Norton they sent another unit this was even worse fitted the whole thing again as per distructions checked the wiring voltage ect the LED dose not light in any position the previous one did but ran the same as David Evens bike. hopefully I am going to Andover Norton Tuesday...

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All of these wasted spark systems rely on twice the current going to earth when using 2 single coils, so your earth route needs to be top notch. I had an iffy earth route and a Boyer would only fire one cylinder, a dedicated head to battery wire cured it instantly. A dual coil is a loop so does not need an earth.

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I always made sure I had a good earth wire from the engine on my Commando as I felt the isolastics wouldn't conduct very well. In fact I always fit dedicated earth wires to all my bikes rather than hope current can find its way through grease, ball bearings and rust......

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Bear with me on this please as I have been out of touch for a while, I have read the whole thread and will be going down the route of buying an electronic ignition soon.

I assume that all of these will still need the power source running down the frame from the loom?

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Yes but you have choice to feed direct through the ignition switch or retain the loop through the kill switch on the handlebar. I use the loop but if your kill switch starts playing up then you get issues. My handlebar switches were cleaned up and greased with silicone grease years ago as a precaution.

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Previously john_holmes wrote:

All of these wasted spark systems rely on twice the current going to earth when using 2 single coils, so your earth route needs to be top notch. I had an iffy earth route and a Boyer would only fire one cylinder, a dedicated head to battery wire cured it instantly. A dual coil is a loop so does not need an earth.

I've never been a great fan of wasted spark systems - I know that theoretically, they don't break any electrical 'rules' but it seems a bit 'cheapskate'. I have used Boyer many years ago - I was never a great fan. I fitted a Tri-Spark system to my BSA Triple - this system uses three separate triggers and thus fires each plug sequentially i.e. not wasted spark. This enables use of 12v coils and individual 'tweaking' of timing etc. An excellent and reliable system. Tri-Spark did develop a twin version of the triple system which again, was not wasted spark - I fitted it to my Commando and it was excellent. When the Tri-Spark Classic Twin system became available, I opted to replace the existing system on my Commando with it - it has been fine (I must admit that when I ordered the Classic Twin, I didn't realise that it was a wasted-spark system, I assumed that it was an update of the existing system). I too was a little concerned about the heat and vibration issues but the system has proved to be excellent. I note that Tri-Spark now produce a similar-looking system for the Triples but it still retains sequential firing rather than wasted spark - I think a lot of this could be to do with (ideally) the need for 4v coils.

 

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