I've been thinking, would I get more bang for my buck (so to speak) by forgetting the Alton electric start kit for now and going for a BT-H electronic ignition and Alton alternator? I still have a functioning leg, and I'm really just looking for reliable starting and running. Looking at eBay prices, I can come close to breaking even by selling the K1FC, which is super clean. I never liked that retard advance adjustment anyway, and half my issues with starting and riding were to do with finding the sweet spots are on the advance/retard setting.
'69 Velocette Venom Clubman '57 Norton 19S '56 BMW R69
Personally, I would keep the K1FC but change it to the automatic ignition advance. I would change the fiber gear for a metal one. With the automatic advance the bike will start easier (it still fires at point of high strength spark). If you have had the mag rebuilt by someone who knows what they are doing, you should have years of service out of it. Finally, you won't be relying on aftermarket parts that may or may not be available 10-15 years from now when the bike needs work. The older I get, the more I gravitate to stock parts.
That's an interesting perspective Ed, thanks. It's funny that when you put "convert k1fc to automatic advance" into Google, you get mostly forum discussions about converting auto advance to manual advance. Why anyone would want that, I don't know. But I did find a few sources for new ATDs that'll fit the Lucas magnetos on a Velocette... price looks to be in the 250 GBP range.
I also see references to people who have added an ATD but retained the manual advance/retard lever such that when the lever is on full advance, the ATD governs operation based on RPM and allows starting at maximum spark. But the retard lever is still there to help with pinging under load in these high compression engines when, for instance, going up hills and forgetting to downshift
'69 Velocette Venom Clubman '57 Norton 19S '56 BMW R69
MHO... I'd keep the manual advance. Pretty basic, just retard it for starting, then advance it for running, no "sweet spots" involved -too easy, maybe you're overthinking it. I'm pretty sure Auto advance units are in practice, pretty well 'on or off', not much progressive movement. However, having your K1FC re-conditioned may work wonders, even though on the face of it, it may 'appear' really good, it might not be. My Super Rocket (with apparently good sparks) gave me starting grief for several years until I bit the bullet and had the mag reco'd, -it transformed the bike into a first/second kick starter.
I think that you see more folks converting from automatic to manual is because the fiber gear that the ignition advance is on loses its teeth. Hence the suggestion to change to a metal gear. That being the case, I would buy one with stripped teeth, I am sure that the cost of one with stripped teeth and conversion to a metal gear will be a lot less than 250 pounds.
But if you do get a used ATD unit, make sure that the self-extracting thread is in really good nick. (It's one of) the achilles heels of these things. Lucas ATDs are not the best engineered thing around, and age has done 'em no favours!
My Venom still has the stock manual retard/advance mechanism. I retard it slightly when I kick it, tickle it and leave the choke almost fully choked. It normally starts on the first or second kick. I also just feel for compression and then kick it, no part way down or any other special trick. As soon as I take off I fully advance the timing and fully open the choke. I guess ignorance is bliss as I know nothing about starting Velo's and this one just starts so easy.
That's the point Dave, there's no 'ignorance is bliss' coming into it! If you start your Velo first or second kick you ARE an expert!!! You have it dead right for YOUR BIKE. (-I assume that when it's hot you use no choke, full retard, no tickle and just a little crack of throttle?)
Every bike likes a slightly different technique. - If we don't like that we'd better just go out and buy a VFR!
Jools, I have ridden it more now and have become even better at starting the Velo. I actually get kind of mad at myself if I don't start it on ONE kick. I have found that any bike that gets good spark and has a tickler and or a choke that works and that has decent compression and is timed correctly will start EASILY once its learned how much gas it needs. Kicking any bike requires a technique more than strength. The Velocette company gave the owner unlimited control over everything possible to make starting the bike easy. This was good for some and bad for others. For some it might have been better not to have the manual retard or the compression release but if you understand what they do and how to make it work for you the bike can become extremely easy to start. By the way your statement "I assume that when it's hot you use no choke, full retard, no tickle and just a little crack of throttle" is correct. If it sits for an hour I use only 3/4 choke but I always retard it to start it. I don't believe anyone needs electronic ignition nor do I think it is a plus. If the magneto is working good and the mixture is correct and the plug is good the bike will start easily. An electronic ignition also requires the same correct mixture and a good plug and correct timing for it to start easily. A magnetofaster the engine turns, an electronic ignition actually does the opposite. makes a stronger spark the I don't use my compression release at all anymore, not even to stop it. I have fitted the type of magneto end cap with the grounding terminal on it with a feeler gauge blade attached to the terminal, by pressing the blade to the magneto housing the spark stops and of course the motor stops. If you send me your email I will send you a picture. I am enjoying riding and tinkering with the Velo. I have also adjusted the clutch properly and am very happy with the amount of free play along with the fact that it goes into gear easily and does not slip. The clutch worried me for a bit as I was not familiar with it but after reading the manual and studying the pictures it was not hard to adjust. I also did away with the anti sump valve on the oil tank and replaced it with an "on/off" valve that I have more confidence in and a set of new clear oil lines.