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MikeC Offline OP
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Hey guys. I just picked up a 1968 B44 Shooting Star that seems to be in great shape. It is my first high capacity single with a compression release. Can someone please give me the steps for starting. Thank you!!

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I posted a video a few years ago (bsa b44 start) that shows what you need to do. It helps to have electronic ignition. In my case, I have the VAPE EI. My bike has not been registered for road use for 3 years now. But I start it up every week or two and it starts on the first kick every time.

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1. For a cold start flood the carb, check gearbox is in neutral.

2. Turn the idle stop screw in 1 turn (you need to find an extended idle stop screw or keep a small screw driver handy). This removes the need to hold the throttle very slightly open, so from now until the bike is started leave the throttle alone.

3. Slowly turn the engine over with the kickstart lever until you find the resistance climbing, you have now found the compression stroke.

4. Operate the compression release and hold it open.

5. Slowly move the kickstart until you get the piston just over TDC, should not take more than one stoke of the lever.

6. Close the compression release.

7. Turn on ignition.

8. Allow kickstart lever to return to top or a bit below if you prefer.

9. Do the full bodied kick.

10. Once started as the bike warms up unscrew the throttle stop screw.

The objective is to kick when the piston is just past TDC so the crank has nearly 2 turns of low resistance before the next compression stroke to gain inertia and be able to get over that TDC on its own.

Before you first try get to know the feel of the kickstart through the full 4 stages of the combustion and how the compression stroke feels compared to the other 3..Listen for the air being pulled in on the inlet stroke and the puff out the silencer as the exhaust valve opens.

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"a picture is worth a thousand words" .....re-posted this a couple of times. It made enough sense to me so that I find starting simple.

Two finer points .........
He says that you only tickle when cold. Very true but define "cold" !
When you get your definition wrong you will flood the motor. No problem, just kick it over with the deco lever pulled and throttle wide open. This will clear
the chamber, then start as normal without tickling. Now some on this forum will say to do this with the ignition on so you get a nice bang when the flood
gets into the exhaust and the spark ignites it through the open exhaust valve. While it is true that you do indeed get a most satisfying pop, what they fail to
mention is that if it happens that the inlet valve is open when said pop occurs you will set fire to your whole effing bike requiring yet another rebuild
.......don't ask.

Last edited by Dave Martin; 01/15/23 6:12 pm. Reason: typo
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Nice to hear from Larry. I've used that video to learn how to start my B44. Out of 30,000 views more than a dozen are me.

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Well that means it is only you and me coz 29,988 of the views are mine!!

but seriously it gave me faith, when all was lost, that I could actually reliably use the damn thing that I had spent best part of a year rebuilding. I too have Vape and a new (if somewhat recently charred) carb but still could not consistently get a start until, after exhaustive YouTube searches, discovering the vid..........then it was a joy.

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The other thing worth mentioning is is to get the feel of the kick start lever hitting the throttle stop.
If you kick all the way through to the stop & HOLD THE LEVER THERE then the bike can not kick back.
Most people only kick the lever till it is vertical down but to get to the stop it has to go a tiny bit forward.
This is very difficult to do if the bike on on either stand but easy to do if you are standing next to the bike .
A lot depends upon your actual body shape and leg length so no actual starting proceedure is absolute gospel for every owner
What is important is the position of the piston at the end of YOUR kick, it has to be just past TDC or you risk a kick back if the lever is not hard against the stop .
Thus depending upon your physicue the starting position may vary somewhat
As Dave has mentioned, Listen to your engine for wheezes from the carb & exhaust so in a short ampunt of time you will recognize when the bike is telling you to start your kick
After that you will develope the muscle memory in your leg to know when to stop turning the engine over & when to start your kick.
And remember it is a KICK starter not a Leap on from a great hight starter .
just for fun a link to Doug Frasers video showing him starting his gold star by hand so you don't need to leap like I see way too many owners doing .
Doug starts his bikes


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Below, is my starting procedure for a B50, which a tougher start than a B44. Tthere are only a couple small things different from what others have said.. These procedures come from learning the hard way but are very reliable for both B50 and B44.
Starting a BSA B50 (cold)
1. Make sure timing is reasonably close to spot on.
2. The carb must be clean. Especially important is the idle mixture jet which is cleaned with a #78 drill wedged in a red WD-40 spray tip. It must be clean!
3. The throttle slide stop screw needs to be screwed in about 1/2f to 3/4 turn. This would be a very fast idle when the bike is warmed up. I welded a knurled post onto the stop screw so I can adjust it with a gloved hand and don’t have to get out a little screwdriver.
4. Liberally flood the carb with the tickler
5. With ignition off, prime the cylinder by kicking over the motor using compression release a couple of times with the throttle open. Re-flood the carb with the tickler again.
6. With ignition still off, ease the motor over TDC using the compression relief. Continue tuning the motor over with the kicker until you feel the springiness of the exhaust valve opening. This is about 70 to 80 degrees past TDC. (This is very important!) It helps give the engine more speed as it goes thru intake and then compression and the extra speed helps it got over TDC.
7. Reset the kicker to the top, turn on the ignition and give it a real hard kick. Don’t use the decompressor as you are over TDC. Mine starts like this even when batteryless. Kick it all the way through and keep your foot firmly on the kickstart lever and it is unlikely to backfire unless your ignition is too far advanced.

It should start easily. After it warms turn the idle adjustment screw to achieve the desired idle speed. On a hot start (like after a stall), you really only need follow steps 6 and 7. If the bike sits for about 20 minutes follow steps 3, 6 and 7.
Works for me!!! Unfortunately, it took me many years of BSA single ownership to figure this out. My B50 is generally a one kick affair. Some times when the engine is hot after a long ride and you let it sit for five minutes or so it can be difficult, but it always starts.

Mr MIke


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