Monday, June 1, 2020

No, no… a thousand times NO! Aftermarket parts...

There is odd synchronicity that occurs in my life, at times. I acquired a mostly original 1966 CA77 305cc Dream recently. I discovered that the ignition point set was not the original, but one of the various aftermarket copies, which are nearly impossible to adjust to OEM specs.

Then, yesterday, I wound up in a 30-message email exchange from a customer who was rebuilding a CA77 engine and experiencing great difficulties with the ignition timing. He sent photos of the engine’s cam timing setup, which all looked normal. It’s kind of hard to get Dream cam timing off a lot or even the point cam. The point cam is double-ended for the 360-degree crankshaft Dream engines, so you can put it in either way and it still works. If you do that with a 180 degree CB/CL engine, you will wind up having to install the points plate upside down in order to make the engine run.

My distant friend (in Canada) was tearing his hair out because when the points were set to normal gap, the ignition timing was about 30 degrees advanced. He was concerned that something was wrong with the cam timing setup or somehow installed the point cam in incorrectly. The point cam only goes in one of two ways, so you can’t install it 30 degrees off, no matter how hard you try.

My suspicions zeroed-in to the ignition points, which I have observed repeatedly as being out of specifications in all cases if they are not OEM parts. I asked if the points were ND stamped (Nippon Denso). I could see in the slightly blurry photo that it was a ND point setup vs. the optional Kokusan designed parts. He replied that the point plate said DENSO on it next to the contact set, which didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear. I could see, even in the photos, that the insulators for the point wire were a bright red plastic, which is almost always a sign of aftermarket point installations. ND uses a Bakelite-type of insulator which is a dull red.

I sent him photos of close-up images of new ND points and asked if they matched up with what he had on the points plate. Another out-of-focus photo came back, taken about 3 feet away. Again, I asked: “Does it have the ND stamp on the point contact set?” Finally, he replied that it didn’t have ND on the points and he noticed a <F.E.W> mark where the ND was supposed to be. I tracked down a couple of sources of genuine ND points and sent links for him to purchase the correct parts.

                                <F.E.W.> aftermarket points. Note backing plate position

Somehow, he still wondered if installing an electronic ignition would solve the problem. Well, the answer is YES because the trigger wheel is held onto the point cam with a set screw, so it has virtually infinite adjust-ability. Eventually, he resigned himself to ordering a set of ND points and will report back to me about the results.

Concurrently, I received prompt 4-day delivery of some Dream parts from DSS (, including a set of ND points and condenser and set about to install them in the 3600-mile Dream engine. As I extracted the old points, I looked at the contact base with a magnifying glass and discovered <F.E.W> stamped on the point set. The bike had been running with the points, but the point backing plate was turned all the way to the right end of the adjustment slot. The point gap looked to be about. .008”; just enough to break the circuit but not what Honda specified normally, which is .012-.016.”

Note that the rubbing block contact point is different between the two examples. ND at the bottom of the images.

With the new ND point set installed, the end result was the backing plate set more towards the center of the slot and the point gap around the.016” range. The bike fired up normally and settled down after a brief warm-up. What I did notice when checking the static ignition timing is that if the timing was just to the right of the F mark on one side, a full revolution put the point opening just between the T and F marks! With a dynamic timing light, you will see the idle timing marks shifting back and forth depending upon which end of the point cam is being used. You can either leave it as-is and live with the inaccuracy OR you can use a wet-stone to carefully work down the point cam lobe that is more advanced, so that eventually both ends are going to open the points right at the F mark alignment.

                                 Nippon-Denso original points. Note backing plate position

In any case, DO NOT ORDER/INSTALL any points that have <F.E.W> or a little three-blade propeller stamp which is from the Daiichi company. Both aftermarket point sets will give you the same headache, without a doubt. So, again, I say “No, no… a thousand times NO” to the installation of any aftermarket ignition points that don’t have ND stamped on them. The part number for the ND points is 259-004 vs. 259-003 for the Kokusan point sets, which will not install on a ND point plate at all. There are aftermarket copies of the Kokusan points as well, so BEWARE of fake copies. Unfortunately, for vendors of those products, they are stuck with an inferior product that should never be marketed in the first place.

And now you know....

Bill “MrHonda” Silver