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James ML starting issue

I Pulled my James ML out of the garage yesterday, on it's own wheels and in one piece for the first time in probably 30 years or more. The engine fired on the second kick and ran smokely for a few minutes until I stalled it. Now I can't get it to start again. I've checked the spark, which seems ok. Is there anything obvious to check before I strip the carb down? - I'm thinking fuel starvation? I noticed when I put the carb together that the float needle was sticking a bit, but naively thought it would free up once some fuel/oil was in the carb.

I'm also finding the clutch is slipping after one or two kicks, but the whole engine was rebuilt by Villiers Services. Is this just a Villiers thing, as my brother's ML used to do the same thing, but we put it down to a worn clutch (didn't replace it as the time).

Any advice greatly appreciated. I will post some pictures of the project onto the HMVF forum, as I can't work out how to do it on here.

Many thanks,

Tom

email (option): tomillward@hotmail.com

Re: James ML starting issue

Tom, these machines are notoriously fickle on the starting front.......

The fact that it did start and run narrows down potential problems somewhat. I would suggest removing the carb and dismantling it for a thorough clean. There is a mesh filter contained within the banjo bolt attaching the fuel feed pipe to the carb so there is a chance this may be obstructed. There is also a built-in mesh filter on the fuel tap itself......

When stripping the carb, make sure that the external screw-in air feed "compensating" tubes are clear in addition to all drillings. Check that the carb needle is correctly positioned...it should measure 2 & 7/16ths (exposed length) from the base of the slide. Also check that there is a small thin fibre washer beneath the head of the jet block.....

After checking the plug and the points gap (very sensitive to incorrect adjustment on these engines) bung some fresh fuel in the tank....note that with modern 2-stroke oils the mixing ratio is far less than originally specified......

You may have to play around with the choke setting to find a point that the engine likes to start......

Try booting it over with the decompressor raised......the engine will often fire in this position and is far easier to kick over. Also, play around with the throttle setting.......

I currently have three WD ML's in my workshop.....all have been restored to as-new condition but each one requires a slightly different setting/technique to start !

Re: James ML starting issue

I don't have a James ML - Wish I did ! But I do have and ride daily a James J9 with a Villiers 7E engine. When I first got it the bike was a fussy starter and would often conk out after a couple of miles and need a plug change. It had a reasonable spark with the plug laid on the head. My solution was not electronic ignition which would have been easy,but expensive. I opted for the cheap way,cutting off all the thin secondary HT windings from the coil to reveal the primary windings.A new wire soldered onto the end of the primary windings went over to the points and the original condensor wire was cut off. Where the original bakelite HT output fitting went I removed it and replaced it with an aluminium hollow nipple to allow a new low tension wire to go through it.A length of black rubber tube covered the wire and goes up to a Yamaha ignition coil under the petrol tank out of sight.A condensor from my Mothers retired garden strimmer is hidden there too.I cleaned the points,but didn't even bother to gap them.
The result is amazing, it starts first kick with no technique,pulls better and the plug now doesn't get checked at all, I think its been in there a couple of years now.The stronger reliable spark has transformed the engine. Could that be the reason for the fussy starting of the ML's ?

Re: James ML starting issue

Tom , the other thing that can give starting problems with Villiers engines are the main bearing seals. I've just re comissioned a James with a 2f engine, it wouldn't start in spite of a reasonable spark so I fitted a new ignition coil, points, and condenser from Villiers Services, soldered the HT lead directly to the coil, and fitted new mains and seals. It took less than a days work and it now starts first time hot or cold. The 2f has rubber mains seals, not sure about the ML engine though they may be gland type.
Tony.

Re: James ML starting issue

Thanks for all the pointers gents. The engine was fully rebuilt by Villiers services, albeit a few years ago and it hasn't been used until yesterday. So I'd hope all the seals would be in good order.

I didn't pay as much attention to the Carb as it sounds like I should, so I think I'll try stripping it down again and checking all the air feeds are clear. I assembled it with new gaskets but didn't check all the holes were unclogged.

I'll give it a try and let you know how it get on.

Cheers,

Tom

email (option): tomillward@hotmail.com

Re: James ML starting issue

Thanks for all the pointers gents. The engine was fully rebuilt by Villiers services, albeit a few years ago and it hasn't been used until yesterday. So I'd hope all the seals would be in good order.

I didn't pay as much attention to the Carb as it sounds like I should, so I think I'll try stripping it down again and checking all the air feeds are clear. I assembled it with new gaskets but didn't check all the holes were unclogged.

I'll give it a try and let you know how I get on.

Cheers,

Tom

email (option): tomillward@hotmail.com

Re: James ML starting issue

Hello all,

Thought I’d give an update on the James ML. I stripped the carb off and checked all the holes were clear, took the new float needle out and put the old one back in. The bike started second kick and ran nicely. I think the issue was the new float needle sticking and not allowing fuel into the float chamber.

Thanks for all the advice. Just need to get the brake shoes reclined now so I can take it out down the lane and try it out properly. I did fit an old pair of brake shoes in as a temporary measure, it the shoes don’t bite at all before you run out of travel on the brake lever. I might need oversize linings as the drum was quite corroded. I’ve left the rear chain off for now to stop being from being tempted to put it in gear and run it around the drive without the brakes!

email (option): tomillward@hotmail.com

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