GL1000 Goldwing Ignition Timing Error

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If you're like me, a mechanical guru "wana'be", you don't just set the timing on the #1 point and go have to set both sides.  You must check the "1 F" and "2 F" timing, which on a GL1000 means the timing of the front 2 cylinders and the back 2 cylinders.  If you're not you might just be lucky and haven't delved into this problem.

"Concentric" timing!  The definition of concentric is, "In relation to another".  In this case how one point is set in relation to the other point.  All dual point timing setups have 2 timing plates.  The big one that rotates around the cam, and a smaller one underneath one of the points so it can be rotated independently of the other point.

If you've got an original timing plate or have purchased a Dyna S pointless ignition, then those are already set at 90 degrees and all you need to do is set the gap (in the case of points) and time #1 and you should be in good shape.  If however, the secondary plate under one of the sets of point has ever been're in trouble and will run up against a timing problem that many GL1000 Goldwing owners have scratched their heads about since shortly after the bikes came out.  I've seen posts and other queries about this particular problem all over the web during my research.  I spent a lot of time pondering this subject...and let it rattle around in the back of my head for about 4 years, till I finally decided to try what I knew might be the answer.

I'm not sure how many GL1000s have this timing problem, but I believe that the error on the flywheel is most common on the first three years of GL000s, 1975 thru 1977.  Here's a short video of how the timing usually goes.  The video goes pretty slow so that the points and the timing marks can be watched.  I tried to photograph this but the lighting wouldn't work, so I put these illustration in an animation.  This video is simplified and doesn't take into account the dwell and gap settings of the points, but shows only the timing that I arrived at.

I need to make the point that this is not the same issue that is also referred to as split-timing that specifies a variation of timing between the front two cylinders or the back two cylinders.  This issue is the relationship between the the two sets of points.  Their concentric angle, which should be 90 degrees.


When you get the #1 point set properly and start on #2, you discover it is way retarded.  Of course that means you must moved the points closer together in order to advance the #2 set of points....while leaving the #1 set where they are.  You quickly discover that you can't.  You can not move the points close enough together to time the #2 set of points.  The timing plate's slots are not long enough to move them any further than about 5 degrees off on one of the sets of points. 

So one solution is to set the #1 set of points a degree or two advanced so that the 2nd set of points is only about 3 degrees retarded.  That actually works pretty well.

The Dyna S pointless ignition comes out the same way.  You can't move the point units close enough together to get the timing correct on both sets of points.  Are you scratching your head?  I was!  I considered modifying the Dyan S, so the point units could be moved closer together.  Voiding the warrantee of course, even though the head of the racing development engineers at Dynatek suggested that if I was so intent on getting the timing set to the marks, I could file off some of the plastic on the point unit casings.  I couldn't bring myself to do it.....Yea!  Now I'm glad I didn't.


Eventually, I put in the work to find the solution.  Here is my conclusion and how I got my '77 GL1000 to run correctly.

I decided the assumption, that the timing marks on the flywheel were correct, was a mistake.  I was reluctant to believe this or take action on it because after's a Honda.  Honda engineers and line quality is suppose to be some of the best in the world, right?  Ok, on my bike, I've proven they messed up somewhere, and from reading at least 100 posts from all over the place, I think that it is possible that all GL1000s made in the first 3 years, or a great number of them, were made with this flaw on the flywheel.

With this in mind, I decided to spread the points even further apart, appearing to set the #2 points, as indicated by the timing marks on the flywheel, to be about 7 to 10 degrees retarded.  That's is past the "2-T" mark.

This is about how my timing is set, and this is what made my engine run correctly.

#1 Point Timing #2 Point Timing


Granted, I have not purchase a degree wheel to see if my points are now set exactly at 90 degrees, but my '77 GL1000 Goldwing is now running better than it ever has.  It runs perfectly smooth all the way thru the throttle at any amount of twist.  How many GL1000s were made this way, I can't say, but mine was.  I also have not done this with mechanical points.

My next step is to see if adjusting the rear cylinder's valves at this position will quiet the valve rattle.












Static Timing - this procedure works the same with points or pointless ignition.

My personal preference is to use the "static timing" method.  The first thing  below, is the way I've been making timing lights for 30 years.   You can easily get bullet connectors to fit as shown.  On the double side (left) the empty sleeve is the wire going to the condenser.  If you have points, leave the condenser connected.  If you have points, leave the condensers hooked up.  There connectors are inside the left side cover.
This is a 12 volt, single element tail light bulb and socket.  The socket is easily purchased at most auto parts stores.  You'll want to use a couple feet of wire (red & green).  The black wire can be fairly short.  At the end of the ground wire, you need a good size alligator clip.  Big enough to clamp just above the points, at the top of the timing case where the top "timing cover" screw goes in.
I've removed the points cover (left) and clipped the ground side of my static timing light to the points housing as mentioned above.
Sorry, I haven't had time to work on this the past couple days...I've just got some other things of priority.


Ed Swearingen

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GL1000 Goldwing Ignition Timing - Static Timing Method