Thursday, 14 January 2010

Decisions, Decisions.

Being the ‘proud’ owner of the World’s Worst Starting B50, the winter strip-down has provided the ideal opportunity to address the issue once and for all. Yes, I know that B50s have an appalling reputation for starting (there are pages upon pages on the interweb offering advice, all of which end ‘if that doesn’t work, walk away’) but mine did seem to be in a class of its own and, for a change, it doesn’t seem to be my fault!

Paul, the engine man, asked if I was going to change the electrics at all as part of the rebuild and I must admit I hadn’t really given it a thought. The existing system is a Boyer Bransden MkIII but therein lies most of my problem. Firstly it needs a battery as it’s not self-generating and, more importantly, it needs that battery to be fully charged (ideally over 12.4 volts) otherwise the timing goes haywire and starting becomes impossible. Also as the battery charge drops, performance gets erratic and then the engine dies, as it did at Lamarsh earlier this year, resulting in the long push back to the pits. Rumour had it that there are much better systems out there; all I had to do was choose one.
Now the interweb is a fantastic tool and all the information I could possibly need is out there somewhere. I spent the best part of a week’s spare time trawling through umpteen sites (some of which offered to increase my performance as opposed to my B50’s) before drawing up a shortlist of three. First up was the Boyer MkIV digital system, allegedly having addressed the low voltage issue and still not self generating but would at least be a very simple upgrade. The other two, from Pazon in New Zealand and Rex Caunt in good old Blighty, promised beefy sparks at low revs and no need for a battery.
Interestingly the owners of Pazon used to work for Boyer before setting up on their own and subsequently emigrating to New Zealand. Their website and newsletter holds interesting comparative data between the Boyer and Pazon systems and invites you to form your own opinion. I did, and Boyer were out of the running.

I have never claimed to be technical, especially when it comes to matters electric, so I needed to ask the shortlisted two some fairly numpty questions to help me understand what the systems could, or could not, do. To Rex Caunt’s distinct advantage, he managed to answer the most inane questions in plain English that even I could understand. First point to Rex.

I then thought there must be chaps on the Pre65 Club who have been through all this before, so I posted a query on the Club forum asking for advice. ‘Interesting’ is an apt description of the responses although there weren’t exactly a lot of them. One gentleman, who shall remain nameless (unless you bribe me with pints of real ale) suggested that Boyer equipment is as much use as a chocolate fireguard – only he used rather more colourful language – and went on to describe each fault in detail. Surprisingly, no-one suggested the Pazon kit but I did get a further suggestion for a system from electrexworld so I checked their website out as well. The one that got all the praise was Rex Caunt so I’ve asked him one last question: “How would you like to be paid?”

To keep the Flat Earth Society members of the Club happy, I’ve promised to retain good old-fashioned points on the Shiny Stormer. I’ll let you know how the new ignition beds in and how in performs later in the season. In the meantime, I’m just off to raid the piggy-bank.

It's only money!

Post Script. I stupidly put my home ‘phone number on my order so the GLW came home to a strange message on the phone from a lady with an American accent suggesting I get in touch. Bugger, my cover was blown. Another round of “how much?” questions is bound to ensue! Perhaps I should have just said I was having an affair.