Kawasaki Vulcan Forum banner

1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey folks,

It's been awhile since I've posted. The Vulcan is going for sale since I've decided I want something a little smaller. No, what I really super actually want - in addition to something a little smaller is something that's not been so messed with. I'm also not crazy about carburetors. The more I look at my bike the more I'm wondering what the heck previous owners were up to.

Right now I can't get it to start at all. It'll just run the battery down trying. I have a few ideas where to look; previously the carbs had come uncoupled from the intake boot allowing way too much air in - maybe that's happened again. 1 carb wasn't working for awhile which may mean at least 1 plug (if not both) are fouled/corroded/gap way off, etc. The fact the bike likes to smoke a bit and the mediocre fuel economy lends credence to this and suggests that perhaps the carbs were re-jetted at some point. I had corrected the float height issue on the tang of the carb that wasn't running, and I can therefore state with certainty I was not the first one inside it. Though it is unlikely I suppose maybe the choke system has failed somehow. Even though it appeared to work fine 2 weeks ago.

This past weekend I was trying to sort out the high-beam not working. Checked continuity across the 3 poles of the bulb, all good there. I assume an open in there would cause continuity to break between the common & that line in the bulb. I checked the wiring - I even looked at the schematic I found on-line. What I got was continuity across I think the R & Bl wires but not across either the R or Bl and the R/Bl wire. Well, I thought I'd look inside the actual switch housing to see what's up... For some reason the wires from the actual switch have been cut. And - I know this is silly - but I just noticed the entire harness has been wrapped in electrical tape, meaning something jank has been done with several of the wires probably. Why? I couldn't say. Is there a short somewhere? None of the fuses are blown, I checked continuity to be sure. So I'm pretty sure the problem stems from the switch wires being cut, and I think I can test it if I can find where the switch wires go, I can test for current & continuity. But is the switch just bad? Did something get shorted and cause other problems?

In addition to this it needs fork seals, something I almost certainly won't get to before it's sold. Also there are pin-sized holes on the underside of each pipe, near the pegs, but it doesn't seem to affect performance. But I do want to try and stabilize it a bit before I sell it, after all it's a good bike - it just needs to go to someone with more time & a place to work on it reliably. Right now it lives outside under a half-cover.

This is more just a b***h post but I'm also open to suggestions. Supposed to be fair tomorrow and I don't work - so I'm going to check the boots, check & change the plugs, make sure I'm getting fuel flow through the petcock & maybe try and figure out where the high beam wires go and if there's a shortage in there. If the switch is okay it wouldn't be a big deal to fix the wires with some solder and shrink tubing. As long as the compression isn't just shot - which how could it realistically be it has 16k on it and runs great when it runs - I think it's a matter of figuring out, probably where fuel delivery is getting held up. I suppose it could also be in the ignition system too, though.

Thanks for reading!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
I can't quit this bike yet.
I've been giving it a think and I think the reason it hates the cold so much is that the valves are out of spec. It's got 16k miles and as far as I am aware it's never been done. At least what I can glean from human nature, people who tend to neglect routine maintenance almost certainly aren't having their valves checked.
Today at a balmy 39 degrees I plan to check & adjust the valves; hopefully that is why it won't start in temperatures below about 45-50. It also lends credence to the generally poor fuel economy of the bike. If I could get this bike reliable to the point of where I'm not wondering if it'll start each time I sit on it, I'd feel loads better about keeping it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
157 Posts
You can't and you won't!
Valve adjustment is easy, out of spec valve clearance can result in poor fuel economy and starting up the bike.
When I bought mine, valves were too damn tight and I had trouble starting up the bike and it ran too rich (30 or less mpg :( ) It was very neglected at that time, I almost parted it out, took me 2 years to fully repair it and I am thankful that I didn't gave up, this forum and people here helped me the most for making that decision.

It won't take you more than 1, or 2 hours tops to adjust valves and put everything back together, just don't mix intake and exhaust valves lol.
I guess you went through fuel/air delivery system and eliminated possible issues there? (wrong jets sizes, dirt, vacuum leak, clogged filter etc)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for the reply Mark.

The bike doesn't run now after the adjustment procedure. I had to put on the movie Young Frankenstein to commiserate with Gene Wilder; "Son of a bitch bastard! What did you do to me?!" You remember that? When the monster fails to awaken after the experiment and he has one very epic meltdown.
I'm definitely disappointed in this outcome, but it's now back to the drawing board.
And I'm not entirely prepared to rule out that I got something connected wrong. My little brother was over - he is an aspiring mechanic and so I thought the experience would benefit him - and we were fighting the waning daylight. So it is possible.
I observed this: the bike would crank and in between the cranks I could hear an almost "womp" a deep sound, perhaps vacuum leaking somewhere? The hose from the air cleaner to the air valve looked kind of rotten and didn't want to fit super well into the housing. On the upside I think I isolated the coolant leak; the hose from the radiator cap to the overflow tank was completely rotten and has now been replaced.
I followed the adjustment procedure listed on here, and I even looked at the service manual available online - Cylinder 2 lined up with the "C" on its TDC stroke position but Cylinder 1 was way off, TDC didn't lined up with any marks on the - whatchacallit through the alternator cover? The guide says it lines up with "T". What I ended up doing was turning it until I see the intake valves go down, then turn it (clockwise) past that until it's at TDC, as observed by removing the plug and looking at where the piston actually reaches the top. The manual reinforced this and said to make the adjustments with the cam lobes pointing away from the rocker arm. So I don't know if that means anything; the not lining up with anything. I set the intake at .007" and the exhaust at .009". Even if I got it off by a little it should at least start, nay? Here's the thing though they were BARELY out of spec, in fact I think they were close enough to the tighter ends of the tolerances that they were fine, really. In short I don't think the valves were really the issue.
I cleaned up the oddly fouled and brand new plugs. I think that may have to do with the fact the last time I ran it I had the choke on, and didn't ride it that long. Recharged the battery.

The air filter is good, I looked at it recently, the jet sizes have been a question mark for me. I did have the carbs apart and gave them a good cleaning, back in the summer, reassembled and such - but they weren't in tremendous shape - they could use a rebuild... But prior to it getting cold the bike ran and sounded good. It just hates the cold. The last time I got it to start was Thursday morning it was about 29 degrees out and it sounded absolutely crappy, ran for about 5 seconds, died and wouldn't restart.

I am now facing going back to the drawing board, as I said before. I think I can rule out dirt as a culprit - the way to be sure would be to pull the carbs; but it is doubtful to be that; I cleaned them earlier this year. The tank is remarkably clean with no rust or corrosion to speak of. The petcock has even been cleaned and rebuilt - and yes I verified I'm getting flow from there.

So, I'm open to suggestions - personally am leaning towards a possible vacuum issue somewhere; although I'm not 100% on how to suss that out. OR I'm thinking there's something going on in the carburetors. A rebuild or re-jet might be in order. Other than that, what could it be? In what other circumstance would a bike run great but refuse to start in colder weather, have poor gas mileage and run rough when not warmed up? There's not a ton more to look at, really.

Thanks for reading this far - I'm writing it out in length in part to get my head around it and give it a think, perhaps as Young Frankenstein if I cry to the heavens: "GIVE MY CREATION LIIIIIFE!!"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
So a little update here: I went out today - not intending to tear the top off it again, but I did, once I found that the valve cover gasket was pushed in at a part; I figured I'd just reseat it. Once I got the lid off I figured I'd check the valves again. They're fine but I checked & readjusted. As a side note is there a weep hole for excess coolant on the L side of the motor? Because at one point a lot of coolant was coming out of there.

To summarize, I just got back from a 12 or 15 mile ride. The bike started after this round of fiddling, though it kind of didn't want to. With it choked what I ended up doing was turning up the idle speed a bit and it finally fired up. Maybe the idle has been set too low? Usually when it fires up it's idling pretty fast until I switch the choke off. All this is leading me to believe it is really time to take apart the carbs and rebuild them. I don't know about jet sizes but considering how peppy it is; good throttle response & all I may be trying to fix a problem I don't have by changing the jets. Also I think I'll replace the air valve main hose (from the air cleaner) since it is looking pretty rotten.

A couple other things, the rear brake pedal has suddenly stopped springing back up. Maybe the cable needs lubed & adjusted - just weird that it just started doing this when it wasn't the last time I rode it about a week ago. And there was some mystery liquid on the left side of the swingarm sort of near where the coolant vent hose goes but NOT coming from there. The liquid seemed to originate from nearby the battery housing although the battery looks good and as far as I can see there''s nothing in the battery bay. Not sure what the liquid is it's not coolant, gas, oil or from the battery. Maybe it's a splash from the ground but it sure hit a pretty precise spot...

If you read this far, thank you - I'm still not, like super confident in this bike. If I try to jump on and ride it tomorrow when it's whatever the overnight low is, 30 degrees, I have serious doubts as to whether it'll actually start. But I'll call today a win and be happy I got a nice ride in.
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top