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¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
8/23/19 1:11 p.m.

Installed new old distributor cap:

Trying it with the old rotor for now because they have different clocking for some reason:


Also ran the enrichment plunger things all the way in, then started it.

Still running crappy, still only consistent on the right cylinder.  berkeley.

I'll keep poking around and maybe retime it to use the new distributor rotor, but this thing has me pretty burned out right now.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
8/23/19 7:17 p.m.

Are  you sure it's an ignition problem?  If you have a regular automotive timing light, you can hook it up to each spark plug lead and watch it flash to see if the spark is consistent, intermittent or missing.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
8/24/19 7:57 p.m.

First order of business today was a test- removed the cables from the choke plungers and fully seated them to ensure that wasn't the issue:

It wasn't.

Next, timing light to make sure spark plugs were getting the juice they needed in order to fire:

They were.

After that?  Compression test.  All three cylinders make 130 psi semi-warm before my leg starts getting tired from kicking it over so I think that's fine.

As a latch ditch "what the berkeley this can't possibly be it" option I cleaned up the 40 year old surface gap spark plugs it came with and swapped them in... and it ran.  Really well.  HOLY E36 M3!

And I rode it like 10 miles and it was glorious- clearly needs the carbs synched again now that I've messed with them so much, but all in all it seemed pretty happy (and I was too) until it eventually began fouling the plugs.  Success!  Sort of.

So my new plan was to get a fresh set of NGK BUHX plugs and move the needle jets down a couple clips- first problem, nobody seems to carry this plug.  Looking for cross references, it appeared that some boat engines used them, so I called the local boat dealer and they were in stock!

Picked up a set, installed them, and now my old bike full of fuel from an airport has parts from a boat dealer- I'm not sure it even knows whether it's a motorcycle anymore.  But wait- the new plugs have the connector swedged on instead of screwed on, which meant the spark plug wires suddenly had the wrong end on them.  If only I had a vehicle which eats ignition components at an alarming rate and therefore lots of spare wires... oh wait, that's exactly what I have.  So now the bike with the airplane fuel and the boat plugs has Merkur plug wire connectors:

Looks almost factory:

And I went to start it and... no spark.  Chased things for a while and it's not the wires I just modified, either the coil, pickup, or CDI box (or their associated wiring) has shat the bed.  On the one hand, it makes sense since the ride earlier today was the longest and hardest it has run since I've owned it... on the other, this thing really likes to challenge me.  More tomorrow.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
8/24/19 8:05 p.m.

I feel positive energy from those pictures. 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
8/24/19 8:13 p.m.

In reply to mazdeuce - Seth :

Things were extraordinarily positive until the demonic entity which lives in this bike's ignition system decided it wasn't done messing with me yet.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
8/24/19 8:14 p.m.

Electrons will do that. Misbehaving little bastards. 

ShawnG PowerDork
8/24/19 9:40 p.m.

Don't worry too much about the ethanol in the fuel causing the crusty white stuff in the carb.

The Goldwing guys put an ounce or so of ATF in the fuel tank at every fillup to prevent it. I tried in my GL1100 and it worked like a charm.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
8/25/19 10:14 a.m.

Went back out to it this morning, checked a few things and... the bike had spark again!  So I started it, ran it for a bit, began putting my gear on and it died.  berkeleying what.

Messed with a few things, unplugged the yellow wire (ignition signal) from the aftermarket CDI box.  Key off, key on, plugged back in and I had spark again.  Ran the engine, and after 20 seconds or so it died again.  No spark.  So I repeated that a few times and found that, consistently, I can get spark back with the following procedure:

-Key off
-Unplug yellow wire to CDI
-Key on
-Plug in yellow wire to CDI (coil sparks once when this happens)
-Start bike, ignition will be normal for a while (presumably until something heats up)
-Spark stops abruptly, no breaking up, just shuts off like you turned the key off
-Repeat process, regain spark

So either the CDI box or the igntion coil is getting too hot and giving up- not sure which but I feel like it's the box itself.  I guess there's also an outside chance it's the signal generator/ignition pickup, but I'm going to start by contacting the CDI manufacturer.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
8/25/19 12:00 p.m.

Resistance check indicates the pickup coil is unhappy- hooray, more ordering $100 parts that have sat on a shelf for 50 years.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
9/1/19 11:21 a.m.

NOS ignition pick up in incredibly cool original packaging:

Installed with some soldering and drilling and tapping because everything on these bikes had a midyear revision but works the same:

Running well!  So I filled it with fuel and oil and set off to get to its' first hundred mile mark since the rebuild:

And this is where I ran out of fuel (no reserve on the new Pingel petcock, oops):

Luckily I was on track to get home right at 100 miles, so I hung out for a bit while Sara brought a fuel can:

Put a splash in and made it home no problem.  With this fuel range I'm not sure I'll even be able to ride to work without bringing extra since I can't put regular corn juice gas in it, but that's OK I guess.

The bike seems to be getting happier the more I ride it- the powerband is getting wider as the rings wear in, the oil pump is delivering the right mix consistently, it's getting easier to start, and the brakes are getting better as the shoes bed in.  It's a satisfying feeling, having everything on the bike slowly get used to being back in action, and on top of that it gets more thumbs up from random bystanders than any other bike I've owned.

Still scary to ride though- especially now that it's running well.  In a straight line, it not only accelerates fast but can be smooth enough to lull you into thinking you're riding something reasonable, but then you hit a corner and are quickly reminded that this is an antique.  A modern one-ton pickup can outbrake and outcorner this thing, and the suspension (refurbished stock up front, reproduction stock coilovers in the rear) will happily punt you off the seat at the slightest midcorner disturbance.  I love it.

ShawnG PowerDork
9/1/19 1:01 p.m.

Glad you stuck with it and are enjoying the fruits of your labours.

Error404 New Reader
9/1/19 2:51 p.m.

Could you use regular go juice with some ethanol treatment in it? I just picked some up if we need to run the generator for Dorian. The ethanol will still be present but the treatment helps prevent the corrosion. At the least, might not be bad to have a small bottle in your toolbag if you have to fill up with the regular stuff.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
9/1/19 4:40 p.m.

Awesome!  Cool to see it finally back on the road.

kodachrome New Reader
9/1/19 4:58 p.m.

Personally, I was quite relieved when I got the "ran out of gas" phone call after getting home and deducing that Chris went out for a ride. Better than the "am dead" phone call, and much much better than the "bike is broken" phone call. Plus, quite cool to get to follow the blue smoke home. It's fast enough that I didn't see much of the bike from the Subaru...

TurnerX19 Dork
9/1/19 6:42 p.m.

In reply to kodachrome :

Good that you were near enough, it is pretty much up hill all the way from Knects Bridge!

wawazat HalfDork
9/2/19 1:58 p.m.

Perseverance pays off big time for you!  Well done!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
9/2/19 4:19 p.m.

Rode it about 35 more miles on mostly wet roads today- it put me in my place with a tank slapper exiting a corner at what I thought was a pretty mild pace surprise  This thing doesn't berkeley around, I'm pretty sure the sketchy friction damper in the steering is what kept me on the road.

Found the swingarm pivot a bit loose when I got back and tightened it up- I think a thorough nut and bolt recheck is in order.  It's a pretty vibratey engine so it wouldn't surprise me much if snugging everything up every hundred miles is just part of riding it.

ShawnG PowerDork
9/2/19 7:36 p.m.

Watch those friction steering dampers.

My Ducati has one and it would develop a weave at high speed, tightening it up didn`t make the weave go away.

Older and wiser friend of mine said to back it right off and that fixed the problem.

Your mileage may vary.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
9/3/19 6:36 a.m.

In reply to ShawnG :

I'm still figuring out what it wants- cranking it up too much definitely does add some weird handling characteristics.  It seems pretty happy with just barely enough friction on the steering to keep the front wheel from flopping over when on the kickstand.

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/3/19 8:01 a.m.

congratulations on (1) getting it to run right and (2) not letting it kill you.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
9/9/19 6:57 a.m.

I have been riding it more- it's running very well now, which is letting me be picky about the last few little things.  The biggest one is a vibration in the front wheel which I can't seem to iron out no matter how much I mess with the spokes, I'm thinking it may be best to just take the wheel off and hand it over to a shop so they can get it nice and straight/true/balanced for me while I'm crewing at STPR.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
9/10/19 10:45 a.m.

I dropped the wheel off at the local moto shop to see what they can do with it, we'll see what they come back with.  On the rare occasion I bring something there, it's almost always a different bike so they get confused when they pull up my account: "that doesn't look like it's for a Buell... or a DRZ... or an Aprilia... what is it now?"

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
9/16/19 8:45 p.m.

Got the wheel back trued and balanced- much better!  Cuts down on the front end wiggle tremendously, which means apart from the immense amount of noise and vibration produced by the engine it now cruises smoothly at 70mph.

ShawnG PowerDork
9/16/19 11:01 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

immense amount of noise and vibration produced by the engine.

Apparently this is a feature on two-strokes and not a problem like it would be on a proper engine. cheeky


Sk1dmark GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/17/19 7:26 a.m.
ShawnG said:
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

immense amount of noise and vibration produced by the engine.

Apparently this is a feature on two-strokes and not a problem like it would be on a proper engine. cheeky


That's the best feature of a 2-stroke. It's a constant reminder to check your bolts!

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