My shop is in an over-sized two-car garage attached to my home. My work is a calling, in the theological sense of the word. Ethical and moral questions arise every day – they are hard, sharp, unambiguous and unavoidable.

Float Needles and Blown Fuses

Posted: August 30th, 2013 | Author: Administrator | Filed under: Fuel & Air, Ignition, Timing, & Electrical, Motorcycle Repair | Tags: , | No Comments »

It doesn’t take much at all to cause a float needle to improperly seat and allow fuel to keep flowing. The smallest bit of debris can keep the needle from seating properly and cutting off the fuel flow. Below is an email exchange with a customer regarding such float problems. Also, there are some useful tidbits about diagnosing electrical problems. Enjoy!

Hi Chris, we talked , in past, over phone…I managed to get all plugs in the 83 Venture @ .035 with new OEM(paper element) air filter….I am getting a backfire on deceleration on one cylinder, and idle is just not a consistant solid RPM…vaies, maybe 300 RPM’s at idle…..In your expert opinion, is this a valve adjustment problem and/or carb out of sync? Or, is air filter not breathing as free as it should? Have a great and safe 4th weekend…this is an irratating issue…I drove down to Pickens today and the bike runs smooth enough on the highway….then decelerate and pop goes the weasel….many thanks……need to bring it to an expert….
Respectfully,
W


W,

The symptoms you describe are typical of a cylinder running lean at low rpms. This can be caused by either a carb with clogged up idle/pilot jets or by an air leak. If you can tell which cyl. is the culprit, removal and a thorough cleaning should do the trick. The other possibility is that the rubber intake manifold between the carb and the intake port is cracked and leaking air. Less likely but possible is that the little rubber o-ring sealing the pilot air screw is leaking.

Cheers,
Chris


Hi Chris, I left you a ph message, but here are the symptoms…..1983 Yamaha Venture…one carb is dumping gas and it goes down to ground through short hose….It runs smooth, and strong, but I am wanting to take a trip north (487 mi) to 85 miles SW of Indianapolis camping in KY on way there and back….you can see the gas flow in the carb in question(when air filter is removed), but not other 3 carbs are showing gas flow…Do you think, by adding Sea Foam, to gas line, recently, I could have screwed up the works? Also, I overfilled the tank last saturday, then didn’t drive until yesterday, and noticed gas smell but really had to hunt down leak…..possible vapor lock from heat and expansion yesterday? Anyway, I need to get this fixed….
Many Thanks, Respectfully,
W


Wayne,

My guess is that the problem is that the Sea Foam did its job and dislodged accumulated crud – one little speck of which had lodged in the float needle seat and is preventing it from shutting off the fuel flow to that carb. The overfilling is probably just a coincidence.

An important caveat: I have not worked on a Venture before but a friend of mine has one and there is a lot of stuff to remove before one can put that carb on the bench to work on it. If you have a good shop manual – great – if not, I will need to purchase one – about $30 for a Clymer or Haynes. I can figure out just about anything – given time – and I adjust my hours to reflect what I think it should have taken someone familiar with the bike. But you may prefer to take it to a Yamaha dealer or another mechanic who has experience with this bike. I think, if I were in your shoes, that’s what I would do.

Let me know what you decide.

Cheers,
Chris


Chris,
I traced another caveat: my headlight went out…I took the HL housing apart and cleaned connectors……put it together…still no light….went to fuse box and the head lamp, 10 amp fuse, had burned a hole in plastic fuse housing…I Jerry rigged one annode side of glass fuse with a fashioned connector (what I had available to improvise) and snapped the good side back in…works, but no high beam, so I believe I need a new lamp and a permanent fix for the fuse box defiency…I like working on bikes, but my expertise is limited…Been riding for 42 yrs, and, at 60, still learning new tricks…..my tool kit is my own variety of tools, including cold touch soldering iron, flares, flashlight, night light sticks, electrical & duct tape, fuses, extra plugs, plug gapper, tool to get plugs out and in, Teflon tie sticks, first aid kit, rainsuit, 3 sets of gloves including gaunlet, and misc items for most common fixes…I have running lights, mini-red strobe lights which are motion activated, deer horn alerts(I know they work lol), highway pegs, and a small instrument cluster containing, clock, compass, and thermometer…..these add-ons are for better visability & safety and function…..bike is stock…no mods….Have a great weekend……
Respectfully,
W


Wayne,

The blown fuse means that something in that circuit is drawing more than 10 amps – typically due to either a short or a bad ground. The most likely culprit is inside the light switch module on the handlebar. Less likely is that the headlight itself shorted internally. The fuse exists to protect the electrical components – and from the bike going up in flames – worst case. Juryrigging/bypassing the fuse will – sooner or later – result in much more expensive problems than you have now. If you have a multi-meter you should be able to located the fault and correct it.

Good luck in getting it sorted out.

Cheers,
Chris


The Wretched Truth About Restorations

Posted: December 13th, 2012 | Author: Administrator | Filed under: Editorial, Engine, Forks & Steering, Frame & Body, Fuel & Air, Ignition, Timing, & Electrical, Motorcycle Repair, Wheels, Tires, & Brakes | Tags: , | 7 Comments »

Greetings Chris,

I have researched available motorcycle restoration shops on the East Coast and have found your shop one of the best suited for my project. I would like to determine if your willing and able to restore a vintage Yamaha 80 enduro shown in the pictures attached? If so, to what level of restoration are you capable of achieving? And how long would this take? Further, what ballpark pricing can you provide?

Regards,
R

_____________________

R,

Thanks for your note of inquiry – and the very flattering words about my shop and work.

First, I need to know that you know the First Law of Restorations; you will end up spending waaaaay more than the finished product will fetch on the open market – two to three times more is the rule of thumb – and the multiple is higher with smaller displacement bikes.

So let’s see if I can scare you off right now. Mechanical restoration/rebuilding will run $3k – half parts and half my time. Cosmetic restoration will be another $3k – about half for first-rate factory correct paint and decals and half for re-chroming which, when properly done, means stripping the old chrome from the part, filling the deeper rust pits and other defects with a conductive metal filler, a heavy layer of copper plate to fill the smaller pits, a layer of nickle to keep the copper from showing through the final layer of chrome. This process is sometimes called “triple chrome.” Better add another $1k to cover things like tires, seat re-upholstery, and this, that, and the other thing. That’s $7k – and no matter how realistically I think I am estimating time and money, everything takes longer and costs more than I had expected – even when I know this and take it into account. That may be the Second Law of Restorations; everything will take longer and cost more than even your worst-case estimate. A final bill of $8k could happen. And all this for a bike that will be worth no more than $3k when done – probably closer to $2k.

I have been doing this stuff long enough to have learned a few things; nobody ever complains about getting a bill less than they expected. Dealing with a panicky customer as the running estimate is regularly revised upward is no fun. I’d rather scare you to death right now.

I’ve just come in from the shop – 11pm – after an afternoon favor checking out a problem on my sweetie’s son’s bike turned into eight hours of pro-bono work – time for a bit of supper.

Cheers,
Chris
Existential Motorcycles TEL: 828-6839289 Web: http://www.existentialmotorcycles.com
Alexander, NC 28701

______________________

Greetings Chris,

Thanks for your carefully thought out email below. Your thoughts and details provided are worth close observation and consideration. With the economy in its current state and no prospects for any improvement in the foreseable years ahead, I must fully think through what makes sense for me moving forward. I will let you know if I decide to proceed in the coming months.

Happy Holidays and warm regards,
R

________________

R,

Thanks for taking my bucket of cold water over your head so well.

Now I can ethically add that there are many excellent non-monetary reasons/rewards for/from restoring a bike – all better reasons, in my way of reckoning, than money.

And it could be done in two stages; mechanics/functional restoration one year and the pretty bits the next.

But it will be expensive and time-consuming.

Under no circumstances should you compromise your financial health to take on a proper restoration. It sucks all the fun out of it – and the damned bike becomes the cause of it all. And I become the dealer man for whom you are stealing the children’s lunch money to feed your habit. Pure poison. If/when you do this, have the cash on hand and set aside.

I do take extensive notes as I work and lots of digi-pix. On long-term projects I send these as updates every day or so – kinda helps the customer come along for the ride – and adds considerable value to the results – builder’s notes and documentary pix impress the hell out of buyers. But most of all, it’s fun for everybody. I enjoy telling stories of the day’s work and it helps me to review my work and confess my sins. Yes, I break the code of the Mechanics’ Guild and freely admit that I make mistakes and, sometimes, really fuck things up. I’ve made just about every damned-fool mistake you can think of and broken every tool and part. But a funny thing happened – as the years rolled by I made fewer and smaller mistakes. I still make mistakes – sometimes even dumb ones – but for quite a while now (knock polished alloy) they have been non-catatrophic and recoverable errors. And every one still a lesson of some sort.

Cheers,
Chris

Existential Motorcycles TEL: 828-6839289 Web: http://www.existentialmotorcycles.com
Alexander, NC 28701