Sunday, April 28, 2013

How to fix a rough running carburetor- the easy way!

This is my very simple guide to repairing rough running carburetors on old Gold Wings. This four carb pack can seem like a nightmare but it can be fixed to run like a champ in 2 simple steps.

Step 1. Make sure that you don't have an electrical problem.

As you know I had just that as evidenced by my first long trip on the naked wing. The bike ran really rough and would not stay running because the charging system wasn't working. To fix this issue I turned to the world leader in Old Gold Wings, Randakk's Cycle Shakk.

On his blog there is a complete guide for testing the charging system. It has tests for the stator, rectifier, regulator and battery. I spent about 30 minutes testing continuity on the different components and found that they should all work.

I also found that one of the yellow wires from the stator to the rectifier had arced out and melted the wire. From what I've read arching happens when there is a poor connection. To avoid another 'bad' connection, I broke the harness apart (it was already melted) and reconnected each of the wires separately.

* before destroying the harness, mark your wires.

I cleaned up all the original connectors, except for the burnt one which I replaced, with electrical cleaner and a small wire brush. before connecting them I gave them a good coating of dielectric grease. I pre cut some small sections of heat shrink tubing and slid it over the wires.

Here is an up close look at the connections. The tubing should keep the connections sealed and together. If I ever need to switch the rectifier out it won't be too hard to cut the tubing off. Easier than splicing short wires.

The bike started right up. I took it straight to Auto Zone and had the guy there put his load tester on it. results: 13.4V at 1,250 rpms. I believe that it should make 14.1V somewhere between 3000 and 4000 rpms but I didn't rev it up to test it.

While at the Auto Zone I asked the guy if he knew anyone who was good at adjusting carbs. I still had a little lope on the low end between idle and about 2500 rpms. He recommended a guy named Geoff at Red Rock ATV. 

I made a call and then jumped on the bike to take it out to him. It ran like a champ.

Before I got off the bike he met me outside with a set of vacuum gauges (and a truck load of complements on how good the bike looks). Made one tiny adjustment to the left side. Tested the right. Rolled the throttle and... YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!

No lope, hesitation, hiccup, nothing. Screaming Fast throttle response. If he wasn't a dude I would have kissed him. I asked him how much it would be and he wouldn't take payment. He said that he didn't do anything. (My aching back) I told him to at least take it for a ride up the highway. Reluctantly he did and the first words out of his mouth were, "That's stupid fast!". Yes it is.

Lest you think I've forgotten.

Step 2. Take it to Geoff at Red Rock

Not only is he good at what he does, but he has a genuine interest in the bikes he works on. He recognizes the work that goes into bikes like mine. He has bought and repaired several older bikes and shares the vision that us builder/riders only know. He can also order most anything for these older bikes. No more bone yard salvaging.

I told you it was an easy fix to your worst carburetor issues. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wind Chill Chart

Image from:

How cold is too cold to ride? I don't mean polar bear riding either. I mean at what temperature can a guy reasonably dressed get the bike out and enjoy a ride? I looked to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to find out. 
With a name like that you shouldn't be surprised when you see this whiz-bang formula for figuring out how to calculate wind chill:
New Wind Chill T(wc) = 35.74 + 0.6215T - 35.75(V0.16) + 0.4275T(V0.16) where T(wc) is the Wind Chill in degrees F, V is the Wind Speed in MPH, and T is the temperature in degrees F.

Well... I'm a dumb motorcycle rider so my suggestion is to just follow this link back to NOAA and plug it in their calculator.

Or you can look below.

Riding Speed (MPH) Air Temperature (degrees F)
45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
50 33 40 47 54 61 68 75 83 90 97 104 111
55 32 40 47 54 61 68 75 83 90 97 104 111
60 32 39 46 54 61 68 75 82 90 97 104 111
65 32 39 46 53 61 68 75 82 90 97 104 112
70 31 38 46 53 60 68 75 82 90 97 104 112
75 31 38 46 53 60 68 75 82 90 97 104 112

I took the liberty of extending out the scale on NOAA's site to riding speeds and warmer temperatures. If you would like a copy of this in either PDF or Excell just leave a comment with an email address and I'll send it to you. Blogger is very limited on what I can post. Or at least I'm not smart enough to do it.

You'll notice that at 75 degrees the scale levels off and above that it actually climbs. If it ever gets warm I'll have to remember to stay hydrated while I ride.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

What Crash Bars Are Suppose To Look Like

 Here is the long awaited follow up from the last post. My beautiful wife found a set of Hondaline crash bars and gave them to me for Christmas. They are quite difficult to find as I mentioned before. After seeing all the other ugly crash bars it is easy to see why these are hard to find.
 Because we finally had warm weather I got the naked wing out today and finally put them on. You'll notice that I decided to remove the air dams from either side of the radiator. I wanted to open the front end up a little more. I like the look without them.
You can tell from the pictures that the bike is running. It didn't take too much to get her started as I keep the bike on a float charger all winter and added Stabil to the fuel. It idled rough for about 10 minutes and then finally warmed up and burned out the skunky fuel.

I had to stretch her legs a little so I went for the first ride of the season. It ended up being a very short ride. There is a long stretch of two lane out by our airport that was repaved last year and rarely has any traffic. Just because I can, I opened up the throttle on the stretch.

This is what I found out:

4th Gear + 7000 RPM's = 100 MPH

I just touched 100 and then shifted out as she was showing no signs of stopping. Red line is 8000-9000 but I didn't want to touch it. No need to really.

When I bought these bikes the previous owner told me that "the '78 always ran hotter than the '79.". Well, he wasn't just a kidd'n. That naked wing is sporty.

So the short part of the ride came after racing down the strip a second time and as I slowed to stop and check the bike died! I rested it for a few minutes wondering if it was just hot, but it appears that the charging gremlins are not going away. Weird I know!

To Be Continued: Busted Rectifier

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Not All Case Guards are Created Equally

For simplicity lets break them up into two categories:
     1. Small and Ugly
     2. Big and Ugly

Lets begin with the Small and Ugly as they are the most prevalent. To my knowledge Mother Honda did not provide these stock for the earlier years. They probably wanted the aftermarket crew to weed out all the the bad ideas for them.

With the valve covers sticking out so far on this H block, there were several styles that went to work to protect the covers at all cost. Including looks.

This style is the most redeeming of the Ugly and Small but are a functional nightmare as the riders shins will most likely hit the back side of the guards. That was my biggest complaint.

Now on to the second category. Big and Ugly. Some people don't know when to stop!

This set is the clear winner of the Big and Ugly category if you have to go with one. The front is still quite ugly  but they are probably the least offensive of the lot. 

Hondaline came out with a simple, solution to this catastrophe. These little gems below. They are extremely difficult to find in the wild and almost never off of a bike. As for trying to get someone to sell you a set off of a bike, you can almost forget it. The owners will never part with them. 

The Hondaline case guard, engine guard, highway guard (whatever terminology you prefer) has an inch and an eight body and are a single tube. No convoluted bars wrapping every-which-way and blocking all access to the rest of the bike. Simple, strong and sexy. They also allow for adding the aftermarket floor board kits like I did on the dressed wing.

My wonderful wife found me such a set, after all my failed attempts, and gave them to me for Christmas. I'll post up some pictures as soon as I get them polished up and mounted. I'm excited as they are going to look really nice on that bike. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

MSF Basic Riders Course

I finally completed the Motorcycle Safety Foundations Basic Riders Course. I had tried and failed many times to get the scheduled course work with my schedule. Now that I've crossed that off my bucket list here is my synopsis of the course.

It is a two day course that is specifically designed for the novice rider. It starts off with the fundamentals of motorcycle riding much like the drivers education class does for novice drivers. For example: What are the controls? Where are they located? How are they operated? All things that are very important if you've never rode a motorcycle before. I have had my motorcycle endorsement from the DMV since I was 16 so I just patiently waited out this part of the course.

The course continues on to operating the bike in various environments that a rider would experience on our road ways. Rain, moron drivers, obstacles,  moron drivers, low visibility, moron drivers, moron drivers and moron drivers.

One big part of the MSF course is emphasizing the use of proper riding gear. DOT or Snell approved helmets, proper fitting eye protection if the helmet doesn't have a visor, full finger gloves designed for riding, long sleeved shirt or jacket, long pants(all of which should be of a fabric designed for riding), over the ankle footwear with a low heel.

All great suggestions and you should always wear proper gear when riding. It is just smart practice.

The class goes on to cover safe following distances and legal amounts of alcohol consumption just like the DMV does for automobile drivers.

The riding portion starts off really slow and appropriately so for the novice. Finding the friction point of the clutch and just rocking the bike forward and back. This is a good practice for anyone that is riding an unfamiliar bike. After about 5 minutes of that however I was quite bored of the exercise. I should note that I was using a Kawasaki Trail Way that was provided for the course as my naked wing's rectifier had failed me that morning.

After friction point it was on to power walking the bike where you just engage and disengage the clutch as you walk the bike along sitting on the seat. After this followed the long awaited ride the bike in the same straight line but very slowly.

It wasn't long before the instructor realized that myself and the one other person in the class had some significant experience riding and he adapted the class accordingly.

The process for the class is: Explain, Demonstrate, Explain and allow to practice until the skill is mastered. In our case, the practice was cut short to just a few laps to demonstrate our proficiency. He never deviated from the pattern but as soon as he saw we could do the skill then he would move on.

There were quite a few small bad habits that he pointed out about the way I ride. The biggest thing is that I don't look far enough ahead in my turns. I blame this in part to the fact that I didn't want to run over any of his stupid little cones, but the fact remains that I can and do ride better if I'm looking ahead and not so fixated on what is right below the bike. Ooooh! Shiny!

In the end the course was good. Having it done now allows me to take the Advanced and Experienced Riders Courses that the MSF offers. My only regret was not being able to take the riding test on my Wing. My card has the -649 stamp on it. Meaning that I am safe to ride a motorcycle under 649cc's. I'll just have to get the wing running better and clep out the test in the spring. That's my plan anyway.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Third Ride

Here is a picture from today's ride. I had a heck of a time getting it running today. It takes is some time to warm up. I thought that I'd top off the tank with some Chevron 91 and a splash of Sea Foam to see if it didn't smooth out the carbs some.

I put about 15 miles on it and here are my findings. The low end, 1000-3000 RPM's runs really rough even after it warms up. It has a fair amount of back firing in that range as well. Above 3000 she'll run away from you if your not holding on. Out on the airport road, after riding for bit at the speed limit (50 mph) I decided to push it a little. In fourth gear the speedometer climbed right along side the tach and wasn't backing down. I came out of 4th at 80 (and still had plenty to go) and about 6000 rpms. I don't red line until 9000.

If I can get the low end to match the top she'll be a fast machine.

I spent a little over an hour bleeding the rear brake and finally had some success. It burped out a lot of air and started to firm up to where I couldn't move the rear wheel by hand with the bike on the center stand. I figured that a ride would help burp some more air to the surface. Before I got home the rear brake felt soft again and I'll bleed it the first of next week after it has had some time to think about what it has done.

I'll try and get some video up soon.