View Full Version : Trying to start this 79 XS650 up?

06-22-2010, 4:22 PM
So, this is my first post to this site. This is also my first bike project and I am pretty excited. I have done as much as I know how and would like some advice as to where I should go next?

I will give you some background on the bike. I picked it up two weeks ago. I got it from the original owner and it has been sitting in his garage for the past 7 years. Of course he said it ran when he parked it. Does not look to be in to bad of condition and I figured would make a great first bike project.

Once I got it home I went threw and drained the old gas out, took the carbs all apart and cleaned them out really good. There was a ton of varnish build up from the gas just sitting in them. Checked the plugs, oil, points and they all look very clean.

So once I cleaned the carbs I drooped a battery in her and tried starting her up. Nothing, so I checked to see if I was getting a spark from the plugs. One yes and one no. I took the coil from the one that was not sparking off and put it on another XS650 and it sparked, so I am guessing it has to do with the electricity before it gets to that coil?

Like I said I am new to this site, and new to bikes, but really want to learn and get this thing running! Any help would be awesome!

Thanks a ton guys!


Here is a pic of my bike.

<a href="http://s931.photobucket.com/albums/ad153/menkena/1979%20XS650/?action=view&current=IMG_9559.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i931.photobucket.com/albums/ad153/menkena/1979%20XS650/IMG_9559.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

06-22-2010, 4:38 PM
My first suggestion would be to grab a multi-meter and starting with the plug wire, start chasing it backwards. I would check for continuity on the plug wire (make sure its not broken inside). Then start checking continuity backwards. If everything checks out that way, then start checking for voltage.

Rob D.

06-22-2010, 4:54 PM
I will do that for sure. I will need to pick up a multi-meter. Any suggestions? Ha, like I said I am new to all of this.


06-23-2010, 3:14 PM
I know this might be a dumb question, but hey i am new to this. What kind of multimeter should I get? And what should me settings be for testing?

Thanks a ton for the help guys

06-23-2010, 8:24 PM
you can just pick one up from wally world or an electronics or parts store. doesnt matter really, if you spend more than 20 bucks then you have a decent unit for checking 12v dc systems. I have had voltmeters from many different places and mostly they all work just as good as the next. when you are testing for continuity you want to have the meter set on the ohmns setting, the symbol usually looks like an upside down horse shoe. then connect a probe to each end of the wire to be tested. if it reads 0 then there is a break in the line and it needs to be replaced. when testing for voltage it needs to be set to dcv (direct current voltage) on the meter. depending on the meter depends on what this looks like. some will say dcv and some will have one of these ~ with a dotted line under it for dcv (at least i think that is right) then connect the black probe to a good ground and the red probe the the wire to be tested for voltage. one note save yourself some headache and make sure the ingnition is in the on position while testing. i know we men dont like it, but when all else fails... read the instruction that come with the meter. they usually provide some help.

good luck

06-23-2010, 9:06 PM
Thanks a ton! I will go and get one and try it out. I am hoping I can get it figured out soon.

06-23-2010, 9:26 PM
Kmart or Sears will usually have some decent meters for under $30. You really don't need an expensive meter. They range from $5-$100+
However, try to find one with both alligator clamp and pen style leads. Many come with both types with the meter. And yes, read through the instructions that come with the meter, or go online and read up on how to use them.

Also, make absolutely sure the points are gapped correctly and that they are clean! At least clean them first and try starting it. Any oil on the points and you most likely won't get it to fire. Some times lube oil from the cam lobe will get onto the points and foul them.
Do you have any experience with points ignitions? They need a little more love and periodic adjustments. If you don't already have one, I would highly suggest a manual for the bike. It will have all the specifics in.

Once you get it fired, it would be a good time to completely drain the old oil and replace the oil filters. Same goes for the old fuel lines. You don't want a fire! And do a valve/cam chain adjustment.

06-24-2010, 1:39 PM
not sure how much cashola you want to invest, but after i spent weeks trying to diagnose, fix and re-fix my 83 xs electronic ignition, i decided to get the pamco unit from mikesxs for 200. yours would be about 130 since you have the points setup. an hour to install it and she fired on the first kick and usually does every time. cleans up a lot of wires too. good luck!

06-25-2010, 11:33 AM
My plan is too turn her into a bobber in the future, but I wanted to get the engine running well before I went and did that. Would the new pamco be a good move and clean up my wires? I would also like to keep it simple and just make her a kick start only? She is a '79 special and has the electric start.

06-25-2010, 11:58 AM
One more question, I just took a look at mikes and there is the system you were talking about and then the high output for $25 more?

06-25-2010, 12:29 PM
i dont think u need the high output version. mine is an 82 or so and the pamco unit is a very easy install. even easier with a points model like yours. i am an idiot and i even managed to install it no prob. there is a video on the net - just you tube "pamco install" watch that a few times and you're golden. mikesxs is a great company to BUY from - tough to reach them after the sake tho - so just make sure you know what you need/want. i highly recommend the pamco. screw points. and even for the "newer" bikes with factory tci - those tci units can fail for no real reason ad then you can spend 100 to replace them with another 30 year old part that will fail again at the least opportune time. for me for an exra 100 it was a no brainer and i am very glad i did it. ps - make sure to get some new plugs too.

06-25-2010, 12:29 PM
and i am running kick only too.

06-25-2010, 12:37 PM
Thanks a ton, I think I will go ahead and do that. I have two questions that might be kinda dumb. First, if my bike has a auto start now and I want to get rid of an extra wires and just make it kick what do I need to do?
Sec, right now I am using a battery from my honda 350F to figure out my yamaha. What battery would you say to get? I know some guys out there are running really small ones with kick only. Thanks again for all you help!

06-25-2010, 2:26 PM
I have the standard Pamco set up on my 77 that had points. It starts almost every single time first try. Its a def. must do.

06-28-2010, 3:00 PM
Sounds good guys, I am going to go ahead and get the Pamco set up. If I want to just run the basics, headlight, tail light, etc....What battery and setup would you guys say?

06-28-2010, 3:39 PM
i got my cheapie battery from walmart for 40$ but you could prob get a smaller one. these things are pretty easy to kickover and dont need a huge battery. the pamco will help with that also.

06-29-2010, 1:20 AM
Sweet, I will look around for a good battery. Any ideas after I get the new pamco on how to wire my bike so I just have the wires I need and not the mess I have now? As simple as can be for just a kick start? What do I need?