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  1. #1
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    Default Ironhead running like shit

    Just got the IH towed home after a failed attempt to get a full-day round trip out of her.

    Here's what's going on. Little history on the bike, 82 Ironhead, points, shorty S&S super E carb. Mileage 20K +, top end rebuild a while back from PO.

    I had issues in the past with the carb pissing gas out the overfow. I took the carb apart and cleaned it several times figuring it was just the float getting stuck being I had a new tank put on the bike. I dropped a new inline fuel filter in and put it back together and all has been running fine. Had the carb tuned up and rejetted by local shop and put it away for the winter.

    The bike has never been able to run/idle without the enrichment level pulled up almost mid-way. Rode it about 30miles out to a bike show, parked for about 2 hours and went to ride home and the new problems started up. I couldn't get smooth throttle response at all. The thing just wants to surge and chug along. I pulled off the road and took the plugs out and they were covered in carbon. Jet black and figured they might be fouled. We dropped some new plugs in and got the bike to start, but when you roll on the throttle, there's no smooth rev. This is my first non-efi bike so I'm looking for some places to start. I was thinking it could be a carb issue, since it seems odd that the bike won't run without the enrichment lever pulled up. Also considering points/coil as a possible culprit.

    Any help is much appreciated. Here's a pic of the bike broke down:
    Last edited by hedcase; 05-21-2013 at 7:20 PM. Reason: added photo

  2. #2
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    When it starts to run like shit out of nowhere and bad idle, I always switch out the points and condensor, and check the wiring.

    Also, when its fully warmed up, have you tried to turn the choke off? I would think its fouling the plugs.

  3. #3
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    The choke is only supposed to be on for like 20 seconds or so when cold .. is your jetting right?

  4. #4

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    if you have to ride with the choke on you jetting is a way off or you have intake or valve guide leaks. so first off get some intake seals & the o-rings that go between the carb- spacer & intake, than go to the S&S web site & find the recomended jets & adjustments for a starting point & also check your auto advance unit behind the points

  5. #5
    xllance
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    Float level ? Air / fuel screw adjusted correctly ? I hate to say it really, but are you running a carb brace ? How's your spark ? Is it a nice fat blue one or a faint yellow spark ? Is the coil getting hot ? Check the coil and wires for corrosion at the terminals.

  6. #6
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    well if you gotta run with the enrichner up its pry cause its lean so you should start by checking for intake leaks and carb settings. but points and condensor are cheap, if you havent replaced them you might as well. i just ordered a spare set since mine burned up. it was 20$

  7. #7
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    It has been my experience that easily 90% of issues with a running Ironhead are intake leaks.

    Spray some WD40 at the intake, if the idle changes, or smoke blows you have a leak.
    Last edited by eroticjesus; 05-22-2013 at 11:09 AM.

  8. #8
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    Good shit guys, I'll order up some fresh gaskets/seals and run down the list. As well some new points/condenser.

    The shop I had it into last summer supposedly jetted it properly for me, but it's never been able to keep running without that enrichment lever pulled up. It's an old dog and needs to be ran-through with some fresh essential parts. We'll see how that goes over the next couple weeks.

  9. #9
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    you run it with the choke on all the time? I may not go back to that bike shop if that's "jetted correctly"

  10. #10
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    I may not go back to that bike shop if that's "jetted correctly"
    I'd run away like Rosie O'Donnel was chasing me with a spiked strapon! x 10

    Verify all jets are actually clear and of course eliminate any intake leaks by resealing.

    Points and condenser are cheap at auto stores. I get 'em in pairs so I always have a spare handy without spending the gas money to go to the store.

  11. #11
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    Almost certainly an intake leak if you have to run it with the choke on. Does the Super E have an adjustable main jet? The rough running sounds to me like you should probably reset the ignition timing and adjust pushrods just to rule them out. Easy jobs. Wonder if your fuel filter is one of those that is meant for a car with a fuel pump? It may not flow enough for the bike carb. Got clear fuel lines?

  12. #12
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    Yeah, I never had it out for a ride longer than a few miles until last weekend so I thought that after some riding I might be able to lower the enricher but no dice. I had them tune it up at the end of summer and then I put some stabil in there and let it sit all winter so it's taken until now to realize it's not tuned right.

    Checked a few things- Spark is blue, no corrosion on coil or plug wires as they are brand new wires. I checked the gap on the points and it looked good. I'm gonna grab a new condenser + points and replace those just in case. Fired the bike back up and sprayed WD40 around the intake to try and get some reaction from the motor with no results. I'm going to replace the intake seals anyway to rule that out. The fuel filter is a new EMGO. I'll also check the flow from the petcock just to be safe.

    Will reset the timing next once I get the new points and condenser installed.

    I know fuck-all about carbs so I'm reading up on some information before I check the jets out. I've been avoiding tearing into this bike for a while being that I have an EFI bike that I ride most often. Being broke down on the side of the road just reaffirmed for me that like any toy, you ought to know it inside and out if you're going to use it.

    Thanks again for the ideas guys

  13. #13
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    Do the basics before you go tearing the whole thing down and miss the riding season.

    Had a similar problem with my 66 sporty two days ago. I know i have an intake leak so o rings are in the bill. But adjusted the pushrods on mine, front cylinder intake had vertical movement of 0.050 definitely no good. helped a bit but still ran like shit. Found out my problem was my pipes (had just modified them). Couldn't see your pipes from your pic but if they are shotguns think about this. Ironheads absolutely LOVE backpressure, mine ran like complete shit after i cut off the old mufflers and replaced them with longer pipes. However even with more length and bends there still wasn't enough back pressure, bike chugged along in the low to mid range didn't even want to get into high. Welded some washers to bolts, a hole in each pipe and baffles worked like a charm, screams like a raped ape now.

    Also keep in mind the ambient air temperature and humidity have a lot to due with carb tuning. The bikes performance will change throughout the year.

  14. #14
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    Do you have two fuel filters on your bike? Some guys run the internal/pet-cock filter in the tank and an external fuel filter on the line leading to the carb. If so, get rid of the external fuel filter; it's redundant.

    You should be able to adjust your accelerator pump to get your throttle to get better response when you open it up.

    Keep us updated on your progress.

  15. #15
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    I'm not too familiar with S&S carbs, but you know, another thing that may be going on: If at some point you open up the carb, the main discharge tube (main jet screws into the bottom) may have a rubber O-ring around the tip (Bendix carbs do, so do many others). If this O-ring is chewed up it will wreak all kinds of shit. I've had it happen on Ironheads, generators, weedwackers, etc. I had a Coleman generator with the same symptom, would only run (like shit) with the choke on. That O-ring was the culprit. It can't suck fuel reliably with the ripped O-ring, so you need to run the choke to cut some air out. Then the thing basically erratically dumps gas into your intake. I hope this is your problem. I'm really starting to think that this is not an ignition problem, those O-rings rip upon installation pretty commonly especially if the person trying to shove the bowl on isn't careful. Here's a link to a diagram, part number 28 is what I'm talking about: http://www.motorcyclepartsareus.com/...0267_img_3.jpg

    Eta: I may be on crack, I don't know if this carb runs an O-ring.... Can't see one in the diagram
    Last edited by Arisaka; 05-22-2013 at 5:23 PM.

  16. #16
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    If you could find out what size jets you'r carb has, it might help us get on track.
    Just remove the bowl and read the jets. A good opportunity to see if they are clogged.

    We need to get to the bottom of this issue

  17. #17
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    Alright, took the carb off the bike, and removed the intake manifold and seals. The int. jet is a .0295, and the main jet is a .066. Arisaka- I didn't see any o-ring on the int. jet. I also removed the inline EMGO fuel filter as the petcock has one built in - good call Motorradfahrer If these jets are proper, I'm going to try putting it back together and dial the carb in via the S&S tutorial.

    The intake seals, upon inspection look fine. The rubber still feels cushy and fresh but there could have still been a leak regardless and I'm going to replace these anyway. Below is a shot of the carb parts, seals and jets. Also a shot of the exhaust. I'm not sure what brand the exhaust is, but upon inspection of the baffles, it looks like there's a wadded up newspaper in there of metal mesh! Oh, gotta love these old bikes.



  18. #18
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    Well that jetting sure does not sound lean.

    Here's a chart of jetting guidlines for different carbs/engine sizes:

    http://www.nightrider.com/biketech/h...&S_jetting.htm

    Are the jets clogged by any chance?

  19. #19
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    You've gotten a lot of great advice. Follow the consensus of a good tune-up: pushrod adjustment, verify fuel flow, timing, seal up intake and exhaust, etc. Check out this guide when it's time to tune yer carb...

    http://www.sscycle.com/carbquickguide/

    Don't know if you've seen this video on pushrod adjustment...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S2qbld6m-c

    Just for comparison, I run a 66 and a 265 on my '82 Ironhead and it runs a little rich here close to sea level. The best way to verify intake seals is to make a block-off plate with an air fitting that is bolted to the manifold in place of the carb. (I made one out of an old plastic cutting board.) Close both intake valves. Apply 5 to 10 psi, spray with soapy water and watch for bubbles.

  20. #20

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    Can someone that is good with wiring help me? I need help with starter and starter realy?

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