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cskelm
05/02/2010 @ 2:27 PM                          
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I guess I'll get to the point: My bike overheats within minutes of taking to the road, and shortly thereafter the engine cuts out instantly - no struggling or sputtering, she just quits on me. Even stranger, she won't start for roughly an hour afterward, long after the temperature gauge reads cold. This first happened a little over a week ago; I was waiting at a light, and it died as soon as I put it in gear. I don't remember whether or not it was overheated then, I didn't notice, but as I tried to start up again I noticed a little smoke coming from somewhere in the vicinity of the carbs. After getting her home I managed to get her to start later that night, but I didn't want to risk getting stranded again so I didn't go out.

A couple friends and I made our best attempt at a diagnosis, and figured that the most likely issue was the oil. I'm a little ashamed at having driven a vehicle that contained the sludge I drained from my bike :/ but the oil change went smoothly. Oddly, afterward I couldn't start her at all, and the clicking indicated a dead battery. That hadn't been happening before, and might have been partly due to my leaving the ignition set to on all afternoon, but the battery was clearly ancient anyway so I replaced it.

Finally I got her running again, so I took her out for a spin. I got a few miles out, stopped at a light, and she died exactly like before - with the exception of the smoke from before, which hasn't appeared since. I had noticed her overheating this time, so I checked the coolant and, sure enough, it was almost dry. My brother was kind enough to bring some out to me, we filled her up, she started fine... and then died before I could leave the parking lot. An hour and a half and countless failed attempts later, I got her running, and made it halfway home before she overheated and cut out again. With no other way to get her home by that point, I continued the process until I got within walking distance.

So, I'm at a loss. I suspect my filling the coolant bottle was not the thorough filling and burping it should have been, but I don't think that would explain why it won't start for long after it's cooled off. I should also note that the petcock leaks gas from the diaphragm breather hole when running (and also when I set it to prime even with the engine off) so I am planning on rebuilding that, but I am guessing that this has been happening for some time based on the yellowish film on the carburetor below it (is that #1 or #4?) which I noticed long before I noticed the leak itself.

Any ideas? Suggestions? I appreciate any input, this is more or less my only transportation and my family is getting tired of driving me around :P

I'm out of time for now but I may be able to provide some more info later on. Thanks.

Kellin Mavis
COG #9068
Houston, TX
'95 Concours "Nausicaa"

Ranger Jim
05/02/2010 @ 6:40 PM                          
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We need a WHOLE LOT more info before trying to guess what may the the cause of your problems. Year? Mileage? How long have YOU owned the bike? History (e.g. did it sit un-running for an extended time, what, if anything, have YOU done to/with it, is this a new issue, etc.). Tell us EVERYTHING, whether you think it's pertinent or not.


No one is a TOTAL failure; they can always be used as a bad example.

Steve in Sunny Fla
05/02/2010 @ 8:03 PM                          
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This bike needs some professional care. I'm gonna guess that IF it had enough coolant in it to raise the temp guage, then the thermostat is stuck. It probably blew the coolant out, and then was driven without coolant in it.Tthe long time before it wll restart could range from a j-box issue to pistons that are siezing then releasing when cold. I personally think you're out of you league on working on this bike, you really better get it to a professional. I'm not saying this to be difficult, I'm saying it to be helpful - I see a goood number of folks who end up costing themselves more money trying to fix it themselves than if they had the bike (insert car / truck / house, you name it) done by a professional who is honest. Steve

Shleper of the 7th gear unit, jet kits, and performance exhaust cam sprockets.
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smithr
05/03/2010 @ 1:16 PM                          
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Wow.
I will give it a guess here.  The battery was bad, the coolant was low and the petcock leaks.  Me thinks the bike set up for a long time and was not fully serviced before putting it back on the road.  You may regret that.  Anyway here is my guess.  The coolant was low and having it full again may fix that.  If not then the radiator or something is clogged and will have to be cored.  That is assuming the bike keeps going a few blocks and over heating.  Did you know to weep the weep holes?

On the starting or not and dieing... one of the switches or relays in the starting circuit is not making good connection.  My guess it is the side stand switch but could be the Jbox.  The Jbox and side stand switch are both known problems.  When it will not start next time.  Hold the starter button and diddle with the side stand, if no love then whack the Jbox (fuse box).  If still no love then mess with the clutch lever.  If you need to fix the Jbox then look on here for who rebuilds them or ask.
If the petcock is leaking from the weep hole FIX IT. If not next thing you will notice is gas shooting all over the bike and your leg. btdt

Bad news.  When you get all that right then my bet is on you having to rebuild the carbs because stale gas has clogged your idle passages.
Don't bother to fix the carbs without making sure the gas tank is not full of rust.

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This message was edited by smithr on 05/03/2010 @ 1:16 PM

cskelm
05/03/2010 @ 6:04 PM                          
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OK, as Ranger Jim suggested, I'll give you guys all the info I have on the bike:

Year: 1995
Mileage: 57916
I've owned the bike since January, and rode her about 800 miles without problems - until eleven days ago it ran fine. I'm the third owner; the previous owner rode it infrequently over the past year or so and regularly before then, as I understand. It hasn't sat unused for even as long as two weeks since I bought it.

The temp gauge has always functioned normally as I could tell, and the bike would heat up regularly, never getting much higher than 1/3 on the temp gauge, until Thursday before last. Thus as far as I can tell the thermostat is working alright. The j-box is in great shape; it had problems when I bought the bike but I resoldered all the connections as soon as I got the bike home. The side stand switch is also fine, as is the clutch switch.

The gas tank is clearly rusted; I've had plans to clean and seal it but haven't had time yet. The petcock leaking, from what I can tell, is entirely due to the diaphragm being worn and cracked; when I took it apart everything else was fine (the filter screen is clean and is not torn or warped in any way, o rings are good) but I wonder if fuel could get into the vacuum line or drip into the carb and cause problems? i did check to make sure that not fuel has gotten into my crankcase, which it hasn't. Oh, and the paint on the bottom corner on the left side of the gas tank is bubbled and yellowish - not sure what this means, could the tank be rusted through here?

As I mentioned before I changed the oil and filter after the problem first happened; I did my research and made sure to follow the procedure on Brock Delp's website, which I've seen referenced a few times here. I've read that overfilling the oil will cause it to end up in the air filter, so I checked that out as a precaution; it's dirty but not excessively, and there's no oil there so I doubt I somehow put in too much oil.

smithr: the bike had gone almost ten miles before it died the first time. after I changed the oil and battery, it made it almost as far before cutting out again; i got about halfway back before it died again, and then about a mile the third time. Definitely more than a few blocks each time - I don't know if this affects the clogged radiator theory, or how. Are you referring to radiator weep holes? Either way, no, when I noticed the coolant was low I simply filled the reservoir.

The problem is almost definitely not electrical, as I said before j-box and switches are OK. Stale gas clogging the idle passages? I don't think so given how I'd ridden it through several tanks of gas before the problem occurred, but I don't know enough to rule it out based on that info. what do you think?


Steve: I take no offense to your suggestion because I'm pretty sure I am out of my league with this problem. As much as I would like to diagnose and solve the problem myself and consider myself quite capable of doing so given enough time and money, I know that now is not the time, I don't have the money and a professional will do a far better job than I could at this point.

Nonetheless, I figured it would be best to bring my problem here before finding a mechanic, on the (however small) chance that it might yield a solution I could work with. The last thing I want is to spend $500 on something only to discover it was something I could have done myself for 1/5 of the price. At the same time, if the issue is still unclear or if someone knows for certain what's wrong but that it's beyond my level, I hope maybe someone might be able to recommend an honest mechanic in my area. I don't think I've ever taken a car to a shop around here that hasn't embellished the crap out of their quotes.


Well, that's all I've got. I hope it helps. Thanks again, everyone.

Kellin Mavis
COG #9068
Houston, TX
'95 Concours "Nausicaa"

colinp386
05/03/2010 @ 8:00 PM                          
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Hi Kellin;

Well done for posting the thread!
You do have a number of chalenges as Steve says but kudos for having a go as it were!

At some point you really do need to fix the rusting tank, it's likely still to have a bunch of water in there. POR it as soon as you reasonably can. After replace the float needle valves.

Its hard to tell from your post if its really overheating. Sounds like it probably is.

Easy stuff, check the fan comes on, if not short the wires going to the temp switch LHS top of rad. If not check the fuse 10A I think.

Next you may want to start by  draining the coolant then flushing the whole cooling system with filtered tap water and 1 tablespoon of dishwaser soap, bring the bike up to temperature at home and run it for 5 mins or so.
After this flush it through with clean water a couple of times.

If it were me I would probably pull the thermostat (despite what the book says you can pull it without removing the carb rack, but its very fiddly)
and check it in a pan of hotwater on the stove to make sure it opens between 80-84 deg C and is fully open at 95 Deg at 8mm.

I might also pull the water pump, if I susspected it was faulty. Make sure you buy the o-rings you need first from Kawasaki.

Good luck, keep us posted!




Colin Prior
COG IT Officer

Lake Forest Park WA
COG#7767
AMA#1081764
ROK#20000617

This message was edited by colinp386 on 05/03/2010 @ 8:01 PM

smithr
05/04/2010 @ 10:51 AM                          
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I wonder if it could be water in the tank is why it is dieing?  Have you just switched to reserve?

Another guess is a bad wire or relay.  It makes contact until you turn the bars or heat swells a bad connection.

There is a procedure for bleeding the air out of the water system.  If it has air in it will it not cavitate causing it to over heat fast?
This is from the tech area on the home page here.
http://www.cog-online.org/clubportal/clubstatic.cfm?clubID=1328&pubmenuoptID=30824

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cskelm
05/05/2010 @ 1:01 PM                          
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colinp386: I'm pretty sure it's overheating. What I'm not so sure of is if the overheating is the cause of the problem, or merely a symptom.

The only way to find out is to treat it like the cause and do the things you and smithr suggested - check the fan, fuse and thermostat, and drain and clean the cooling system. I'll make sure to bleed the air out as well.

smithr: When the problem first occurred I was almost but not yet at the point of switching to reserve. However, while I was changing the oil I drained the tank to take out the petcock, and then afterward I filled up the tank before hitting the road and having the same problem again. So, I don't think it's water in the tank, or old gas.

As for a wire or relay, well, when the bike dies the electrical stays on, and when I press the starter button I can clearly hear the starter turning (the "VRR-RR-RR-RR-RR-RR-RR" sounds like it's trying to turn over but not getting any combustion.) This happened after every time the engine cut out, acting the same way with every attempt to start until finally succeeding at least an hour later, whether I had moved the bike at all or not. Could a bad wire/relay/connection cause that behavior?


In any case, I'm going to go play with electricity and then get coolant all over my garage floor. I'll post results when I'm done.


EDIT: Update - checked the fan and fuse, both work OK. I started up the bike to make sure it would run; the fan didn't start up but i'm guessing that that's simply because it hadn't gotten hot enough.

I proceeded to drain the coolant (There was only about 2L of it and it was kind of dirty) and then filled it with filtered water with 1tbs of dish soap as per colin386's directions. Now the bike is refusing to start again, as before, but I had hardly run the bike at all before; it hadn't completely warmed up let alone overheated. I am worried that this might signify that the problem is not related to the cooling system.

Unfortunately I don't have time to finish the flush job because I have work soon (I'm already going to be late :/) so it will have to wait until tonight. I hope letting the soap/water sit in the radiator until then will not have a negative effect.

Until next time,

Kellin Mavis
COG #9068
Houston, TX
'95 Concours "Nausicaa"

This message was edited by cskelm on 05/05/2010 @ 4:33 PM

colinp386
05/06/2010 @ 9:45 AM                          
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Its possible you have water in the float bowls

connect a small hose to the drain nipple on the very bottom and crank open the drain screw. repeat for all 4.

Water is denser than gas/petrol so if you did/do have water in the tank that's were it ends up. Drain it all into a jar and hold it up to the light, you will see water in the bottom if it's there.

If you let the bike idle for about 10 - 12 mins the temp should rise enough for the fan to come on. It does so when the temp needle is about 12:00 o'clock.

Colin Prior
COG IT Officer

Lake Forest Park WA
COG#7767
AMA#1081764
ROK#20000617

cskelm
05/06/2010 @ 6:15 PM                          
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Oh, I forgot to mention earlier, I did drain the float bowls. No water as I could see, but the rusty silt in there may have obscured my view of it.

On the topic of float bowl draining, three things:
-First, #1 and #4 would not drain at first. I had to suck on the hose to get them to flow. This is likely due to the aforementioned silt but I figured I would make note of it in case it had some other significance.
-Second, is it possible to replace those drain plugs with a simple screw? I know they have tapered ends, if those are necessary I understand, but the sockets on a couple are stripped to hell. I actually had to cut a slot in the #4 plug to be able to remove it, it was so far gone.
-Lastly, and this is honestly a silly question that bears no relevance to my problems... Why is it that the right-hand drain plugs protrude a few mm from the float bowl, whereas the left-hand plugs set totally flush? I've seen a couple pictures of others' carbs that are exactly the same so I know it's not just my bike, but it strikes me as very odd.

I just finished flushing the cooling system now, but I'm going to have to go and pick up some more coolant to refill it. In the meantime I'm going to pull the t-stat and make sure it works alright. I'm rather wary of taking her out on the road again, or even just down the street, because of the leaking petcock. It drips all over the carb, alternator, crankcase, everything below it, and while I discovered that the "smoke" I had reported before was simply fuel evaporating off of a hot engine, it's been damaging the paint and I don't want to take a chance on it getting into the oil or coolant :/
I did order a petcock rebuild kit from Murph's this morning, however. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email less than an hour after saying they'd shipped it! I've heard that the diaphragm in that kit is weaker than the OEM one, but I really just need it to last until I can save up the cash to get the automatic solenoid.

I did notice the fan turning on at about the right temperature while I ran the bike during the flush. One less thing to worry about, in any case. What does that signify, though? Does that just mean that the fan switch works, or can I consider the thermostat and temp sensor to also be in working order?

I'm going to get some coolant, and then I think I'll pull the spark plugs and see what's up with that. Nothing's really suggested that they'd be part of the problem, but spark plugs are basic maintenance 101, I don't know why I didn't think to check them out sooner; and until the petcock kit comes in I may as well work on some other stuff.

Kellin Mavis
COG #9068
Houston, TX
'95 Concours "Nausicaa"

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