Jason J. Gullickson

Jason J. Gullickson


I picked up a new battery from Fleet Farm, the same as the old one, just not fried. Added the acid, threw it on the charger and headed to the gas station for some fresh fuel.

I thought I’d be draining the “over winter” gas from the fuel tank but when I popped the gas cap, the tank was dry. I had noticed some leaking over the winter, but I had no idea how severe it was. I’m not sure where or why it leaked, because all last summer it held fuel (once it was treated) but when I topped it up in the fall, it somehow got back out.

Something to keep an eye on; anyway…

I dropped the freshly charged battery in the bike and tested the lights: all systems go. Poured in maybe a gallon or so of Premium (I thought I’d leave Ethanol out of the equation, for now) and after about five kicks, she started right up and settled down into a nice idle.

Unexpected, but nice.

The idea here was to make sure the thing would start as-is before I started messing with the jets. I didn’t want to swap them out and have trouble getting it to run and be left wondering if something else had happened during the off- season or if it was just the recent changes. Now I know that if it doesn’t work, it’s my fault.

So I shut ‘er down and inspect the bike as the engine cools. Everything looks good, surprisingly, although the top-end sounded a little lubrication-starved to me (not sure if this is normal or not for this bike, but something to check up on).

My plan is just to drop the bowls and swap the jets for the largest ones that came in my “kit”. I figure since I more or less removed the exhaust system and opened up the intake as well I should start large and work my way down. The logic, hopefully not flawed, is that the side-effects of too rich a mixture (smoke and wet plugs) are better than that of too lean (overheating, detonation, etc.).

Unfortunately it wasn’t going to be as simple as I would have liked to get these bowls off. First off, the right-side was too tight for any screwdrivers I had on hand, so I had to run to Fleet to pick up some stubbies and a pair of offset drivers (which are pretty cool). This was enough to get the bowl off, which led to the next problem.

When the bowl came off, the (new) gasket jumped out and somehow was too large to fit as-is back into the groove on the bowl. After trying in vain to get it back in there I decided to “shorten” it. I’m pretty sure I’m going to regret this, but since the only recourse was buying a smaller one, I figured there was no harm in trying it. Even after shortening it, it was impossible to get it to stay in the groove (if anyone has any tips for this, please pass them on, I’m going to be doing this a few more times). After messing with it for awhile I was able to get the bowl back on with the gasket in place and I think it’s in the right place…

The left side was worse.

High pipes, while cool looking are not very practical. In this case, the top one made it almost impossible to get at the carburetor bowl with the carb mounted on the engine. Dropping the pipes would help, but since jet selection (for me) is a trial-and-error process, I really want to avoid having to do this each time I want to try different jets. After about thirty minutes I was able to get the bowl out and drop in the new jets.

The same gasket problems exist here (how did these things grow?) and are only compounded by the inaccessibility of the left carb. After another thirty minutes it was starting to get dark so I decided to call it for the night.

Thinking it over later, I should have just dropped the pipes. It would have only taken a few minutes, and I may have even gotten everything back together before dark. The worst part was that I knew this at the time, but I was too focused on trying out the new jets that I didn’t take the time necessary to do it right.

At least I know what to do next time…

(sorry for the blandness of this post, I was in too much of a hurry to take pictures. Lucky for you, I’ll be doing this again and I’ll try to snap a few next time.)