Help! Broken down in the Dominican Republic. - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
1987 to 2007 Wrenching & Mods For maintaining, repair or modifications of Generation 1 KLR's. 2007 and earlier.

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post #1 of 30 Old 09-01-2015, 06:59 AM Thread Starter
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Help! Broken down in the Dominican Republic.

Hi Clan,

So... I'm riding home from Santiago Airport at 2am the other night and my 1987 KLR650 goes shudder, shudder, cough, cough... dead. To be fair, it took her 10 minutes to completely die.

I called my other girlfriend (the human one) and she came to rescue me and my baby and towed us the 2 hours home. En route, she tried to convince me to sell that "bloody KLR." To be fair, this was not the first time she was towing me home at 2am.

Anyways, I would greatly appreciate some help diagnosing her (not my human girlfriend - that's impossible) so I can get her back on the road again.

I have spark (although possibly weak). I have gas. I have air.

After trying many obvious solutions (listed below) here's what is happening:

The engine occasionally starts (maybe 1 in 25 tries) and runs for 10 seconds before dying. Maybe it's just me, but it seems to start better at midday after having been in the sun.

I removed the carb air intake boot and placed my hand behind the card while cranking the engine. GAS SPRAYED ALL OVER MY HANDS, out of the carb air intake.

Here's what I have done so far:

1) I checked for spark. Spark is there, but seems a little weaker than I remember. I replaced the spark plug and the spark was still looking a little weak. It's an iridium plug, so maybe that's why? I then bought a new ignition coil. Spark still looks weak, but it does spark.

2) I checked for gas. Plenty of that in the carb. I checked the float level too. That was fine. I have replaced the petcock with a non vacuum one and blocked the carb vacuum hose.

3) I cleaned the carb (twice) and that made no difference. I put my carb on a friend's KLR and his bike ran great with my carb. So, I conclude that the carb is not the problem.

4) I checked the valve clearances. All 4 were out of spec. I ordered new shims. I was convinced I'd found the culprit (and was secretly proud that I'd managed to open the engine for the first time and not break anything or drop anything in it), but when I came to start her up, she would not. She cranked and after about 30 seconds would backfire loudly - same as before.

5) I checked the timing by placing a long stick in the plug hole and rotating the engine to TDC. The piston is at the top of it's stroke at TDC.

6) I took the muffler off and inspected it for blockages thinking that might be causing the back pressure. It seemed free of blockages.

So, I'm stuck and out of things to try.

I welcome any ideas as I'm scratching my head...

Thank you in advance,

Bruce
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post #2 of 30 Old 09-02-2015, 09:52 PM
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Most likely is a switch issue: side stand. Does your bike have the original safety switches or have they been disabled?

How are you testing for spark?

FWIW, we are seeing an increasing number of no starts due to bad fuel. The alcohol levels in some fuels are approaching 20% and with that, the amount of water absorbed is becoming amazing.
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post #3 of 30 Old 09-03-2015, 07:04 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Norm. Thanks for getting back with me.

I've removed all the safety switches and bypassed them. I'll check them both again.

I am testing for spark by just holding the plug near the engine casing while attempting to start the engine.

Bad fuel may very well be a culprit. I'll go get fuel from a different gas station and try that too.

My biggest worry is that I'm getting fuel sprayed all over my hand when placed behind the carb (with the rubber thingy removed from the airbox). Any ideas why gas would be spraying in the wrong direction?

Last edited by CaribbeanBruce; 09-05-2015 at 07:55 AM. Reason: Spelling mistake
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post #4 of 30 Old 09-03-2015, 10:57 AM
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Take this for what it's worth as I have no idea how to check the timing on the bike yet, however could you have checked the valves at 180* opposite of TDC ? Even though the piston is up it could be on the exhaust stroke and not compression.

With fuel blowing out the back of the carb it sounds like the intake valve is staying open on the compression stroke and blowing fuel back out the intake. Just thinking out loud.
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post #5 of 30 Old 09-03-2015, 08:39 PM
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CaribbeanBruce,
You have tried your Carb on your friends bike! I'll suggest that you try, your friends IGNITER on your BIKE.

Very rare possible failure from what I have read on forums and personnel experience!
But, it can happen. The "back-fire" loudly is my only clue.

pdwestman
Modify at "YOUR OWN RISK"!

Still riding my 1987 KL650-A1. 85,000+ miles & counting
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post #6 of 30 Old 09-03-2015, 10:06 PM
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+1 on Paul's suggestion to try the ignitor.

Spraying fuel can happen if the inlet piping is off the carb as there can be significant spray which goes unnoticed since it is simply carried in by the air stream. Slow cranking speed can increase the effect.

One possible is low compression pressure due to washing of the rings by fuel. You may wish to squirt 1/2 tea spoon of oil into the spark plug hole, crank then engine 5 or 10 turns, then install the spark plug and try to start with throttle wide open.

The possibility of a bad spark plug shouldn't be ignored so if you have another KLR handy, try swapping plugs or install a known good one.

How far will the spark jump?
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post #7 of 30 Old 09-03-2015, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Normk View Post
+1 on Paul's suggestion to try the ignitor.

How far will the spark jump?
Un-screw the spark plug CAP and hold the Bare wire near the metal of the engine! I wish to see 3/8th of an inch minimum. 7-8 millimeter.

pdwestman
Modify at "YOUR OWN RISK"!

Still riding my 1987 KL650-A1. 85,000+ miles & counting
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post #8 of 30 Old 09-04-2015, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt_M View Post
Take this for what it's worth as I have no idea how to check the timing on the bike yet, however could you have checked the valves at 180* opposite of TDC ? Even though the piston is up it could be on the exhaust stroke and not compression.
180 camshaft or 360 crankshaft degrees. Sounds like the valve clearances were close enough, indicating the OP got the "right" TDC to check them.

One indicator: ALL valves are completely closed at TDC between the compression and the power stroke.
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post #9 of 30 Old 09-04-2015, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt_M View Post
......... could you have checked the valves at 180* opposite of TDC ? ...........
A dead give away is that both arrows on the cam sprockets are parallel with the top of the head and pointing forward when correctly positioned for valve clearance checking.
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post #10 of 30 Old 09-05-2015, 08:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for these fantastic ideas. I'll get all over them in the next few days.

MATT_M, I checked the valve clearances with the piston on the compression stroke. Both arrows on the cam sprockets were parallel with the top of the head and pointing forward, indicating TDC on the compression stroke. I'm going to check the clearances again anyway.

Your logic around the valves not being fully closed makes sense to me. Norm seems to think this could be normal, so I'm going to save that thought for a later testing phase.

PDWESTMAN, I can't switch out the igniter with my mate's bike as it is a Gen 2 and mine is a Gen 1 and the ignition system is different.

NORMK, seeing as you and PDWESTMAN both point to the igniter, I'm going to take your advice and buy a used one one eBay to make certain. I'll measure the spark for you and get back to you.. I'll try the oil/rings suggestions too. I've tested with several spark plugs (iridium and regular).

Again, your wisdom is greatly appreciated.

Bruce
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