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Old 10-18-2011, 01:32 PM
nolonger lurking is offline
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Resurrecting an improperly stored motorcycle


More than 4 years ago, I purchased my first (and only) motorcycle, a 1996 Honda Shadow 600 VLX Deluxe. I had taken the MSF course and enjoyed riding it, putting on about 3k miles in the first year and a half. Unfortunately, my cousin was struck by a car and killed on his motorcycle about 3 years ago, and I pretty much stopped riding before forced to by weather. I did nothing to winterize the bike. I was able to ride it 2 years ago when I moved from the apartment to my house, but it would die rather than idle with my hand off the throttle. I was still not excited about riding and just left the bike in the garage.

Fast forward to present. I would like to start riding again. I'm mentally ready and I still have all the gear, but the bike is dead.

I went to the garage, sat on the bike, and pressed the starter- turned over once, then only buzzing (I interpreted as an underpowered started).
I bought a battery tender and charged the battery. Engine wouldn't turn over, no buzzing.
I bought a new battery and charged it. With a new battery, the bike didn't turn over at all, or buzz. The only way I could tell the circuit did anything was that the headlight dimmed while the ignition was depressed.

I am a little mechanically inclined, but totally inexperienced outside of changing the oil. I have a very limited toolbox, with no special motorcycle tools. I have the maintenance book (Haynes I think?).

I want to ride again, but not as much as I want to be not-broke. What can I do to restore my bike to riding condition?
  #2  
Old 10-18-2011, 01:51 PM
Philster is offline
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Bad to just crank it: The fuel is likely ruined and becoming gelatinous or just varnishy.

Carb(s) need full removal/attention/cleaning and the entire fuel system needs to be cleaned. The state of the fuel is important; it needs to be drained from the entire fuel system no matter what ASAP.

.

Last edited by Philster; 10-18-2011 at 01:52 PM.
  #3  
Old 10-18-2011, 02:27 PM
engineer_comp_geek's Avatar
engineer_comp_geek is offline
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Yep, the fuel is definitely shot. Drain it and if you don't have a local place that can handle it for disposal, you can put it in small amounts into your car's gas tank without causing any harm.

I don't know the particulars of your bike, but in general you will want to inspect the electrical wiring for corrosion since bad wires can cause the starter to not get enough power to crank.

I'll second Philster's suggestion of cleaning out the carb. Your book should show you how to take it apart and clean it.

Pull the spark plugs out and inspect them. If they look corroded then replace them.

Change the oil. Over four years, chances are water has condensed out of the air and is now mixed in with the oil (well, sorta, since water and oil don't really mix very well). Once you get the bike running, change the oil again very soon, like after a week or two. It's going to pick up a lot of surface rust and crap from the inside of the engine since it has been sitting for so long.

Some people will put a small amount of oil into the cylinders when they take the spark plugs out to look at them. This will help lubricate the pistons since they've been sitting for so long. You don't need a lot of oil, maybe a teaspoon's worth or so. Any oil left in the cylinder will just burn out once you get the engine running.

You are going to want to check the levels of other fluids in case anything has leaked out over the last four years. Check the brake fluid and clutch fluid and coolant level if your bike isn't air cooled.

The bike may run pretty rough at first. Keep it running and it should start to smooth out after a while.

The brakes may be rusted into place as well. Ride around in circles in a large parking lot and keep accelerating and then applying the brakes over and over until everything works its way free. Should only take maybe ten or fifteen minutes tops.

I can't think of anything you'll need in the way of specialized tools, except for maybe a deep socket for the spark plug.
  #4  
Old 10-18-2011, 02:28 PM
yanceylebeef is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster View Post
Bad to just crank it: The fuel is likely ruined and becoming gelatinous or just varnishy.

Carb(s) need full removal/attention/cleaning and the entire fuel system needs to be cleaned. The state of the fuel is important; it needs to be drained from the entire fuel system no matter what ASAP.

.
Cant say this enough. I'm in the process of resurrecting a 1980 Vespa P200 that has been sitting for at least three years. The fuel system was just a gelatinous mess, and the seals had all either dried out or shrunk.

Drain the gas first, then get it to a mechanic if you're not so inclined to do the work. probably be in the hundreds of dollars for the bill, though.

After you get everything done, just a capfull or two of Seafoam in the tank each winter when it's put up for the season, and it should start right away, battery permitting in the spring.

Last edited by yanceylebeef; 10-18-2011 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 10-18-2011, 02:40 PM
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Philster's right about the fuel system...it's full of sticky dog-snot and sprays or cleaners won't get it. Dump the tank. Carbs need to come off and bowls off and all the little holes blown out, especially the idle jet and the needle and seat. The not turning over with the starter is more concerning. Check your battery connections and spray WD40 on everything. Hopefully it's just an electrical issue. If not, remove the plugs and see if it turns then. If not, either there's varnish in the cylinders or worse, it's locked up from liquid gas or water. Further attempts to spin it with plugs in could break something expensive. Once you get the motor turning with plugs out, put oil in the holes and try the battery thing again. Push the bike around in gear to make sure it's loose. Compression check would be good, even if you just crank it and try to hold your thumb over the plug hole. If compression is good, you can't. With new gas and a clean carb and compression, you should be running.
  #6  
Old 10-18-2011, 03:29 PM
nolonger lurking is offline
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Thanks, I will start with the fuel lines and carburetor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
Change the oil. Over four years, chances are water has condensed out of the air and is now mixed in with the oil (well, sorta, since water and oil don't really mix very well). Once you get the bike running, change the oil again very soon, like after a week or two. It's going to pick up a lot of surface rust and crap from the inside of the engine since it has been sitting for so long.
I changed the oil 2 years back, current oil probably has <200 miles on it. Should I still change before riding and again after a week or two?

Everyone: if my fuel is gelatinized, will I need to run something through the system to get it out, or can I just unclamp some hoses and let it run into a bucket?
  #7  
Old 10-18-2011, 03:45 PM
md2000 is offline
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At the very least - my bike's carbs (Honda CX 500) had little drain screws on the bottom of the bowls that you could unscrew and drain remaining gas, the basic winterization step. Once too many times I waited until spring, the gas smelled like turpentine by then and it was reluctant to start because the carb float were stuck in the up position and did not allow gas to flow (a little tapping eventually freed them) . Eventually I needed to clean the carbs, the old gas coated the jets and all too.

If the engine won't even turn, you may have too much rust in the cylinders, lost cause. To manually turn the engine without a kickstart, put it in a high gear (2 or 3 at least, with 1 it will just skid) and push it along at a good clip then let the clutch out; repeat a few times. Best to do this sitting on the bike and have a friend pushing for added traction. One suggestion I saw was to put a few drops of oil or so in each cylinder (through the spark plug holes) before doing this for lubrication.

yeah, change the fluids a few times, it's the cheapest part of the whole operation.

Last edited by md2000; 10-18-2011 at 03:46 PM.
  #8  
Old 10-18-2011, 04:54 PM
andyleonard is offline
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Get a jug of new gas. You can use it to wash carb parts and rinse the tank before you motor off.
  #9  
Old 10-19-2011, 06:48 AM
Philster is offline
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Here's the risk of doing it wrong:

You crank the engine and she resists. Why? Something won't compress in the cylinder.

Why this is bad: (First, why good fuel is good) Vaporized good fuel compresses, and it is primed for ignition. Other things, water, varnishy fuel will not compress. Result? Broken rod, valves, and you'll need an engine rebuild, or a new engine.

This is very common in the boating world, since they get neglected and sit for stretches. Cranking = resistance. Cranking again (oh, that dreaded clunk) = bent/broken connecting rod.

The entire fuel system needs care, from the tank, through the lines, and especially the carb. I suggest you accept this advice blindly, since your lack of mechanical credentials puts you in no position to argue or go cheap. For these situations, I have a saying from the boating world:

Why is there never enough time or money to do it right the first time, but there is more money and more time available to do it right the second time?

.

Last edited by Philster; 10-19-2011 at 06:52 AM.
  #10  
Old 04-17-2013, 03:50 PM
nolonger lurking is offline
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Update: the bike lives!


So, I finally got the fuel system disassembled and cleaned the tank and carbs. The hardest part was getting the carbs out of and back into the insulators on the cylinders. The carb jets were completely blocked. I also changed the oil. When I put it back together, I could get the engine to turn by pushing the bike in second gear, but still no starting. A friend of a friend came over and found that a previous owner had installed an immobilizer and alarm system that (among other things) prevented electricity from getting to the starter motor. Once that was removed, the bike started fine. I also replaced the tires and fuel and air filters, and I'm back on the road!
I'd say the whole thing set me back about $500, and most of that was new tires and their installation. It took me more hours than I am prepared to admit, but if I had to do it again I think I could do so pretty quickly.
Thank you all for your advice.
  #11  
Old 04-17-2013, 04:24 PM
Capt Kirk is offline
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Yeah, congrats. Ride safe

Capt
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