my bike died on me this morning... - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 41 (permalink) Old 10-19-2009, 09:05 AM Thread Starter
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my bike died on me this morning...

...and I'm not sure what to look at first.

I rode it to work and back as recently as last Thursday (in fact, Monday through Thursday). That's a 30-minute trip each way through local traffic (about 12 miles). No sign of the problem I had today, though it was not exactly problem free, more on this in a moment.

Today, I started the bike and noticed it seemed to be idling a bit low while warming up. I figured it was just due to the cold weather we've around here had lately (it was down to the upper 30s on Thursday, and highs in the mid- to low 40s through today, dropping to the 30s at night). I revved the engine a bit with the throttle and took off.

With every traffic light or stop sign I pulled up to, though, the engine kept dropping revs when I pulled in the clutch to the point where it was about to stall out. I had to keep revving the engine to prevent it from dying. I suppose I should have headed home at this point (I was only about a mile and a half away) but I still thought it might be just a matter of a cold engine.

Finally while idling at another traffic light another mile away, the bike stalled out. I started the engine again (which took a few tries) and adjusted the engine idle higher to see if that would help. It did, but only for another mile or so (another 2-3 traffic lights). Now the engine doesn't turn over either.

I was rather at a loss as to what to do right there, so I pushed it over to the the side and parked it on a side street and took the bus/train in to work.

Okay, you who are smarter folks than I am about this stuff are surely wondering, "So what'd you do to this bike last week, putz?"

About 3 weeks ago I put in TOC MCCTs on this bike to see if it would quell the ticking noise I heard from the right side of the engine. Unfortunately it didn't, unless it's that I didn't put the MCCTs on quite right. I can't rule that out because last Thursday, my engine suddenly made an all new noise, a really loud clanking. And when I pulled over to look for any obvious reasons why, I found one: I hadn't tightened the lock nuts on the MCCTs with Loc-Tite, they had both vibrated loose and my MCCTs were now loose enough to hand turn! Not having a wrench with me (plus to get at the one on the right side I'd have to remove the coolant reservoir which would also need a 10mm nut driver), I did my best to hand twist the MCCTs down more and the lock nuts too. That worked for a few miles and they rattled loose again.

The worst part was that I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on a highway by this time, with long stretches of it (by time) with no shoulder. (I was only going 10 miles on the highway in distance, but it took me an hour.) So I rode a fairly long time with whatever the MCCTs are supposed to be tightening down, not tightened down.

The irony is that I was taking an unfamiliar route (I normally don't take rush hour highways in NYC for just this reason) because I was getting to the first session of a Continuing Ed class I've enrolled in... On motorcycle maintenance, where starting with the 3rd session we'll be learning hands-on how to take apart and maintain various aspects of our own bikes.

Saturday morning, I used the proper tools to tighten both MCCTs down properly (I think), but it was pouring rain so I couldn't take the bike for a test ride. Still, the engine idled normally on the center stand in my garage, and sounded like it was back to normal.

So, not sure if my futzing around with the MCCTs are a contributing factor to my engine problem this morning but the timing certainly doesn't seem coincidental.

Any suggestions on what I should do? I'm at a loss. I can take the bus/train home tonight and drive back to where my bike is with a buddy, but what should I bring with me and then do to try to get my bike running again?

"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea." (Despair.com)
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post #2 of 41 (permalink) Old 10-19-2009, 09:37 AM
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Actually it does sound like a timing problem. With the cam chain tensioners loose it may have caused the time to retard a little and since it won't turn over at all now it may have jumped time altogether. My next suggestion is get it home, don't try to work on it in the parking area. At home you at will ALL your tools available. Also check back frequently or PM lance328 for more info.

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post #3 of 41 (permalink) Old 10-19-2009, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
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I have no way of getting it home without riding it back, I have no hitch/trailer... Arrgh. Any kind of field triage I could do here (i.e., bringing tools or equipment with me)?

For that matter if my engine timing is indeed thrown off, what am I going to do about it? I could literally bring all my tools, it's not like I have a ton of them, just a set of ratcheting metric nuts and drivers, various sized wrenches and screwdrivers and some vise grip pliers.

If long term, I'll have to bring the bike in to a mechanic to fix because the engine will need some kind of dissassembly (something I am definitely not up to doing), I guess I'll give 'em a call and ask for their truck.

"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea." (Despair.com)
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post #4 of 41 (permalink) Old 10-19-2009, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robardin View Post
I have no way of getting it home without riding it back, I have no hitch/trailer... Arrgh. Any kind of field triage I could do here (i.e., bringing tools or equipment with me)?

For that matter if my engine timing is indeed thrown off, what am I going to do about it? I could literally bring all my tools, it's not like I have a ton of them, just a set of ratcheting metric nuts and drivers, various sized wrenches and screwdrivers and some vise grip pliers.

If long term, I'll have to bring the bike in to a mechanic to fix because the engine will need some kind of dissassembly (something I am definitely not up to doing), I guess I'll give 'em a call and ask for their truck.
I think u have 2 separate issues here, bring the tools to get the mcct tight, i don't know your cct's but shouldnt there be a double nut preventing it from backing out???

It would have gotten really noisy if it skipped a tooth...

next i think i would look in the direction of grounds and connections tageting the ignition and safty switches ...
U created a lot of difffrent vibrations and vibrations can make electrical conections fail at certain frequences...
also take a can of seafoam and throw some in the tank ...

and in terms of if u need a mechanic well lets get the bike home where we can all look at it ...



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post #5 of 41 (permalink) Old 10-19-2009, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seebeeare View Post
I think u have 2 separate issues here, bring the tools to get the mcct tight, i don't know your cct's but shouldnt there be a double nut preventing it from backing out???

It would have gotten really noisy if it skipped a tooth...
There is a lock nut for the MCCTs but they came loose on Thursday, and I rode the bike like that for over an hour. Presumably they got progressively looser and I only noticed it reaching that critical point then. It did get really noisy, but the engine didn't show any signs of wanting to stall or anything. I tightened them back down when I got home and they should be OK now (I think).

Quote:
next i think i would look in the direction of grounds and connections tageting the ignition and safty switches ...
U created a lot of difffrent vibrations and vibrations can make electrical conections fail at certain frequences...
also take a can of seafoam and throw some in the tank ...
My revs were definitely dropping; after my first stallout I turned the idle to near max, it settled around a stoplight idle of 1K for a mile or so and then stalled out anyway. So it doesn't seem electrical to me (but what do I know? Or rather, all I know is that I really don't know, you know?).

On the other hand, I do have lots of Seafoam, so sure why not

"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea." (Despair.com)
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post #6 of 41 (permalink) Old 10-19-2009, 11:29 AM
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If you need to go ahead and make the call for the truck. As for timing, I going by experience on my Honda 360 when it jumped time. Seebeeare very well could be correct as it is possible for it to be electrical. Let's try to avoid the stealership. There are too many experienced people here to start throwing much-needed-funds-for-priorities at the stealerships feet. Hang in there, were with you all the way.

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OEM Hghwy Bars
O-ring Footpegs
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Spline Lube every tire change
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post #7 of 41 (permalink) Old 10-19-2009, 11:31 AM
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Check the battery. It started idling low, you had to keep it rev'd to run, then it died and wouldn't crank? Classic signs of a dying battery. If you have no trailer, bumpstart the bike (helps to have someone else push), keep it rev'd at 5k at stoplights, you should be able to ride it home.

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post #8 of 41 (permalink) Old 10-19-2009, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EQPlayer View Post
Check the battery. It started idling low, you had to keep it rev'd to run, then it died and wouldn't crank? Classic signs of a dying battery. If you have no trailer, bumpstart the bike (helps to have someone else push), keep it rev'd at 5k at stoplights, you should be able to ride it home.
Oh no. Not just dying battery then but possibly the dreaded stator problem?
It's a MF battery I dropped in just last year and have kept on a tender (well, not lately, sinced I"ve been riding it almost every day). It is a 1994 bike and I did do Something Bad. Yikes.

I've never done the bumpstart either. I know in principle that I need to:

- put the bike in gear
- get it moving at a "reasonable speed" (i.e., rolling downhill) with the clutch pulled in
- pop the clutch out fast to engage the engine

And hope I'm moving fast enough so the engine starts instead of me getting a bunch of engine braking that may or may not cause me to dump the bike.

How exciting!

"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea." (Despair.com)

Last edited by robardin; 10-19-2009 at 12:09 PM.
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post #9 of 41 (permalink) Old 10-19-2009, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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BTW if it is the battery, can't I jump start the bike by connecting it to a car battery (without the car engine running)? I've done that before, many times, on a scooter I used to ride that had a bad battery before I figured out that was the problem and got a new one.

I even have a portable car battery jump starter and air compressor, so if it's the battery maybe I can remove the seat, hook up the terminals, start the bike, put on the throttle lock to keep it revving on the centerstand while I put the seat back on, and try to ride home? Then put it on the tender all night and see what it looks like tomorrow, while I look in the Verses for details on how to measure my stator.

"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea." (Despair.com)
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post #10 of 41 (permalink) Old 10-19-2009, 12:00 PM
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Good idea. Lets start there first. IMHO I am leary of bump starts. Besides given the cold nature of our bikes, a bump start (especially in NY weather at this time of year) is very difficult, not impossible, just very difficult.

2005 Vulcan 750
Black and Silver
Windshield
Saddlebags
OEM Hghwy Bars
O-ring Footpegs
OEM Luggage Rack
V&H Exhaust System
TOC ACCT Rebuild
Die Hard Gold AGM MFB
Spline Lube every tire change
VN750 #4393
VROC #31065
TexasVROC
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