It takes three things to start a bike and keep it running
Gas, Air and spark
It was the air. Well, let's blame it on two things.
The air filters were beyond crumbly. I thought they were passable, but when I got the new filters I saw just how bad the originals were. Put them in place (but again, another stripped screw is there to piss me off) and it fires up and sits well, but with an uneven idle.
Adjust the idle adjustment knob so it 'sounds' right (tach is mostly dead) and everything sits better.
I really think at this time you need to set aside some time and do some good general maintenance
I agree with you and wish i could. I live in an apartment complex, which means that all repairs are done outside and anything that takes multiple days to do is not getting done. Unfortunately I'm still learning my way around the wrench and am slow on everything, this means I have to focus on one area at a time. Though when I'm focused on that one area, I'm really focused on it. Cleaning everything I can, fixing or tweeking what I should and (again, unfortunately because I'm new and slow to some of this) mucking things up on occasion.
The bike's an '86. I don't know that the guy before me took care of anything beyond polishing and general riding. I took delivery of it in march and have had little trouble with it. 1 oil leak from a bad o ring on the shifter; Battery died once in hot and slow traffic; and now this. All in all, not bad for a 20 year old bike. It looks like someone was smart with the electric. It's all tucked away neatly, some rerouted, some retaped and greased, for the most part the electric doesn't look bad. What does look bad are the rubber bits, which in more than a few places look like they're close to rotting away. I take inventory of the hoses that look bad every other time I hop on the bike, and know they'll be the next big project I'll jump on.
As for the electrical. It all looks good. I don't fully trust the battery that's in there. It's an MF but not one that i put in, so i don't know how old it is. The battery's held up since the first full drain on the highway, i've tested it on occasion and it generally seems to be in the sweet 12.5 spot. This after having not touched it for a week.
I don't really want to turn this into 'any other advice' thread, just want to say that the initial problem is 'fixed', though i'm going to take it on a longer ride and see what happens.
p.s. I do seafoam monthly and put a double shot in this morning on a full tank before heading to the dealer.