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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm posting this to get a sanity check from you all for my '85 VN700...

I talked to a mechanic yesterday, and described my sypmptoms to him. In a nutshell, when I bought the bike, the tank leaked. It had been ridden a couple of hours in the last several months while they fixed the tank. I completed the fix, and put about 1/2 tank of gas in it. Initially, I was having the problem of it dying when warmed up, which got progressively worse. Now I can start it, but it will not stay running...And when I give it throttle, it dies. I have seen other posts with folks saying when the tank gets down to a certain level, it doesn't run right. I haven't tried filling it up yet.

In any case, the mechanic said that it sounds like the carbs need to be rebuilt. Since the bike is 21 years old and has 21k miles on it, it probably does need to be rebuilt. I told him that I had SeaFoam in the tank, and he stated that from the symptoms, at this point, any chemicals I use would probably not work, and in fact might actually do damage to the carbs. (I am using SeaFoam and had planned on blasting carb cleaner in the ears.) I told him that the bike had sat for the better part of this year. He said that in order for the carbs to get as screwed up as the symptoms indicated would require the bike to have sat for 1-2 years.

What I was wondering is whether this sounds valid. In general, I trust the owners of the shop, but have never met the mechanic...Though I have an implied trust in him through this shop. But all things being equal, I would rather get it running now (I wanna ride!) and have the carbs cleaned later (like over the winter). Is using carb cleaner going to damage anything? I'd do the rebuild now, but it looks like I may be buying a car in the near-to-mid future, my wife's explorer's transmission seems to be dying. So if there is any cheaper route to getting her running in the short-term that won't involve my having to completely replace the carbs later, I would love to hear it.

--Storm16
 

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Blasting carb cleaner in the ears won't do a lot of good, if you think the ears go directly to the carbs. Instead, they go to an air chamber under the tank, and from there to the carbs. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Sea Foam makes a spray version, by the way. The ingredients to Sea Foam are pale oil, isopropyl alcohol, and naptha. The naptha is primarily for cleaning. It won't hurt your carbs. It's what dry cleaners use on your clothes. I imagine that the dealer doesn't know what Sea Foam is, or is just trying to keep their mechanics employed. Continue to run it through the engine. And you need to fill your tank. When you put the bike away for the winter you are supposed to remove the tank and add some oil to it, then swish the oil around to coat the tank and prevent rusting. Seeing how you are using the tank, you need to keep it full so that it won't continue to rust.

But what you most likely need to do is take the carbs off yourself and clean them. We can guide you through the process, if need be. You can have this done in less than a day, and be out riding that day or the next. 21K miles is not much to warrant a rebuild. But a motorcycle (or any engine) that has been driven little over time will more than likely have crud in the carbs. It's due to breakdown of the gas, and condensation of water.
 

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cegodsey is right, you rcarbs should not need to be rebuilt. But if you have the time and confidence, do it yourself. Cleaning is not as hard as some people think, just dont use anything sharp! I have an 1986 VN750 and it sat for 3 years, i need a rebuild for my carbs do the samething (Backfire and spudder). But i have seen people take there bike out 1 a month and theres seems to be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
cegodsey said:
Blasting carb cleaner in the ears won't do a lot of good, if you think the ears go directly to the carbs. Instead, they go to an air chamber under the tank, and from there to the carbs. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Sea Foam makes a spray version, by the way. The ingredients to Sea Foam are pale oil, isopropyl alcohol, and naptha. The naptha is primarily for cleaning. It won't hurt your carbs. It's what dry cleaners use on your clothes. I imagine that the dealer doesn't know what Sea Foam is, or is just trying to keep their mechanics employed. Continue to run it through the engine. And you need to fill your tank. When you put the bike away for the winter you are supposed to remove the tank and add some oil to it, then swish the oil around to coat the tank and prevent rusting. Seeing how you are using the tank, you need to keep it full so that it won't continue to rust.

But what you most likely need to do is take the carbs off yourself and clean them. We can guide you through the process, if need be. You can have this done in less than a day, and be out riding that day or the next. 21K miles is not much to warrant a rebuild. But a motorcycle (or any engine) that has been driven little over time will more than likely have crud in the carbs. It's due to breakdown of the gas, and condensation of water.
I'm game for this. In fact, thats originally what I wanted to do. However, while I have done some work on cars, I have never worked on motorcycles, and especially not carbs, so I wanted someone there with a clue. But if its easy enough to be explained, I'll have a go at it. Maybe I will even go ahead and have a buddy bring his digital camera over and take pictures and put together a howto doc like someone did with the drive splines. How does one go about it?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I just ordered a Clymer manual for this bike. Does it have specific instructions for carb cleaning?
 

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Hmmm, I don't know. I don't know if my shop manual does. Except for specs, I usually don't look at the manual for carb rebuilds.
 

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The Clymer's has detailed instructions and pics for tearing down, cleaning and rebuilding the carbs. Removing them is an exercise in patience so be warned that it isn't easy but it is doable.
 
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