Today I finally got my bike running after three weekends of maintenance. In terms of happiness, turning the key and hearing it start for the first time ranks right up there along with the birth of my two kids. I was so relieved, to know the bike still worked perfectly after 12 long years of sitting idle in somebody's shed.
I bought the bike three weeks ago and have been working away on it every weekend to get it recommissioned. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am new to motorcycling and this is the first bike I have ever owned let alone worked on. For me, it has meant doing a lot of research, reading, and being patient to work through each problem (I've learnt that patience is an art in the motorcycle world).
And as far as problems go, my 1985 Honda 250F has a few of those. The bike sat around collecting dust for 12 years. That's a lot of time for parts to begin deteriorating. The bike wouldn't start (suspected fuel issue). The mufflers were eaten through with rust. The clutch master cyclinder had dried out of fluid, and the slave cylinder had leaked. All the fluids needed replacing. The bike needs new tyres,brakes and I'll replace the chain for peace of mind. Still, it presented really well, and I knew if I could just get it started...all my hard work would be worth it.
This is the story of how I got my first bike it started today. If you want to skip the details, just go to the photo down below to see how happy I was this afternoon
Two weekends ago
This was the first time I tried to start the bike and it ended in failure. I had cleaned out the fuel tank (three times) which was full of stale fuel. I watched many, very many videos on how to do this (thanks YouTube). I changed the oil -the old oil had been sitting in the sump for so long the minerals had separated. I replaced the coolant too - the old coolant was surprisingly clean and green - a good sign. I tried to start the bike but unfortunately fuel just poured out the bottom of my carburettors. I had a feeling my carbs would be clogged up so wasn't too surprised. I spent the rest of that weekend reconditioning the hydraulic clutch - which now works perfectly.
I was very nervous about trying to clean the carburettor. I have done many hard hard mechanical jobs on my car, but never on a motorcycle carburettor. I barely knew how they work. Lots of little bits and pieces made me nervous for some reason. A lot of the advice on the internet warns people not to play with things like carburettors. So I spent the whole week after work learning as much as I could about carburettors. How they work, how to diagnose problems, how to clean and fix them to run like knew.
I pulled the bike apart again to remove the carburettor - I was getting much quicker at it now. Petrol pouring out of the carburettors means problem with the floats. I removed the bowl cover and yep, both fuel chambers were pretty clogged up inside. I took care removing the float pin, and floats. I gave them a good clean: (WD40) on metal surfaces, soapy water on the flats and silicone lube on the float hinge. They worked like knew. I put everything back together, reassembled the bike and tried to fire the engine - fail #2. This time there was no fuel pouring out of my carburettors, but the bike wouldn't start. I flattened the battery trying. I was really upset about it actually. All that work and nothing to show for it. I would have to wait for another weekend to try again.
In the beginning I had hoped the carburetters wouldn't need a full cleaning. Some of the jets inside are set at factory settings and I was nervous to remove them in case I made a mistake putting them back together correctly. On Saturday I opened the carbs up again. All the holes in the starter jets were clogged. I used one of my wife's sewing needles to clear the holes. I also scrubbed them with a toothbrush and degreaser. I reassembled the bike, and tried to crank the engine again - fail #3. The bike just refused to start.
I went to bed last night feeling very down. I was beginning to regret buying a 30 year old bike. Obviously, The carburettor needed a full clean - not just a clean of the obvious things. I pulled the bike apart yet again and pulled open the carburettors. I sat down for 3 hours cleaning them. I removed all the jets I cleaned yesterday and soaked them in boiling water - so much gunk blew out of them. Never skip this step - ever. I also cleaned very crevice inside my carbureter - at least 5 times. I disassembled everythin and cleaned it spotless. I reassembled and put my bike back together.
The moment of truth
I turned the bike over about 7 or 8 times and it still refused to fire. Just starter noise. I pulled out the spark plugs, and it was like no petrol was down there. Lots of compression though. Plenty of spark. I tried to start the bike another 5-6 times. Nothing. The next time, a glimmer of home - a few crackles. Then a few more crackles but still not quite there yet. My battery was amost flat. A few more cranks and then it happened....BOOM! The engine roared into life! It was a fantastic feeling, and one that only a person who has revived an older bike can understand. All that work finally paid off. I let the bike idle for 20 minutes before stopping. Afterwards, it started first go. It was like a dream come true.
There is still a lot to do to get my bike ready for rego, but all the hard work is done. The smile on my face should keep me going a few more weeks.