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Old 07-10-2008, 02:47 PM
Espiritus Espiritus is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Southern Indiana
Posts: 45
S. Indiana 78 XS11 new member

Hi, all. I saw a 1978 XS11 and brought it home much to the consternation of my children. The last time I rode was when I was 6-months pregnant with my eldest child, who is now a lovely 26 years old. But, the last bike I owned was a 78 XS, so when I saw this one for sale, I went and got it. PO said the carbs had been cleaned and synced and when he started it, it sounded fine. He did mention that it would "only run" in the prime mode, dying out if petcock was put "on." I brought it home, put on my courage (as well as my boots, gloves and brain bucket), told my kids to shut up, and took it down the drive out onto the road, and off I went for 52 miles, round trip.

Yeh, I know, this was stupid and I have to admit to more than a modicum of anxiety when I first put it into gear and slipped the clutch, especially since my center of gravity has lowered significantly since I last rode. I am signed up for a MSF refresher course starting tomorrow. The guy was nice enough to put me at the top of the "wait" list when he discovered that I was stupid enough to be riding. But, back in the day, when I rode, I REALLY rode and was one of the first women certified to teach motorcycle safety by MSF and Honda.

But, being a female and, in those days, not too hard to look at, there were always GUYS who would wrench my bike for me. Now that I am old, I have to do my own or pay some tattooed guy to do it. Sigh.

So, here is the problem and yes I think I had searched and read just about everything on this forum: the number 2 exhaust is cold. I did the "spit" thing and it just sat there while the other three sizzled away. The gas milage was about what I get in my cocoon, so it is clearly not running right. There is no gas in the oil, and no odor of gas. There is a small pin-hole in this same exhaust leaking what appears to be an oily residue, slight, but there. The PO did modify the pipes into a 4-to-1 (ugly and needs replaced). I have not pulled the spark plugs, although I do know what a spark plug is. I have no fear of getting out my wrenches, just not enough certainty about what to do first. I did buy the manual, and have read it through.

If there is someone out there that lives reasonably close to me that would be willing to "talk" me through this, and who has the patience to try to figure out what I mean when I say the "thingy," kinda like "that big shiny aluminum thingy on the side," please PM me! I spoke with several "yamaha repair" guys who had no idea what the oil gauge tool that checks the shaft drives oil was (I was trying to order one), so I have little confidence in them.

I do appreciate any help, suggestions and idea's and look forward to hearing from anyone!

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Old 07-10-2008, 03:50 PM
olebiker's Avatar
olebiker olebiker is offline
XSive Maximus
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Kingston ON
Posts: 692
Cam welcome. I am impressed that you just went and did it. Also glad that you are taking a refresher course. I was one of the early teachers here as well although not female. We did have one gal that taught back then. My wife rides but I do get the fun of working on them. She is more than willing to but has very little time. I hope that your search here pays off if not the gang here can talk you through most anything.

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Old 07-10-2008, 04:08 PM
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trbig trbig is offline
Simply used to just post A LOT!
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Ada, Oklahoma
Posts: 7,838
Welcome to the forum!

First, take the #2 and #3 plug wires and switch them. If the problem moves, then it's simply a plug wire. If that doesn't fix it, it's either compression or fuel related. (Or a bad/fouled spark plug??) The next test I would do is a compression test.

One other thing you can test with the bike still intact, is to rev the motor a bit and get it over 4k rpm. If the @2 pipe starts to get hot, then you probably just have a clogged pilot jet. This jet lets it run on low rpm, but after @ 3500 rpm or so the mains are starting to take over. Mains are much larger orifices and aren't as prone to getting clogged.

Let us know what you find....

Try your hardest to be the kind of person your dog thinks you are.

You can live to be 100, as long as you give up everything that would make you want to live to be 100!

Current bikes:
'06 Suzuki DR650
*'82 XJ1100 with the 1179 kit. "Mad Maxim"
'82 XJ1100 Completely stock fixer-upper
'82 XJ1100 Bagger fixer-upper
'82 XJ1100 Motor/frame and lots of boxes of parts
'82 XJ1100 Parts bike
'81 XS1100 Special
'81 YZ250
'80 XS850 Special
'80 XR100
*Crashed/Totalled, still own
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:09 PM
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BrianB BrianB is offline
XStremely XSive
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Idaho
Posts: 362
Welcome to the site.

The first thing I would do is drain the float bowl on number 2 carb and see if you have gas in there. Also check the plumbing of the fuel lines. Could be done incorrectly.

Also pull the plugs and see how they look. I am sure by the time you do that, others will be along to give you more help.
1980 XS Eleven Special
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:17 PM
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TopCatGr58 TopCatGr58 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Portsmouth, Va.
Posts: 12,621
Hey Cam,

Yes, congrats on your accomplishments so far!!

Take a look at THIS THREAD IN THE MEMBER'S LOUNGE , you may find someone close by, drop them a PM, or they may see this post and reply as well.

Good advice from Tod. But I would suggest pulling the spark plug from the offending cylinder FIRST, because IF it's been ridden 50+ miles, then it may be fouled, and you might not get a realistic diagnostic affect from the wire swap IF the plug won't fire anyways.

The electrical connections are the 2nd most common problem with these machines after the CARBS!! Pulling them apart, cleaning, applying dielectric grease will go a long way in eliminating many gremlins!

Even though the carbs may have been cleaned, IF it doesn't have inline filters, it's very common for 25+y/o crud from the tank getting thru the petcock filters and down into the carbs causing hate and discontent!

The petcocks are vacuum controlled, but with worn vacuum lines, they can sometimes NOT flow when the engine is running due to vacuum leaks. The PRIME function will flow without any need for vacuum. SO...checking the vacuum hoses to the petcocks may reveal the problem??
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Old 07-10-2008, 05:07 PM
Paintman Paintman is offline
XStremely XSive
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: rapid City SD
Posts: 311
WElcome to XS land

Hi Cam welcome great idea with the refresher course i use to teach for yrs when i got sick i had to stop riding for 9 yrs. I took a refresher and remember all thebad things i use to do LOL. im sure if anyone is close t you they will send you a message and be glad to help ya out that is what makes this Site great. oh the otehrs forget we need bike pics. good luck and again welcome.

79 XS1100SF 750 FD,Galfer Brake lines,ebc brake pads,Cross Drilled Rotors,TKat fork brace,bead blasted wheels repainted and polished
80 XS1100 S Project gonna be a hot rod
06 CBR1000RR sold!!!!!
2000 Concours
84 Kawi KLR600
79 Yam XT500 Ouch it kicks back
79 XR250
Why is it that the smallest part can fly to the farthest part of the shop?
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Old 07-10-2008, 09:37 PM
Bigleo Bigleo is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Surrey BC Canada
Posts: 93
Hi Cam,
the fact that the petcocks don't work on the "on" position has me thinking. The "on" position requires a vacuum source. This vacuum source is on the #2 cylinder intake rubber manifold. A hose should be attached to the brass nipple on the rubber manifold. If there is no hose, you would have a vacuum leak on the number two intake, which could cause the number 2 cylinder to be too lean to run at idle. It would also cause the petcocks to not work. You can PM me if you have any other questions. Once you get the bike running, and get all fluids changed, you can look foreward to many years of pretty much just putting gas in it. Best of luck with it,
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Old 07-11-2008, 09:27 AM
DenyP's Avatar
DenyP DenyP is offline
XSive Maximus
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Staples, Minnesota 56479
Posts: 599
Hi Cam, and Welcome!

There are a great bunch of folks here, you've come to the right place.
I'm not a Gal, but still got simular looks from my family. I had not been on a bike in over 30 years.

1978 XS1100E - The TimeMachine
1980 XS850 Special - Little Mo
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Old 07-17-2008, 06:21 PM
Jinxie's Avatar
Jinxie Jinxie is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Indiana
Posts: 29
Welcome Cam

I'm sure you know by now.. there are some great folks here.

Thanks for the msg ... looking forward to many more!

Have a fantastic day!

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