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Cleaning Carbs

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Benjamin, Aug 31, 2009.

  1. Benjamin

    Benjamin XS650 New Member

    How do you clean the carbs without taking them off the bike?
  2. Benjamin, Welcome to the forum! I love all of the first name only usernames. Another benefit to joining a forum near its inception, most usernames are still available.

    Anyway, about your carbs. There is no real good way to clean them with them still mounted on the bike. The only time I would even attempt it is if the bike is running just a little off. I'd change the plugs, adjust the cam chain, and if it still runs pretty good but just not quite right, then you might be able to use a fuel additive to help clean them out but I haven’t had much success with those nor am I patient enough. I would just clean them right. You might be able to take the air filters off, lift the slides by hand and stick the little red tube from a can of carb cleaner into the hole the needle goes into and clean out the jets a little bit. But more than likely you’ll have to do more than that. Especially if the bike isn’t running or runs real rough, you're going to have to take the carbs off and give them a thorough cleaning. Do you have a Haynes or Clymer manual? They will walk you through the steps one by one. Once you do it a few times, removing the carbs shouldn’t take more than ten minutes and putting them back in will be about the same. The first time will take much longer though as you try to figure out everything you need to remove and in what order.

    Here’s an extreme crash course on removing the carbs and giving them a once over. The general order you’ll need to remove things is as follows:

    Remove the seat then remove the gas tank. You’ll have to remove the vacuum line and fuel line from the tank. Then remove the air filter boxes if you still have them. Remove the throttle and choke cables and loosen the carb holder clamps. You should be able to pull the carbs straight back and finagle them out the left side. The clutch cable, carb holders, frame, and cam chain adjuster cover will all seem to be in the way but you should be able to get them out. If you can’t find a way to get them out, remove the left carb holder and that should give you enough clearance.

    Once you have them out, you can either crack the bowl drain screws to remove the fuel that is sitting in the bowls, or tilt them every which way and most of the gas will drain out. Flip them over and remove the 4 screws holding the bowls on. They can be on there pretty tight so use a good screwdriver with a tip that isn’t all beat up. Set them on a bench and push down real hard as you turn so you don’t mess up the heads. If you have an impact screwdriver that can help get them out without damaging the heads. You might also have to remove the bottom brace that holds the carbs together.

    Now this is where you should give them a good cleaning, but since you didn’t even want to remove them from the bike, here’s a way to give them a quick cleaning if they aren’t too dirty and you’re feeling lucky.

    Once you get the bowls off, you should get a good idea of how dirty your carbs are by how much crap is in the bottom the bowls. If they look pretty clean, you might be able to get by with just pulling the pilot jet and spraying some carb cleaner through them. The pilot jet is the small brass jet recessed into a hole that is next to the bigger main brass jet. Be careful removing it. Use a screwdriver that fits the slot in the head of the pilot jet well. I have a couple of screwdrivers that I’ve ground the tip to perfectly match these slots. Hold the pilot jet up to a light and you should be able see a perfect circle of light coming though. If not, then it’s still dirty. Once it’s clean, put the pilot jet back in, spray some carb cleaner into the main jet and clean out the bowl. Throw it all back together and back into the bike and see if it was enough.

    Some people will say that if you are going to bother removing the carbs at all, you might as well give them a good cleaning. I agree with that for the most part. If you pull the bowls and there is a noticeable amount of junk in them, you’ll probably need to give them thoroughly cleaning and inspection which is a lot more involved than what I went over here. Sometimes you get lucky and the bike is running just a little off and a quick cleaning of the pilot is enough. Most of the time though, you need to remove all the jets, fuel screw, needle, needle and seat, and slide and give it a good cleaning.

    Once you know what you’re doing, a quick cleaning will only take about 30 or 40 minutes from start to finish. A full cleaning will usually take a couple of hours even when you’ve done it several times. 95% percent of the time, a full cleaning is what is needed so it’s a waste of time to half-ass it the first time, just to get it all back together and then have to pull them out again to do the full cleaning. Sometimes you get lucky though.

    So how bad is the bike running? If you’ve got it narrowed down to a fuel problem, you might as well pull the carbs and pull the bowls and let us know what you find. That will determine where to go from there.
    old boy likes this.
  3. A couple more things I forgot to mention. If you already checked the charging system, valve clearances, and other things I mentioned in the post above, you might just need to sync the carbs. It all kind of depends on how bad it's running and what it’s doing. I thought I would mention it because if it's not running too bad, synchronizing the carbs might help and is a lot quicker than cleaning them. On the other hand, if the carbs are dirty at all, synchronizing them isn't going to help.
  4. Benjamin

    Benjamin XS650 New Member

    Thanks for the quick a helpful post. I think this forum is going to kick ass
  5. Yeah no problem. I hope it helps. Let us know how it goes if you decide to pull them.
  6. Benjamin

    Benjamin XS650 New Member

    Well I figured it out. The cam chain was way loose and one of the boots that goes from the air box to the carb wasn't fully on. I don't know how much that matters though. I also changed the spark plugs and put some sea foam in the gas. But it runs a hell of a lot smoother now than it did and it's a lot more quiet. So I guess my carbs are ok. Thanks for the help!:D
  7. Hey! I'm glad you got it all figured out. A very loose cam chain can cause your valve timing to jump around and make the bike to run rough. That air box boot probably made a difference also because one carb had a less restrictive air supply than the other. That would make them act as though they aren't synchronized so it's a good thing you caught that.
  8. crash

    crash XS650 Junkie

    dumb question but what is sea foam in the gas .
  9. Sea Foam is a brand of engine treatment/cleaner. You can add it to gas to help clean out the carburetors and help keep the gas fresh. You can also add it to the oil. In cars, some people unhook the PCV valve and dump it right into the intake.


    Click 'Motor Treatment' http://www.seafoamsales.com/
  10. crash

    crash XS650 Junkie

    never hurd of it ,is it something new or is it something out west have not seen it on the east coast
  11. crash

    crash XS650 Junkie

    maybe i should have opened the attc. before posting dumb me sorry
  12. That's crazy that you've never heard of it. It's been around here forever. Every person I've ever mentioned it to knew what it was. It's even a verb around here "My old car was running like shit so I seafoamed it and now it runs a lot better".

    Maybe they don't have it out east. Next time you stop into an auto parts store, ask if they carry it and see if they know what it is.
  13. crash

    crash XS650 Junkie

    will stop on the way home from work and let you know tomorrow what they said
  14. crash

    crash XS650 Junkie

    stopped at one of the so called big auto parts stores yesterday and asked for sea foam and all i got was the deer in the headlight stare.noone know anything about it .owe well
  15. haha.. That's crazy considering how long it's been around here and how popular it is.
  16. Yamanut

    Yamanut XS650 New Member

    I live in Nashville Tn area and have found it at about any good auto parts store.
  17. shreveport1

    shreveport1 XS650 Addict

  18. Never used it for cleaning old gas varnish.. But I know bug and tar remover works great for its intended purpose on the front of bikes! I'll never use just soap and water again.
  19. crash

    crash XS650 Junkie

    i:ll second that about never using just soap and water:banghead:
  20. xstom

    xstom XS650 Member

    Don't know if this is too late for this post but in in CT we can get Sea Foam in stores like AutoZone and the like or Walmart. It works wonders

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