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Leaks and stuck RPM (high) even with clutch in. 83' xs650 Heritage Special

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by MarieKaramazov, Sep 17, 2020.

  1. MarieKaramazov

    MarieKaramazov XS650 Enthusiast

    I'm new to this forum and I'm new to XS bikes. This is my second bike, and my first carbureted one as my last one (15' sr400) had EFI. Heads up I'm in the early process of learning as much as I can about bike mechanics and modifications (as I have modification plans for this bike); so please bear with me if things seem obvious or rudimentary to you. So I just bought a 1983 xs650 Heritage Special. I rode it the second time today and the following happened:
    --started out fine then RPM stayed at 3 regardless of downshifting or pulling in clutch or blipping throttle
    --after parking, leaks from underneath bike (I can attach pics tomorrow; it's enough to run down kick stand and create a very tiny pool but then stops pretty quickly). These leaks were there at test ride earlier but I was hoping it was just gaskets needing replacement. When I came back tonight though, there was also a bit of leak residue coming from the bottom seam of one of the cylinders.
    --backfire sound and possibly smoke when turning bike off

    relevant notes:
    --bike was sitting for a year until this week--checked it out, idled well, inspected the rest and all seemed good but carbs needed to be cleaned, which owner did and then took it out for a test ride the day before I came. PO claims his ride was good. I rode--small leaks from underneath appeared (enough to run down kick stand and create a very tiny pool but then stops). Foot shifter was very stiff but was able to loosen that and clutch a bit.
    --clutch is extremely stiff (as was foot shifter until loosening both, but clutches still serious output to pull in.)

    Possible causes?
    --From what I know and just looked at again, I would have thought some of this was due to it possibly running rich, but tonight's research makes it seem like it could also be lean as there's overlap in the symptomology... Perhaps the owner didn't tune right? But that wouldn't explain it still happening when I pull in the clutch, right? Throttle cable issue(s)?
    --Leak at bottom of cylinder steam? Am I in for a total rebuild here? :(

    I really want to be doing things myself and learning, but I wonder if with all this I should bring it to someone as I need to get things at least at a maintainable level to where I have some transportaiontin then I can start thinking with mods and learning more etc

    ...Fallng asleep more info tomorrow
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  2. gggGary

    gggGary I'm listening, change my mind XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Good morning Marie and welcome in.
    Sounds like you have jumped in with both feet!
    That leak running down the kickstand oil or gas?
    To me it sounds like this bike has been sitting unused for a long time then the PO (previous owner) did the minimum needed to get it running to sell.
    It's going to need a full round of overdue maintenance to make it into a bike you can trust to take you where you want to go and home again.
    We have some "wake up threads" Assuming you have a normal life with job, friends and such the wake up maintenance will be at least a month long process (that's an insider joke expect several months to a year of working on it, with brief periods of being able to ride it locally) and about 100-150 hours of fairly intense wrenching and about $500 to 1,000 in parts. This is to make a it a reliable STOCK runner, THEN you can consider modifying. Try to fix AND modify at the same time with limited motorcycle mechanical experience would be a very frustrating ordeal with an uncompleted bike being dumped at a giveaway price in a couple years.
    MANY have gotten through this and learned how to wrench on an XS650 they are fairly simple, parts are very available at quite reasonable prices. and this forum can be an amazing resource. There are many threads here detailing the process, take some time and wade though a few to help you understand what you are getting into. They run the gamut from meticulous restorers like the mailman and his 72, to bodgers like me that just hack on one thing and then another til through sheer persistence and willingness to redo my mistakes wade my way to a running bike.
    For your first questions
    You need a new clutch cable, there's more but a rusted cable making for hard pull sounds very likely.
    You loosened shifter? Please explain. Do not ride this bike with the shift lever bolt loose on the shift shaft, that bolt needs to be kept quite tight.
    Cylinder stud retorque. this may save you from having to remove the motor and do a top end rebuild.
    Then a complete carb overhaul. Odds of a simple adjustment or two and "banging on the carbs with a wrench to free them up" working are very poor.
    With those out of the way, you need to go through the charging, wiring to make certain it is reliably doing it's job. 101 is pulling and checking the alternator brushes. They are a wear item but PO's seldom do this basic maintenance. Hint many old motorcycle riders add a voltmeter they can see while riding.
    Do start your own build, rebuild thread! WE LOVE PICS!!! and they really help with problem solving.
    Don't worry, there are no dumb questions and we in general aren't too bad about being smart asses. ;)
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  3. Raymond

    Raymond XS650 rider, fettler, setting out on a journey XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Hi Marie, I'd endorse everything Gary has said. He has far more experience of XS650 life than I do.

    I'd just want to add, do not get disheartened. Taking on a 37-year old bike is always going to require some commitment to maintaining, replacing and fixing things but with that said, it may not be quite as bleak as Gary suggests.

    I'm guessing that when you said you were able to loosen the gear shift, you were referring to adjusting the clutch so that shifting was easier?

    When I bought my XS I was unsure about the choke lever on the l/h carburettor - whether it was up or down for choke on. It's down for choke on and up for off - check the bike isn't running at 3000 rpm because the choke is on.

    If you're unsure whether the bike is running rich or weak, take out a spark plug and check the colour. Rich mixture gives a black, sooty plug. In fact, check both plugs - they should be the same colour.

    Oil running down the kick stand might be coming from the sump? Not an immediate problem but removing the sump to check and clean the oil filter is a routine maintenance task and as Gary says, you should be thinking about carrying out full routine maintenance as soon as you are able to. If the sump is the source of the leak, replacing the gasket should be enough to stop it.

    Speaking of which, do you have a manual? There are free manuals available on-line but IMHO buying a paper one is a worthwhile investment.

    Good luck, Raymond
    GLJ, MarieKaramazov, Mailman and 2 others like this.
  4. bikefreakjon

    bikefreakjon XS650 Addict

    High rpm/inconsistent idle: throttle cable corrosion or incorrect routing, choke on, or idle screw turned in too much to compensate for a dirty idle circuit in the carbs.
    It's common for people to turn up the idle screw as their carb gets clogged, if you turn it up enough it will always get fuel from the main jet...but then it becomes hard to start, and can have a very inconsistent idle.

    Oil leak: wash the dirt off the affected area then run it till you can locate the source.

    Obviously it needs to run to find the leak!
  5. gggGary

    gggGary I'm listening, change my mind XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Common for a woke up bike to run "fine" 'til rust from the gas tank gets into the jets........
    Ethanol gas is a very good solvent will release old varnish and all the crud cemented into it from all fuel surfaces.
    BS34 handlebar choke, make sure cable is allowing choke plungers to go back to seated.
    BS34 float needle valve o-rings get hard, allow gas to bypass needle.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  6. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Welcome Marie!
    Congratulations on your purchase , I applaud you for wanting to learn how to work on your own bike, it’s a journey and you will have great satisfaction at having sorted out issues yourself as you go along. Make no mistake, it will be frustrating at times, but hang in there, these are tough old bikes that can usually be brought back to being very reliable.

    Don’t you believe him Marie, he’s just being humble. Dead motorcycles seek him out because he makes them live again.
    I see dead motorcycles! “
    7457568A-6668-4D3E-9C23-3C2F0131C552.gif :D
    Greyandridin, GLJ, Raymond and 6 others like this.
  7. DaveO

    DaveO XS650 Addict

    Hi Marie

    I saw your post this morning and saw Gary's response. @Raymondo has beat me to it. I came back to say exactly that. In total it sounds daunting. But some of the things you mention may well be a simple fix. Even the weep from the base gasket might just need a head torque. Mine did. An hour or so to remove the tank and check and tighten the head bolts is nothing compared to a full engine rebuild.

    Similarly, the leak. You should change the oil and drop and check the sump oil strainer in any case.

    Everything you fix yourself will save you money and you'll walk an inch taller for each one.

    So send us some photos. Did we say we like photos? You'll be then reassured by people here saying: "Aw, that's nothing. Mine was at the bottom of a lake; in a skip; siezed solid." Stick around. Everyone will root for you.


    (Did I mention the photos?)
    GLJ, Raymond, MarieKaramazov and 2 others like this.
  8. MarieKaramazov

    MarieKaramazov XS650 Enthusiast

    First off, all of you are awesome.
    I was feeling pretty overwhelmed when this happened last night and reading your posts this morning really helped, so thank you! And yes, I certainly jumped in with both feet, and I bit of more than I can chew at present but there's only one way to change that--learn more and do more--and I like to figure things out so here we go. I've been dying to get my next bike (lost last to an accident 5 months ago so haven't been able to ride) and really move my mechanical skills forward and I figure the only way to do something and start really learning is to do it, and I was thinking this bike wasn't too far downstream in terms of problems, but now we'll see. And then there will be the aesthetic mods down the line or as I can do them as I'm taking off other things. I have a car about 30% of the week for a few more months till the car goes bye-bye so it should buy me some time to get this bike to a good place where it's mostly basic maintenance and small problem solving, fingers crossed.

    Sorry I wasn't clear, I mean I just loosened the screw by the clutch lever in an attempt to get more freeplay, and after that the foot shifter moved smoothly as well.
    @Raymondo Yes ^ thanks. Quite sure choke was off, put in the position PO advised (it's a left handlebar choke; pull the lever towards me choke is off, and when it's pushed away or down then choke is on)

    I like having the hardcopy too so I can take it outside with me. I don't have one yet, I was going to buy a hard copy Clymer one, but when I looked for one online the other day, they all stopped at year 82, unless I'm missing something? Or perhaps they're similar enough? I can look into whether I can get one from Yamaha too.

    Thank you for this, great resource!
    Thank you, I will delve into this later as I also delve back into my basics techbook manual so I don't drive people insane with silly questions I can figure out with some reading and doing

    Okay all, thanks again for all the info, lots to digest and read and do. First things first, I'm going to check the spark plugs, adjust carbs accordingly, change the oil, check on choke cable/plunger relationship, look at/tighten head bolts and see what's up with the bolts underneath, try to clean underneath where the oil was coming from--okay, this feels really idiotic, but for underneath or generally when trying to clean something to see where issues are coming from do I rinse/wipe with just water (not making a rust issue?) or use degreaser, or something else magical? And then I'll run it, see if I can spot the leak source, assess, and i'll get everyone some pics of issue areas etc! And I'll start a build/rebuild thread.

    [Side note, as for bike condition, there's always unknowns and while I know my understanding is rudimentary at best right now, from what I saw, inspected, and heard from the previous owner, it seemed like he did take good care of the bike even though it wasn't being ridden--not to say things wouldn't pop up still because of that, but I don't think we're dealing with a neglected bike per se or someone who was trying to pull one over on me as he was straight about what was there when I got it and talked to me this morning. It was plugged and covered and stored with fancy cover and he did maintenance here and there; new battery as well. When I spoke to him this morning, he offered to help next weekend if he can as he was surprised to hear these issues, and he also sent me links from this forum haha. He'd mentioned maybe lubing the piston in carb, taking off left side cover to see if leak is maybe coming from sprocket or clutch and some other things I may not have understood yet, which hopefully will only be a temporary thing.]
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  9. MarieKaramazov

    MarieKaramazov XS650 Enthusiast

    Greyandridin and Raymond like this.
  10. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    For basic cleaning of oil and grease, I use kerosene. There are a couple gas stations in my area that have pumps for it, selling it by the gallon just like gas. I buy a few gallons every couple of years then transfer it to small containers like small coffee cans or old coffee cups for use in cleaning the bike or parts.
  11. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Yes, the '82 SJ is the same as yours except for cosmetics (the '82 has more blacked out parts).
  12. gggGary

    gggGary I'm listening, change my mind XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Yes for "underneath leaks" the clutch push rod seal is VERY popular for big leaks. One thread on replacing it.
    A loose sprocket nut can also cause a "gusher"
    My favorite cleaner is mineral spirits in a windex type bottle, dissolves grease, crud, but is not harsh on parts or body and not too flammable.
    82 and 83 are the same bike (83 has fewer parts painted black), not much changed after 1980.
    Greyandridin, GLJ, Mailman and 2 others like this.
  13. MarieKaramazov

    MarieKaramazov XS650 Enthusiast

    Okay! Sorry for the delay on pics. I've been running around just trying to figure out what I need (tools, info, manuals etc) to even start addressing things. Just officially got the bike on Wednesday night.

    A few notes as far as idle: I turned the idle down a touch using the idle screw. It seems like it starts out idling fine, doesn't even need choke that long (it's very warm out here), and it'll idle at 1. That said, it seems like the longer it idles, and particularly once I add throttle, the RPMs get increasingly erratic--either the RPM hangs a little after I release the throttle before going back to idle RPM, or the RPM stays high (3k). Often when I cut the engine and then restart, the idle will then be at 1.5k. (I've been doing this with the bike stationary since I assume riding it and keeping the RPMs that high for an extended period isn't good for it.) From what I can see externally so far, it looks like the handlebar choke lever is moving the cable across the carbs as it should, but I haven't delved into looking into carbs etc. (I'm waiting for Yamaha manuals to arrive till I really take things apart so I don't mess things up and find out I don't have half the things I need to put it back or what goes where, especially since I'm often working in the street; printed out what I found online but it's hard to see pics.) I still sometimes get small backfires when I cut the engine. I don't see any smoke but it doesn't quite smell like what I'm used to either...not quite burnt rubber but something, but maybe older bikes or this bike just smells different from my last? (I'm waiting on a friend to bring a socket extender today so I can pull the spark plugs--I'll report back on that) I tried to upload videos of the RPM lagging going down and of being high but forum doesn't accept .mov files. Maybe there's a way to convert them.
    For this issue, after the spark plug check, I'm thinking the move is to read up on carbs and how to remove/assess that and air filter (PO said something about spraying WD40 on carb pistons), and get a new throttle cable?
    Empty and remove gas tank to look for rust? (I poked in there with a light, and didn't see anything but clearly I can only see so much) Work through relevant things mentioned here and here as I can

    Leak(s): Definitely primarily coming from the left side (clutch/kickstand side) and behind the kickstand.
    Here's leaks as they hit the ground. This was before I'd wiped underneath so spots are spread a bit, sorry--more detail in next. Definitely slides down the kickstand consistently though.
    Primary general area in question
    (Orientation for above: to right is kickstand)
    Most seems to be pooling in spot in last two photos ^.

    These guys ^ also had some oil hanging but little and doesn't seem to be main drip source.

    A bit of residue at base of left cylinder. I haven't been able to spot it "leaking" actively.

    (Haven't changed the oil yet unfortunately--haven't been able to get to store without transport so ordering supplies and tools online for now; may be able to do today at just change oil and go back and do filter later. I'm looking up which oil filter I need as I figure I should change that as well--This one says it fits in main description but then doesn't include the bike in the "motorcycle fitment" description section...OEM part # is missing last two 00 listed in online manual (256-13441-00-00) but maybe those just aren't normally included?
    I was also going to take off left side cover by foot peg to look in there for leak after running it for a bit, but wasn't sure if it has to be screwed back on with a certain torque as I know some things require a certain torque--but that said it looks like that panel just comes off with a tool I have. So I guess what I'm asking is if there's a general rule about what does/doesn't require a certain torque setting? Or it's just particular items and I'll have to learn as I go through them all

    Overall, doing my best with the very little I have without just running in blind and making things worse or unsafe. While changing the oil and addressing the idle issue seem like the priority so I can at least do short rides to store, aside from that I'm going to work through this list you referred me to; some I did already when assessing the bike before buying--but clearly more came up. I'm going to try to find some in person help as well since my learning curve is extreme enough that basic things require me to research and get tools and figure out which etc. I'll start a main build/rebuild thread once I have things more settled so I'm not wasting everyone's time on here while I'm getting tools and reading etc. (side note: Found a fair amount of rust on swingarm and rear brake rod (I'm sorry if that's not a clear term/the right term, as I've learned I just see how the pieces work and connect and haven't necessarily learned all the proper terms yet excepting some.) Hopefully it hasn't gone too deep and can be sanded (?) off. I'll look into how to deal with that.
  14. Greyandridin

    Greyandridin Got nothing to do and all day to do it XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Welcome to the site
    These guys will always point you in the right direction if you get stumped :hump:
    MarieKaramazov and Jim like this.
  15. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge is the unknown. Here be Dragons XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    First off, welcome to the madhouse!!
    Here's my suggestion: go get a few cans of your favorite solvent (I like Gunk) and thoroughly clean that motor. Trying to find oil leaks on the mess you have is just chasing your tail. A leak from the top end will eventually work it's way down to the bottom. No way you'll chase it down when it's all a mess. Besides, it'll make you feel better once you have a clean motor to look at. ;)
    After it's nice and clean, run it and look for the leaks. Trust me, you'll save a lot of time when you can actually see the seam or seal the oil is weeping out of. Others may disagree, but dirty oil is easier to see leaking than clean. Run it with the oil you have in it just long enough to find your leaks before you change it. Document (pics) the leaks, then you can change the oil and start addressing 'em. Good luck.
  16. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    On those two long acorn nuts weeping on the front of the motor, those dirty washers you see on them are actually copper sealing washers. You can replace them or in a pinch, sand them smooth and anneal them.

    Some of your other pics show the oil drain plug on the bottom of the little finned oil pan. There's a copper sealing washer on that too and yours looks used up. Best you replace that when you change the oil. Here's a pic of mine with a new seal washer on it. As you can see, it's much thicker. Yours is all used up. You can generally reuse them 3 or 4 times but by then they're all flattened out and in need of replacement .....


    Also, this motor has two oil drain plugs and you'll want to remove them both. The second is a bit farther back and looks just like the one pictured above. Removing only one drain plug won't get all the oil out. I usually remove the front one first and after it's done draining, pull the rear one.

    The oil filter you linked to is the small filter that goes in the right side cover under that little round cover. There is another larger filter mounted on top of the sump plate. That is that finned plate with the oil drain plug in it pictured above. Both of the filters are metal screen types. You just wash them in solvent and reuse them, unless you find one damaged beyond repair.
  17. Jan_P

    Jan_P XS650 Addict

    Some thoughts.
    If the bike has been sitting for some time I would try to get some miles on the clock
    Is the back wheel oily .. ? On the rim at sprocket side .Which would indicate a leak at the outgoing axle.
    A check of the tightening of sprocket is then a first.
    One table there

    One way forward if not experienced and don't want to by the expensive tool is to use a fishing scale like
    Torque is force x length of the tool ( spanner ) You will be close.
    A check with a bucket of water can been seen as a calibration that the scale is showing right.
    A check of cylinder head bolts .There is a pattern to follow please check link above

    The leak in front with copper washers i would expect to stop after a re torque
    check other bolts near leaks ..but don't go over values in the table damaging threadś.
    Oil change and empty the the tank and flush it .. depending on how it looks what comes out
    With some luck it is OK.
    The gentlemen here are Experienced mechanics and not everyone is that ... not the same week the bike is bought. At least
    So as a food for thought is to use some carburetor cleaning chemical after the tank is inspected.

    I don't like them and don't use them myself
    a quick googling

    Some of those are " Snake oil " but some might work
    I suppose the gentlemen here have insight in the pros and cons and what is there on the US market
    Ask around.

    I suppose it is a question of it is to get the bike out and running or having a mechanical project.
    Every human activity can go wrong and fex a Carburetor rebuild might not be something to start with.
    I don't say this to belittle other people or their abilities.
    I am so old that I have seen people taking on difficult projects with few tools and little experience
    Taking things apart and then a few years on sell it off in a box
    Perhaps damaged a part no longer available at the tear down

    So what I am saying ( as one possibility ) is that a slow start ..Riding a bit after the re tightening and perhaps carburetor chemical And the normal service
    cleaning ; You will be riding ..and then after some time see what is needed if anything.
    Some people don't ride so far like to the Cafe hangout or meet with the friends .And home.
    More the social camaraderie aspect ..Here it is top .notch folks that are into vintage bikes.
    Some prefer to be in the garage not really meeting anyone.
    So a little leakage is not a big issue as long as one check oil before one starts.
    Everyone knows that it is so " On a new Project "
    Riding it there gives cred.
    post here and someone knows the solution.
    Not sure if it is mentioned but the clutch cable can be lubricated.
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  18. MarieKaramazov

    MarieKaramazov XS650 Enthusiast

    haven’t had chance to Fully read responses yet, will be back tonight to read, but forgot to post this...
    Seems to me like these two should be connected

    Definitely going to clean motor just waiting for mineral spirits to arrive. That work as a general solvent for clean parts like oil filter etc too?
    Thanks again everyone
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  19. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge is the unknown. Here be Dragons XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Yes, mineral spirits is also one of my go to's. Great for soaking filters in.
    Yes. Looks like that's your crankcase vent.
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