'83 XS650 Bobber: Rat's nest

retroLS1

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Hi all,

Newbie here to the forum and in regards to XS650's. Been doing a lot of reading on them in the past few weeks and picked up a project bike this morning. It's an '83 XS650 Heritage that has already most of the "main" stuff done to it - hard tail, Sportser tank, etc. Pretty typical XS bobber but I will change it up to give it my own flavor.

I bought it knowing it wasn't running. Guy said it has a starter on it but isn't working so it's kick only. He said if he could get it to start at all it would run for a few seconds and then sputter out. It needed a new battery so I bought one along with some new plugs.

Got it home and gave it a good looking over to check for anything obvious. Got some gas in the tank and gave it some kicks. Never got it to start, seemed to just sputter. Was not getting any spark I am pretty sure. The PO installed an ignition switch under the seat similar to a car where it could be clicked backwards into an "accessory" mode, or forward to "ON" and then crank forward to start the bike. Since the starter isn't working, I couldn't really try it out. I had it in "on" (at least I believe, no labeling on it) the whole time and wasn't getting anything. Tried in all the positions and same thing. It does have the off/run/off main control switches with the throttle on the handlebars, but they are not connected to anything (plug was just down and hanging).


The PO put some generic XS pod filters on it that I took off (they were the pleated type, I will get Uni pods). Had a custom exhaust that kicked up by the rear wheel. He said it was never jetted but did have new jets for it that I can put in. The carbs are clean internally, but are pretty rough on the outside.

Pic of the bike after we got it home and popped the filters off:



The carbs (BS34's I believe) are clean on the inside, the PO said he had them out and cleaned (why he didn't have them jetted, I don't know) and it looks like it. The floats are in good shape and move freely. The outside of the carbs looks like they were sort of abused. The "cylinders" that hold the idle screws were actually broken off at the top to expose the screw it looks like, instead of removing the plug. They still look functional, just sloppy. It also looks like the choke rod was fubar'd. There was no knob on the rod and the PO had actually rigged some sort of metal clip to hold and release the choke it looks like (almost like a beefed up paper clip looking thing). Pretty awful - will definitely have to fix that. Here are some pics of the carbs:













So I have read a lot on carbs and feel pretty confident I can get them back in running order pretty well. My main concern is the electrical. This thing is a mess. We ended up untaping a lot of the wiring to see what ran where. I have a Hayne's manual with the wiring diagram for it but unfortunately wiring is probably my least favorite thing in regards to autos/bikes etc. No problem with mechanical stuff but wiring just makes my head spin. Looking at a diagram is like looking at a pile of spaghetti. I'm sure I will dissect this one and end up tracking everything down but I am not looking foward to it. Like I mentioned previously, the main switch control box on the right handlebar was not connected to anything. The headlight was wired in but had a wire not attached to anything. The ignition that was wired in I feel like is the source of the issues, since it was added by the previous owner. Here are some pictures of various parts on the bike with the wiring:









(front control switch plug was zip tied behind headlight)



Right side of bike, coils were pulled off - black wire is coming from headlight (which also had a blue wire not attached to anything), lots of splicing and dicing here.







Found these wires running under the battery box...



And found this little guy. What is this? Looks like a solenoid?



There is one orange wire coming from the black box attached to the battery box (looks like maybe the ignition unit?) that eventually comes up and heads towards the coils but I think ended up not being connected to anything. I didn't see any place for it to connect either. Unfortunately the bike is being stored in a friend's garage so I can't go take a look right at the moment.

It's looking at this point like I am going to end up yanking out all the wiring in this thing and rewiring it. I want to replace the ignition switch with a basic on/off type without the start function. Planning on eventually eliminating the battery and going with a PMA/Pamco setup with capacitor, but I just want to get it running and ride it this year with the battery and over winter do all that stuff. When the ignition switch is turned to any position there are no lights or anything either. The fake oil can on this bike is empty - I would have thought wiring etc. in it but nothing. I will change that up. I plan on going with a set of drag bars, changing the grips and levers, and getting rid of the main control switch setup. I need to add turn signals to be legal in MA so I will do that and change the tail light setup as well.

If anyone has any thoughts they would be appreciated!

Alex
 

retroLS1

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Does anyone have any experience with the TC Bros wiring harnesses? Since I am going to be pulling this all out most likely, I was wondering if that would be a good place to start. I am assuming I would have to add my own wiring for turn signals as well. I need to check and see if I have the 6-pin or 8-pin connector on my TCI as well.
 

retroLS1

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So after some more research last night I just discovered that the 'Special' Heritage models came with the thumb-operated cable choke system, which is what I have (or had, rather). I don't have any left side controls on my bars, so no cable. I have been looking into fixes/ideas and I think I am going to fabricate a custom short cable choke setup, just have to look at the bike and figure out exactly how I want to do it.
 

uebe

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Welcome Retro-

That "little guy" should be your starter solenoid.

When I first got on this site guys encouraged me to wire my '83 from scratch and I'm glad for that. That way you can be confident in the connections and you'll know the wiring inside and out. The prefabbed harnesses seemed like I'd have extra wires and connections to clean up, so I avoided that route.

Check out the wiring info in the tech section. There's some simpified diagrams that help a lot. (odd that the bike "sputters" but the TCI box is not connected).

Once the charging system and ignition system are performing correctly, you can get back to having "mechanical" fun.

Lots of help here - Good Luck !
 

retroLS1

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Thanks uebe. I have been trying to read on here as much as I can without making my eyes bleed too much.

When the bike sputtered, it was pretty much just the engine turning over but without any kind of spark. I think I will go the same route as you and rewire the bike myself. I will find one of those simplified diagrams also and go with that.

Hardest part right now is pretty much just figuring out where to start with it all.
 

5twins

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If you do have a later engine with electronic ignition, which it appears you do, then it looks like you have the wrong coil or coils on there. That looks like an old points type coil. I'm assuming there's 2 on there. You should have a single coil with dual output (2 plug wires). The primary resistance differs between the two coil types. Points coils are rated at 4 or 5 ohms usually, electronic ignition coils at 2 or 3. That may be why you're getting poor spark. Pop the little chrome covers off at the top sides of the motor, the ones that say "650" on them, and see if anything is in there. Who knows, maybe the guy reverted to points.

I don't recommend that chopper wiring harness. It's like $40 for 6 wires, lol, total rip-off. Their $40 engine stand is another loser. I had the distinct displeasure of using one recently and it is a real piece of junk, ill-fitting and hard to mount. I'm glad it was given to me for free but really, the guy should have paid me to take it, lol.
 

retroLS1

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You know, I was wondering that. I was reading last night on the coils and I had read a few times that the newer TCI motors used a single coil setup with two plug wires coming off of it. Mine definitely had two individual coils that we took off. I wanted to double check just to make sure I wasn't making it up but the bike is at a friend's house unfortunately and I can't go out and look at it right now.

I will pop the covers off and see if he put a points ignition back in there. Good info on the engine stand and wiring harness too - I'll avoid them.

I don't know exactly how the TCI works vs. the older points system but would it even be able to fire up at all if it was a TCI ignition but using incorrect coils? The PO said he had gotten it to start a couple times but it would run very shortly and die.
 

5twins

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The wrong coil won't work right, probably overheat and burn out quickly. That may be why it started sporadically but wouldn't run long.
 

retroLS1

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Awesome, thanks for the info. Fingers crossed that that is the primary issue with starting it but I still plan on gutting the wiring and running new stuff anyways. Will probably end up going with a new Pamco once it all goes back in. Would like to run a PMA/capacitor also but might save that project until next winter and just run a battery for this year to enjoy it.
 

retroLS1

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Started working on ideas for the choke last night. I have built a few mountain bikes in the past and luckily had some extra parts laying around including some cable and housing. Had to open up the hole on the carb part a little to fit the end of the cable but works great. Next up is figuring out where I am going to run the cable and how exactly I will terminate it. The choke has around 5/8"~ of movement when you pull it closed. I will need a mechanism of sorts to keep it at that point until I need to release it... time to start drawing up some ideas.

 

retroLS1

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I have some ideas bouncing around. I will be bringing my bike to my place (currently in friend's garage) Sunday afternoon so I won' be able to really start messing with it more until then. If I can't come up with something decent I may get one meant for a lawn tractor as I have seen before and modify to fit. One thing I want to do either way is adapt some sort of nifty knob on the choke instead of the a standard black chunk with "CHOKE" on it.

On another note I ordered a new coil (Mike's #6803) along with new high tension wires and caps. Looking forward to getting my hands dirty this weekend.
 

retroLS1

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My coil (along with some other parts) are due to be delivered on Tuesday. Sucks waiting! I am getting the bike to my house tomorrow and will be able to work on it in my basement. I've been working on the carbs more with a little free time (I stress little - having a 9 month old is time consuming) but I got some miscellaneous brackets cleaned up and painted on them. I also took the float bowls off and cleaned/polished them up with scotchbrite pads and steel wool. One of the previous owners had painted the carbs black at some point and most of the paint is chipped off and junky looking. The main carb bodies still look pretty shoddy but at least I can dress them up a little bit. Going to go with a black/copper/some polished theme on this bike I think.

First one done...



Both done...



 

xjwmx

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You're doing a good job and obviously care about what you're doing so I will mention that people are having trouble with the coil you've ordered. They used to be okay but with the current batch the terminals break off if you look at them wrong. I would trade in the unopened coil for the green upgrade coil. You ordered the coil on the computer but if you look at the item on your phone the text warns you about that problem.
 

retroLS1

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I saw the warning about the terminals but didn't know it was actually that bad. I saw a thread here very recently which talked about that coil and how brittle the terminals were. Mike's has a no-warranty policy on it since it's pretty bad. I wanted to just get an OEM-style replacement to see if I can get this thing running and going. I plan on upgrading to a full Pamco ignition this summer which will have one of their better coils most likely.

I might see if I can pick up a JB Weld made for plastic and see if I can build it up around the terminals to give them a little more meat and keep from snapping off/pulling out. Figure if it does work, people can see it and try it, and if it fails miserably then I will be getting a new coil anyways.
 

retroLS1

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Ok so I finally got the bike over to my place and got it into my basement without smashing it down the bulkhead stairs.

Good got news and a head-scratcher.

Good news is I did a compression test on it and both cylinders came up in the 150-155 mark.

Now for the WTF/head-scratcher. I pulled the advance/points cover off and the stator cover to see what I was working with. I checked the numbers on the motor and they do match the frame so it is indeed the original '83 motor. It looks like the previous owner converted it back to a points ignition from what I can tell. First thing I saw when I pulled the right cover was the auto advance unit. Left side had the typical points setup. I think the setup under the stator/alternator cover is the TCI setup but I have not been able to find any good pictures of a factory TCI setup to be able to identify it. Almost looks like he tried to combine it all? No idea.

He did have the ignition unit box mounted behind the battery. Does this get used even with an older points style ignition? I'm pretty confused here since I am still trying to make heads and tails of these ignition systems, even reading the Tech section. I already have an incorrect coil on the way (ordered a single unit meant for a TCI ignition - took a shot in the dark and assumed it was just the wrong coils, not a complete ignition swap. I didn't have access to check the bike before ordering).

Here are some pics to help clarify. Any thoughts or input is appreciated. Looks like I will probably just be ripping this all out and going with a Pamco but I really just want to know what I have.

Current coils:








 
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