Chronic carb clogging problems - Star Motorcycle Forums: Star Raider, V-Max, V-Star, Road-Star Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2016, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Chronic carb clogging problems

Howdy all,

My wife rides a 2002 V-Star 1100 Custom, for which I do the routine maintenance. Overall, the bike has been pretty low-maintenance, other than a recurring problem with the carbs that has me at my wit's end. The issue appears to be specific to this bike, so I'm hoping that folks here with more V-Star specific experience can offer some advice.

Briefly, for context, this bike required nothing but scheduled maintenance (oil, plugs, inspections) for the first few years of its life. In 2010, I had trouble getting it running in the Spring, so I took it to our local shop for service. The tech said that the carbs needed to be cleaned, he cleaned them, and it ran great afterwards.

Over the course of the next few years, virtually every small engine we had fell victim to the same issue. From our mower, to snowblower, to chainsaw, to pressure washer, to my bike (1995 Shadow 1100), their carbs suddenly, mysteriously, all needed cleaning. As I came to learn, our state had recently phased in E10 gasoline, which causes the carbs to varnish much more quickly. So, I changed my fuel preservative, stepped up my maintenance routines, and became somewhat of a carburetor expert through the school of hard knocks.

Nowadays, our entire fleet runs fine - with the exception of the V-Star.

I'm to the point that I'm cleaning the V-Star carbs twice a year. Sometimes it won't idle. Sometimes it stumbles off the line. Sometimes it sputters at open throttle. From year-to-year it's never exactly the same problem, but it's inevitably the result of some gunk in one of the carbs, and the issue gets resolved with about 6 hours of wrenching on her bike and inhaling carcinogenic carb cleaner fumes.

My questions are:
  1. Does anyone else have ethanol-related carburetor problems that are more severe on their V-Star than on other motors?
  2. What can I do throughout the year, and especially over the Winter, to keep from having to clean the carbs so frequently?

Being early Spring here in New England, I just put the batteries in the bikes, topped off the tires, did some basic inspections, and fired them up. Predictably, the Shadow runs fine and the V-Star won't idle (but runs well with any amount of throttle). Last Fall, I did the same thing to winterize both bikes (and all of our small engines):
  • Add a long-term storage dose of marine Sta-Bil and fill the tank
  • Ride for a few miles to get the treated fuel into the whole fuel system
  • With the motor running, turned off the fuel petcock and let the bike idle until it stopped

I also removed the battery and did some other stuff, but that's it for the fuel system. This procedure seems to work fine for most of our engines but, for whatever reason, the V-Star is especially sensitive to gunky carbs.

This has been going on for 5 years now, and it's driving me nuts. If I had the money, I'd sell this bike and buy a fuel injected one, just to preserve my sanity. That's not a realistic option, though, so I'm hoping that someone with more knowledge of the V-Star can suggest a solution that will keep this one clean and running well without its annual (and sometimes semi-annual) carb overhaul.

Thank you, in advance, for your suggestions.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2016, 02:20 PM
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I run Seafoam year round in both my bikes, my scooter, my mowers, my trimmers, my yard blowers, everything. I have no issues. E10 shouldn't be an issue. Also, I don't recommend running the bike out of gas. The rubber pieces can dry out. I've been doing this for decades.
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Last edited by t84a; 04-01-2016 at 02:22 PM.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2016, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ShadowRider View Post
Howdy all,

My wife rides a 2002 V-Star 1100 Custom, for which I do the routine maintenance. Overall, the bike has been pretty low-maintenance, other than a recurring problem with the carbs that has me at my wit's end. The issue appears to be specific to this bike, so I'm hoping that folks here with more V-Star specific experience can offer some advice.

Briefly, for context, this bike required nothing but scheduled maintenance (oil, plugs, inspections) for the first few years of its life. In 2010, I had trouble getting it running in the Spring, so I took it to our local shop for service. The tech said that the carbs needed to be cleaned, he cleaned them, and it ran great afterwards.

Over the course of the next few years, virtually every small engine we had fell victim to the same issue. From our mower, to snowblower, to chainsaw, to pressure washer, to my bike (1995 Shadow 1100), their carbs suddenly, mysteriously, all needed cleaning. As I came to learn, our state had recently phased in E10 gasoline, which causes the carbs to varnish much more quickly. So, I changed my fuel preservative, stepped up my maintenance routines, and became somewhat of a carburetor expert through the school of hard knocks.

Nowadays, our entire fleet runs fine - with the exception of the V-Star.

I'm to the point that I'm cleaning the V-Star carbs twice a year. Sometimes it won't idle. Sometimes it stumbles off the line. Sometimes it sputters at open throttle. From year-to-year it's never exactly the same problem, but it's inevitably the result of some gunk in one of the carbs, and the issue gets resolved with about 6 hours of wrenching on her bike and inhaling carcinogenic carb cleaner fumes.

My questions are:
  1. Does anyone else have ethanol-related carburetor problems that are more severe on their V-Star than on other motors?
  2. What can I do throughout the year, and especially over the Winter, to keep from having to clean the carbs so frequently?

Being early Spring here in New England, I just put the batteries in the bikes, topped off the tires, did some basic inspections, and fired them up. Predictably, the Shadow runs fine and the V-Star won't idle (but runs well with any amount of throttle). Last Fall, I did the same thing to winterize both bikes (and all of our small engines):
  • Add a long-term storage dose of marine Sta-Bil and fill the tank
  • Ride for a few miles to get the treated fuel into the whole fuel system
  • With the motor running, turned off the fuel petcock and let the bike idle until it stopped

I also removed the battery and did some other stuff, but that's it for the fuel system. This procedure seems to work fine for most of our engines but, for whatever reason, the V-Star is especially sensitive to gunky carbs.

This has been going on for 5 years now, and it's driving me nuts. If I had the money, I'd sell this bike and buy a fuel injected one, just to preserve my sanity. That's not a realistic option, though, so I'm hoping that someone with more knowledge of the V-Star can suggest a solution that will keep this one clean and running well without its annual (and sometimes semi-annual) carb overhaul.

Thank you, in advance, for your suggestions.
if i had a problem like that i would change out the all the fuel hoses and the filter because they could deteriorating on the inside where you cant see it. i inspected the debri that came out of carb that kept clogging under a magnifying glass and found that it was tiny bits of rubber like material that must have come from the hoses breaking down on the inside or the carb seals themselves. the next time you clean em look close with a magnifying glass to try determine what the material is. after i changed the hoses on that carb it never clogged again so i got lucky that the carb itself was ok. even though the pump states 10% ethanol it could be higher that's why i try to stick with the brand name companies and stay away from independent's. my bike bike comes inside every winter and every drop of fuel is drained then the carbs get baged. they have to be removed anyway to check the valves. the bike is 16 years old with 55000 miles and i only needed to change bowl gaskets once and i only did that because i was changing the JIS screws over to allen heads.
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Last edited by pauli466; 04-01-2016 at 03:11 PM.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2016, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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i would change out the all the fuel hoses and the filter because they could deteriorating on the inside where you cant see it. i inspected the debri that came out of carb that kept clogging under a magnifying glass and found that it was tiny bits of rubber like material that must have come from the hoses breaking down on the inside or the carb seals themselves.
No kidding? That's interesting; I wouldn't have thought it could be the hoses. Good suggestion.

FWIW, I can see the telltale, yellow, sticky ethanol varnish all over the bowls each time I disassemble them. All of our carbs have some yellowing, but the build-up on the V-Star is severe in comparison.

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Originally Posted by pauli466 View Post
the next time you clean em look close with a magnifying glass to try determine what the material is.
I've spent some time with the dissecting microscope / loupe to see if there's any actual debris in the various tiny holes in the carb body or jets, but have found nothing. My guess is that it's still the fuel, but I'll look into replacing the lines and filter.

I also drained the tank about two years ago, cleaned it with fresh gas, removed the petcock and cleaned the in-tank filters... It was spic and span in there before I started, and certainly after. If it is the hoses, though, cleaning the tank wouldn't matter.

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Originally Posted by pauli466 View Post
every drop of fuel is drained then the carbs get baged.
What do you mean by "carbs get baged"? I'm not familiar with that procedure.

BTW, do you do this for other motors, too, or just your Yamaha? Maybe I need to take extra steps with this bike. It's too bad that the procedure I use for the other engines doesn't work with this one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pauli466 View Post
i only needed to change bowl gaskets once and i only did that because i was changing the JIS screws over to allen heads.
I hear that. I don't know why they don't put Allen screws on the bowls in the first place. Every manufacturer uses Phillips / JIS, and I always end up stripping them. I've been looking for Allen screws for the V-Star bowls for a couple of years, but haven't found any in our local stores. There's plenty of choice among SAE sizes, but nothing suitable in the metric section.

At the risk of hijacking my own thread - what kind of metal are your Allen screws?

I ask because I'm just starting to rebuild an old pinball machine, and have learned a lot about not mixing metals on the electrical contacts, for corrosion reasons. If memory serves, the V-Star has those yellow-coated steel screws. I assumed that I'd use stainless, but with my little bit of new-found metallurgical knowledge, I'm wondering whether I might inadvertently cause trouble by switching materials.

Thanks!
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2016, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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I don't recommend running the bike out of gas. The rubber pieces can dry out. I've been doing this for decades.
Huh. So you add Seafoam to the tank, and just leave the fuel in the bowls over the Winter?

I'm also assuming you have a Winter where you live. How long do your motors sit for without being used?

I hadn't thought about the rubber drying out. Running the bowls dry each Fall, though, has definitely fixed the issue with my other motors. Maybe I just haven't been doing it long enough for the gaskets and such to dry out to the point that they're causing problems.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2016, 04:10 PM
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Yep. Every tank if I can. I live in Maryland so we definitely have winter. I had similar problems in my old GS750L 25 years ago. I'm not sure if I used Seafoam back then but after a short break, I was introduced to Seafoam and used it on my carbed Harley and then my carbed FZ1. I have injected bikes now and still use it. Like I said, I use it in everything, even my generator which rarely gets run.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-01-2016, 07:11 PM
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When I had to do the winter storage thing, I found that my carbs stayed in better shape if I left the fuel in the bowls. When I drained it out for storage, I'd always get residue over everything in the bowl. Never had any issues just leaving them full of stabilized fuel. I ran some Berryman's B12 through the first tank of fuel in the spring and my carbs were always spotless on the inside.

Now I ride 12 months of the year...with maybe 30 days off for modification and etc. I never add any snake oil to the fuel......and my carbs are still spotless. No issues at all with ethanol fuels.

Sick Mick* 2006 V Star 1100 Custom

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2016, 06:35 AM
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I own a 2001 VMax that is notorious for having fouled carb issues. I found a local source of non-ethanol fuel and added marine stabil for winter storage. Worked great, no issues. Started right up after a 5 month hibernation.

VMaxes don't have a handy fuel shutoff and I wouldn't use it, since I put in the Marine Stabil.


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2016, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ShadowRider View Post
Howdy all,

My wife rides a 2002 V-Star 1100 Custom, for which I do the routine maintenance. Overall, the bike has been pretty low-maintenance, other than a recurring problem with the carbs that has me at my wit's end. The issue appears to be specific to this bike, so I'm hoping that folks here with more V-Star specific experience can offer some advice.

Briefly, for context, this bike required nothing but scheduled maintenance (oil, plugs, inspections) for the first few years of its life. In 2010, I had trouble getting it running in the Spring, so I took it to our local shop for service. The tech said that the carbs needed to be cleaned, he cleaned them, and it ran great afterwards.

Over the course of the next few years, virtually every small engine we had fell victim to the same issue. From our mower, to snowblower, to chainsaw, to pressure washer, to my bike (1995 Shadow 1100), their carbs suddenly, mysteriously, all needed cleaning. As I came to learn, our state had recently phased in E10 gasoline, which causes the carbs to varnish much more quickly. So, I changed my fuel preservative, stepped up my maintenance routines, and became somewhat of a carburetor expert through the school of hard knocks.

Nowadays, our entire fleet runs fine - with the exception of the V-Star.

I'm to the point that I'm cleaning the V-Star carbs twice a year. Sometimes it won't idle. Sometimes it stumbles off the line. Sometimes it sputters at open throttle. From year-to-year it's never exactly the same problem, but it's inevitably the result of some gunk in one of the carbs, and the issue gets resolved with about 6 hours of wrenching on her bike and inhaling carcinogenic carb cleaner fumes.

My questions are:
  1. Does anyone else have ethanol-related carburetor problems that are more severe on their V-Star than on other motors?
  2. What can I do throughout the year, and especially over the Winter, to keep from having to clean the carbs so frequently?

Being early Spring here in New England, I just put the batteries in the bikes, topped off the tires, did some basic inspections, and fired them up. Predictably, the Shadow runs fine and the V-Star won't idle (but runs well with any amount of throttle). Last Fall, I did the same thing to winterize both bikes (and all of our small engines):
  • Add a long-term storage dose of marine Sta-Bil and fill the tank
  • Ride for a few miles to get the treated fuel into the whole fuel system
  • With the motor running, turned off the fuel petcock and let the bike idle until it stopped

I also removed the battery and did some other stuff, but that's it for the fuel system. This procedure seems to work fine for most of our engines but, for whatever reason, the V-Star is especially sensitive to gunky carbs.

This has been going on for 5 years now, and it's driving me nuts. If I had the money, I'd sell this bike and buy a fuel injected one, just to preserve my sanity. That's not a realistic option, though, so I'm hoping that someone with more knowledge of the V-Star can suggest a solution that will keep this one clean and running well without its annual (and sometimes semi-annual) carb overhaul.

Thank you, in advance, for your suggestions.
i drain the fuel system dry and leave the fuel cap loose so the tank can breathe and won't condensate the carbs come off every year for checking valve clearances so i drain em and bag em until spring. anyone who stores a bike with E10 fuel is rolling the dice even with stabilizer the'll crap out eventually and need to tear the carbs down.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-03-2016, 12:26 PM
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No kidding? That's interesting; I wouldn't have thought it could be the hoses. Good suggestion.

FWIW, I can see the telltale, yellow, sticky ethanol varnish all over the bowls each time I disassemble them. All of our carbs have some yellowing, but the build-up on the V-Star is severe in comparison.



I've spent some time with the dissecting microscope / loupe to see if there's any actual debris in the various tiny holes in the carb body or jets, but have found nothing. My guess is that it's still the fuel, but I'll look into replacing the lines and filter.

I also drained the tank about two years ago, cleaned it with fresh gas, removed the petcock and cleaned the in-tank filters... It was spic and span in there before I started, and certainly after. If it is the hoses, though, cleaning the tank wouldn't matter.



What do you mean by "carbs get baged"? I'm not familiar with that procedure.

BTW, do you do this for other motors, too, or just your Yamaha? Maybe I need to take extra steps with this bike. It's too bad that the procedure I use for the other engines doesn't work with this one.



I hear that. I don't know why they don't put Allen screws on the bowls in the first place. Every manufacturer uses Phillips / JIS, and I always end up stripping them. I've been looking for Allen screws for the V-Star bowls for a couple of years, but haven't found any in our local stores. There's plenty of choice among SAE sizes, but nothing suitable in the metric section.

At the risk of hijacking my own thread - what kind of metal are your Allen screws?

I ask because I'm just starting to rebuild an old pinball machine, and have learned a lot about not mixing metals on the electrical contacts, for corrosion reasons. If memory serves, the V-Star has those yellow-coated steel screws. I assumed that I'd use stainless, but with my little bit of new-found metallurgical knowledge, I'm wondering whether I might inadvertently cause trouble by switching materials.

Thanks!
i put em in a freezer bag and they stay in the house where temperature is constant so they won't condensate. it's moisture that gets into the fuel thru condensation that causes problems and ethanol makes it worse because it attracts moisture.

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