my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm) - The Jockey Journal Board

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Old 05-19-2014, 05:30 PM   #1
imwastefull
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Default my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

I have a 1974 Ironhead with an S&S super E. She starts first kick and runs perfectly until a few miles down the road, she starts to spit and sputters and backfires and then bogs down until it dies completely.

I'll try and explain everything that has happened recently;

I took the bike on a ride a few days ago. Ran perfect for about 20 miles and then on the highway she just started bogging down and choking until she stalled. I pushed her to a gas station, pulled the bowl (thinking the float was stuck or a jet clogged) blew out the jets, etc, everything looked fine. Got her running, made it about halfway until the same symptoms started happening, backfire, hiccups and she eventually died.

Got her home and then today I completely pulled the carbs, reinstalled the manifold to ensure against air leaks, blew out all passage ways, etc.

Put the bike back together, the old bitch started first kick and fucking ran beautifully. took her for a quick blast and WHAT DO YOU KNOW, a couple miles down the road the bitch started coughing and sputtering and died.

got it home, noticed that the plugs were fouled, popped in the next size down Main jet, reassembled, started her FIRST KICK again. this time i didn't make it to the end of my street before she ran like shit.

what the crap is the deal?!

Honestly, she starts and runs perfectly until warm. what gives?
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Old 05-19-2014, 05:48 PM   #2
old stale negative
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

my S&S did this too. rebuilt it twice before I traced the issue to a loose ignition wire. once everything heats up and expands it lost power and stopped running…just saying it sounds like an electrical gremlin, that would explain the fouled plugs too…
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Old 05-19-2014, 05:59 PM   #3
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

+1 on electrical. I had a problem like that with another bike. Running rich when hot and not running well. Ended up being really weak or no spark when hot.
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Old 05-19-2014, 06:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

Take it for a ride when it starts to stumble open the fuel lid. If it picks back up the tank vent is clogged. Don't ask how I know this. Basically it pulls a vacuum in the tank and doesn't let the fuel flow.
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Old 05-19-2014, 06:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

And it's an easy test to rule it out. When mine was stopped up ( after fresh paint job) took about seven miles to quit. Luckily I thought of it right away. Could well be electrical , but that is a whole lot harder to find , rule out the tank vent
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Old 05-19-2014, 06:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

I had the same thing happen, twice. short in the wire to the brake light, then when the ignition coils were going out.
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Old 05-19-2014, 06:56 PM   #7
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

I've had bad plug wires do that . Auto wires that could take the heat of an air cooled engine. Also make sure your coil is not splitting open with a large crack. If you have a spark tester gadget stick it directly into the coil when it's acting up ,then into the wires if it's not as bright change out the plug wires.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:10 PM   #8
imwastefull
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

ok cool, definitely sounds electrical. It's wild how it will run so well until it gets hot. the wires from my ignition to my coil are zip tied to a metal oil line and then threaded between my jugs sooo.... that may be the culprit. Thats the only lead i have currently.

I imagine that if a wire were pinched or grounding out it would be acting up all the time and not just when warmed up.

I don't dare say "Hot" as i'm in NE Ohio and it's been 65-70 through this whole ordeal.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

if you have points, a bad condenser can do this. Always check the cheap stuff first.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:18 PM   #10
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

It's more likely a bad condensor than a bad coil.Condensors are cheap,and almost any condensor will work.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:31 PM   #11
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

I imagine that if a wire were pinched or grounding out it would be acting up all the time and not just when warmed up.

Yeah, sometimes things seem logical, sometimes it's a series of coincidences. I thought the same as you at the time.
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Old 05-19-2014, 11:37 PM   #12
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

I had a bad coil do that on an old flattie... Took forever to diagnose, because the coil would cut out when hot. Try points first, but sound ignition related to me...
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Old 05-20-2014, 05:01 AM   #13
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

Check the tank vent
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:40 AM   #14
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

^^^^ This first.
When something like this pops up and it's not readily obvious, then it's a process of elimination. Start with the simple/easy things first to get them out of the way and ya might get lucky and it be one of them.
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:07 AM   #15
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

Everybody seems to think electrical. But one easy check, is the pushrod adjustment. Expansion will cause them to tighten up as it heats up. When they get to where they don't completely close, it looses power, and dies. After it cools, and the expansion shrinks the motor, it will run again. I run mine a little looser than factory specs, because a ticking is cheaper, than a valve job.

Also, ANY condenser will work, but there are different condensers too. Kinda like spark plugs. They all look the same, but they are not internally. Condensers have different Mfd ratings, more is hotter fire, less is more street type. Ask any drag racer who races a motor with points/condenser.
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:13 AM   #16
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

thanks brothers!

My bike has an Electronic Ignition so it certainly isn't an issue with the condenser. Hopefully it isn't the fucking coil either because I have dual plug heads and new coils is an expensive problem.

if it acts up again I'll pop the cap and see if that helps

I'm going to go over ALL of the electrical today. I'll keep you posted
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:21 AM   #17
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

Also great advice folks posted ,..I would check the battery voltage and the charging system as well low voltage will cause this as well.
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:48 AM   #18
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

+1 on electrical, Ive just had this also (like yesterday). Charge the battery overnight, see if you get further than the end of the street. If its a short its still there, so will drain the battery, but you'll get further, might be a good indicator that its electrical. Mine turned out to be a short in the headlight. I charged the battery, then tore around with a voltmeter taped to the frame and across the battery terminals to check it was charging.
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Old 05-20-2014, 07:56 AM   #19
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

05-02-2014, 07:04 PM #10
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Re: I bought an S&S super E to make my bike run better... not WORSE!
Was that damn blue o ring there?
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^^^ never forget this lesson, don't drink the koolaid. People had you buying new carbs and everything else in that thread. It could be anyone of the aforementioned problems, or something else entirely. I know this, it's bike riding weather in Ohio and kentucky, I'm not going to spend hours and hours chasing down hard problems to find unless I have eliminated the easy stuff first. The tank vent scenario is sort of the same as shovit's pushrods scenario. You drain gas out the pet com faster than the clogged vent let's air into the top of the tank until you have a vacuum on the tank and gas can't flow out it starts running poorly until coughing and starving for gas then dies . You pull over and start checking things out, maybe open the cap to see if you are out of gas in the midst of it all, then give it a try and it starts up! Yay, something I did fixed it! ... For a minute! Then you ride til it pulls another vacuum and dies. You sit and fiddle with while air seeps back in slowly releasing the vacuum, you give it a try and it starts. Until you via ally check the vent and find out a spider built her nest in there!!! Or in my case I had taped off the vent tube for paint but in taped it to color sand and buff, and filled it up with while buffing/waxing. I probably wouldn't have figured it out so fast if it hadn't been on my mind.
Check the vent then push rods then the coil. My buddy thought he had bought bad gas, looking back he had been fiddling with the air screw cause it was running poorly before it quit( stupid, this wasn't going to help his roll-on cough) turned out it was the coil going bad the whole time. I bet it will be one of these three things.
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:02 AM   #20
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Default Re: my Ironhead has me stumped. (quits running when warm)

You didn't state kick or electric. The pushrod thing you can feel when it "kicks through" while hot. Might not be a bad idea just to adjust the pushrods to eliminate one factor. [ Sportster pushrod adjustment - free in parking lot while mechanic takes 8 minutes to do.. Ducati valve shimming 500 bucks ha]
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