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Thread: Harley Davidson WL difficulties to start

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    Molndal, Sweden
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    Question Harley Davidson WL difficulties to start

    Dear colleagues, perhaps you can share with me some of your experiences you may have had when starting a Harley WL.
    My motorcycle was completely serviced in September and it was running well; among other things the carburetor was totally dismantled and serviced by a professional, the timing was adjusted, condenser and spark plugs replaced, gear cam serviced and everything else you can imagine. Also the manifold was replaced and there are no leaks. All runned perfectly until November.
    Now the challenge:
    Now it is winter time and I can not use the bike as I wished. Last time when I had a ride, the bike sudden lost the power and would die if accelerated (idling was ok). Once at home I could not find anything abnormal, but when I try to start it (please check the video I did), the bike misfires and a flame gets out of the air filter cover. What could be the problem?
    I never got these flames before. The only thing I did before the problem popped up was to insert a bit of MMO (Marvel Mistery Oil) on the fuel tank. Could be this an issue? Should I drain the fuel tank?
    This is the video clip I did:

    https://youtu.be/QWq1jlP1dtE

    I hope you can suggest few checks? Thank you! Ed

  2. #2
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    "the bike suddenly lost the power and would die if accelerated (idling was ok)."

    Timing is off if it is firing with an intake valve still open, backfiring through the carburetor.
    Welcome to the asylum.

  3. #3
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    Hi Gerry, thank you for your answer. Might seem to be a silly question, but what is the problem? Because I never had the situation before...what are your recommendation so that I can start the bike again?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    1,126

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    first off..it looks like you are retarding to prime & then full advance to start....read the instructions again!
    Also this is colder,maybe leave the choke on part way when starting.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Ed,
    Lots of things can cause your problem. I've had something as easy as a bad condenser cause issues similar to what you describe. Here's what I'd do if I was in your shoes:
    1. Verify the point gap and timing are correct. If OK..
    2. Check valve clearances. If OK...
    3. Check to see if cylinder compression seems about right. For this I'd simply remove both spark plugs and push my finger into the hole while kicking over the engine. If compression feels about the same and pretty strong on both cylinders then...
    4. Set carb high and low speed needles back to settings used for starting with an out of adjustment carb. Turn both needles in (clockwise) until they seat (count turns in from original position so you can put them back if it turns out the carb wasn't the issue) then turn out the low speed needle about 3 - 4 turns and the high speed needle out about 1 1/2.
    5. Try and start the bike. If the problem persists them I'd start with charging electrical items. Start with the plugs, if no change replace the condenser, if no change check the coil, if still no change then I'd go get a beer of two and call it a day.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    Central Illinois, USA
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    4,350

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    Welcome Ed!

    Once you have double-checked everything in the service manual as Slamiste suggests, yet performance is still poor,
    please try this simple diagnostic: http://virtualindian.org/11techleaktest.html.

    Vacuum leaks are evil.

    Good luck!

    ....Cotten
    Last edited by T. Cotten; 12-28-2018 at 12:01 PM.
    AMCA #776
    Dumpster Diver's Motto: Seek,... and Ye Shall Find!

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Hi, thank you very much for these steps, I will have a try tomorrow, however I have a question about the spark grip. I usually retard it (clockwise or outwards) when priming and then advance it (anti clockwise or inwards) when starting the bike. Is this incorrect? Thanks for confirming this, Ed

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
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    If you added the Marvel before refueling the oil may have not mixed well. Drain the tank, blow out the disconnected fuel line at the carb with compressed air, and refuel.

  9. #9
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    Hi Cotten, thank you for sharing this. I have done this test already after I replaced the manifold in September due to the leaks. All is sealed properly and no leaks. I will save this link for future references. Ed

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Ohio
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    If you are using a foam air filter cartridge I would remove it until you resolve your problem, that little fire at the end of your video could cause real havoc if the foam filter were to engulf.
    Bob Rice #6738

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