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OT: Lodger in distress - motorbike question


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The lodger has a Kawasaki ZZR600 (D model, ~1991) that has been getting harder and harder to start (lots of cranking and more and more choke) as the weather has been getting damper and damper. Now it's rained a few times it's flatly refusing to start at all :(

It's magnetic pickup ignition with an amp/control unit (CDI) which then fires two coils (one per 2 cyls) wasted-spark. Fuelling is four of those old-fashioned clockwork thingies <_<

What I would class as all the usual checks & tricks have been tried:

- New (YUASA) battery, it's been charged and we've tried jump-starting with little joy.

- Spark checked at plugs

- Lots of WD40 squirted everywhere

- Ground connections, plugs, connectors all checked / cleaned / WD40'd

- Plugs checked & cleaned (they look OK and he says they were gapped when they went in a few months back)

- It's getting fuel OK

- Had a sheet thrown over it to keep it dry overnight, made no difference

He's spent a lot of time in the garden waving spanners at it but TBH his technical knowledge is close to zero (he still believes what he reads in Haynes manuals) so he may have tried a few other things.

The symptoms are that it chugs when turned over, as if all four cylinders are firing but not with enough bang to actually cough into life. The starter is turning it fast enough 'cos it does the same thing if we jump start it from the RR and it still takes as much effort. I don't know if it's worthy of note but (when it's running) if he blats it up to ~11000rpm it puffs a wee bit of smoke, although I suspect that's just the carbs being a bit rich under power.

A new set of HT leads are on order (they cost more than a gen. set for the Rangie :lol: ) so hopefully they might make a difference.

In the meantime, has anyone got any suggestions before he slits his wrists and I lose my rental income? :unsure:

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Coil connections can get coated in muck, remove and clean with sandpaper.

Also, iirc, there is a multi-plug on the top of the engine going to the ignition switch/headstock. These terminals go green, replace connector with seperate spades.

Another thought, is the fuel good? (not put diesel in by mistake) :blink:

It's worth trying easy-start, that would point towards possible compression/fueling fault.

Has it got the 4 seperate carbs with diaphragms on the top? Lift the lids and check the diaphragms aren't split.

Just a few thoughts to get you moving along.

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Have been told that easy-start is V.bad for bike engines, we did try it once but it didn't actually help so it was decided to leave it there.

Coil connections have been cleaned, re-cleaned, and cleaned again :D then drowned in WD40 for good measure.

He's not put diesel in, but the integrity of the filler cap against moisture is not 100% guaranteed as we had to tip a load of rust flakes out of the tank when he bought it, and drain water/rust dust out of the float bowls of the carbs. That said, the cap was re-sealed to the tank the other day and the water/rust was more likely due to previous owner leaving it out for ages to get rained on than any actual fault. It has run OK when the weather is not so rainy which would suggest there's petrol not water in the carbs.

Yes, it's four separate carbs (four times the clockwork pain and suffering), I will suggest the diagphragm check to him.

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drain the float bowls, check the cranking volts, ignition earth - check with plug out, charge coil and disconnect - should get a full fat spark, primary reisitance on the coils, secondary reisitance also worth checking although coil faults usually start as a missfire in a particular rev range (3-5k), vacuum diaphragm for fuel tap (if fitted)

its easier to sling it on a trailer and bring it up here John

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Well we took it up to the lab last night where Jez diagnosed a cr*p starter motor (battery is brand new & charged but it was cranking over slowly), we bump started it and Jez rode it round the yard and gave Dave a list a mile long of all the other stuff that was wrong with the bike :lol:

We're off back up to the lab now so Dave can write it all down, his spanner-fu is weak so a training session is needed :D

Mike - ta for the offer, next time something's wrong expect a call 'cos I still don't do bikes ;)

The bad news is that now Dave knows how to bump-start it I'm gonna get woken up every morning until he gets the starter motor to push a bike up the alleyway in the p***ing rain <_< which sounds like the sort of solution that will last rather longer than it should :ph34r:

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