Question about 2004 Harley Davidson XL 883 Sportster

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Hi. i recently go a sportster as a project bike. the engine turns over with a quick ignition and then stops and only turns over from there. can u please give me a couple of pointers to solve this problem

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If it turns over quickly but won't actually start or run, your battery sounds OK. Depending on the model year and whether it is fitted with points or electronic ignition, start with the simple stuff first - make sure you have fuel in the tank and that the tank valve is actually open. If you remove the fuel line from the tank valve, open the valve and nothing comes out, there's your problem. Check for a spark (take a plug out - checking for obvious fouling - then pop the ignition lead back onto the plug top and hold it close to the crankcase as you turn the motor over). If a good spark jumps across the gap, it's unlikely to be an ignition problem - unles the other plug is at fault. If both plugs are good, it's either an ignition timing problem - unlikely with electronic systems - or your carburettor, or a compression issue. In the latter two cases, you'll need more specialised skills than your question suggests - time to phone a friend...!

Posted on Sep 11, 2009

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I assume that you're talking about the engine will run for a short while then die. Check the fuel petcock. The late models had a vacuum operated petcock that is notorious for failure. It's not allowing fuel to get to the carb. If the bike has been sitting up for a long period of time, the carb needs to be disassembled and cleaned. Low speed jet is probably clogged.

Posted on Sep 23, 2009

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JUST BOUGHT A '73 XLCH THAT SAT FOR 2 YEARS BECAUSE THE OLD MAN THAT OWNED IT COULDN'T KICK START IT ANYMORE. IT STARTS RIGHT UP BY PUSH STARTING IT, BUT KICKING IT IS ANOTHER STORY. IT'S GETTING FIRE...


You probably need to adjust your valves. Ironhead Sportsters are equipped with solid lifters and must be adjusted with zero backlash. If one of the pushrods is adjusted just a bit tight and holds a valve open even slightly, the bike is almost impossible to start with the kickstarter.

To adjust the valves, the bike must be stone cold. Take the spark plugs out, raise the rear wheel of the ground, and put the transmission in fourth gear. Turn the engine over by bumping the rear wheel in the normal direction of rotation. Bring the piston of one of the cylinders up to top dead center on the Compression stroke. Pop the pushrod tube covers and check the pushrods. You should be able to spin both pushrods with your fingers. If not, adjust the pushrod so taht it's tight. Then back it off to where you can just spin it with your fingers. Keep in mind that on a Sportster, it's better to have the pushrods slightly loose than tight. Once you get that cylinder's pushrods adjusted, do the same thing with the other cylinder.

Now, once you get this done, starting your bike is simply a matter of figuring what works with it. I've always said that kickstarting a Harley, especially a Sportster, is a ritual. Some bikes like for you to milk the throttle twice, kick the engine through twice with the choke on and ignition off, then turn on the ignition and kick it. Other bikes seem to want only one milk of the throttle, one kick with the ignition off, and then kick it. Each bike seems to have it's own particular ritual that you must figure out to get reliable starting. I'd try milk the throttle once, put the choke on, kick it through with the ignition off once, then turn the ignition on and kick. If the bike spits back through the carb, you need to start all over again. If you get the engine flooded, hold the throttle wide open and kick until it fires.

One other thing about a Sportster. Did the old man you bought it from have a limp in his right leg? A Sportster is notorious for "slipping through" when you try to start it. The result is that all your weight comes down on your knee without any resistance. The result is your knee tries to bend backwards, the way it wasn't designed to do. This can tear ligaments and cartilage in the knee and it even has it's own name, "Sportster Knee". Be careful.

Ride Safe
Steve

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