Question about 1993 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster 883

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2003 heritage softail spits and coughts ---sometimes

Carberated : runs like it's cold even after warmup ,,does it more often when holding at steady speeds and taking off not when you really twist it . it doesn't do it nearly as much when choke is out . only has 7500 miles .

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Sounds like the typical lean mixture problem. They are jetted very lean from the factory in order to meet EPA emission standards. This results in spitting back out of the carb and stumbling on take off and idle. You need to richen the carburator a bit. To do this requires some disassembly of the carb. If you're not comfortable with doing this, take it someone who is.

To richen the mixture you can buy a "Dyna Jet Kit" to do the job with or you can simply buy the jet you're going to need. I prefer buying the jet, it's much less expensive. You'll need a #48 or #50 slow speed jet, a 3 millimeter flat washer, and a new carburator spigot seal.

Remove the carb from the engine. Remove the float bowl and replace the slow speed jet with either of the new jets. Your carb should have a #45 slow jet in it if it is the factory jet. Replace it with the #48. If it already has a #48, go with the #50. Replace the float bowl on the carburator.

Remove the top cover from the carburator where the diagraphm is. There is a large but relatively weak spring under this cover. Carefully remove the diagraphm and the slide. Look down into the slide and you'll see a plastic needle retainer. Lift this out by pushing up on the needle and taking the plastic piece out. Remove the needle. You'll see a metal band around the top end of the needle. Starting from the pointed end of the needle, slide the 3mm washer up to this band. A small dab of grease will hold the washer in position while you reassemble the needle into the slide. The purpose of the washer is to RAISE the needle about 0.020" thereby richening the midrange fuel mixture slightly. Make sure the washer is UNDER the metal band when the needle is back in the slide. Reassembly is reverse of the disassembly. Be VERY CAREFUL when reinstalling the slide/diagraphm assembly, Do not pinch the diagraphm. If you pinch a hole in it, the assembly must be replaced. Cost about $100. Make sure you get the edge of the diagraphm into the groove all the way around at the top before putting the spring and top cover back on.

Now, turn the carb upside down and find the "anti-tamper" plug on the carb idle mixture adjustment screw. It's an aluminum plug that covers the idle mixture screw. It's on the backside of the float bowl towards the engine. Take a small drill bit and carefully drill through this plug. Do not drill too deeply or you will damage the idle mixture screw. Once you have the small hole drilled, start a sheet metal screw into the hole and use a pair of pliers to pull the plug out. You now have access to the idle mixture adjuster screw.

Reinstall the carb back on the engine and check for proper operation. Make sure the throttle works properly. Start the engine and allow it to warm up. Adjust the idle mixture screw for highest and smoothest idle RPM. It should be a little over 3 turns out from the "bottom". To find the "bottom", with the engine off, carefully turn the screw inward until it stops. Do not force the screw, just until it "bottoms out". Then come back out about three turns and adjust from there for best idle. Set the engine idle speed at 1000 RPM using the throttle stop screw.

This sounds like a difficult job but it really isn't. But, if you're not comfortable with disassembling the carb, best take it to someone who is. The biggest thing is DO NOT PINCH A HOLE IN THE DIAGRAPHM.
Good luck!!!

Posted on Oct 05, 2009

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