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Running terrible after changing cam belts
Installed Poor-Boy alternator kit and decided to replace the belts while I was at it. Checked and double checked and triple checked to make sure all marks were aligned as per manual. (replaced belts many times on my GL1000's and 1100's) This bike is a "new to me" 1986 GL1200A. It ran beautifull before I tore it apart to install the ext. alternator and replaced the old belts. I'm using NAPA belts for the replacement, the belts that come out were OEM Honda's. It idles OK @ 1000 RPM and fires right up, but is slow to respond to throttling up and "pops" and back fires thru the exhaust. Cyls #1 and #3 barely feel warm to the touch (exhaust headers), while #2 and #4 get really hot in a hurry. In neutral I can rev her up to red line, under a load she almost dies when I try to take of in 1st gear. Have to slip the clutch to keep from stalling out. No power and lots of pinging and backfiring. I'm just "plain out of ideas" of what I did to the poor girl. Nothing was changed except the timing belts and she run wonderful before. HELP?!?!
#1 05-18-2012, 04:09 AM,
Sounds like you need to revisit the timing belts. Poorboy
#2 05-18-2012, 05:26 AM,
i'd have to say that the timing belts are in wrong too.
1987 Aspencade 129K
1986 SEI 93K
2014 Tri-Glide HD 17K

#3 05-18-2012, 06:00 AM,
Well, Cylinders 1 and 3 are not working. I do get spark in them from the coils. But, it's like theyre 180 degrees out. How can that be? The crank is at the "T-1" mark, both cam pulley's are right on the mark, the "up" at 12 o'clock. Do I need to take the cam belt off the right head (#1 and 3) and rotate the crank 1 whole revolution (360 degrees) and re-install the right bank cam belt? Could it be that the #1 is at TDC on the exhaust stroke instead of the compression stroke? Eventhough the crank is at T-1???
Will I damge the valves is I turn the crank 360 degrees without the right cam belt on? Please, give me some good news. ^Smile^
#4 05-18-2012, 03:01 PM,
There are two marks on the right side pulley. Here are a couple of pics to help. This link is also on the 1200 belt change. It does sound like the timing is off, or possible ignition issue, but doubt the problem with the ignition.
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Attached Files
.jpg   1200 timing marks left2.jpg (Size: 200.37 KB / Downloads: 447)
.jpg   1200 timing marks right2.jpg (Size: 198.38 KB / Downloads: 442)
CE1 Navy Seabees/RET
1981 to 2002
ASE Mechanic
#5 05-18-2012, 04:56 PM,
When I did my poor boy the right side pulley slipped when I removed the belts. Though I never understood why moving the pulley back to where it was didnt fix it, it didnt and the timing went totally out of whack. . Had to retime it from scratch using the timing mark on the flywheel and TDC on no 1 cylinder. However it went out so bad that had I started it instead of turning by hand it would have trashed the valves and pistons. You havent bent a valve apparently so you cant be that far out.

I also noticed at least on mine that when putting the new belts on that going under the tensioner though it was fully loose put the right pulley as you look facing the belts from the front one tooth off the mark. I had to offset the pulley back one tooth to compensate and it ended up directly on the mark.
Im guessing that your timing is out not your ignition, since it began after messing with the timing belts.
Ghost.President: G.M.M.C.C.
Member:Patriot Guard Riders
#6 05-18-2012, 09:51 PM,
Well, found "no compression" in right cylinders (1 and 3). The other side is pretty weak also, 90 - 100 psi (valves/rings must be getting tired). Thinking about swapping out complete engine assembly. Anyone know of one available?
#7 05-20-2012, 02:42 PM,
Pretty sure that if your out of time a mark or so the valves will be opening and closing out of sync with the pistion and you would have weak compression. If it ran ok before the poorboy timing thing and now it doesnt right after doing that, something done during the conversion caused it. Im still betting out of time a notch. Or two :d

Get top dead center on no 1 manually by feeling for the compression stroke with your finger. Belts off. You probably will have to move the cams around manually also as you rotate the crank to keep the valves out of the way. Easy does it if it starts to bind on the crank at all then move the cam pulleys a little till its free until you get no 1 on tdc manually. then t1 mark cant be out. Set the cam pulleys to their marks, " they should have travel to do that since you walked them along manually with the crank as you went" and install the belts.
that is what I had to do to get my ltd back in time after the pulley slipped. I know everyone says you can just turn it back to the postion before the slip and all is well but im living proof that somehow if it slips just right it can and will throw the whole engine totally out of time.
But if your totally convinced you need a new engine, ehhhh I could use a large paper weight shaped like a 1200 engine. :d
Ghost.President: G.M.M.C.C.
Member:Patriot Guard Riders
#8 05-21-2012, 12:07 AM,
Thanks for the advice Ghostrider. I'm gonna give your procedure a try, definitely. At this point, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain if it works. Found a running 84 with 88K miles, locally for $500. Still going to look around for a 86 or so engine, so it kinda matches my 86 Aspy. (Pulse generators in the front) but the 84 should work.
I'll keep you updated on the re-timing of the current engine. Tongue
#9 05-21-2012, 04:10 AM,
Carefully reset the timing from step 1 of the procedure in your manual.

#10 05-21-2012, 05:25 AM,
To use the 84 engine you will also have to use the 84 starter. I think your best bet is to retime your present engine. ( A lot cheaper too) Poorboy
#11 05-21-2012, 10:24 AM,
If it was my bike I would confirm and double check that the timing is correct. If the timing is correct then I would pull the heads and have them rebuilt at a decent machine shop. Sounds to me like you may have some bent valves and rebuilding the heads will proof that theory.
Ed (Vic) Belanger - 1954-2015
Founder of

#12 05-21-2012, 01:47 PM,

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