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After driving in heavy rain GW is running badly:
All:

I have had an '86 1200 Interstate for 3 1/2 months. I've done tuneup work on it, new fuel pump, new plugs, air filter, synched the carbs, and it has been running great. This afternoon in the city I drove into a Thunderstorm with a very hard rain. I was stuck at 2 lights for a while then made it to my destination, the bike was in the hard rain for perhaps 15 minutes. The bike ran fine during the storm and was good until I arrived and parked. At idle it suddenly died as I was taking my helmet off. It started up immediately and seemed fine except the idle was low.

I parked the bike under a porch so it was out of the rain during the 40 minutes I was shopping. When I came out she started right up although the idle was very low and it died. Again it started right up and as I tried to do a normal acceleration in 1st gear there was very little power, it slowly got up to 15mph but didn't want to increase speed in 2nd gear. There was a gas station in the parking lot so I drove over to fill the tank which was half full. I thought perhaps water somehow gotten into the fuel... :YMPRAY: , after filling up the bike started immediately but idled slowly and would die if I didn't twist the throttle. I started doing mental troubleshooting and thought perhaps something in the ignition system had gotten wet and was fouling out. I parked again using the choke to increase RPMs as I got off and looked at the engine. All 4 exhaust pipes close to the cylinders were very hot to the touch, the front two cylinders' pipes "seemed" a bit hotter but I had no way to check the temp so I'm not certain. I pushed the spark plug wires/connectors down onto the plugs to make sure they were properly in place.

As I idled using the choke the RPMs slowly increased from 2k to 3k although the choke wasn't moved. I decided to test drive again in the large parking lot and in 1st gear the bike had a loss of power then it would suddenly go to what seemed full power with normal acceleration. It did this several times, low power, slow acceleration, then suddenly it would increase RPMs and accelerate normally or close to it. This troubleshooting and test driving in the parking lot lasted about 15 minutes. The engine became much better running during this time although not "normal", I was hopeful that the test driving low speed was drying up whatever electrical problem I was having. I decided to try to make it the 12 miles home.

I made it home although ever so often I would get a backfire through the rear of the exhaust pipe. I've NEVER had a backfire located there before, ever. I've had the low muffled, backfire type noises around the cylinders but that happens infrequently, is minor, and goes away when the engine is warm.

So on the drive home the bike would accelerate but it wasn't normal, I always get the pushed back in my seat feeling when opening the throttle briskly and going through the gears. It wasn't like that this time. Periodic backfires out the rear pipes but it would get up to the normal speeds I make on this winding, hilly road.

I know this is a long post but I work on airplanes with Recip engines all the time and the more an owner can tell me about the symptoms he's experiencing the better it is for me to trouble shoot. I really hope you experienced Goldwingers can point me in the right direction. Again, the bike has been running perfectly, good gas mileage, immediate starting with an idle steady a 1000rpms. All that changed after the ride in the rain. This is my daily transportation so I need a solution ASAP.


thanks,
DC
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#1 07-23-2012, 08:55 PM,
Between the spark plugs there is a small drain hole to allow water to exit down through the cylinder head, if it is clogged up then water will short out the spark plugs.
Remove the spark plug boots and poke a coat hanger down through the hole to clear it out.
'RIDE TO BE SEEN' :d

Most common quote from a cager after killing a motorcyclist.

"I never saw him" instead of "I never looked for him".
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#2 07-23-2012, 09:43 PM,
Sorry to hear about your troubles; Have you checked the drain holes down in the spark plug wells? It's a common area that will collect dirt and allows water to pool in the wells....and foul the plugs....or rather ground them out, a piece of wire is usually all it takes to open up the drain holes. Hope this helps you...ooops! unionjack types faster than I!!...lol ^Smile^
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#3 07-23-2012, 09:48 PM,
unionjack Wrote:Between the spark plugs there is a small drain hole to allow water to exit down through the cylinder head, if it is clogged up then water will short out the spark plugs.
Remove the spark plug boots and poke a coat hanger down through the hole to clear it out.

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll go out and give that a try in a couple of minutes. I'm in a dusty area and the bike had sat for several months when I bought it so dust, heat, and rain certainly might plug the holes.

I'll report back in 30 minutes or so.

DC
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#4 07-23-2012, 09:49 PM,
unionjack Wrote:Between the spark plugs there is a small drain hole to allow water to exit down through the cylinder head, if it is clogged up then water will short out the spark plugs.
Remove the spark plug boots and poke a coat hanger down through the hole to clear it out.

UnionJack & Bladerunner,

Thanks to you both. One rear hole was definitely clogged up on the left side with some standing water inside. The front left might have been clogged also. On the right side I couldn't tell for certain if they were clogged before I stuck a wire down the hole.

The wire goes down a few inches then hits metal. Is this typical? I couldn't make the wire go any further after hitting the hard metal, should it not stop there or should it continue more than the 3 or 4" it goes now?

I'm waiting til the morning to fire it up to see if it's better. I sprayed some electronic contact cleaner on the sparkplug tips and inside the sparkplug wire connector/boot. It evaporates quickly so it shouldn't cause a problem.

Man I really hope it was something so simple. I didn't think it could be a major problem since it was running great until the storm hit.

thanks again,
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#5 07-23-2012, 11:14 PM,
The holes go right through the bottom of the heads so water always drains. You might have to remove the exhaust flanges to have access to the bottom of the holes. I used plastic weed trimmer line and was able to clear mine without exhaust pipe removal.
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#6 07-24-2012, 02:04 AM,
I have found that spiders like to make nests in those drain holes between the spark plugs so if you're heading out on a big trip clean those drain holes out before you go. I have also found that a cracked ignition coil casing caused the very same problem. Replacing the coil fixed the problem. I discovered the coil problem by removing the false tank and then misting the coils and wires using a fine spray from a spray bottle filled with water. Immediately upon spraying the coils the running engine started missing and sputtering and the spark started arcing to ground with a bright blue arc. If you're adventurous you can also check for spark leaks by using your fingertips and when your feet raise 3 feet off the ground you'll know you found the spark leak, but, don't use this method if you have a weak heart, otherwise it could actually kill you.
Ed (Vic) Belanger - 1954-2015
Founder of gl1200goldwings.com

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#7 07-24-2012, 03:51 AM,
Went to head for work this morning and my bike gave me the very same symptoms described above... Engine losing power and shutting down... wait 15 - 20 minutes and it would start with limited power and allow me to get about 1/2 mile closer to home. after 3 or 4 starts and shut downs it would not re-start.

Diagnostics have proven... My fuel pump went out.
Vegetarian: Old Indian word for Bad Hunter

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#8 07-24-2012, 01:58 PM,
Wild Horse Wrote:Went to head for work this morning and my bike gave me the very same symptoms described above... Engine losing power and shutting down... wait 15 - 20 minutes and it would start with limited power and allow me to get about 1/2 mile closer to home. after 3 or 4 starts and shut downs it would not re-start.

Diagnostics have proven... My fuel pump went out.

The difference between your fuel problem and the spark problem is that after the water on the ignition dries up the bike keeps going, but, when the fuel flow dries up you ain't going nowhere. Good luck on finding a pump. Make sure you test and confirm that the fuel pump relay is working properly before investing in a pump.
Ed (Vic) Belanger - 1954-2015
Founder of gl1200goldwings.com

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#9 07-24-2012, 02:22 PM,
I want to thank you guys for the help. It was as suggested, a couple of clogged drain holes in the sparkplug recessed area. After cleaning them out and letting the bike sit all night it started right up and is back to normal.

I really appreciate this forum and the members who are so helpful.

best,
DC
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#10 07-24-2012, 02:40 PM,
How would I test the relay?
Vegetarian: Old Indian word for Bad Hunter

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#11 07-24-2012, 03:12 PM,
Roleketu Wrote:The holes go right through the bottom of the heads so water always drains. You might have to remove the exhaust flanges to have access to the bottom of the holes. I used plastic weed trimmer line and was able to clear mine without exhaust pipe removal.

I wanted to follow up by saying that I could only get a coathanger or weed trimmer line to insert into the drain hole maybe 4 inches. I couldn't get either to go completely through and exit the bottom of the head. This depth apparently is enough as all 4 drain holes are now open and water pours out instantly as fast as I can pour it into the recessed hole.

thanks for all the help,
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#12 07-25-2012, 08:16 AM,
After the wire/nylon line/whatever you use comes out the bottom of the head, it hits the exhaust pipe. The end result is that although it feels like it isn't going through, it probably is.
Turtle
86 Interstate, ex  police bike
85 LTD, parting out

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#13 07-25-2012, 10:17 AM,
Wild Horse Wrote:How would I test the relay?
You can bench test the pump to test its function.

To test the relay I would think you could unplug the electrical at the pump and attach a test light.
Turn the ignition on and if the light glows, the relay is good.

May sound silly but, remove the fuel line at the inlet side of the fuel pump and make sure fuel is flowing freely to the pump.
Sometimes the in-line filter will clog thus starving the engine of fuel.
(make sure the petcock is working and the gas cap vent is not clogged)

You wouldn’t feel good replacing the fuel pump if all you needed was a new fuel filter.
enjoying the view from the saddle....... due mainly to the people and information found within this site
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#14 07-26-2012, 02:55 PM,
Free flow of fuel (checked that first) I originally thought clogged fuel filter.
Will pick up a test light tomorrow and test the relay, nobody locally was able to think of a way to test it.
Vegetarian: Old Indian word for Bad Hunter

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#15 07-26-2012, 03:09 PM,


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