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Sparking but no fire...

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So, I pick up a cheap old bike ('86 KLR 250) that doesn't run. Clean the carb, run the calves, check the cam chain and timing, throw in a new plug, kick away and nothing. Not even a burp. Pull the plug and ground it and we have spark. Pretty stupid that it fires on every revolution, but I hear that's the way these bikes were made. Put it back in and grab the starting fluid wanting to hear something. Nothing. Pulled the coil off, cleaned the connections, replaced the plug wire, checked for spark (have spark outside the head) put it back together and still nothing. What the heck am I missing? Even crappy compression and weak spark will light up starting fluid. Could the plug not be getting a ground in the head? Any ideas?

I haven't actually put a compression gauge to it yet but don't feel that's it. Maybe I'm wrong about that. I need a clue.

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Do not really know why it will not start but over the years that I have been involved in motorcycling I have had the same issue a few times. When all efforts failed I hooked it up to a pull vehicle and towed it. I am going to guess that it had something to do with getting the engine spinning faster than what you can do by kicking it. Anyway it worked most of the time. The key is to attach the rope in such a manner that you can physically keep the handle bars straight and release it in the event the engine starts or thing start to go south for you. Note: if your compression is not in spec this most likely will not work or maybe run until you release the rope. 

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Thanks Bill. That sure sounds exciting. Doesn't sound very practical for the next time i want to start it though. Any other suggestions?

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Sorry I wasn't as clear as I should have been. By doing what we did it fixed the problem so that it started like a normal bike should after the tow. In other words what ever problem was there fixed itself.     

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So, compression test gave me 60 or so until I unhooked the spring for the automatic decompression do hickey on the exhaust cam. Then I got 135 after 4 kicks or so. Not horrible.

Carb off, another check that the plug sparks when grounded to the head and more kicks with starting fluid. I may have actually gotten a little burp bit just one if that. No run away motor like you expect with an intake full of either. Bummer.

I'm thinking weak spark. Not sure where to go with that first. I have spark but it's not bright and loud like I would hope for. CDI? Pull the side Cove and stare at the stator?

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I hate reading a thread and then never hearing back from the thread started to find out how it worked out... So here's my closer.

 

I took all the harness plugs apart and spayed them with contact cleaner, went through the carb one more time for good measure, pushed it down a long hill with my daughter on it and after about four tries bump starting it, it finally lit off. So, it looks like KawboyBill was right. Just crank the old turd fast and long enough and maybe you'll get lucky! And for the $350 I have in the i bike, I'm feeling pretty lucky!

 

Now all I need to do is find a chain slider, a couple of side covers, a rear blinker, order up some tires and tubes, a battery, some grips, chain and sprockets, rebuild the forks... All the conventional old bike crap. Thanks everyone for weighing in. Good to know you guys have my back.

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Glad you got it started. I guess I should have told you that we have pushed our bikes down the drive way into the street where the pilot jumped on the seat and popped the clutch while the second pusher kept the pressure on to start the bike. That usually worked too. Hopefully it will start by kicking it over in the future. And thanks for the update as it is always good to hear that someones advice helped solve the problem. 

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