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Depressed, about to give up!!

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Greetings:

I just bought a nice 2002 XR400R about 4 days ago and have yet to start it - despite having kicked it over a couple of hundred times.

I have read and printed out every thread on this site about the problem and so far have got nothing to work. The guy I bought it off did get it started, but I don't know how.

I've already ordered a Mikuni pumper carb and am more than a little upset that I had to shell out $400 so soon after buying it.

What am I doing wrong? One thought was that I might have opened (or closed) the idle adjustment screw too far one way or the other (the large black knurled knob by the choke). Does anyone know the standard setting?

Any suggestions? This truly sucks!!

I live in central Ohio if anyone knows of any good mechanics or riders in this regions that might be able to help.

Thanks in advance.

-Jim

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I know you said you read every thread about starting but what exactly are you doing most of the time when you kick it? Did you find top dead center first? You don't want to give it any throttle when you are kicking, make sure the choke lever is up for choke, down and it's off. There is no number of turns that the idle adjustment knob is supposed to be turned out, you use it to make the idle around 1300 rpm. I've never messed with mine but maybe others can give a clue to what the average number of turns is so you can get in the ballpark. I would open it most of the way, better to have it idle too high than not want to at all. In the future you should make note of how many turns out adjusters are before they are played with, that way you can always go back to where you started. You shouldn't need a pumper carb to get it started and that might give you more frustration if there is something else wrong that is being overlooked. There's an old saying among British car mechanics that goes "90% of carb problems are electrical." Even though our bikes have much better electrical systems than those old British cars there are still other things you could be overlooking. Do you have spark and is the spark plug gapped and tightened down properly? Are the valves adjusted properly? Tight valves can make a bike almost impossible to start if they are far out of adjustment. Can you bump start it? Doing so while coasting down a hill would be best if there are any hills in your part of Ohio.

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Lets review.

You're using the choke, right? Lever all the way up is choke full on. Lever all the way down is choke off.

Gas is on? Petcock lever pointed down.

You're starting your kick from TDC?

You're leaving the throttle closed while kicking it, not slightly opening the throttle when you kick?

Are you using the manual decomp lever to precharge the engine, holding it and the kill switch while kicking the engine over half dozen times or so?

Spark plug cap secure on the plug?

When was the last valve adjustment? Tight valves make for hard starting.

For the idle setting, measure from the throttle cam contact point where the end of the idle screw contacts it....to the idle screw boss( what the screw screws into. The side of the boss that faces the throttle cam.) Set the screw so that measurement is 11/16". That should be a good starting point. Should not have to go more than 1/2 turn past that, if needed.

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Thanks for the info.

Yes, I'm following the procedures you've listed. Perhaps it is the valves, I have no idea how long it's been since they were adjusted. I just downloaded the service manual tonight, so I may try adjusting the valves tomorrow.

Again, thanks for the responses. Tomorrow's a new day, so I will try again, double-checking my procedures before giving up.

-Jim

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Check spark : pull plug , hold to metal surface , kick and look for spark.

Check fuel is flowing out of the petcock : take hose off , turn fuel on , make sure it flows.

Check air flow : filter clean , no mouse nest in airbox.

After these things have been checked , then move on to valves and compression.

Have you tried push starting it ? The day I picked up my XR , it wouldnt start. 100 kicks later the guy I got it from tied rope to the forks and hooked it to his truck bumper and pull started me , lol. The carb needed cleaning I later found out but it started.

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Check what has been suggested. Also a quick way to identify an area of focus is to put a new plug in it. Remove the air filter and give it a shot of starter fluid, not much. Hold the throttle wide open and kick it. It should fire on the second or third kick. If it does you have a fuel delivery system problem. First check the easy stuff before removing the carb for a good cleaning and possible rebuild. If it still won't fire test electrical system starting with the coil. I know everyone has there own trouble shooting system. This one is fast and cheap. Good Luck.

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I had a heck of a time starting mine, to the point once I got it going I was too pooped to ride. One thing I learned is don't kick too fast like you are kicking over a 125 2 stroke. Kick it slow like you would a big bore Harely. I also don't give it any gas and atleast on my bike, I don't use full choke.

good luck and always stop on a hill incase you need to bump start it later :thumbsup:

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Whenever my bike gets hard to start, it's ALWAYS been cured with a fresh plug and a carb douche. I've got 4 XR's and never had to adjust a valve yet. I check them, but they are always good. If you have spark and fuel, it will fire. You are on the bottom end of the learning curve in XR starting procedure, that's all. Stay with it! TR42 is the man when it comes to XR's! Follow his advice!

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When my XR sits in my (unheated michigan) garage for weeks without starting I do this. Take the wifes hair dryer and position it to heat under the carb for about 15 minutes. Come in the house, watch ESPN and grab a cofffee go back out and starts with one kick. Works every time for me.

My other trick is to have the choke on and give the thottle a short twist just as the kick starter almost reaches the bottom of the stroke.

Good luck.

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Does the engine even pop or sound like it wants to start? If not loosen the float bowl drain screw. Fuel should flow out of the overflow tube. No fuel you may have a stuck float valve. You may need to clean the carb jets.

As mentioned before check for spark. You could have a stuck kill switch.

When I go to start my bike, I kick through until the engine hits the compression stroke. Then I pull in the decompression lever. Push the kickstart lever down a small amount.

Release the decompression lever. Let the kickstart lever come back up. Then kick hard.

As you have found out the biggest evil these bikes possess is hard starting.

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+1 on trying to bump start.

If that works, it eliminates so many other possibilities.

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FRESH FUEL

One of our XR4s is notoriously difficult to start after storage. (Stock ‘99)

It seems to me that the fuel left in the carb bowl goes bad, flat?

A riding buddy was purchasing a used CRF250X from the local Honda dealer. It was not starting, so the salesman laid the bike on its left side until the fuel ran out the over flow tube.

I tried this with the problematic XR and it started much easier than normal.

The procedure lacks a lot in elegance, but is better IMO that using up all my energy and patience kicking a recalcitrant motorcycle.

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+1

FRESH FUEL

It seems to me that the fuel left in the carb bowl goes bad, flat?

A riding buddy was purchasing a used CRF250X from the local Honda dealer. It was not starting, so the salesman laid the bike on its left side until the fuel ran out the over flow tube.

I tried this with the problematic XR and it started much easier than normal.

That was how I eventually got 2 fiddy started after it had stood for a dogs age, nothing else worked.

It does seem that fuel goes "off" or just evaporates from the float bowl over time.

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my 280 used to be a real pig to start and i'd considered an alternative carb,

but after spending a couple of days trying different pilot jets and screw settings,

ive now got a bike that always starts within 2 kicks,no messing with idle or anything

just gas on,choke on kick ,and away she goes,

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Well Jim, I just want to give you a word of encouragement.:thumbsup:

I bought my first XR4 from a buddy who always had trouble getting it to start.:lol:

After I did the "Gordon's Mods" to that bike, it starts 1st or 2nd kick most of the time. I now maintain three XR400's and if one will not start easy, I pull and check, clean or replace the spark plug first. If thats not the problem, I swing up the rear sub frame, pull the carb and clean out all passages. Old gas leaves a brownish deposit (reducing the size of the jet) that may not come clean by spray cleaner alone. I use a piece of wire with the spray cleaner to clean out the jets and passages.

I do think that you will soon have this problem behind you :lol: and you will be very happy with the XR400.:ride:

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Did this beast start yet?? I'm on pins and needles here!

... one thing I noted in your original post. You said the owner "got it to start". So, did he start it just before you bought it (to show you it runs)? And did you ride it? IF yes, yes... then, did you feel the motor to see if he pre-warmed it before he started it (a sellers trick)?

If he started it warm, then he'd have possibly done his voo-doo magic to get it started before you got there. Maybe some ether into the filter, or other 'easy' methods.

If it wasn't warm, then you probably don't have a valve issue since he got it running. Did he kick and kick for hours for you to see him start it? If not, then CALL HIM and ask him what his method was. Simple as that I'd assume.

Now that you've adjusted the idle, best thing to do is take and WATCH the idle knob move the carb's throttle assembly. Allow the knob to sit against the throttle pull and adjust two more turns clockwise. This way, You'll know for sure it'll idle once started (otherwise it's a shot in the dark, and idle is very important for starting procedures).

Once you have the idle re-adjusted, and the choke set... grab a can of starting fluid and hold the throttle open... *squirt* *squirt* into the airfilter. Then hop on, and kick. If your bike has spark, it'll for SURE sputter or cough... or possibly start. If not, it could be horribly flooded (smell fuel?). If you get no cough, or choke, or sputter from the engine... I'd pull the plug and see if it's drenched with fuel... and/or if it has spark (but you said HE started it - highly doubtful your coil or CDI died between then and now) and like already mentioned... throw a new one in for the heck of it. New plugs always start easier than old.

... it sounds like your fairly new to this bike, or bikes in general. But, all you need is some patience. Don't do what some will, and go adjusting stuff that you don't know where it's supposed to be set to run.... it'll just make things worse. Way worse. Or be sure to set it all back to where it was as best you can. And again, CALL the original owner!

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Lots of good advice, especially #18. I've had simular experiences with all of my XRs and a fresh plug and clean carb solves most starting problems. The low speed passages, jets, and ports in the carb foul easily via deposits left from evaporating gas. Every time I have a cold starting problem, a rough idle, or popping on decel the fix has been to clean the carb. Also install an inline fuel filter. Using starting fluid will help you eliminate ignition as a problem. So my experience is it is almost ALWAYS a fouled carb, but I like to do the easy things first so put in a fresh plug and try starting fluid before pulling the carb.

I've owned big British singles and they can be hard to start, here is what I can add from those experiences. First you will never get a large single thru the compression stroke with enough speed to start without proper kicker technique, that is why the starting procedure includes finding TDC so the crank can turn 1 1/2 turns before the next compression stroke. This gives you enough time to get the flywheel moving fast enough to carry thru the compression stroke and start.

The goal is to impart as much energy to the flywheels as possible during those 1 1/2 crank revolutions, so how you operate the kicker is very important. Smaller engines with lighter flywheels can be rotated fast enough to start with the strength in your thigh muscles, a big single needs much more power to spin the flywheels fast enough so you also need to use your body weight. This requires a long powerful stroke on the kicker beginning with your body weight and finishing with the power of your thigh muscle. As another poster said watch a Harley owner start his bike.

Pre start drill is important because it will purge whatever was in the intake track when the bike was stopped/quit and replace it with the correct mixture for starting. My experience is I seldom need 10 cycles, usually one or two. But my friend likes the number ten and he often proves me wrong.

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