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Hi all,
I bought a 1978 GS550 in August of last year and its had quite a few problems that I can not seem to diagnose with my skill level. I like to start the bike every week or so when im not riding during the winter but this time it will not start. Granted it 20 degrees right now in Columbus but I got it to start in similar weather a week ago. It will crank and then run for a solid 5 seconds before dying on me. When its 70 degrees or hotter i have to hold the choke open for a solid minute or two just to get the thing to idle and then it runs well but if you drop the choke before then it dies. It seems like its just getting a serious lack of fuel or something. This is besides the fact that after some idiot kicked my bike and broke a plug the plug that i replaced fouled in less than a month with me barely riding the thing. The problem last time i started it was a fouled plug on cylinder 1 (the one closest to the kickstand) as well as all of the carburetors having a bunch of orange garbage leak out of them when i unscrewed the drain screw at the bottom of each carb. After that it started right up. I tried the same solution except replacing the plug and it still does not want to start and im worried im gonna kill the battery or the starter and kick starting is definitely out of the question. I am very inexperienced with carburetors as im only 21 and all of my cars have been EFI. The plug on cylinder 1 is a glossy black now and im assuming there is something seriously wrong with the bike at this point because it believe it to be oil fouling. Is there a possibility that the fuel is bad? I regularly use a Carb Defender additive in the fuel because i believe the fuel lines are original and i dont want the ethanol in the gas to burn through them or the parts in the engine. Sorry for the long post any ideas on what could be wrong are greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Joe
 

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Does this machine have a stock air box and filter on it ?
Having a "high flow" filter will cause it to run lean.
That will cause hard starting, especially when cold.
Having to leave the choke partly ON until it warms up is normal.

THEN.....yes, your fuel is probably "bad".
You need to drain it ALL out, including the float bowls, and put in some fresh with a bit more than the recommended dose of Berrymans B12 Chemtool.
The fuel filters need to be inspected/cleaned/changed too.
Then start and run it long enough to get "hot".
DO NOT do this when it is cold out.
You probably will need a tender for the battery too.

Once you get your fuel problem figured out, then you can worry about the black plug.
The bad news regarding that is that a fix for that might not be worth the effort or the money.
If it is a stuck ring, it might be easily fixable.
If it is a worn out or cracked ring, then probably not worth it.

In general, a bike that old is likely to be a pain in the ass forever since parts likely will be close to impossible to find.

P.S. If you do get it running better.......do NOT routinely start it if it can't be ridden.
That is harder on the engine than just leaving it sit.
And without a battery tender, it is hard on the battery too.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Does this machine have a stock air box and filter on it ?
Having a "high flow" filter will cause it to run lean.
That will cause hard starting, especially when cold.
Having to leave the choke partly ON until it warms up is normal.

THEN.....yes, your fuel is probably "bad".
You need to drain it ALL out, including the float bowls, and put in some fresh with a bit more than the recommended dose of Berrymans B12 Chemtool.
The fuel filters need to be inspected/cleaned/changed too.
Then start and run it long enough to get "hot".
DO NOT do this when it is cold out.
You probably will need a tender for the battery too.

Once you get your fuel problem figured out, then you can worry about the black plug.
The bad news regarding that is that a fix for that might not be worth the effort or the money.
If it is a stuck ring, it might be easily fixable.
If it is a worn out or cracked ring, then probably not worth it.

In general, a bike that old is likely to be a pain in the ass forever since parts likely will be close to impossible to find.

P.S. If you do get it running better.......do NOT routinely start it if it can't be ridden.
That is harder on the engine than just leaving it sit.
And without a battery tender, it is hard on the battery too.
Hi EasyRider,

I will try you suggestions on draining the fuel and putting some fresh stuff in. Could the plug possibly be fouled since the bike is sitting at an angle over the kickstand when the bike is sitting for so long and all of the crap in the bad fuel went into Carb1 because of gravity? I feel like it cant be a problem with oil fouling because the bike had 0 problems with starting and running during august-November when it ran it multiple times per week. Could it also be fouled because i previously tried to start the bike and basically flooded the engine without getting it started and let the engine sit for awhile? I have the battery tender and i charged it up today but the battery is a brand new Xtreme battery from batteries and bulbs so i dont think its an issue with not having enough amperage to turn the bike over. If the fuel lines are original and the gas is somehow bad could it just be an issue with the fuel being frozen in the line? Also do you know if Carb Defender by Driven Racing Oils is junk or not? i have been using it at every fill up because i dont know if the fuel lines are original and i have read somewhere that those old fuel lines will degrade because of the ethanol in modern day gasoline. Thanks again for the help

Best,
Joe Grosick
 

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Hi EasyRider,

I feel like it cant be a problem with oil fouling because the bike had 0 problems with starting and running during august-November when it ran it multiple times per week.

Also do you know if Carb Defender by Driven Racing Oils is junk or not?
Start with fresh plugs and see what happens next. Plugs are cheap.
But a piston ring can stick at any time. Yesterday it's fine, today it's pumping oil.

I don't know about that additive but you should NOT be putting anything in with the gas all the time.
It might be doing more harm than good.
 

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ER; "I don't know about that additive but you should NOT be putting anything in with the gas all the time."
"It might be doing more harm than good."

Brings a question to mind, I live in east Texas and "No Ethanol" gas is running in short supply. There are two types of ethanol shield additives, one for long term storage and the other for equipment that is used regularly with 1 or 2 week down times between uses. Ethanol is hard on carburation parts and lines. Has anybody found a good solution for this?
 

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Ethanol is hard on carburation parts and lines. Has anybody found a good solution for this?
Yes. Don't believe the lies and mis-information.
Ethanol is NOT "bad" for equipment that was designed for it.

It just is NOT a problem.......unless a vehicle sits unused for 6 months or more.
And even then, "pure" gas will gum up too, just not quite as fast.

Tens of millions of vehicles are on the roads with E10 in the tanks in the US alone every day with no real fuel system problems. It is true.

Use what comes out of the pump and don't worry about it.
You don't NEED any kind of additive to "counteract" the ethanol.
REALLY you don't.

NOW......if you have a vehicle that is well over 30 years old OR a piece of cheap Chinese yard equipment then ethanol could be a bit of a problem since those were not designed to use it.
 

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Thanks for info ER. E10 gas might be a problem for what would be considered "Vintage vehicles" pre-2000. If the vehicle ran on leaded gas, it was not designed to run the newer blended gasolines, sooo I'm good to go. Thanks again!
 

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Thanks for info ER. E10 gas might be a problem for what would be considered "Vintage vehicles" pre-2000. If the vehicle ran on leaded gas, it was not designed to run the newer blended gasolines, sooo I'm good to go. Thanks again!
Ethanol came into wide use well BEFORE 2000.
Type this into Google: "when did ethanol start being put in gasoline"
I learned some stuff too.
 
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