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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. PLEASE help! :)

I own a 1997 Sportster 883 with about 9k miles on it.
It has always run great but has seen better days cosmetically.

In mid-April I drained the fuel tank, oil tank, and removed tanks, fenders and trim pieces for re-paint.

Everything looked shiny and new, and was re-assembled over this past weekend. I filled 2.9 quarts of oil in the shiny new oil tank, and filled the freshly painted gas tank with new 90-octane gas. I tried firing it up and it cranked and cranked and eventually the battery died. No luck.

I hooked up my jump pack and it cranked and cranked. Nothing. I exposed the carb to make sure gas was getting squirted properly, and it was (not a fuel injected bike). I removed the spark plugs, checked for spark, and there was good spark.

I left the bike overnight on a charger just in case I flooded the engine.
The next morning I shot a blast of starter fluid into the carb and tried again. It cranked and cranked and sounded like it was going to start a few times, and eventually the battery died.

I did the same thing throughout the day with the jump pack, with the choke in many different positions. Nothing. I tried dry starting it (without twisting the throttle a few times before starting)... nothing. I tried wet starting it (twisting the throttle 6 or 7 times before starting).... nothing.

The bike just will not turn over. Even with starting fluid.

SO, I'm at a loss and need some help please. I have spark, I have fuel, I have the battery on the charger and some fresh jump packs.... I have starting fluid.
It cranks just fine. All the lights are on and bright. No warning indicators are being shown.
I really don't want to have to have it towed to my nearest HD dealer. I'm hoping this is something stupid.

Thanks all!
-Dave
 

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Look in the points cover. Sounds like timing is screwed. Could also be the coil. Is the ignition set stock or aftermarket?


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey bbally...

I'm not a mechanic and I really don't know what a points cover is. Further, since this has been my one and only bike ever (purchased about 5 years ago from the original owner), I couldn't tell you anything about the coil or ignition. I have nothing for reference to suggest whether something is stock or aftermarket. I haven't changed anything.

I'm good with the cosmetic stuff and can turn bolts for the absolute basics, but I'm definitely not a mechanic. I can take pictures of things and post them here in support of any suggestions... if someone can guide me as to what needs to be pointed out. Aside from removing the fenders and tanks, nothing else has been touched. It ran perfect up until that point, and now it doesn't - that's the only thing I can say for sure.

Thanks for any additional guidance.
-Dave
 

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Fuel air compression and spark ... if they are all there it comes to timing and spark heat.



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I would put money of a dirty or fowled carb! I recently went through this with a buddies 03 Sporty that had been in storage for many years: Your getting raw fuel into it, but if that fuel isn't mixed with the right amount of air, it will not start.
Its been sitting for quite some time! I would start by removing the float bowl on the carb. To make sure there isn't any water or debris in the float bowl. Also make sure the float valve is working. Next remove the jets and clean them with carb cleaner. If all of this is foreign to you, seek out a motorcycle mechanic. It will cost a few bucks but, save you many headaches! Carbs can be troublesome if you don't know what your doing. No matter what: NEVER stick anything into jets to "clean" them! Anything other than solvent and air WILL ruin them.
 

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Look on Craigslist or eBay for a used "Genuine Harley Davidson" shop manual for your year and model bike.

Money well spent ... Has step by step troubleshooting guides that even I can follow ... most of the time. ;)

Cheers,
Smoketown
 

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Shut off petcock? Maybe not full on? Enough fuel to see at the carb but not enough to start...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wonderful folks... thanks for the troubleshooting tips.

ematicic, I'd played with the fuel valve in all positions just in case I nudged it while taking it apart or putting it back together. No love in any position.

Regarding the suggestions about the timing or the carb cleaning, yeah it's all foreign to me. I know what it all is and where it is, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to dig into those things for an expected resolution of the problem. For something like that I'd have to have it towed to a shop.

I was hoping I was overlooking something obvious, or something that people in the HD community frequently see (that is do-able by a non-mechanic). But as was stated, if you have air, fuel and spark.... things should just work. If they don't, then you probably have to get into the nitty-gritty that is outside my realm of experience.

As it is now riding season, I'd like to be riding versus tinkering. Hahaha.
I'm going to do some exploring with basic carb-cleaner and check the ignition module today. I may ask a couple more questions.
Barring those items though, I'm afraid this may be outside my level of experience. :-/

-Dave
 

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Vacuum petcock. Check that the vacuum hose is connected to the back of the petcock and also at the VOES and the carb vacuum port.
 
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Another thing to check seeing as the tank was painted. Check that the tank vent tube on the tank underside isn't plugged. Painters do that when masking prior to paint. This won't cause the engine to not start tho.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
For what it's worth.... I just drilled through the rivets of the ignition system, and there is a "Dynatek 2000i Programmable Ignition" module inside.
If anyone still thinks this is a timing issue, I'd be open to experiment or test some possible solutions.....

Thanks!
-Dave
 

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If the ignition module has a test LED then crank the engine over to see if it flashes on and off.
 
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For what it's worth.... I just drilled through the rivets of the ignition system, and there is a "Dynatek 2000i Programmable Ignition" module inside.
If anyone still thinks this is a timing issue, I'd be open to experiment or test some possible solutions.....

Thanks!
-Dave
Is the vacuum hose connected to the petcock ?
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Vacuum petcock. Check that the vacuum hose is connected to the back of the petcock and also at the VOES and the carb vacuum port.
Hi Schmidty....
Got it. Vacuum tube appears to be connected properly. I just removed the fuel line to the petcock and it does not drain fuel. When a small vacuum is applied to the vacuum port of the petcock, fuel drains. So I think the Vacuum system is ok (ok-ish?).
 

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YES... there is a green light when I turn on the key... and when I try to crank the green light and red light flash on and off
That sounds right to me but if I were you I'd go to their website for directions on that particular model ignition.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
That sounds right to me but if I were you I'd go to their website for directions on that particular model ignition.
Already downloaded the user manual. LOL.
There's good instructions for reprogramming the module, but I hesitate to do this as I don't have a timing gun, I don't have a reference as to what it was set at, and nothing has changed in that area (it was rivetted closed, so nothing has been touched).
 

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Hello everyone. PLEASE help! :)

I own a 1997 Sportster 883 with about 9k miles on it.
It has always run great but has seen better days cosmetically.

In mid-April I drained the fuel tank, oil tank, and removed tanks, fenders and trim pieces for re-paint.

Everything looked shiny and new, and was re-assembled over this past weekend. I filled 2.9 quarts of oil in the shiny new oil tank, and filled the freshly painted gas tank with new 90-octane gas. I tried firing it up and it cranked and cranked and eventually the battery died. No luck.

I hooked up my jump pack and it cranked and cranked. Nothing. I exposed the carb to make sure gas was getting squirted properly, and it was (not a fuel injected bike). I removed the spark plugs, checked for spark, and there was good spark.

I left the bike overnight on a charger just in case I flooded the engine.
The next morning I shot a blast of starter fluid into the carb and tried again. It cranked and cranked and sounded like it was going to start a few times, and eventually the battery died.

I did the same thing throughout the day with the jump pack, with the choke in many different positions. Nothing. I tried dry starting it (without twisting the throttle a few times before starting)... nothing. I tried wet starting it (twisting the throttle 6 or 7 times before starting).... nothing.

The bike just will not turn over. Even with starting fluid.

SO, I'm at a loss and need some help please. I have spark, I have fuel, I have the battery on the charger and some fresh jump packs.... I have starting fluid.
It cranks just fine. All the lights are on and bright. No warning indicators are being shown.
I really don't want to have to have it towed to my nearest HD dealer. I'm hoping this is something stupid.

Thanks all!
-Dave
Did you start it before you tore it apart?
 

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Hello everyone. PLEASE help! :)

I own a 1997 Sportster 883 with about 9k miles on it.
It has always run great but has seen better days cosmetically.

In mid-April I drained the fuel tank, oil tank, and removed tanks, fenders and trim pieces for re-paint.

Everything looked shiny and new, and was re-assembled over this past weekend. I filled 2.9 quarts of oil in the shiny new oil tank, and filled the freshly painted gas tank with new 90-octane gas. I tried firing it up and it cranked and cranked and eventually the battery died. No luck.

I hooked up my jump pack and it cranked and cranked. Nothing. I exposed the carb to make sure gas was getting squirted properly, and it was (not a fuel injected bike). I removed the spark plugs, checked for spark, and there was good spark.

I left the bike overnight on a charger just in case I flooded the engine.
The next morning I shot a blast of starter fluid into the carb and tried again. It cranked and cranked and sounded like it was going to start a few times, and eventually the battery died.

I did the same thing throughout the day with the jump pack, with the choke in many different positions. Nothing. I tried dry starting it (without twisting the throttle a few times before starting)... nothing. I tried wet starting it (twisting the throttle 6 or 7 times before starting).... nothing.

The bike just will not turn over. Even with starting fluid.

SO, I'm at a loss and need some help please. I have spark, I have fuel, I have the battery on the charger and some fresh jump packs.... I have starting fluid.
It cranks just fine. All the lights are on and bright. No warning indicators are being shown.
I really don't want to have to have it towed to my nearest HD dealer. I'm hoping this is something stupid.

Thanks all!
-Dave

dose you bike have a factory or aftermarket alarm that could also not let the bike start go back through make sure you have spark make sure I take boot not leaking just double check everything
 
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