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I had just got a 1997 sportster 1200 that has been sitting for a while owner said it ran fine when he put it away (family). The problems started at a gas leak from petcock (I replaced it) but it also had a backfire that sounded like it came from the carburetor area. I had Found out it could be my spark plugs replaced those and ran seaphome inside, and it ran the same. I then heard my jets could just need cleaned along with carburetor. I Cleaned everything and made sure I could see through everything. After doing that it gave it some life BUT it had a even more obvious puff of white smoke from carburetor along with the same pop/backfire sound, I could use the throttle to rev it up at this point but, when I started messing with the pilot screw thinking that could be it, I could no longer use the throttle without it completely sputtered and cutting off with a puff of smoke. Someone please please please help me
 

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Don't even try to mess with the idle setting until the bike is fully warmed up and the enricher (choke) is fully open. Otherwise you're just chasing your tail around the tree...

Check that you got the vacuum line connected to the petcock and that there are no cracks in the tubing.
The biggy when cleaning the carb: NEVER put a pin or anything into the jets holes! ONLY air and/or carb cleaner! It is really easy to enlarge those tiny holes... Then the jetting is just AFU.

Remove the float bowl and ensure the float needle is functioning properly. While you're in there check the float setting.
The last carbed sporty i played with was one cold blooded puppy! That bike had to run for a good 20 or 30 miles before the choke could be opened up. (That was a '03.)

The HD service manual is a TON of help with that carb!
 
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