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Sportster Motorcycle Air intake, Carburetor, EFI, Fuel, and Exhaust Problems, advice and/or how tos for Sporster and Buell motorcycle carburators, Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI), Air Intake, Fuel and Exhaust.

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  #1  
Old 30th November 2016
JaredNW528 JaredNW528 is offline
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Angry Unsolved Starting Issue 2003 XLH883

First off, I'm new to the forum so hello to everyone.

Second: I've searched many, many threads and still can't seem to find a good answer to my particular issue. So here goes.

I have a 2003 Sportster XLH883 Hugger that's been having starting issues. It starts when cold, runs and rides just fine when warmed up, I can shut it off and as long as I start it within a minute or two it starts right up just fine.. However, after it sits for about 10-15 minutes it has a lot of trouble starting, it turns, backfires, turns, pops, turns, almost starts, and turns some more. If I shake the hell out of her it generally will start up or if I pull the plugs (which are bone dry) and hit it with starting fluid it starts right up as well. What in the bloody hell is going on?! Please help!

The battery seems to be good, charging system is fine, brand new coils and plugs, did a basic carb cleaning by spraying carb cleaner through the carb while running, bypassed the bank position sensor, still the problem persists..
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  #2  
Old 30th November 2016
Jollly Rogers Jollly Rogers is offline
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Sure sounds like a carb problem to me. Could be a float adjustment issue or some crud in some ports. Being it starts with some additional fuel... May want to pull the AC and see if the accelerator pump will give a good squirt after the warm up. If it does, try racking the throttle 3 or 4 times to see if the fuel squirts will get it started.
Joe
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  #3  
Old 30th November 2016
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My recently bought 03 did the same thing, It was the self contained ignition black box that when hot was NFG. On the 03 bikes the ignition is under the timing cover and suffer from heat soak when parking a hot motor. Cost me 2 hundred bucks from Harley or you could get an aftermarket ignition box for maybe a bit less. This is a fairly common problem on these bikes.
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  #4  
Old 30th November 2016
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IXL2Relax IXL2Relax is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Man 2 View Post
My recently bought 03 did the same thing, It was the self contained ignition black box that when hot was NFG.
If you suspect this, you can test for heat failure by removing the timing cover - run the bike - stop it - wait to restart - try to restart to see if it has the problem - if it has the problem, spray the ignition module (exposed when you removed the timing cover) with some electronic cold spray...

If the bike now starts normally, the likely culprit is the Ignition Module as Tin Man 2 indicated... As he said, these original ignitions on 98-03 in the nosecone are notorious for failing...

You can also do the reverse - try to induce the problem by blow hot air from a hair dryer on the exposed ignition module - if the problem shows up, you got a heat-failing ignition module...

===========================================

However, my suspicion is that it is fuel related... Being of that age, perhaps the vacuum line is failing and not producing enough vacuum to open the vacuum-operated petcock sufficiently to keep the bowl full of fuel...

Try this checklist:
http://sportsterpedia.com/doku.php/h...verything_else

Actually, due to it's age, I would simply do a simple maintenance on the carb - remove the carb and clean it - install a rebuild kit (gaskets, etc.) - replace the rubber vacuum hose(s) - remove the petcock & clean, etc.

Start here:
http://sportsterpedia.com/doku.php/h...ur_information

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Last edited by IXL2Relax; 30th November 2016 at 14:45..
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  #5  
Old 30th November 2016
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sportsterdoc sportsterdoc is offline
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First of all: Welcome from southern Nevada

In the section in the top right corner of your post, you do not provide location, which can be helpful in respect to geographic conditions.

Posts 3 & 4 covers the possibility of the nose cone ignition module failing. Running the nose cone cover off may change the symptoms (delay heat buildup and expedite cooling, when shut off).

However, I think Joe (Jolly Rogers) reply (focusing on the starting fluid start up comment) is the most likely issue.

Spraying carb cleaner does not usually do enough to fix a carb problem. Here are some details to augment what Jolly posted:

a. petcock screen not clogged?
b. fuel tank cap venting?
c. petcock flowing (vacuum connected on the vacuum operated)?
d. fuel in bowl (open drain screw is quick way to check)?
e. if a-d are OK, then remove carb bowl and check float valve not restricted with debris
f. float level correct?

If a partially blocked pilot jet is an issue, does it make a difference if you twist the throttle, once or twice, before trying to start?

Last edited by sportsterdoc; 30th November 2016 at 16:50..
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  #6  
Old 30th November 2016
JaredNW528 JaredNW528 is offline
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Filled in the upper right corner but I live in southeast WA.

I had thought about the petcock but haven't had an opportunity to check. All hoses seem to be fine, I'll run a propane test I the vacuum lines this evening, there is fuel I'm the bowl and doesn't seem to be any sediment, twisting the throttle doesn't help at all when starting and I've tried holding open in all positions. This weekend I'll try to get around to doing a full cleaning if the carb and see if that helps.

How do I know what the correct float level is?
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  #7  
Old 30th November 2016
Tom Beckner Tom Beckner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JaredNW528 View Post
First off, I'm new to the forum so hello to everyone.

Second: I've searched many, many threads and still can't seem to find a good answer to my particular issue. So here goes.

I have a 2003 Sportster XLH883 Hugger that's been having starting issues. It starts when cold, runs and rides just fine when warmed up, I can shut it off and as long as I start it within a minute or two it starts right up just fine.. However, after it sits for about 10-15 minutes it has a lot of trouble starting, it turns, backfires, turns, pops, turns, almost starts, and turns some more. If I shake the hell out of her it generally will start up or if I pull the plugs (which are bone dry) and hit it with starting fluid it starts right up as well. What in the bloody hell is going on?! Please help!

The battery seems to be good, charging system is fine, brand new coils and plugs, did a basic carb cleaning by spraying carb cleaner through the carb while running, bypassed the bank position sensor, still the problem persists..
Based on your description, the carburetor and fuel system works.

Based on the description, it appears to be a temperature related, intermittent
problem. My guess would be to check the ignition module by warming it up
with a hair drier and see if the motor quits idling. If this causes the motor to
quit, attempt to restart it. If the fault is evident, allow the motor to sit for
30 minutes and restart. If it starts then after cooling off, that would be
conformation of a temperature related failure in the ignition module.

That was an everyday problem back in the '70's with Fords and even some
GM V-8 cars.

Tom Beckner
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  #8  
Old 30th November 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JaredNW528 View Post
How do I know what the correct float level is?
Float level is a long shot, but when you are into the carb, it is worth checking.

http://cv-performance.com/harley_float_setting

The starting fluid enabling a start could be deceiving if the spark is very weak.

With plugs out, plugs in high voltage boots, plug prongs grounded (typically to cylinder/head cooling fins), operate the starter.

Check for strong bright blue spark. If none, or weak, then check -

a. voltage to coil primary (should be same as battery voltage)
b. measure coil resistance
c. check high voltage plug wires (both ends)
d. check spark plug condition
e. check coil primary connection to points/ignition module/ICM (04-06)/ECM (07-13).
f. If EVERYTHING checks good, but still no spark, then it may be the points/condenser or nose cone ignition module/cam sensor (thru 03)/or the crank position sensor (CKP) 07-up.
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  #9  
Old 1st December 2016
gpydeski gpydeski is offline
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Default Stalling problem

Do you have an aftermarket fuel filter added to your fuel line
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  #10  
Old 1st December 2016
JaredNW528 JaredNW528 is offline
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Tom - it never dies when hot but sometime when first starting it up and running a block or two down the road it'll act like it's running out of gas and die, like it's trying to pass sediment through the system and gets clogged up. Now I've only pulled the bowl off but there hasn't been any sediment that I can see. Runs fine when hot, even when real hot, this problem only happens after the bike had been shut off and sits for 10+ minutes, and again if I shake the hell out of it she'll start, it's a struggle but it starts.

Sportsterdoc- I have pulled the plugs (which are new pregapped plugs from Harley), they are somewhat dark after a month but there still seems to be good spark.

Crank position sensor had crossed my mind however I can't find it on my bike and after some reading I found that they didn't have CPMs on the 03 Sportster XLH883? ICM also crossed my mind but it doesn't appear to be heat related as the bike runs great even when super hot after a hard ride and if I turn it off and start it within a couple minutes it'll start right up.
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