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Discussion Starter #1
Looking for opinions why I had to use starting fluid on a recent cold start to plow snow.

It started great all summer with the enricher valve.

First snow and a cold start, temp in garage was low 20's. It had been sitting for over a month.
Battery is on a maintainer so no problems there.
Pump primer valve 3 times. pull enricher valve.
Won't start, not even try.
Remove seat, air box lid, air filter. Shot of starting fluid, starts right up.

This is the original carb on a 2003 with about 4 k + miles and it is jetted, main only. In winter it has started right up most of the time but some times it's hard to start. Never had to use starting fluid before. I beleive it's a carb problem. I should have pulled the plug this last time when it wouldn't start to have a look but I wasn't thrilled about working in the cold.

I'm wondering if a new OEM carb would resolve this issue. New carb, install main jet for altitude and install.
I bought this thing used and the carb was definately worked on before I got it. I have debated putting on a new carb and maybe it's time.

What do you think?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No, I didn't think of that.
Does it help a lot with cold starts?
 

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No, I didn't think of that.
Does it help a lot with cold starts?
The carb heater is activated below a certain outdoor temp when the key is turned to on, I don't remember off hand the exact temp. In cold conditions, turn the key and wait a minute before starting.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Ultra and Oilcan.
I forgot about the heater. Never had a carbed motor with one. Have to remember to wait before trying to start.
 

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Thanks Ultra and Oilcan.
I forgot about the heater. Never had a carbed motor with one. Have to remember to wait before trying to start.
Did your bike start properly after you waited a minute to start it?

It should still start without the heated function that you have on the carb though. Lots of other engines don't need the carb to be heated for them to start. They work better once they are warmed up, but starting should not be compromised by the heater not working.
Starting hard is a sign to me that the spark plug should be checked and or replaced. A good dose of seafoam added in the fuel. The air filter checked and or replaced. Make sure the battery is healthy and turning the engine over fast enough... Good luck.....
 

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Did your bike start properly after you waited a minute to start it?

It should still start without the heated function that you have on the carb though. Lots of other engines don't need the carb to be heated for them to start. They work better once they are warmed up, but starting should not be compromised by the heater not working.
Starting hard is a sign to me that the spark plug should be checked and or replaced. A good dose of seafoam added in the fuel. The air filter checked and or replaced. Make sure the battery is healthy and turning the engine over fast enough... Good luck.....
While lots of the time this could be true.
But in freezing temps, if there is any moisture in the fuel or carb, I would think that if the heater wasn't functioning, that hard starting could occur.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well Kevcules my thoughts also. If everything is correct no need for a heater. My snowblower starts without a heater and so does my 2 cycle leaf blower start in single digit temps. The occasional hard start is why I have debated putting a new carb on it. I beleive thats the issue.
 

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Here is how and why Champions.

By Ren Withnell
A carb heater, or more correctly a carburettor heater is something, anything that will heat up a carburettor. Logical huh.
But why, what is it for? Carburettors get cold. They get cold for 2 reasons. I'm offering a basic explanation here. If you wish to find a more technical explanation then a web search will take you into a world of science, physics and chemistry. Here I'll keep it simple.
As air is sucked through the carb into the engine the air changes pressure, it drops. When pressure drops things get cold. The deodorant in a can is pressurised, when you spray it on your armpits it goes from being squashed to free in the air and makes your whiffy bits feel cold. Imagine that happening inside your carburettor every moment you ride and you can imagine how chilly things can get.
When liquids evaporate they make things cold too. Your sweaty body is evaporating water to keep you cool, it's nice on a hot day to spray yourself with some extra water. Petrol as it mixes with air does the same.
So the air is being cooled by pressure changes, add to that some petrol evaporating and the temperature falls. On a hot summer's day this is not typically a problem, things don't get cold enough even with the effects described above. However during winter in those cold, dark and damp conditions it's all too easy for ice to form.
On a cold, crisp winter evening it's not unusual to find frost on cars. That frost is the moisture in the air freezing onto the surface of the car. Inside a carburettor it's even colder so more frost can form. The engine is constantly drawing air through the carb so there's a lot of passing air to draw moisture from.
This frost, or ice, starts to block things up. Tiny holes and passageways where fuel passes through can become blocked. Things that move inside the carburettor get jammed by the ice. Even the airway itself can gather enough ice to restrict air flow. In short at best the engine will run incorrectly, typically rich. At worst the bike will stall or stop and you'll have to wait for the heat of the engine to melt the ice before you can carry on.
So how is this overcome? By heating the carb with a carb heater! Most carb heaters I'm aware of are nothing more than a brass fitting with a wire attached to it. Inside the fitting is a tiny electrical element much like a kettle's and this gets hot as electricity from the charging system is passed through it. This heat spreads around the metal carb body and should be warm enough to prevent ice forming. Some systems use hot water in the cooling system to much the same effect.
small brass threaded fitting, a carburettor heater

A typical electrical carb heater.
 

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I am an engineer......I think.........the short explanation is it is MAGIC. Give the magic a chance to work.
 
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Other thing that might help, you said it had been sitting about a month...

Ethanol contaminated gasoline goes stale pretty fast, and it tends to leave corrosion and deposits. Gasoline goes stale fastest when in a small quantity and exposed to air, like in the float bowl.

With a carburetor I like to shut the fuel off and run the bowl dry if it is going to be parked, or drain the float bowl before attempting to start.

In cold weather, slightly varnished fuel can make the difference, and the attempt to start can coat the spark plug.

I run ethanol free gas since my machines can tend to sit, and I don’t use enough to make the price difference that big of a deal.

Lastly if it hasn’t been done, hitting the carb with some cleaner might be in order, paying particular attention to the idle and enricher circuits. It doesn’t take much to make the idle lean.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all the replies.
It has started right up the last 2 times I needed to plow snow.
I changed my cold start procedure. Seems to have worked.
2 more carburetor primer pumps and a little throttle, starts right up.
We'll see today. More snow to plow.
 
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