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Home Made Pressurized Motorcycle Brake Bleeder

Things you need….

1 empty, but clean, DOT 5 brake fluid bottle (my bike utilizes DOT5, you would use whatever empty bottle held your fluid). A clean and dry 16 oz. water bottle will work for this, but the empty fluid bottle eliminates much concerns for contamination.

Approx. 18" of radiator overflow hose, like the kind that attaches to your bleed off tube near the radiator cap of your car back to the overflow. Autozone sells it in 2 foot lengths for a couple bucks.

How to assemble. Drill a hole in the cap of the empty fluid bottle about 3/4 the diameter of the radiator hose. Drill the hole large enough to get the hose through, but small enough so that it is difficult to do so. Drill small to start with and adjust up. If the hole pinches the hose pretty good, but not completely, it will make an airtight seal, which is important.

Pull one end of the hose through the cap about 1/2" inch. Use some needle nose pliers.

Fill the empty bottle about 1/2 of the way with clean fluid. I am assuming this bottle is the 10-16 oz. variety, and not a quart. You need about 8 oz. of fluid, more or less. You can always add more clean fluid during the operation if needed.

Attach the cap, and attach the other end of the hose to your loosened bleeder valve on the caliper.

Open the master cylinder cover.

Hold bottle upside down and squeeze. You are now forcing fluid up through the caliper, into the hose and up to the master cylinder. it doesn't take much squeezing, so don't go bionic man on it. Just a nice squeeze, like a test feel on some female cantaloupes.

Keep a watch on the master cylinder until it starts to fill and it gets to the correct level of fluid. This may take some squeezing and maybe a refill of fluid. If you squeeze the bottle till it won't push anymore fluid, due to vacuum, just hold it slightly sideways and upright and loosen the cap a bit til you get air inside it. The continue on as above.

With just a few squeezes (like a minute or two, no more than that), your master cylinder is going to be full, and your about 95% of the way there.

With the bottle still held upside down and fluid still "on top" of the system, via the bleeder valve, hand tighten the valve. You don't need to remove hose to do this, and you can do it one handed and still hold the bottle.

Turn bottle right side up, and remove hose. Be careful not to sling fluid all over from what is in the hose. Just hold hose up and let it drain back into bottle. Tighten bleeder valve down.

Now, you need to pressurize the system. Replace the cylinder cap and tighten the screws. Start compressing the brake lever. Long slow pull, release, long slow pull, release, and continue. At first it is going to feel like you have wasted your time as the lever is going to be loose. But after 20 or 30 lever pulls it will be tightening up well. Do this until you get a nice and firm brake squeeze.

You still will have a bit of residual air in the system, but it will be a lot of little bubbles in the line. With time and (riding) vibration, they should gravitate upwards to the master cylinder and displace the fluid in it, so you may need to top off the cylinder a bit after a good ride.

Take it for a test drive around the neighborhood and make sure your brakes are good.



Stalling Bike – No Fuel to Carburetor

The bike just stalled for no reason. I am going 60 MPH down the highway, and then the bike begins to lose power and then shits down completely. I coast to a stop and do the cursory look, and can see nothing out of order at all. After about 10 minutes, it fires up again, and I make it about 2 miles before the same thing happens. It just won’t start. After 30 minutes of sitting, the bike fires up again (sounding rough) and this time I make it about a mile, or less, before it shuts down. By this time the tow truck has been called and the bike rides home on a flatbed.

Once home, I pull the carburetor and tear it down. All looks fine inside. I take out and reset the jets. I look for holes or tears in the diaphragm, I squirt everything down with carb cleaner, and all seems good. The carb goes back on, and the bike fires right up and idles well. I don’t have the time or inclination right then to test ride, so it sits for 4 days until my work schedule allows some bike time.

So, 4 days later and I start it up. It starts up nicely, so I take it for a couple laps around the neighborhood It makes it about a mile or so and cuts out again. This time I have to push it home, so I am pretty motivated to get down to the bottom of it.

I figure the carb is okay, as the jets and float have been adjusted and cleaned already. No sense in going back there without reason. So I pull the fuel valve petcock, thinking that possibly the filter is clogged. This is a vacuum operated valve, with a single line running from top of the carb to the petcock, so that the valve stays closed when parked, and when the engine turns over it generates the vacuum needed to open the diaphragm in the petcock, then allowing fuel to flow through.

It comes off easy. Just remove the fuel line and the vacuum line and then break the lock nut off with a crescent wrench. When I get it off and in my hand, I removed the four backing screws for the diaphragm casing and take a peek inside. The diaphragm just doesn’t look all that good. Not torn or holed, just worn out. More than likely it is not flexing properly (too much or too little) and the vacuum actuation is not complete, allowing too little fuel, or none at all, to enter the fuel line.

A quick jaunt down to the Harley shop (not the dealer, who do not carry such things as you wish to buy at this sort of time), and an aftermarket fuel petcock is had for $20.00. This is a “gravity feed” or non-vacuum operated model. It is basically nothing more than an “open and close” valve for fuel. It also allows a lot more fuel to get to the carb at high loads, so it should improve performance, as well.

It installs just as the original did, requiring only a sealing of the vacuum port on the carburetor, since it is no longer needed to run the valve. A test drive now shows that the problem appears to be solved.


Harley Carburetor Removal


Having removed the carb once or twice on my bike, I can say it “appears” to be a daunting task, when in reality it is not. When I first did it, to re-jet, I was referred to the service manual, which simply states “remove the carburetor”.  After a bunch of head scratching, I figured it out. Now I can remove the thing in about 5 minutes, tops. Carb problems are sometimes difficult to diagnose, and even if I *think* I k now what it is, or might be, I tend to ask around as if in ignorance, as I might very well be in ignorance. However, the Harley CV carb is an easy thing to work on, and the parts to re-jet and such are relatively inexpensive as Harley parts go. Removal and rebuild are not that difficult, and not beyond the ability of someone with basic tools and a general mechanical aptitude, even if that person has never worked on an HD before. Hell, if I can do it, so can you. Since, again, carb parts are cheap, information is available on the net for free, and your HD service department is going to charge a LOT for labor and time, you might ought to dig into it yourself.

My bike is a 2005 Dyna Superglide Custom. The last year of carbureted models. It has a Screaming Eagle Air Cleaner kit on the front, and a Screaming Eagle Intake Manifold on the back. So, some of this may not apply to your specific carb or bike, and yours may have an extra thing to do. But more than likely, not. Or not significantly.


1.       Remove air cleaner cover and filter element. This may require a couple different sizes of screwdrivers, hex and star drives to accomplish.

2.       Loosen the tension on the accelerator cables. This is done “up top” on the bars, where the cables exit the housing on the bars. You will see two metallic “L” shaped tubes coming out the bottom of the throttle housing on the bar. At the end of these should be a pair of threaded adjustment “turnbuckle” with a lock nut on one end. Possibly they are covered with a rubber boot. In any case, loosen the lock nut and “shorten” the linkage. By this, I mean screw the adjusters so that LESS thread is showing, and not more thread. Go ahead and shorten them as far as you can go by hand.

3.       Turn off the gas petcock on your tank. Make sure it is in “Off” and not “reserve”.

4.       Break the fuel hose off the tank. By break, I mean unfasten the clamp or attachment holding it on to the petcock. Plan on replacing this clamp unless it is a “in good shape” screw type hose clamp. Might as well replace the entire fuel hose, as well, unless you know (without a doubt) it is in excellent shape. As a foot or so of fuel line and two new hose clamps are about $5.00, it is cheap insurance to eliminate any potential problems here with new parts.

5.       Detach the “Enricher knob” (choke) assembly from the mount, and let it hang free. Should be a simple hand loosen (or at most a very slight tug with a wrench) on the back side of it. It is probably plastic (mine is), so just be a bit careful if you need to go the wrench route.

6.       Break the bolts holding the mounting (or backing) plate to the top of the cylinders. This is going to be a relatively long piece of metal (say about 8” or so) that sits behind the air cleaner plate and in front of the carb itself. Possibly the air cleaner plate is attached to it, as well, with a couple screws (no need to remove them). This will be a single bolt running though it to the cylinder on each side. It takes a ¾” wrench (on mine) to remove it. The bolts are actually hollow, and serve as vent tubes, via a banjo fitting that they run through, venting the cylinder top into the carb. You might see some tubes running from the bolt / banjo attachment to and through the carb plate. You can remove them now, actually. Replace them, as well, as they are probably cracked and brittle. Your local HD dealer should carry them. About $5 for the pair. When you start to loosen these mounting plate bolts, the banjo fitting might turn (this is okay) and you will note some washers on both sides of the banjo fitting that you will need to keep and eye on and not let drop to some hidden place when removed. All said and done, when the bolts are removed, you will have 3 major pieces. The bolt itself, the banjo fitting, and the washers. Six major pieces, actually, since we are talking about both cylinders.

7.       Once those are out, you are about halfway there. You should be able to tug and twist the carb on its rubber mount (that you can’t see yet) that attaches it to the intake manifold. Go ahead and slowly twist and pull it off. It just sort of sticks into a rubber mount from the rear, so nothing is actually holding it to the manifold now minus a little suction/plunger action. Don’t pull the crap out of it, as you still have a few detaches to go, but feel free to pull it out about 2” or so, so that it breaks loose of the seal.

8.       Once you have done this, you are attached by the accelerator cables, and the vacuum tube. The vacuum tube attaches on the back side of the carb on a little 90 degree hose fitting. Simply (and gently) pull and twist it up and off the carb and let it hang. The accelerator (throttle) cable are now all that is holding you back. You should be able to support the carb with your left hand and using your right hand, and a third hand growing out of your back, and by holding your tongue just right, and by twisting the cam they are attached to, remove both cable ends from their mounts on the side of the carb. It is easier than it reads, but it is all a balancing act. Make sure to unrig the cables themselves from the little guide tubes attached to the carb, as well. All you have to do is just slip them through the lengthwise cuts in the side.

9.       There should be nothing else attaching the carb to the bike. Slowly pull it away from the bike, noting that you have a length of fuel hose and a choke cable still attached to it. You might also look at the back of it now, and see if the rubber mounting donut came off the manifold, or is still attached to the manifold (still on the bike). It will need to be on the bike to put the carb back on, so if it needs to be pulled off the carb, go ahead and do it now.


11.   Replacement is basically the reverse.  The main possible screw ups are:

a.       Not attaching the vacuum tube again.

b.      Crossing the throttle cables, either literally or figuratively. Make sure you put them on the correct “side” of the cam. Length should be a guiding factor in which is which, but a tape label wouldn’t hurt either.

c.       When re-mounting, make sure you stab the choke cable through. No sense in getting the thing halfway bolted in and noticing that the choke will now be adjusted by your ankle, as that is where it will be hanging. Just push it through the space, making sure it goes under the gas tank support member. It can lay there for a while just like it did when you took it off in the beginning. Same thing with the fuel line. Also, if your fuel line had a plastic cover/sleeve on it, go ahead and make sure that gets put back on.

d.      Replace the washers on the mounting plate bolts / banjo fittings. They each will only really fit on one side of the banjo fitting or the other, so you should get them mixed. But just make sure that they go on. As well, you will note when you are tightening these bolts, that the banjo fitting might want to rotate a bit. Using a pair of channel locks, you can hold them in place, making sure that the tube attached “points” to the carb (and not up to the sky, the front wheel, the ground, or anywhere else) since you will be attaching some tubes to them that run into the carb plate.




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