1986 ZL600 Won't Start [Archive] - Kawasaki Motorcycle Forums

1986 ZL600 Won't Start

09-16-2012, 06:15 PM
Earlier this summer I bought my first bike: a 1986 kawasaki zl600. It was in good condition, but needed a carb tune since it had pods instead of the airbox and was running on the lean side. I rode around on it for awhile until one hot day the bike started sounding like complete crap. The exhaust got REALLY loud and I had next to no power. Next thing I know it craps out and I had to push it home (1/4 mile up hill). I fully cleaned out the carbs, adjusted what I could, and put everything back together. I got the bike started once and I sounded A LOT better than when I first got it, but it died out after running for a few minutes. I haven't been able to get it started since. The engine is getting fuel no problem (I can smell it), but I think I'm not getting enough of a spark. Could it be fouled out plugs or something more major? Any help here would be great. I know what I'm doing with a british bike, but not a japanese one, haha.

09-16-2012, 07:07 PM
Do you have a shop manual? You'll need one for the adjustments these engines need.

Manuals (Some of these websites sell used manuals, just ask)
Repair Manual | Owners Manual | Haynes Repair Manual | RepairManual.com (http://www.repairmanual.com)
ManualsNMore.com: Factory Service Motorcycle & Auto Repair Manuals (http://www.manualsnmore.com)
Books4Cars.com - Every Repair Manual, Service Manual, Owners Manual and Book for your Car, Truck and Motorcycle (http://www.books4cars.com/)
RepairManualClub Download Area (http://www.repairmanualclub.com/motomanuals/)
Vintage and classic motorcycle manuals and literature (http://www.e-classicbike.com/)

09-18-2012, 12:00 AM
British, Japanise, American they are all internal combustion engines. Some of the fine tuning may be different but dont let the country of origin get you side tracked. If you smell fuel your probably getting plenty, maybe to much. I would pull the plugs clean and regap if its been sitting like you said. May have a float stuck too if its been sitting. Try putting some sea foam or Berrymans B12 in it and get it to run some. It will clean out the carbs. See if you have a fuel filter somewhere in line also, could have trash in it. There is a fellow on the Venture boards I'm on just picked one of these bikes up he is going to part out. Its pretty ruff but it may have some parts you could use. Actually I think it had the air cleaner box on it.

09-18-2012, 04:31 AM
Carb float is probably stuck open which is why you smell fuel. To adjust the float on that bike tilt the carbs 30deg and the float should just rest on the needle valve. Adjust float height to 17mm from the top bowl edge to top of float. Add an inline fuel filter after the tank. Good luck finding a shop manual for ZL600. A GPZ600 manual can be found but for the ZL it will be hard - I gave up looking after about 3 years. Pilot screw on the ZL600, if I remember, is 2-1/8 to 2-3/4 turns with a stock airbox.

09-18-2012, 06:54 PM
I pulled the plugs and they were a greyish-brown, which I thought is how they should be. I picked up a new set of spark plugs anyway, and I'll put them in and see what happens.

The carbs are completely clean, floats are as they should be, and if some one has a picture of how they put the fuel filter in that would be a big help. Even with pods instead of the airbox it's still a little tight (in my opinion anyway), so I'd like to have an idea of where to put it. When I pulled the carbs out the pilot screw was at about 1.25 turns out. I put better filters on and put the screw at 2 turns out for starters. I'll fine tune it once I get the bike running at normal temp.

As for the fuel smell, I can only smell it when I put my face against the motor after trying to start it for awhile. It's getting air and fuel, so my next guess is it's missing a spark. I also drain the battery kinda quick, so I don't know if that's an indication of anything. I'm used to the kick start on the Triumphs and Nortons I worked on, haha.

09-18-2012, 07:08 PM
Take a multimeter, and check the sparklug caps. They contain a 5000 ohm,nonserviceable resistor designed to supress the RFI when the sparkplugs fire. Heat,age & vibration can cause them to become intermittent and fail. If you're going to change one, do them all. When replacing the sparkplug caps,cut about 1/4" of the end for a good electrical connection before screwing the new caps on.

Are the ignition coils as old as the bike? If so, think about replacing them.

Ignition Coils And Sparkplug Wire Choices

What came with the bike, were ignition coils that even when new were marginal, add years of cooking under the tank in the stop and go traffic, and the coils will probably fail when hot.

Replacement coils can be bought at Specializing in Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Parts, including New Old Stock & aftermarket parts. | www.z1enterprises.com (http://www.z1enterprises.com) I believe “Emgo” is the brand. They also carry the popular Dyna 2.2 and 3 ohm coils, along with replacement sparkplug wires.

Now, you have a choice on sparkplug wires:

1.Copper plug wires with no supression caps (the best choice, but will produce audio noise on Radio’s and TV’s). Not only do the copper core wires deliver better spark, they will also deliver a much longer lifespan - carbon core wires are prone to erratic spark delivery and early breakdown, & short lifespan.

2.Copper plug wires with supression caps (a built in 5000 ohm resistor, that can sometimes fail, like what came with the bike).

3.Copper plug wires with no supression caps, but using resistor plugs(the “R” in the plug number, like B8RES).

4.Supression plug wires with no supression caps.

NEVER use resistor plugs combined with supression caps along with supression plug wires, as now there will be two (2) sources of resistance in the secondary windings of the ignition coils, greatly reducing the spark energy.

Another choice is the Accel 3 ohm coils, with a similar, primary(small wire)electrical connection, using ring terminals as the Dyna ignition coils do. Whatever brand of coil you go with, make sure the primary wires will clear the mounting hardware, as the spacers come awfully close, possibly blowing a fuse. Some riders have replaced the metal spacers with non conductive Nylon spacers, reducing the chance of an electrical problem.

7mm sparkplug wires will fit the stock ignition coils(if they have replaceable wires, indicated by screw off caps on the coils with ridges). The sparkplug wires fit into a port with a brass ”Stinger” that goes into the sparkplug wire or lead(the Brit’s. Canadians, and other countries call the sparkplug wires (“High Tension Leads”).

09-19-2012, 06:24 PM
As far as I know everything is original since the previous owner wasn't very mechanically inclined. With a little over 17k miles replacing the coils, wires and plugs sounds like a good idea. While I have it all apart I'll clean all the connections too, and give them a nice coat of dielectric. Thanks for all the input!

09-19-2012, 07:59 PM
It's not so much the mileage on the bike, but the age of the ignition coils, and onther parts that may possibly strand you some day. The brake lines if original, should be replaced too, as the rubber lines get attacked by sunlight and ozone. Change the brake fluids too. as it's Hydroscopic(absorbs water) and can cause corrosion in the brake system. Most bike tires are good for maybe 5 years, again being attacked by the same elements as the brake lines.

Brake Pads & Parts
CycleBrakes.com - Motorcycle Brakes, Accessories, Motorcycle Parts, Brake Rotors, Pads, Lines, Discs, ATV Brakes, Wave Rotors, Braking Systems, Galfer, Sport-bike Brakes, Custom Steel-braided Brake Lines, Harley-Davidson, Dirt-bike MX Brakes, Perform (http://www.cyclebrakes.com/index.html)
Brake discs - brake discs - motorcycle brake discs - perfomance brake discs (http://www.alth.it/default.asp?content=2,8,0,0,0,Home,00.html)
Brake Calipers | Motorcycle Brake Calipers | Racing Brake Calipers | Engineering | Pretech, Reading, UK (http://www.pretech.co.uk/)
DP Brakes (http://www.dp-brakes.com/)
Spiegler Performance Parts - Motorcycle Performance Parts | Custom Motorcycle Accessories (http://www.spieglerusa.com/)
ISR Brakes (http://www.isrbrakes.se/)
Metal Gear (http://www.metalgear.com.au/)
Motorcycle brake pads and brake rotors. (http://www.ebcbrakes.com/motorcycle_brake/index.shtml)
www.perfectbrakes.com - buy EBC Brakes products online (http://www.perfectbrakes.com/products.asp?cat=4924)
http://www.apracing.com/info/products.asp?product=Solo+%26+Classic+Machines+plu s+Sidecar+2+Piston+Caliper-CP2696-38E0_2536_1085
TrueDisk LLC - Motorcycle Brake Rotor Resurfacing and Grinding Services (http://www.truedisk.net/) (Disk Rotor Resurfacing)
Brake Lines
Inline tube The brake plumbing experts (http://inlinetube.com/)
Spiegler Performance Parts - Motorcycle Brake Line Kits (http://www.spieglerusa.com/cfm/brakelines.cfm)
HEL Performance USA - Stainless Steel & Ti Brake Lines (http://www.helusa.com)
Galfer Brake Lines (http://www.cyclebrakes.com/html/galfer_brake_lines.html)
Brake Line Bleeders
Speed Bleeder Sizes (http://www.speedbleeder.com/size.htm)
Motorcycle Application Chart (http://www.speedbleeder.com/Motorcycle%20Sizes.htm#Kawasaki)
Motorcycle Brake Bleeder Kit, Vacuum Brake Bleeder Kit (http://www.pingelonline.com/brake_bleeder_kit.htm)
Spiegler Performance Parts - Speed Bleeder | Motorcycle Brake Bleeding (http://spieglerusa.com/brakes/speed-bleeder.html)

09-20-2012, 04:27 AM
If everything is original look inside the spark plug well at dusk while cranking. The narrow cavity and old spark plug boots put on a light show and you won't always be able to hear the usual tick that comes along with arcing due to other noises the bike makes. The drain holes need to be clear too if the spark plug well has gotten wet. I think my boots were about $4 each (my zl600 was about 10yo when they had to be replaced).

09-27-2012, 09:36 PM
I'm having some trouble finding resistor plugs that'll fit my bike. I'm using copper plug wires with no caps since they seem to be the most durable. Stock the bike uses NGK D9EA, so what would the resistor plug equivalent be?

09-27-2012, 10:28 PM
Sparkplug Cross Index
Motorcycle Spark Plug Cross Reference (http://www.gadgetjq.com/spark_plug_cross_reference_motorcycle.htm)
Alternative spark plugs for NGK B8ES (http://www.sparkplug-crossreference.com/convert/NGK_PN/B8ES/)
DENSO SPARK PLUGS (http://www.globaldenso.com/en/products/aftermarket/plug/)

08-26-2013, 01:55 PM
Sorry to dig up an old thread but try checking the diaphragm in the petcock.