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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My daughter bought a 97 Kawasaki Prairie 400 a couple of years ago and did a lot of work on it herself. She got it running and used it a couple of time but last year we unloaded it and it died.....we have not been able to get it to start again. She had replaced the carburetor and cleaned most of the systems. I don't believe that it has any compression, but I am not skilled at that process. My guess is that there is a valve issue. Questions:
1. is it possible it has a stuck valve?
2. I believe there is an inspection plate to be able to adjust the valves, can I tell if there is a valve issue by looking there or do I have to take the head off?
3. Any other suggestions to check?
4. What is a good source for parts on an old bike?
Thank you
 

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The best advice I can give you is to start by obtaining a factory service manual.

While you wait for the manual to arrive, borrow or buy an engine compression tool for around $30 and measure the compression. You will likely need a multimeter also. These tools and the manual will pay for themselves very quickly witht he money you save by not paying a professional to repair your Prairie.

Your dealer should still be able to get many of the parts for your Prairie, if the part you want is NLA then you have to turn to Ebay or hope that someone is making aftermarket parts. Google is your friend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have both but the manual doesn't have much of a troubleshooting guide. I tried to use the compression tester but it is hard to make sure the adapter is tight because the sparkplug hole is hard to get to. I bump it down as tight as I can and turn it over several times but nothing is reading on the gauge.

The troubleshooting guide suggest:
Leaking head gasket
Bad valve seating
Seized Piston (don't think that is possible because the motor turns over)
Clearances on Valve or piston/sleeve
Compression release weights do not move smoothly. Replace the compression release unit.

The last of those seem most possible because it was running, died and then we couldn't restart it.

I assume I am going to have to take the head off to diagnose it!

Thoughts????
 

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There is something wrong if you cannot get any reading at all on the gage. Your gage may be toast. Even without a perfect seal, you would still get a reading. Did you hold the throttle wide open while doing the compression check?

You also may have burned a hole in the piston. I am not a fan of tearing apart an engine until I have conducted all possible external tests first which includes a compression test and visual inspection of the piston and cylinder walls with an inspection camera.

What do you mean by "bump it down"? Does yours not screw into the spark plug hole?
A photo might help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the responses. The adapter that screws into the spark plug hole is 1" long but the hole where the plug goes is 2" long. So I have to screw the adapter to the hose and screw it in until the o-ring on the adapter contacts the head. I get it as tight as I can. I did hold the throttle wide open but saw nothing on the gauge and it is a new gauge, 1st time I am using it. I just purchased an endoscope to check out the top of the piston. I will take some photos this morning.

Thanks again.
 

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In short, yes there is a serious problem.

Your scope might show a hole in the top of the piston or it is possible the camshaft chain broke and one of your valves is hanging in the open position. You will be able to tell this by removing the cover as you would when you go to adjust the valves. Or it is possible that the cam chain is so loose it has jumped by a tooth or two and the valves are not closing and opening at the correct time. Maybe a badly blown head gasket, but I would think you would be able to hear that.

Keep digging and let us know what you find.
 
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