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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys I’m new to this forum and I just traded a beat up Ford Ranger for a beat up 87 tw200. The guy I got it from said he was riding it about 30 miles everyday to work and it ran great (of course), but one day he was riding it in the rain and it just sputtered out and hasn’t started since. The battery is now dead from me trying to get it started but the kick should be able to start it even without any charge right? I’ve tested all the safety switches and connections with a multimeter. Basically everything the repair manual says to do when troubleshooting the ignition system. I determined that the ignition coil was out of spec so I ordered one from eBay and put it in. It’s a cheap one and the spark plug wire literally gets twisted into a screw that comes out of the side of the unit. It works a little better and I do have a spark now, but I’m afraid that because of the way the spark plug wire attaches to a screw that it’s not the strongest connection/spark. I’ve also pulled the carb off and its super clean. Judging by the size and cleanliness of the jets/gaskets/orings it looks to me like someone put the aftermarket carb rebuild kit in there fairly recently. So before I order a new CDI, is it possible that the cheap ignition coil is just generating a weak spark? If so where can I buy a nicer one?
 

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Will defer to those with experience with the first year '87's unique electrical system.
However the presence of a noticeable spark would seem to indicate suspecting that the coil or CDI need replacement may be a bit premature.
I would first try a few more diagnostic tests, like a little starting fluid , or confirming correct timing. There is fresh fuel I presume?
How is compression? If bike has been sitting for some time a little oil squirted in cylinder might make dry rings happier.
Good luck.
 
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The older I get, the more prone I am to replacing a suspect battery with a new one. Unless you think you'll give up on this bike, it will need a battery. I'd say get the newfangled lithium battery and be done with it.

PS... Temper my wisdom with the fact that I have a whole lot more money now than when I was younger. Still, you need a battery.

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the quick replies!

Im not a mechanic by any means and I could be wrong but I have kicked started a few bikes and the compression feels/sounds like a normal bike... I always feel a big gust of air coming out of the spark plug hole when I check it for spark as well. I know that isn't the most efficient way to test but that's all I can do in my driveway lol.

The fuel is probably about a month old, the last owner thought that he ran out of gas when it died on him so he put a full tank in there around the time he traded it to me. Ive noticed that there isn't an in-line fuel filter anywhere too.

I've never tried squirting oil into a cylinder though... not gonna lie squirting starting fluid in there makes me nervous sometimes lol. Although at this point I'm ready to try anything

As for the battery, I've checked it out and noticed its the cheapest possible battery to get so that could be an issue.
 

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Maybe check for water in the airbox, or water in the fuel tank. The engine quitting during a rainy ride really makes me suspect a water-induced failure. I'd start with the air filter and housing.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I actually just replaced the air filter today because I was missing the bottom screw for the air box cover. There was a little water in the front corner of the box and filter. I drained my carb bowl and I cleaned out the air box, is there anything else that will help that problem?
 

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1. Replace the sparkplug. 2. Replace the battery. 3. Replace the CDI.
It's likely your CDI, my friend.
Waterloo Specialties has a great replacement for less $ than the OEM CDI.

I suggest you read my '87 saga, it will likely save you some angst.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I’ve been looking into the Waterloo CDI and the reviews are all positive but I’m a cheap ass and just wanted to be sure it was that before I spent the money. How reliable is the freezer test for the CDI? I’ve also seen some people squeezing it together and testing it that way?
 

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I'd put a known good battery in it first. 87's can be a bit fussy sometimes. While you are changing it out, just for the heck of it, disconnect the cables at the relay and the frame and clean them up a little and reconnect. Clean the spark plug up, spray some starter fluid in the cylinder and reinstall the plug. Key on, kill switch off, spin the prop.

204674
 
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The whole deal with spraying stater fluid all over the place, is that if you get a reaction from the engine, it implies a fuel problem - (and if you get a reaction from the rest of the bike, you can always use it to warm your hands up) .......
 

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Pull the spark plug and pour a teaspoon of gasoline directly into the cylinder.
Replace plug quickly and crank (or kick) her over a few times...if she starts, you'll know it's a carb issue.
If it doesn't...it's likely an ignition issue.

That will narrow it down for you.
 

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I’ve been looking into the Waterloo CDI and the reviews are all positive but I’m a cheap ass and just wanted to be sure it was that before I spent the money. How reliable is the freezer test for the CDI? I’ve also seen some people squeezing it together and testing it that way?
The freezer test gave me very consistent results. It only takes a second to disconnect the CDI, so I'd give it a whirl.
 

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Sounds like the chef has done everything right to date.
In these situations I try to not think "I want the bike to start" but rather "I want the bike to tell me what is wrong"
That way I can then fix what is wrong so as to be able properly start the bike.
Bike is qualitatively saying it has compression, now need to listen for clues as to carberation or electrical ( the other two legs of the internal combustion tripod).
Thus the starting fluid or gas in cylinder recommendations to rule out electrical gremlins, or conversely the CDI test and/or replacement battery to likely rule out a fuel delivery issue.
No need to buy a new battery immediately without first a test. A loaner battery from your car via jumper cables, or a jump start pack, will provide enough reliable power for the test spin of the prop.
 

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Do you have a spark? Then that may not be it. Adjust valves. Spray some starting fluid in the carb, never put gas in the cylinder, bad for engine and will lower compression that may already be bad. Battery has absolutely nothing to do with spark or ignition on any year TW so why waste money on battery until you know it runs. Take the tank off, drain it, check fuel flow and fill with known good gas. And be sure it is gas. I had someone who's engine would not start so they replaced the engine with a new one! Still would not start! Someone had put diesel in tank when it ran out of gas.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I do have a spark but I’ve sprayed staring fluid and still nothing so I assumed the spark wasn’t strong enough. I have a new CDI on the way and we’ll see what happens there.

I charged the battery and it was able to hold a nice charge for the time being so not worried there

I haven’t tried putting new gas in tho. The guy before me put a fresh tank in there but as you said above there’s no way to tell if he put diesel in I guess! I’ll throw some new gas in there soon
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Alright so update on the tw after a charged battery and a new CDI.

Spark is definitely better and I now have white puffs of smoke coming out of the exhaust when I try to kick it over. Not sure exactly what that means but it’s the first time I’ve seen any exhaust so I’m optimistic.

I still haven’t tried putting new gas in it because I couldn’t wait to try out the new CDI and see if it would fire up lol. I’ve ordered a new air intake boot because the old one is dry rotted and I want to be sure about air leaks. And I will be draining the carb and putting new gas in ASAP
 
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