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Discussion Starter #1
Hey ya'll,
I've had this 2008 Triumph Bonneville for many years now and this is the first time ever that it has failed to start...the downside of having a super reliable bike is that I have only had practice at performing basic maintenance tasks and have never gotten good at trouble-shooting problems, so I'm kind of out of my element trying to figure out what's wrong with it...here's what happens:
If I try to start it with the choke on, it tries to turn over a few times but ultimately fails and eventually it just starts making kind of a half hammering, half clicking sound, kind of like a metal woodpecker
If I try to start it with the choke off it won't even try to turn over, it just goes straight to the hammer-clicking, for as long as I hold the ignition button down...maybe I need a new starter motor? I dunno, that's my best guess so far
 

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I suspect at this point you have a dead or dying battery. As UK suggests, test it with a volt meter or just take it out and have it tested at a auto parts store. But even if the battery is good and you recharge, you still have the, why does it fail to start. That most likely is it isn't getting fuel. The cause it probably a plugged filter or screen somewhere. You can prove it's a fuel problem by squirting some carb cleaner in the air intake(filter). If it starts but then dies then start searching for the blockage. If you get lucky and it continues to run, then I'd suggest a healthy dose of Seafoam or other such product for cleaning jets or injectors. A couple tanks should get it running well again. Then routinely run a tank with Seafoam as preventive maintenance.
 

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Battery, is where you need to start. I good 12v battery will read around 12.6. If it is reading less than that it either dead or dying.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ok I'll try some of those things...unfortunately I lost my volt meter on a job a while back, but I've pulled the battery and there's a place near by that will test it and charge it for me for free, I can do that tomorrow...I buy seafoam at Walmart, can I buy carb cleaner there as well? If not any other big chains selling that? Hoping to avoid the 15 mile cross town trek to the only big motorcycle supply store in town
 

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can I buy carb cleaner there as well?
Yes but get the kind in a spray can, or at least here they do. States and even counties could have restrictions. There is also a carb cleaner dip which won't work as nicely for this purpose.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Update: The battery did turn out to be dead, and it took a while for a shipment to come in but I finally got a replacement, hooked it up, and...still won't start. I kind of suspect that trying to start it a bunch of times unsuccessfully might be what killed the first one, so I won't do that again, I'll move on to spraying something into the air intake and seeing if that takes...question I have is, hogcowboy here recommended carb cleaner, the guy at the shop recommended using starter fluid, so what's the difference, if there is a significant difference?
 

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Carb cleaner is safer on gas engines. That's all. Both will get one going. I use starter fluid on diesel engines and carb cleaner on gas engines.
 

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I'd say the vast majority of we Motorcycle mechanics use spray carb cleaner because it's cheap, a few squirts will do and it can be used for cleaning many different parts and is even good at killing wasps from a distance:LOL: I use GUMOUT.

I like to put seafoam, Lucas or Chevron Techron in the tank periodically to keep things clean. If the bike runs but does so poorly, put half a can of TECHRON in the tank and run the snot out of it, up and down through the gears and I'm sure that will help clean the Jets on the carbs or the injectors if you have FI.

2008 was the first year for fuel injection so If your bike has that then spraying inside may not give the same results as a bike with carbs!

Check your battery and starter cables for tightness and your in tank fuel filter. Some component is missing because if you have battery power with spark to the plugs and fuel and the engine turns over, it should start.

Sam
 

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Discussion Starter #11
@ Porky thanks for the further explanation on carb cleaner...2008 was the last year for carbed bonnevilles, mine is the last model they made with duel carbs.
I do typically try to use sea foam, particularly in winter since I don't ride nearly as often, I just plain forgot to do it this year and it could well be that the bike just sat too long without being run for a while, hopefully the carb cleaner does the trick to get it going and if so I will than apply a generous amount of sea foam...though spark plugs may be a possibility, I haven't had those replaced in quite a while now that I think on it
 

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Discussion Starter #12
...also, couple quick questions on the application of these things - with the carb cleaner, do I spray it into the air intake and then try to start it immediately, or do I spray it in, give a few minutes to work it's way in, then try to start it?

Also, whats the difference between sea foam and techron? I typically use sea foam, and the instructions say to pour it in, wait a day, then run it, so that's what I do...do you start it and run it immediately after applying techron?
 

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If your petcock, or plural, has a straight on off this does not apply. If it has a run, prime, reserve position, turn it to prime. That will get fuel to the carbs sooner. But it may have injectors. That way it will get fuel to the pump sooner.
After it fires turn it back to run.
Probably fake throttle bodies housing injectors. Some of the earlier bikes did three cranks before they fired. Had to do with saving the sprag gear. It can break if the engine kicks back due to a weak battery. I think your model has a newer sprag gear and it does not mind.

UK
 

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do I spray it into the air intake and then try to start it immediately, or do I spray it in, give a few minutes to work it's way in, then try to start it?
Spray some and hit the starter. If it's got spark it should try to start. If luck it might stay running. If it doesn't then you have a fuel delivery problem. Maybe one more try to confirm it won't start then start looking for why fuel isn't getting where it should. Good luck.
 

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I always remove my air box, and air cleaner, then spray directly into the throttle body.

I heard a sad story a while back of some well meaning folks who were trying to get their deceased father's old vintage machine running so they could put it up for sale. They sprayed starter fluid into the air filter box, soaking the paper air filter. The engine backfired and the filter caught fire. In the couple of minutes before they could find and deploy a fire extinquisher, the fire ruined the air box and melted some hoses. Don't be that guy! Take the air filter off.

Seems like every guy knew how to use this stuff when I was young, but we all had carburetors and stamped steel air filter housing that you could get into in 30 seconds by unscrewing one thumb screw. It's much more hassle these days.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ok, well I got all the stuff and I'm going to start cracking into this thing tomorrow [email protected] johnnyvee, I'll keep all that in mind, I think the way my model is laid out it might be kind of tough to get in that deep with a spray can, as I recall the actual direct intake point is kind of buried in the frame a bit but I'll see what I can manage - warning heeded though, if that fails I'll use caution and be sure to at least dig out my fire extinguisher and keep it near...if it winds up being too much of an ordeal to do all that would just removing the paper filter and spraying directly into the airbox be a good approach to avoid fire hazard? It's not hard at all to remove just the filter, but it is a bit involved getting past the entire apparatus on my bike.
Anybody else have experience pulling the air box off and spraying directly into the intake?
I also poured a little seafoam into the tank today, hopefully if there is any old fuel gumming things up that might help a little
 

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Don't remove the air box. Remove the air box lid and the filter and then use the 'squirt tube,' and direct a seconds worth of liquid in there and immediately hit the starter button. It may run for just a few seconds but do it again, opening the throttle more to increase the rpm's.

Let us know the results please.

Sam:)
 

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I agree, once you are past the air filter, you're most of the way to the throttle body. I prefer to be spraying onto / into a metal surface, because the solvent can stress crack some plastics.

I bet that new battery is going to fix you right up. Gotta keep them charged, especially in the winter. Battery chemistry gets lazy in cold temperatures, and a battery can SELF discharge, just sitting on a shelf, with nothing connected to it, to the point of damage in about 8 weeks all year around.

Here's a good reference on lead acid batteries: https://www.itacanet.org/eng/elec/battery/battery.pdf
 

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Is it just me or do we seem to have a lot more battery issues this winter than in the past? It doesn't seem to be an extremely colder winter. In fact milder here. Maybe I'm just paying more attention.
 
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