Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Motorcycle Fuel Taps

From the Triumph America days...

I ride a 2006 Triumph America. While I rode a few bikes before its purchase, it’s the first bike that’s my very own. It’s not fuel injected, but with an old fashion carburetor.

As with any piece of machinery that uses carburetors, they normally have what’s called a petcock or fuel tap. In short it’s to release and close off fuel from the holding tank. If you don’t turn it off and your bike sets for a long time, you can end up with gasoline mixed with your oil. For mechanical novices, that’s bad.

Triumph America Fuel Tap or Petcock
I've suffered with a very sticky and troublesome fuel tap. Sometimes turning would be difficult, to downright stuck and frozen. Doing what is most often recommended, spraying it with WD-40, wasn’t cutting it. Sometimes I felt WD-40 made it worse when the weather warmed.

I was starting to desire a fuel injected bike just to be ride of this tap. Seeing new fuel taps were $100 USD and reading the problem just comes back, I was weighing the options of trading my bike in for something newer and fuel injected. It was that irritating.

I solved my problem or at least learned how to manage it. My fuel tap works well with the right kind of lubricant. One theory for stickiness is the ethanol fuel that is commonly sold today. That could be true, but my bike also sat unused for a few years until I adopted it. A combination of E-10 fuel and storage are a recipe for problems for sure.

Holding screw to remove innards.
I’m not a trained mechanic. What I’m about to write, I’ve tried but the long term affects are untested. You take the risk.

Some internet forum posts recommend loosening the screw at the bottom of the fuel tap to release pressure. This screw holds the innards in place so I passed on doing that. When the screw loosens and falls out, there’s a spring behind the lever and the innards will come flying out.

For starters on solving my problem I turned the fuel tap to OFF.  I removed the small screw below the fuel tap and held the on/off lever in. There’s a spring behind the lever and it will all come flying out if your not prepared. I found out the hard way and thank goodness and found the little spring that sprung

I cleaned the inside of the tap, cleaned the turn lever, cleaned the spring and took out the rubber O ring and cleaned it also. There’s another piece for fuel shut off that was blue, but I didn’t take it out. I sprayed a petroleum based spray inside the open tap (Blaster). I then put it all back together and it’s been working like it just came off the show room floor.

I don’t think you have to take the fuel tap apart a lot, but maybe a once a year cleaning, like in the spring season could be a good idea. Most times you can spray a lubricant into the fuel tap and not take it apart. There’s a lot of back and forth on the internet about WD-40 and what’s best to use. Here’s what I think…

◾WD-40. It’s good at breaking things loose, but I find it’s not a long lasting lubricant. Others have had excellent results in making their problems go away. Seems to turn sticky in hot temperatures.
◾Teflon Chain Saver. Yeah, call me stupid, but I was desperate and tried chain lubricant. I got mixed results and still its sticky sometimes.
◾Blaster Penetrating Catalyst. I’ve had good results with this.
◾Blaster Garage Door Lube…mixed results but more to the positive. Seems to turn sticky in hot temperatures.
◾Seafoam Deep Creep. Really good results.

YMMV. There you have it.