Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pooped Pump....No Fuelin'...

OK, here's the rest of the story. 

On my way back from my first ride this year to the Blue Ridge Parkway a couple of weeks ago, within about three miles from home, the engine on the bike quit suddenly.

Almost exactly like this bike is doing:

Original video courtesy of YouTube user invisiblemon. 
He was still 16 miles from home at the end of the video, but did make it there a mile
or two at a time as the fuel pump was failing.  He later tested the pump and found
that its output pressure was low.

Not good. 

This can be quite disconcerting if you are in the middle of a turn or in traffic.  At any rate it can be disconcerting anyway, 'cause visions of having to call for help begin dancing through your brain when these things happen.  And, I hate to ask for help.  I think this is built into the wiring of a man's brain.

Anyway, I coasted to a stop, fortunately in a safe place, and pressed the starter button.  The engine fired right up again.  I revved it and it seemed OK.  About the time I was going to get back on the road, it quit again.  But it started right up.


Plenty of gas in the tank.  Now what?

I let it sit for a few minutes, and it started and ran for a while, so I took to the road again.  It stalled again not a minute later.  Again it restarted, and I revved the engine while slipping the clutch very significantly.  When it ran, it ran strongly. 

It bucked and almost threw me a couple of times as the engine came to life at large throttle opening, died, then came to life again.  People around me thought I was a beginner or a stunter, I'm sure.  It was close to wheelying a few times.

Finally at the road to my house, it stopped and wouldn't restart.  I paddle walked it enough to get it moving downhill toward my house.  I coasted into the driveway as quietly as a mouse.

I decided to do some diagnosis.

I raised the tank enough to fish the fuel pump cable out to the side.  I probed the pump side of the connector with my voltmeter, and found steady power.  I started the engine.  It ran fine.

After about ten minutes, though, the engine missed slightly.  The voltmeter still showed steady, however. 

I put my ear to the fuel tank.  I could hear the fuel pump running, but it had a sort of intermittent screaming sound to it.  When the scream became more significant, the engine stuttered, then, after a little while longer, finally stalled. 

I decided that the pump must be failing, although I had never listened to the pump prior to this, so I wasn't sure what it is supposed to sound like.  I looked online to see if I could find anyone who had also had this problem.

Sure enough, the Ninja 650R forum mentioned a problem, and the fact that a new fuel pump part number replaces the original.  The original Fuel Pump Assembly P/N 49040-0010 has now been superseded by P/N 49040-0026.  The pump includes a filter, a pressure regulator, and the low fuel float switch.  None of these is serviceable individually. 

Four years go, another guy (known in the RiderForums as MCRider), then 70 years old, and who lives in the state of Washington, described how his 650R lost its fuel pump the day he started out -- with 71,000 miles on the clock -- on a month-long, 8,000+ mile ride to the East Coast and back on his identical 2006 Kawasaki Ninja 650R.  The symptoms sounded almost the same, though my bike has only 48,000 miles on it.  (As of his last posting in late 2014, his bike has over 110,000 miles on it.)  

I checked all of the on-line sources that I know of, including Blue Ridge Performance.   Gary, the proprietor, is a man of few words, but he usually can get what you need for 650Rs and his prices are as low as any I found, so I ordered up the pump and the seal O-ring that goes with it, P/N 92055-0185. 

It is best to siphon out all fuel before starting this work to minimize weight and reduce leakage.  All of this work should be done outside and away from fire and other ignition sources. 
I take no responsibility for this description, or its interpretation.  Always follow the proper service manual's instructions for your bike along with good mechanic's practices.  

When I received the package I started to work changing the pump.  Here are the parts, still snuggled in their packing materials. The new pump is manufactured by Keihin, as is the original. 

The teardown: 

I take off the seat (easy, peasey), and then the black plastic side covers on either side of the tank are removed.  Then the two seat bracket screws holding the rear of the tank.  

Be careful that the tank doesn't slide sideways off its mounting position if you are working with the bike on its side stand.  A rear stand is better here to help avoid that situation. 

Hold onto the tank so it doesn't slide, now! 

Raise the rear of the tank up on a piece of 2 by 4. 

Reach under the tank and disconnect the fuel pump electrical connector. 

And the fuel hose.  (There may be pressurized fuel in it, so wrap a rag around it before pulling it off the pump.

Next, pull off the rubber fuel filler overflow hose beneath the left side of the tank. 

It has a very small spring clamp holding it.  Don't lose it. 

Arrange two 2 by 4s on the ground to set the tank on, such that the fuel pump does not bear the weight of the tank. 

While you are there, you might as well clean the air filter.  Slide the large hose above it off its nipple and remove this screw to pull out the filter. 

Set the tank in a couple of sturdy corrugated cartons to hold it on its nose. 

If there is any fuel in the tank, some may leak out of the fill opening. 

Remove the five screws holding the pump into the tank. 

There is thread sealer on the screws, so they may be difficult to remove. 

The two pumps look the same on the outside. 

I do notice that there are MANY blue paint dots on the outside of the new pump. 

In the automotive industry, such paint dots indicate that some check is to be done, and the presence of the paint dot indicates that the check was [probably] performed.  I say probably, because most such checks are visual, but people get "snow blind" and miss defects but mark the part anyway.  I have experience with this very problem in a manufacturing operation, I'm afraid.  The factory that built this one must have lots of quality issues, judging from the plethora of blue dots.  

I remove the O-ring from the tank and inspect the seal area and screw bosses.  Everything looks OK, so I insert the new O-ring and position the pump.  There is only one way all five screw holes line up, so you can't go wrong. Don't forget the thread sealant on the five screws. Tighten the screws in a star pattern, as is good practice. 

After I get the new pump mounted, I notice two more blue paint dots on it. 

Whew.  I hope they were really, really paying attention to details when this pump was built. 

I carefully slide the tank onto the front rubber mounts, and position the 2 by 4 under the rear of the tank again.  Remember to watch that the tank doesn't get away from you. 

I install the fuel line onto the new pump and slide the red lock piece home.  Don't force it.  It is designed to slide into its locked position only when the fuel line connection is fully seated.  I then plug in the electrical connector and connect the overflow hose. 

The seat bracket screws that hold the rear of the tank are next, then the plastic side covers on either side of the tank.  The seat is last to go on. 

To prime the fuel system, I turn the ignition switch to the on position to run the fuel pump for the initial three seconds it is programmed for.  I repeat that.  Then I press the starter button.  The engine fires up after cranking a few seconds getting the air out of the line between the pump and the injectors. 

I run the engine until the cooling fan cycles on two or three times.  It does not stumble.  Now for a test ride. 

I venture out with the idea that the pump might not have been the real problem.  If it wasn't, then I could stall somewhere again.  That wouldn't be good.  I pick a route to the south of nearby Greenville that is all secondary roads.  I ride along at a sedate clip and everything seems fine.  I reach the far side of Greenville, and decide to head north to Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, taking a leap of confidence that the problem is fixed. 

I don't particularly like to ride to these two places because they are very crowded spring through fall.  Today, it is not yet tourist season, so the traffic is light. 

I make it to Lake Lure and take a lunch break.  The bike has performed well so far.  I go on a little way to Chimney Rock, and then head toward home.  The temperature range today has been between 40 and 80 degrees, so he thermal effects on the pump ought to have been tested, too.  As I roll into the driveway -- under power this time, unlike last time -- I find that I have ridden 202 miles with nary a lick of a problem.

I'll call that a success.  It should be good for more than another 48,000 miles. 

I'm sure glad the pump didn't fail when I was miles from home either that first time or on my test ride. 

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