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Endangered supplies

I have a motorcycle that sat for a couple of years unused. In the process of moving, I tried to get it running again. No luck, carbs hopelessly plugged up from stale gas. Recently, I got the bug to work on it again. So I went to the local parts store to buy carb cleaner- you know, the gallon can of it for soaking purposes.

I searched the aisle with the cleaners for a while when a young guy comes by so I ask- where do you have the carb cleaners? Figuring at least I would be pointed in the general direction. Once we find the aerosol cans of which they had only a few, I decide to refine my query for what I am actually looking for; any gallon cans? Crickets in the distance along with the deer in the headlights stare… During his period of inanimate contemplation, I actually spotted 2 cans stuffed toward the back of the lowest shelf, an inch of dust on the top hiding the only visible labels. Is that what thatstuff is?? he asked incredulously. I always wondered what those were and why anyone would need so much…

The last carbs on cars were when? In the early 90’s? The last carbs on volume motorcycles was 2005 or 06? The kid probably wasn’t born when the last carb appeared on a car in the US. I can’t blame him for not knowing about carb cleaner in a can. It makes me feel a little old…

It wasn’t intended as a ding on the kid. That’s why it’s titled endangered supplies…

Maybe a motorcycle parts house would be better, some still come with carbs.

Trust me when I say I feel your pain. I’m 28 but restoring a 1950 cadillac and the BS I’ve gone through for the simplest things has driven me a little crazy. Those few who do have that simple cheap part take advantage of you. Some great old things just kind of die out

Fender 1325 wait until you try to restore the OEM radio. Finding tubes, vibrator, electrolytic capacitors, etc much less a tube tester and/or alignment signel generator will be a major fustration. I wonder if there is some old dude in webspace who has sequestered all the old tubes and test equipment just for the joy of fixing those old radios.

On the subject of cans of carb dip, I haven’t used a dip in ages – even with motorcycle carbs. After my last can got so old, gummed up, and the can corroded out, I tried to dispose of it correctly. The local hazardous waste disposal site would not accept it so it sits evaporating away. I have contemplated getting a fresh gallon of dip, just in case, but am reluctant to have to find a business willing to accept the used product. But, there is no smell so appealing as a shiny carb fresh out of the dip – reminds me of the repair shops of old.

@researcher – Not sure if it is entirely true, but was told a dozen years ago by a local emergency communications coordinator working for the county government that some local agencies and many federal agencies had been quietly seeking out, buying up and stockpiling such old radio equipment because it can still work even if a EM pulse such as created by even a small nuke knocked out all modern electronics.

Rather than alternators and starters, it would make a lot more sense to stock-up on things like carb cleaner if you have an old car.

Just be sure that you don’t store it in a closet!

A reasonable carb cleaner is 2 parts acetone, 1 part xylene which can both be bought at Home Depot, etc.

I rebuilt a carb for one of my sons friend. It was Sunday so I had to go to Autozone…I needed to get a new float. The kit I bought on-line didn’t come with a float. The kid behind the counter had no idea what I was talking about. Called the manager…who was just slightly older…he didn’t have a clue. But they were able to look it up on their system. At least the software was smarter then they were.

Interesting. I use acetone to strip the lacquer from brass and I think the xylene is for thining Rustoleum. Got both of them in stock.

Wear rubber gloves and goggles when you use that stuff. Very nasty.

Even my fuel injected Civic benefits from a little carb cleaner being sprayed in the throttle. The throttle assembly can get dirty and clogged, even with the air filter in place.

@TwinTurbo, I recently took a motorcycle out of mothballs, and it had stuck floats. I was able to get it running and I as able to get the fuel to stop dribbling from the carbs without taking the carbs apart. I siphoned out as much fuel as I could, filled it with clean fuel, and ran it for a while to get fresh fuel in the carbs. Then I strapped the motorcycle to a trailer and took it for a ride. The jarring ride got the floats to come free. When I took the motorcycle off the trailer, everything was back in order.

Even my fuel injected Civic benefits from a little carb cleaner being sprayed in the throttle. The throttle assembly can get dirty and clogged, even with the air filter in place.

May want to use throttle-body cleaner instead of carb-cleaner. The car cleaner is a little too harsh.

@Whitey, I wish I could have your successful shortcut but the carbs have already been disassembled once and blown out with aerosol cleaner. No luck. Plus, on this bike, the carbs are tucked up in the frame and so it has an electric fuel pump to feed the bowls. PITA to R&R. Sliders are sticking even after the spray treatment so it’s time for the soak routine…

I had to move a bunch of inactive cars too. One in particular had 3 year old gas in it :open_mouth:
The electric fuel pump was silent for a bit but miraculously started running. After making sure the thing would rotate by hand and priming, I tried starting it. I could not believe it actually started and ran on that varnish smelling fuel. Of course, this engine might run on lamp oil but the thought of buying a lottery ticket on the way home crossed my mind. The next challenge came when I was watching through the gap of the open hood and saw a geyser of fuel coming from the front half! Yikes! The float was stuck open. A few raps of the screwdriver handle and some patience and she closed up. Crisis averted. I dumped in some fresh gas to dilute the old, prepped it and ran it 30 miles to the new resting spot…

The “Cold Parts Cleaner” is very effective at cleaning all sorts of automotive and motorcycle parts…The problem arises when it’s time to dispose of the gallon can of very nasty stuff…Spray-cans are GREAT !! The nasty stuff just disappears into the atmosphere…There is nothing to dispose of…

I never soaked a carb in cleaner, glad you found some suggestions, did not have my dwell meter at the cabins, and the 1966 100hp evinrude was acting up, thought ok I’ll just go buy another dwell meter, same story, let me ask the old guy. Not seen one in years. So limped through with feeler guages, ended up being a head gasket.

I just bought a fresh gallon can of carb cleaner a couple of weeks ago. I had to find it at a "Tractor Supply "store though.

I went into a store once to find a 3/8 inch rod of brass. A friend had an old Massy Furgison tractor and he had broke off the end of the choke shaft. Nobody had parts for these. I needed it just over 5/16 thick and was going to put the rod in the drill press and just run a file up and down as it turned…until I got to the size I needed. Then work down the one end to thread with a die, for the nut to hold the choke lever on…square the end for the lever just in from the threads…then file the choke plate area flat,…drill and tap and I’d be good to go.

I told all this to three of the hardware store workers and every one of them said
"We don’t carry tractor parts"

Pull my hair out!!!


I went into a Checkers store looking for some red buld dye. You know the stuff that came in a bottle that you painted a dash bulb with to make it green, blue, amber, red, whatever you wanted. Used to be a common item. I didn’t see it so asked the manager with gray hair and he said he never heard of it. I told him you must be too young and he said he’d been in the business for 40 years and still never heard of it. Guess he should have been in the business 50 years, then he would have heard of it. Kids.