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Thread: First Big Red 250es - Non-running to Running

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    MN/Dakota
    --
    5

    First Big Red 250es - Non-running to Running

    Thought I share my experience. First Big Red 250es. Bought non-running. Had been sitting at a cabin. Not sure how many owners. All original parts except the carburetor. Not perfect, typical broken plastic, broken front rack, small dents in gas tank. The guy I bought it from thought it just needed good gas. So my journey began. I started with the gas and gas tank. Lots of rust and sediment. Dumped the old gas, rinsed with vinegar twice, and ended up replacing the petcock filters. It already had a carb made in china on it so I tried to rebuild it. After not much luck I bought another carb, made in china, for $ 30 bucks (still looking for an OEM Carb). I went back and forth installing and removing, checking everything, adjusting, reading the forum, etc. It would run strong for 15 - 30 seconds and then quit. I should mention I have little experience with rebuilding or adjusting carburetors so I was ready to give up. Long story made shorter I had remembered reading a reply to a post on this forum that mentioned the carburetor float level was important. That tip, in addition to reading and following the Honda service manual, for checking and adjusting the carburetor, allowed me to bring it back to life! Success is so sweet. I believe the float level was wrong on both the old carb and the new one. The old one was sitting to low. The new one was sitting to high. I adjusted it by bending the tab the needle valve hangs on. Service manual stated it should sit about .75 inches high. I then followed the service manual for adjusting throttle and idle. I almost overlooked the air filter and plug. It now runs great. Really strong motor. Just starting to have fun now. Another Big Red 250es on the trails again! Well now I'm ready to look at the brakes that do not work, the one taillight, how to break lose the front axle, etc. Thanks Three Wheeler World!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    MI, USA
    --
    2,132
    Front axle might be a fight depending how bad it's rusted up. The 250es was made 85-87, 85 being the most common, but also slightly different from the 86-87. The CDI connector changed as well as the rear axle design slightly. Anyway, back to the front axle bolt, There's one side with 4 small nuts, and the axle hex head, you have to atleast loosen or take off the 4 small nuts. The cap can slide off with the nuts off. Get a 6 pointed socket and a long handled breaker bar and try to break the axle bolt loose. Because it's so long, you loose a lot of torque to the threads. It is hardened atleast a little so it can handle a fair bit of torque, but don't try to add a 4ft cheater and start jumping on it or anything lol. If it dosn't break free, you might have to fight it some. If you haven't had experience with large rusty bolts you might want to get some help from someone that has. Steel to AL can be a bit of a fight and the AL is the weakest link both strength wise and temp. AL doesn't turn red/orange before melting.

    Anyway, nice find on the carbs. I haven't had that bad of luck with China carbs, their job isn't too complex and if you rebuilt it with new jets, then it should be spot on. The China jets I'd say are the main problem with them performance wise (they tend to be set lean out of the box in most cases), but I have read the needle and seat has an O-ring that can fail over time.

    the 15-30 sec run time seems pretty sort for a float level issue. When I park my machines I try to remember to turn the petcock to off. Sometimes I forget, and I can ride the machine over a 1/4 mile before the float runs out of gas. This is on a 250es and my 250sx. If it was set too high, then I'd think the issue should have showed up right away, unless you turned the gas off to let the float level get lower. Either case, sounds like you got the issue fixed, so don't mind my ramblings. Generally speaking, the engine chugging is too rich, while popping is too lean. Not sure how experienced you are with tuning a carb, so you might want to plug check fairly often to make sure you're not too rich/lean. When you pull the spark plug, it should be slightly brownish looking. Black = too rich, and white powder = too lean. A little off won't be a huge deal, but majorly off can be bad for the engine over time. A lot of people tune by ear which requires some experience, so plug checking is a good measuring device.

    Another thing not to overlook when talking air filter/spark plug is the oil filter. Little bit of a messy job, but it needs to be changed time to time too. If it gets plugged up or installed backwards the top end is starved of oil.

    For the tail light, about the only option is to buy a used one, keep an eye on ebay. The actual lens was available from Honda last I checked, but nothing else.

    For the brake shoes, pretty simple work overall, but hard to explain. If you learn well from looking at how things function, you should be able to figure it out on your own well. Don't run cheap no brand China shoes, they will wear out in a week or less. Get some name brand like EBC (cheap but atleast holds up pretty well). It's just like brakes on a car, there's some specs you could check if you have the measuring tools. The drum surface the brakes hit should be overall smooth, pitting or rust will take out the new breaks fairly fast (rust being the worst, pitting won't be nearly as bad, it's more less performance than wear). While the brakes are apart, the shaft the brake cable hooks to should move very freely, if not it might need to be taked out and cleaned up/ sanded down a little. Probably best to put some grease on it when installing to keep water from rusting it up too quick (pretty sure they are zinc plated factory but that can wear off and such). The cables should also move freely, if not it's best to replace them. If the brake adjuster is torn up, you can get all the parts that goes on the cable new from Honda (or my bloated priced listings on ebay to make it more available).

    One of the common failure points on the 250es/sx engine is the one way bearing on the right side of the engine. When it fails the kick starter slips, and engine braking is lost when it's really bad. If you ever have to pull that cover off, I'd suggest replacing it as preventive maintenance (nothing bad happens when it goes bad, just slips, so your call). The opposite side of the engine has one too, but it's only used when using the electric start, so it doesn't tend to be a problem.

    Anyway, sounds like you've already started off in the right direction on working on the Big Red, so keep up what you're already doing =). Also welcome to the site.

    I bought a trashed 250sx that had a big red front end and the rear racks from a big red was welded to the frame. It was non-running too, ended up the silly kid working on it had it in 1st gear trying to start it. Once I put it in neutral, the engine came to life. Carb leaked everywhere but it ended up being a great engine for another machine that needed an engine (well the repair was too involved). These machines generally only fail from simple issues unless they are super super abused, or the top end gets starved of oil (that's what was wrong with the other 250sx engine).

    Guess I should mention, the 250sx and 250es share almost the exact same engine. Gearing is the major difference in them, 250sx being higher geared and more sporty/lighter frame.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    MN/Dakota
    --
    5
    Thanks for the overview and tips for the 250es. I took a step back on the carburetor. I had it all warmed up and running pretty well but it did backfire when letting up on the throttle. Too me it seemed to be running rich. Doesn't chug at all so maybe its still lean? It seemed to flood and or shut down when in neutral. I adjusted the idle screw while it was warmed up / hot. Took it for a spin and it ran better. Climb a few small hills and pulled in the garage. Idled fine and shut it down. Now it will not start. I'm ready to reset my adjustments start over again. However I keep wondering if my choke cable is stretched out and adding to the problem? Nice to know about the one way bearing on kick starter side. Although electric start works I have only been using the kick start. I feel if its tuned properly it should start by kick start easily. I have gotten to start on first kick. Anyway I do think it slips once in a while. As for front axle I thought I try impact wrench? Overall impression of the past maintenance of the machine, like many used machines you buy, its that not much was done. I do not think the machine was abused and the engine does run nice and strong. Just have to get this carburetor dialed in so I can have some fun in the snow this winter.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    MI, USA
    --
    2,132
    Yea sounds like it's still lean. Generally lean is also hard to start. Pull the spark plug and look at what color it is, pretty sure it will have white powder on it, maybe a little off white. It should be a light brown when running correctly.

    The choke setup on the 250es is a little strange, it opens a dedicated jet for choke to add more fuel. A lot of small engines and even car engines with carbs have the choke setup where it closes off the air flow to force a richer condition. If the choke doesn't seem to do anything, it can have it's jet plugged up like any of the other jets. Also the 85 carb was slightly different from the 86, that included the choke plunger on the end of the choke cable.

    The pilot screw adjuster stock should be 2 turns out from being lightly seated. I'd suggest screwing in yours counting the turns (so you can return it to the orig value if needed), and try 2 full turns out. If it was more than 2 turns out, like 2.5 or more, I'd say the carb needs to be taking apart and all jets, passages etc needs to be cleaned out. Just be warned, that adjuster screw sometimes gets frozen up in the carb bodies, careful not to break/strip out the head of it.

    Here's a diagram of the 85 carb.
    https://www.partzilla.com/catalog/ho...red/carburetor

    If you don't want to do the work yourself, 3ww member Flyingw can rebuild it and dial it in for you. Never had him do any work for me personally, but the photos tell me that he does a great job (attention to detail).

    Here's a thread he made on how to rebuild the carb.So much more detail than I'd be able to give, so it's worth a read atleast =).
    http://www.3wheelerworld.com/showthr...ebuild-Tutoral

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    MN/Dakota
    --
    5
    Good call. Turned pilot screw back out to 2. Got it started and opened it a little more. Took it for a test run in the dark and rain. Little or no backfire. Ran fine through the gears a few times. Just before returning to the garage I started out in first and it surged and bog down, tried second same thing. Engine died. Restarted fine and accelerated fine again through 1, 2, etc. Anyway will just take a little more time to dialed it in. Thanks for your help.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    MI, USA
    --
    2,132
    Running fine then bogging tells me fuel delivery is a second issue. Check to make sure the gas cap is set to "on". The vent in the cap can fail too, if it's a fairly consisant distance and such, with the gas tank not too full, just set the cap on and ride around, if it doesn't mess up any more, the cap is likely the cause.

    There's also a screen in the tank, and a screen in the settlement bulb under the petcock that can get plugged. Sometimes running it on reserve instead of on will work too if the on passage is blocked off some.

    Also check the fuel line from the tank to the carb, if it's swollen up at all, replace it. Not really the cause of the issue, but it's something to be mindful of.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    MN/Dakota
    --
    5
    Yes must be a fuel supply issue. Took carb out again, recheck all settings and installed. Finally got it started. Kills at random times. This is after I cleaned the tank at least three times, changed tank and petcock filters, and put the 200es gas cap on it. I think it must be a dirty valve in the original petcock. It has a rivet so I cannot take it apart to clean. I could drill it out and use bolts to reassemble.

    I would like to know if anyone has any tips on getting your 250es started? I know the instructions stated in the manual. My typical experience is that I apply some choke, kick it over, and wait. Come back 10 - 15 minutes later, apply no choke and it fires up. However as soon as it starts I need to apply choke until it warms up.

    Brake pads arrived today so I'll be spending time on that now.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    MI, USA
    --
    2,132
    My experience with a 250es beat to death and has a cobra exhaust on it, with the gas on long enough for the carb to fill up, choke fully and kick. First or second kick it fires up, after running on choke a bit it starts to chug a little (too rich) and I turn the choke off and ride gently for the first little bit so the engine can come up to temp before I add to the beatings on it. My 250SX is similar, but has a similar issue. I have to turn the gas on and remove the gas cap and wait a minute or so, then I can put the cap on and do the same process, first or second kick it fires up. It dies when the carb float runs low or out of fuel.

    Here's the 250es I mentioned, that's how I got it, the ugliest machine I've had, so it's my go to for riding and beating on. Still runs strong and the cobra doesn't sound half bad, much better than the DG on my 350x that is just annoyingly loud. I've had that 250es for quite some time now, something like 10-12 years, always been a machine easy to start. 200ES was also pretty easy to start, but winter time it got hard, but the engine needs fresh rings installed and the top end leaks oil all over the cylinder.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Somerset West, South Africa
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    114
    My put clear fuel line on my 250ES and can see that no fuel goes through immediately when you turn the gas on, I just give a few firm blows into the tank and it push the fuel straight though to the carb fires right up.
    1983 Honda ATC250R
    1983 Honda ATC200E BIG RED
    1985 Honda ATC250ES BIG RED
    2001 Honda TRX90

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    MI, USA
    --
    2,132
    Nice lol, figured it would be easy to get running. Sounds like there's junk in the tank though. I'd say pull the petcock and clean up what you can and flush the tank out. There are some processes to remove rust from the tank if it's rusty inside (bottom is where the worst generally is), should be able to search around and find posts on it. After removing the rust, there's products out there to coat the inside of the tank to prevent rust down the road and can help seal pin holes.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    MN/Dakota
    --
    5
    Yes I do plan to coat the inside of the tank next spring/summer. I removed the petcock and could still see some orange rust sludge. Cleaned and installed. Using your method to start it, full choke on, it started on 3rd kick. Pretty happy about that given it was less than 20 degrees outside. After about an hour of running I would have to say it idles a little high and rich. Just minor adjustments now. Since it has an old "6" spark plug I will install a hotter "8" tonight. Took some time to get running but I learned a lot. Its really a fun machine. I do not think I'll be happy on anything smaller than a 250 now?? Thanks for the feedback

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    MI, USA
    --
    2,132
    Nice work. I hate to say it, but personally I don't buy anything under 250cc for myself atleast for 3 wheelers. Exception might be an ATC70 or ATC90 for a camp machine if the price is cheap, or a really cheap 200es for parts to try to make a profit on assuming it's in horrible shape.

    The 200 series has it's place, but the suspension etc of the bigger machines it hard to pass up. The exception on that is the 200x, it seems to have good suspension too, I just wasn't impressed with the engine vs the 350x I'm used to.

    Since you like the 250es, you'd probably like the 250sx as well, more sporty (lighter,narrower frame, no racks etc) and it's the same shaft drive basic setup as the 250es. The cam might be a little more aggressive on the 250sx. Also the gearing is different, the 250sx being higher geared, but it runs smaller tires, once you take account of the 22 vs 25in tires the gear ratios are the same for engine rpm vs speed/travel distance.

    Not sure if you're new to 3 wheelers in general, but one point of advice, never stick your leg out even if you feel like you're tipping over. Dirt bike riders have a bit of a hard time with that one, quad riders it just feels tippy/unstable at first. Once you learn where the limits are, you can ride the machine around on 2 wheels super easy (sideways, not talking wheelies lol). It took me quite a while to get over that tippy feeling on a 200es. Also while riding, you have to lean into the corners more than a quad. Think about how a dirt bike is rode, except the machine doesn't lean with you so you have to lean extra to make up for that. I ride fast and hard on my 350x, on more powerful machines (250es is kind of boarder line), you can drive corners with the throttle sliding the rear tires in sand/dirt. It's not too bad on the 250sx, easy for me on the 350x, and I suspect the 250r is just as easy. Of course if you've never done that, might want to learn on a quad first since they are a little more forgiving.

    If you have a way to read the RPM of the engine, idle spec is 1400rpm for the 250es. Another thing you can do is adjust the idle so it's a bit below when the clutch starts to engage. I suspect it starts catching around 1500-1600rpm.

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