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Discussion Starter #1
It happened. A major mechanical issue reared its ugly head: a blown bearing on the crank shaft. After much discussion with several mechanics, to include Triumph dealership experts, it has been recommended that I throw the bike on a "$500 Mechanics Special" ad on Craigslist and apply that toward a newer bike. I'm so bummed.

It was my first bike, purchase from the original owner with a folder of all work done. It has 66,000 miles (20,000+ are mine). Everything ELSE works awesome. It still has the working dash clock, OEM hand grip warmers, a Laminar Lip on the windshield, original seat and all cases, brand new Pilot Road 4 tires, near-new chain/sprocket, battery... I even had a custom tank bag made (with cup holder!). I have the original owners manual that fits under the seat, a Hayne's manual, AND I have the Mechanics manual that I purchased on the cheap when Triumph of Tacoma closed shop back in 2015.

I'm going to reach out and see if I can find a mechanic who wants a great project deal. Hopefully I can find one. Otherwise, my motorcycle riding is on hold.
 

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If you decide the sell the bike I think you can get a lot more than $500 by piecing it out. Heck if top case is in good shape I would give you $200 for the top case alone. Good luck with whatever you do.
 

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Don't give up yet. These engines are very rugged and can be fixed by you. I've rebuilt a couple of these engine. My original '96 900 BRG Trophy 109,000 miles still runs great. Dealers don't want to work on older motorcycles. The repair bill can be almost as high as what the motorcycle is worth. The question of how much is it worth kind of depends. You might sell a good Trophy for $2000 but it will take $6000 to buy a bike to replace it. Then you'll still need to add your personal touches.
Years ago I thought my Trophy had a loose connecting rod because of the sound I was hearing. It turned out all I had to do was replace the alternator cush drive rubbers. How do you know your problem is a blown bearing on the crankshaft? If antifreeze got into the oil, the rod bearings will get ruined in quickly. This happened to my brother Super III. Replacing the rod bearings wasn't hard, but the crankshaft on rod #2 was no longer round. We bought a used crank for $100. Do you have a garage, some tools and a Haynes manual? The Winter is a good time to learn about these engines. There are enough experienced guys on this site to help you thru this project.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Trophy57 and Greg,

First off, thank you for the response. I'm taking it as well as I can, I suppose. To be honest, I'm [email protected]#ing bummed - this was my first bike and I was hoping I'd be passing it on to one of my kids in a few decades. My main issue is that I'm not a big wrench turner, especially for engine internals (label this as "Exhibit A"). I can do (and have done) oil changes, brake pads, replaced a couple of older fuel lines and did an airbox mod (K&N, no cutting). Beyond this, I am out of my league. My biggest hurdle beyond this is that I don't have the space, time, tools, or experience to work an engine overhaul.

The two closest Triumph dealerships to me now are both two hours away. I can still start up the bike and ride it off-freeway at lower speeds, but I'm extremely limited to short distances which is why I had another non-Triumph shop diagnose. Additionally, I feel that each time I start it at this point just "adds-gasoline-to-the-fire", so to speak. Anyway, moving on...

My major Cost Considerations:
1) logistics for transporting the bike (a truck/trailer, which I don't own), or affixing a tow package to my wife's Dodge Caliber and renting a trailer.
2) full Triumph-experienced diagnosis, which will most likely involve several hundred dollars at a minimum just to crack the engine open. Add to this the cost from #1 above. If the crank bearing is confirmed, I'm now in for several thousand dollars to move forward. The alternative at that point is to just give them the bike as payment or take it home in buckets. (see Exhibit A)
3) the cost of parts, to include those additional items like water pump, etc that would be just-plain-smart to replace while the engine is open.
4) the cost of overall labor.

Time Considerations:
1) Wife's got cancer - this is my priority for obvious reasons. She still wants me to ride (as do I). My love of riding motorcycles doesn't take place in the garage at this point of my life.
2) I'm active-duty military, and on the older side. If I break down the engine, I lose garage space for anything else and I essentially have to spend every waking moment (when at home) for the next nine months or more learning all about how the Triumph inline triple works. I refer you back to Time Consideration #1 and Exhibit A.

I have considered finding a used engine and replacing what's there, but that still requires a mechanic to conduct business (Exhibit A). At the end of it all, my time is the most important of my considerations, and I want to spend more of it riding than wrenching. That sounds (and looks) pretty Diva now that I've said it, but there it is.

I am mulling some more about parting pieces (Top Case and others - I hear you stover :) )... not a totally dead topic there.
 

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Well, that story adds a whole other dimension to what you feel you should do. I can imagine your wife's health is first and foremost on your mind. No bike's worth heavy thinking in view of this and being active duty brings it's own set of worries. When things get better another bike will come along and you can get back on board if you want. The one thing I'd try to assure myself is that the rattle is not in fact that infamous alternator nut. Good luck.
 

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I am very sorry to read this, it really sucks but you should go buy another bike. Don't waste any time on this. Time and health are top priorities in life, motorcycles can always be replaced. Just start looking on CL and in dealerships.Something new will come along.
 

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Really sorry to hear of your wife's health issues. It really puts things in perspective. I wish I was close by to help you out mate but I am in Australia a long way away - if you can,and if its OK, could you get someone on the forum to help you part it out/sell/whatever?At least that will be one thing off your mind. Motorcycles do come and go, loved ones and our health are priorities

All my best wishes, thoughts and prayers mate

Gary
 

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Hi Goldendaddie, Sorry to read about your wife's condition. It's a tough fight to beat back cancer. So the engine does run. I understand your unwillingness to not get involved with fixing the engine. Maybe it's not as bad as you think. I'm a persistent kind of guy. First let check a few things. Take the crank case breather hose off. It goes from the clutch case to the front of the air box. Inside it, it might be a bit oily, that's good. If it looks like mayonnaise inside, that's bad. Is the coolant level in the overflow reserve tank low or empty? If the hose has mayonnaise and the coolant level is low that's a good indication antifreeze has gotten into the crank case and engine oil. Yep, kiss those rod bearings goodbye. Okay, let's say those two conditions aren't there. Like Rubber Biscuit said, it might be the infamous alternator nut. Put the bike on the center stand and start the engine. While the engine is running put it in neutral and put down the side stand. Push the bike off the center stand. Now you're going to listen to see if there difference in sound between standing up vertical and leaned over on the side stand. How about leaned over to the right. You can't lean it very far, our bikes are a top heavy beast. If there is a noticeable sound difference. Hello alternator nut. Write back and let us know the results.
 

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Hi Goldendaddie, Firstly, I wish for your wife a speedy and full recovery. A very close friend has beat cancer twice, the second time was stage 4! I believe her when she says she'll do it again if she has to. I love where you live, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest has some of the best motorcycle roads that I've been on. I loved touring the Mt. St. Helens blast area. Sorry to hear about your dysfunctional Trophy. I'm with Greg96brg, there are a few things to investigate before you give up. These are misunderstood motorcycles, even by the dealers. As you know, they sound like a bag of hammers until you get them spinning. Hanging out at a friend's auto repair for over 30 years has taught me that a diagnosis is not a diagnosis until you lay eyes on the problem, until then it is just a hunch. These engines are very robust. Barring coolant contamination or an over rev (downshift?) I would be surprised if you had a bad rod bearing. I'm at 63,000 miles and HUNDREDS of redline shifts and my Sprint still performs great. Greg96brg gave good advise on checking for a coolant leak. The alternator thing is an easy check. Technically it is the alternator bolt, not a nut. Have you had your rear wheel off? The alternator is easier to remove. Just pull it and do a visual inspection. If the impeller slides off it is obvious that the bolt is broken. If that is the case, take the alternator and impeller to a machine shop and have them oversize the bolt hole to M8 in the same pitch. It's not hard, I fixed mine in my dill press in my basement. There are other possibilities, timing chains and adjusters do fail, the engine has a balance shaft, perhaps something is up there? I would investigate it to the end, I realize that you may not have time/desire/ability. Still, perhaps take the position "if it's not a rod bearing, what is it?" A mechanics $500 special is probably still worth $500 with the engine in a box. You could part the bike out for hundreds more.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you everyone for the words of support for my wife; they truly mean a lot. That war started back in 2013, battles were won and we’re staying well ahead of it at this point. It’s not over yet. :)

Back to the bike… I am totally down to do some light-to-medium troubleshooting, it will be months to budget out a new bike either way (probably late summer) so if I have available time I will try those things that you all have mentioned to see if I can find the perfect 10¢ solution, if it exists.


I feel it necessary to lay out the symptoms first so that everyone has the same start point. Last year as I was leaving a luncheon, I felt a sudden loss of power while departing – there was no buildup or lead-in to this, it just started. During the ride home it felt like it was alternating between lurching forward and puttering, hesitation, etc. It looked like (or probably just felt to me like) I was periodically air-humping while going down the road. I was very concerned about leaning at all while moving from a stop because I felt no confidence that I’d have enough steady power to pull out of it upright. I have a friend who owned a 2000 Trophy 1200 for several months, who is fearless about overhauling motorcycles, and he said that he had a similar problem with his and it was “the coil”. It instantly fixed his issues, and I was hoping for the same diagnosis. Anyway, moving on…

She was on a battery tender for a several months, due to military travel and other obligations. It didn’t take long to start her back up again a few weeks ago, and I found a local place who touted being able to diagnose for $100. I rode it there, and it sounded louder than normal with the same putter/lurch/hesitation as before, especially at lower rpms. They had it for a few days and broke the news that (without causing additional expense by cracking open the engine) they determined it was a bearing on the crank based upon the noise and where it was coming from. They may have done plenty more than using a stethoscope on the case, but that was all that I recall them mentioning.

I’ve never removed a wheel. The airbox “mod” was the biggest job I’ve done. I did a post about it on this forum a while back if anyone is interested. THAT problem started with an old, cracked fuel line that I had to remove the airbox to get access to. I figured since I was there, I could replace the filter (chuckle). For that I was nervous about just separating the carbs from the block to get the airbox out, but since I didn’t have to touch any other part beyond that I survived the experience.

I have a sick Grandmother to visit this weekend (literally), so I’ll be back soon. I will also check on here periodically to help wrap my head around some of the possible diagnoses you guys suggest – at this point I am eternally grateful for your help, even if at the end of it all it’s just to help me part the bike out to folks who need those items. But if I get to keep riding this bike, I owe you each a homebrew at the very least.
 

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Goldendaddie, Give a call to Bill's Snohomish Cycle 206-930-7306. He's a very good guy, excellent mechanic and has a LOT of experience with the 900 motors. I know he's swapped out a few motors on different 900 models. He may even have a good 900 motor laying around. No expense in a phone call and, if need be, it doesn't cost all that much to rent a uHaul for the day to get it up to Snohomish if you can't find someone on the base with a trailer to help you out. As mentioned in a previous post, dealers and their mechanics don't really like or haven't been trained to work on the older bikes. Best go with someone who knows what he's doing in regard to the 900 motors.Hope it works out for you.
 

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That drop in power, especially at low revs, sounds very much like a cylinder dropping out due to a bad ignition coil (not to be confused with the crank position sensor, AKA "pickup coil;" that's a different symptom). I don't know about any noises associated with that, but given that the motor is somewhat agricultural sounding in nature it seems likely that a shop that charges $100 for a diagnostic and isn't familiar with these bikes would think it was worse/try to get a bunch of money out of you. (Sorry, I briefly worked for a shop like that last year and they loved to maximize the initial estimate to pad their bottom line.)

ETA: There are two basic failure modes for the stock coils: heat death, which is pretty much all the time and permanent, and intermittent moisture problems due to the potting material on the bottom shrinking away from the plastic sides and allowing water to short the coil when wet (rain, just washed, etc.). The latter can be mostly fixed by sealing the edges with RTV when the coil is COMPLETELY dry.

It's been a long time since I had a carbed 900, but the stick coils in the 955s I've been riding for the last 10 years are way better than the 900 coils, and the spark plug wells seem to be less of a heat trap than where the stock T3 coils live. I don't know much about the stick coil conversion for T3s because my T3 was dead before it was mentioned here, but I know that it exists and it's probably the least expensive and most reliable way forward. IIRC, the donor coils are easily available and can probably be had for under $50 from eBay. Hopefully, someone will pipe up with info on the conversion.

The other thing to do is to replace the stock coils with Nology ProFires, which are the same PVL part Triumph uses. Those are over $300/set, though.

Cheers,
-Kit
 
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Hi Goldendaddie, Your description of lurching forward, puttering and hesitation is a classic bad coil symptom. It's good to know you've taken off the carbs and air box before. New coils are about $150 each, ouch. A better and cheaper way would be to switch over to coil over plugs (COP) sometimes they are called stick coils. I've done it to my Sprint and Trophy. It's easy. The COP's you'll be looking for go on the 600 Daytona and the 1600 or 1700 Thunderbird. I'd go after the Thunderbird COP's because they will be newer.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/11-Triumph...ash=item2a980ec647:g:CcYAAOSw8axaIbf9&vxp=mtr
Also you'll need a set of Yamaha ignition wires to plug into the COP's. They can be bought on Ebay for $10. Send me a private email.
Do the engine running test, lean it slightly, to listen for strange sounds. Get back to me before taking off the alternator. The splined shaft that holds the alternator comes in two fashions, the older model puts a bolt on each end of the shaft, the newer models have a bolt that goes thru the shaft with the bolt head on the clutch side. The older model which I think you have, one of the bolt heads could be sheared off and shaft will slide from side to side and make a weird sound. Wild Bill knows all about this condition, Hi Bill, good to see you're in on this conservation.
 

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My God Man - bring it to a Triumph Dealership!

You need to get this solved. At this point you don't really know what is wrong.

For what its worth, I once ruined a crank bearing and it was a loud thumping metallic noise and a steady loss of power and then full lockup.

It was NOT a lurching erratic experience. That does sound like a coil. If your bearing was actually causing a nearly 100 hp engine to slow down, it would be ripping apart, using a ton of energy. Think about it - energy flows - it has to go somewhere. All that energy going into the bearing would grenade it within a short time period.

A quck and cheap way to find out - change the oil. Lok for metal in the oil pan and in the filter. Put a magnet in there - do the shavings stick to the magnet?? If so, thats bad.

Let us know what you find.
 

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OK, now I'm worried.

I had the same problem with my Beastie: hesitation, especially when rolling on. The engine would sputter a bit (for about a second) and then take off. It's always popped when it was cold and during deceleration, so I figured the carbs needed cleaning. I have the same mechanic panic/skill as @goldendaddie but I thought I'd take the winter to tear down and re-build the carbs.

Then, a few months ago, I was coming home from a Staff Ride, and all of a sudden it started barking and backfiring, and had no power. I had it towed home, and it has been sitting in the garage. Since we moved over Christmas, time and finances have been a wee bit - short. I was hoping to get it into a shop locally, but no one seems to want to touch it, and the closest dealer is over an hour away. I don't have a problem towing it, just making the time and $$ available.

Just how expensive is this going to be? :crying:
 
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Hey TubaSoldier

My '98 trophy 1200 had exactly the same symptoms of backfiring and losing power

In the end it was the coils - I replaced these and the issue disappeared

Maybe replace the coils and see if that sorts the issue? Just a thought
 

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It'd probably be cheaper than trailering it to Richmond!

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll give it a go - see what happens.
 

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Hi Tuba Soldier, Dealers don't like to work on old bikes. The bill can end up being more than what the bike is worth. The owner doesn't pay the bill and the shop gets stuck with an old bike that will be hard to sell. You've got two things to fix. The coils get too hot up on a ride and then fail. But it could be just the foam insulator above the cam cover is missing. It keeps the excess heat off the coils and carbs. The other problem is the pilot jets are dirty, sometimes they care called idle jets. They have a lengthwise hole that is very small and residue builds up on the inside diameter of that hole. I know of one guy who cleared it up by adding fuel injector cleaner to the fuel. If it doesn't work then the next step is to take out the jets and spray them with carb cleaner. Unfortunately that a take the carbs off kind of job to get the jets out. I can walk you thru that process.
 

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Hi Tuba Soldier, Dealers don't like to work on old bikes. The bill can end up being more than what the bike is worth. The owner doesn't pay the bill and the shop gets stuck with an old bike that will be hard to sell. You've got two things to fix. The coils get too hot up on a ride and then fail. But it could be just the foam insulator above the cam cover is missing. It keeps the excess heat off the coils and carbs. The other problem is the pilot jets are dirty, sometimes they care called idle jets. They have a lengthwise hole that is very small and residue builds up on the inside diameter of that hole. I know of one guy who cleared it up by adding fuel injector cleaner to the fuel. If it doesn't work then the next step is to take out the jets and spray them with carb cleaner. Unfortunately that a take the carbs off kind of job to get the jets out. I can walk you thru that process.
In my experience, I find that replacing the jets is easier than trying to clean them. Especially when it comes to a bike that is almost 20 years old.
 
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