Trouble shooting carburetors
One of the biggest challenges with troubleshooting carburetor problems is the number of different
possibilities for each symptom, and some that are specific for an individual type of carburetor.  
This is general troubleshooting information that can be applied to most carburetors.

Strongly suggest that if you are working to fix a problem after trying one cure, should it
not work, you reset the carburetor to its original settings before you begin the next
 We see carburetors all the time where one thing after another has been tried, but when the
first change didn't work, it was left anyway, until in the end, the carburetors are so out of spec that
it is only by starting from the beginning can it be sorted out.   

An excellent example of this is the matter of hesitation.  There are a lot of reasons for an engine to
be hesitating, usually, but not always,  having to do with fuel availability.  Most assume that it is a
lack of fuel and begin making changes to deliver more.  The pump/injection is increased, the float
level raised, jets enlarged, and still the problem persists.  At this point, there is so much fuel going
through the carbs that the engine is being flooded, sometimes to the point of gasoline going into
the crankcase.   When people call us about this, we start asking questions about the condition of
the spark plugs, the exhaust and when and how the engine is backfiring, because we usually
encounter a RICH condition with hesitation, rather than a lean one. BUT a rich running engine runs
cooler than a lean engine, so work for that careful balance.
   Rich, dark spark plugs, sooty exhaust, backfiring through exhaust due unburned fuel
   Lean: light spark plugs, clean exhaust, backfiring through carbs
           either situation can lead to engine fires!!!

NOTE: another symptom of too rich is FUEL mixed in with your ENGINE OIL.   when you are
running too rich, a float has sunk, a needle valve has failed, CHECK THAT OIL and if necessary,
change it immediately!!!

Carburetors work by mixing fuel with air in a precise ratio, delivering it to the cylinder at the right
moment in the cycle for the spark plug to ignite the mixture and push the piston down starting the
next cycle.  If anything within that cycle is off, including when the spark is delivered, a poor running
engine is the result.  So don't forget to check your spark plug condition, spark plug wires, and
distributor timing as part of your troubleshooting procedure.  This
LINK will take you to a discourse
about idle problems, including distributor issues as well as what to look for with your linkage.  Do
you even have the correct spark plugs?!  
REMEMBER engines running at idle tend to be rich,
loading up your plugs, causing weak spark.  Keep your RPM's over 3500 when driving to help burn
off that idle load up.  If you are doing a lot of idling before setting out - checking distributor, carb
settings, etc, clean up the plugs before your ride.

After carburetor installation, be sure that the throttle arms (from throttle levers to linkage) are
properly adjusted. Please
do not assume that because it was okay before carburetor work, it is
okay now.
You should be able to lift the throttle rods about 3/16" after they are disconnected
from the throttle arms. This allows for the expansion of the whole throttle linkage after it
warms up. The engine expands, too.
You must also make sure that the air flow carburetor to
carburetor is equal using your idle adjustment screw, then set your idle using the volume control
1. Egine does not start despite proper ignition and adequate fuel
   is this just a hard start, meaning having to pump and pump to get fuel moving to the carburetors?  Adding an
electric fuel pump to prime the carburetors may be needed. Modern fuels evaporate quickly leaving carburetor
bowl empty.
 a ) no fuel in the system:  Check fuel supply lines, with ignition off detach fuel line connecting pump with
carburetors and be sure that there is fuel flowing from pump to carbs.  If not, pump is the problem.  
    if there is fuel in the system check the float needle valve, the main jets and the injectors for fuel delivery.
Make sure the carburetor pump system is working.
    Is distributor and/or spark plugs working to ignite fuel mixture
 b) too much fuel in the system: check float needle valve, float levels, fuel pump pressure, injection

Uneven idling: a) improperly adjusted idling - adjust idle mixture screws, idle adjustment screw.
) idle jets or idle air jets or passageways plugged or uneven sizing - clean jets, check sizing
) air leaks - worn throttle plates, worn out gaskets allowing air leaks, overly tightened carb bolts
causing warping in the carb body, worn throttle shafts,
 d) defective idle mixture screws - points damaged with over tightening, threads stripped from over
check distributor for proper advance and holding idle  more HERE

Poor Power transition (flat spot): a) worn throttle plates and/or throttle shaft
                    b) idle adjustment too lean or too rich
                    c) improper float level (too high or too low)
                    d) improper injection quantity (too high or too low)
                    e) shifting at too low a speed causing rpm's to drop too low
                     f) carbs not synched        

engine stalls when throttle lever is quickly closed  improper idle adjustment, check throttle arm

engine runs unevenly, misses, backfires  a) mixture too rich - check fuel pump pressure, float level,
injection,  float needle valve, distributor
                                            b) mixture too lean - check fuel lines, float level, clean jets, check distributor
                                            c) check for air leaks
High fuel consumption - recommend keeping track of your mileage/fuel. seeing your mpg average
drop (it will always vary by the type of driving) is one of the first indications of a problem

a) carbs running rich or ineffectively - check all the above
                                    b) check distributor, points and plugs
                c) check driving habits

And when all else fails, call 356 Carburetor Rescue!