The air cut valve

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mikenixon
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The air cut valve

Post #1 by mikenixon » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:39 am

I noticed some comments on the forum about GL1100 air cut valve defeat. I have been recommending this for decades.1 Allow me to deal with some misconceptions and fill in some gaps.

The goal of defeating
First, the goal of defeating the air cut valve is simple: eliminating it as a future maintenance item. That is it. No performance gain, no solving of any glitch. Nothing like that. The air cut valve is the single most expensive item in the pile of diaphragms and rubber bits that go into a GL1100 carburetor rebuild. So the fact that it is redundant -- and it really is -- is a significant boon to owners of this model. I have rebuilt countless GL1100 carbs without using air cut valve diaphragms at all.

Redundancy
Second, about that redundancy. You don't want to read about my qualifications, so just take it from me. The air cut valve is indeed eminently redundant. It is 98 percent politics. Powersports carburetor manufacturers added the air cut valve as damage control after setting their pilot screws excruciatingly lean between the late 1970s and mid 1980s. Much leaner than was required, in fact. The reason they did this is pretty screwy (no pun intended) and is where all the boring back story comes in. 2 The air cut valve is damage control in the sense that with the carburetor's inane official-spec screw settings, exhaust afterburn results. Popping. The air cut valve (mostly) prevents the afterburn by enrichening the idle circuit when the throttle is closed. We'll look at the exact operational sequence later. By now you likely have intuited that were the pilot screw properly set, the air cut valve would never have come to be. And you're absolutely right. After the mid-1980s, air cut valves are pretty scarce. On the GL1100, the real-world-correct pilot screw setting is 2 1/2 turns, confirmed both by in-the-trenches experience as well as exhaust gas analyzer readings (3 percent CO). At 2 1/2 turns the throttle response is worlds better and the carbon monoxide level is still under the limits that were in effect during that time period. 3 The air cut valve is *not* an emissions device. It is a "let's hide this problem under the proverbial rug" device. 4

The cart before the horse
This leads us to the next point. Many seem to think that once the air cut valve is defeated the pilot screw setting *must* be changed to compensate. You could say it that way. But it's actually backward. That 2 1/2 turns is correct whether or not you have defeated the air cut valve. It's not that defeating the valve *requires* the richer pilot screw. Rather, it's that the correctly rich pilot screw setting more completely *allows* the defeating of the valve. Different perspective.

How to defeat
Defeating the air cut valve is easy. Prepare a 3mm thick piece of rubber and place this over the vacuum hole under the air cut valve's cover. That's it. On the GL1100 it is fairly easy to do this without unracking the carburetors, but it helps to have a right angle screwdriver and the carbs need to be removed from the engine. Or simply do it during a carburetor rebuild.

Sealing
When I defeat the air cut valves on the GL1100, after making a rubber block to seal each vacuum port, I throw away the diaphragm and spring, putting in the diaphragm's place a similarly-sized o-ring. If you would rather, you can simply leave the diaphragm and its spring in place. But one way or the other, either diaphragm or o-ring, the valve's cover has to have an airtight seal. 5

The GL1000
We're discussing only the GL1100. Although the GL1000 carb set also has an air cut valve, unlike the GL1100's four valves the GL1000 has only a single valve and thus is far less expensive to replace, not to mention much easier to get at. Plus, its unique location far from fuel fumes results in its lasting much longer than the valves in the GL1100. These two things together make defeating the GL1000's air cut valve much less important and actually to no real advantage.

Air cut valve operation
Now the technical stuff. The GL1100 idle circuit is actually quite complicated. It has several openings. These include the fuel passage, the air passage ("bleed") that mixes air into the fuel passage, the discharge outlet inside the carburetor bore, the pilot screw cavity, and the three "bypass" ports immediately under the throttle plate. Yup, seven openings, more than any other carburetor circuit, and all of them connected to just the one idle jet. The air cut valve is planted across one of these seven openings, the air bleed passage, before that passage terminates at atmosphere. You can see then that the air cut valve is actually a blocking device. At the right time, it shuts off the idle circuit's air bleed. This results in momentary extreme richness.

Here's why. With a factory ultra-lean pilot screw setting, when the throttle is shut suddenly, the momentarily still-revving engine draws heavily on the idle circuit but the choked down pilot screw can't deliver. The mixture is so lean it won't ignite, so it passes unburned through the combustion chamber and on into the exhaust. There, after mixing with the gases already in the exhaust it becomes burnable, and the hot muffler ignites it. We perceive this as popping in the exhaust (the correct term is "afterburn"). The vacuum-operated air cut valve is activated on decel to richen the closed throttle mixture so it will be rich enough to burn, thus it is completely consumed, and only normal exhaust enters the muffler, so no popping results. No afterburn.

Hopefully from this description you can readily see that when the pilot screw is correctly set, none of this monkey motion is necessary. The air cut valve is truly redundant. 6

Final warnings
Because the air cut valve is an integral part of the idle circuit, spraying any carburetor cleaning chemical into the GL1100's idle passage while the air cut valve is still in place will destroy the air cut diaphragm, turning it into pudding. The diaphragm must be removed for even the simplest carburetor cleaning. One more reason to defeat it. I see chemically-damaged air cut diaphragms often. Another thing. If like many you have an aftermarket exhaust on your GL1100 you may want stop and think. It might be best to keep the air cut valves stock; not defeat them. This is because most non-original exhaust configurations have poor sealing at their many connection points. Outside air can get in at these places and guess what, you have that afterburn thing going on again. If your GL1100 has non-stock exhaust, you may need to resign yourself to putting up with regular air cut valve replacement; the price you pay for having an aftermarket exhaust.

Summary
Let's recap. What you have learned is that the air cut valve is part of the idle circuit. It is there to babysit a factory-set incorrect pilot screw adjustment that is so far out of correct position that it causes a new problem while it's supposedly fixing the first one. But it's easy to defeat. And defeating it is a good idea merely from the standpoint of future maintenance. Enjoy.

Notes:
1 It's possible I was one of the first to float this idea on user forums. And maybe not. :-)

2 Motorcycle carburetor manufacturers mysteriously seem to have hugely over-responded to the sudden severe tightening of powersports emissions requirements just before the 1980 model year. They kept this up for a few years, pressing in idle jets for example, then dropped the whole idea in 1983. Idle jets were no longer pressed in and pilot screws were correctly set at the factory. And air cut valves disappeared for the most part. The lean years were ended.

3 The first mechanic to touch your bike (at its first service) was supposed to have correctly set those screws. You should have been enjoying the benefits of the correct setting all this time, for over 30 years now.

4 In other words, the air cut valve is a followup solution to a problem emissions regulations (or more accurately, the over-response to those regulations) necessitated. Kind of like the guy who spills paint on his floor while painting his walls and decides he now has to paint the whole floor to make it look right.

5 Therefore the diaphragm, if you leave it in place after blocking the vacuum hole, is merely serving as a gasket.

6 Honda actually published instructions for defeating the air cut valve for DOHC 750 owners intending to race their bikes. They advocated using a steel ball instead of a rubber disc. I prefer the rubber disc.

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #2 by Track T 2411 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:59 am

Thanks for clarifying this. I know I had read it on your web site several years ago, but never tried it on my 1100, mainly because I use Randakk's kit, and the diaphrams are included. I don't recall what I set the pilot screws at on my last rebuild. I might have to revisit them...

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #3 by desertrefugee » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:18 pm

Dang Mike. Superlatives fail when giving you the nod for these articles.

I’ll just say simply: thanks a million! This is another gem packed with insight.

(Glad I have a 1000, though...except for the pesky o-rings that like to play hide and seek).

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #4 by mikenixon » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:00 pm

desertrefugee wrote:Dang Mike. Superlatives fail when giving you the nod for these articles.

I’ll just say simply: thanks a million! This is another gem packed with insight.

(Glad I have a 1000, though...except for the pesky o-rings that like to play hide and seek).


Thanks Darrell. Very kind. A trick planned for the next article for the GL1000.....

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #5 by HOTT » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:35 pm

Thanks Mike! Always good info and fun facts to boot. action1 action1


HOTT (I feel like I should leave a tip on the table)

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #6 by mikenixon » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:42 am

:)

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #7 by rcmatt007 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:35 am

I always thought the valve was to reduce flatulence :twisted:

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #8 by Sidecar Bob » Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:18 pm

Mike, last fall I put a GL500 engine & carbs into Eccles (my venerable and much abused CX650E based winter machine) and money has been tight around here lately so instead of buying a new Randakk's kit for the carbs I moved the rubber parts that were in better shape from the 650 carbs into the 500 carbs and followed the similar info you posted at https://www.motorcycleproject.com/text/ ... _more.html to bypass the air cuts. This bike has Harley mufflers and the H box has been replaced with Murray's Quick Build pipes but I put the exhaust together fairly carefully so the only leaks are from small drain holes I drilled in the lowest point on each side (it is used in winter and condensation inside the pipes is a concern).
So far I have not heard any afterfiring and it seems to be making as much power as I figured it would and in general working as well as I hoped it would so from what I can tell this is another example of your advice being spot on.

Reading this here has inspired me to start a thread about this at https://cx500forum.com/forum/technical- ... ost1020821

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #9 by mikenixon » Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:55 pm

Well, it tickles me, Bob, that you have not only made use of the information, and proved its validity, and taken the time and made the effort to share your results, but most of all that you even absorbed and assimilated (and even synthesized) the concepts (the part about exhaust leaks tells me this)! Feels like I'm back in the classroom! Wonderful! Made my day! Carry on! :)

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #10 by mikenixon » Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:56 pm

rcmatt007 wrote:I always thought the valve was to reduce flatulence :twisted:


That's about right....

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #11 by Rat » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:57 pm

Follow up question .... does this info apply equally well to the 1200s 'secondary air supply' plumbing ?

I'll double HOTT's tip ....

Gord :roll:

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #12 by digger » Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:30 pm

Mike, this is very timely information for me, sometimes I think you must be clairvoyant :) I’m going through a friend’s GL1100 carburetors, I knew I had read something about defeating the cut valves before and I didn’t even have to look it up this time. I purchased your rebuilding GL1000 carburetors a couple of years ago and it is a fantastic book, like having an instructor in the room with me. I have gone through 3 different GL1000 carburetors for myself and two brothers. You are the best! Thank you

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #13 by mikenixon » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:44 am

Rat wrote:Follow up question .... does this info apply equally well to the 1200s 'secondary air supply' plumbing ?

I'll double HOTT's tip ....

Gord :roll:


No. Completely different system. The 1200 has both an air cut system and (what you're referring to) an air injection system. The first (the air cut) is not an emissions device, the second (air injection) on the other hand is quite definitely an emissions system.

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Re: The air cut valve

Post #14 by mikenixon » Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:45 am

digger wrote:Mike, this is very timely information for me, sometimes I think you must be clairvoyant :) I’m going through a friend’s GL1100 carburetors, I knew I had read something about defeating the cut valves before and I didn’t even have to look it up this time. I purchased your rebuilding GL1000 carburetors a couple of years ago and it is a fantastic book, like having an instructor in the room with me. I have gone through 3 different GL1000 carburetors for myself and two brothers. You are the best! Thank you


Thank you for the kind words. I am pleased you are getting benefit from the booklet.


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