When it's nice weather out, all you want to do is go outside and play.
You probably started doing this when you were a kid, and if you ride a motorcycle or like to do anything else outdoors, chances are excellent that you've continued that habit. It's completely relatable, and it's something that we all do. It's so engrained in us all that we probably don't even think about it.
The only problem is that it's all too easy to keep putting off those time-consuming (and possibly intimidating) tasks that you know should really be done. After all, if it's a gorgeous and sunny day out, why would you want to waste it indoors cleaning your carbs? (I imagine this is a particular problem in California, although I can't say for sure because I've never lived there. I do know and respect the fact that the state lives up to its nickname in the sunshine department, though.)
If it gets icy and snowy where you live, and it's not great weather for riding, now is the time to tackle those big jobs you've been putting off. Here are some tips to help make it easier on yourself and get the job done.
Be Gentle But Firm With Yourself About Actually Making Time
Whether you've been putting it off because you know it's going to be a gigantic pain, or you're simply intimidated because it feels like it's outside your comfort zone, don't let either of those things stop you. Be honest with yourself about why you've been putting it off. Own it, don't beat yourself up, but promise yourself that you'll move through it and get it done.
Get Your Preparations Done Ahead Of When You Plan To Work On Your Carbs
Removing the practical barriers to getting the job done will (surprise, surprise) make it easier to actually do the thing. It will also give you fewer excuses to stop any forward momentum on your project. "Oh no, I don't have the right gaskets. Guess I have to set this one aside for another six months," is not what anyone wants to find themselves saying.
So, do your homework. Get your consumables (O-rings, gaskets, cleaning chemicals, oil, and so on) together so that you're ready to go at the time you've designated as your Project Time.
This includes tools, if you don't already have what you need. And please, I and every future owner of your bike are begging you, get yourself some JIS screwdrivers if you don't have them already. They'll come in handy for other stuff in your home (such as electronics) too.
Don't Rush Yourself
Mistakes tend to happen when you're in a hurry. It's not just you; it's everyone. Unless you're some kind of carb whisperer, chances are excellent that you're going to need more than an hour or two to completely disassemble and rebuild your carbs.
The greater the number of actual carburetors are involved, the longer it will likely take. After all, cleaning up a single carburetor is going to be quicker than cleaning up four of them, especially if you have to worry about linking them back together properly.
Give yourself not only time to work, but also time to take breaks, and time to make (and recover from) mistakes.
This in-depth video from Brick House Builds dives into a bank of Honda CB750 carburetors, and contains some useful tips and tricks that could help you on your journey. While it will be most helpful to those working on CB750s, there are points here that should be helpful to anyone rebuilding their carbs in general.
For example, BJ from BHB talks about his preference to recondition the brass jets in his carbs rather than replacing them. Some people prefer to simply replace them when they get badly gunked up, and some people also don't like the idea of shoving wire inside them to clean them out.
Like many maintenance topics in motorcycling, you'll find a wide array of opinions on the subject. The most important thing is to figure out what works best for you. Rebuilding carbs already takes a lot of patience, so are you the type of person who has extra patience to spare for doing such fiddly, time-consuming work? That's a question you'll need to answer honestly before figuring out how you want to proceed.
Another less controversial topic that BHB addresses is float height measurement. BJ's advice here is to take a little piece of cardboard, use calipers to measure out whatever the shop manual for your bike specifies as the proper height, and then cut out a template. That will make your life much easier if you have multiple carbs for the same bike that you need to set float heights on.
Decide How You're Going To Organize Your Parts Ahead Of Time
If you're just working on a single carb, it's a bit easier than if you're working on a bank of multiple carbs. However, if you're working on a bank of carbs, just make sure you have some way to keep all the parts of each carb together throughout the process. From disassembly to cleaning to reassembly, it's important not to mix parts up. You could use a handy bin system like BHB has in this video, or you could use old plastic takeout containers, or a muffin tin. Whatever works.
Depending On Your Carbs And Your Available Cleaning Tools, This Job Could Take A While
As BHB demonstrates in that video, there's more than one way to clean a carb. In BJ's case, he has an ultrasonic cleaner, a parts washer, and a good old five-gallon bucket of soapy water and a toothbrush for some hand scrubbing when it's needed. It's not a case of one method being better than another. Instead, it's about using all the methods you have at your disposal in a complementary fashion.
Not everyone has all of these cleaning tools at their disposal, in which case you might just be sitting with some carb cleaner, a toothbrush, a box of nitrile gloves, and a stack of old newspapers to cover your work surface. Even if you did have an ultrasonic cleaner, though, you'd almost certainly need to still do some of the job by hand.
Audio Motivation Is A Powerful Thing
Playlists, podcasts, audiobooks, or whatever you like to listen to that helps you concentrate will be some of your best friends here. You know yourself best, so choose whatever works for you. Listen to something cool, and prepare to be amazed at what you can accomplish.