06-06-2009, 05:02 AM #1
2001 Virage TXi Problems - Need Advice
Ok all you Ficht/Virage TXi experts….I think I need some technical expertise.
I recently bought a 2001 Virage TXi. It has the 1200 domestic engine with the Ficht fuel injection.
The hour meter claims the machine has 893 hours on it, but I believe it’s more like 93. I think the 8 is a 0 with the middle dash turned on for some reason. The previous owner had the machine stored indoors in a heated garage and only rode it twice per year for the last two years. Trust me, it looks like it has about 30 hours on it…..a VERY clean machine. There’s NO way it’s got 893 hours.
Before I bought it, I rode it. On the way to the test ride, the previous owner stopped at the gas station and added about 5 gallons of fresh fuel to the 8-9 gallons of who-knows-what that was in the tank. He admitted to never adding Stabil to the fuel.
When we arrived at the lake, it was difficult to start and VERY difficult to get it run past 3000RPM. It hesitated and stumbled. Eventually, after riding it for 10 minutes or so, it finally cleared up. I rode it for about 15 minutes after it cleared up and it seemed fine. I shut it off, restarted it without issue, and ran it at WOT and part throttle numerous times without any issues. It was a cool, windy day with about one foot of chop on the small inland lake and I was still able to muster a 60MPH pass on the dream-o-meter with the tach registering about 6800RPM. I believed the machine was in good condition. I attributed the drive-ability issues to poor fuel quality.
Right after pulling the machine out of the water, the former owner and I began to tinker with the “Lock” feature on the MFI. After entering the wrong code a few times, the MFI goes into a “Locked” mode, but it still cranks. We cranked it like this several times without starting it before giving up.
On my way home, I realized we had never got it running again after playing with the Lock feature so I stopped and tried to start it on the trailer. It was VERY difficult to start and would stall. Finally, after getting it started, I revved it slightly and it backfired through the exhaust a few times. Trying to adhere to the “15 second rule” of running it on the trailer, I gave up and drove home.
After the 35 minute ride home, I attempted to start it again on the trailer. No luck – crank but no start. I pulled the plugs – they looked rich/fouled. I performed a compression test. 128PTO, 135 Center, 138 Mag. I cleaned the plugs, shot a small blast of carb clean in the cylinders, pushed the button and it fired right up and ran for a few seconds until the carb clean was gone. Again, I was convinced it was poor fuel quality.
Eventually, I drained all the fuel – even from the lines, and added fresh fuel. After adding the fresh fuel, I again tried to start it on the trailer. Initially, it would stall upon returning to idle after cracking the throttle open. In addition, it was still backfiring through the exhaust when the throttle was opened. At this point, I was concerned.
After doing some reading on the hulk, I thought low battery voltage might be causing the backfiring, so out came the battery. I hooked it up to my Battery Tender Plus until it was fully charged.
I re-installed the freshly charged battery on Wednesday, fired it up on the trailer and no backfire. Coincidence or root cause? I don’t know, but I was pleased the backfire was gone.
I decided to take it to the lake today to see what would happen. This time, it started and idled OK, but was very difficult to get to run off-idle. It hesitated and stumbled and just wouldn’t exceed 3000RPM. Eventually, after riding it for about 5 minutes, and feathering the throttle, it began to clear up. The best way I could describe it was like riding a carbureted 2-stroke with fouled plugs. At times, it felt as thought it was starving for fuel. Once it cleared up, the best I could do was about 40-50MPH and about 6000RPM on the tach. It had just a little less than 4 gallons of fuel in it and the low fuel message was on almost constantly. I wondered if perhaps I was intermittently starving the pump for fuel as the fuel sloshed around in the tank? The only other thing I’ve done since the test ride is adjust the throttle cable to ensure I was achieving WOT, per K447’s advice. I just read in the service manual that when replacing the TPS, you need to be sure the sensor reads 78-80% open when the throttle is at WOT. If it doesn’t, you’re supposed to adjust the throttle cable so the sensor falls within this range at WOT. Could I have screwed something up by adjusting the throttle cable and making the TPS output read greater than 80% at WOT?
Once it cleared up, I shut it off and re-started numerous times without issue and made a few more low speed laps (was giving my kids rides). Overall, it seemed fine with the exception of the less-than-normal top speed.
On the way home, I stopped at the gas station and added 10 gallons of fresh fuel. When I arrived home, I got the tools out and started digging. I did all the checks everyone tells you to do on a Ficht.
Here’s what I found:
- I have 20.5psi of fuel pressure at the shrader valve during crank and immediately after it starts. It goes up to about 21.0-21.5psi if you rev the engine slightly.
- The injectors are seeing 19.6 volts during cranking (with the spark plugs disconnected so I had time to read the voltage before it starts!). This reading was taken with ALL injectors connected. Then, once running, this voltage climbs to 40.4 volts. When you shut it off, this voltage drops very slowly, so I’m assuming that capacitor above the EMM is working???
- Battery voltage stays about 11.0 volts while cranking (according to the MFI) and climbs to about 13.6-13.7 after running for a very short time, so it appears to be charging.
- I pulled the plugs and they looked black/rich again (still!!). I cleaned them on the wire wheel and sprayed them with carb clean. I have new plugs on order but they haven’t arrived yet. $10/plug!!!! Ouch!
So, anybody have any ideas as to what may be causing my cold start issues and lackluster WOT performance? The only things I can think of are spark plugs, low fuel level, or possibly the TPS out of adjustment. How sensitive are these Ficht engines to less-than-perfect spark plugs?
One other comment….frequently, when I open the fuel cap, it vents a fairly large amount of pressure. At least I believe it’s pressure. This is normal, right? I think I remember my 95 SLT750 doing the same thing.
The first part of today’s ride was done with the seat off. While doing this, I noticed a water leak. Not through the hull, but coming from the engine. There’s a small stream that sprays from the front of the stator cover. It gets worse as engine RPM increases. It looks like it’s coming from a bolt near the oil pump or possibly from the oil pump itself. Anyone ever seen this, or have any idea how to fix it?? Until today, I had no idea the stator cover had water running through it. Does the stator itself get wet?? Can I connect the garden hose to the ¾” hose that runs from the jet pump to under the front of the engine and simulate the machine being in the water so I can better see where this leak is coming from?
While diagnosing the drive-ability issues in the driveway tonight, I noticed the engine shaking when it was running more than I thought it should. Upon further investigation, I realized the front engine plate is loose. The mount-to-hull attachment is good, and the plate-to-mount attachment is good. It’s the engine-to-plate attachment that’s loose. Looking through the service manual, I can see that there is a metal plate that spans between the two bolts that hold the engine to the plate. I could get my hands on them, but they don’t feel like hex heads. Anyone know if they are hex heads? If so, what size? Has anyone successfully tightened them without lifting or pulling the engine?
06-06-2009, 09:46 AM #2
All 5 of my injected ski's did this .You have to remove engine and replace bolts and use helicoils or the like and lots of loctite and tighten them right up .Not by the book tension spec ,by your elbow .
Geez I was always told it was just me having these problems
06-06-2009, 11:53 AM #3
- Join Date
- Jul 2007
- near Toronto, Canada
Wow, lots of info
Engine mounting bolts are loose. Best is to lift engine out, and fix it properly. You just cannot work under there properly.
Per Bernie's recommendation, if the threads in the aluminum crank case bottom are weak or stripped, you need to have a Heli-coil or similar fix installed.
When re-attaching the plate, tighten the bolts tighter than factory spec, and use red Loctite.
Make sure all the engine mounting bolts and crank case holes are in good condition, not just the loose ones.
Removing the engine will also allow you to more easily fix the water leak at the stator cover. There was a service bulletin regarding incorrectly located stator cover seals from the factory. Be sure to clean up and lubricate the starter Bendix, and make sure it is all clean and dry inside when you res-assemble. You may need new seals.
This water could also be affecting the engine operation, if it has infiltrated the stator wiring or CPS (Crank Position sensor).
Check the stator coils for resistance to ground. Should be very high resistance, or infinite. Stator check coil ohm details are in the service manual
How were you checking the injector voltages?
With all three injectors plugged in, or one disconnected?
You can connect a garden hose to the 3/4 hose from the jet pump, and cool the engine in that manner. This water connection works well, with more consistent engine cooling than the water manifold reverse flush connection.
Adhere to the following sequence to avoid engine damage
Engine start FIRST
Water flow start
...Maximum two minutes run time on the hose, to avoid overheating jet pump bearings...
Water flow stop
Engine off LAST
As you discovered, the MFI will only allow five attempts with the incorrect Lock code before it stops you from trying any more codes.
Click here for more info on how the MFI works, and how to reset the MFI security code to the factory default.
These Ficht engines are very sensitive to good spark plugs, and they must be the specified NGK number PZFR6H.
I would never try cleaning them with an abrasive like a wire wheel.
I bought my last bunch from Sparkplugs.com
Where did you buy yours?
If the engine is starting, and injector voltage jumps up to right around 40 volts, that implies that the 45 volt system is OK.
Make sure the oil pump cable is adjusted correctly, and the pump arm is moving correctly. You can use a mirror and small light to verify the index mark on the pump arm is lined up correctly at idle.
If someone has removed the oil pump cable, the arm may have swung back past the zero point, and been reconnected incorrectly. Make sure the cable is pulled against the spring tension in the oil pump arm.
Remove and check each spark plug wire for proper resistance, and make sure the clips inside are actually snapping firmly onto the spark plug ends.
The Ficht EMM actually fires each spark plug several times in rapid succession at lower RPM, to ensure the fuel charge fully burns.
I think that at higher RPM, the EMM only fires the spark plugs once per stroke. I forget what RPM this transition happens at.
Until you have good spark plugs in there, it will be difficult to determine if there are other problem causes.
While you have the engine out, check that the bottom of the water box is not rubbing on the mounts
2002-1996 Virage, SL, SLX, SLTX waterbox bracket; potential damage to waterbox bottom
Also clean the starter motor mounting bolts, and the engine ground location for the battery negative cable
06-06-2009, 02:41 PM #4
You guys (Bernie and K447) and all the people on this site are AWESOME!!! I'd like to say thanks for all the great help everyone provides here. What a great bunch of people.
K447: You've trained me well. I had a pretty good idea what questions you'd ask, so I thought I'd have the answers before you asked them.
To answer your additional questions:
1) Injector voltages were checked by opening up the splice connector above the fuel tank and measuring DC voltage between there (white with red tracer wires) and one of the head bolts (I know, I know, I should have gone to the battery ground, but it was mounted, it was getting late, and the mosquitos were getting the best of me). All three injectors were connected while I measured voltage.
2) Spark plugs in the machine now are NGK PZFZR6H. I'm pretty sure they're the original plugs. I ordered my new ones from speedcustommarine24's ebay store. They were $9.25/ea. plus $1 for shipping for the 1st one and $0.35/each additional one. So, 3 plugs came to $29.45 (still can't believe it!!). They arrived this morning and appear to be brand new NGK's with the correct part number.
3) I had already pulled the waterbox and repaired that problem, per your excellent original list of suggestions when I first bought it. It had rubbed slightly, so I bent the bracket and repaired the worn spot.
Once again, thanks to everyone for all the help!!!. Sounds like it will be a while before I'm riding this one again. Good thing I didn't sell the SLT 750 or I'd be swimming this year.
I'll keep everyone posted on my progress. I've never had an engine out of one of these, so that will be a new trick for me. Pulling the engine is not a big concern (I've done it lots of cars/trucks). But, I've never had to pull the pump/driveshaft out as I'm sure I'll have to in order to get the engine out. So, I may have some more questions for you guys once I get to that point.
06-10-2009, 11:52 PM #5
I got the jet pump and shaft removed from my Virage tonight, as a first step to getting ready to pull the engine to fix the stator cover leak and the engine plate bolts.
I just thought about this tonight, and thought I would ask.......I know it's important to properly align the engine to the jet pump.
My question is what do I need to do to make sure that the engine is properly aligned when I put it back in?
I thought it would be a good idea to ask before I pulled the engine out.
06-11-2009, 12:23 AM #6
- Join Date
- Jul 2007
- near Toronto, Canada
First off, when you lift the engine out, count the shims that are under each corner of the engine, and mark the hull near each mount with the shim count. That way, you will know where the shims should go
I am not sure how much alignment shift could happen, since you will be removing and re-installing the bed plates to the engine bottom
I would suggest marking the bed plates where the studs are located, before you jiggle the engine. As you remove each large nut, scribe the stud location as best you can. I don't know if that would be enough, but it can't hurt.
The alignment tool is available for purchase from a few places, including Watcon.
Beerdart sometimes has one available for rental, and there are a few others floating around that might be available.
While you have the pump out, check the impeller for smooth bearing operation, and zero slop and wobble. Also check the impeller blade clearance to the wear ring, and the blades for any big nicks or damage. Check the stator blades too.
Then check the plastic cooling water inlet screen inside the taper of the pump nozzle, make sure it is still in there, and is clean.
06-12-2009, 07:50 PM #7
While I've got the shaft out of this thing, I am planning to pack some grease into the coupler to quiet down the rattling noise these things usually have at idle.
Am I supposed to pack grease in the impeller end too, or just on the engine side???
06-12-2009, 08:15 PM #8
- Join Date
- Jul 2007
- near Toronto, Canada
Waterproof lithium marine bearing grease
Make sure the shaft seal is in place on the impeller end of the drive shaft (O-ring or ribbed rubber seal), and that both ends of the drive shaft have the rubber button bumper in place on the ends.
07-11-2009, 09:03 PM #9
Anyone remember my Virage 1200TXi and it's issues? You can read the first post in this thread, but basically, it doesn't run right. While the engine is out and I'm making a list of parts to order, I decided to do some basic checks.
As you may recall, it had a leak at the front cover. Someone suggested the water may have infiltrated the stator, and this could explain the performance issues. But the leak wasn't there....it was at the cover that surrounds the oil pump (in front of the stator area), so I don't think I have any problems with water infiltration into the stator.
I checked all 5 pairs of stator circuit resistances, and they all fell within spec.
I then checked primary and secondary coil resistances. Here's the crux of my question.
Center and PTO coils checked out within spec on both the primary and secondary sides.
However, the MAG coil secondary side checked out at 1080 ohms (spec is 225-325 ohms). The other two were 282 and 286. Does this sound like a coil going/gone bad???
So.....anyone think this might contribute to the poor performance and explain some of the symptoms? Also of interest is the last time I pulled the plugs after idling the machine on the hose, I noticed the MAG plug was black while the others looked "normal." Note: The engine did not seem to be missing.
07-11-2009, 10:12 PM #10
- Join Date
- Jul 2007
- near Toronto, Canada
Remove the coil, and check that the problem is not corrosion between the bolt, the coil and the engine head. These coils use a thin metal 'tab' that grounds the coil to the engine.
The Mag coil bolt is also a main ground for the EMM ignition system, so it is doubly important.
On a stock engine, the coil actually grounds through just one of the two coil mounting bolts, and there are multiple metal to metal connections between the coil and the actual cylinder head. Every one of those connections must be clean and solid.
On my engine, what I did was remove all the ignition coils, and re-bend the metal tabs on each coil so that each ground tab is in direct contact with the engine metal. I then slid the fiber washer in between the tab and the coil body. Cleaned all metal surfaces, including removing the paint on the head where the coil metal tab contacts, ran a thread tap into the bolt hole, cleaned the bolt threads, and re-assembled. A more solid coil grounding, I think. Also cleaned the ground wire, which on my engine is under the MAG coil bolt.
If you have not yet done so, now is the time to install a new TPS sensor. The TPS can fail, and some of the symptoms you describe match a TPS problem.
TPS electrical connector can cause problems, check, clean and tighten the metal pin sockets
Ficht TPS versions, sources
I think you are winning this battle. A new TPS and ignition coil might be all that remains.
Last edited by K447; 07-15-2009 at 10:32 PM.
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