Walbro carburetor information, adjustment, & repair
updated January 2, 2020
by Had Robinson & others including Alex Varv, Gerry Farell, and Richard Cobb who have contributed to our understanding of diaphragm carburetors used in paramotors. Some of their discoveries and techniques have been used and adopted on this site. The U.S. karting community has done the most work in helping us tune and modify the carburetors we use. I first learned about plugging idle progression holes from the people at Fresh Breeze. It's a team effort.
Notes on Walbro carburetors concerning design, inherent problems, fixes, and general information that is helpful to those rebuilding or troubleshooting.
Rebuild the carburetor if it has been more than a year or after (25) hours of operation, whichever is sooner. The diaphragm materials age severely over a short time, especially in the presence of ethanol, fuel preservatives, or cleaning solvents, and this effects everything, especially the check valves and buffering chambers created by the pump diaphragm. The fuel pump pressure will decrease with an old, stiff diaphragm, a major cause of fuel starvation and overheating. A sure sign that a rebuild is required is if the pump check valves cannot hold the fuel in the lines from the fuel tank. The obvious sign of this (and the metering lever valve not closing completely) is that the engine idles poorly. Pilots should not see air pockets at the carburetor inlet or fuel moving back towards the inline filter after they shut the engine off.
Top 80 ONLY – CAUTION When removing the carburetor, always check the torque on the reed valve body screws. If they are loose, the valve body will leak and the fuel pump will not work properly. Correct torque is 2.5 Nm (22 in lb). If they are loose, remove them and apply blue threadlock and reinstall. If you have any suspicion that your reed valve is not properly sealed to the crankcase, see the reed valve page for help.
Special tools needed to service a carburetor – see the Special tools needed page.
If your engine is not running right or not at all, first see Performance issues, general. It is a good place to start and has a checklist.
Adjustment, low speed – Study "Rebuilding and tune up" below first to be sure you understand the basics.
Adjustment, high speed – The low speed system must be perfectly adjusted before adjusting the high speed system.
Black lever on the throttle shaft – What is it for?
Buffering chambers – The inlet and outlet of the fuel pump have them.
Carburetor Rebuild – see "Rebuilding and tune up" below
Carburetor removal – It is usually held to the engine by (2) nuts which are just next to the air box flange. NEVER over-tighten these nuts! Some engines have long socket head screws which hold the carburetor to the engine. Remove the fuel tubing, throttle cable, choke wire, and throttle return spring.
Carburetor service video – see "Rebuilding and tune up part 1" below
Choke – What does it do? Why have it?
Cold weather operations – The WG-8 and the WB-37 are very sensitive to changes in altitude and ambient temperature which require changing the carburetor jetting. I.e. summer and winter operations will not have the same jet sizes/adjustments because of changes in air density. Same with high altitude vs. sea level operations.
Cylinder head temperature gauge – Not having a CHT is like driving a car without any gauges or warning lights. Most of the time you don't need them....
Dimensions – by Gerry Farell – This information compares the dimensions of the various Walbro carburetors and is helpful if you are considering upgrading from the WG-8 to another Walbro model. Only the WB-37 would work on the Top 80 and the Thor 100 & 130 but the WB-37 has no choke. Zama does not make any carburetor that is compatible with paramotors.
Drips – Two stroke engine carburetors drip/leak fuel by design. It cannot be helped.
Engine performance issues – see "Performance tuning" below
External pulse port installation – needed for some accessories including an auxiliary fuel pump
Failure points – There are (3) common points of failure. Also, see "Performance issues, general" and "Performance issues, midrange" below
Fuel filter – What kind/type to use? If you choose poorly, the engine will also run poorly, if at all. Removal and installation tips. The fuel system MUST be purged of old fuel and air when changing out the fuel filter!
Fuel pump – see Fuel system test The fuel pump design of the WG-8 is marginal and will not work well except in perfect conditions. You must rebuild the carburetor at least once a year or more often if ethanol fuels are used so that the fuel pump diaphragm and check valves are in perfect order.
Fuel starvation – this is what it looks like. To fix this, see "Fuel system test" below
Fuel system test – A quick and easy way to tell if the system is functioning properly.
Fuel tubing size – Use Tygon® LP1100 Low Permeation Fuel Tubing (ethanol resistant). It is available from Miniplane-USA. Do NOT use ordinary vinyl tubing as it will become stiff quickly and stress the connections on the tank and engine. Auto parts stores do NOT have the right type.
- carb to inline filter ID 3.2mm (1/8") x OD 6.2mm (3/16")
- inline filter to fuel tank ID 4.8mm (3/16") x OD 8mm (5/16")
Gasket problems – The gasket between the carburetor and the reed valve can get misaligned and block the pump pulse port.
High altitude use – Greatly improve performance at high altitudes and/or in cold conditions.
Installation of the carburetor – Be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the carburetor-reed valve body gasket is properly aligned with the pump port hole. If this gets misaligned, the engine may still run but poorly.
Jets for high altitude use – see "High altitude use" above
Jet modification – here is a way to temporarily decrease the size of a fixed main jet that it is not permanent
Leaks – see "Drips" above
Metering lever adjustment – Set the ML value to 0.70mm. If your metering lever diaphragm has a tang instead of a button, set the value to 1.7mm. Too low a value, the engine will flood and may not idle. Too high, the fuel mixture will be too lean. There is now a video on how to do this.
Metering lever function – The ZAMA (a Walbro clone) has a much better service manual (see "Service manual (ZAMA)" below which explains how the diaphragm carburetor works. Also, see "Modifications" below for more information on the metering lever.
Metering lever height variation – Carburetors on new engines have one value and Miniplane's Italian service manual specifies another. Which is correct?
Midrange roughness, stutter, and four-cycling – see "Performance tuning, midrange" below
Models in the WG series – The different WG models are a result of changes in the U.S. EPA air pollution regulations.
Modifications by Gerry Farell – TECHNICAL discussion (not useful for most pilots). Additional notes by Had Robinson.
Overhaul – see "Rebuilding and tune up" below
Overheating – This will destroy an engine. What causes it? How is it prevented?
Performance issues, general – Here is the info for troubleshooting a motor. It includes information on the ignition as well as the carburetor
Performance tuning, midrange – Here is how to modify your carburetor to increase performance and eliminate roughness in the midrange.
Performance tuning, full load – See "High altitude use" above.
Pick-up tube filter – see "Fuel filter" above
Pop-off pressure – The pressure must be within specs for maximum performance, to prevent engine damage, and for a steady idle. It also can easily diagnose problems in the entire full system.
Priming the fuel system on a paramotor – see "Starting your paramotor" below.
Purging the system of fuel – It must be done if a paramotor is to be stored for more than a few weeks, especially if you are using ethanol fuels.
Rebuilding and tune up part 1 – START HERE! This BASIC video from Walbro is helpful for those who are not familiar with diaphragm type carburetors. It is a good place to begin and includes testing of the pop-off pressure. Sections 1-5 are the most relevant for users of the WG and WB series carburetors. The video has examples of carburetors ruined by ethanol fuels that sat in them for a long period. If your engine does not run, see "Performance issues, general" above.
Rebuilding and tune up part 2 for the WG-8 & WB-37 carburetors. Once you have studied part 1 above or already have a basic knowledge of diaphragm carburetors, continue here.
Reed valve – A loose reed valve body or a clogged pulse port will affect the fuel pump. The mounting screws must be torqued to the correct value!
Service video for Walbro carburetors – see "Rebuilding and tune up part 1" above
Service manual – (not very helpful and out of date) This is for all Walbro diaphragm carburetors, including the WG series (the series used in obsolete chain saws and now paramotors). It has some good theory discussions but the ZAMA manual is better.
Service manual WB-37 – This is concise compared to the manual above that is for all Walbro carburetors. The WB is very close to the WG per operation. The main difference is that the WB has an adjustable high speed needle jet and a different metering lever adjustment value. The WB-37 also does not have a choke. If you wish to understand how the WG works, study this manual first. The ZAMA SM (below) is also a good SM to study.
Service manual (ZAMA) – This service manual is just a few pages, concise, and simpler to understand than the Walbro manual. Pages 2-6 are the relevant sections.
Service tips (from ZAMA) – ZAMA explains why measuring the pop-off pressure is rarely necessary. It's the REST pressure that is important! Also, using the wrong type of pump can easily over-pressurize the fuel pump chamber and damage the diaphragm.
Starting your paramotor – How to start your engine the first pull, every time. Note: this technique will not work on engines with vertical carburetors (Minari).
Storage – If you are storing your paramotor for more than a few weeks, PURGE THE FUEL SYSTEM!
Throttle return spring replacement – Improve throttle response, lessen hand fatigue with this modification/replacement.
Throttle shaft play – A worn out shaft leaks air and will cause the engine to idle poorly. A bad inlet needle seat will also cause this.
Troubleshooting chart – for those who are not familiar with how a diaphragm carburetor works, this chart from ZAMA can be a great help. None of the so-called troubleshooting charts are particularly useful. More often than not there are multiple problems with the carburetor.
Tune-up – see "Rebuilding and tune up" above
Warming up – when is a paramotor warmed up sufficiently and ready to fly? When the cylinder head temperature reaches 70ºC, the fuel/air mixture is sufficiently hot enough to ensure that it is 100% vaporized and that the engine will not be fuel starved and potentially overheat. Overheating can happen very quickly!