Got an intermittent electrical problem

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Wanna Ride

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,141
Location
Chicagoland
Two times in the past month, the starter doesn't react to pressing the starter switch. Go through the standard start-up procedure: turn on the dash knob, all lights come on, press the run button and the pump cycles, hit the starter switch... nothing. Do this a dozen times, jack around with it... nothing. Move the bike, turn the bars, check the fuses, shake the wiring harness... notafuckingnothing.

(FYI - Recent mod history: This past spring, I put new bars and chrome housings on. I broke the cruise switch putting it back together and was over it, so I had the local indy replace the cruise switch.)

Anyways, the first time it happened, I tried starting it two dozen times... nothing. Was close to the indy shop, so I called him and he came over. He only brought a few tools with, but he opened the switch housing and nothing was pinched or appeared to be wrong. So he ran back, got his trailer and drug the bike to his shop. He checked the switch, it ohmed good. He checked the wiring at the starter, it checked good. He pulled the solenoid, cleaned it and it checked good. Said he had seen the relays go intermitten, but mine checked good (and the bike started by now). So I told him to put a new relay in anyways, they're cheap enough. Sometimes we just buy piece-of-mind. But I 100% trust my indy, and he swears the wiring, the dash, and the switches have all checked 100% good.

The last time (this weekend) it happened, I tried the entire starting process a couple dozen times... nothing. At 95 degrees out, this is enough to piss you off, in a millisecond. So with just one other guy around, we tried to bump-start it in second gear. Kinda' hard to get an 800 pound bike with a 250 pound rider to go fast enough (on a flat parking lot) to go fast enough to bumpstart. So after a little huffing and puffing, we parked it again and try the start switch several more times... nothing. Sit and weigh out the options for a few minutes, and say screw it. Hit the start button one more time... damn thing fires up! Get home and try to get it to act up again, by starting it several dozen times, and it works flawlessly. WTF?!

Talked to the indy, and he seems to think the starter solenoid is the culprit. Anyone else have any similar issues, or info to share?
 

Bill

I used to own some shit!
Messages
7,115
Location
Omaha NE
I fixed a guys bike recently that had a loose wire on the circuit breaker in front of the battery. "Not sure if said circuit breaker exist on your bike."

His symptom was, it would shut off going down the road... Wait a few, and it would start back up.

Sent from my ADR6400L using Tapatalk 2
 

bagger specialties

One of THE 150!
Messages
514
Location
Shelby Twp. MI>
I have had the same issue that bill is talking about. faulty breaker. I would check and see if the run stop switch is good not malfuntioning. and maybe do a voltage drop test from the start switch to the starter and check all your grounds for good conections. maybe check battery post make sure they are clean and post are not loose on the battery itself.
 

thecort

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,062
Location
NYC
Bob, I had a similar issue where I would hit the button & here a click or nothing at all. Turned out to be a loose wire on the starter. Check the connections.


Tap it!
 

Wanna Ride

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,141
Location
Chicagoland
Bob, I had a similar issue where I would hit the button & here a click or nothing at all. Turned out to be a loose wire on the starter. Check the connections.


Tap it!
Done that too, more times than I care to remember. But thanks for the suggestions. I'm hoping someone's going to throw out something that I haven't already tried.
 

Opunui

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,325
Location
Oahu/ East side
Have you tried to jumper your on/ off switch and your run switch. See if you can probe your wires off those switches for 12 vdc in the on and run position
 

Wanna Ride

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,141
Location
Chicagoland
Have you tried to jumper your on/ off switch and your run switch. See if you can probe your wires off those switches for 12 vdc in the on and run position
All have been ohmed out and test good... both when experiencing the problem and when not.
 

Wanna Ride

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,141
Location
Chicagoland
Yes, I know that.
Let me rephrase that... the switch was ohmed. It opens and closes properly. Both when the problem is present, and when it is not. There is 12 v at the switch. The wiring was also checked at the starter to confirm the wiring is good, after the switch.

That's why I'm saying I believe the problem is not in the switch. A majority of the time, the switch would be the suspect.
 
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crutter

Site Supporter
Messages
844
Location
Frederick, Md
How many amps and volts does the starter draw when you are trying to start it? How fresh is your battery? Do you keep it on a tender? If it draws excessively high amps/volts it may be going bad. Also have you tried the old hammer against the starter when it is in a no start condition?
 

Wanna Ride

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,141
Location
Chicagoland
How many amps and volts does the starter draw when you are trying to start it? How fresh is your battery? Do you keep it on a tender? If it draws excessively high amps/volts it may be going bad. Also have you tried the old hammer against the starter when it is in a no start condition?

I can't say for sure that I've pulled an amp test yet. Hard to tell, because I've spent hours tracing wires, looking for shorts, testing the switches, etc. I appreciate all the basic test info/questions. I really do, but the battery and the starter is not the problem. I didn't beat on the starter with a hammer, because I didn't have anything substantial to beat on it, when and where it occurred. I don't put it on a battery tender (except in winter time, then it's all winter), because I ride it every week from April 1st - December 1st. Several times every week, in fact. It doesn't have a slow starting problem, it doesn't have a dead battery, or a low battery. The battery is the stock, original battery. It doesn't die going don the road, it doesn't shut itself off, and it when the starter fires up, the engine does too. The problem is clearly in the circuitry. Forgive me, but I certainly don't mean to sound condescending.

But twice in the past month, I've had an odd occurrence on start-up procedure. The first time, I literally tried the start-up procedure dozens of time. I never got it to start, but the indy did the next morning. with no real conclusive resolution.
Here's what happens, in this order:
1.)Turning on dash ignition switch - dash lights up, radio powers up.
2.)Then turn on the run switch - listen to the fuel pump come on.
At this point, everything is operating properly...
3.) Hit the starter switch - nothing. No noise, no clicking, no nothing.

Most recent occurrence was this past weekend. After dozens of attempts... it finally started and has not failed again since. But we all know Murphy's Law... it's going to happen again , right about the time it really shouldn't. Odd thing is, at first, I would have sworn it was wiring related. But it doesn't seem to be affected by moving the bike, or the bars around when it's acting up.
My question is this: Has anyone else experienced this same problem? What else is in this circuit that can cause this? After the first occurrence a month or so ago, I replaced the small relay in the starter circuit, for three reasons: because they can be intermittent, they're easily accessible, and relatively inexpensive.

Has anyone had any bad experiences with the starter solenoid, or the starter circuitry?
 

Opunui

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,325
Location
Oahu/ East side
Have you tried to jump the start switch straight to the starter. Take a long enough wire and go to the ignition side of your starter.
 

Wanna Ride

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,141
Location
Chicagoland
Have you tried to jump the start switch straight to the starter. Take a long enough wire and go to the ignition side of your starter.
No, but that's next on the list. I've come to accept that I'm going to wire in a bypass switch before I leave for Sturgis. I'm starting to believe that the problem's a bad connection somewhere. Hell, we all know how these sort of things go... I'll tear it all apart and still won't find any, single thing that jumps out as the culprit.

In the mean-time, I just have to accept that there's not enough spare time to do what I'd rather do. I'll just wait until November, and then I'm going to pull the bars, and completely go through the wiring and all the joints. If there's one thing that I can't stand, it's things not working 100% the way they are supposed to. If I don't find anything completely definitive, then I'll just rewire them 100%. With my current workload, I have less than one day (next Sunday) to do everything to prepare for Sturgis. So... easy fix, it is... for now.
 
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Wanna Ride

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,141
Location
Chicagoland
Will do. What do you suppose is the best way to bench-test the relays?

I'm hoping that the next time it acts up, it will be for long enough to swap the fuel pump relay with the starter relay, and then hopefully, the problem is still there. At least that way, if the fuel pump doesn't fire up, then I know for sure if the relay is the problem. But, in all honesty, I'm really starting to think the problem's going to be in the bar wiring. But maybe not, oh well. Right now, I'm not 100% sure of exactly where the problem is. It's one of four things: The switch, the circuit, the relay, or the solenoid. And my gut says it's not the solenoid, and probably not the switch.

Intermittent = PITA

BTW, I appreciate your input.
 
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Opunui

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,325
Location
Oahu/ East side
Relays seem to be really simple to test..as you only have one 12vdc input. Just hook up 12 vdc to I believe terminal 85 and ground 86. then measure the resistance at 87 and 30. Don't have your relay in front of me to know the right scematic. So if you put your multimeter to measure omhs connect the leads from your M/M to poles 30 and 87. Then take your 12 vdc power supply with ground from battery and touch the terminals 86 and 85 with your pos and negitive wire. you should hear a clicking sound or if your tone is on your M/M it will indicate the resistance. Which would indicate the relay is good. Hope this makes sense.
 
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Wanna Ride

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,141
Location
Chicagoland
Solder, with dielectric grease and heat shrink on each staggered joint. Ohmed each joint as I went along, all checked good. When I was done with the entire harness, and installed the bars on the bike, I re-ohmed every circuit, again all checked good.
 
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