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Old 11-18-2012, 05:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Starter won't fully crank

I have a rigid chopper that has a 113in motor and with the battery fully charged when it is cranked it makes an attempt to start but won't fully crank. Sometimes I can tap the starter button a few times to get it cranked over. I would like to know if this would be a starter clutch issue or if I should just replace the starter with a higher kw starter? The details of the starter are unknown it was a second hand starter that worked fine when I put it on and lately just won't turn the motor.

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Old 11-18-2012, 08:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Have your battery tested for cranking amps. I just went thru this with my Electraglide. Same symptoms u have. Thought it was starter and replaced it. Had the same problem. Put a new battery in and problem solved. But i do have a nice hi torque starter now!

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Old 11-18-2012, 06:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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When I load tested the battery both with volts than the amps going to starter everything seemed great. The bike turned over just fine today. I tightened cables and went through anything that may be loose. The problem is more intermittent and its like the starter every few so often just cannot crank the motor. Would compression release be the answer, if so than which way is the best, I have heard that some cause bikes to run crappy after installed.

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Old 11-18-2012, 07:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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A cold engine is easier to crank over than a hot one. CCA (Cold cranking amps) should be measured. Autozone and the like can test your battery and give you a figure on its capabilities. With that big engine compression release should be considered.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Rusty,
Not sure how true ur statement about a cold engine being easier to start, but the only time I have a problem starting is when the bike is cold. I drove to work and after a 12 hour shift at 4am it was about 45-50 degrees outside, would not start unless I push started it. I do have an interstate cycletron II battery and I keep seeing reviews about issues after 12 months, its right about that time, but when measured it put out right around 300amps to starter.

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Old 11-18-2012, 09:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I will update tomorrow after I run bat to autozone, thanks for the tips.

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Old 11-19-2012, 03:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The battery tested great 325 cca and 12.8 v. On thinking I may need compression releases, any other ideas out there?

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Old 11-19-2012, 06:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groundpounder99 View Post
Rusty,
Not sure how true ur statement about a cold engine being easier to start, but the only time I have a problem starting is when the bike is cold. I drove to work and after a 12 hour shift at 4am it was about 45-50 degrees outside, would not start unless I push started it. I do have an interstate cycletron II battery and I keep seeing reviews about issues after 12 months, its right about that time, but when measured it put out right around 300amps to starter.

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Cold oil will also make it difficult to turn the engine over. The standard 20w50 is quite thick when it is at 45-50 degrees. I beliee H-D recommends a slightly thinner oil during colder temperatures. My Road King manual says 20w50 when temperatures are above 40 10w40 below that. I don't believe that 300cca's is sufficient. 330 or above is what I remember as minimum.
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:05 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RustyG View Post
Cold oil will also make it difficult to turn the engine over
Yes. Which indicates that the opposite is true. When the oil is warm, it no longer resists turning the motor over making it easier to start a warm bike. Just sayin'...


Quote:
Originally Posted by RustyG View Post
I don't believe that 300cca's is sufficient. 330 or above is what I remember as minimum.
I'm not sure what the spec is, but it should be printed on the battery somewhere.


A "quick" way to diagnose a starter issue is with a voltage drop test. First make sure that the connections at the battery & the starter are not damaged, corroded or loose. If they are, fix them before continuing.

Get the battery voltage reading:
  • Set your multi-meter or volt-meter to as close to 12 volts as possible without going under
  • Touch the negative lead of the meter to the negative battery post
  • Touch the positive lead of the meter to positive battery post
  • Try to start the bike
  • Write down the reading you get. We'll call it 'battery voltage'

Note how I say "post" and not the terminal. You want a direct connection to the battery, or at least as close as possible. The battery post itself is the closest so use it whenever possible. Also, the terminal could be the source of your problem, so if you use it for your tests you will get inaccurate readings.

Now to test the starter motor:
  • Touch the negative lead of the meter to the ground wire connector at the starter (which may be the body of the starter, I can't remember)
  • Touch the positive lead of the meter to the power wire connector at the starter
  • Try to start the bike
  • Write the reading down (call it 'starter voltage')

If 'starter voltage' equals 'battery voltage', and the starter is still turning over slowly, then we know the power & ground wires are good and the starter is bad.
If the 'starter voltage' is zero, then either you aren't making a good enough connection with the meter leads or the starter is good and there is a problem in the power or ground cable(s).
If the difference between 'starter voltage' and 'battery voltage' is more then 0.5 volts (e.g. a voltage drop of more then 0.5 volts), then the starter is good and there is a problem in the power or ground cable(s).

To test the cables, you also use a voltage drop test. To test the power cable:
  • Touch the negative lead of the meter to the positive battery post
  • Touch the positive lead of the meter to the power wire connector at the starter
  • Try to start the bike

If this reading is zero, then there is a break between the starter and the positive post of the battery or you aren't making good contact with the meter leads.
If this reading is more then 0.5 volts (e.g. a voltage drop of more then 0.5 volts) then there is resistance between the starter and the positive post of the battery.

To test the ground cable:
  • Touch the negative lead of the meter to the negative battery post
  • Touch the positive lead of the meter to the ground wire connector at the starter (or the starter battery, I can't remember)
  • Try to start the bike

If this reading is zero, then there is a break between the starter and the negative post of the battery or you aren't making good contact with the meter leads.
If this reading is more then 0.5 volts (e.g. a voltage drop of more then 0.5 volts) then there is resistance between the starter and the negative post of the battery.

Now, resistance can be any number of things including, but not limited to, a loose/corroded connection or a damaged/corroded wire. It is that resistance is not allowing the power to flow to the starter so it can't turn the motor over as efficiently making it work harder which will make the starter burn out quicker. To find the resistance walk up the offending wire, back probing the connections with a small safety pin or needle and repeat the test (but touch the pin instead of the starter) until you get a reading you expect. The resistance will be between the first point you get a good reading and the last point you got a bad reading. Try to avoid poking wholes in wires unless absolutely necessary. Those wholes will become vectors for moisture to get into the wire and corrode it from the inside out. If you do poke a whole in the wire, you can use liquid electrical tape (yes, liquid) to seal it up when your done. Liquid electrical tape is available at most auto parts stores.

Hope that makes sense & helps...


UPDATE: I simplified the instructions a little bit but I'm afraid it might have made its explanation of voltage drop more confusing. Let me know if you have any questions. The long way makes more sense if your learning, but takes a little more time.
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Last edited by petrock; 11-20-2012 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:06 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Dry sump engines, not turning over a crank sitting in a tub of "thick, cold" oil. Lighter grades recommended because easier flow through the system to reach critical areas on start up. Cold also makes a weak battery show when it needs charging or replacing. A battery that has been abused will have a shortened life.

Since you have a chopper, get a push button for your solenoid, bypass all the extra buttons, relays and wiring. Ignition on and push in the plunger. Can't get much simpler than that. I was having problems with a delay of 1/2 second or more after pushing the handlebar start switch before the starter actually would do anything. Lately it got to where it would not even turn over at all through the regular buttons and harness. I'd push the solenoid button and all was well after that. Just the initial start-up was a no go.

Right now, all is working fine because I removed the solenoid plunger and cleaned off the crud. There is/was a surprising amount of what appears to be a light coating of some sort of reddish brown paste on the plunger and inside the housing. I think that is natural, related to the heavy electrical contacts opening and closing in the solenoid. There is no discernible delay between pushing the button on the bars and when the starter begins to turn the motor over.

I have manual compression releases and although it makes for an easier spin of the motor, sometimes is not as positive on firing off. It seems like it will just spin and not catch. If I close them, it wants to fire and run on its own sooner.
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Old 11-23-2012, 12:03 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Perhaps the starter relays intarnal contacs are bad?
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:54 PM   #12 (permalink)
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First off, thanks for the tips.
I have ran through and tested the drop in the battery voltag as well as the starter. When I test it, it cranks fine and fires right up. I will go park it for a few hours and then try to fire it up, every few times just won't turn. This is why I was thinking compression releases. I just ordered a 2kw starter to fix the lack of power turning over the motor, I will update if this solves my dilemma..Also as far as the push button on the starter, I have the button directly on the solenoid as well as a dinky little push button by the ignition coils. I clean the plunger and solenoid once a week because the starting issues.

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Old 11-24-2012, 08:25 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by groundpounder99 View Post
When I test it, it cranks fine and fires right up. I will go park it for a few hours and then try to fire it up, every few times just won't turn.
If it fires up sometimes and not others I would take a serious look at the battery. While its voltage may be good (between 12.4 & 12.8) it may not have the CCA (cold cranking amps) required to turn the motor over. Most auto parts stores will test a battery for free (call ahead first of course). They will do a load test which simulates the load on the battery at startup. If it doesn't have the amps it won't start the bike. btw, a battery can be brand new and still be bad. So don't assume a recently purchased battery*is good.


Quote:
Originally Posted by groundpounder99 View Post
This is why I was thinking compression releases.
Why would compression releases hurt? If there was too much compression then it would be harder to crank the motor. To see if it is a excessive compression issue, pull the spark plugs and see if the motor cranks easier. If it does, then its a "too much compression" issue. If it doesn't then its something with the starter circuit.
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:34 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I have a Rev Tech 110 and 6 speed with a BDL 3" open drive with intermittent starting problems also. On another forum I found a fix for starter / starting issues. It involves replacing the Jackshaft as the teeth do not always engage. The replacement jackshaft was from Bulletproof. All I can say is it worked for me.
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:42 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I replaced the starter with a 2kw starter and it now starts up everytime I will look into the bulletproof jack shaft. The original starter was only a 1.4kw and just didn't have enough power to crank. As for now the issue is fixed. Thanks again for all of the info.

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