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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Background: 8 years as HD mechanic at dealer including 3 as lead tech. 18 years since then as part time indy Harley mechanic. I tell you this to let you know that I'm not starting from a position of not knowing anything. However,

I am a bit stuck.

2003 Harley Davidson FLHR carb
  • 96" kit,
  • S&S cams
  • Crane Fireball HI4TC ignition module
  • S&S cam plate and oil pump
  • SE 44mm CV carb with Thunderslide
  • Mildly worked heads
  • 78k miles on original bike
  • 8k miles (ish) on rebuilt engine with new flywheels, S&S cam chest stuff, etc since original flywheels went out of true and took cams, plate, etc with them
Current problem:
Went for a good long ride a couple weeks ago on a Friday. Bike ran great, as usual. Bike then sat on Saturday and wouldn't start on Sunday. Figured it was the battery, towed it home from the campground, hooked to tender. Battery charged but bike still wouldn't start. Cranks but nothing, not even a pop. So here's the diagnostics so far:

1. Carb is getting fuel so eliminate bad petcock
2. Carb jets and bowl are clean, accelerator pump operates properly. Replaced intake seals but the old ones looked perfect when I took them out
3. Carb top cap warped and cracked so ordered a new one and installed (was excited that this was the problem, but then it wasn't). Diaphram seems fine and my experience suggests that bike would start but not run well even with bad diaphram so didn't replace it at this point
4. Good spark front and rear.
5. Compression 125psi front and rear
6. Replaced spark plugs just because I have several new sets sitting around
7. Speedometer diagnostic code check, no codes
8. Twinscan2 diagnostic code check just to make sure and doesn't detect ECM. Swapped out Crane for stock and still doesn't detect ECM
9. White and black ignition wire that provides power to coil, test port, and ECM has power
10. Battery load tests good after charging

I'm now a bit stuck. I'd be leaning towards a crank position sensor but I'm getting no codes. I'm wondering about the battery even though it tests good but a slow crank can, on occasion, cause starting issues in my experience.

Would appreciate any comments on what I might be overlooking. I haven't pulled the cam cover again yet cause theoretically that shouldn't (fingers crossed, etc) be a problem at this low mileage on a rebuild but that's my next task if I can't come up with something easier that takes care of the problem.
 

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Could be some little animal (4-legged or 2-legged kind) got in somewhere while the bike was sitting unattended in the campground and chewed some tasty insulation. I have squirrels always trying to hide peanuts in numerous places on my bike.

I have an older version of the HI-4TC ignition for use with the cam position sensor. The only problem it ever indicated was some high voltage spikes. And that was while I was riding, as the condition was detected. There was nothing stored as best as I can remember. Does your version kill the signal to the speedo/odo to blink the check engine light for diagnostics? It took me a long time to see it, and then to figure out it was trying to tell me something. I just thought my speedo was getting ready to quit.

Those compression numbers seem sort of low. But if things have been fine for 8K, I don't see why that would change overnight.

Even though the carb and fuel delivery check out OK, have you tried spraying some starting fluid down the throat to see if those good sparks are going to waste?
 

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premium water instead of gas?...you say campground...you get gas on the way from a dirtbag country station prior?....been there....but you prob thought of this
 

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ok read up... prob not fuel...or water in tank? ....would a bad ground to eng add to this?..pulled loose on prior ride?....stange that it would not run with one day downtime after running good prior
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Much apprecuate the thoughts so far. Will dive back in tomorrow. Wasnt really a big deal cause i was going to ride my 92 Fatboy until i got it...

Oh wait.

Where is that oil coming from? The front base gasket? Gah!

Record temps and no motorcycle. It's all good though. 😁
 

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just did my base gaskets...was a shame cause it was running good....found long/bad crackes down the sparkplug holes in the domes on both heads and both sides but ran like wow....maybe wld have taken a sht soon tho...new /used heads 1995 80 in eng...oh prior the top end job... I used a rag stuffed behind the lifter blocks for a while...caught the oil mess there in the wind...worked good...just had to chng it now/then
 

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Much apprecuate the thoughts so far. Will dive back in tomorrow. Wasnt really a big deal cause i was going to ride my 92 Fatboy until i got it...

Oh wait.

Where is that oil coming from? The front base gasket? Gah!

Record temps and no motorcycle. It's all good though. 😁
Surely you could ride with a weeping base gasket, right? I'd bet more than 50% of all Evos still on the road have leaky base gaskets.

Not sure what accelerator pump has to do with starting. Did you try spraying some "starting fluid" in the intake while cranking?

What actually happens when you try to start it?

How did you test for "good spark"?

How did you load test the battery? What does the voltage go down to while cranking?

How do you check for codes if nothing detects the ECM?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Could be some little animal (4-legged or 2-legged kind) got in somewhere while the bike was sitting unattended in the campground and chewed some tasty insulation. I have squirrels always trying to hide peanuts in numerous places on my bike.
Hmm. Something to check. Bothers me though that I have spark and ignition power still.

to blink the check engine light for diagnostics?
I think they stopped that in 2001 or so. Newer bikes (including at least 2003 and up) have diagnostics built into the speedo where you hold down the odometer reset switch and then turn on the bike. Displays code in odometer rather than counting flashes.

Those compression numbers seem sort of low. But if things have been fine for 8K, I don't see why that would change overnight.
I may have used the cylinders and pistons from the motor I was pulling apart, just to save myself the significant $$ since I was doing so much work and because it was running just fine other than the slipped flywheel.


you say campground...you get gas on the way from a dirtbag country station prior?....been there....but you prob thought of this
Not that kind of campground. State park in a good sized area close to home. It was the annual get-to-gether for my veterans riding club.


I used a rag stuffed behind the lifter blocks for a while...caught the oil mess there in the wind...worked good...just had to chng it now/then
That would drive me crazy but get me back on the road, so I'll have to consider it. Gasket kit should be in next week but...

Surely you could ride with a weeping base gasket, right? I'd bet more than 50% of all Evos still on the road have leaky base gaskets.
Not in my experience unless our definitions of "weeping" are different. This one, however, is actually dripping significant amounts of oil.

Not sure what accelerator pump has to do with starting.
Standard cold starting procedure: Two pumps on throttle to prime fuel, starter button, pull choke out slowly until bike fires. Accelerator pump gets fuel into line for starting.

What actually happens when you try to start it?
Read original post. Although to be fair it was a long post. Cranks but nothing happens. No pops, no backfires, etc.

How did you test for "good spark"?
Ground plug, crank motor. You can see spark including how strong it is. Doesn't tell you if it's timed correctly but tells you that there is spark output.

How did you load test the battery?
Battery load tester. I am a mechanic and have a shop full of tools.

What does the voltage go down to while cranking?
Don't know, didn't check this because it seems to be cranking pretty quickly. Could be worth checking.

How do you check for codes if nothing detects the ECM?
Speedometer diagnostics show CLR on all codes but I don't know if this system would show codes if there were a communication problem with the ECM. I've only had one bike cross my bench in 30 years that had a bad ECM.
 

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Well, it sounds like you've been riding this bike for at least the last 8,000 miles with no problems.

If this no-start condition just happened then the first place to look is the last thing you touched. What have you done recently, prior to having the no-start issue?

The engine needs 3 things to start and run:air, fuel, and spark. Air seems like a given without an obvious blockage at the intake. Even if fuel is flowing, do you know it is flowing into the chamber to meet the fire? Spray some carb cleaner into the intake while cranking and see if it makes a difference. If so, you have a fuel delivery issue and if not then you probably have a spark problem.

Figure that out and cut the possibilities in half.
 

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You can have spark outside the engine with the plug grounded and it still be a week coil with a low enough voltage that it can’t jump the gap under compression, just a thought
 

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I'm wondering about the battery even though it tests good but a slow crank can, on occasion, cause starting issues in my experience.
Can't be too difficult to eliminate this problem as a cause. Even a decent shade tree wrench can test this without buying a new battery or damaging anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Can't be too difficult to eliminate this problem as a cause. Even a decent shade tree wrench can test this without buying a new battery or damaging anything.
Care to be more specific? Battery tests good using a load tester and I don't have a spare battery lying around. Not sure this is the issue anyway but if you have advice I'd love to hear it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You can have spark outside the engine with the plug grounded and it still be a week coil with a low enough voltage that it can’t jump the gap under compression, just a thought
Good thought. Original coil. I'm going to lift the tank and check it today.

Checked main ground wire (last thing I did was put in a new starter clutch a couple weeks ago (thanks for the reminder G Man) but unfortunately it was fine.

Don't see any chewed wires after doing a careful check so I guess no rodents chewed on my bike. (Thanks Rootin)

Just got off the phone with the folks over at Daytona and they say that the Twinscan2 won't read an 03 carburetted bike. Which is weird because I could have sworn that the package said it did. Oh well, the package is pretty faded and hard to read given how long it's been sitting in my shop. And I do have code reads on the speedo so i guess my ECM is fine. One more possibility eliminated.
 

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Care to be more specific? Battery tests good using a load tester and I don't have a spare battery lying around. Not sure this is the issue anyway but if you have advice I'd love to hear it.
You don't have a vehicle of any type with a good 12v battery with enough capacity to crank a Harley? It isn't rocket science. One doesn't even need to be a dealer lead tech to perform such a "delicate maneuver."
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Tested the coil and I think it may be bad. Unfortunately I don't have a spare coil that fits this bike in my stuff so thinking I'll just order a new coil. It's been 20 years so not like I didn't get use out of this one, and if it turns out to not be the coil then I'll have a spare for testing. 0.8 and 12k. Manual says 0.5-0.7 and 5.5k so...
 
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