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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
1987 Electra Glide - The following have been replaced: Battery, cables, starter solenoid, starter relay, and rebuilt the starter (twice).

Symptoms - On occasion, the starter acts as though the battery is weak and just barly engages drive, and sometimes it turns over, but ever so slow. It generally does it when it's hot, and seldom when cold.

I've replaced everything but the drive train, and am assembling the parts to do that.
 

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They do that. You can eventually track it down by performing voltage and current, or voltage drop tests. They drop voltage in the strangest places and most people just wire in a auxiliary start switch near the starter that bypasses most of the bike's wiring.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
After having replaced everything in the starter system, but the drive train, I decided to replace the "NEW" solenoid with another new one.

When I took it off, I found the RTV sealant, I had used to patch up the old boot, had migrated to the inside of the solenoid. I suspect that some of my follow-on problems was that sealant causing the plunger to bind.

Examining the drive, I found the engaement arm dogs worn flat, and replaced it.

I installed a new boot (no sealant), and reinstalled the orignal solenoid.

I buttoned everything back up and so far it works as advertized. I'm bound and determined to find the "REAL" problem and am reluctant to change everything at once, so I'll continue to change one piece at a time until I find it. We shall see what the future holds.

You know, interesting enough, the starter solenoid pull in coil get's it's gound from the terminal that goes to the starter, through the starter, and then to ground.

You can not enrgize the solenoid with the starter lead disconnected. Weird .....
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
:D Well here it is about a year since I first developed this problem and I'm happy to report that I've finally found the culprit. Rather than repeat all the original posts, please go back and read them, and then come back here.

The starter solenoid (on my bike anyway, 87 E-Glide) has two coils in it. One coil has one end connected to the small terminal while the other end is connected to the case (ground). This is the "Hold-in" coil.

The other coil is connected to the small terminal, with the other end connected to the short fat terminal (starter). This is the "Pull-in" coil.

My original problem was that I had a bad pull-in coil. This acts like a dragging starter, weak battery, bad wiring, etc.

I changed that solenoid with a brand new one. The symptoms changed, but that wasn't unusual, they were always different when I would check something. The new solenoid I put on WAS ALSO BAD!!! It had a bad Hold-in coil .......!!!!

When I installed another new one the starter worked as I have never seen it work. It spins that engine over as though it has no plugs in it, and that engine has just been overhauled.

To check the solenoid -
1. Remove all the leads connected to it.
2. Check for continuity between the small terminal and the case. It should read zero, or very little resistance. This is the Hold-in coil.
3. Check for continuity between the small terminal and the short fat terminal (starter). This is the Pull-in coil.
4. If you suspect the solenoid in any fashion, replace it with a genuine Harley part, not an after-market type.

If you suspect drive gear engagement, etc. -
1. Remove the derby cover, and with a light, look up toward the top of the clutch and you can see the drive.
2. Remove the spark plug leads.
3. With fingers and light clear, have someone engage the starter.
4. Watch the action - The gear ought to engage with and resounding thud, and the strater motor should drive the clutch ....... as the British say, "with vigor".

I suspect there are a lot of bad solenoids out there from what I"m hearing from a lot of folks. Oh by the way, this bike's been to a few shops and the story I always got was that the '87's were bad about starter problems, and no-one has been able to determine why. Maybe we've finally slain the giant.

Good luck to you .........
 
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