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Over the past several years I've noticed a gradual increase in starter problems. Sometimes the starter motor whirrs, but the jackshaft doesn't engage, Sometimes it engages then falls out too quick. Finally I started researching and before I buy a whole new starter/solenoid unit, I figured I'd rebuild the solenoid. $31 total parts ($21 for the All Balls kit plus $10 tax and shipping). New kit due tomorrow so I took look at the solenoid today.

First, the battery cable bolt on top of the solenoid was quite rusty under the boot. Never noticed it before and had to use PB Blaster and some patience to break it free. My bike generally lives a really nice life of cleanliness and care but I did live in FL for 10 years, so maybe that's where this came from.
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I had seen several Youtube videos that showed heavily pitted copper contacts and mine certainly were.
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Since the new parts won't be here till tomorrow, I removed the mesh ground cable under the bike and cleaned it. Sorry, no pics, but it was black with road grime. Nice and silver now. Used steel wool on the bolt points. Also cleaned the ends of both battery cables while I wait. More tomorrow as I install the new parts.
 

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Over the past several years I've noticed a gradual increase in starter problems. Sometimes the starter motor whirrs, but the jackshaft doesn't engage, Sometimes it engages then falls out too quick. Finally I started researching and before I buy a whole new starter/solenoid unit, I figured I'd rebuild the solenoid. $31 total parts ($21 for the All Balls kit plus $10 tax and shipping). New kit due tomorrow so I took look at the solenoid today.
That is indicative of a bad starter clutch. Pretty common. Lots of companies reselling and relabeling the same stuff, but the really good starter clutches are made by Spragg in the USA.

Spragg Starter Clutches
 

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Turbo: several sources say that the pitting on the copper solenoid contacts result in inadequate voltage to properly drive the starter fast enough and engage the Bendix in the jack shaft. What do you think? Agree or not?

About the clutch, I would think that a slipping clutch would be more consistent in malfunction. Mine works fine sometimes/often even, but the “not so fine” incidents are getting more common. Like electrical problems tend to be. Again, your further opinion?
 

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Turbo: several sources say that the pitting on the copper solenoid contacts result in inadequate voltage to properly drive the starter fast enough and engage the Bendix in the jack shaft. What do you think? Agree or not?

About the clutch, I would think that a slipping clutch would be more consistent in malfunction. Mine works fine sometimes/often even, but the “not so fine” incidents are getting more common. Like electrical problems tend to be. Again, your further opinion?
That disk and contact set does not look all that bad. For shits and giggles just buff the disk and contact points off and see if it makes a difference.

That free wheeling and kicking out early is usually the starter clutch.

And for future reference, you can check those contacts with a simple voltage drop test. If it read the same voltage (or close to the same) on both sides of the solenoid while cranking, the switch function is fine.
 

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I figured I'd try the low-cost shot first. Another FXR buddy has advised me to stop messing around and go ahead and get a new starter/solenoid unit and be done with it. That's just another whole league of expense. I thought the copper contacts looked pretty bad as compared to new ones, but this is my first time dealing with this. Rebuild kit is due tomorrow so I'll install it and see if anything has changed. If nothing else I would have needed to clean the cable attachment points, anyway so if I decide to go all the way at least they'll be done.

Still don't get how a bad clutch could be so inconsistent.. Works fine then doesn't work? Then works fine again? Crap shoot. That's what convinced me to focus on a bad electrical connection. The voltage drop thing is what I saw (somewhere) about enough voltage getting through to spin the motor but not properly engage the jackshaft.

Anyway---I'll put in the rebuild kit and we'll see if it did any good, or if I go shopping for a whole new starter/solenoid. I figure I can't complain about 22 years of service
 

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yes you can recondition the sol parts to get wat life is left of em.... or replace them.... easy job...but pull the starter and replace the starter clutch and replace the ground ribbon with a battery cable(auto parts store) this should give you another era of problem freedom
 

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I figured I'd try the low-cost shot first. Another FXR buddy has advised me to stop messing around and go ahead and get a new starter/solenoid unit and be done with it. That's just another whole league of expense. I thought the copper contacts looked pretty bad as compared to new ones, but this is my first time dealing with this. Rebuild kit is due tomorrow so I'll install it and see if anything has changed. If nothing else I would have needed to clean the cable attachment points, anyway so if I decide to go all the way at least they'll be done.

Still don't get how a bad clutch could be so inconsistent.. Works fine then doesn't work? Then works fine again? Crap shoot. That's what convinced me to focus on a bad electrical connection. The voltage drop thing is what I saw (somewhere) about enough voltage getting through to spin the motor but not properly engage the jackshaft.

Anyway---I'll put in the rebuild kit and we'll see if it did any good, or if I go shopping for a whole new starter/solenoid. I figure I can't complain about 22 years of service
For what they want for a new one, I would carry it over to the rebuilders shop and let them have a run at it. IIRC the insides are mostly Asian car stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
If I replace both, I might go aftermarket. My buddy put a All Balls 1.4kw unit in his FXR3 a few years ago and it’s worked perfectly ever since. There’s also Terry and Spyke. His was doing the same as mine.

Yes, the OEM ones were made by Nippondenso. But their widespread use makes parts available and for better or worse, lots of troubleshooting info on the web. But about dismantling the old one, say to replace the clutch. Let’s say I do that. I’m still left with an old electric motor, armature, brushes, bearing. How much life left in them? At that point I’d have to weigh all that versus a much simpler exchange of the old unit for a new one.
 

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If I replace both, I might go aftermarket. My buddy put a All Balls 1.4kw unit in his FXR3 a few years ago and it’s worked perfectly ever since. There’s also Terry and Spyke. His was doing the same as mine.

Yes, the OEM ones were made by Nippondenso. But their widespread use makes parts available and for better or worse, lots of troubleshooting info on the web. But about dismantling the old one, say to replace the clutch. Let’s say I do that. I’m still left with an old electric motor, armature, brushes, bearing. How much life left in them? At that point I’d have to weigh all that versus a much simpler exchange of the old unit for a new one.
Again, are you making a statement there or really asking a question? Hard to tell on a forum.

All of the new starters except those sold by Cycle electric will come with a cheap clutch compared to the ones from Spragg. Replacing the clutch in a starter is a ten minute job for most. If you have to buy a new starter, look at Twin Power. They are sourced from Alls Balls and repackaged under the Twin Power name but at a lower price. Dont ask how, it just is. If you really want 'The Best', look at starters sold by Tech Cycle.
 

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Again, are you making a statement there or really asking a question?
Good catch. I might be making a statement. Still thinking about it.
 

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If you have to buy a new starter, look at Twin Power. They are sourced from Alls Balls and repackaged under the Twin Power name but at a lower price. Don’t ask how, it just is.
Interesting. A few years ago Dennis Kirk was selling All Balls starters in Drag Specialties boxes for considerably less than All Balls prices. My FXR3 buddy went that route.
 

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After much consideration I decided to go ahead and replace the starter/solenoid unit. Figured I was well under way labor-wise. Swapped in a All Balls 1.4 KW unit. Perfect match up. Sorry, no pics—I was on a mission. Decided to just do this and be done wondering about all the various components. New starter works perfectly so far.

Maybe the interim steps would have stretched things out but I like being proactive.
 
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