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Steve
Steve, Motorcycle Mechanic
Category: Motorcycle
Satisfied Customers: 7014
Experience:  30+ yrs. experience, MMI, HD technician, HD early, engine rebuild/performance, bike builder, kit bike program manager, CCI 2001-2004
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I've got a 77 ironhead sportster that won't start . I've put

Customer Question

I've got a 77 ironhead sportster that won't start . I've put a new starter relay and new battery and new starter and new starter solenoid. Push the start button and get power through the switch and through relay and solenoid clicks but no power to starter from solenoid. If I remove starter wire from starter and press start button and and put a volt meter on starter wire(still disconnected from starter) and then the solenoid works right and power is on starter wire. Put the starter back on and hook up starter wire and it just clicks at solenoid and no power to starter again. Driving me batty ! Please help!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Motorcycle
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

what do you mean by the "starter wire"?

what did you use to connect the battery to the solenoid and the solenoid to the starter?

tell me everything you can.

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've bought new starter new starter relay and starter solenoid. Have installed all of the components , same wire that came with the bike are still there. Original wire from battery to solenoid and same from solenoid to the starter. Witheverything replaced and wired just the exact same way it was I push the start button and solenoid clicks but doesn't engage starter. When I say it doesn't engage starter I mean that the solenoid doesn't allow power to starter wire on solenoid . Buy if I remove the wire that runs from solenoid to the starter at the starter and push start button the solenoid engages and the wiRe from the solenoid to the starter has 11.6 volts. Put wire back on starter and solenoid clicks and again no power from solenoid to starter.
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

is this "wire" a battery cable?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Steve yes , battery cable from battery to solenoid and from solenoid to the starter are the original (battery cables) that came on the bike.
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

they should be replaced. it's your bike, your call, but if it were my bike, I would.

perform the following voltage measurements for me:

- volt meter BLACK probe on battery NEG terminal, RED probe to ground. push start button and read voltmeter.

- RED probe on battery + terminal, BLACK probe on other end of cable at solenoid. push start, read voltmeter.

- RED probe on solenoid terminal of cable going to starter, BLACK probe on terminal at starter. push start, read voltmeter.

- red probe on battery +, BK probe on terminal at starter. push start, read voltmeter.

let me know what you find.

Steve

Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

let me know if you need more help.

if not, please leave a POSITIVE RATING.

thank you,

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Steve I put new battery cables and checked voltage and still when I hit the start button the solenoid engages but power isn't distributed to starter from solenoid. Same problem as before. Checking the process with volt meter I have 12.56 volts at starter relay and 12.56 at solenoid and engages the gear inside the primary side (where clutches are located) but still no power from solenoid to starter motor. I took new starter off and while still hooked up to cable from solenoid I ran a ground from starter to bike frame and when I hit start button starter gear on the starter barely turned at all. Really slow then didn't turn at all. About one rotation really slow then stopped. The money has been taken from my credit card and still same exact problem.
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

I need you to perform the voltage tests I specified in my previous response.

I need you to perform then exactly as stated.

let me know what you find.

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No problem, will do . I'll send you the results sir.
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

let me know what you find.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Steve I did just as you ask in order you ask. I've got a fluke multi meter new battery and set to DC.
1. 89.6
2 6.0
3 111.9
4 10.7
I pushed the start button about 3 sec.
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

in the window with the meter readings...........you should have seen a mv, or v.

I need that information.

if you tell me what model Fluke you have, I can be more specific.

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yea , sorry it was on mili volts. Once again
1. .005
2 .0
3 .0
4. .279
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

why are the numbers different?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Steve they all showed zero except for question number 4.
Red probe battery + black probe cable at starter hit start and it showed 1/4 of a volt
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

that means you are losing that voltage across the solenoid contacts. that shouldn't matter.

measure across the battery terminals under the following conditions:

- ignition OFF.

- ignition ON.

- with the start button depressed.

let me know what you find.

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ignition off across bat. Terminals. 12.59 v
Ignition on. 12.15v. ( Lights on)
Push start button. 11.75. V
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

you have power to the starter.

you need to determine the cause of it binding.

typically, on the bike that old, the problem is worn shafts, bushings and bearings in the starter drive.

if it were me, I'd rebuild the entire starter drive with all new parts.

Steve

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It's a brand new starter, I bench tested it before installing. Ran great
Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

THE STARTER DRIVE.

everything between the starter and the bendix.

Steve

Expert:  Steve replied 1 year ago.

let me know if you need more help.

if not, please leave a POSITIVE RATING.

thank you,

Steve