Some kind of electrical problem

Discussion in 'Electrical' started by pru7536, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. pru7536

    pru7536 Active Member

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    A few days ago the weather had warmed up a little and the snow had melted off the driveway. I thought I’d take the Deuce out and run it for a while. It has been sitting in the shed for about a month without being started. When I went to start it, it sounded like the battery was weak as it would barely turn over the engine then there was a rapid clicking noise. I took the battery out and connected it to a charger. The charger indicated it wasn’t discharged. I left it for an hour anyway. In the meantime I took some sandpaper and cleaned off the battery cables and posts although they didn’t look bad. I re-connected the battery and attempted to start it again. The lights were at normal brightness, but the engine would barely turn over then a series of rapid clicks again.

    I took the battery to the local Harley shop as I thought it may have a dead cell or some other problem. The parts man said it checked out ok, but he would put it on the charger overnight and I could pick it up the next day, which I did.

    I connected the positive lead to the battery first. I had disconnected the negative cable and a smaller wire from the frame and the battery. I then attached the negative cable to the battery and when I touched the negative battery cable and the smaller wire, there was a humming sound like something under the tank was getting electrical power. I have never noticed this before when I had occasion to remove and replace the battery. The negative cable was not attached to the frame at this time so I took the cable off the battery and attached it and the smaller wire to the frame first, then connected it to the negative terminal of the battery. When the negative cable touched the battery, there was a sound of something getting power again and a small spark. I then made sure all connections were tight. When the ignition switch was turned on, the lights looked fine, so I was optimistic. I flipped off the kill switch and pushed the start switch. The engine slowly turned over, but didn’t start. I let off the start switch and it kept trying to start. I hit the kill switch and turned off the ignition switch, but it was still trying to start. The engine was slowing down from turning over and as soon as I could, I started unloosening the negative battery cable. It was so hot at the battery, I couldn’t touch it. I quickly got a socket and disconnected the battery cable and the smaller wire from the frame.

    I am by no means a mechanic, and even worse at diagnosing electrical issues. My inclination is to have the Harley shop come and pick the bike up and let them fix it. I’m guessing even if it is a minor problem, I’m looking at a couple hundred dollars. I’m leery about randomly tinkering with it for fear of doing catastrophic damage or setting it on fire. Does this sound like I am overlooking an easy fix that I could potentially do, or should I follow my instinct and pay the money? As an old buddy of mine, Clint Eastwood, said “a man’s got to know his limitations”.

    Any input from one of the many electrical wizards here would be most appreciated.

    PS. This is a ’04, carbureted, Softail Deuce with one more payment due. Don’t that just figure!
     
  2. dbmg

    dbmg Experienced Member

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    Start with having the battery load tested. Remove battery and take to dealer or a battery hut.
     
  3. TQuentin1

    TQuentin1 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

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    Hmmm. Sounds like you have a short in the system that is closing the starter relay and sending power to the solenoid/starter. Do you have a schematic of your electical system?

    TQ
     
  4. Chopper

    Chopper Senior Member

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    When you turn off the ign & hit the kill switch, only power still going to the starter is the main leed from the battery, sounds like the starter solenoid could of been stuck or the starter drive stuck out on the clutch ring gear keeping the circuit closed. What were the temps in the shed when you were trying to start the bike? If it was cold all the fluids were thick and can put a real strain on the starter. How old is the battery?
     
  5. NEWHD74FAN

    NEWHD74FAN Experienced Member Retired Moderators

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    Sounds like the starter solenoid - starter drive gear was stuck in the engaged mode. Could be that sticking is burnt grease or varnish binding up the works which means removing the starter and checking it out, not a difficult job. May have to remove mid peg mounts (if equipped), exhaust pipe and primary cover(s) to access inner starter mounting screws (which requires draining, replacing fluid and gaskets) in a nutshell.

    You did not say how old the Deuce was, but if it is under warranty having the dealer do it is a good thing. :s
     
  6. pru7536

    pru7536 Active Member

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    Chop, the bike shed doubles as my dog's house, so I keep it somewhat heated although it does not get very warm. It was certainly above freezing, but probably no more than 40 degrees. The battery is three years old, but the guy at the Harley shop assures me it is in perfect condition. I would love to think that this problem is simply due to the cold. Perhaps before having it towed in, I'll wait until a warm day, put the battery back in and try again. You have sure given me cause to be optimistic, thank you.
     
  7. 2000classic

    2000classic Active Member

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    If battery was fully charged and you had poor cranking, you may have poor connections on your battery cables. Remove and clean battery cables at both ends!:s
     
  8. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

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    What does this 'smaller wire' go to, or rather what is it for ?
     
  9. pru7536

    pru7536 Active Member

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    Eureka! As we had a heat wave today (49) and the sun was out, I took the Deuce out of the doghouse where I had some operating room and natural light. I re-checked all the battery connections and they looked pristine. I crawled around, feeling and looking at all the wires I could access. Under the right side of the oil tank was a small green wire, in a protective sheath that appeared to be tightly touching the bottom rear of the tank. As I felt it, I could feel the sheath and insulation had been chaffed away. I could only get the wire about 1/16 inch away from the tank, but it was enough to see bright copper wire. I didn’t have enough room to wrap it with electrical tape and I was unable to reach whatever it plugged into in front of the starter. I took a piece or bicycle inner tube and covered it in electrical tape and slid it between the wire and the oil tank. I then took a small wire tie and cinched it in place so it wouldn’t shift. I re-connected the battery, flipped off the kill switch, turned on the ignition, pulled out the enricher, twisted the throttle three times and hit the starter. She immediately came to life and ran like a Swiss watch. What a relief!

    R_W_B, my apologies for not responding to your post, I didn’t see it until today. I have no idea what the wire goes to or what it does. I don’t know what the chaffed green one goes to either.

    I certainly appreciate the responses to my inquiry as they inspired me to closely check all the wiring connections. Had this not been done, I would have had a tow bill and a labor bill.
     
  10. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Expert Member

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    Bet that green wire is the solenoid wire to the starter