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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a really n00b but important/urgent question...for some reason, even though the bike started fine last night when I got it home, it wouldn't start tonight. Turned over, seemed like it was "trying" to start, then eventually it stopped turning over and further attempts to press the engine start button did nothing. The headlight was on the whole time (could the battery still be too drained to start the bike even if the headlight and ignition lights were on?). Seller claimed he recently replaced the battery, but you never know...

I'm wondering what could have happened? It was a little leaned over in the van that transported it to my place last night...I also left the choke in the "pulled out" position all night (though the ignition was off). I checked the obvious stuff, like making sure I was in neutral (green light and I could roll the bike), kickstand was up - yellow light went off when it went up. I had the engine cutoff switch in various positions, I assume when the engine was turning over/trying to start, I had it in the right position (I saw two "off" and one "run" and set it to "run").

I came back an hour later and tried one more time, and the engine was turning over rather feebly, then stopped in the same manner as I detailed above. :confused:

What is my next step? I need to move the bike by tomorrow night since there's alternate side parking in effect here in NYC. Please help! :(
 

· Female Rider
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Sounds like the battery...especially if it wouldn't turn over and after sitting for a while it again tried then quit again. I have a 1985 Yamaha maxim 700 and have had it do what you are describing. We have a "jump box" and used it and bike then started. This went on for 2 days so I went and bought a battery...bike starts every time now. Do you have a tester or charger? If not several places like Autozone, Wal Mart, etc will test it for you. Hope your problem is that simple also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good thought. I'll see if I can get my hands on a battery tester or jump box...I'm in NYC which complicates things a bit, esp since I have no other vehicle and no friends w/ cars or cycles...worst case I guess I'll have to roll it to a new legal spot tomorrow night.
 

· Female Rider
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You have more guts than I do, I wouldn't want to ride in NYC.
I would turn the choke off tonight & try it tomorrow, battery may build up. Turn the choke on right before trying to start it. Don't give it any throttle when trying to start it with the choke on so it doesn't flood. Good Luck!!
 

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Many bikes get reluctant to start when the battery gets low. Trickle charge the battery overnight (under 4 amps) and give it a snort of starting fluid. If it doesn't rip right off in the AM you have other issues. Take this one step at a time and don't hesitate to M me if you get stuck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
To update you...thank you all for your advice and sorry for the delay, I was over at the nighthawk forums getting advice on what are the likely culprits for this bike in particular. It seems the battery is no good (well, it holds a charge, but not for long - it does not stand up to my small incidents of stalling 'abuse' as a new rider when I go 'round the block). ALSO: it is not the correct battery, it is positioned horizontally (so the terminals point sideways), and the battery harness is missing. The seller secured it with plastic rope, omg.

When I charged it up, the bike started right up. There are other problems, but this addresses the main one. I was able to roll it to another parking space (up a steep hill, ugh!!) with help. The next goal is to get it to inspection (due by Wednesday).

By then I should have the new battery -- though the screws that secure the battery leads to each terminal actually fell out (nuts were missing, I guess, never saw them when I removed the battery). Do I have to special order or can I pick them up at the hardware store in a bind? Alternatively, is there anything I can use instead to hold the leads to the terminals?

This is gonna be an adventure. I ordered my gear today but I'm going to need parts and tools before gear it seems!

You can see pictures here:
The 'ugly' but informative ones
The 'good' but naive ones

Feel free to weigh in, I know it's ugly in there, that's what I get for not taking a mechanic with me to the purchase and trusting the seller too much :/ But it will be a good winter project, I am looking on the bright side and am excited to fix her up :D
 

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If I understand you correctly,you are saying that the battery terminals are loosely connected to the main + and - cables on the bike. Those connections must be tight and clean. Also,the battery position [on its side] does not matter if the battery is an AGM battery like it appears to be. It could be possible that the previous owner found that he could fit a more robust[AGM]battery in the bike by placing it sideways. The best way to tell if a battery will take and hold a charge is to charge it up and have it tested.
If you want to clean up the bike out on the street, get a bucket of water with a mild soap like Murphy's Oil Soap and use a soft brush- a paintbrush will do. You probably can get away without rinsing off the Murphy's. Then,with most of the dust off and the surface dry,spray on some foaming tire cleaner,and when the foam sets a bit,start to rub it off with towels. I use paint stirring sticks to force the towels into tight areas and even a dull screwdriver to force the towel around tiny areas. My 1985 Nighthawk looks nearly new with this treatment
Use the tire cleaner and 0000 steel wool on the rusty areas and it will remove much of the rust bringing back much of the shine
 

· Super Moderator
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By then I should have the new battery -- though the screws that secure the battery leads to each terminal actually fell out (nuts were missing, I guess, never saw them when I removed the battery). Do I have to special order or can I pick them up at the hardware store in a bind? Alternatively, is there anything I can use instead to hold the leads to the terminals?
No. Battery terminal hardware is a special alloy that resists corrosion. Standard hardware will corrode to nothing in a matter of weeks.
Give me your addy and I'll mail you a couple.
 

· Banned
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No. Battery terminal hardware is a special alloy that resists corrosion. Standard hardware will corrode to nothing in a matter of weeks.
Only if you get acid on them......and then the "special" ones do too. ;)

If you get a sealed battery it shouldn't be a problem regardless of what you use.

Any battery or bike shop should be able to give you what you need.
In the mean time, you can use anything that fits tightly.
 

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Only if you get acid on them......and then the "special" ones do too. ;)

If you get a sealed battery it shouldn't be a problem regardless of what you use.

Any battery or bike shop should be able to give you what you need.
In the mean time, you can use anything that fits tightly.
Any wet cell battery will 'gas' while charging. The vapors are just as corrosive as the electrolyte.
You are correct about the gel cell (sealed) battery
 

· Severed Head
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It's already been determined over on the nighthawk forum the the battery is a lead acid type of dubious quality, and there are signs that the po was a fan of doing things on the cheap.

A lead acid battery, sealed or no, should not be used on it's side. The plates are not completely submerged in electrolyte this way and the battery has no way to properly vent.
 

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A lead acid battery, sealed or no, should not be used on it's side.
A real lead acid battery can't be sealed because it needs to vent.

One that really is sealed shouldn't matter how it's oriented; the most common sealed types, gel and agm, should not have a problem.

Regardless of that, however, I believe in using parts as designed and would never use any battery on it's side if it was intended to be used upright......just incase.
 
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