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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone!

A few months ago I stripped down my 1998 Honda Nighthawk 750 and painted and customized it to look like a cafe racer. Everything has gone smoothly until I tried to start it and when I did I got a loud click from the solenoid.

I've done lots of reading and this is what's been done thus far:

-Replaced battery, it was old and not putting out enough Volts. Still got the click

-New battery and I had 12V to the battery side of Solenoid, 7V to starter side when ignition start button pressed. Also around the same time I burnt my starter out doing something stupid while bench testing it. So now I have bought a new starter and a new solenoid. Still getting only a click.

-Manually turned the engine to ensure it was not locked. It is not seized.

-pulled starter off and hooked up a cable from a bolt on the starter to the negative terminal on the battery. When I hit the start button on the bike it did turn the starter over.

So here I am at a loss because I don't know why I cant get the starter to turn. Also I am still getting 12 V on the battery side of the solenoid but only 8 V on the starter side?

Anyone have ideas?
 

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When you say "solenoid" are you meaning "relay?"

It sounds like you have a bad ground. Did you paint over the area where the starter motor contacts the frame or engine case? It should be metal to metal contact.

Another thing you can try is this: Attach a wire to the terminal on your starter where the wire from the starter relay normally is attached. Briefly tap the other end of this wire to the battery positive terminal so you have direct voltage to the starter. If it kicks over then you know the problem is in your wiring somewhere or in your relay.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes I believe the starter solenoid is also known as the relay.

So if I try what you suggest and it doesn't turn over then the problem is definitely a ground issue? I did do a lot of painting but I've sanded down the points of contact at the starter because I thought that was the issue. I'll have to triple check.

Other than the ground from the negative terminal of the battery to the frame and the ground that the starter creates by contacting the case, are there other grounds on the bike that I need to check?

Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Update: I tried hooking up the starter directly to the positive terminal and it did not turn over.
I also re-sanded any ground connection points, so it should be firmly grounded to the bike. Still getting the 12 V battery side of the relay and 7 V starter side of the relay. Still getting a loud click from the relay when try to start.

Is it possibly an ignition issue?
 

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This is one of those times when the Internet can make it hard to understand exactly what's going on. :biggrin:

Okay, you should have a wire from your starter button to the relay. 12 vdc. That circuit goes through the relay and eventually leads to a ground somewhere. None of that circuit actually goes to the starter. That circuit controls the relay, and the relay is really just an electrically operated switch. You should have (normally) two other wires on the relay: One is a 12vdc hot lead in, and the other should run from the relay to a terminal on your starter motor. It will be a smaller wire, and not a thick cable like your battery positive, which also attaches to your starter.

If you leave your battery positive cable connected to your starter, and disconnect that smaller lead from the relay to the starter, and jump directly from the battery positive to the terminal where the lead was connected on the starter, then it should turn over.

If it doesn't then you're problem is with the starter itself, or something on the ground side of the starter. If it does turn over when you do the above, then the problem is likely in the wiring or the relay. (We're assuming that your battery is at full charge and all your battery connections are tight and clean.)

If your relay is marked like a normal one you should see at least 4 terminals labeled, 30, 85,86, and 87. 30 is your battery voltage in and you should have 12vdc all the time when the ignition is on. 87 is your lead to the starter and you should have 12vdc only when the ignition is on and you press the starter button. 85 and 86 are the control circuit from the starter button and you should have 12vdc on both sides when the ignition is on and the starter button is pushed, and nothing when the button isn't being pressed.
 

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If you're only getting 7vdc from the relay to the starter, and the voltage going to it is good under the conditions like I described above, then my guess would be your relay is bad or perhaps something is grounding one of the wires to it or from it. Possible a damaged wire. I'd check each of them for continuity next, and check each one for any continuity to the frame.
 

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I'm a little concerned here with this 12v that's been talked about. If you meter the battery there should be more than 12v. Are you sure you have a fully charged battery? 7v to the relay would be understandable with a weak battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
It's a brand new lead acid battery but I've hooked it up to a charger just in case.

I should clarify that in the image below I get 12 Volts from the positive terminal to the battery side of the relay. The 7 Volts from the motor side of the relay leads to the starter. These 7 Volts are achieved only when 'start' button is depressed. I believe in order for the starter to turn it needs to be 12 Volts.

Another observation is that both the wire from the positive terminal to the relay and the wire running to the starter get hot to the touch when I press the start button a few times.

Eye_m_no_angel: Thanks for all the help. I'm pretty sure the relay for this bike is connected to the starter solenoid. Also I don't recall there being a smaller wire that connected to the starter motor itself.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Here is a close up of the starter. Also is it possible that a random wire coming in contact with the frame or engine case is shorting out/diminishing the ground?
 

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Generally, if there is a voltage drop across your solenoid with the starter button pushed, it means it should be replaced. The internal contacts within the solenoid/relay can corrode. (At least on the older Hondas I work on.)

That said though, I don't know how Honda did your starter clutch in that bike, but I would try to physically turn the engine a bit using the starter clutch - could be something is physically jammed in there.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay I will try turning the starter clutch manually. The thing is I just put a new solenoid/relay on the bike, same issue as before though.
Might have to take it to my mechanic...
 

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Generally, if there is a voltage drop across your solenoid with the starter button pushed, it means it should be replaced. The internal contacts within the solenoid/relay can corrode. (At least on the older Hondas I work on.)
Yeap, and if the wires are heating up there's too much resistance in the circuit somewhere. Maybe the new one he got was deteriorated from storage?

On that bike. does the relay get grounded to the frame?
 

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Relay

Generally, if there is a voltage drop across your solenoid with the starter button pushed, it means it should be replaced. The internal contacts within the solenoid/relay can corrode. (At least on the older Hondas I work on.)
On my XS11, the solenoid relay thing, managed to die when I installed a new battery. Made no sense to me. Two wyres made connection inside a bunch of strange things happened. removed the relay off my spare bike and fixed the problem. New Relay is $75.00.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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I would test the relay by taking it off the bike-- it should have two small wires coming out of it. Some of the hondas also have a fuse mounted somewhere in the relay
Make up two test leads [+ and-] for the small solenoid wires. it would not be a bad idea to fuse one of the leads just in case. When you apply current,a magnet pulls a plunger that actually connects the two big terminals together

Before you apply current to the small wires,there should be no continuity between the terminals and after you apply the current,there should be. The way these solenoids wear out is that erosion gradually takes place when the plunger contacts the terminal contacts [making sparks] inside the solenoid.
This is pretty much the procedure that the shop manual for my honda recommends. Of course you can feel free to feed 12 volts to one of the big switch terminals to see if it maintains 12 volts to the other side,read with a multimeter

It is possible for a solenoid to erode so severely that it sticks "ON" and then you have a runaway starter. I had that exact thing happen with a big Dodge Cummins starter and it was scary to say the least. That is why i recommend testing it off the bike the way Honda Service Manual suggests --for safety as well as not introducing other issues the bike may be having.

By the way, a little dot of white paint before you remove that solenoid is a good way to mark the solenoid terminals so you re-assemble it correctly
 

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Might be a stupid question since the starter turns while off the bike, and when hooked up, the pos wire gets hot. Is the engine locked up?
 

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Might be a stupid question..
Dumb looks are still free.

(Especially here on the Intertubes.)

The way you diagnose any no-crank condition is by voltage dropping the affected circuits --- starter switch, relay, starter itself.

Or you can do it the idiots way and replace parts willy-nilly until you A) give up B) run out of Benjamins and take it to a qualified tech or auto electric guy who will..

Voltage drop the affected circuits.

Which will reveal the loose, corroded or painted over battery connections, gorund connections, corroded starter switch, bad solenoid/relay, failed starter...

everything BUT a seized engine...

Try taking the plugs out THEN cranking just in case you're hydrolocked. (cylinder filled with fuel, water, or oil)

Cheers!
 
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