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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I posted this (more or less) on the New Member Introduction board already. So here it is again more specific to the current issue (not the only issue) i'm working on.
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My name is Thomas.
I'm in my early 30's with light mechanical experience but a capacity for learning and figuring (and sometimes breaking but hopefully fixing too).
I'm in the NY/NJ area.
I currently own, but haven't been riding, a 1983 Honda CB650. It has been customized by the previous owner so it has a swapped tank, a new seat and is generally blacked out. No side covers, etc. All gauges and indicators are removed except for the speedometer so there's some dead end wiring.

The bike was having some charging issues when i got it home. A mechanic had checked it before purchase and showed proper charging voltage on his multimeter (static and revved etc), but when i started riding it, the battery would be drained after an hour or so. I originally thought i was just stalling a lot and asking the battery to crank more than i was giving it a chance to charge. Bought a new sealed battery and got better at NOT stalling but still ended up with a dead battery after 45-60 minutes. I had picked up a pocket jumper and that would get me started but i'd need it EVERY time i got stuck. 5 jumps to get home and almost ran out of juice in the jumper.

My carbs were leaky and clearly in need of attention so i decided to do that rebuild first as my multimeter wasn't with me to test the charging system. Got through it successfully (i felt) and reinstalled the carbs (so much fun...).

I went ahead and blew the main fuse because i RECONNECTED MY BATTERY BACKWARDS ?‍♂. When i got the new fuses I wheeled it out and it fired right up. Sounded good to me, nice and smooth (except for the pang-pang sound that i think is a bad hydraulic lifter (next project after figuring out charging system)). It was raining so i did not ride that day and i needed a new screw to hold my choke cable to the mount as that was stripped. Got all that together and 2 days later suited up to go for my first ride in weeks. Put on my new grips and wheeled her out...turned the key...lights...no start...

What I have done or do know:
  • Tested the rectifier -- good (i think) -- tested continuity and resistance as described in Clymer's Manual and online. Looked ok but happy to retest if anyone has specific directions.
  • Tested starter relay -- good -- no "click" from starter button, "click" when jumped direct 12v -- continuity on "click" is good -- i have a new relay landing at my house today because i tested it incorrectly at first and thought it was dead. Retested the next day getting the coil terminals right and it's fine. So i'll have a spare relay or i'll get my $ back. Thoughts? is it likely i'll need it eventually anyways?
  • Tested battery -- good -- a little drained from trouble shooting so voltage was hanging around 12v dropping a touch while pushing the starter button a few times (i'll put it on the tender and check voltage again).
  • Test wiring -- good -- nothing jumped out at me in terms of connections and continuity. I would like ideas on where specifically to check, but i think i've hit the major parts of the initial starter circuit...i could easily be wrong.
Because i can't get the relay to click with the handlebar button i'm thinking:
  • Bad starter BUTTON (i went with Revzilla's grip install (5:25) method and rubbing alcohol went all over the handlebar switch internals -- shorted?? i've tested and can't see a problem so need advice there. What should the switch be showing?
    • Headlights go out on pressing starter button (supposed to happen)
    • Continuity between starter relay coil wires (starter button (Yellow/Red) and Clutch Switch (Green/Red)) show good when starter button pressed.
    • Continuity between (2) starter button wires (Yellow/Red and Black) shows good when pressed.
    • What kind of voltage readings should i get and where should i get them to test the starter button? I'll double check but i think i tested voltage at the starter relay (Red/Yellow to engine ground) and got 0v. I feel like power is not making it to the relay from the button but don't know how to trace the problem.
    • Plan Technical drawing Text Floor plan Diagram

      (red boxes indicate devices that are still on the bike)
  • Bad or improperly connected safety switch -- seems the clutch diode (blue bubble on wiring diagram? rectifier?) is removed and spliced, connection seems ok though. Could this be a problem for the overall electrical system? -- will track other safety devices this week. Could use advice on using multimeter for this.
Product Technology Electronic device Electronic component

  • Bad ground -- ugh, i can't imagine trying to trace each ground...easy way to determine?
So that's it for now...gotta run. Looking forward to hearing thoughts. I have done a lot of online research but will do anything suggested over again to confirm. I am learning to use my multimeter but seem to be getting it right for the most part.

Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
p.s. -- Here she is after i first got her. Grips are replaced.
Still want to:
  • get bar end mirrors
  • replace a few gaskets (small oil leaks)
  • Open valve cover and revive bad hydraulic lifter that i think has collapsed. Already sitting on a new gasket and need new cylinder head side caps that are leaking
  • Figure out charging system problems
  • Rebuild calipers
  • Install center stand from ebay (anyone know the size of the "Front Radius Rod Bolt - 90119-671-000), i have all other pieces.
    60047
  • Change all fluids -- oil change was done by mechanic when i purchased. Will do again after a little while and replace the filter which i doubt they did.
  • New tires, front at least is showing signs of dry rot.

60046
 

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If a mechanic checked out the charging system and said that's good, I would suspect one or some of that dead end wiring is shorting out and draining your battery.
 

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So I must admit I did get a little lost in your troubleshooting. Here's what I do when I can't get the bike to start.

First I see if it turns over.

-- If it turns over with hitting the start switch? I then check for spark, fuel, and air. Since all my projects are carby bikes it's common for the culprit to be a clogged up carb, thus no fuel. A quick shot of carb cleaner into the intake then a hit of the start button. No start? I'll switch to starting fluid. If it runs, issue is likely the carb. If it doesn't? Most likely spark.

-- If it doesn't turn over when hitting the start switch? Sounds like what you're experiencing right now..
I try engaging the starter manually. I'll find the starter solenoid (usually near the battery) and short it. If the starter spins, there's probably something wrong somewhere with the start switch and/or its wiring. Some bikes have a brake switch that'll also break, preventing the start button from working.

If the starter doesn't spin after shorting the solenoid, you will either have a dead starter solenoid, dead battery, dead starter, or some fun mystery electrical gremlin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
If a mechanic checked out the charging system and said that's good, I would suspect one or some of that dead end wiring is shorting out and draining your battery.
Been researching all day on making my own wiring harness.
My thought is that I want to have everything functioning before I go messing with anything else though. That way it's easier to troubleshoot any new problems. So I need to figure out this no-start issue first, then investigate the charging system. The stator is pretty dirty looking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
So I must admit I did get a little lost in your troubleshooting. Here's what I do when I can't get the bike to start.

First I see if it turns over.

-- If it turns over with hitting the start switch? I then check for spark, fuel, and air. Since all my projects are carby bikes it's common for the culprit to be a clogged up carb, thus no fuel. A quick shot of carb cleaner into the intake then a hit of the start button. No start? I'll switch to starting fluid. If it runs, issue is likely the carb. If it doesn't? Most likely spark.

-- If it doesn't turn over when hitting the start switch? Sounds like what you're experiencing right now..
I try engaging the starter manually. I'll find the starter solenoid (usually near the battery) and short it. If the starter spins, there's probably something wrong somewhere with the start switch and/or its wiring. Some bikes have a brake switch that'll also break, preventing the start button from working.

If the starter doesn't spin after shorting the solenoid, you will either have a dead starter solenoid, dead battery, dead starter, or some fun mystery electrical gremlin.
Thanks for the reply. I was hoping you'd jump on the case as I saw you took an interest in no-start issues in a sticky. Disappointed to see that most of those were "duh" moments or the usual/normal issues. Mine doesn't fit anything else I've seen yet.

Sorry for the confusion. I'm not used to talking mechanics with people yet so I just kinda threw the spaghetti that is my thought process at the wall of your brains to see if anything would stick.

Simply put:
  • Was working one day
  • (Two days later) Put grips on (rubbing alcohol got in start button housing)
  • No start
  • Relay is good
  • Starter motor turns over when relay is bypassed
  • All lights/accessories work
I've got voltage readings and continuity readings all over that look ok to me EXCEPT that there is no voltage between the two wires that connect to my starter relay coils (Yellow/Red and Green/Red). Each wire carries 10+volts when grounded, but not when read as a pair (which I thought they should when button is pressed).

I think my starter button is bad somehow, but I can't figure out how to test it before buying a new one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I just placed an order for a new Motion Pro starter button/kill switch control.
??‍♂i just want to ride. It’ll be here Saturday.
I’d still like advice testing the start button if anybody knows anything.
Otherwise, hopefully I’ll be able to confirm that was the problem this weekend.
 

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A lot to read up there.
Check the kill switch. First make sure it is not in the off, or kill position. There are tiny parts next to the start button. They get corroded, and restrict the E current.
Also check the items that are there to prevent the bike from starting. My XS400 will not start in gear, even with the clutch pulled in. Some will not start with the side stand down, unless the clutch is pulled in. Some have the system go thru the headlight. Some have a headlight delay relay. So try and determine what was stock, and what may have been changed.

UK
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
A lot to read up there.
Check the kill switch. First make sure it is not in the off, or kill position. There are tiny parts next to the start button. They get corroded, and restrict the E current.
Also check the items that are there to prevent the bike from starting. My XS400 will not start in gear, even with the clutch pulled in. Some will not start with the side stand down, unless the clutch is pulled in. Some have the system go thru the headlight. Some have a headlight delay relay. So try and determine what was stock, and what may have been changed.

UK
Thanks for coming into this.

Checked the kill switch many times. Functions correctly and is not in my way. Did my best to catch the "duh" moments before posting...but we gotta check.

The tiny parts seems ok. No corrosion visible on any electricals. Continuity is good. We're talking perfect start to no start at all so I don't think corrosion anyway. I think short or ... short...don't know how to find it though.

Considered all safety devices I can but the "clutch diode" or the blue bubbled "rectifier" in my wiring diagram above is removed and the wires are spliced. Not sure how this affects things.

No side stand switch (confirmed in wiring digram). Clutch tried in and out. Continuity checks out. Don't know any other safety devices on mine.

my headlight is tapped off of the start button so it loses power when the button is pressed. My understanding is that this is normal so the starter can take full advantage of the battery. Fits with the wiring diagram.

I don't think the previous owner added anything so much as deleted most of the indicators and gauges.

Just for fun, I edited my wiring diagram to what I think it resembles more now:
60052

(the old wiring isn't removed as much as just terminated in a rats nest behind my headlights.
 

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  • Was working one day
  • (Two days later) Put grips on (rubbing alcohol got in start button housing)
  • No start
Checked the kill switch many times. Functions correctly and is not in my way. Did my best to catch the "duh" moments before posting...but we gotta check.
That top statement is key. Did you try compressed air on the starter button? It just sounds to me like the alcohol has shorted or opened the circuit somehow. Hopefully your new one will get you going again. I hate seeing parts change without confirmation that's the problem though. Got my fingers crossed for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That top statement is key. Did you try compressed air on the starter button? It just sounds to me like the alcohol has shorted or opened the circuit somehow. Hopefully your new one will get you going again. I hate seeing parts change without confirmation that's the problem though. Got my fingers crossed for you.
Thanks for coming onboard.

Yes, I grabbed the can of air almost immediately when I realized. Felt so stupid. Started frantically trying to google "is rubbing alcohol conductive?" The ubiquitous "they" say it's good for cleaning electronic parts, but I doubt that means it's ok to dump all over a live circuit.

I guess I'm not patient enough at this point to wait for the electrical technicians to find me. I've been waiting almost a month now because of my carburetors and such so I'm itching to ride before snow. Fingers crossed.
 

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Thanks for the reply. I was hoping you'd jump on the case as I saw you took an interest in no-start issues in a sticky. Disappointed to see that most of those were "duh" moments or the usual/normal issues. Mine doesn't fit anything else I've seen yet.

Sorry for the confusion. I'm not used to talking mechanics with people yet so I just kinda threw the spaghetti that is my thought process at the wall of your brains to see if anything would stick.

Simply put:
  • Was working one day
  • (Two days later) Put grips on (rubbing alcohol got in start button housing)
  • No start
  • Relay is good
  • Starter motor turns over when relay is bypassed
  • All lights/accessories work
I've got voltage readings and continuity readings all over that look ok to me EXCEPT that there is no voltage between the two wires that connect to my starter relay coils (Yellow/Red and Green/Red). Each wire carries 10+volts when grounded, but not when read as a pair (which I thought they should when button is pressed).

I think my starter button is bad somehow, but I can't figure out how to test it before buying a new one.
Heh, it's fine. I work with computers and servers, motorcycles and cars are my hobbies.

Unfortunately, I haven't had any electrical issues like this one so I'm not sure where to start.

I had a Honda Elite with a bad kill switch. Just my luck it always stopped working in the off position. I was out in the wilderness so I was limited in my ability to test it. I discovered that putting starting fluid in it got it to work long enough to get done rallying.

But assuming it turns over with the solenoid shorted? I'd replace the start switch. The part's cheap enough that it wouldn't bother me.
 

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I guess I'm not patient enough at this point to wait for the electrical technicians to find me
Well, I think you have. But it's possible that with what you say you've done, no body has anything better to suggest than what you are doing by getting the starter switch out of the picture. I just hope there is a change once you install it. If not, then it just throws another curve into it by questioning whether the new switch is good or the correct one or at least compatible to your bike. Don't need more questions in other words. You might be forced to trace every single wire to find out where you lose the signal to spark. So you bet I'm hoping you start getting the hint of firing. Make certain that battery is always in that 13.5 or better range. Anything less becomes a question again. So keep the battery on a maintainer. Oh, and not a trickle charger. Those can fry a battery if left on all the time. I assume you know that, but just want to be certain.

Since you have a new one(starter switch) on the way, might as well be extremely careful and open the OEM switch and see if you can find a piece of corrosion that is killing the signal. I don't know what all is in there but I've read posts that suggest there are ting parts that can go flying. So I'd do it in a very clean work area and take pictures as you go so you can get it back together. Very slow time consuming task but you might find why you are losing the signal. I mean, what do you have to lose at this point. You got, supposedly, a good one coming. Only do it if you are fairly comfortable with it. I've read where others have been successful repairing one but I personally have never been inside one. Reading and doing are totally different. You are stuck so what have you got to lose though?
 

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Like hog said, getting alcohol in the switch is likely key. The alcohol might have washed corrosion down into the area where the button makes contact.
If that is what happened you can open the switch case housing halves and wash/clean the button area with contact cleaner from a spray can followed by a light oil that is electrical, and plastic, friendly to avoid corrosion.
If that doesn't do it then those switches can be removed from the housing and cleaned but that's when you gotta be REAL careful with those tiny parts inside because individual parts, like the start switch contacts, are not sold on the open market.

S F
 

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Like hog said, getting alcohol in the switch is likely key. The alcohol might have washed corrosion down into the area where the button makes contact.
If that is what happened you can open the switch case housing halves and wash/clean the button area with contact cleaner from a spray can followed by a light oil that is electrical, and plastic, friendly to avoid corrosion.
If that doesn't do it then those switches can be removed from the housing and cleaned but that's when you gotta be REAL careful with those tiny parts inside because individual parts, like the start switch contacts, are not sold on the open market.

S F
Thanks Semi, that's the kind of info he needs right now. I've not opened one
so wasn't sure what actually to watch out for. Hopefully that little bit of cleaning
will get him going. I see that thing just flying apart in my mind which is why I
have never opened one. But he has a new one coming so what's he got to lose?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Love waking up to the smell of responses in the morning.

Thank you all who have come into this, especially since i've kind of negated the need for help by skipping the rest of the diagnostics and ordering the (hopefully) offending part.

Heh, it's fine. I work with computers and servers, motorcycles and cars are my hobbies.

Unfortunately, I haven't had any electrical issues like this one so I'm not sure where to start.

I had a Honda Elite with a bad kill switch. Just my luck it always stopped working in the off position. I was out in the wilderness so I was limited in my ability to test it. I discovered that putting starting fluid in it got it to work long enough to get done rallying.

But assuming it turns over with the solenoid shorted? I'd replace the start switch. The part's cheap enough that it wouldn't bother me.
Miss Mercedes -- seems like a pretty good hobby, albeit frustrating at the moment. Computers and servers are probably even more frustrating when you start seeing electrical issues.
So i looked up a Honda Elite
60054
and i'm having difficulty marrying it to the idea of "rallying in the wilderness." Please explain in lyrics, prose or photos... Also, starter fluid in the kill switch?? I'm confused.
New switch on the way (y)

Well, I think you have. But it's possible that with what you say you've done, no body has anything better to suggest than what you are doing by getting the starter switch out of the picture. I just hope there is a change once you install it. If not, then it just throws another curve into it by questioning whether the new switch is good or the correct one or at least compatible to your bike. Don't need more questions in other words. You might be forced to trace every single wire to find out where you lose the signal to spark. So you bet I'm hoping you start getting the hint of firing. Make certain that battery is always in that 13.5 or better range. Anything less becomes a question again. So keep the battery on a maintainer. Oh, and not a trickle charger. Those can fry a battery if left on all the time. I assume you know that, but just want to be certain.

Since you have a new one(starter switch) on the way, might as well be extremely careful and open the OEM switch and see if you can find a piece of corrosion that is killing the signal. I don't know what all is in there but I've read posts that suggest there are ting parts that can go flying. So I'd do it in a very clean work area and take pictures as you go so you can get it back together. Very slow time consuming task but you might find why you are losing the signal. I mean, what do you have to lose at this point. You got, supposedly, a good one coming. Only do it if you are fairly comfortable with it. I've read where others have been successful repairing one but I personally have never been inside one. Reading and doing are totally different. You are stuck so what have you got to lose though?
"I just hope there is a change once you install it." Yes...yes...oh please yes.
It should be compatible from what i can see. Should just have to reconfigure the connector.
Yes, i learned about the difference between chargers and maintainers these past couple months. No clue when i started. Thank you for pointing it out though, i'm sure plenty of people don't realize.
Sounds like a good idea. I'll definitely be opening up the old one (carefully) once i confirm the new one is working?. Doesn't look like there's far to dig, but getting the actual button out will be my goal. See if there is anything burned or otherwise corroded. Then i have an OEM spare (if i fix it), that can't hurt. I'll document it if i do it.

And agreed, nothing to lose these days.

Like hog said, getting alcohol in the switch is likely key. The alcohol might have washed corrosion down into the area where the button makes contact.
If that is what happened you can open the switch case housing halves and wash/clean the button area with contact cleaner from a spray can followed by a light oil that is electrical, and plastic, friendly to avoid corrosion.
If that doesn't do it then those switches can be removed from the housing and cleaned but that's when you gotta be REAL careful with those tiny parts inside because individual parts, like the start switch contacts, are not sold on the open market.

S F
I'll be popping it open as both you and hog are suggesting. I'll be slow and methodical. I'm pretty curious about what's inside the actual button. I've only gotten in the main housing so only see the contacts for the wires coming in.
Does Electronic Contact Cleaner have any negative effects on circuits or is it safe to just spray onto contacts and the like? Can it short things out?


Thank you all for being interested. I'll let you know what i come up with this weekend.
 

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Give or take every couple months I participate in the offroad navigational rally called the Gambler 500. The idea is that you take a cheap (preferably $500 or less) impractical vehicle offroad for 500 miles. I like to push the envelope with my vehicles. On my first run I drove my daily driver smart fortwo. On my second run I decided to take a Honda Elite 150. That little scooter was amazing. It went through deep mud, water crossings, and terrain that cars turned around on. Did it all on street tires. It only died because I never cleaned the carb and who knows what it sucked up.
Land vehicle Vehicle Motor vehicle Car Transport
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Give or take every couple months I participate in the offroad navigational rally called the Gambler 500. The idea is that you take a cheap (preferably $500 or less) impractical vehicle offroad for 500 miles. I like to push the envelope with my vehicles. On my first run I drove my daily driver smart fortwo. On my second run I decided to take a Honda Elite 150. That little scooter was amazing. It went through deep mud, water crossings, and terrain that cars turned around on. Did it all on street tires. It only died because I never cleaned the carb and who knows what it sucked up. View attachment 60057
That’s pretty awesome sounding. Where does that take place? Very impressive little scooter.
 

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Does Electronic Contact Cleaner have any negative effects on circuits or is it safe to just spray onto contacts and the like?
Nope. Well, over use of anything can. But electrical cleaner is what it is for a reason, safe.
 

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That’s pretty awesome sounding. Where does that take place? Very impressive little scooter.
Even more amusing, it was my first time ever riding offroad!

Most states will have their own rally once or twice a year. This year I've run Illinois twice, Southern Indiana, Tennessee, and will close out the year running Northwest Indiana. Most of these are definitely catered to cars, but with enough determination you can run a bike on any of them.

Next year I hope to double the amount of rallies and hopefully make it out to the "OG" rally in Oregon.
 
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