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bike has a 1 year old starter motor. went to start and nothing. nothing spinning, with start switch depressed, headlights dim - sounds like the motor is locked. battery is solid - new battery within last year, good voltage and headlight is brite then with starter pushed, goes very dim so I think my electricals are OK.

removed the starter motor and inspected, cleaned brushes and commutator (got them nice and bright). directly connected battery to motor and it spins fine.

reinstalled started, hit the switch and I hear an ugly loud metallic 'clunk'. Hit the switch again and back to the original no sounds, just headlight goes very dim.

the gears inside the motor look fine, with adequate grease. the gear that fits over the starter that hangs in the chain is good (ok on grease, no teeth broken or missing). it seems to me inserting the end of the motor into the gear hanging in the chain should be harder than what it is. hanging in the chain, that gear is not exactly centered, some rocking of the starter before it seats (and mounting screws line up) is needed. other than moving about 1/2" away from and closer to the bike frame, that gear has no place to go once the motor is being inserted.

i've repeated the removal, reinstallation of the starter motor several times, always with same results, same loud 'clunk', then nothing.

any ideas what the noise is, or where to look next??

thanks folks.

jim
waxhaw, nc
 

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The Irish Crew
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Did you check if the engine is locked up Jim? Stick it in gear and turn the back wheel to see if the engine turns freely.
 

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Maybe pop the spark plugs out in case there is a cylinder filled with fluid causing hydrolock.
 

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Bob Cassel
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Sounds either hydrolocked or frozen motor. +1 on FitzAl's suggestion, but I'd go further and pull the plugs before I tried to turn it over. And I'd use a 12 mm on the stator bolt rather than the rear wheel, but that's just me. With a direct bolt/wrench contact, you'd be able to feel if it's a mechanical impact very easily.
 

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Bob Cassel
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OH, and only turn the motor over in the way the bolt would normally tighten, never to the counter clockwise, you don't want to loosen that bolt.
 

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Do a voltage drop test, voltmeter on the battery then start the bike. During the start process the battery is delivering what it has and the starter motor is taking it, but if the starter needs too much or the battery is not up to it the current will be too high and voltage will drop . Anything at 10 V or less the system needs to be charged and looked at.

The DC motor is a series wound DC electric motor and must have a load on the motor about the same as the cold engine. Driving that motor without a load is almost meaningless except that you will know 12 V does make it spin.

With a proper load on the motor torque can develop and as torque is there and RPM the armature and field along with amp checks via the brushes can be done. A no load test must be kept brief as this motor kept running without its load can develop extremely high RPM.
Working load relates to working amps, this motor is about .75 to 1 HP but under normal loads can develop up to 5-6 HP while working. This is why you must let the motor rest to cool between start trials.

The motor along with the start contactor are the loads electrically but the bike engine is the mechanical load. The battery has to deliver enough power to over come these loads and normally it takes about 100 A at 12 V with a 1 V drop, around 11 V. Testing all this should indicate these numbers but most do not have an amps tester so a volt tester can be used. But a volt drop is only an indication and anything around 10 V indicates that either the total load is too great or the total electrical voltage is too small.

The starting system is a non fused limitless current system. This system will deliver what it can. When delivering too much to start a starter motor to engage an internal combustion engine that starter will work:
until you release the start button
until there is not enough electrical power
until it burns itself out

When any of the above takes place the electrical system can easily be damaged, no fusing with this system. Likely damages:
Excessive amps create heat, enough heat to burn larger cables, to make them brittle, to melt solder, to weld contacts together and not so easily seen, destroyed internal connections of the battery. The massive current flow is in series with the plates of the battery out to and through the contactor, through all the large cables and through the connections and into the motor then back through the ground.

Often it is this route back through grounds that makes the difficulties for the motor, but in a series circuit all the current goes through everything in the circuit and this is why everything must be clean, tight and in good shape.

The starter motor is a magnetic device and like all magnetic devices the total amps when used to start the motor can be larger than when it is running at full load. Starting amps typically are 3-6x the running amps. So when the start button is first pushed and that inrush of starting current that starter motor draws enormous amounts od current that diminishes as RPM gets higher. So in reality the beginning of the start is high very high in current and as the parts of a second go by the current settles down.

All this consumption of current is delivered by the battery and on a bike the battery is typically 20Ah. The amp hour rating in theory is amps x time to a maximum of 20 amp-hour. The numbers are multiples of amps and time, for example 20Ah is the same as 40A x 1/2 hr, 80A x 1/4 hr or 160 A x 1/8. As the amps increase the time gets smaller and smaller in theory, but voltage is strange and so are motors that spin.

Motors take less current when spinning as compared to starting to spin and voltage needs to be there in order to cause current flow. The battery loses both voltage and current flow as its used because it is a storage tank and the alternator can not deliver any amps until it has rotation, so at some point that battery must have enough reserve power to carry the load. The load changes dramatically from starting to running and voltage plays a critical part. The systems on a bike are 12 V nominal, in reality the systems vary from about 10 V to 15 V and when the battery has used its supply the voltage can drop to 10 V or lower.

A 10 V supply in a 12 V system leaves nothing to operate so time is needed for the battery to replenish and this only happens when the alternator is spinning fast enough and as we know these 4 or 6 cylinder motors are cold blooded and it takes time to warm and operate. Another reason to have reserve power, because the ignition system will take energy.

A start motor removed and checked and deemed good may still be bad because of:
wiring, field or armature.

Field coils and armature coils are in series and if either are bad the whole motor is bad.

Brush contact with the commutator could be bad.

Brush es could be stuck

Commutator is worn, the segments are worn down so low that the mica insulation between the segments is at the same height as the copper bars. The mica needs to be undercut.

Lubrication, positioning security of the mounts spacers with the armature and bearing condition play an important role in operation. If the armature is able to be out of position as it rotates or bearing wear is present then the motor itself will get jammed.

All components leading up to the starting motor and then back through the grounds must be intact, clean, supple and able to carry the currents and withstand the voltage.

The above does not take the gearing, greasing, chain roller drive of the clutch mechanical system that could be dragging the starter system down.

There are a lot of interconnected systems with starting an engine and all of them must be in good working condition. You cannot assume, you need to test, record and look at the total system then break it down and verify each component and then the total and leaving out any part could cause you to redo the testing of the complete system.

No short cuts because there is simply too much involved and you could be left stranded.
 

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1. Was your new starter OEM?

2. Don't turn the engine over unless the starter is back in place.

3. It should go back in place fairly easily. Really not much to bind as long as it's lined
up.
 

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Wow! That's a ton of information and thank you. I think I'll go after the hydrolock first and keep the forum posted on what I find.
 

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I had an '81 1100 that had exactly the same symptoms, worried me to death. Found out it was just hydro-locked. Probably on the left side because that's the way it's leaning on the kickstand. Just pull the spark plugs on that side and run the starter. If that was the problem you'll have nasty fluid shoot out about 8 feet so be careful where you do this.
I found that out the hard way, she just started speaking to me again.
 

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Parked the bike about 6' from my wife's flowerbed, pulled the plugs and hit the starter. coackk64 nailed it.some spray out of all 4 cylinders but front left was LOADED (overshot the flowerbed I'm here to report!).

Replaced plugs and fired it up. Just got back from my first ride in about 2 weeks. Thank you all!!
 
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