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1986 Aspencade SEi
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362 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just replaced my head gaskets, and my '83 Interstate has been hors' de combat for the past six months. I charged the battery but when I tried to start it, the starter would just spin, but not engage the engine. Last summer I knew that I was on the last season for my battery and would certainly have to replace it in the spring.
So here's the question - Can the battery be bad enough that it would cause the starter to spin, but not kick the bendix out enough to engage the flywheel, or is it likely that my starter needs rebuilding?
 

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Official "Cheeky Plonker"
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It's more likely to be the cold weather and thick engine oil but that and a failing battery pretty much go hand in hand.
 

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Gummed up starter clutch more likely. Try draining quart of oil, add MMO or seafoam or diesel run it for 50 miles easy. Then let it sit over night to cool off try starting..if works..now drain oil and put new in if not.. Well you could try starter rebuild but more likely starter clutch needs to come out and be checked/cleaned or rebuild. Lot bigger job..engine has to come out.

You try putting a warmer over the starter clutch area..light bulb, wife's hair drier..etc. get the clutch warm to loosen oil/sludge...Same idea as oil drain..etc. but quicker and not as effective.

Also there was a thread on how to access the starter clutch springs/pegs..by drilling a hole in exactly the right spot..then rotating the clutch to squirt solvent in each spring shaft..the thread had pics adn measurements..seems like a good thing to do if you are going to keep the bike for 30 more years??? found the pics I saved for this...
 

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Still Learning
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13,274 Posts
It is sludge in the crankcase and starter clutch, and using improper/too heavy or old oil. When was the last time you changed the oil and what did you put in for oil? Is the bike in a heated storage or cold storage these past 6 months of MIA? The cold weather brings this on. Warm you bike up with heater in the garage, if it's outside there in WI and not heated, you may have to wait till summer to get it going now with the cold setting in. First is you have to get it warm to get it started, then do the motor flush once started and warmed up.
As RB says, Use the MMO. Drain or suck out a qt of your oil, replace w/MMO to full, ride 1 ride of 200-300 miles to get the motor fully hot, (50 miles is not enough to get the sludge hot enough to flow out) , lots of shifting up and down, RPMs below 3,000 RPMs.... change the oil and filter when you get back while the sludge is still hot to get it out before it congeals again.

Use Delo400LE 15w40 oil(Walmart $13/gal). Many members have been using this successfully in Canada down to the desert SW.
There are many posts on this, one just the other day. Use the forum search tool.
 

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Premium Member
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I just replaced my head gaskets, and my '83 Interstate has been hors' de combat for the past six months. I charged the battery but when I tried to start it, the starter would just spin, but not engage the engine. Last summer I knew that I was on the last season for my battery and would certainly have to replace it in the spring.
So here's the question - Can the battery be bad enough that it would cause the starter to spin, but not kick the bendix out enough to engage the flywheel, or is it likely that my starter needs rebuilding?
If you know or think the battery is toast take it to autozone or walmart or somewhere and have them check it for free, yes the battery can cause that.
If the battery is good or you get a new one and still have problems then check your ground and starter wires. If you still have a problem then wait for the warmer weather and run sea foam or MMO in your oil and then change it you'll have to push start it to run the oil for 100-200 easy miles and then if you still have problems I would think a starter refresh is next.

Anyway most of what I mentioned you'll have to do anyway, I just tried to put it in the order I would follow. Good Luck.
 

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Premium Member
1986 Aspencade SEi
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362 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all the great replies. The cold oil combined with insufficient battery power seem to be the most likely culprits.
I changed the oil just last spring with 10W40 as always, but I didn't run Seafoam through it like I sometimes do before changing the oil. The bike is kept in an attached garage, but it isn't normally heated. I did run the heater for the past couple of days while I was changing the head gaskets, but that means it got up to about 50 degrees, fairly comfortable while working, but probably not warm enough to overcome the sludge. I'll try warming the starter and engine compartment and see if that helps. I'll soon be getting a new battery for it and changing the oil so I'll try the Delo 15W40 and see how that works.
 
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