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Engine cranks but no start when there is dew on the bike.

Thought it was only after a rain, bike sleeps outside, but now we're getting dew in the mornings and same thing happens. Cranks over strong, have charged battery, have to let sit for a couple dry days and it runs fine. Sometimes after extended attempts at starting it will fire up and run for a few seconds then just shut off like I hit the kill switch, when this happens it will usually continue this for longer run times between stalling until finally it runs normal. Other times I'll get severe popping and backfiring, with an occasional sudden stopping of the starter like the timing is way out of wack.

It's always had what I consider a very weak spark...resting a plug against the block and turning over I can't even see a spark, my son (better eyesight) says there is a faint blue spark. Sitting in the shade, with my hands cupped around the plug sometimes I can detect a very tiny white spark. Couple months back I pulled all of the connectors I could get to and cleaned with contact cleaner and added dielectric grease. Seemed to start easier, run smoother, but no effect on the spark.

Back when I did the connections I cleaned the kill switch. Couple days ago when having trouble starting due to the dew I could hear a 'click' of an arc or relay near the battery when turning the kill switch on & off. Never noticed this before, but don't know if I've ever paid attention to it.

I've tried searching for an answer here and google. Common issues I don't think applicable....water in spark plug holes I don't think dew would collect enough to short out; ignition switch doesn't appear to get moisture from rain or dew; I don't think it's fuel related as when it's dry out it starts and runs fine (been riding to work past couple weeks in the low 40's, full choke hit start and it fires right up even after sitting all weekend); no issues with lights, horn, turn signals, dash. Few months back I check the resistors in the plug wires and the wires themselves ohm's were good.

I have seen in the past some occasional arcing from the side of the spark plug wires but it would start and run fine. Could the moisture be allowing more voltage to escape, causing a hard start then burning off allowing enough voltage to the plugs to run? I wasn't smart enough to check and clean the coil lead wires while I was doing my poor boy kit, should I drop the radiator and clean the connections?

Can you replace just the spark plug wires with out the plug caps? I don't know how they are connected in the plug end cap...do they pull out? I'd like to be able to just go to the parts store, not have to order wires with caps. Am I even headed in the right direction to solve this? Of course I'm wanting a quick easy fix, it's the weekend I'd like to go for a ride not spend the time working on it!!

Thanks for any help!!
 

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Happy Goldwinger
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Try spraying ignition sealer on the plug leads and the coils. That has got me through Winter more than once.
 

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sounds like the plug wires. Bein from arizona the heat and sun will take its toll on the wires.You can buy wires with plug boots with resistors in the at any good RV motorcycle type shop.You can also use standard auto wire and boots and use resistor plugs.
There defanatly is a problem if you have seem arking at the wires.
wilf
 

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sounds like the plug wires. Bein from arizona the heat and sun will take its toll on the wires.You can buy wires with plug boots with resistors in the at any good RV motorcycle type shop.You can also use standard auto wire and boots and use resistor plugs.
There defanatly is a problem if you have seem arking at the wires.
wilf
 

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Still Learning
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Your plug wires aching as you said, is the problem. They have cracks where the moisture is getting in there and shorting out the current to the plugs. Best to replace the wires and the plug caps. I bought the wire and plug caps at a local mom & pop cycle shop, @$30 total 2 years ago. 6 1/2'- 7' wire, I used what they had on hand which was bulk roll of 7mm copper core plug wire- cut 4 pcs. @ 18"- 20" and 4 new NGK # XD05F (for GL1200)plug caps . The caps screw on into the wire. the coil end have end caps and metal prongs you can usually reuse if careful.
New plugs are $2-$2.50 ea.
 

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the stock gl wires are just solid core copper wires and easily unscrew from the caps and the coil,even easier is to buy this set from summitt racing and just have to cut them to length and install on coils,works even better if you have two goldwings or a friend to split the cost
http://www.summitracing.com/parts/TAY-73253/?rtype=10
 

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Discussion Starter #7
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Thanks for the replies. I spent 1/2 the day looking for bulk wire in town, no such luck. Finally, last place I checked understood what I was trying to do and let me dig thru their stock of single wires, roughly $3 a piece. By the time we got home it started to sprinkle. Pulled #4 cap and saw a puddle of water on the plug!! Tried drilling the drain hole by hand with some 10ga solid wire, got somewhat thru it and it started getting too wet out to continue.

One thing I did notice today...the 'clicking' I hear when operating the kill switch seems to be coming from somewhere near the carburetors, not the battery. Can't narrow it down, it's not inside the false tank you can hear it the most near the carb throttle linkage...what bothers me about it is that is not consistent. I would think if it were a relay it would 'click' every time the switch is moved. Any ideas on what it could be? And I guess it's not really a 'click' sound like a possible electrical arc, more like a faint soft 'clunk' < if that makes any sense!
 

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Could it be the fuel pump making the clicking sound? It is on the right side just behind #3 carburetor, round chrome thing with fuel lines and wires going to it. Some say they do not click when you turn the switch on but the one I have does.
 

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Could be the fuel pump, hard to tell because it's so intermittent. There's a plastic cap with a single wire right in front of the pump (toward other side of bike) sounds like it may be coming from there.

If the weather holds up I'll be pulling the lowers off to replace the plug wires today. Hopefully that's all I need to get the darn thing running again!
 

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Get a cover..rain or sun can't beat it to help you protect the bike.
 

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ceasefire49 wrote:
Get a cover..rain or sun can't beat it to help you protect the bike.
And don't forget to buy a couple of cans of Scotchguard to use on the cover about once a month to help keep it water and UVresistant!!
 

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cantwin1 wrote:
Could be the fuel pump, hard to tell because it's so intermittent. There's a plastic cap with a single wire right in front of the pump (toward other side of bike) sounds like it may be coming from there.
That is the oil pressure switch, it does not make a clicking sound.
 

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Still Learning
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Cantwin1
Did you get this fixed and running?
 

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1987 GL1200 Interstate
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neoracer wrote:
the stock gl wires are just solid core copper wires and easily unscrew from the caps and the coil,even easier is to buy this set from summitt racing and just have to cut them to length and install on coils,works even better if you have two goldwings or a friend to split the cost
http://www.summitracing.com/parts/TAY-73253/?rtype=10
The stock wires are stranded copper, Neo.
 

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my 85 gl1200 does the same thing. but no water ever touches the bike its in a car port. i live in az and it doesent rain often, like 20 times a year, but each time my bike wont start. sometimes when tapping the wires around the ecu right above the air filter will get it to fire up but i didnt have any luck with that today.
 

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old dry wires do not need "rain" to touch them,they will absorb moisture like a sponge does,spraying them with any sealer or such just puts off the situation,wires on the 1200 are easily replaced
 
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