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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have a 1988 gl1500 with about 50k on the odometer. Sat in storage for years, just purchased it form the original owner about a month ago. Replaced the fuel pump, cleaned out the gas tank, changed all the fluids and the tires and it runs like a watch. I went to ride it the other day and it wouldn't start. I heard all the relays click and tried the jump box on it, no luck. Removed the side covers to expose the starter and battery. Put a test meter on the hot lead at the starter. When i pressed the start button volts dropped to 4. disconnected the wire from the starter and tested the wire meter read 12 volts. removed the starter from the bike, bench tested it by placing the negative from the jump box on the starter and the positive lead to the lug on the side of the starter. nothing there. Is the starter bad? Will a starter from a newer 1500 work if I just connect one of the leads? Got a starter from ebay, bench tested it and it doesn't run when I bench test it either. I just want to ride.... HELP
 

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It might be your battery has a dead short internally. Have it load tested at Autozone for free.

You can often refresh the starters by opening them up and cleaning them, replace brushes if they are worn.
Similar to this
http://www.goldwingfacts.com/starterrefresh.htm
 

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Welcome:waving:ayzpilot
 

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Welcome to the forum AYZPilot. I suspect your battery is bad or at least badly discharged. You are on the right track with the starter test. Negative lead on starter case (be sure you are not on paint) positive lead on the starter post and the starter should spin.
 

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I have a 1988 gl1500 with about 50k on the odometer. ...

... Put a test meter on the hot lead at the starter. When i pressed the start button volts dropped to 4. disconnected the wire from the starter and tested the wire meter read 12 volts. ... bench tested it by placing the negative from the jump box on the starter and the positive lead to the lug on the side of the starter. nothing there.

A few key points on the 1988 starter, and I took some liberty with your post for some other indications...

The '88 & '89 starters all have TWO lugs unless the starting system has been modified. The case of the starter is NOT grounded for these years. In operation, starter Relay "B" for the '88-'89 years would provide a switched ground to the starter through the second lug.

How many large gauge wires were attached to the starter you removed from your 1988?

It would be helpful to check the performance of Starter Relay A (large solenoid just forward of the battery) by measuring battery voltage on the large-wire connections (one should be full time 12V and the other see 12V only when cranking). Also, check the performance of Starter Relay "B" (larger solenoid just rearward of the battery) it should switch a ground and ONLY if Starter Relay A is functioning.

Post back with what you find, and I'm sure we'll get this solved for you.

A few notes:
  • Everything here assumes that your battery, all wires, and connections are in perfect shape -- something that I don't see was tested on the bike - you mention that the "hot" wire to the starter dropped to 2 volts - what was the battery output and the voltage on the two posts of Relay A? Also, what were you using for a ground reference? If not the battery's negative post, you would need to measure the cable connecting points for all of the Relay B ground circuit as well. (As posted, a weak ground and Relay B not switching because the reverse gears were partially engaged could produce the 2V measures if you were using the engine case or bike frame for ground reference)
  • If Relay A works and Relay B does not, Check the 5A fuses in the rubber cover near the negative battery terminal and ALSO verify that the Reverse Switch (the 'stud' type switch bolted into the right side of the block kinda below the reverse shift cables) is providing a good ground -- the 5A fuse is in the positive side of Relay B's coil and the Reverse Switch provides the ground... a lot of people blow this 5A fuse when jumping or charging their bikes...
  • If Relay A works and Relay B is also working (switching), then run your starter to the local auto parts store and bench test it there -- Looking from the rear of the 2-lug starter with one lug pointing nearly downward (5 o'clock) and the other lug in the 2 o'clock position (similar to it's installed orientation) the Lug in the 2 o'clock position would be positive and the other negative. Have them measure the current draw on the starter and post what they find.
The Starter system on your '88 has a boat-load of safety interlocks to keep you from starting in unsafe conditions for both you and the bike. Given that this bike has been sitting a while and that you've had it only a month, we may be chasing something sticky or dirty in those systems, so it'll help to keep an open mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A few key points on the 1988 starter, and I took some liberty with your post for some other indications...

The '88 & '89 starters all have TWO lugs unless the starting system has been modified. The case of the starter is NOT grounded for these years. In operation, starter Relay "B" for the '88-'89 years would provide a switched ground to the starter through the second lug.

How many large gauge wires were attached to the starter you removed from your 1988?

It would be helpful to check the performance of Starter Relay A (large solenoid just forward of the battery) by measuring battery voltage on the large-wire connections (one should be full time 12V and the other see 12V only when cranking). Also, check the performance of Starter Relay "B" (larger solenoid just rearward of the battery) it should switch a ground and ONLY if Starter Relay A is functioning.

Post back with what you find, and I'm sure we'll get this solved for you.

A few notes:
  • Everything here assumes that your battery, all wires, and connections are in perfect shape -- something that I don't see was tested on the bike - you mention that the "hot" wire to the starter dropped to 2 volts - what was the battery output and the voltage on the two posts of Relay A? Also, what were you using for a ground reference? If not the battery's negative post, you would need to measure the cable connecting points for all of the Relay B ground circuit as well. (As posted, a weak ground and Relay B not switching because the reverse gears were partially engaged could produce the 2V measures if you were using the engine case or bike frame for ground reference)
  • If Relay A works and Relay B does not, Check the 5A fuses in the rubber cover near the negative battery terminal and ALSO verify that the Reverse Switch (the 'stud' type switch bolted into the right side of the block kinda below the reverse shift cables) is providing a good ground -- the 5A fuse is in the positive side of Relay B's coil and the Reverse Switch provides the ground... a lot of people blow this 5A fuse when jumping or charging their bikes...
  • If Relay A works and Relay B is also working (switching), then run your starter to the local auto parts store and bench test it there -- Looking from the rear of the 2-lug starter with one lug pointing nearly downward (5 o'clock) and the other lug in the 2 o'clock position (similar to it's installed orientation) the Lug in the 2 o'clock position would be positive and the other negative. Have them measure the current draw on the starter and post what they find.
The Starter system on your '88 has a boat-load of safety interlocks to keep you from starting in unsafe conditions for both you and the bike. Given that this bike has been sitting a while and that you've had it only a month, we may be chasing something sticky or dirty in those systems, so it'll help to keep an open mind.

OK, before I removed the original starter i put my test leads on the positive lug of the starter. When I press the start button volts would drop to 4, I had lots of power going to the battery via jump box and the battery is charged in good condition. When I pulled the wire from the starter and tested it the same way it read 12 volts, I think I had a short in the old starter and purchased another bad starter through ebay. Both starters would ohm out and show direct contact when I placed my gauge on each lug. I can't get either starter to turn on the bench, If I hook the jump box to the starter, black lead on one lug and red lead on the other it is a direct connection and sparks like touching the two directly together. I took the original one apart, looked to me that both lugs where hot. One for start and one for reverse with two different relays controlling the power ?
 

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OK, before I removed the original starter i put my test leads on the positive lug of the starter. When I press the start button volts would drop to 4, I had lots of power going to the battery via jump box and the battery is charged in good condition. When I pulled the wire from the starter and tested it the same way it read 12 volts,

I can't get either starter to turn on the bench, If I hook the jump box to the starter, black lead on one lug and red lead on the other it is a direct connection and sparks like touching the two directly together. I took the original one apart, looked to me that both lugs where hot. One for start and one for reverse with two different relays controlling the power ?
If everything were working properly you would see 9-10V on the starter + wire. 4V would mean almost a dead short and battery cables would heat quickly and likely melt. Since no melting next reasonable guess is battery or relay A not providing full current through when closed, 12V no load (disconnected) and 4V with relay B closed and starter + wire connected.

The starter draws 120A and will spark when loose leads are attached. One lug is + and the other - as Stan wrote and should not be reversed. Starter always turns in one direction only. I am not familiar with jump boxes and might not be the correct item to test high draw items. Use a regular battery and jumper cables observing proper polarity of starter when testing on bench. Have your volt meter attached to fully charged good battery when benching the starter. No way it should drop below 10V while starter turning (no load) unless battery or starter are defective. If the starter still does not turn it is defective. If you have no jumper cables use some heavier gauge pieces of wire which might be hanging around the house. Use the battery in the car as MC battery cannot be verified as OK without proper testing which has not been done so far with a load and voltage test. Poor battery to engine ground could also be causing the problem
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
got the starter motor turning thanks to your advice, reinstalled it on the bike, in the am i will hook up the leads and check relay B. I might get to ride this weekend... YAHOOO
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Rode it around town today, put about 50 miles on it. stopped at the auto parts store, a buddies house, mcdonalds. Worked great and started every time. Got home mowed the front lawn, went to take it back out for a ride and it wouldn't start. Sounds like A and B are working, checked all the fuses and when I meter the battery terminals there is no voltage drop when I press the start button. Reverse switch?. I think I am gonna buy a boat....
 

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Is neutral light on? Pull in the clutch and try it. Then cycle reverse lever a couple of times and try again.

Then check for voltage at small yellow/red wire of relay A with start button pushed, with button pushed both of the large lugs of A should also have voltage.

If the above is OK go to relay B and check for voltage at both large lugs with button pushed. If only one side of relay has power check small yellow/red wire of B for power.

Last thing to check would then be the reverse switch on side of motor by dipstick. This is the ground point for start control wiring and should have continuity to ground when reverse lever is in forward normal riding position.

EDIT: Relay B main lugs of the 88-89 is on the - side of starter and will have continuity to ground when energized through yellow/red wire of B with button pushed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Your information is priceless. I will head out to the lab in the morning and go over the wiring. I'll keep you posted. Thanks..
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Neutral light is on, clutch pulled in, checked for ground at reverse switch, good. Red / yellow wire at relay A has 12 volts only when button is pushed but relay doesn't transfer power to starter side when button is pushed. Red /yellow wire at relay B has 12 volts all the time and both lugs have 12 volts even when the starter button is not being pushed. Battery stays at 12 volts when start button is pushed, no draw of power, all the gauges stay on, headlight does cut off correctly when starter button is pushed. Checked all the fuses 30A 5A and all of them at the fuse panel.
 

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Neutral light is on, clutch pulled in, checked for ground at reverse switch, good. Red / yellow wire at relay A has 12 volts only when button is pushed but relay doesn't transfer power to starter side when button is pushed. Red /yellow wire at relay B has 12 volts all the time and both lugs have 12 volts even when the starter button is not being pushed. Battery stays at 12 volts when start button is pushed, no draw of power, all the gauges stay on, headlight does cut off correctly when starter button is pushed. Checked all the fuses 30A 5A and all of them at the fuse panel.
With button pushed ground brown/red wire of relay A, does it crank. Are the relays OEM or ? Picture might help.

Any non OEM wiring on the bike. Did reverse work before, any other electrical problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Still no luck, I can't stand electrical problems. I am going to scrap it. Too bad its a beautiful bike.
 
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