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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My '83 1100I had a little trouble starting yesterday. When I hit the starter button there was a clunk (I assume from the solenoid pushing the gear into the flywheel) but the starter didn't turn. After 3 -4 presses of the starter button the starter came to life and I was off and running. After riding for an hour and it sitting for a couple of hours the same thing happened but as before it started and all was good. I've had this issue with our car and I ended up replacing the starter. So this morning I did some research on removing and cleaning the starter and had a plan to do that this weekend. But this is where the story gets good . . . I went to the garage to get the bike started for my commute to work and when I pushed the starter button . . . BOOM! The sound was as loud as a .22 caliber gun going off right beside me! There was a slight discharge of blue smoke and a faint smell of burning wires but I couldn't isolate where the smoke came from (probably because I jumped into the next county when it went BOOM and it took a while to return to the garage!) I turned off the ignition and disconnected the positive lead to the battery, which, by the way, looks fine but I didn't have time to test it since the clock was ticking to get to work.

OK, so, where do I start troubleshooting this issue? What could have exploded when I pushed the starter button and WHY would it explode?? While I have done a lot of mechanic work (my dad was a mechanic), this issue has me extremely intimidated to go digging into the electrical system. So, please be clear with any suggestions.

I'm just glad that it didn't happen in the parking garage I was in last night. Every car alarm on the floor would have gone off!!

Paul
 

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It aint rocket science
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Most likely a backfire from leaking/dripping carbs filling jugs up with fuel.

Do you shut the fuel supply off when parked.

What is the bike doing now, all the lights working. And check your oil level and quality (dilution).
 

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The GL1100's were known for the Carbs getting out of sync or the floats sticking and putting to much gasoline in the engine resulting in a backfire. I would guess from what you have said that you have two problems. One is the excess fuel whick could be a stuck float of Jet first thing when you do get it running run a can of Seafoam through the bike then two tanks of gas then another can.
The burning smell most likely is associated with your starter and one of it's connections. So I would start there checking the wires from the starter all the way back up to the Selenoid and I will bet something got hot there. If not something is probabily bad inside the starter. I have replaced my Starter on my 1981 GL1100 3 times over the years. If you look around there are several places that do an exchange for a pretty reasonable price. The starter just wasn't really big enough for the bike so anyway I would start there.
 

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Hopefully its just an electrical issue and not the engine hydrolocking causing big damage.
Definitely check your oil level and make sure its not diluted with fuel....and yes turn that fuel off every time you turn the engine off if you havent been....
But AFTER you verify theres no fuel in the oil, then start looking towards the starter/solenioid.

I cleaned my starter and rebrushed it this year, pretty simple really, and most of the time I dont even hear it crank before it fires. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the thoughts one and all. I am eager to get home and start looking thinks over tonight. I'll keep you posted. I hereby solemnly resolve to turn off the gas valve each time I shut the bike down . . . but in the three months that I've had the bike I've not noticed gas in the crankcase (and I have changed the oil twice: the first time because who knows how long the old oil had been in there and the second time after adding Seafoam and running it a couple hundred miles) nor has it ever backfired while starting it before. But we shall see . . .

Thanks again . . . and any other thoughts are welcome, too!

Paul
 

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Ahh good, no fuel in oil...good suggestions above and when checking connections at starter/solenoid, dont forget the main ground cable.....a multimeter will come in handy as well ,to see if youre getting good voltage to your starter through the solenoid

When my starter started failing, it would crank pretty well cold, but when trying to start after a quick stop, I would get just a click or very slow cranking...good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, the winner is . . . hydrolocked!

Organism Macro photography

The picture is very overexposed to get enough light into the cylinder (the black thing to the left is my Maglite) but there is literally a puddle of gas in there! This is #1; #4 was almost as bad . . . which is on the opposite side.

I ran the starter with the kill switch off to force out the gas and then blew out each cylinder with compressed air, reinstalled the plugs, said a little prayer and hit the starter. She came to life instantly and purred as she has before (Yay! No damage! What a relief!). After letting it get good and warmed up, I turned the petcock off and just let it run until it quit (I was really surprised how long it takes to use up the fuel in the carbs. It ran for several minutes).

So, I realize that my next step is rebuilding the carbs, but if I didn't do that right away will turning off the gas keep the cylinders from flooding? There is still gas in the float bowls that will leak down through, right? So, do I have to park it until I rebuild the carbs?
 

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No, your good just shut the fuel off a couple of minutes before reaching your destination.:)
 

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Yah, what he said....and you may not need a full rebuild on the carbs. It could be as simple as pulling carbs, clean them well, set the float heights, and be on your way....but you never really know until you get in there....just keep an eye on your oil level and whats in your crankcase and you should be fine.
I think if it were mine, Id change the oil/filter again for peace if mind....if you had fuel pooling like that id say some made it into the crankcase...good find!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I left the gas line off the petcock last night to see if it would leak but it was as dry as a bone this morning. So, I threw caution to the wind and drove the Wing to work, turning off the fuel when I arrived as suggested. I went out at break time and also went for a ride at lunch and had no issues starting it. I was thinking that the bowls would still empty into the cylinders as before even with the gas shut off but it must be like putting your thumb over the end of a straw and the valve doesn't allow the gas to flow. I put a half can of Seafoam in the tank before leaving this morning and I do plan to change the oil like you said 82_Wing although I don't detect any contamination.

Thanks, again, one and all. I'm off to study up on rebuilding the carbs.
 

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Even if the float bowls emptied -- that's only a few CCs and could evaporate well enough -- the issue is more that when the float bowl begins to drain, and the petcock is open, that the fuel drained will be replaced, so more fuel will drain and that would continue until something else stopped the cycle (kinda like how the bike runs - float drops, bowls fill, repeate ad naseum).

The good news is that your hydro-locking (that odd behavior noted from your starter) may not have done bad things... always a tale of a bent rod or busted starting gear from a hydro-locked GL it seems.
 

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That petcock was put on the bike for a reason. Any carbureted engine with a fuel tank above the carbs is prone for gasoline flooding. The float valves in the carbs are there to maintain a constant head of fuel for the jets, not to stop fuel flow when the engine stops. Often they will but that's not the purpose of them. If you are forgetful or want to permanently eliminate the problem you can put a 12V electric fuel shut off in the fuel line. It's simple, just cut the fuel line install the shut off valve and connect one wire from the valve to a 12V circuit on the bike's fuse panel that's on only on with the ignition is on. the other wire would be grounded.

Here's a link to some examples: http://www.12voltfuelvalves.com/12-volt-fuel-shut-off-valves.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Good point, Exavid. I was talking to a guy at work yesterday who has a scooter. He said that he has an automatic gas shut off that is activated by a vacuum line.
 

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1500s all have vacuum shutoffs. The 1800s don't need a shut off with fuel injection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Turning the fuel off is firmly cemented in my mind by that startling backfire but turning it back on hasnt. Another coworker is a Harley driver and his brother put a sticker on his helmet that said: "turn the gas on, dummy!" I'll be picking up one of those automatic shutoffs long before I'll put a sticker on my helmet!
 
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