Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?


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Lastwachter
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Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:43 am



The engine will start, however its not running smoothly. I am still in the process of going through everything. I was trying to check to see if each plug sparks, however I cannot get a spark on any of them. Now with a little effort she will start up, so at least one has to be firing, but I am getting nothing...

I pull a plug, ground it to the engine by touching it to the engine and hit hold the starter...nothing. I have tried this on all 4 with no avail. I am new to this of course, what am I doing wrong?



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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby thrasherg » Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:34 am

You sound to be doing it correctly! The spark is quite weak when cranking the engine over, so it needs to be fairly dark to see the spark. Also you didn't say if you where using a spare spark plug for the test, if you are, are you sure the spark plug works? As your engine starts it sounds like the plugs in the engine are probably okay, so maybe remove one of them and use it for the test. If you are already doing that, I don't know what else to suggest, you do seem to be doing the test correctly. Have you checked that you are properly pushing the spark plug into the rubber boot so that it does make contact with the metal clip inside the rubber boot to transfer the electricity to the spark plug?

Gary

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Placerville » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:14 pm

[quote="Lastwachter"]SNIP.... "I pull a plug, ground it to the engine by touching it to the engine and hit hold the starter...nothing./quote]
To what portion of the engine are you touching the plug? Not the 'painted' part, right. ;) I agree with the comments above and I would suggest that you're not getting the plug to a solid ground. Attach a long wire to your batteries ground point on your bike and use the other end of the wire for your plugs ground source. This way, you'll know for sure that your getting to a solid ground. One more thing ...... your 'kill switch' is 'ON', correct? Many of us have gone down a rabbit trail for this little oversight.
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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:39 am

Placerville wrote: One more thing ...... your 'kill switch' is 'ON', correct? Many of us have gone down a rabbit trail for this little oversight.

Nailed it! On my Buell when the kill switch is off, nothing at all happens. So when the Goldwing was winding it never occured to me that the kill switch may be off. Thanks! :)


Ok, so the next issue. I was now able to test the plugs. They all work fine. However, two of the cables do not. It is the back left and back right. Is this a coincidence or does this help identify a particular problem?

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Placerville » Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:08 am

Your left coil is either not receiving power or is defective. Check for power 'into' and 'leaving' that coil. If you have power leaving that coil, your next stop will be the the wires and then the caps.

Do you have original coils on your GL? If you do, and if the left coil proves to be defective, you'll need to purchase a new set of aftermarket replacements as new OEM coils are no longer available from Honda. For now, figure out where you are and re-post.
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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:00 pm

Ok, since I am completely green when it comes to this I am working it step by step and want to make sure I am doing it right.

I pulled the coils and tested them with a digital multimeter.

Using the prongs in the connector I tested both the right and left and was getting about 3.3 ohms out of both. By placing the tester on the blue & black/white wires and the yellow & black/white wires.

Does that mean the coil seems to be working? If so what is my next step?

Thanks
Ryan

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Placerville » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:34 pm

Ryan,

In your post above, you indicated that the rear plug wires were not firing. To remedy this, I suggested a step-by-step test of your 'left' coil (the one that sends voltage to your #3 & #4 cylinders, which was - test for voltage 'into' that coil and 'leaving' that coil. Did you do that? In your post above you make no mention of it. Rather, you said you pulled both coils and tested them with an ohm meter. I don't understand why you did that. That may be something you'd want to do later in relation to another problem, however, for now, you need to determine if the left coil is receiving voltage and producing a spark.

Put the coils back in and make sure they're connected correctly per the wiring diagram available on this site. Turn the bike to 'ON', make sure your kill switch is 'ON' and then test the hot wire feeding the left coil as you hit the starter button. If you don't see voltage there, you must work backwards to find out why. If you have voltage, start the bike and check for spark at the end of the plug wire (with the cap removed. If you don't have spark, you either have a bad coil or a bad plug wire.

Do that and re-post with results.
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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:02 am

**warning: I know absolutely nothing about wiring and electricity/electronics** :)

Ok, so I tested the connector for the coils and the wires that connect to the right coil (properly working one) is throwing out volts. The left one is not…I am getting .1 at best. So I am now assuming that the coil itself is not getting power. Is that reasonable?

So I started looking at the diagram and to be honest with that giant nest of wires all wrapped together I do not know where to start from here.

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Placerville » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:08 pm

That's OK. You're in good company as most folks aren't comfortable with electrical issues, including myself. With electrical problems, you can always keep yourself (somewhat) sane and on track if you use 'sentimentalized testing' logic. This means, when dealing with electrical, you always start at the problem and work back, step by step, to the next possible area of failure. Jumping around on electrical issues with a, "Maybe it could be this! or, "How about this?" method will derail you every time.

So, you may have determined that the left coil isn't getting power. (I say 'may' because you're unsure of your testing abilities at this time and, that's OK.) Because of this, here's the next logical step for you: Verify your findings by rolling (swapping) the power source for the coils i.e., on the diagram above, swap the positions of the Blue and Yellow wires. (Look at the wiring diagram and you'll see that these are your hot wires coming from your points.) If your findings are correct, the problem will immediately move from the rear cylinders to the front cylinders. Get it? But, if the problem doesn't move, you've just proven the issue to the coil.

Do this and re-post.
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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:26 pm

Ok so I swapped the wires. I switched the black & whites with one another and switched the blue/yellow and the yellow and the right coil still gives spark to the plug while the left does not.

So it looks like I was wrong and it is in fact the coil that is not producing the power.

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Placerville » Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:10 pm

Lastwachter wrote:Ok so I swapped the wires. I switched the black & whites with one another and switched the blue/yellow and the yellow and the right coil still gives spark to the plug while the left does not. So it looks like I was wrong and it is in fact the coil that is not producing the power.


Correct!

And, now I'm going to give you a bit of a hard time. ;) You said, "I switched the black & whites with one another." If you look at my posting above, I didn't tell you to do that. ;) ;) But, that's OK because, lucky you, both black and white wires go to the same place so it didn't make any difference in your results.

So, now you've determine that your left coil is bad and it's now time to address that. So, the first question is, do you have Honda OEM coils or aftermarket replacements? If your coils are original, they are of the type that have their plug wires molded into them into a single unit. (See below.) These coils are no longer available from Honda. Your 'least cost' alternative would be to buy a used set of coils/wires off of eBay and replace the left coil/wire set. However, if your coils aren't original and you have aftermarket electronic coils (and possibly electronic ignition as well) you may be able to replace just one.

Answer this question: Do you have original EOM coils and points or, electronic coils AND ignition or only electronic coils. It's one of those three combinations. You need to know what you have before you can proceed.

Check that out and re-post.
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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby thrasherg » Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:44 pm

Lastwatcher, you asked a question earlier that no-one has answered for you yet. I think Placerville is doing a fantastic job walking you through this, so I don't want to interfere with what he is doing. You said that you tested across the black/white and black/blue wires with a multimeter and both sets of coils indicated 3.3 ohms. Have I correctly tested the coils? the answer is No, in a set of coils there are two coils, the primary and secondary, the primary is where we switch 12 volts (or so, much more on CDI systems), the secondary is where the much higher spark voltage (EHT) is induced. Your test checked the primary coils and based on your measurements, both coils seem to have good primaries. You did not check the secondary coils, this is done by measuring across the output leads of the ignition coil (The ones that go to the spark plugs) but you need to know if you have resistive leads, a resistive spark cap and other things before you can correctly test them. You correctly tested half of each coil, the primary side, but you did not test the secondary so we do not know if both coils are good or bad.. Just wanted to answer your question, stick with placerville and he will have you sorted very soon.

Gary

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:52 pm

Thanks for all your help Placerville.

I have the original EOM coils and points. So you would recommend the ebay item you linked above?


Thanks Gary for your post as well, I appreciate the help.

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Placerville » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:06 pm

Thanks to Gary. Excellent point!

Yes, if you have stock points and coils, the set I indicated for you on eBay look good. Fairly priced, they look to be in good shape, clean, and don't look abused (even the plug number markers are intact on the plug wires). This is your best bet if you want to do this as inexpensively as possible.
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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:10 pm

Done and done! Thanks, I will let you know when they are here I have replaced it. :)

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Mon May 05, 2014 9:59 am

The coils came in and I am ready to put them in. I do have one rogue wire here I am not 100% on. It is mentioned/shown in my service manual. I want to say it bots on with the top coil bolt. Can someone help me out with this?

-The wire itself is green.
-It is coming out of the wire harness.
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The wire itself is green
The wire itself is green

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby WingAdmin » Mon May 05, 2014 10:13 am

Lastwachter wrote:The coils came in and I am ready to put them in. I do have one rogue wire here I am not 100% on. It is mentioned/shown in my service manual. I want to say it bots on with the top coil bolt. Can someone help me out with this?

-The wire itself is green.
-It is coming out of the wire harness.


Any wire that is green is always ground. So keep in mind that you don't want to connect it to anything you don't intend to be grounded.

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Mon May 05, 2014 2:30 pm

Pretending you are talking to someone who knows absolutely nothing about wiring/electricity, can you make a suggestion? Would the bolt holding the coil to the frame be a good choice?

Thanks

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby WingAdmin » Mon May 05, 2014 3:46 pm

Lastwachter wrote:Pretending you are talking to someone who knows absolutely nothing about wiring/electricity, can you make a suggestion? Would the bolt holding the coil to the frame be a good choice?

Thanks


Sure, that's a good ground point.

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Mon May 05, 2014 3:48 pm

Thanks for the quick response :)

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Thu May 08, 2014 9:45 am

SOMETHING IS STILL WRONG

Ok here is the update.
-I replaced the coil set with the one I purchased on ebay.
-Now all but (3) will spark. So #3 still doesn't spark.
-I noticed that both #3 & #4 still look clean after having tried to start the bike. I have attached a picture of the difference between #2 & #4. #2 being the much darker one. They are both new spark plugs.

As for #3 not sparking. I confirmed that the spark plug and the caps both work fine.

Any ideas? Please help :?: :!:
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Here is the difference in color between 2 & 4.
Here is the difference in color between 2 & 4.

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Placerville » Thu May 08, 2014 12:05 pm

How did you confirm that this one plug was not sparking? Are you saying it's not sparking because it has no carbon on it or, have you grounded the plug body and hit the starter to watch for a spark? If you've done the latter, and you're getting spark, then this means that you're not getting fuel to that carb.
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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Thu May 08, 2014 12:15 pm

I have grounded and tested the plugs. #3 does not spark. I did confirm that both the #3 spark plug and cap will spark on another wire.
Since both the #3 and #4 are clean like this and #4 is sparking, you are saying that at least we are sure that the #4 is not getting fuel to that carb?

Has it come to the point where I should consider pulling the carbs and giving them a cleaning?

Also, this still doesn't explain why #3 isn't getting a spark. Any ideas?

Thanks as always for your help Placerville. I wouldn't have gotten this far without ya!

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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Placerville » Thu May 08, 2014 12:36 pm

Lastwachter wrote:I have grounded and tested the plugs. #3 does not spark. I did confirm that both the #3 spark plug and cap will spark on another wire. Since both the #3 and #4 are clean like this and #4 is sparking, you are saying that at least we are sure that the #4 is not getting fuel to that carb? - Correct

Has it come to the point where I should consider pulling the carbs and giving them a cleaning? - It may very well be that your carbs need cleaning and/or repair. However, this is getting into an area that you need to examine carefully. Are you saying that you e.g., want to buy Randakks carb kit and video and do this yourself? It's possible but, I don't know the level of your confidence with this. You can remove them and send them to Pistol Pete or Mike Nixon for a total rebuild. It will cost you over $400 to do this. When they come back, they'll be perfect. You need to decide what you want to do.

Also, this still doesn't explain why #3 isn't getting a spark. Any ideas? - You have a replacement set of coils that, in all probability, are good. However, there may be something wrong with them and that needs to be proven one way or the other. You said you've tested the #3 cap/plug on another wire and they work. Now do this: With the cap/plug off the wire, see if a spark will jump to ground off the end of that same wire. If it does, then there's a connection/continuity issue with the wire/cap/plug set that needs to be sorted out. If it doesn't spark, then the trouble is either in the wire or the coil.

Test and re-post.


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Re: Spark Plug Test...what am I doing wrong?

Postby Lastwachter » Thu May 08, 2014 12:44 pm

-I would do the carb cleaning myself. I feel confident enough that with proper instruction I could get through it.

-I tested #3 and the wire is not sparking either. Am I looking at a faulty coil?….again?




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