Hard start when cold

Information and questions on GL1100 Goldwings (1980-1983)
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Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 8:00 am
Location: Clarkston Michigan
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Hard start when cold

Post by cpetku » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:00 pm

I have an 82 GL1100. Once started it seems to work fine and pulls well at 3000 rpm. However a cold engine doesn't want to start. At times I've thought it might be hydrolocking since it seems to want to come to a dead stop while cranking. However, if I turn the ignition off and crank it spins freely. This means no hydrolock right? So the next step was to partially choke and crank with ignition off then switch on. It will start but has some bad noises like a hydrolock but once it starts running right it's great.

Any ideas what to look for?

I've been debating on going into the pulse generator to see if it's stuck in an advance state. Haven't checked the valves yet, but I can't argue how they would cause this behavior. Timing belts looked right to me. One other item is I pulled #1 plug wire and didn't see any change in RPM while running. This was a couple rides (weeks) ago but the darn thing pulled great.

Also forgot to mention I replaced the starter and made sure the battery was good (charged then ran load tests). No difference. The carbs have been synced and are nice and equal. The biggest clue seems to be the lock (bang) doesn't happen with ignition off, so I'm guessing spark timing.

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Re: Hard start when cold

Post by virgilmobile » Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:30 pm

Let's see.....kill the spark and it cranks good..turn on the spark and it struggles to spin the engine...
A couple of things come to mind here....
The timing at cranking is set at around 10* BTDC....so if there's a fuel mixture it will pop off the cylinder just fine....Now if the timing mechanical advance mechanism or vacuum system is stuck (23* BTDC or more) it certainly would have a much harder time trying to crank it.

Also if the starter itself is "poorly",it can crank fine when warm and struggle a bit when cold...Just another thing to look at.

A timing light at the timing mark is a quick tell about the timing..

Batteries always suffer a bit in the cold...You could try a good set of booster cables from a running vehicle to bolster up a weak battery on the first crank...

So my opinion....check the timing....check the spark plugs...change the oil to a cold weather formula...remove and service the starter (even if it sounds OK)....grease,brushes,bushings and the like....Clean ALL the battery contact points..especially at the frame,they tend to hide rust...

By the way...find out why that cylinder isn't firing right...and do adjust the valves...they really need to be right...

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Re: Hard start when cold

Post by 82aspen » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:12 pm

i'd try a normal cold start then pull all the plugs, they should give some clue(s) as to what is going on and where,

plugs might be wet with fuel, dry or a combo, you could have fuel, ignition or a combination of both issues,

how old are plugs? ignition system (coils, wires) original? carbs original?

did this prob come on suddenly? or after some recent work?

if you have a timing gun, you can quickly check all the plugs individually for spark, during the cold start attempt,

bottom line if everything is in order, the engine should fire right up on a cold start with no warmup running issues,

dunno if you've tried but i don't need choke for a cold start until temps get way lower,

even with no choke and lower temps, the engine will fire right up but then won't idle

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