Engine only firing on 2 cylinders


Information and questions on GL1100 Goldwings (1980-1983)
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QuestionGuy
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:38 am
Location: Newport, Oregon
Motorcycle: 1980 GL1100

Engine only firing on 2 cylinders

Postby QuestionGuy » Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:29 pm



Aloha Everyone. I'm new in Oregon, from Hawaii, and just picked up a 1980 Honda Goldwing International. It's a nice bike , for it's age, and has luggage, fairing, radio, and other gear in good shape.
I've just finished a road trip of several hundred miles, and while I was out and about I managed to pull into a roadside gas station where the retired father of the current mechanic was a goldwing mechanic for Honda! He told me it was a nice enough bike, for the price I'd paid, but was only running on 2 of 4 cylinders.

Doing a little shopping on ebay, I picked up some coils and pickups as the prices were very good, but I don't know that those devices are even what need replacing. Here's what I've done so far, and symptoms of the bike:

The bike doesn't start anymore, as the starter solenoid took a ****, but I have one of those coming from ebay as well. However, I can start it every time by jumping the contacts on the solenoid, and off I go.
When I let the engine dip below 3000 rpm I get quite the chugging/lugging sound. I'm not sure if that is piston slap, lugging, or just what I get for not having all cylinders firing properly at lower rpm's.
Several times, at rpm's between 3-5k I've had the other cylinders 'turn on'. Or, at least, that's what I think is going on. The engine sounds smoother, and I've instantly got more power available at the throttle.
Side problem- the throttle is STIFF, hard to turn but driveable with my massage therapist hands of power ;)

So, while at the mechanics, we tried several things to get the bike running smoothly. He troubleshot the starter, and we multimetered and probed, ending up with the solenoid being the culprit.
When we started looking into the cylinders, we did the touch test and found that the front 2 cylinders, 1 and 2, were firing. Cylinders 3 and 4 of the rear half were not. So, he noticed the bike had old spark plugs, even before inspecting them, and after inspection that was confirmed. I went to the store and got 4 new NGK plugs, in the hope that it would fix the problem right there.
No luck :( Also, though I might be mistaken, I have not heard or felt the other 2 cylinders 'kick in' since then.
Thoughts/suggestions?

Ignition coils I got



Ignition pickups I grabbed




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WingAdmin
Site Admin
Posts: 17046
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: Strongsville, OH
Motorcycle: 2000 GL1500 SE
1982 GL1100A Aspencade (sold)
1989 PC800 (wife's!)
1998 XV250 Virago (sold)
2007 Aspen Sentry Trailer

Re: Engine only firing on 2 cylinders

Postby WingAdmin » Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:26 pm

The good news is that cylinders 3 and 4 use the same ignitor and coil - so the problem is likely electrical, rather than a carb problem. That makes it a bit easier to fix. Cylinders 3 and 4 share the left coil:

GL1100 coil layout
GL1100 coil layout


A simple test would be to swap the two coils. If 3 and 4 come alive, and 1 and 2 go dead, you've found your culprit.

It could also simply be a broken plug wire. If either the #3 or #4 plug wire (or boot) has broken, then both cylinders 3 and 4 will not fire. Use an ohmmeter and measure the resistance between spark plug boot #3 and #4. Each plug boot has a 5KOhm resistor, and the coil should measure 12K across the secondary, so from one plug boot to the other should measure around 22KOhm, +/-5KOhm. If you've got an open circuit, then either a plug wire is bad, or the coil is bad.

You can test the drop at the coil. Put a voltmeter across the primary terminals of the left coil and crank the engine. You should see more than 1 volt fluctuating as the engine cranks. If you're not seeing that at the coil primary, the likely culprit is the pulse generator for that coil - they do have a finite life. You've already got any of the replacement parts you're likely to need (other than cables) so you should be well on your way to getting it running!

Click on these for more details:

Ignition secondary troubleshooting
Ignition secondary troubleshooting


Ignition primary troubleshooting
Ignition primary troubleshooting

QuestionGuy
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:38 am
Location: Newport, Oregon
Motorcycle: 1980 GL1100

Re: Engine only firing on 2 cylinders

Postby QuestionGuy » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:41 pm

Wingadmin, you are a gentleman and a scholar! I'm so glad to hear I'm on the right pathway to a likely fix. I'm just going to pull the bad coil and put in the gently used coil. It looks like I'll need to follow the directions for removing the tank, and that will give me access to the coil area- is that right? I didn't see a walkthru, so I'll take some pictures for y'all, if you like.

Do you think I need to do anything at all with the ignition pickups? I'm not even sure what those do or where they are located, but thought I'd get them just in case...

Lastly, once I do this, and replace the starter solenoid, I'll have tackled most of the major issues, except for the STIFF throttle and the slow leak on the air shocks rear assembly. Any quick fixes for that, or threads you know of?

Thanks again for the encouragement and the great website!

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baldgrimsbybiker
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:01 am
Location: Grimsby - ENGLAND
Motorcycle: 1983 GL1100AD Aspencade.
1980 CB400N

Re: Engine only firing on 2 cylinders

Postby baldgrimsbybiker » Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:51 am

Have you checked the spark amplifiers - located under false tank on upper left hand side of frame. I had one overheat and melt its insulation whilst riding in the highlands of Scotland a few years ago. Easy enough to replace and if you can not get the correct ones for the 1100 try and find one for the later CX500, they fit providing they are turned through 90 degrees cause the wires are shorter.

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WingAdmin
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Posts: 17046
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: Strongsville, OH
Motorcycle: 2000 GL1500 SE
1982 GL1100A Aspencade (sold)
1989 PC800 (wife's!)
1998 XV250 Virago (sold)
2007 Aspen Sentry Trailer

Re: Engine only firing on 2 cylinders

Postby WingAdmin » Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:36 pm

QuestionGuy wrote:Wingadmin, you are a gentleman and a scholar! I'm so glad to hear I'm on the right pathway to a likely fix. I'm just going to pull the bad coil and put in the gently used coil. It looks like I'll need to follow the directions for removing the tank, and that will give me access to the coil area- is that right? I didn't see a walkthru, so I'll take some pictures for y'all, if you like.


Yes, the tank needs to come off to get to the coil area. Even easier to get to them from the front after removing the radiator, but that's a fair bit more work.

QuestionGuy wrote:Do you think I need to do anything at all with the ignition pickups? I'm not even sure what those do or where they are located, but thought I'd get them just in case...


They are on the back of the engine case - try the coils and wires first before going whole hog into the pickups.

QuestionGuy wrote:Lastly, once I do this, and replace the starter solenoid, I'll have tackled most of the major issues, except for the STIFF throttle and the slow leak on the air shocks rear assembly. Any quick fixes for that, or threads you know of?


Throttle cables are cheap. While you have the tank off, why not just replace them? How to replace your throttle cables. Air leaks...sometimes can be found by spraying soapy water on the air lines and fittings, though the leak usually ends up being a seal in the shock itself.

User avatar
WingAdmin
Site Admin
Posts: 17046
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: Strongsville, OH
Motorcycle: 2000 GL1500 SE
1982 GL1100A Aspencade (sold)
1989 PC800 (wife's!)
1998 XV250 Virago (sold)
2007 Aspen Sentry Trailer

Re: Engine only firing on 2 cylinders

Postby WingAdmin » Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:37 pm

baldgrimsbybiker wrote:Have you checked the spark amplifiers - located under false tank on upper left hand side of frame. I had one overheat and melt its insulation whilst riding in the highlands of Scotland a few years ago. Easy enough to replace and if you can not get the correct ones for the 1100 try and find one for the later CX500, they fit providing they are turned through 90 degrees cause the wires are shorter.


That melting isn't from overheating - it's common, and it's just the potting material they used failing after 30 years, resulting in a tarry black goo leaking down in there. It usually doesn't affect the operation of them, you can mix up some epoxy and fill them back up, once it's cured they should be good to go.

QuestionGuy
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:38 am
Location: Newport, Oregon
Motorcycle: 1980 GL1100

Re: Engine only firing on 2 cylinders

Postby QuestionGuy » Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:52 pm

QuestionGuy wrote:Lastly, once I do this, and replace the starter solenoid, I'll have tackled most of the major issues, except for the STIFF throttle and the slow leak on the air shocks rear assembly. Any quick fixes for that, or threads you know of?


Throttle cables are cheap. While you have the tank off, why not just replace them? How to replace your throttle cables. Air leaks...sometimes can be found by spraying soapy water on the air lines and fittings, though the leak usually ends up being a seal in the shock itself.[/quote]


I see this item for sale on Ebay, but it lists the throttle cable as only being good up till 79 models...
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/PAIR-Thr ... ccessories

Then this one lists an aftermarket 'motionpro' cable as good for all models 75-84.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Motion-P ... ccessories

Which one is the right purchase for a cash-strapped fella? Do I go for the 'push/pull' combo, or just do any of the many single throttle cables on ebay?

Thanks!

QuestionGuy
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:38 am
Location: Newport, Oregon
Motorcycle: 1980 GL1100

Re: Engine only firing on 2 cylinders

Postby QuestionGuy » Sun Jun 19, 2011 4:57 pm

Oh well, I went extra cheap and got these used cables off of ebay. Anything is going to be better than what I have, and I figure 12 dollars, wtf not, right?

https://payments.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws ... -298028610

If it turns out to be a boneheaded move, I'll let ya know :o :lol:

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florida_ump
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:02 pm
Location: Greensboro, NC
Motorcycle: '83 GL1100 Aspencade

Re: Engine only firing on 2 cylinders

Postby florida_ump » Sat Jul 30, 2011 2:17 pm

Hey Questionguy. I can't believe it. Someone with the EXACT issue I seem to be having. My problem seems to come and go without rhyme or reason. It will start and run fine sometimes, then the issue will pop up. Yesterday, I had it on the highway, and felt the same feel of whatever wasn't firing, coming online for a split second, then cutting out again. What I did to try and troubleshoot was, when the bike was displaying the issue, I started removing a spark plug wire at a time. I found removing 1,3, or 4 made no difference, but when I removed 2, the bike finished dying out, unless I added enough throttle to maintain 3K rpm. Because I was having trouble with 3 cylinders, and not 2, I assumed it wasn't a coil issue. I was curious as to an update on your progress to see if your path is one I might want to take. Thanks. Jon

QuestionGuy
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:38 am
Location: Newport, Oregon
Motorcycle: 1980 GL1100

Re: Engine only firing on 2 cylinders

Postby QuestionGuy » Sat Jul 30, 2011 4:21 pm

Well, after an afternoon spent shooting the **** with friends, drinking some beers and generally figuring out which tool to use, I'd have to label the replacement of the ignition coils an unqualified success! No more problems with this bike firing, it spins up like a rocket!
https://picasaweb.google.com/Darin.Padula/20110704 is a great place to check out pictures and things. I'm not very good at making long posts, like the Site Admin is, but you are welcome to grab any pictures you like and use them to make a short tutorial on how to change out your ignition coils. I'm afraid that I spent more time showing the cute blonds how to wrench than I did taking pictures for the website... sorry! You've been more help to me than the blonds were, but it's amazing how priorities shift...

We just swapped the entire unit, even though the 1st set of coils was working alright. Figured that coils off a low mileage bike beat mine that had seen 100,000 miles.
When it came time to do the throttle cables, we realized that we didn't have the proper gaskets to replace them with (in case we damaged the originals when shifting the intake manifold, or whatever is described in that excellent How-To).

We never needed to do anything with any of the other parts I had, except for the starting issue I had, and that was fixed when I put in a new starter solenoid. All super easy, thanks to this website. What a resource! If I had any money, I'd give ya some as a thankyou, but as it stands, please look me up if you're ever in Oregon or Hawaii, and the first beers are on me!

Cheers,
Darin




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