84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road


Information and questions on GL1200 Goldwings (1984-1987)
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Mav4G
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Location: Tampa, Florida
Motorcycle: 1984 GL1200A Aspencade
1987 GL1200A Aspencade

84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby Mav4G » Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:35 pm



I recently purchased an 84 Aspy, and sadly, been disappointed ever since. Thankfully these forums have been very helpful & I thank everyone for their input which has brought me to this point. My most recent failure was a complete power shutdown doing 60mph on the highway. After bucking violently several times I pulled in the clutch & coasted to the side with no electronics, no spark, & no power whatsoever. After getting it home, on a trailer, I began taking things apart, but leaving the fairing on. I've removed the false tank, instrument dash, headlight, etc. When I turn the ignition switch on it acts as tho' there's no battery. No lights, no dash, no signals, no spark, no power going to anything anywhere. Yet the battery is fairly new and holds 12.83v consistent now for 5 days (since it broke down). Just the day before I had wanted to know how my charging system was doing and it tested at 14.8v under power so Im confident the 'poorboy alternator' conversion is working ok. I can't find any dog bone fuses so Im confident they've been removed. The PO before me was lame (had it for just 6 months), but I think the one before him cared about the bike as shrink-wrap was used instead of tape, etc. When I tested the starter solenoid it was putting out 12.83v, as was the wire bus leading from it. The kill switch had been working fine as did the starter button. I took them apart, and altho' it looked good I cleaned the contacts, then put it back. The bus for this kill switch is next to the ignition coupler on the same mount on the right inside of the fairing behind the rubber cover. The wire bus for the kill switch measured 12.83v but the one for the ignition only showed 0.11v. Im not sure if that is good or bad so by connecting some extensions and a swivel I managed to get the ignition switch off. After some fumbling I got it open and was delighted to see that everything looked new. The back end of this switch is newer and in good shape so I put it all back. It had the back support so Im thinking the dealer fixed it under the recall. The rectifier and the ICU both look to be in fair shape. The bottom left side of the top on the ICU has a small melted area so I opened it and everything inside looked real good - no internal melting or anything unusual (looked clean so I put it back together). I've taken every blade fuse I could find (5 in the master box, 1 30a main on the solenoid, and 2 in the left side pocket behind the CB) and hand tested each one off the battery using a test light to avoid hairline cracks - cleaned them and put them all back. I have opened every single wire harness coupler I could find and sprayed contact cleaner in all of them and then resecured them one by one. After taking two days to go through this methodically I put the key into the ignition and still nothing. Absolutely no power whatsoever, no electronics, no lights, nothing. The battery still tests at 12.83v and frankly I think I've reached the end of my ability rope. I don't know how to test the ICU or the rectifier. Not all wire couplers have power going through them, but as the ignition switch doesn't turn on the power Im guessing thats normal. There are other relays and such Im unfamiliar with and I noticed I now have a 1/4" vacuum line off at the low-front of the motor coming out the lower left side of the fairing; and can't find a place for it to go. I think I need a drink… I appreciate any help you fellas might provide to help get me back on track. I don't know the names of every part so if you have a reference it would help a lot. Thanks to all and be well.



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castlewing
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Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby castlewing » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:44 am

This must be as frustrating as hell for you. You have checked the positive side of the system but what about the earth side? As you obviously know there are only a limited number of things that can cause a complete dysfunction of the bike's electrical system. Quick check is there continuity between the negative pole of the battery and the frame? Also check for continuity between the positive pole of the battery and the frame (if you have continuity you have a short) check continuity between the positive pole and the red wire on the ignition switch connector (there should be good continuity). And if all this fails to give results try a different battery, new batteries have been known to fail. Good luck it sounds like you have a bike that has been abused by previous keepers; your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find and fix all the problems caused by the idiots who owned the bike before.

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Mav4G
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Motorcycle: 1984 GL1200A Aspencade
1987 GL1200A Aspencade

Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby Mav4G » Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:31 am

Thank you 'castlewing' for such a timely response! I will check on your suggestions today. I have a test light and a multimeter I use with my basic understanding of electricity. I must confess Im a little unclear on how I check the 'continuity' of the earth side of my bike's system. Am I using the multimeter to check for power moving through the ground - and if there is I have a short? Also, Im having a hard time identifying where the major ground points are located (so I can clean them). The only clear one is the thick cable running from the negative side of the battery down under the left side of the motor. It was one of my primary concerns when it first blew. I took it off on the roadside when I broke down, wiped it clean, and put it back. But nothing happened. I'll go back and do a more thorough cleaning today. But if you know of other ground points I can look for, since almost everything seems to be grounded through couplers in the wire harness, I would truly appreciate it. As for the battery would it be faulty and still move 12.83v throughout the system? Also, it would start the bike within the first second of pushing the button. This motor runs real strong (my initial appeal) and I wasn't experiencing any electrical failures prior to this incident. I had an '83 Wing back in 1989 and loved it. I traded it for a Honda Magna V65 which I kept for years. I've always liked the newer GL1500 and wish now I would've held out for one. Many thanks again for your timely helpful suggestions!

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WingAdmin
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Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby WingAdmin » Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:15 am

The GL1200 is far simpler than the much more (electrically) complex GL1500, so be careful what you wish for. :)

Your rectifier or ICU are not even in this picture, so don't worry about testing those at this point. We need to figure at which place in the power circuit you have lost power.

I'm going to assume that things haven't been modified TOO much from the Poorboy conversion, but it's possible that you might see some differences from what I'm describing here - if so, let me know.

First: Check battery and ground with positive test lead on battery positive post, negative test lead on engine or frame (not battery post). Assuming you see your +12 volts there, we know that the battery negative lead is working OK.

Next, we need to start tracing the path of power, to find out at which point it stops. Follow the thick red wire from the battery to the solenoid. Inside that solenoid should be the dogbone fuse - or a 30 amp aftermarket replacement fuse. Check that this fuse has +12 volts showing on both sides of it.

Battery power to run the bike travels out of the solenoid on a solid red wire. Check that there is +12 volts on this wire. This red wire runs to the ignition switch. Check that the red wire at the ignition switch end also has +12 volts.

When the ignition switch is turned to ON, it connects the solid red wire to the solid black wire. So turn that switch to ON, and check that there is +12 volts showing on the black wire coming from the ignition switch.

That black wire runs (among other places) to the main bus in the fuse block, where it runs all of the circuits except the ACC circuit. So check that both sides of every fuse except the ACC fuse have +12 volts.

This should get you started, let me know what results you get from these steps and we'll go from there.

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HawkeyeGL1200
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Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby HawkeyeGL1200 » Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:59 am

I may have missed it, but did the main fuse (near the start solenoid) get checked to make sure it isn't blown?
I am wrong as often as I am right concerning what is wrong with someone else' motorcycle without having seen the machine in person. Guessing with limited information, as to the source of the trouble, is sketchy at best.

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Mav4G
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Motorcycle: 1984 GL1200A Aspencade
1987 GL1200A Aspencade

Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby Mav4G » Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:36 pm

Thank you 'WingAdmin' for your help. Its nice to get accurate experienced help online. Kudos for taking the time! I couldn't get out there today to go through your processes but I will first thing in the morning. As for the blade fuses I did take each one out of its socket, hooked one leg of the fuse up to a 12v tester (touched the negative side of the battery with the other leg) and then hit the positive side of the battery with the pointer (which lights up the bulb in the handle if there is 12v running through the fuse). Each of the fuses tested out good. I also have two torpedo fuses which also passed. I think they may have been put in to replace the dogbone fuses. The main fuse on the solenoid tested ok but that whole situation is less than desirable - looks run down to me. But if its a good part then it won't be the reason the Wing doesn't start. I added a couple pics as a reference. Thanks again, I'll report my results tomorrow when I've completed the processes. Be well.
Battery & Solenoid
Battery & Solenoid

Bird's Eye View
Bird's Eye View

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HALBUDD
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Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby HALBUDD » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:47 pm

One thing that has not been checked is the ignition switch as the 84s are still under a recall for the switch failing. I had the same problem with my 84 it would just shut off when I turned the handle bars hard to the sides. If you look up under the bike you can see the bottom of the switch,if you dont see three little screws holding the plastic cover on the bottom of the switch the its the old style and needs to be replaced. You can check with a honda dealer about the recall and they should replace it for free. good luck--------------Hal
A woman that can use tools is worth her weight in gold !!

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Mav4G
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Motorcycle: 1984 GL1200A Aspencade
1987 GL1200A Aspencade

Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby Mav4G » Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:31 pm

WingAdmin: We had heavy rain here all day yesterday and me with no garage :( Im going to answer your troubleshoot solutions in the order you asked them.
1. Check battery and ground :> It checked out good from both the neg post and the frame.
2. Check 30a fuse has +12 volts showing on both sides :> Im not sure what both sides means exactly since there are 2 upper and 4 lower places getting wires coming in. So, I checked each one and am showing the results in the photos below which are self descriptive.






3. Red wire to ignition :> Fails test from starter solenoid at 0.015v.
4. Black wire coming from ignition gets its power from that bus - so I checked it from the bus side flowing into the ignition and got 0.00v. The red wire feeding the ignition on that same bus got 0.015v (negligible).
5. Check both sides of fuses in the main fuse block: All fuses passed and are good. However there is no power coming into the fuse block so all 5 of the fuse sockets read 0.00v with the ignition turned on or off.

What's real annoying is, after I got the bike home on the trailer I tested this solenoid and thought that since it was getting 12.8v into the positive that it was fine. So is it safe to assume I may need a new starter solenoid? And thanks ahead of time for your help!

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virgilmobile
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84 GL 1200 I

Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby virgilmobile » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:13 pm

I hope you don't mind me poking my nose in late but I have a question...Is that solenoid a replacement one or original...???
The wire position doesn't look right...
Both the red wires should be shorted directly together when they are plugged into the solenoid...
the connection then should go to the 30 amp fuse...the other end of the fuse should connect to the battery post...
When attached correctly,both red wires should be 12 volts all the time,fused back to the battery...
The other 2 smaller wires should go to the solenoid coil...

If you must,and cannot get this correct,you can bond both red wired together...attach a full sized heavy duty fuseholder to them and the other end connect to the battery terminal or solenoid battery post..

I would first unhook all 4 of the plug in wires...Measure with your volt meter all 4 posts...2 of them should be (must be) 12 volts...hook the big red wires there...either way..
the 2 small wires...hook them to the other 2 terminals

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Mav4G
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Motorcycle: 1984 GL1200A Aspencade
1987 GL1200A Aspencade

Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby Mav4G » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:39 pm

Hey VIRGILMOBILE!! You're the man! I can't believe that was it. I put the wiring as you suggested and boom Houston - we have ignition. Im going for a beer straight and simple! My son (my MC partner) is wetting himself as we speak, lol. Truly, you've made a difference and Im so glad I took the time to post the photos. And I can't tell you how grateful I am you took the time to read them and then "butt in". Im guessing I had some bad connections that I've remedied during this week's obsession. Im going to put it all back together and get it out for drive. It has been sitting for a week now and needs the motion (me too). Many many thanks. Wow… Im simply dumbfounded. Thanks to all and be well!

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Mav4G
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Motorcycle: 1984 GL1200A Aspencade
1987 GL1200A Aspencade

Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby Mav4G » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:33 pm

Hi everybody, in my exuberance to hear the Wing run again I failed to read into the full situation. After it warmed up I took it for a spin, came back - parked it, then after shutting down for a few minutes tried to start it and all I got was a short grunt from the starter. It acts as though it wants to start but fails to complete an engine turnover. So, I figured either a bad hidden battery issue or I've still got an improper ground somewhere. I took the battery out, ran it down and had it load tested. It passed ok, about 10% below a new one. It was recommended I do a slow charge, so back I went, put a long 2amp charge on it, then reinstalled it. After a slow turn the bike lit up and I thought I had better double check the charging system. It was coming in at 13.5v at idle and upwards of 15v if I spun it up to 1500+ rpms. The battery and the main ground tested positive again so Im pretty sure its not the battery or the starter or the new alternator. The starter cranks reliably fast when it has enough power put to it. After a closer inspection of the starter solenoid I feel as though its not up to par. It passes on the charge coming out of it but my connectors are worn and not solid feeling when I put the wires to them so I've ordered another one to replace it with. It could be just weak. If that doesn't do it then Im back to tracing wires I think. The good news is, it does run very well once it's started; whether by the starter or by compression starts (popping the clutch at 5 mph which is not fun with a 850 lb bike).

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HawkeyeGL1200
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Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby HawkeyeGL1200 » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:49 pm

I apologize in advance if I missed the answer to this question, but have you taken the starter apart and cleaned it or replaced the brushes?

Many of these old motorcycles have starters that have a lot of carbon dust in and around the brush holders that cause grounds internally, that manifest themselves when the starter is warm. Mine spins the bike over very well when cold, and then more slowly when the engine (and starter) are at operating temperatures.

I'm not saying this is your problem, but it is worth checking out. A thorough cleaning of the starter internally can make a difference.
I am wrong as often as I am right concerning what is wrong with someone else' motorcycle without having seen the machine in person. Guessing with limited information, as to the source of the trouble, is sketchy at best.

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Mav4G
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1987 GL1200A Aspencade

Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby Mav4G » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:55 pm

Thank you, I'll check into it and see what I find next time Im under the hood.

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Mav4G
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1987 GL1200A Aspencade

Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby Mav4G » Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:33 pm

Well, I finally got to the root of my problem and its almost embarracing. I've reached the age (combined with my disabilities) where its nearly impossible for me to get down on the ground on my knees. Fortunately my youngest son is a willing consort (loves wrenching) and will almost always do the work low on the Wing for me. The day it originally shut down on me going 60 mph on the highway, with a total loss of power to everything, one of the first things I did was to check the primary ground. Alas, as I could not get down there to reach it so my son looked at for me. He took off the ground, wiped it clean, then put it back with an, 'all is well Dad' when he was done. Yet still no power so we moved on. I was waiting for a new starter solenoid to come in at my last comment and Im going to finish this mess with this statement - it pays to double check your work - yourself. What my son didn't realize is that even though the top nut that secures the primary ground cable was tight, there is a second nut underneath it that must also be tight, and when I become frustrated when the new solenoid didn't help any I said to myself, with a deep breath, grab your bootstraps and start over from the beginning. After getting down on a creeper I found the problem almost instantly. Sadly the set bolt was not seated so the cable lost contact. I went ahead and chemically cleaned the contacts and wire brushed the cable end and put it all back together and problem solved. With all the effort put into this problem, by way of this forum's community, I shouldn't have a contact issue for some time to come. Thanks to all for your help and suggestions. Which brings us to the moral of this event: if you haven't got time to do it right the first time… when pray tell will you have time to do it over? :roll:

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alwims
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Re: 84 GL 1200 has complete power failure on the road

Postby alwims » Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:07 am

I love it when a plan comes together, but I hate it when I find out it was something stupid I did. I had a similar problem a while back with my '87 1200 and Scott/WingAdmin was helping me diagnose it, but I was too stupid and hard headed to take his advice thinking, I've already checked or fixed that. Turns out he was right on the money and my "fix" was the problem. Never hurts to double check anything.




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