How to free up a starter sprague clutch


Technical information and Q&A applicable to all years and models of Goldwings
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How to lubicrate a stuck sprague clutch

Post by eklimek » Sat May 31, 2014 7:15 am



Flinstone garage method. Drain oil and fill with solvent.
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Re: How to lubicrate a stuck sprague clutch

Post by Fatwing Chris » Sat May 31, 2014 8:31 am

Hey whatever works!
You got nothing to loose.
If I'da known it would last this long,I'da taken better care of it.
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Re: How to lubicrate a stuck sprague clutch

Post by themainviking » Sat May 31, 2014 8:43 am

I never thought of that.... WOW --- just WOW.
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Re: How to lubicrate a stuck sprague clutch

Post by eklimek » Sat May 31, 2014 9:09 am

The previous owner was quoted $2,200 to fix.

Paint thinner and xylene filled above level of starter chain.

Kill swithch off, plugs out, bike vertical. Spin starter. Battery willl not drain acid with gas tube forward facing.

I did not drain gas tank and noticed no leakage. Maybe should have drained tank?

If in doubt fill further through blowby pipe on left of engine.

Recharge battery.

Don't forget to change oil and filter.

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How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by eklimek » Sat May 31, 2014 11:47 am

The sprague rollers are high and to the left rear of the engine. Lubrication is marginal and in old low mileage Goldwings they tend to hang up and the starter spins without effect. If the rollers are rusted I doubt the following trick will work. But if it's just sludge, this takes about 2 hours to do and might save an otherwise big bill.

The concept is to immerse the sprague mechanism in solvent while spinning the starter.

Oil drained, filter replaced, fill above fill line with solvent. I used paint thinner and xylene because it was at hand.

Remove spark plugs, turn off kill switch. Turn off gas.

Solvent should be above level of starter chain with bike vertical. If in doubt fill additional solvent through blow by tube. Note the level in the oil examination window on the right hand side drops as the bike is raised vertical.

Hanging from engine guards
Hanging from engine guards

(Pictures are rotated 90 degrees and I am not sufficiently technically adept to correct orientation)

Turn engine over repeatedly. Don't know how many times is too many. I recharged my battery after ward.

Drain solvent and fill with cheapest 10-30 available to flush solvent. Follow with complete oil change with oil of your choosing.
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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by eklimek » Fri Aug 08, 2014 7:43 pm

Follow up.

Two months and 1,000 kilometers later things are good. No apparent bad effects after this method. Starter engages.

Varsol and xylene were used because they were in the shop and on hand. I suspect other solvents would work.

Not sure if I posted it but I changed the oil and filter 3 times immediately after this treatment before it stopped looking like cafe au lait.

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by sacruickshank » Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:12 am

Eklimek,

Refreshing an old thread since I'm in a similar boat with an '83 with 30k miles.

Do you have any idea how "vertical" is needed? I don't trust my garage beams or the crash bars to support the full load. But if I can get the front wheel sufficiently elevated, then maybe the solvents would cover the sprag.

Any input?

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by eklimek » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:48 am

SAC

“How much vertical is needed?”

I presume the washing action requires at least the chain to be immersed so that splashing occurs. This occurs with normal use and is why low mileage bikes suffer from this. It also seems to be the essence of using solvents such as seafoam in the oil to free up the sprague clutch.

I thought it was more direct to soak the sprague clutch, while spinning the starter. It never affected the transmission clutch. If one inadvertently put the wrong oil in the bike causing the transmission clutch to spin I would try the same thing before replacing the clutch plates.

I guess you could leave the bike horizontal to soak the clutch without spinning the starter. It would have to be pretty full as the clutch is pretty high and I am not sure where it might leak out. Virgil flooded the gl1500 with diesel after trapped in the Loisiana flood with good result. Look up his thread for quantity required.

Putting the bike on its side would accomplish much the same but also flood the left side of the engine. One would presmuably have to deal with the internal pumping action of the cylinders if you were to engage the starter.

Put the bike nose up and use a spirit level horizontal at the clutch for the required fluid level. Raising the bike to vertical raises the oil pickup above the solvent level.

The weight and hoist requirement could be addressed with temporary 2 x 4 supports reinforcing the rafters.

Hope this answers your question.

Ed

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by sacruickshank » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:54 am

It helps. I'm still chewing on what to do next.

I have a lift table, so one option for me could be to put the front wheel on the lift, strap it down, and then raise the table. If I can get the bike stable enough with the wife freaking out, this might get me to ~30 deg, which might be enough. Worth a try before pulling the engine.

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by eklimek » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:15 pm

Sac

Glad to be of service. Remember to pull the pugs and ensure the battery is positioned overflow “up”. I might kill the ignition to avoid sparking as the solvent may be flammable.

Ed

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by sacruickshank » Sun Oct 07, 2018 4:06 pm



Here's about the highest elevation I can get. Now to figure out if it's enough

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by sacruickshank » Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:28 am

One hopefully final question.

Since you've got me sufficiently paranoid about sparks and flammable solvents, when you say "turn off the kill switch" I assume you're really saying to put it in the Run (middle) position rather than either of the Off (side) positions. Otherwise electricity would never reach the Starter and it would would never engage. Correct or am I missing something.

Thanks again for the help many years after the original post. I don't mind pulling the engine if needed, but I'd rather not if a diff solution is available.

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by eklimek » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:13 am

Sac

Many times I have learned to my embarassment that the starter is not affected by the kill switch.

/Docs/Honda%20G ... -DDF6B.jpg

Ed

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by DenverWinger » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:41 am

You will need to fill engine roughly up to the blue line I drew to submerse the starter clutch, which is roughly where I drew the circle. Might be a good idea to pull the sparkplugs with the engine that full to prevent possible hydrolock....


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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by WingAdmin » Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:04 am

eklimek wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:13 am
Sac

Many times I have learned to my embarassment that the starter is not affected by the kill switch.

/Docs/Honda%20G ... -DDF6B.jpg

Ed
It depends on the model (and sometimes the year) of the bike. Some bikes will crank with the kill switch set to "off", others won't.

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by sacruickshank » Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:32 am

Tested and confirmed. My '83 Wing will turn the starter with kill switch at off position, which is helpful to reduce/eliminate chance of spark.

Have to travel for work, so won't be able to test the elevated position solvent bath technique until the weekend. Will let you know the result.

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by winguyjo » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:23 pm

looking forward to the result.
my starting system works fine right now, but if this technique proves to be effective it's good stuff to know.

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by sacruickshank » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:53 am

DenverWinger wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:41 am
You will need to fill engine roughly up to the blue line I drew to submerse the starter clutch, which is roughly where I drew the circle. Might be a good idea to pull the sparkplugs with the engine that full to prevent possible hydrolock....

Capture.JPG
DenverWinger - Thanks for the graphics.

Any thoughts on if submersion to that level will affect cylinders 3&4? If the starter clutch actually engages and starts turning hte crankshaft, will the solvent potentially run through the cylinders, past the exhaust ports into the pipes? I may start at lower levels to see if some benefit happens before going to the full level to keep the solvents out of the cylinders, if possible.

As long as we're talking, I'm also concerned the solvent, most likely paint thinner for me, will impact the engine gaskets as the previous mechanic used RTV/liquid gasket material in past overhauls. It would be ironic if the cure for starter clutch caused oil leaks that could only be fixed by taking the engine out.

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by eklimek » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:08 am

Sac

If you start at lower levels the chain will be immersed and that may accomplish the task.

It is not clear from my recollection. Does the horizontal passes the oil drain plug?

Can you insert a transparent hose as a temporary fill gauge?

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by WingAdmin » Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:18 am

Keep in mind that there are two oil pumps in the engine - there is an oil scavenge pump at the back of the engine. So if you fill the crankcase with solvent, tip the engine back and crank it, you're going to be pumping solvent up into the oil circuits. Solvent is not a very good lubricant (pretty much the opposite), so you will want to greatly limit how much (and how quickly) you crank it.

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by DenverWinger » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:51 am

sacruickshank wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:53 am
Any thoughts on if submersion to that level will affect cylinders 3&4? If the starter clutch actually engages and starts turning hte crankshaft, will the solvent potentially run through the cylinders, past the exhaust ports into the pipes? I may start at lower levels to see if some benefit happens before going to the full level to keep the solvents out of the cylinders, if possible.
The piston rings will keep the solvent out of the cylinders (well, immersed so maybe a little seepage) so I wouldn't worry about that, and having the sparkplugs out will prevent any possibility of a hydrolock. Any solvent that does happen to get past won't hurt anything if it get into the pipes anyway.

May not be a bad idea to add a couple quarts of ATF (also a good solvent) to your solvent. At least that way your solvent soup will have SOME lubricating properties if the starter clutch decides to catch.
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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by eklimek » Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:16 pm

Almost certainly the sprague will catch. The clicking noise is because at the outset only one of the rollers catches but is inadequate to turn the motor. Once the starter spins, none of the rollers work as engineered. I found with the spark plugs removed the drag is negligible and the engine will turn over.

Continuing to turn over the engine then allows the other rollers to engage and the solvent works to fee them up. That assumes it is crud that can wash out.

I also wndered about the lack of lubrication. I think given the lack of compression the surface friction alone is very small.

Three oil changes were required to restore the oil drainage to normal appearance afterward. I first drained it and replaced with cheapest oil on hand. I ran the motor very briefly forperhaps a minute to flush the galleries and changed to oil. After the third 10-40 as required. Yes, the filters were replaced each time. No, I never examined the filters.

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by sacruickshank » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:54 pm

Unfortunately, the paint thinner bath is not freeing my sprag clutch.

It's been filled to the brim all day with 3+ gallons of thinner and 1/3 gal wd40. After maybe 30 starter spins ... nothing. I'll try a few more times tonight then drain it. Should I worry about flash rust if I leave the engine unfilled after removing the paint thinner?

Any thoughts on trying diesel in the engine next? Maybe the sprag has some mild rust that diesel will loosen.

If not, it's looking more like the engine is coming out. Bummer.

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by eklimek » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:51 pm

Sac

Let it sit until next weekend. You have all winter r&r.

A good soak may be required.

Ed

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Re: How to free up a starter sprague clutch

Post by sacruickshank » Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:48 am

Looks like my bike must have something rusted, busted, or missing.

It sat for 4 days in diesel and then 4 days in paint thinner with WD-40 mixed in. Starter still just spins with no noticeable difference.

Time to drain it and pull the engine. I'll post a pic once I see what's inside.

Thanks for the suggestion and guidance.



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