Starter not engaging clutch


Information and questions on GL1100 Goldwings (1980-1983)
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dano955
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:53 am
Location: Macon, Georgia
Motorcycle: 1985 GL1200 Interstate

Starter not engaging clutch

Post by dano955 »



a month ago my starter failed on my 1985 Interstate. when I broke it down I found a tad broken on the postive brush. well my local Honda place wanted $28 a piece,( i asked twice) so I orderd them off e-bay for $9. after repair and installing the starter it only spins and not engaged the motor. i just do not believe that the starter clutch went out along with the starter at the same time.i could be wrong but let me say that again i hope they have not stop at same time. i do not see how i could have missed the gear inside the motor. please i need some ideas or suggestions because i really miss riding my bike


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wjnfirearms
Posts: 397
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:51 pm
Location: Portersville, Pennsylvania
Motorcycle: 1977 GL1000
1980 KZ750 LTD
2007 H-D XL1200C

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by wjnfirearms »

Starters basically work by the same principle regardless of what type of vehicle they are on.

You obviously already understand how they spin by knowing that the commutator brushes failed on yours. They engage the engine by a mechanism called a Bendix drive. This juts out the gear that engages the engine when power is supplied to the starter and retracts when it is removed when the engine starts. It sounds like this is where the problem lies in yours now. Generally, when the Bendix fails, the starter either needs rebuilt or replaced. You never stated if yours functioned before you replaced the brushes or exactly what the starter was doing, or not doing, when you serviced it in the first place. Unfortunately, by my long experience with starters in general (more automotive than motorcycle but they're similar in any event), you may well be looking at needing to replace it.
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dano955
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:53 am
Location: Macon, Georgia
Motorcycle: 1985 GL1200 Interstate

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by dano955 »

wjnfirearms wrote:Starters basically work by the same principle regardless of what type of vehicle they are on.

You obviously already understand how they spin by knowing that the commutator brushes failed on yours. They engage the engine by a mechanism called a Bendix drive. This juts out the gear that engages the engine when power is supplied to the starter and retracts when it is removed when the engine starts. It sounds like this is where the problem lies in yours now. Generally, when the Bendix fails, the starter either needs rebuilt or replaced. You never stated if yours functioned before you replaced the brushes or exactly what the starter was doing, or not doing, when you serviced it in the first place. Unfortunately, by my long experience with starters in general (more automotive than motorcycle but they're similar in any event), you may well be looking at needing to replace it.
Do I need to replace bendix
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wjnfirearms
Posts: 397
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:51 pm
Location: Portersville, Pennsylvania
Motorcycle: 1977 GL1000
1980 KZ750 LTD
2007 H-D XL1200C

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by wjnfirearms »

I guess the biggest issue is the availability of rebuild parts, which I just plain do not know yet. I'm newer to the Wing world and am just learning what is available for our vintage models and what is not. For the sake of time and potential aggravation, it might be better all around to locate a replacement starter and swap the whole part. It could end up cheaper in the end possibly. It is possible that a good generator shop may be able to repair your existing starter, but again, that depends on parts being around.
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dano955
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:53 am
Location: Macon, Georgia
Motorcycle: 1985 GL1200 Interstate

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by dano955 »

wjnfirearms wrote:I guess the biggest issue is the availability of rebuild parts, which I just plain do not know yet. I'm newer to the Wing world and am just learning what is available for our vintage models and what is not. For the sake of time and potential aggravation, it might be better all around to locate a replacement starter and swap the whole part. It could end up cheaper in the end possibly. It is possible that a good generator shop may be able to repair your existing starter, but again, that depends on parts being around.
i got another bendix --can a bendix be tested
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WingAdmin
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Posts: 22236
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: Strongsville, OH
Motorcycle: 2000 GL1500 SE
1982 GL1100A Aspencade (sold)
1989 PC800 (sold)
1998 XV250 Virago (sold)
2012 Suzuki Burgman 400 (wife's!)
2007 Aspen Sentry Trailer

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by WingAdmin »

wjnfirearms wrote:Starters basically work by the same principle regardless of what type of vehicle they are on.

You obviously already understand how they spin by knowing that the commutator brushes failed on yours. They engage the engine by a mechanism called a Bendix drive. This juts out the gear that engages the engine when power is supplied to the starter and retracts when it is removed when the engine starts. It sounds like this is where the problem lies in yours now. Generally, when the Bendix fails, the starter either needs rebuilt or replaced. You never stated if yours functioned before you replaced the brushes or exactly what the starter was doing, or not doing, when you serviced it in the first place. Unfortunately, by my long experience with starters in general (more automotive than motorcycle but they're similar in any event), you may well be looking at needing to replace it.
That's a good description of how car (and airplane) starters work, but in the case of our motorcycles, it's a totally different beast. There is no bendix/spring or anything of the sort.

Instead, the starter is permanently connected via splined shaft to a sprocket, which turns a chain, which in turn turns a larger sprocket connected to a sprag clutch. The sprag clutch is a one-way clutch, which means it engages when the starter turns, so that it cranks the engine - but as soon as the engine fires, and starts spinning faster than the starter, it disengages. This is why you can press the starter button on the bike when the engine is already running with no damage being done.

The problem is, the sprag clutch is in an area of the engine that gets very poor oil flow. As a result, sludge tends to collect in the sprags. Eventually, there is enough sludge that the springs on the sprags can no longer push enough to engage the clutch, and as a result, the starter just spins without cranking the engine.

The easiest way to fix this is with a healthy dose of Seafoam in the crankcase. Change the oil, and with the fresh oil, add half a can of Seafoam. Now the hard part: You need to run the engine for a good hundred miles or so. If the starter engages occasionally, you're in business. If you can't get the starter engaged at all, you'll need to get some friends to help out and push start your bike.

Once you've finished your big ride, and while the oil is still hot, change the oil again. You'll see big chunks of black goo come out with the oil - that's what the Seafoam has dislodged. With the fresh oil and dislodged sludge, your starter should be good to go.

If not...then it gets more difficult, because the only other way to get to the sprag clutch is to pull the engine and split the engine case - and that's major work.
dano955
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:53 am
Location: Macon, Georgia
Motorcycle: 1985 GL1200 Interstate

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by dano955 »

thanks-by adding seafoam to the oil and turning the rear wheel work
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WingAdmin
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Location: Strongsville, OH
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1982 GL1100A Aspencade (sold)
1989 PC800 (sold)
1998 XV250 Virago (sold)
2012 Suzuki Burgman 400 (wife's!)
2007 Aspen Sentry Trailer

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by WingAdmin »

dano955 wrote:thanks-by adding seafoam to the oil and turning the rear wheel work
Turning the rear wheel (in gear, with the ignition on) will work to get it started, but you really need to have the engine hot and running for a good 100 miles to dislodge the sludge.
dano955
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:53 am
Location: Macon, Georgia
Motorcycle: 1985 GL1200 Interstate

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by dano955 »

what is the best gear to push start
dano955
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:53 am
Location: Macon, Georgia
Motorcycle: 1985 GL1200 Interstate

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by dano955 »

when i tried to start the bike this morning,every 5th or 6th time it would move like when i didn't have the clutch lever pulled all the way in-it even backfired one time-so i guessed it trying to engage-going to change oil and add seafoam -[half of bottle right] try to push start it and ride about 50 miles==then change the oil and filter again--wish me luck -cause i really miss riding my goldwing and i get 15mpg in my silverado and around 43 on bike--driving 500 miles a week at almost $4 a gallon in GA is a big saving for a poor man like me---AGAIN THANKS GUYS
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WingAdmin
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Posts: 22236
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: Strongsville, OH
Motorcycle: 2000 GL1500 SE
1982 GL1100A Aspencade (sold)
1989 PC800 (sold)
1998 XV250 Virago (sold)
2012 Suzuki Burgman 400 (wife's!)
2007 Aspen Sentry Trailer

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by WingAdmin »

It can be quite tough to push start in first gear, as the gearing means it will be spinning the engine the fastest this way - you can even lock up the rear wheel.

Try second, and if that doesn't work, third gear. Remember to have the choke out, because the engine will be cold. Once the engine catches, pull the clutch right in, because being stone cold, it won't have enough power to push the bike along, especially if it's not in first gear.
dano955
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:53 am
Location: Macon, Georgia
Motorcycle: 1985 GL1200 Interstate

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by dano955 »

thanks-i call some friends to push start it after i change the oil i tried it one more time and it engaged--i drove about 60 miles. when i got home and switch it off the starter would only spin until maybe the 5th time--i going to change the oil and add seafoam and because i had only time to drive 60 miles i going to drive a 100--thanks again i will keep you guys informed--is there things i can look for or do if i have to pull the engine to help me in the future
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wjnfirearms
Posts: 397
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:51 pm
Location: Portersville, Pennsylvania
Motorcycle: 1977 GL1000
1980 KZ750 LTD
2007 H-D XL1200C

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by wjnfirearms »

Thanks for clarifying that, Admin. I guess I just assumed that they pretty much worked the same way most of the rest did. Proves that I have a lot to learn about the Wing idiosyncrasies.
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Lucky07
Posts: 53
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:21 am
Location: Ottawa, ON Canada
Motorcycle: 1983 GL1100A Aspencade
1984 CB550SC (Sold it :( )

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by Lucky07 »

Necro Thread!!! but it's the one master Google brought me to :?

Went out to start the bike today and 1/5 times it'll engage and turn the engine, the other 4 times the starter just spins "empty".

15w40 Rotella in there, from last season... (long story, didn't get a chance to change it in the fall, maybe 4500-5000 km on it). So thick oil + coldish weather = my problem maybe. I'm going to wait until it warms up some and try her again to see what she says. If it works fine/better would I be right in assuming it's likely a buildup of sludge in the sprag that becomes too stiff in colder weather to let the spag clutch open up?

If it does work better when it's warm then how should I go about this seafoam in the crankcase business?

Option 1: Leave old oil and filter in there and add seafoam to clean everything up then change the oil and filter.
Option 2: Change the oil, but leave filter add seafoam and then change oil and filter when done.
Option 3: Change oil and filter, do seafoam, then change again? (seems like a waste of a filter on this one)

I've already pulled the starter, doesn't look like its the problem but it could us a good cleaning and likely a rebuild so might as well do that while I have it out.
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Wilcoy02
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Location: Marengo, Ohio
Motorcycle: 1983 GL1100 I purchased 3/16

1983 GL1100I frame with an 80 engine. poor boy installed with C-5 ignition--DIED in Grande Prairie Alberta Canada 8/15


98 valkyrie sold 8/16

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by Wilcoy02 »

Leave the filter.

I am on my 3 time to adding sea foam. Does not want to start under 45 degrees.
Make sure you take out oil before adding sea foam. Do not overfill the oil.
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Lucky07
Posts: 53
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Location: Ottawa, ON Canada
Motorcycle: 1983 GL1100A Aspencade
1984 CB550SC (Sold it :( )

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by Lucky07 »

Wilcoy02 wrote: Mon Mar 16, 2020 10:20 pm Leave the filter.

I am on my 3 time to adding sea foam. Does not want to start under 45 degrees.
Make sure you take out oil before adding sea foam. Do not overfill the oil.
So you're saying your wing's starter spins "empty" (sprag wont catch) when the temp is under 45 but when it warms up she catches and turns the engine?

I started it yesterday and went for a little ride around the block a few times, smoked a bit on startup but ran good otherwise. She had a hard time starting initially but that had nothing to do with the starter its'self. It was probably around 36~38 F or so here yesterday when I started it, sprag caught every time. Today we were sitting around 14 F in the morning, warmed up to 30 or so by the time I tried to start it and that's when the problem showed up.
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Wilcoy02
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Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:37 pm
Location: Marengo, Ohio
Motorcycle: 1983 GL1100 I purchased 3/16

1983 GL1100I frame with an 80 engine. poor boy installed with C-5 ignition--DIED in Grande Prairie Alberta Canada 8/15


98 valkyrie sold 8/16

Re: Starter not engaging clutch

Post by Wilcoy02 »

Yes. That is what I am saying happens.


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