Information and questions on GL1200 Goldwings (1984-1987)
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Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2022 7:49 pm
Location: Linden, MI USA
Motorcycle: 1985 gl1200i Interstate


Post by Boomer2wheels »

I have a 1985 GL 1200 interstate. The bike was idling for about 10 minutes and when I pushed it down off of the center stand I heard a scraping, grinding sound. Initially I thought perhaps it was something wrong with the cooling fan because it seemed to be about the temperature when the cooling fan would kick in.

On the ride home I noticed that the voltmeter, which is usually in the mid to upper 13's and occasionally 14 was actually reading in the 10's and low 11's. I could also smell the distinctive smell of burning insulation from wire.
After about 5 minutes the voltage began to come back up to near normal and even hit 14 and the smell went away.

When I arrived home I first checked the fuse to the cooling fan and fully expected to see the fuse was blown. It was not. I had no blown fuses at all. I decided to start the bike and let it warm up to where the fan would kick on and see if I heard the noise again. However, the bike would not start.

When I pushed the start button I could hear the starter relay click and that was it. I tried to jump the starter relay but still nothing. Then I ran a cable directly from the positive post on the battery to the post on the starter. Again nothing.

I tapped the starter with a hammer a few times, still nothing.

Quick background, two years ago the stator went and I replaced it with the poor boy alternator conversion.

Last September the starter went and I replaced the starter with a DB electrical. It lasted about 9 months and for about a week before it went out I noticed there was a distinctive lag when trying to start the bike. Then one night it just would not start. It was as if the battery just did not have enough power to turn the starter.

I was able to jump start the bike and rode it home, but again was able to smell burning wires. As it turned out the starter relay appeared to be fried along with some of the wiring at the relay.

I thought this was because I did not spend the $240 to get a Rick's starter. At any rate, I did buy the Rick's starter this time, and replaced the starter relay and repaired all of the wiring. Also the battery is a YUASA battery purchaseD new earlier this year. Battery voltage when I turn on the key is 12.8.

For about a month now the bike has been starting beautifully with the new Rick's starter, until tonight. That is when we heard the grinding, scraping noise and then when I got home, the bike will not start.

Is it possible that there is a short in the start button and it tried to engage the starter while the bike was running and actually burned up the starter? Is this a possibility? Also, what else would cause the Goldwing to eat starters the way it is?

Many, many thanks in advance.

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Re: Starter

Post by WingAdmin »

Most likely the starter relay stuck on, causing the starter to continue to run after the bike was started.

Riding down the road, you likely hit a bump that was enough to dislodge the stuck starter relay. Either that, or the windings in the starter overheated and melted. That would explain the smell and the fact that it's no longer working.

Make sure the bike is in neutral, and put a screwdriver across the two terminals on the starter relay. If the starter cranks, then you know the relay is at fault. If the starter does not crank, you've got an issue with either one of the cables between the battery/relay/starter, or the starter itself is done.
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Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2015 7:35 pm
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Motorcycle: 1984 GL1200 Aspencade
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Re: Starter

Post by the_big_h »

On my '84 GL1200, I had a problem with a cheap solenoid I had installed. It stuck ON one time - I didn't notice (starter is very quiet compared to engine noise) and rode an hour. Much to my surprise, when I switched off, the engine wouldn't stop - it was just cranking away. If I recall, I whacked the solenoid and it became un-stuck and stopped cranking.

All this to say - I had my starter running a long time with engine running, with no damage.

The starter drive on a motorcycle is different than in a car:
- A car starter uses the solenoid to push the starter pinion into engagement with the ring gear, and pulls it out of engagement when you let go of the key. The pinion and ring gear are normally unlubricated, and would not last long if kept in engagement with engine running.
- A motorcycle starter engages the engine through an overrunning clutch. If the engine is running faster than the starter, the starter just spins freely at it's no-load speed. No grinding, no drama.

It's possible your solenoid is sticking ON (maybe just once in a while?) and that is wearing out your starter. I think you would have noticed, because if it is stuck on, when you key off the engine will be cranking instead of stopping. On my 1200, I still have a trailer marked light connected to the starter, to show me when the starter is getting power. If it's on when I am not cranking, I have a problem.

If you noticed smell of burning wires, you should be able to find these burned wires.

How did you wire the poorboy alternator? The power wiring on this vintage of Honda has (in my opinion) a design defect, where all the bike's power draw goes into and back out of the solenoid spade terminals. Any slightest bad connection there will melt the solenoid and 4-pin solenoid connector. If I recall I soldered the Red to the Red/White wires (may have been a different bike...). One is power from Regulator/Rectifier, one is power to all bike electrics, they connect to a common point in the solenoid anyways.

I don't know where the grinding noise would be coming from.

Voltage checks should help you, I installed a voltmeter to help troubleshoot other problems I had.
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