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brake line install, help!

Discussion in 'Motorcycle Tech Talk' started by snydley, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    I have a 1998 FXSTC and put smaller bars on it. The stock brake line was too long so I order a new line and connections from J&P. Got it all back together but now I have no brake on the front. I figured I'd have to bleed it, but it doesn't want to "bleed up". I pull the brake lever in and hold it, open the bleeder on the caliper, some fluid comes out, but not under any pressure. Then I close the bleeder screw on the caliper before I release the lever so I don't introduce more air into the system. I have no "resistance" when I pull the brake in. When I was taking it all apart I noticed that there wasn't much fluid in the master cylinder and it looked like there were small air bubbled in the fluid that was there. I topped it off anyway with new fluid and tried to bleed the system, but nothing. It won't bleed back up! Do I somehow have to bleed the master cylinder first? If I do, how do I do that? I'm doing this all manually with no "air pump pressure tool", just manually pumping the handle and opening the caliper bleeder. I've don't hundreds of bleeding jobs, on cars mostly, but some bikes too and never had this problem. Is there something I'm missing?
    Thanks for any help you might offer,
    Snyde
  2. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    fill the MC, have bike on side stand with MC level, remove the cover,
    zip tie the handle back full open, take a screwdriver and tap the caliper from bottom to top, then up the line all the way to the MC sometimes that frees up the air bubble.

    then release the handle and tap it, you should see bubbles come up, tap until you see no bubbles and just fluid jumping. Remember Dot4 will eat paint so cover the paint.

    If all that fails, look into a vac bleeder, they are under $30 and you'll use it more than you think. You connect it to the bleeder nipple, crack open and pump, it pulls fluid through the line and caliper, you'll see it get the bubble.

    Sometimes air gets caught at the top of the caliper, the vac will help

    https://www.northerntool.com/shop/t...MIyJKCpo6M6wIViLLICh2Q1g4eEAYYASABEgJaYfD_BwE
  3. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Thanks for the reply!
    I think I will get one of those vacuum brake bleeder tools. Harbor Freight has one for 24.95.
    I like the Northern Tools one better, it looks like it's better quality, but the website says they're back ordered for 15-29 business days. That's too long. I have 3 auto parts stores locally, I'll go there first and see if they have anything comparable. If not I'll get on my 2008 FXSTSSEE2 and take a trip to Rochester, NY from Dansville and pick one up! It's a good excuse for a road trip, like I need one! ;)
    I just went out and tried to bleed the brakes again, taking everything apart, cleaning it all and putting it back together, just in case. I really didn't need to do that, I mean it's just a damn brake line, BUT, the front brake worked perfectly with the old line when the old handlebars were on the bike. Now, I have no pressure coming out of the M.S. at all. There's got to be a lot of air in EVERYTHING since it's a new line and all. I think the vacuum device is a good option, vacuum all the air out of the system from the bleeder screw on the caliper. I've bled the brakes on my Shovel before and it was a simple process. At the most it took 10 min. I've done countless amount of cars over the years too. Something's going on here, since everything worked great with my old line. I do have fluid coming out of the caliper when I "crack" the bleeder screw but it just "drizzles" and there's no pressure behind it.
    Thanks again for the help, I'll follow up here when I get things fixed.
    Snyde
  4. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    good luck, HD front lines are famous for getting trapped air bubbles.

    unbolt the Caliper from the fork, remove, then move it around on it's side, as upside down as you can get to free up any bubbles trapped, then reinstall, don't pump the brake handle, then loosen up the new line and pump the handle lightly see if fluid comes through, then tighten down. then bleed...
  5. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Holy Crap! I found a cheap vacuum bleeder device at Harbor Freight.

    https://www.harborfreight.com/brake-bleeder-and-vacuum-pump-kit-63391.html?_br_psugg_q=vacuum pump

    A must have if your putting a new line on your bike!
    I went this morning and bought it. I just topped the M.C. off, hooked the vacuum device up to the caliper bleeder and pumped the vacuum a few times, cracked the bleeder screw and in less than 10 min. I had a good solid brake handle again! I couldn't do this by pumping the handle and opening the bleeder screw, but hooking the vacuum up to the bleeder screw was the trick!! Worth every penny of the $25.00 it cost! I topped the M.C. off again when I was done.
    I'm riding again!
    Thanks for all the help,
    Snyde
  6. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Glad it worked, I have one in the tool chest, bought it 15-20 years ago,

    Wait until you have to do a rear brake caliper LOL You'll be even happier!
  7. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    I've never used one before, I always did it the old fashioned way, pump,pump,pump,hold, crack bleeder, wait, tighten bleeder, let off handle or foot, rinse, and repeat. ;) This particular case that didn't work. I tried 3 times. I think the thing is, is I was installing a brand new line and I just couldn't get all the air out of it. I was starting to think something was wrong with the M.C. but I thought, no, it worked fine 2 minutes ago. Once I used the vacuum device on the caliper bleeder, topping the M.C. off as I went, that took care of things! I was very excited to see that firm brake handle again!! Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks, or old tricks for that matter!;)
    Thanks, and take care,
    Snyde
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
  8. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah been there done that, got the black t-shirt.
  9. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    So now I took the bike down to get it inspected and I have no headlight or tailight! If it ain't one thing it's another. I never even checked it before I went there, which is something I usually do. I just took it for granted it did. Damn Harleys!
    Snydley
  10. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    After more teardown and troubleshooting it looks like I have a dead short in my head/tailight circuit. When I turn the ign. switch on, normally the headlight and tailight light up but now nothing. As far as I know it used to work before I did the handlebar/brake line change, so I'll check there first. What happens now is as soon as I turn it on I hear a "click" and after a few seconds what seems like a reset, then another click, reset and on and on, but no lights. There are 4 circuit breakers. I ended up pulling them all out, replacing them 1 at a time, and it's the circuit breaker with the R/BK wire on one side and the BE wire on the other that's clicking. According to the schematic that's the headlight/taillight circuit. What I would like to do is to unplug the connector to the harness for the left controls, lights, and see if the cycling stops. I'd be unplugging the headlight from the circuit, but at least I could hear if the "clicking" continues, or if the cycling stops. I have the feeling that that connector is underneath the gas tanks, and if it means removing those I'll just look things over real good instead and see if I can find a short somewhere instead.
    Take care,
    Snyde
  11. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like you pinched a wire and it's shorting.

    Since it started after the work I'd look in the area you were working.

    Probably have to pull the tank and do the wiggle test, with power on
    wiggle the wires coming into the relay and you should find the problem.
  12. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    I think I must have somehow pinched a wire when I was putting the left controls on the new handlebars. 1st thing I'm gonna do is to take it off, inspect it, and see if I find a problem. Somehow, maybe, I broke the insulation on the blue or yellow wire and it's grounded out on the bars. I think if I remove the controls, and turn the key on it will no longer short out and the lights will work again. It's somewhere to start, and since things were fine for years before the handlebar swap, it seems like the most likely place to start.
    Thanks again for the reply!,
    Snyde
  13. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    generally when this happens to me, I just work back through my last work item which is what you're doing. Best way to find it, agree there is a pinched wire somewhere...

    I see......... electrical tape in your near future, or shrink wrap LOL
  14. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Me too! I kinda hope that's all it is!
    According to the schematic the Blue wire is the headlights power coming directly from the circuit breaker #2. The taillight is also connected to that blue wire, which makes sense. The load side of breaker #2, BLUE wire, is connected to the taillight and the power terminal on the headlight HI/LO switch. The power side of that breaker is connected to the ON position of the ignition switch via a R/BK wire.
    I also noticed my taillight was loose yesterday, so I took my seat off, and there are 2 connectors under there, I'm sure one connects to the tailight, so I unhooked them both, taking that out of the circuit. I turned the ignition on and the breaker is still "tripping" like it was, so that's telling me the short is "north" of the battery and taillight. So it looks like the gas tanks have to come off so I can get to the handlebar wiring connectors. I already took the left handlebar controls off and I don't see a problem with any of that, no ripped wires etc.
    I tried to drain the gas out of the tanks, but the petcock is a vacuum operated petcock so it won't let gas go to the carb with out the bike running. I thought I might use my new vacuum brake bleeder vacuum unit to apply vacuum to the petcock while I open it and drain the gas through another hose and gas can. I don't know how that vacuum line connects. I thought it would just be a right angled connection and would just "pop off" when I pulled on it, but it didn't seem to want to budge, so I gave up for the day.
    Damn thing,
    Snyde
  15. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Something I got thinking about today. I've had 3 or 4 different bars on this bike over the last 2 years, (I'm in search of the ideal handlebar, like so many others). I never had any problems with any of those swaps. It's usually just about the easiest upgrade you can do. About 2 years or so ago I bought a 5.75" LED daymaker type headlight on Amazon for cheap, and it's always worked great and had so much more light to it than the stock Harley setup. I really can't find anything wrong on the bike, no grounded wires or anything. Then I got to thinkin' I wonder if that cheap LED "crapped out" and shorted to ground? I would think it would "open" and not short to ground, but who knows. So tomorrow, before I pull the tanks off, I'm gonna take that LED off and see if my circuit breaker stops cycling and if I get my taillight back. That would be a real easy fix and save myself a lot of work if true. I'll report back what I find.
    Snyde
  16. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Won't hurt to disconnect the bulb, it will at least confirm or eliminate it as a cause.

    Tracing electrical is as much eliminating things as it is finding the problem.

    Yes you should be able to connect your new vac toy to the petcock, create a vacuum and drain the tank.

    My guess is you'll find the problem in the last place you look LOL and that will be under the farthest away inaccessible without all parts removed place...
  17. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    I ended up taking out the LED headlight, no change. I was able to drain the tanks and took the "drivers side" tank off so I could get to the handlebar connectors. I expected that once I disconnected the left handlebar controller connection, with the wiring coming from the lights circuit breaker, that the cycling would stop, like if I pinched and grounded a wire, but it didn't.
    At this point 2 connectors under the seat by the rear fender are disconnected, I figure one of those connectors has the wires for the tail light so that's out of the circuit. It's not until I disconnect the connector with the wires that I wired the LED turn signal/running light mirrors into that the cycling stops. So I cut and removed those LED mirrors, I'm gonna put a set of regular mirrors on it, and put the front stock incandescent turn signals back on and hopefully be done with it.I'm so done working on this electrical short crap!
    Snyde
  18. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    glad you found the issue
  19. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Turns out, the circuit breaker for the lighting circuit "wore out" at the same time that I installed the new handlebars! What's the chance in that happening? I asked a mechanic at an "indie" bike shop where I took another bike to get inspected. He said, oh, your circuit breaker went bad! I said that can happen?, he said yep! I just figured if one went bad it would either fail "open" or "shorted". Not cycle on and off and make a clicking noise! As soon as I turned the ignition on this one would start "clicking". So I took that C.B. out and put a 15A car fuse in in place of it. It works perfectly now. I chatted with a guy at "Ronnies" in MA. https://www.shopronniesharleydavidson.com/
    when I saw they had the circuit breakers for sale, and asked if they were C.B. or fuses. He said that Harley started selling fuses in place of C.B.s , so instead of buying those I just substituted a 15A car fuse in place of the C.B. It works perfect now, and I won't have to wonder if the C.B. went bad in the future, I'll either have light, or if the fuse blows, no lights. I figured I shorted a wire somewhere when I changed handlebars, but the circuit breaker just happened to go bad right at that time, no shorts anywhere. Go figure! That's a Harley for you though!
  20. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    LOL that does happen, I had a coil go out when I was working on building an engine, how does a running bikes coil go out just as soon as you put it back on,

    HD does run whats called a Maxi-fuse now, no master relay,

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