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FLH Solenoid

Discussion in 'Motorcycle Tech Talk' started by KPSHOVELHEAD, Aug 11, 2019.

  1. KPSHOVELHEAD

    KPSHOVELHEAD New Member

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    I got a 1983 FLH Shovelhead and having problems with the starter. When I check the voltage at the solenoid on the battery lead I have 12v, and when I disconnect the small lead from switch I have 12v on that wire, but when I put the small wire back on solenoid, I only get about 8v on small wire and wire going to starter, but still have 12v on the battery lead on solenoid. Could it be a bad solenoid?
  2. Red Rider

    Red Rider Well-Known Member

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    OK, 2 disclaimers: I'm not a shovelhead guy, and I'm not sure I understand all your wire references. You also haven't wrote what your symptoms are - is it a weak starter turning; no starter turn; clicking solenoid or no clicking? Or something else?
    That said - have you bypassed the solenoid and gone straight to the starter with 12vdc? It isn't that hard to do, and will tell you whether a starter is or isn't the problem. I can't be sure from here, but it may be one of your windings failed on the starter, giving a weak start symptom. The 8vdc made me suspect that.

    Good luck & let us know what you learn
  3. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Could be, could also be a bad starter switch in the bars, Like Red said
    run a wire from the pos cable at the battery directly to the solenoid where
    you normally connect the starter wire. Be sure it's in N or it will not be fun
    if the bike takes off across the room...

    See if it starts and the starter turns fine, if so, look up the wires to the switch
    in the bars and to the ignition, you'll have to trace back using a multi meter..

    If the starter has problems just replace with a stock HD starter...
    Red Rider likes this.
  4. badinfluence63

    badinfluence63 Well-Known Member

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    Starter gear not even engaging?
  5. Red Rider

    Red Rider Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, it is tough for us to help without complete symptoms, which is a BIG TIP for anyone asking for help on this forum - or any other, for that matter!:banghead A thorough description here can lead to a whole lot less headache in the garage.
  6. WVBiker

    WVBiker New Member

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    You have a wire leak. Hope you don't burn the thing up.
  7. baggerpaul

    baggerpaul Well-Known Member

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    use a jumper wire from batt positive to selonoid if it starts you have voltage drop at switch on bars. if it doesent you have a bad selonoid at primary .dont forget to shim it proper or you will burn new selonoid up at contacts.Its a shovel not strait forward install!
  8. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    guess he got it fixed and is out riding since we haven't heard back LOL
  9. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    I have an '82 FXE, and a lot of electrical time behind that, and working for Xerox for 20 years, and Electronics Technology college.
    What I always did was, with the bike in Neutral, and key on the run setting, take a big insulated flat blade screwdriver, I have one with a wooden handle, and touch the 2 big terminals on the solenoid with it. That is basically bypassing the solenoid and jumping 12VDC directly to the starter. If the starter cranks over OK, then your starter is OK and you need to troubleshoot the circuit to/from your start button and/or swap out the solenoid with a known good one. God it's been forever, but it I remember correctly when you press the start button it sends 12VDC to the solenoid small terminal, energizing the solenoid and making a connection internally to the 2 large terminals in essence jumping the starter the same way you would with a screwdriver. It's been ages though, and without my manual in front of me I'm not 100% sure if pressing the start button sends 12VDC to the solenoid, or grounds that terminal. Without a schematic in front of me I can't be certain! Ah the days of the Post-Shovelhead! We don't usually have to get into too many electrical issues!
    Snyde
  10. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It should send 12 volts to the solenoid from the starter button..

    Now days the solenoid is grounded and there is
    a small connector on top that comes from the starter
    button, and that's where the 12 volts is delivered to
    kick the solenoid into action.

    A way to check is to take a wire from the positive terminal of the
    battery and jump it straight to the solenoid connection for the
    starter button. If it works you have a wire or button problem, if not
    you have a solenoid problem.
  11. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    That's the same as my Shovelhead, IIRC. Either short the small terminal to the main battery terminal on the solenoid, or short both large terminals on the solenoid to crank the starter over. I guess I was pretty lucky that way, I never had a starter or solenoid problem on it, EXCEPT once at the end of it's "run" with me.
    I hadn't had it running in a couple of years, so I got a small flat blade screwdriver started the bike up and took it for a ride. My thought was I'd go for a ride and warm it up, then stop somewhere and adjust the S&S Super E idle mixture, speed, and accelerator pump adjustments. Well it ran so well that I forgot about the adjustment and after a nice putt I drove it back to my garage. I got off the bike and remembered the carb adjustment, so I got back on the bike and tried to start it. The bendix somehow jammed and the solenoid didn't release and things started smoking! I never ran the 30A main circuit breaker on it. Anyway I jumped off the bike, went for the fire extinguisher then realized if it caught fire the fire extinguisher wouldn't help an electrical fire, so I ran to my toolbox and grabbed my bolt cutters and went back to the bike and cut the main 12VDC lead going from the battery to the solenoid. Luckily I got to it quick enough that I didn't do any more damage than burn a little insulation off of the cable I cut. This all happened in a matter of less than 5 min. I eventually replaced that cable, installed a 30A circuit breaker between the battery and the bike, and ran it again, but it pissed me off so much that I went down the street where someone had a 1998 FXSTC for sale out in front of his house. I talked to the guy and he said "do you want to see it run"? I said sure. He gave me the key, said start it up. I turned it on, pressed the start button and it started right up. Right then I decided I wanted it, an Evolution, and one that would start every time I pressed the start button!! Unlike my Shovel or Pan. It seemed like I was always messing with something on them. The only problems I've had on the FXSTC is the battery, that I figured I'd have to eventually replace, and the starter clutch went out twice over the years and I ordered them on Amazon and installed them myself, so they were cheap enough! Now I've got a short in the lighting circuit, which I believe is self-induced, and I'll eventually figure that out.
    Take care,
    Snyde
  12. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    My Heritage 2000 with the 124 was famous for having electrical issues with the main ignition switch and then the starter.

    The switch would get hot, burn up and fail, even melted the plastic connector and some of the wire running back to the fuse block, but never popped any fuses or relays. Always happened when I was too far from home. Stranded me two or three times and replaced the main dash switch three times the last one HD finally upgraded the switch because the problem stopped, had to cut back the main red power wire, put on a new terminal and cover.

    The starter issue was my own fault, since I went from 88 to 124 CUI decided I should have bigger starter, it was a mistake, all kinds of problems with it, put the stock 88 cui HD starter on and the problems ended. In the end the stock HD starter was best.

    Also had problems with the main breaker, went through a few of those until we found that the main power wire going to it was separating internally and shorting out the bike, probably what was feeding bad power to the main power ignition dash switch.
  13. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    That switch thing sounds like a real PITA! I would think on the Evos, and newer bikes that that wouldn't happen. You'd especially think the circuit breaker, or fuse on that circuit would blow first and not burn the switch, wiring, or connector. Glad they sorted it out for you! Sounds like the days of AMF! The upgraded engine thing is something I've never done. I always kept my engines stock. I figured that's the way Harley designed them, so that's the way I'll keep them. Started with my PAN 74 cu in, my Shovel, 80 cu in, my Electra-Glide 88 cu in. I was never a "speed junkie" and didn't care if it was fast or not. It was always fast enough. I went from my 1st bike a used 1968 650cc. BSA Lightening, to my 1200cc Panhead and that was enough of an upgrade that I never needed any more speed out of it. It wasn't until about 5 years ago when I bought a 2008 FXSTSSE2 CVO with a 110 cu in engine that I understood what the "deal" was with going fast!! It's fast as hell, but sucks gas like no tomorrow! I actually bought it for the looks, not the engine. A Softail frame with a Springer, and a cool as hell paint job!! I would have bought it with whatever the regular sized engines they were selling on their bikes at the time, I didn't care about the speed. 96 cu. in. engines maybe?
    My 1st H.D. was that 1960 FLH and I always had 6V generator problems with it. It would just out of the blue, stop charging the battery and run until the battery went flat. I'd troubleshoot it and it was always the armature in the gen. that went bad. I got so sick of buying 6V armatures that, when someone told me I could run 6V Volkswagen generators on it I started doing that. I think maybe I had to buy a special adapter mounting "plate" that I swapped in and changed the Harley mounting plate. I used to go to an auto junkyard in Chas., SC. when I lived down there, and buy generators for $5.00. This was back in '79-80 timeframe. I'd clean the commutator up, put new brushes in it and they worked great! It wasn't until I came back to NY and had the bike restored by a bike builder here, that I notice he put a metal band over what I thought was an open slot on the generator used for cooling. I asked him about it. He said no, that is an inspection slot, so you can easily inspect your commutator and brushes. He said you don't run it without that band on it the road "grime" will ruin your generator. He put one on the bike, we upgraded everything to 12V and I never had another bit of problems with that!
    So for years I fought that problem because I didn't have the proper "band" covering the slot in the generator. When I bought the bike it didn't have one on it so I just assumed that that was the way they made them!
    Oh well,
    Take care,
    Snyde
  14. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    LOL if you'd just had the innerwebs back then......

    Yeah power is great, especially when you're a heavier guy on
    a heavier bike...
  15. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Yeah, my GOD, that was back when computers were "whole room" mainframe jobs used at NASA and other scientific agencies! I'm 5'10" approx 220lbs, not obese, even though my "body mass index" reading says I am, like I give a crap! So I don't consider myself obese, just "curvy"! o_O
    I really could have saved a lot of time and work had I had one of today's laptops and the Internet. Everything was just friends exchanging tips, kind of thing, and Easyrider magazine. This was 1975 to 1980 time frame. To make matters worse I moved there, Chas., SC, from western NY so I didn't have a lot of friends, but I got by.
    The power thing. I completely understand! My damn 2008 FXSTSSE2 with the 110 cu in engine is so powerful I think I could "snap my neck" if I'm not careful! ;)
    If anything I wish that engine was on my 2006 Electra-Glide, I could use the power when hauling babes around! :) Like I said, I'm not a speed freak, well not that kind.! ;) I don't necessarily need a 110 cu in "bar hopper".
    Take care,
    Snyde

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