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Thread: Electric Start not working

  1. #1
    Junior Member SeattleTW's Avatar
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    Electric Start not working

    Hello all!

    This is my first time posting and hoping to get a little insight on an issue I have with my electric start on my TW. Forgive me if this has been addressed somewhere else.

    Background:
    I recently bought a 1989 TW from an old boss in April. Little over 3,000 miles and in pretty good condition. Bike runs like a top, fires right up on the first or second kick every time, runs like a champ. However, the electric start does not work. Yeah, it's not a huge deal as the bike has the kick start but not having the electric start really bugs me.
    I'm not stranger to forums so I'll try to detail EVERYTHING I know as of now.

    What's really happening?
    With the key turned to ON, hitting the starter button produces a "click-click clicking" sound. I'm assuming that is the relay. But the starter is not turning, not even budge.

    So what did I do first?
    I bought a new battery thinking that was the issue. The old one was the original and was toast. New battery, same result. Next, I came here and read up as much as I could on the electrical system of the bike.

    What I can (or at least think I can) eliminate from what could be causing it.

    All safetys for kick stand and neutral are intact.

    What I could gather from sifting through this site:
    I've read something on here that the clutch plates could be stuck together. What I got from the previous owner is the guy he bought it from said he never used the electric starter. Not sure if it wasn't working then but I feel safe to assume that those clutch plates are probably stuck together and to fix this, put the bike in 3rd or 4th and try rolling the bike to free them. Is that thinking correct?

    Is the starter dead? What I haven't tried is running straight 12v to the starter to see if it will turn. I currently have the bike stored at my folks house on the east side of the state so getting to wrench on it wont happen for another few weeks. If the starter is junk, are replacements available or something I would have to have re-worked at a local motor shop?

    Any insight, thoughts or comments are appreciated. I know this is the place to get any questions answered and I look forward to learning something new regarding this issue.

    Cheers,
    Alex
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  2. #2
    Senior Member GaryL's Avatar
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    The first thing I would do is check the new battery to make sure it has a full charge. Mine does the same thing once in a while so I will be pulling the button switch to make sure there is no corrosion in it. Then I will check all the connections from the relay to the starter and make sure I have good connections and ground. After that I would pull the starter and try it with direct 12V.

    GaryL
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  3. #3
    Senior Member TW-Brian's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum Seattle, and congrats on your TW!

    Thanks for doing your homework first and for providing detailed information. First off, if you are able to kickstart your bike and ride it without problems, then your clutch plates should be fine and are not contributing to the problem of the starter motor not working.

    When you get back to your bike, try connecting the battery in your bike to the battery in your car (not running) using jumper cables. This is to rule out your battery as a source of the problem even though you said it is new. If that doesn't work, then I would try connecting 12 volts (positive) directly to the battery as you have mentioned. If the starter turns, then it would appear that you have a starter relay/switch problem. If the starter doesn't turn then you may have a bad starter. While you are at it, I would also suggest cleaning the battery connections and also the connection to the starter.

    The starter is super easy to remove/replace. Just two bolts and one electrical connection.

    I hope this helps,

    Brian

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  5. #4
    rbm
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    Hello and welcome! I'd check your new battery to make sure it's fully charged, that's the most likely culprit.

    Edit: 2 posts in the time it took me to type this...
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    Super Moderator littletommy's Avatar
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    Perfect advice from these guys !!

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  7. #6
    Senior Member GaryL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbm View Post
    Hello and welcome! I'd check your new battery to make sure it's fully charged, that's the most likely culprit.

    Edit: 2 posts in the time it took me to type this...
    And I thought it was just me slowing down in my old age!

    GaryL
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    Be Decisive! Right or Wrong just make a decision. ​ The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn't make a decision.

    Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
    If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

    1987 Yamaha BW350 Big Wheel
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  8. #7
    Senior Member RobG's Avatar
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    If the starter is good, then it's likely the starter clutch. I repaired that in my '92 TW when I first got it, as it too was kick-only at the time.

    Repair isn't all that difficult, but it IS a little time-consuming. You get to pull the left side of the motor off, then remove the flywheel (the big round shiny thing). Attached to the back of it is the starter clutch. Inside this little thing are some flat, round metal things (pucks), some springs, and some dowel pins. If they aren't setup right or are missing, there's your problem. The parts are cheap... like, $10-ish for everything.
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  9. #8
    rbm
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    Quote Originally Posted by TWilight View Post
    Great info RobG. So...SeattleTW, if it comes down to that being the problem, bring your TW down to my place...15 miles south of Olympia, and WE can fix it together.
    I have all the tools needed, and a large lift to put the bike UP in the air. Just let me know, and I will be ready.
    That's a great offer Mike! If I lived closer, I'd most likely break something so I could come over and hang for a while...
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  10. #9
    Senior Member RockyTFS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbm View Post
    ....
    Edit: 2 posts in the time it took me to type this...
    We may ride slow bikes but we type fast!!!!
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  11. #10
    Senior Member Dryden-Tdub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TWilight View Post
    Great info RobG. So...SeattleTW, if it comes down to that being the problem, bring your TW down to my place...15 miles south of Olympia, and WE can fix it together.
    I have all the tools needed, and a large lift to put the bike UP in the air. Just let me know, and I will be ready.
    SeattleTW take Mike up on this offer if at all possible! He may not know a thing about apples but he is a veteran motorcycle guy. Yes it pains me greatly to say this




    Tom
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