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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
POST SOLUTION EDIT:

This was a faulty battery issue! A new battery solved all of these weird issues and crazy glitches!

My advice is that if you have some electrical issues that start spontaneously and seem to have no logic behind them do yourself a HUGE favour and take your battery to get properly load tested. In my case they load tested it for free (and I didn't even buy my replacement battery from the shop that tested the battery - (they didn't have the right battery in stock). It takes a few seconds to do on a proper machine. Now, you can probably load test it at home if you know what you're doing, but if you don't, take it to a professional! My faulty battery was showing great voltage output under no load and mild load (which is what threw me for so long). Even if your battery seems good and even if it is relatively new, get that thing tested. Then go from there and do further investigation if it your battery is declared good! It so happens that I found a lose connection when I pulled the headlight off, but I probably created that when I took the headlight off! So meddling around with the harness could potentially create problems that didn't exist before. TEST THAT BATTERY!!!

END OF EDIT

Hey guys,

I'm having a spot of bother of the electrical kind with my '95. I'm not sure where to go next with my limited knowledge, and was wondering if anyone had any pointers on what may be going on.

So, after a long ride I stop, put the old girl in neutral, throw down the side stand and sit there puzzled as the engine dies! I shrug it off as a one off and go about my business. On return to my steed, after switching on the ignition i was greeted by a flickering neutral light. Odd i thought to myself, while eagerly mashing the go button. Once again my brow furrowed a touch deeper as the mule just sat there refusing to start, my button pushing failing to bring her to life. Not a sound! I eventually kicked her into action with my right foot and off I went wondering if she's punishing me for something.

While riding home neutral light flickered on and off intermittently, the turn signals don't flash properly, kind of dull, slow and flickery too. There is a buzzy sound coming from the instrument panel and the headlight dims noticably when indicating my intention to turn too. Just pulling the brake lever makes the headlight half as bright it seems!

I think I have ruled out the battery as it was fully charged in 5 mins after reconnecting it to the trickle charger on arriving home. My gut tells me it is the side stand switch, but I thought that once that goes you won't be able to even kick start the bike. And why is it messing with the rest of the electrics? Rapidly switching on and off perhaps? Could it be a fuse blown or a dodgy connection somewhere deep in the cobwebby loom!? Could it be a rougue flasher unit causing all this havoc?

I guess I should stop procrastinating and get a new side stand switch and hope it fixes my problem!

Feel free to throw me some bones in the meantime!

Cheers!
 

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If it's not the battery, it sounds like a bad connection somewhere. How old is the battery? Can you take it and have it load tested at the local auto store? You can always bypass the sidestand switch.
 

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Since you can start your TW with the kicker, but lights seem to be flickering and such, you might need to check your ground. Make sure your electrical system is grounded to the frame properly. On my utility trailer, if I have a bad ground either my lights don't work, dim on one side etc.

Really really check your battery. Bad batteries have been the culprit so many times for electrical problems blamed on other components.

Could be something else, but try checking the above first, then go from there.
 

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Both Tommy and Admiral are spot on. Check your ground first. It that's okay, try a different battery or a booster pack. Definitely not a side stand switch. Id say the neutral indicator switch might be suspect though if its flickering, and the engine died when you lowered the side stand.
 

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It is a safety system! If the bike is not in neutral it will not start unless the clutch lever is pulled in. If it is not in neutral and the side stand is down it won't start.
Under the headlight there are two black boots that hold all the connections, pain in the rear to get to. You should start there checking that all the plastic connectors are not corroded and are fully pushed together.

You can find color coded electric wiring diagrams here and trace the wires for all the switches and lights easily. I will guess you have a loose connection or bare wire shorting out intermittently.

GaryL
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ok so I have the bike apart finally! I don't really know what I'm doing, I noticed that when the ignition key is off the batt voltage reads 12.5v with the ignition key in the on position, it reads zero voltage!! Could be a clue there but I'm still in the dark. Gonna take off the headlight now and check out the area you kindly suggested Gary!
 

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Got another battery you can pop in there?
 

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Batteries can fail one of two ways, open or shorted cells. Keep in mind, your 12v battery is actually 6 cells in series. Each cell has a nominal voltage of 2.2v for lead-acid.

If one cell shorts, you will read low voltage, and the charging system works it's butt off trying to bring the voltage up. It can't, though, since now there's only 5 cells.

If one cell is failing open circuit (actually just higher internal resistance), the charging system gets satisfied too early, since the voltage rises fast with that high resistance in series:

(+) -I-I-I-I-I-I- (-) good battery
(+) -I-I-I-I-(resistance)-I-I- (-) bad battery

The resistance in that one cell is in series with the good cells. Current going into the battery has to overcome the (resistance * current) voltage drop to do any good.
On the other hand, when using the battery power, the resistance drops the voltage coming out of the battery by the same resistance * current situation.

Hope that helps?
 

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On my 88 project bike I replaced the entire wiring harness that had been butchered beyond repair. When I was all ready to fire things up with a known good battery I turned the key and got nothing. No lights, absolutely no juice anywhere. I began checking and as soon as I removed the head light to get at the two black boots with the connectors I moved something and she came to life. Probably a loose connection somewhere so I unconnected all of the plugs and sprayed them all with contact cleaner making sure they all were fully seated. If any of those safety switch connections are not making contact you could be searching a long time. There are four that come to mind, Neutral switch, Clutch switch, Kill switch and Kick stand switch.

GaryL
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ok, after removing the headlight I found that the left side front indicator or turn signal ground wire had become disconnected. I jammed it back in to the connecting piece, and low and behold things still didn't appear to be fixed. I fiddled around some more, wiggling wires and still discovered that activating the indicators or brake light would produce a click from near the battery and the neutral light would switch off. Strangely enough if I waited around with the ignition still on, after a little while the neutral light would come back on almost resetting itself with no contact with the bike. Still rather puzzled, with me scratching my chin it started to rain. As I don't have a garage I had to put everything back together, still frustrated. After putting the headlight and the seat back together I was rather shocked to find that everything seemed to work normally again!! Solid neutral light, activating any other switch seemed to produce normal results! Does having the headlight disconnected break the circuit somehow, making testing while it is off the bike futile? I still need to take it all apart again to clamp the wire down properly somehow as currently it could re-disconnect at any moment! Those boots were getting in my way and I didn't have any connectors to replace the old ones with. Next time ill be a bit better prepared!

Thanks for all of your help, I couldn't have gotten anywhere without you guys! Thanks so much.
 

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Those boot/cups are a royal PITA to work in and around. Possibly when they are warm they might get flexible enough to roll down but not here by me. I will bet you have a bad wire or loose connector under the headlight and probably inside one of those boots. Sometimes it makes contact and other times it doesn't. The clicking up by the battery or electrical box could be the starter solenoid or one of the two relay/flashers up there behind the wires. You need to find the offender and get it repaired before you go anywhere. I doubt there is a battery or charging issue but it sure sounds like you have a short or bad connection somewhere.

GaryL
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Urrgh, so I still have the problem. Had it all apart again last night to fix the indicator ground properly. I fixed the connection nicely and while I was there I opened most connector plugs, sprayed contact cleaner into most of the connections and cleaned them up. No real corrosion to be found I did this pretty much all over the bike. I put it all back together after confirming all the electronics seemed to be operating as expected. With it all back together I hit that start button and 'click' no rumble of the mighty 200 could be heard! Worst of all hitting the starter button also killed the neutral light, made the indicators buzz and not flash properly etc! After letting out a scream of frustration I calmly turned the ignition off and on again. Turning the ignition on seemed to reset the neutral light, back to a normal bright glow. But now activating any switch (brake, clutch, indicator etc) seemed to create a short again!!!

Once I fixed thought I fixed the dodgy indicator ground, I wiggled every wire I could see and literally could not produce the 'short' or bad connection so I thought I was all good. I now suspect it has something to do with the starter motor, starter relay or solenoid. I will jump a cable from the battery to the starter motor to check if it is working (should I do this with the starter motor off the bike or is it ok to do this on the bike making 100% sure it is in a state to be started if it indeed fires up?) and follow that up with testing the solenoid then the relay etc.

I know I shouldn't but I have been riding the bike in it's current state (using hand signals to turn!) as it is my only means of transport to work at the moment. I know riding it like this is dangerous as, as far as I understand it if the battery voltage reads next to nothing while it is running, the charging system is probably going buck-wild trying to get the voltage up to 12 volts again. I know this could potentially fry something right... the stator maybe? Probably something rare and expensive no doubt!

Is there a way I can ride the bike until I find a fix without doing any damage to any electrical components? Would removing the battery stop the charging system trying to charge the battery? I haven't tried it yet, but I am assuming it isn't essential to have a battery in the bike for it to run. Maybe disconnecting whatever will potentially fry itself could work. I'd value anyone else's input on this. My TeeDub is my pride and joy and it hurts me to see her like this and I really don't want to make the problem worse!

Cheers
 

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Sorry TD. My literacy regarding electronics is limited to checking connections and tracing wires from one end to another. I do know this about the blinker system. The front blinkers have three wires and are lit when ever the bike is turned on. The rears have two wires and only light when the blink switch is activated. Your bike has a kill switch on the handle bar right side. Open it and clean it. It has safety switches on the clutch and kick stand. Check them. If the bike is in neutral the green light should lite up and this allows you to start. If not in neutral you have to pull the clutch lever in to start the bike. If the kick stand is down or that switch is bad you might not be able to start at all. If the kick stand is down and you put the bike in gear it dies. I don't know if a bulb is burned out in the indicator box what that might cause. All of this stuff is interconnected and related to each other and one bad apple could spoil the bunch.

You need an electrical wizard and that is far above my pay grade. I had hopes I could help but my knowledge is far too limited to be of any further assistance. Some member here on this fabulous forum is knowledgeable enough to guide you and it could be time to put out an APB (all points bulletin) searching for such a member. The solution to my problems came from a complete wire harness change and I am glad that worked. Your problem could be as simple as a bad flasher. There appears to be one up under the headlight and two back in the electrical box under the right side cover. There is also a CDI unit there and right by the battery bolted to the frame there is a voltage regulator thing. Down on the left side of the engine is where the stator unit is located. The wires coming from the stator up to the battery are a common source of problems. If the front drive sprocket has been replaced those wires from the stator could have been pinched when the side cover was put back on. I just don't know how to help you any further.

I do hope some member jumps in to guide you through because an electrical issue can be hazardous to your health.

GaryL
 

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With electrical troubleshooting, it is imperative that you start with a known good battery, and go from there. I am not convinced yet that you have a good battery in the system. Just sayin.....
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hey guys, thanks again for being my wingmen in this electrical escapade! Without your kind help I'd still be blindly stumbling around in the dark (ok, well even more blindly!).

I'm fairly certain my battery is good. The voltage checks out A-OK both under load and under no load. It is a gel battery that the PO had recently installed before I bought it. Sadly I don't have another battery to truly rule it out. I didn't have much time to delve deeper tonight after work, but I have noticed a few more symptoms. I think I have found a common denominator. Occasionally, everything electrical seems to work fine, both when the bike is not running and when it is. The odd thing is it will go from working to not working without me physically touching the bike to "jostle" any potentially loose or shorting wires!! It is almost as if a 'short' happens which causes things get all glitchy and then, in time (sometimes simply by turning the ignition key off and on again, sometimes by doing nothing but waiting) the bike almost resets itself and everything operates fine again. It never stays in either state long enough for me to always be testing it in it's glitchy state!! The common thread though all this seems to be the fact that the starter button fails in both cases! In the glitchy state it doesn't even seem to operate the magnetic switch thing (solenoid!?) when pressed. When everything appears to work (in the non glitchy state) pressing the starter button produces a click and the neutral light goes out. After going out the neutral light kinda normally gradually lights up again, usually on it's own, although sometimes prompted by me pulling the brake lever or stepping on the brake pedal, or even switching the turn signal! When operating these switches, most notably the front brake lever in the glitch state, a click emanates from near the battery area!

Oh, well, I'll have her apart again soon and hopefully each time I go back I'll get a little closer to a solution. Right now every time I go out with my tools I come back with more questions!!

Thanks again!!!
 

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Quote: "The common thread though all this seems to be the fact that the starter button fails in both cases! In the glitchy state it doesn't even seem to operate the magnetic switch thing (solenoid!?) when pressed. When everything appears to work (in the non glitchy state) pressing the starter button produces a click and the neutral light goes out. After going out the neutral light kinda normally gradually lights up again, usually on it's own"

To me, this mostly says bad battery. How did you load test it? I would strongly suggest taking the battery to a battery shop and have them test it. I wouldn't be surprised at all if you had a bad battery and if you replaced it, your bike would run like new again. Again, you really have to have a known good battery in it before you start testing other stuff. Keep us posted and good luck, but before you keep messing around with it, take that battery and have it checked, period.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well, littletommy you have succeeded in convincing me to have my battery checked out properly! After reading a bit about batteries you've got me realizing I didn't load test mine thoroughly enough! Plus if it just turns out to be a new battery I'll be jumping for joy again!
 

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Good brother! I know how frustrating it is to not have your baby running like it did. Seriously though, I think it is the battery. I want it to run as bad as you do now!! I'm looking forward to what you find out. Keep us posted :D
 
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