Board index Flathead Power-Technical Questions, Answers, and Suggestions Evo's Thru 99 Electric starter stays on!

Electric starter stays on!

Moderators: Curt!, Pa

Post Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:39 am

Posts: 250

I hate these late model Harleys with electric starters. I have a 1991 FLT. Tryed to start it today and after many attempts, the starter motor stuck and will not release. Keeps cranking unit you disconnect battery. This happened a couple of years ago on same starter, I took starter apart, cleaned and installed new contact ring for solenoid. Everything appeared to be free, greased, and gears on jackshaft and clutch basket are good. The motor released when I pulled if off motor and It showed no interior reason why it would not release. What makes these things stick and not turn off. Seems like it is more prone to do so after starter has been used several times when bike is cold and won't start. I know I have to pull this thing off bike again, but any help on what is problem would be greatly appreciated. I through the 1991 and up starters were not supposed to have this problem. This is the original Harley starter and has about 65,000 miles on it. I will just have to ride my flathead until I figure this later model problem out.

Post Sun Apr 06, 2008 1:13 pm
Pa Site Admin

Posts: 5671
Location: Ohio USA

I'm not sure about your starter system but servi car systems were not to be greased. I put a bit of lube on the shaft bushing but noting on the gear or bendix. Pa

Post Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:52 pm

Posts: 250

I disconnected the battery and pulled off derby cover. I can see the starter gear on jackshaft is engaged on clutch basket and will not pop back. It must be something mechanical, maybe the contact points have welded to together. It will be several days before I can pull back off solenoid and see if plunger is stuck. I sure don't want to have to pull this starter motor out again.

Post Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:54 pm

Posts: 1538
Buster- what is the condition of your battery ?
If it is low, there may not be enough power to dis-engage it. Might sound funny, but this happens..

Post Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:35 am

Posts: 250

The battery was getting low when the starter stuck. I just pulled solenoid cover off and found plunger in solenoid in contact position with contact ring lightly welded to contact points. I was able to break loose and free. This has happened to me several times. Does the contact ring tend to weld to the contact points when charge gets low. Wish I understood this better, so it won't happen again. Why does the battery's low state of charge effect the release of the solenoid plunger. That is interesting, I had never heard that before. Any help appreciated. Thanks.

Post Fri Apr 18, 2008 11:57 pm

Posts: 1538
Buster-

All I can say with certainty is, I have had bikes do this. Mine & others. Only a couple did slightly weld the contacts.. It's kinda like a 'torque-lock' situation. It takes power to pull the plunger back, & it is my belief that with low battery it sometimes just can't release it. Starter gets hot & trouble begins. Yet it can still spin the motor.....

I use a battery tender on everything. & add amp guages to know how well my rides charge..
My former 90 heritage did this a couple times. Battery charge or replace & life was good again..

Wish I had a more definitive answer. But that's my experience with this situation...

Post Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:03 am
Pa Site Admin

Posts: 5671
Location: Ohio USA

Billy, your interpretation sounds right on. The motor will spin because it draws more amps. Those amps are stolen away from the solenoid. The longer the solenoid waits for needed current, the hotter they get. Pa

Post Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:55 pm

Posts: 1538
Pa- Yep, I think that's it..

My ole FatBoy (not me) hasn't had that problem..(to date) Course-I have a 300cca Big Boar* battery in it.

Post Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:09 am

Posts: 250

Thnks for the input guys, I believe you nailed it on the battery condition being the culprit.

Post Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:31 am

Posts: 1538
Hope that takes care of it for you Buster..

Dog-gone new fangled evo's :wink:

Post Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:00 pm

Posts: 1050
Location: Greenbackville, Virginia, USA
This is a very common problem with shovelheads, so bad that some owners have installed battery disconects on the ground lead from the battery. The contacts weld themselves in the soleniod and the only way to get them to free themselves is to disconnect the battery or have the engine start, which throws the starter gear out of the clutch ring gear and forces the solenoid connection to break. I find with my shovel if it doesn't start in three seconds i have to let go of the starter button or it WILL stick. Check out this for a way around this:

http://shovelhead.us/forum/showthread.php?t=4467

Read the whole post, it contains re-wiring instructions that will permentally eliminate this problem. Good luck! G

Post Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:20 pm

Posts: 1538
Thanks G-

That's a good 'meat & potatoes' chunk of info..

I think I'm gonna do somethin like that, for the just in case insurance....

Post Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:16 am

Posts: 1050
Location: Greenbackville, Virginia, USA
If you hide a disconnect switch it also helps as a theft deterent. 8)

Post Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:00 pm

Posts: 1050
Location: Greenbackville, Virginia, USA
Battery disconect is NOT reccomended for bikes with fuel injection. G

Post Fri May 02, 2008 5:41 am

Posts: 250

Great stuff. I rode a shovel for years and burnt out two starter motors due to the sticking problem before I found out I could press up on lower right hand side of primary before tightening bolts and starter would not stick. I actually do this on my evo, however I don't think it makes any difference. The evo does not seem to have as much play in the primary mounting as the shovel. Thanks, Buster.


Return to Evo's Thru 99