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View Full Version : 74 Ironhead starter issues, Please help, just got bike home!


74ironhead
28th February 2006, 05:36
Hello and thanks in advance for any help! This is my first Harley! HOGS rule the road, I was thrilled to get rid of my yamaha. Anyway, the guy that owned this before me neglected the bike and was a complete idiot. The wiring was a mess, the bike was somewhat apart, but i'll get cut to the chase,

He had a local harley shop rebuild the bottom end a couple of years ago, he said he had it bored .040 over and different shit, but afterwards his starter kept hanging, after 3 starters he "claimed" the harley shop told him to shim it up to pull it away from the flywheel and it would quit hanging. as mentioned before this guy was and idiot. I've got the bike rewired and all together and what it does is the starter will at first hang, try a couple of more times and it will try to turn the motor over, after a couple of times it hangs up or will start spinning. I then tap it with a hammer and it will again try. But I can't get the bike started because the damn starter keeps hanging up. I've rebuilt alot of hot rods and muscle cars, and my guess is the teeth or either wore down on the starter or the "flywheel". I hope like hell it ain't the flywheel, but how do I get this stuff apart to check and see and how big of a deal is it if it is the flywheel, or does my problem sound even more serious than that. ??? I've not ever heard this run, but alot of the guys in my local club say it used to be a real good bike, it has a paughco frame, fat bob tanks, ducktail rear fender and apes, anyway, any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you! OH I forgot to mention he has a Volkswagen generator on the bike, because he said they look close to the same and are cheaper???? But I don't think that has anything to do with it starting??

semjpm
28th February 2006, 06:02
Does it crank with the plugs pulled and what is the voltage at the starter when it is trying to crank the engine over?

SEMJPM

74ironhead
28th February 2006, 06:39
It does crank over with the plugs out, I put some oil in to build up compression and it squirted my garage full of oil, :-) so it does crank with them out, i can'[t try to kick the bike, the idiot didn't put kicker pipes on, so the pipe is in the way, I guess i could yank it off, but i would be afraid of $@#*!$@#*!$@#*!$@#*!n up some valves or something, plus he said it has like 110 compression so kikin won't be for the faint of heart, but i guess it never was :-) I'm 29 and new to bike repair, so please be patient, I don' t have an ohm meter anymore, but i could borrow one to check the voltage, you think the voltage is weak and causin the hangup?/

semjpm
28th February 2006, 07:38
Voltage could be down due to bad cables or a reley that can't take the load. Trick would be to measure at the battery and at the starter. They should be within 1 volt of each other when cranking. 110 Lbs compression is not really that high. I would also confirm .018" gap on points (dwell 40), check the advance to be sure it is relaxing and then static time it to be safe. If in doubt, set it after TDC (retard) by a few degrees. I have a 72 XLCH so they are pretty close motor wise. The starter motor engages the ring on the clutch hub and can be observed by pulling the primary cover. That should tell you if it is a mechanical issue or not. It would be OK to run it a few minutes with the cover off in neutral, low RPMs. When the cover is off, adjust the primary chain tension to get out of the way.

SEMJPM

74ironhead
28th February 2006, 08:12
the cable going from the starter to the solenoid has bare wire showing all over it, i was planning to replace it, but wanted to get the bike running then spend money on new stuff, I'll get the meter and run the test as you suggested. I'll get back with 2morrow nite on the results. I will also remove the primary cover and look at that before i hunt down the meter from a buddy, just in case there is no reason to borrow it. , if i find the teeth wore down on both the flywheel and the starter, what is that a sign of, just replace them and not worry, or is there a deeper issue. THanks,

Corey aka Hillbilly

nzsailor
28th February 2006, 11:50
id sure be for usin a little tape on those bare spots b4 i did anything

JicJac
28th February 2006, 13:25
I had a 74 Ironhead. Starting was always a problem. Kicking it, as you suggested you may need to try - often work for me. Of course, mine didn't have a kick starter, so I'd kick it in the tank, fenders, forks, etc. If you try my method, wear steel toed boots. Moderate to extreme cursing also helped. Well, neither kicking nor screaming helped start the bike, but it helped me on occasion. Dig?

74ironhead
28th February 2006, 18:38
is already getting cussed out. But exhaust is in the way of the kicker so I'm going to try the easy way first :-) I'll tape up the cable and get back to work. I"m going to pull the primary cover off and watch what is going on and see if anything is tore up inside. Thanks!

IronMick
1st March 2006, 02:08
I would get a factory manual [FM] and a multi-meter before doing anything else. Then check out EVERYTHING SYSTEMATICALLY. Battery, cables, regulator, generator, solenoid, plugs, wires, starter, etc. There is most likely more than one problem so any symptoms will be unclear as to cause. Do not guess or wonder or throw parts at it - check it out systematically, one thing at a time, thoroughly.

74ironhead
1st March 2006, 02:26
I took the primary cover off and my my my. For lack of better knowledge of bike terms, the starter shaft that holds the gear is loose to the touch, I can move it by hand 1.5" either way, up or down, I tried starting the bike with the primary cover off, and that shaft damn near throws the gear sideways on the chain. Now what is causing that I don't know. I've got a a guy I ride with that is everyones harley mechanic in our town and he is going to have a look at it. Any ideas to offer on this one??? That dumbass had flathead screws mixed in with the factory allens heads and not even the right threads all over that damn cover. Half ass shit just pisses me off, anyway, any help will again be appreciated!

74FeHeadXLH
1st March 2006, 05:26
of course the shaft is gonna move like that.....the end of the shaft sits in a roller bushing that is on the inside of the primary cover, you can take the cover off and blip the starter just to see if things are engaging ok, but if the motor kicks over....watch out for flying parts......these bikes have inherent starting probs, and as Mick stated, systematically go thru the whole system....a good start is replace the cables, then the solenoid(assuming the battery is ok)....based on your symptom(s) you may have a weak starter.....I once had to replace the engagemant fork in mine, worn out for wont engage the solenoid enough to complete the circuit to make the starter spin.....start with those nasty cables first

Y2K
1st March 2006, 22:58
.....start with those nasty cables first


Ditto everything 74FE said especially those cables.
These old ironheads barely crank enough to start even when everything is as it should be.
If they don't start right up you have to let the starter cool off or risk damage to it.
Make it all right as it should be and make sure she's in tune and she'll start like she should.;)

74ironhead
2nd March 2006, 02:40
Here is what the starter is doing exactly. It engages, and now instead of hanging up it just spins. The teeth look good on the flywheel and the gear on the starter, and as far as tune wise, I won't know till I can get it started. I've never heard the bike run. i'm sure the carb will need adjusted and the wires and plugs replaced. What I have done so far is this.

New battery.

New positive cable from solenoid to the battery and a battery ground cable to one of the primary cover screws.

the right hand controls are completely off the bike and in pieces in one of the boxes I got with the bike, so I have a push button switch I'm using and connecting to the solenoid and battery to turn the starter over, much like you do on a car, i don't have a starter switch on the handle bars. the ignition is hanging on the ground under the seat, but it will fire up the lights and is wired properly enough for one turn to be no lights and two turns to be lights, and the left hand controls turn the headlight off,

Now i'd just as soon bypass the starter and kick the bike, at least to hear it run. But the exhaust is non kicker exhaust. I've pulled off the one pipe, but fear i shouldn't run the motor with just the one exhaust pipe. i did try to kick it a couple of times. I've never kicked a harley, but I have dirt bikes. This kicker will kick like 3 times and just hang won't push down with even both feet on it. when it does follow through it barely makes a grunt. This kicker problem could be lack of experience, I'll admit that any day, so any advise is real appreciated. thanks for helping a dumbass,

Hillbilly

IronMick
2nd March 2006, 04:19
There are a lot of older guys around who have a condition well-known as "Sportster knee". It is not something to joke about. It is serious. I would not be kicking it until i spent some time with someone who has experience and can give advice on the correct technique.

Check for spark at the plugs. Check for fuel in the carb. Check operation of the choke.

Y2K
2nd March 2006, 05:08
There are a lot of older guys around who have a condition well-known as "Sportster knee".


Yup...I be one of 'em :smoke
8 years daily riding on an XLCH will do that to ya ;)

74FeHeadXLH
2nd March 2006, 05:32
I got one of "them" knees from and old '53 FLH....spose that qualifies.....why not do a 2nd gear roll start to get it runnin for now so you can see what ya workin with, tune wise etc.

74ironhead
2nd March 2006, 05:36
Thanks for helping a dipshit, you brothers are just what I need! Do I just put it in 2nd run down the road with it and kick it or what??

Hillbilly

74FeHeadXLH
2nd March 2006, 05:40
put it 2nd....turn the ign to on/run....get goin down an incline for a little speed...let the clutch out.....should spark up....may have to do it more than once....so don't use a BIG hill, pushin SUX

74FeHeadXLH
2nd March 2006, 05:41
......and you're NOT a dipsh!t.....justa learnin, that's cool......specially on an Ironhead, takes guts, man

74ironhead
2nd March 2006, 06:03
That will be a fukn site, so If it happens I'll get it on tape and post it! Maybe I can do it with a thong on in one of the ritzy neighborhoods and rack that bitch off a few times! ahahhaahah! I'll throw that primary back on and try that out before the weekend! Thanks for the advice and the vote of confidence!

Hillbilly

74FeHeadXLH
2nd March 2006, 06:10
:roflblack :roflblack :roflblack that's funny as sh!t....just be careful useing the road ski method.......you can get enough speed on a flat surface, usually just by pushing it and jumpin on....or get someone to push ya

IronMick
2nd March 2006, 21:36
Here is my original advice from the first page of this thread. It still stands. I think you should immediately stop all this messing around and get to the real problemS systematically.

<<
I would get a factory manual [FM] and a multi-meter before doing anything else. Then check out EVERYTHING SYSTEMATICALLY. Battery, cables, regulator, generator, solenoid, plugs, wires, starter, etc. There is most likely more than one problem so any symptoms will be unclear as to cause. Do not guess or wonder or throw parts at it - check it out systematically, one thing at a time, thoroughly.
>>

74ironhead
2nd March 2006, 23:38
I pulled the primary off, and inspected the starter today with a local harley mechanic. We found the teeth to be wore down to nothing on the starter and the solenoid, and to top that off the shaft of the starter is broke nearly in half. i pulled off the whole assembly by hand, it wasn't even bolted down, I'm going to either get a new starter and solenoid or get a rebuild kit for all of it and take it to a qualified harley shop to either rebuild it or get me another one. I'd like to get the chrome one out of j&p but don't really have 200 to fork down right now. I'd rather save money on the starter and order something else for the bike, at this point, i'm scared what i'll find once I get it started, the bolt you take out to adjust time is wore completely and the head is stripped out, I almost bet it will have to be drille out, which leads me to believe they fukd up the timing and therefore that $@#*!$@#*!$@#*!$@#*! up the starter. Who knows but thanks a ton for all your help, you guys are a beginners best friend!

IronMick
3rd March 2006, 04:52
It is a common problem that the timing hole threads gets stripped. Note tho that the original bolt does not use all of the thread so there is probably two more threads left at the back of the hole. Does not sound like much, but it is enough. You can buy an aftermarket bolt that is a wee bit longer than the original so it catches those lasr two threads; but is not too long. Also you can get a kit to drill out and re-thread the hole for a larger diameter bolt. This is a common problem with these common solutions.

There are always starter motors available on eBay for cheap.

74ironhead
3rd March 2006, 06:11
ebay, but I still don't think I need a starter. I think I need pretty much everything in that chunk.

74ironhead
3rd March 2006, 06:48
I found an entire setup on ebay with the pics of every piece individually, so I saved the pics and am going to explain them to you and the problem I'm having with that part. I have made a page on my site, so just click on the link and you'll see what I've been seeing. Well not with my parts, here goes,

http://www.hillbillyhotrods.net/mystarter.htm