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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I recently acquired an 87 softail in a trade. I am not sure of the specific model designation as beyond the frame everything else seems to be non stock or custom.

It runs, but the problem is it will not start with the starter unless you jump the Solon I'd straight from the battery.

The previous owner replaced the ignition switch which appeared to be wired correctly. The starter will engage with the switch in the off position and in the accessory position but not in the ignition position when it should.

So starter is fine, relay is fine and starter button fine and wiring seems intact. I am left scratching my head. Thinking that it is possible that it is a faulty ignition switch?

Am I missing anything obvious or not so obvious. I found a wiring diagram on line but I do not think it is the correct one as some of the wiring doesn't seem to match the schematic.

I also have a mystery red wire coming off the wire harness on the left side of the top of the frame above the coils. It has a black connector with a 90 degree angle and a spade connector inside no obvious place nearby where it goes.

Open to any suggestions.

Thanks in advance.

Craig
 

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Hello,
I recently acquired an 87 softail in a trade. I am not sure of the specific model designation as beyond the frame everything else seems to be non stock or custom.

It runs, but the problem is it will not start with the starter unless you jump the Solon I'd straight from the battery.

The previous owner replaced the ignition switch which appeared to be wired correctly. The starter will engage with the switch in the off position and in the accessory position but not in the ignition position when it should.

So starter is fine, relay is fine and starter button fine and wiring seems intact. I am left scratching my head. Thinking that it is possible that it is a faulty ignition switch?

Am I missing anything obvious or not so obvious. I found a wiring diagram on line but I do not think it is the correct one as some of the wiring doesn't seem to match the schematic.

I also have a mystery red wire coming off the wire harness on the left side of the top of the frame above the coils. It has a black connector with a 90 degree angle and a spade connector inside no obvious place nearby where it goes.

Open to any suggestions.

Thanks in advance.

Craig
What's a Solon ?
Sounds like the switch is bad or wired wrong. The starter should only engage in the on position.
Red wire with right angle connector sounds like a horn wire.
If all else fails remove the right tank and inspect wires that go into the frame connectors, they have the habit of rubbing bare against the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sorry, solenoid my tablet likes to auto correct...

I am thinking along the same lines leaning toward improperly wired but in my search for data I am finding several different ways for these switches to be wired. Not sure which it the right way for my particular application. If I knew more about electrics I could probably sort it out on my own.

The ignition switch is a rotary type one click counterclockwise is accessories , one click clockwise is ignition, two clicks clockwise is lights.

There is a tan wire that runs to the starter relay then a tan jumper wire that goes to the third terminal, a red jumper goes from the second terminal to the 4th terminal which has the red hot wire to it. The 5th terminal has a yellow wire that goes to a breaker beneath the switch. The last terminal has a black wire to it I believe.

I have the tanks off I will have to do a better inspection for wire integrity but I did not see anything obvious.

Thanks,

Craig
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Okay I think I found the problem, there was a black wire grounded to the dash board but it wasn't a ground it was tied into a green wire going into the headlight and had voltage to it with the ignition on. Not sure where it goes but being grounded was not helping. Now I am getting current to the solenoid with ignition on and starter button is pushed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
help locating the correct wiring schematic

I had posted in the general softail forums concerning an electrical issue this seems like a better spot to post...

The bike I have is an 87 according to the title but is an assembled bike, it has an S&s motor and just about everything else appears to be aftermarket.

Just got the bike a few weeks ago in a trade.

The previous owner had not been able to get it running, he wound up replacing the rotary ignition switch. When I went to look at the bike he had some friends helping him and the problem seemed to be that there was no power to the starter with the ignition switch in the ignition position. It did start and run when the ran a wire from the battery to the starter solenoid .

I have been tinkering with it for the last few days. I found that the starter engages with the switch in the off position and the accessory position. It was not engaging in the ignition position.

I had been trying to find a wiring diagram but don't know specifically which one pertains to this bike. I found one for an 87 F X R but it doesn't seem to match what I am finding.

I found a black wire grounded to the dash board that appeared to be out of place and wound up removing it. This seemed to restore the function of the starter with the ignition switch in the ignition position so I put everything back together thinking I was all set. Nope, no such luck. It will now crank with the switch in ignition but now I have no spark.

It will still crank in the off position and accessory position too so something remains amiss.

it had been suggested in the other post that the ignition switch may be miss wired or even a bad switch.

I don't have a good point of reference for proper ignition switch wiring not knowing exactly what I have.

is it too much to assume that an 87 frame would use the wiring harness for an 87 too?

I should note that the black wire I ungrounded from the dash traced to a green wire it was spliced into going into the headlight. I noted without that wire grounded the headlamp didn't come on. If I grounded it the headlight came on but still a no start situation.

is there a model number coded into the Vin stamped on the frame?

any further guidance appreciated.

Craig
 

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I had posted in the general softail forums concerning an electrical issue this seems like a better spot to post...

The bike I have is an 87 according to the title but is an assembled bike, it has an S&s motor and just about everything else appears to be aftermarket.

Just got the bike a few weeks ago in a trade.

The previous owner had not been able to get it running, he wound up replacing the rotary ignition switch. When I went to look at the bike he had some friends helping him and the problem seemed to be that there was no power to the starter with the ignition switch in the ignition position. It did start and run when the ran a wire from the battery to the starter solenoid .

I have been tinkering with it for the last few days. I found that the starter engages with the switch in the off position and the accessory position. It was not engaging in the ignition position.

I had been trying to find a wiring diagram but don't know specifically which one pertains to this bike. I found one for an 87 F X R but it doesn't seem to match what I am finding.

I found a black wire grounded to the dash board that appeared to be out of place and wound up removing it. This seemed to restore the function of the starter with the ignition switch in the ignition position so I put everything back together thinking I was all set. Nope, no such luck. It will now crank with the switch in ignition but now I have no spark.

It will still crank in the off position and accessory position too so something remains amiss.

it had been suggested in the other post that the ignition switch may be miss wired or even a bad switch.

I don't have a good point of reference for proper ignition switch wiring not knowing exactly what I have.

is it too much to assume that an 87 frame would use the wiring harness for an 87 too?

I should note that the black wire I ungrounded from the dash traced to a green wire it was spliced into going into the headlight. I noted without that wire grounded the headlamp didn't come on. If I grounded it the headlight came on but still a no start situation.

is there a model number coded into the Vin stamped on the frame?

any further guidance appreciated.

Craig
Search is your friend also . :thumbsup

http://www.harley-davidsonforums.com/forums/general-service-repair/24276-harley-vin-information.html



:biker:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for the guidance to the VIN decoder looks like I have a 1987 FXSTC.

Found a wiring diagram but not clear enough for me to see the details will have to find a manual with a wiring diagram to follow.

craig
 

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Thank you for the guidance to the VIN decoder looks like I have a 1987 FXSTC.

Found a wiring diagram but not clear enough for me to see the details will have to find a manual with a wiring diagram to follow.

craig
You may purchase a Service Manual from any Dealer. They are printed to order, takes 10 working days ( two weeks) to arrive . @ $60.00 each .
 

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Maybe these will help. This is my 87 Softail original switch with original factory wiring.
From the left side:


From the right side:
(The smaller black and red wires are not original. They are from an aftermarket digital speedometer.)



And from the back side:


Regarding the ground wire from the headlight that you unhooked, this is probably the headlight ground and is supposed to be grounded to the chassis as it was. If the headlight were grounded to the front fork, the current would run through the stemhead bearing. Not good for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for those pictures, although I am not in front of the bike at the moment I already see some differences in what your pictures show and what I have. There seems to be an extra wire you have going to the terminal with the tan wire. I can't tell what color it is. You also have what appears to be a white wire going to the terminal with the red wire and red jumper going to it. I have my yellow and black wires reversed too and it seems like there is a jumper coming off the yellow wire I do not have. Cannot quite tell what it is attached to in your photo though. This gives me a good place to start.

Thanks again!

Craig
 

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The switch jumper wires are the ones that keep the headlight on in both switch on positions. If you diss the jumper you can turn the ignition on and start the engine with the lights off.
 

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Hey Harley Rider, In your first picture the red wire at the bottom, the connector appears to have a crack in it. ????
 

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The switch jumper wires are the ones that keep the headlight on in both switch on positions. If you diss the jumper you can turn the ignition on and start the engine with the lights off.
Did this on my 83. Easier start, less initial drain on the battery.
Just do not forget to turn it on once running. Law say`s so.
 

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The switch jumper wires are the ones that keep the headlight on in both switch on positions. If you diss the jumper you can turn the ignition on and start the engine with the lights off.
Yes, that's what the yellow one is that appears to be hooked to something under the terminal to the right. It's actually just taped up and stuffed under there. Rather then cut it off altogether, I left it in case LE ever thought they needed to make me hook it back up.

I rode it with the light off in the daytime for many years after they passed that law until LE finally started getting snippy about it a few years back. Got pulled over once, but just got a warning. After that I just switch it to "Lights" and don't stress out over it. I don't like the idea of having the headlight drain on the battery while it's trying to crank the starter. That got me going a few times on year while wilderness camping and finding out the hard way my battery was going bad fast. It let me get started so i could get out of the Forrest until I got the issue fixed.
 

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Hey Harley Rider, In your first picture the red wire at the bottom, the connector appears to have a crack in it. ????
Good eye! Yeah, I saw that when I enlarged the pictures too and it made me go open up my console and take a look! It's just a weird shadow in the picture.
 

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Good eye! Yeah, I saw that when I enlarged the pictures too and it made me go open up my console and take a look! It's just a weird shadow in the picture.
:thumbsup
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well I switched the two wires as shown in Harley Rider's photos and put the headlight ground back to where it was and I still have no starter engagement in the ignition position but I got my spark back and it will run if I use a jumper wire between the solenoid and battery. This is basically where I started. I found one frayed wire and fixed that but still am puzzled by the odd behavior not being able to find anything else out of order. I ordered a new ignition switch and will see if that does anything. I bled the brakes and can at least take it out for a road test now. I just have to carry my jumper wire with me.
 

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When you say "use a jumper wire between the solenoid and battery" do you mean a heavy gauge wire to the post on the solenoid that feeds power to the starter motor itself? In other words, you are basically hooking the starter directly to the battery when you jump it? Or do you mean you are connecting the battery to the smaller post on the solenoid that activates the solenoid itself? I'm thinking you mean you are activating the solenoid...

When your main ignition switch is providing power to the ignition system and giving you a spark, if it's wired properly the starter should work too. So if you are activating the solenoid on the smaller terminal, then the solenoid is working and the high current circuit that actually powers the starter motor itself is working as it should. (The solenoid is just a big switch in the heavy wire that goes directly from the battery to the starter motor itself, via the solenoid.) Where I'm going with this is, if this is what you are doing, do you know there is another starter relay? There is a small relay that controls the big solenoid because the solenoid draws to much power for the small wires that go to the start button on the handlebars. So the start button controls the small relay, which turns on the power in a heavier wire to the starter solenoid itself (which, of course, turns on the starter...) I can't remember exactly where the small one is now, but you can find it by following the smaller wire from the solenoid back to it. These were known for going bad on that particular model. If I remember right, it was a factory recall item way back. This may be where the problem lies and you need to test it.

Now speaking of testing... Do you have a good digital volt meter? If not, you should get one. You're going to need it for more than just this issue if you are going to do your own work. And I highly recommend doing your own work after you get your shop manual. Too many of the stealership mechanics don't know how to work on anything older than a few years, and the more honest of them will at least refuse to work on it. The less honest will take your money and to many times just screw it up without fixing it. Mechanics that are reputable and knowledgeable on the older scooters are getting fewer and farther between. Read the manual, follow the instructions in it, and take your time. (Not fun to have a wrench slip out of your hand and take a chunk out of your paint job because you were rushing!) You'll do fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I am using a heavy gauge wire between the battery and the small wire into the solenoid to turn the starter over.

There is a relay that was behind the battery that was replaced by the prior owner and I think it is still good because the problem remains that the starter will engage when the ignition switch is in the "off" position and the "accessory" position too. The starter will not engage with the ignition switch in the "ignition" position. I guess if would not hurt to replace this rely too in case it has some sort of issue.

As you say it would certainly lead one to believe that the starter and solenoid are fine. I think the wiring is all intact as the starter will engage when pressing the starter button but only with the ignition switch off or in accessory.

Improper wiring or a defective switch are the two main suspects, I cannot seem to find anything out of order anywhere else with the wiring.

I have a good voltmeter and plenty of other tools and do try and do all work myself. Cars have been my main area of interest over the years but I am finding motorcycles take up less space (now have 4 bikes in a spot formerly occupied by an old IH truck and there is room for more!) and there is generally less involved in making them right when something goes awry. I have a good friend who was a motorcycle mechanic for many years and he can be helpful when you can track him down and convince him to help.

I will keep at it, thanks for your help!

Craig
 

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That's right, you DID say the starter button worked in some ignition switch positions. So you're right, the relay, solenoid, starter, and all the high current wiring must be fine. It sure seems to be pointing back to something wrong in the wiring around your ignition switch. The start button shouldn't work in the off position and I don't think it should work in the accessory position either.
 
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