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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
1985 Ninja 900 with 34K.
Lights are on but not a peep from the starter.

Hi everyone.
Not my first bike. Have been wrenching on bikes for decades, but electrics always turn my head around.
Need some help please.

Have owned for 3 years. Have ridden it about 1,500 miles. Runs well.

Was out riding one morning - all good, stopped for coffee, then went to start and nothing.
Was able to push start, and bike starts right up, drove home and she has sat since.

PROBLEM.
Won't crank. Not a peep except the solenoid click.

STATUS.
All lights come on in the dash.
Turn signals work.
Brake lights work.
Headlight won't work - until motor starts, which is normal.
Horn works.

SWITCHES.
Have validated that I have continuity / functionality with these switches:
Clutch switch. A-OK.
Run switch A-OK. (clearly that works, since I can bump start it) but validated it anyway ...
Starter switch A-OK.
Kickstand switch A-OK.

FUSES.
All blade fuses A-OK.
All the round circular fuses in the fuse box A-OK

WORK SO FAR.
When I use a fresh motorcycle battery and hook up to the standard battery leads of + and - , still same click sound from solenoid and run not a peep from the starter.
Starter works when I jump directly from + battery to + starter
Replaced the solenoid with used solenoid from ebay, and they both make the same noise. New solenoids aren't available, and I thought I might get lucky. However, still can't cross out solenoid. Dammit.
Have thoroughly cleaned cables and contacts in fuse box, all lock out switches and solenoid.

QUESTONS:
1. Do I need to validate the tranny neutral switch? The neutral switch lights up on the dash. Going to 2nd or 1st, the light goes out. I have to drain the oil to remove to validate tranny neutral switch which is a pain, but what the hell at this point.
2. With the solenoid clicking, does that show that the solenoid is working?, or does it really show that I don't have enough amps to hold the electro magnet over? I don't see how that is, as I have **** nice dry new fully charged battery that cranks over my Suzuki 1100E with ease. Or does it indicate that the solenoid is throwing over, and the voltage should be leaving the solenoid, and not getting to the starter, or the circuit being completed - for some reason.
3. Would the next step be to follow the voltage after it comes out of the solenoid?
4. Is there a chance the Ignition switch is involved?
5. What other cables or connections could be at risk?
6. Anything else I need to validate ?


Thanks so much from Ohio.
Cheers to all who throw out some experience!
Graham
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Have a Clymer shop manual and it helps - but am getting nervous about testing for live voltage at specific points, as I don't want to cause a short. I am trying to stop where I know I haven't screwed anything up ~ yet.
 

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The clicking indicates the solenoid is being activated, but not passing enough juice. I know you changed the solenoid, but the fact you can crank directly from the battery points to a solenoid not passing enough current to turn the cranking motor.

Does it click only once, or does it rattle?

When you said connected the battery directly. Did you do it by jumpering the two big bolts on the solenoid? You could also verify if somebody pushes the button, that 12.6VDC is showing on the cranking side of the solenoid, or disconnect both sides, push the button and verify continuity between the two big bolts.

At least 12.6 VDC is good sign of charged battery. Less is not good enough.
 

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I had a battery fail a load test when it checked 12.6 volts beforehand. I thought it was fully charged until the load test. The local auto parts stores load test them for free. I think it had something internal broken or something. A wiring diagram is needed. Using a volt meter check for voltage at the different points in the system. Test meters have enough internal resistance that they will not short anything. Also check the resistance in the cables with an ohm meter. Cables sometimes do corrode internally and have high resistance.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The clicking indicates the solenoid is being activated, but not passing enough juice. I know you changed the solenoid, but the fact you can crank directly from the battery points to a solenoid not passing enough current to turn the cranking motor.

Does it click only once, or does it rattle?

When you said connected the battery directly. Did you do it by jumpering the two big bolts on the solenoid? You could also verify if somebody pushes the button, that 12.6VDC is showing on the cranking side of the solenoid, or disconnect both sides, push the button and verify continuity between the two big bolts.

At least 12.6 VDC is good sign of charged battery. Less is not good enough.
1a. Solenoid - clicks once.
1b. Hooked battery directly up to factory battery leads.
1c. Will check 12.6 VDC at cranking side of solenoid. That may show me if my factory battery leads are dysfunctional.
1d. Will check continuity on solenoid - as described.
Excellent advice. Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I had a battery fail a load test when it checked 12.6 volts beforehand. I thought it was fully charged until the load test. The local auto parts stores load test them for free. I think it had something internal broken or something. A wiring diagram is needed. Using a volt meter check for voltage at the different points in the system. Test meters have enough internal resistance that they will not short anything. Also check the resistance in the cables with an ohm meter. Cables sometimes do corrode internally and have high resistance.
1. Battery: This is a new dry cell battery that turns my Suzuki GS1100E over like it was nothing.
2. I have a wiring diagram, but the schematics can be confusing. So I'm being careful.
3. I will validate voltage at all the points to see where it - stops.
4. Had not considered the cables corrosion and subsequent resistance and poor grounding - they are now on my list.
Great Insight.
Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I found this article on the web, that really helps me understand the role of the solenoid, and the small 12V ignition wire with interlocks. While the article is on a car - it's all the **** same. Battery, cables, solenoid, 12V ignition wire with interlocks and a starter that won't crank. Very well written and really, really helpful.
Hagerty Insurance - Diagnosing a no crank condition and testing a starter motor.
 

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In general:

A rattling solenoid, but not cranking, means it is passing power, but so weak that does not crank the motor and drains its own power to the coil releasing itself. When it releases, there is enough weak power to close the solenoid again, but cycle repeats very rapidly rattling. It usually is a very weak battery.

When solenoid clicks only ones indicates the solenoid is being activated, but no power is passing. Cranking motor is open or Solenoid is bad (not closing), or bad connections to battery; corroded, loose, or not connected at all, and this includes the other side of the circuit; the ground. If you disconnect any of the big cables on a rattling solenoid, the solenoid would click only once.

The cranking motor grounds itself by simply being mounted to the engine (ground), but check also the battery negative connection to the engine on the other side. Corrosion, or being loose, means resistance is so great it may not pass enough current.
 

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In general:

A rattling solenoid, but not cranking, means it is passing power, but so weak that does not crank the motor and drains its own power to the coil releasing itself. When it releases, there is enough weak power to close the solenoid again, but cycle repeats very rapidly rattling. It usually is a very weak battery.

When solenoid clicks only ones indicates the solenoid is being activated, but no power is passing. Cranking motor is open or Solenoid is bad (not closing), or bad connections to battery; corroded, loose, or not connected at all, and this includes the other side of the circuit; the ground. If you disconnect any of the big cables on a rattling solenoid, the solenoid would click only once.

The cranking motor grounds itself by simply being mounted to the engine (ground), but check also the battery negative connection to the engine on the other side. Corrosion, or being loose, means resistance is so great it may not pass enough current.
Sounds like a bad cable to starter motor or bad cable connection. Clean/check all the cable connections to the solenoid and starter. Or, place a clamp-on amp meter on cable to starter and the cable going to solenoid to see if current is flowing to starter. Or, connect a heavy wire or cable between positive battery terminal and starter cable attach point. Be ready to disconnect this wire fast if starter motor runs.
 
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