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Date Posted: 22:27:58 01/24/06 Tue
The Big Meltdown
Turn the key,.... no lights, no start,... no nothing. The first time this happened was a surprise, and a bit confusing. I thought the sidestand was still down,... or the bike in gear,.... or something,.. very confusing.
Kick the sidestand up and down a few times, hit the kill switch a few times,.... make sure the bike is in neutral,.... turn the key,... ah yes! green neutral light, red oil light, and yellow sidestand down light. We have current flow, ready for for ignition,.... and weÕre on our way.
Always far back in your mind your thinking,... when is it going to happen,.. that flipping the kill switch,... kicking the sidestand up and down, rocking her back and forth in gear,.. and putting her in neutral is not going to help ?? she just sits there, no elec current when the key is turned. Will it be dark,... out in the middle of nowhere,... raining,... just where will this little problem finally be a no current,... no go situation.
I have a 97Õ Red Orange & Pearlescent White Valkyrie touring model with fiberglass saddlebags. Prior to this I had 97Õ Valk, same color, and was the first one from the dealership. I had installed the custom leather Valkyrie bags from honda. I had always told my son that he could have this bike if they came out with a new improved model, (maybe a flat 8 cyl ?), it didnÕt look like this was going to happen so I bought another Valk, same R/W color, with the hard bags, and gave the first Valk to my son. This tour model had only 1,900 miles when I bought it, it now has 68,000 miles. The first Valk had 46,000 miles when I gave it to my son.
Both Valks had this same problem sometimes. Turn the key, no elec current flow,... no lights,... no nothing,... no start. It was a very intermitten problem, might be many months before it happened again.
I have read with some interest that some of the GSV members have had this same sort of situation. Some have replaced the kill switch, I too thought this may be the culpret, let me tell you of my experience, it may be of some help. It is Jan,... it is raining,.... the fence blew down,... not much opportunity to ride. So,... while fixing the fence between rainstorms,... let me tell you of my experience.
The Rest of The Story
There were a few times around here in the Bay Area that I can remember, up at AliceÕs on hwy 35, over on Mt. Diablo, and even at the Junction Cafe behind Mt. Hamilton on hwy 130. Kick the sidestand a few times, hit the kill switch a few times, and then she has elec and starts.
Fred Rau of Motocycle Consumer News had organized a ride out of their magazine headquarters a few years ago. The ride was up Ortega canyon hwy 74, thru Joshua Tree NatÕl Park, over to Amboy for lunch, and then on to Laughlin, then the next day up thru Oatman to Kingman for lunch, and back to Laughlin.
Well,..... at a rest stop before entering Joshua Tree NP, turn the key to leave and no electricity,.... everyone is off down the road, about 65 bikes were on this ride. Finally after some hard sidestand operation, we have ignition, were off again,... now do I leave the bike running while in the park?? .... No,... just turn her off and hope she starts,... no problem the rest of the trip.
The following summer in Utah at the south end of Cache Valley in a little town called Paradise, the wife & I were stopped at the cemetary, checking out some long gone relatives, no electricity. Well finally after some more hard sidestand manuvers and lots of kill switch action. we finally have ignition. This pretty well convinces me that the sidestand switch is the problem. later after getting back to Calif. I install a new sidestand switch. It was quite a bit of work to remove and replace thru all the wiring in front of the battery.
This seems to have solved the problem.... no trouble for over a year.
Well this was not to be the solution, but it did have an effect that lasted for quite some time.
I belong to several Motorcycle Clubs, (donÕt we all), My friend Jim signed me up to the Kawasaki group because he has a Voyager and wanted me to go with them for some rides. Have been to Lewiston Idaho and a few other places with them,.. Big Fun. This last summer July 05, American Voyager Association (AVA) was having a rally in Durango Colorado. IÕv been there on the bike several times, very scenic roads and the Durango to Silverton narrow gauge Railroad is a must to ride, takes all day but very well worth it. My friend not being in the best of health was worried about the pace of the group,... so I said we could go together,... leave early,... and take our time getting there and back, the pace would work for him. We take the scenic route thur Tonopah Nevada, St. George & Mexican Hat Ut, Four Corners, Cortez, Telluride, Ouray, and Durango Colorado. On our way back we head east over Monarch Pass and then Independence Pass thru Aspen, Grand Junction, and into Moab Utah, stop in Ely NV for Ghost Train ride, and then on home to California.
Last summer there was a record heat wave thru Southern Nevada, Utah and Arizona. Temps reached over 100Õ F for days on end, and some places 115Õ to 120Õ F. We were there,... it was HOT.
From Hanksville to Mexican Hat Utah is about 145 miles,.... the only service in between is a small boat marina some 50 miles from Hanksville and some distance off the hwy with one gas pump. This is Hite Marina on one arm of Lake Powell on the Colorado River. ItÕs best to keep as much gas as possible in the tank around here. We stop to top off the tanks,.... when I try to leave,.... nothing no electricity, no start. Lots of sidestand action, hit the kill switch,.... nothing. SheÕs not going to go anywhere,.... now the air temp may have had something to do with it,... it was 116Õ F on Sat about 3:00 PM. There was a little convience store by the gas pump where you pay. They had a giant Air Conditioner on the roof which blew straight down in the middle of the store with a couple of plastic chairs right underneath, very cool in this spot. Jim sat here trying to cool off with a cool drink. I decided now was the time to fix the bike, no way out. The fellow running the pump kept reminding us he was going to close at 5:00 PM. Jim said call the Honda tow,... I reminded him it was late sat, and most shops were closed sun, and even monday, and we were several hundred miles in either direction from a shop. Just a little patch of cement with dirt and big rocks all around, not too good for sleeping,... so better spend time fixing rather than call help which would be a long time arriving, if at all.
I remove the Rt side cover and with the ohm meter check all the wires there,.... yes all the fuses are good. wires look ok,... maybe itÕs in the key switch,... or even that kill switch, I start to disassemble the kill switch,... my mind goes back to the first time I removed the rear sprocket on my 10 speed bike. Little ball bearings fell out all over the kitchen floor,... many rolled under the fridge with the dust bunnies, never did find them all. IÕm thinking lots of dirt to lose springs & things. whatÕs this,.... I see some meltdown on what turns out to be the start relay wires, there are 4 or them, and the left rear female connector is melted,.... the wire is almost burned thru at this point. I think IÕve found the problem. I am considering on cutting the wires,.... then I think the main thing is to get current flow, and fix later with a new connector. A few wiggles and yes current, and ignition.
As the little convience store is being locked up, we head down the road to Mexican Hat. I leave the wires loose so I can wiggle for more current when needed. We arrive in Mexican Hat just in time to get the last rooms available. It had taken 2 hrs. to locate the problem.
Jim had said we had broken down in the worst possible place,....so far from any help. I reminded him maybe it was the best posssible place. If it had been on the side of the road when taking some photos, he would not have had the cool place to be while I fixed the bike. In fact he may not have been able to survive,..... he was pretty far gone with the heat when we reached Hite Marina.
We spend some time at 4 corners, then pass thru Cortez, and on up to Telluride for lunch, over to ridgway, down to Ouray and on past Silverton and into Durango. Along the way I have to wiggle the wires a few times to get her started. The next day a visit to the Honda dealer in Durango, (Handlebar Cycles), Mike puts some new connectors on the wires to the relay, (30 min repair),... and were back on the road. Mike has worked as a mechanic at Handlebar for about 25 years, says heÕs seen this problem before, (not only on Valks but also on Gold Wings),... mine was the most melted heÕs experienced. He thinks that when the wiring harness was factory made, they didnÕt crimp the connectors tight enough, and over time resistance builds up with the corresponding heat build up and then,.... no current flow. I think that when I changed the sidestand relay switch I had jostled the relay wires enough to give them more contact which seemed to solve the problem for awhile. Also by big up/down movement of the sidestand it may have jolted the wires a bit to let contact take place thus temp fix over the years to get me on my way.
Need to get over to the sons in Roseville to check start relay connectors, he hasnÕt rode much lately after it had no elec a few times.
Ride Safe, Roger Allen