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Discussion Starter #1
I've been scratching my head for the last 24 hours going all over my bike and I can't figure out why it's dead. It was fine when I parked it Saturday afternoon but yesterday morning it was completely unresponsive when I turned the ignition switch on - nothing, no dash lights, headlights, tail lights, horn, starter, no whining, clicking, or any indication of power anywhere.

I have checked the battery with two different meters, a Fluke T1000 and a Radio Shack 22-812, both fine digital instruments. The battery registers 13 volts across the terminals as well as from positive to ground at many different locations. I've also already disassembled the ignition switch and got 13V there across the white and brown wires. The ignition switch appears to be fine as well, with no continuity in the off position, continuity from brown to white in the accessory (left) position, and continuity across both white to brown and white to red in the on (right) position. I tried jumping the white and red and white and brown wires and got no response.

It took me a while to locate the main 30A fuse but it and all the others behind the right side panel checked out OK with the multimeter. I also get 13V across the posts at the main fuse. The connections on that component weren't perfectly pristine but oxidation was minimal and I see no connection issues there. Positive connection at the starter and ground connection to the frame also appear clean and tight, which is corroborated by the good voltage measured at various other locations.

I'm obviously missing something but paint me pink and call me Sally if I can figure it out.

The bike is a 2000 Vulcan Nomad 1500VN EFI. I believe I'm the 3rd owner. The original owned a tire shop and had a stable of bikes so it was extremely well maintained, though he only put about 7000 miles on it. He died a couple years ago and another old guy bought it and he only put another 1000 or so on it over the course of the two years he owned it. It appears to have always been garaged. It took some detailing to get it shining when I bought in July of 2014 but it's in excellent condition with virtually no rust other than a few hard to reach places in the chrome and on the cheap mirrors and under the headlight hoods. I've ridden it some so it's now at about 13,500 miles, with regular oil changes (Mobil1 full synthetic, K&N filters) but not much else because it hasn't needed it. I guess I did repack the mufflers right after I got it and new tires last winter but that's about it. It's never given me a lick of trouble until now.

This seems very much like a fuse problem to me but I've been all over it and can't find any other than the ones under the seat and behind the right side panel. It has had some minor accessory wiring done, namely a few vest power outlets that are fused and connected directly to the battery so not involved in anything else (they have good voltage as well) and a 12V accessory plug on the handlebars that gets its juice from the driving lights, which may possibly be aftermarket but were well done and have always worked great. I can't locate any issues in any of those areas other than the fact that power just doesn't seem to be getting past the ignition switch.

I'm very reluctant to pull the tank, especially since I filled it just before parking it on Saturday. I imagine the next thing I need to do is trace the blue and red wires from the ignition switch to where ever they go through the tank.

If I can recall anything at all unusual about my ride Saturday, it would be that at one point I was trying to find neutral and couldn't get the green light to come on. I finally found what I thought was neutral without the light but then when i took off it turned out I'd been between 2nd and 3rd gears. Could this all be somehow related to the neutral safety switch? I see how that and several other things including the kickstand and kill switch might keep it from starting, but why no power to dashlights, horn, etc?

Sorry to be so long winded but just trying to answer all the questions that seem to get asked in these threads by people trying to help. Any pointers from you old salts that have been tearing into these bikes for years would be greatly appreciated.
 

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have you checked the plug to the ignition switch , mine had a burnt connector and bike was completly dead, there is a master fuse on the start relay the fuse is hidden good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #3
have you checked the plug to the ignition switch , mine had a burnt connector and bike was completly dead, there is a master fuse on the start relay the fuse is hidden good luck
Thanks for the response. By the "master fuse" do you mean the 30A fuse under the red cap behind the coolant reservoir? If so then yes, and I checked all the wiring around it with no flaws detected. I'm not sure what you mean by the plug under the ignition switch - there are a couple of them in there that I can't identify but they all look to be in good shape. The ignition switch is definitely getting power, it's just not making very far after that.
 

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1. All voltage readings referenced to battery ground.
2. Locate junction box (fuse box)
3. Key on, take voltage reading on both brown wires at the connector.

Post back with two readings.

I do not recommend using the shotgun method (taking things apart and using the old eyeballs) when troubleshooting electrical issues. That means do not take anything apart until the fault has been located. One always runs the risk of introducing another problem and then the REAL tail chasing begins.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
1. All voltage readings referenced to battery ground.
2. Locate junction box (fuse box)
3. Key on, take voltage reading on both brown wires at the connector.

Post back with two readings.

I do not recommend using the shotgun method (taking things apart and using the old eyeballs) when troubleshooting electrical issues. That means do not take anything apart until the fault has been located. One always runs the risk of introducing another problem and then the REAL tail chasing begins.
Both brown wires return 0V relative to battery ground with key both off and on. I also checked continuity to ground and it appears they are both grounded regardless of switch position.

I went on to check continuity between those two points (brown wires at fuse box) and the brown wire at the ignition switch and also found continuity.

But I was surprised to see that the RED wire at the switch also appears grounded. Not only that but when I'm measuring voltage between the ignition white wire and ground, it's 12V with the switch off, but it drops to 0V when I turn the switch on.

At this point should I suspect that the red wire is shorting to ground when it should not? Or is that normal?

Thanks very much for your guidance.
 

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0v on brown is a no go. No sense in looking at red or any other wire yet.

Go to starter solenoid, probe white wire, key on and off.

Post back with 2 readings.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
0v on brown is a no go. No sense in looking at red or any other wire yet.

Go to starter solenoid, probe white wire, key on and off.

Post back with 2 readings.
White wire reads 13V both key on and key off. That's with the red cap connected. 0V both key positions if it's removed from the solenoid.
 

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Follow key switch harness back to where it connects to main harness. At connector, key on, check voltage on both white and brown wires, both sides of connector.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Follow key switch harness back to where it connects to main harness. At connector, key on, check voltage on both white and brown wires, both sides of connector.
Do you mean the connector down inside the tank just a few inches from where the switch is mounted? If so I can only get to the top of it and even there no part of the conductor is exposed and I can't even get a grip on it to separate it. Am I supposed to be looking for something back under the seat or behind the right side panel? Or am I about to remove my (currently full) fuel tank?

sfair, let me reiterate my thanks for your patience and guidance.
 

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Push meter lead probe down beside wire at connector to touch pin. If you can only get to one side, that will do for now.

If you have to, bare half an inch of wire on each end, push wire down beside brown or white at connector, then touch meter lead to other end.

Be careful, these wires are live!!! Wear safety glasses/goggles.

It is the first connector we are looking for that the key switch plugs into.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Push meter lead probe down beside wire at connector to touch pin. If you can only get to one side, that will do for now.

If you have to, bare half an inch of wire on each end, push wire down beside brown or white at connector, then touch meter lead to other end.

Be careful, these wires are live!!! Wear safety glasses/goggles.

It is the first connector we are looking for that the key switch plugs into.
Key OFF:
white 12.5V (battery not as strong as last night)
brown 0V

Key ON:
white 0V
brown 0V
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Very odd.

Go to reg/rect. and probe white at connector, key off and on.
Unsure again here - are you referring to the component(s) bolted to the lower front frame beneath the radiator? No plain white wire there, although a couple with white stripes.
 

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Sorry, left engine side cover has to come off to get at the white wire.
It comes off easily with no gasket or leaking oil.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I finally realized that, although I guess 'easily' is in the eye of the beholder...had to remove both shift levers and the foot pad before I could remove it. I found two white wires in connectors there that lead to the reg/rec at the front. Both read 12.5V in both key off and key on positions. I also found a 15A fuse beneath the seat with a white wire showing continuity to the white wire at the switch. It too shows 12.5V regardless of switch position.
 

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As an add, I hope you are disconnecting battery anytime you measure continuity or you could make short work of your meter.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I get the same result at the switch and on the side of the connector closest to it, the white wire goes to 0 when I turn the switch on. But only at those two points; anywhere else that I start with voltage key off I still have it key on. (Recall though I can only barely get to the top of that connector and can't get under it at all unless I pull the tank.)

And thanks, yes, I am careful to not measure ohms when voltage is present.
 

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Remove speedometer cover. Under it you will find a big connector that goes to speedo. Disconnect it, probe white wire and perform same on/off key test.

One thing that can happen is when there is an electrical fault present and if the battery is connected, one might find voltage where none is expected. That is one reason why battery disconnect is always a good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well I found the fault.

When I removed the speedometer cover (had to disconnect speedo cable from front wheel first), I found neither of the two connectors that goes to the speedo had a plain white wire. Both had a white/yellow wire of smaller gauge than the other white wires though. I went ahead and measured all ten wires to be sure (one 4-wire and one 6-wire connector) and found no voltage at any of them.

But since I now had better access to the connector closest to the ignition switch I decided to separate it and inspect it, and sure enough found the pin to the white wire had clearly heated up and melted the plastic around it. Not visible at all from the outside on either end but internally it's junked.

This will be a really fun repair (not). Ultimately it will require removal of the tank to replace the whole connector but there is very little slack in the line so I'm not even sure I can do that without splicing in a jumper or else replacing all the wires to the switch. Unless you have another recommendation I think I'll solder pull the white wire from the connector, clean up the ends, and solder in a new bullet connector then cover it with shrink wrap. Eventually I may do a more elaborate repair to the whole connector but right now I just need to get this bike buttoned up.

I always wish I could positively pin point why this sort of thing happens but I'll have to assume that moisture led to a poor connection which then built up resistance until it overheated.

Again, sfair, THANK YOU! for your patience and guidance. If you're a drinkin' man and ever find yourself in NorCal I would be pleased and proud to buy you a beer. At the end of our day's ride, naturally.
 
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