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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guys, I rode my '97 800 Vulcan two weeks ago for the first time since January. I rode to have lunch with a friend and then back close to my neighborhood to get gas. After filling up, I went to turn the bike back on. At that point, the bike refused to start. The turning was strong, but the engine did not want to kick over. I had to push the bike out of the gas station so I found a nice corner for it. After an hour of several "what the $#%!" moments and scratching my head, I decided to throw in the towel and take the three mile journey back home by bus. The next day, I returned and the bike still did not want to start. This time, I had all my tools with me in my orange backpack. Only thing I was missing was my lunchbox. I discovered at that moment, I was receiving no spark in either plug with the spark plug to engine ground test. After a few more WTF moments, I called for a tow. :<

Whenever I had the availability, I attempted to tackle the problem. I do pretty well working on any motorcycle, but am dumb as a doorknob when it comes to electrical knowledge. I'm as good with a multimeter as a chimp with a cell phone, so I can only amuse myself with the digital screen. Anyway, I considered the problem might have been with the coils, but it's unlikely that both would go at once. To be certain, I removed them and brought them to a bike shop where one of the mechanics checked them out for me. He confirmed that the coils were good and asked about the problem. I told him I had no spark. Urging to return to work, he quickly suggested I check my wiring, especially my kickstand safety switch and then left.

Kickstand safety switch- I never had a problem with it until one day a year ago I decided to screw in a kickass radiator grill cover with a flaming skull carved in to it. When I turned the upper right screw, I felt resistance. I said the hell with it since I was a few turns away from tightness perfection. Little did it register that I was screwing into the wiring that leads to the kickstand safety switch. As a result, the wiring no longer functions to that switch and I can ride my Vulcan like the coolest guy on the road with the kickstand down. This smart move of mine happened early last year, but is it possible some kind of short relating to this could suddenly prevent my bike from turning on?

Regarding wiring, my trusty Clymer states to check the kill switch. Can anyone explain how I can rule this out? I simply can't unplug the red connector underneath the tank because the kill switch is wired in with the electrical start button.

My other consideration is the IC ignitor. Before I go into that, let me talk about the removal process. I cannot for the life of me remove the one bolt facing the right side of the bike. :at-wits-end: The geniuses at Kawasaki made it so you cannot fit any size 10mm wrench into the confining area. I would have loved to take this to the bike shop also, but I couldn't get it out. It's funny how the Clymer simply says to just unscrew the bolts while missing this entire frustrating step. If someone can help me out here, please fill me in.

Still on the topic of the ignitor, when I start the bike, I feel and hear the vibration that comes from the unit itself (almost like a relay) while the starter works full strength. Without being able to remove the ignitor or test it with the specific Kawasaki tool that the Clymer indicates, I'm only assuming that it is functioning. I don't know anybody else with a spare vn800 ignitor box, so I'm at a loss.

So those are my issues. Any help is appreciated and thanked in advance.

Other info: new spark plugs, ignition fuse is good, battery is fully charge at 12.49 volts just sitting (yes, I used the multimeter :eek:)
 

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BOTM Winner, December 2016
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Believe it to be related to the "screw through the wire."
Possibly your relay box...or both.

You're right that it seems to be a "kill switch" prob...
Both cylinders wouldn't lose fire otherwise...

Fix the wire issue first...I know it'll be a PITA !!!
The sidestand switch works with those wires and continuity through the switch to trigger a relay in the relay box...

If that doesn't get'er to fire then the wire issue has done damage to the relay box...

Next would be to open up the handlebar kill/start switchbox and hit it hard with some electrical contact cleaner....
Then check for continuity across it...
Use your ohmmeter's "signal generator" setting...
Continuity will make the ohmmeter beep or squeal...:pig:


Just thought of something else...
Check the handlebar clutch reservoir switch wire...
If so equipped.

Hope this helps...

You'll get it...hang in there !!!

Luckymann77
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you Luckymann77 for the helpful advice. I've been learning the use of the continuity reader on a multimeter. My kill switch appears to be good. While being on the active position, I get the beeping with a resistance of 000. Once I deactivate the switch, the beep stops and it's back to 1. Also, functionality wise, the kill switch will not allow the starter motor to turn if it's in the off/ deactivated position.

Regarding the kickstand switch wiring, I discovered that I never screwed through the wire. What I did, however, was pinch the wiring between the radiator and its cover when I previously tightened the cosmetic cover over it. I tested the continuity of the connector end and I got the beeping sound with a resistance reading of 001. Can anyone tell me if the "1" affects anything or is that too little too make a difference?

So this is the rundown: new plugs gapped according to the Clymer, charged battery, good coils confirmed by dealership, tested continuity in the kill switch and kickstand safety switch, & ignition fuse is intact. Could the only culprit be the ignitor box? Could there be any other possibilities aside from all that was tested?? Just to note, my battery is five years old. However, I never had a loss of charge and it was fully charged after being placed on a maintainer showing 12.49 volts sitting still.
 

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BOTM Winner, December 2016
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Pagman,

What about the relay box ???

Is you bike equipped with one ???
Most Kaws are...

Kickstand switch triggers a "relay"...
If relay is fused, arced, or burnt...no start.
Pinched wire may have "contributed" to the issue...
Relay might be in your fuse box...
That's it for easy/inexpensive fixes...:confused:

Next would be CDI or ECU...:eek:


Luckymann77
 

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If you have 1.0 ohms of resistance, that's a little higher than I like to see in electrical circuits for automotive applications. If you have 0.1-0.3ohms resistance or less, that would be normal.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Im at 001 resistance on the kickstand switch wire using the continuity check setting, so where does that leave me?
 

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Kickstand switch is irrelevant if the bike is in neutral.
If starter turns engine over, all interlocks have been satisfied.

Post back with make and model number of your meter.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Kickstand switch is irrelevant if the bike is in neutral.
If starter turns engine over, all interlocks have been satisfied.

Post back with make and model number of your meter.
Thanks for that info. I'm using a Craftsman multimeter model # 82141.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Pagman,

What about the relay box ???

Is you bike equipped with one ???
Most Kaws are...

Kickstand switch triggers a "relay"...
If relay is fused, arced, or burnt...no start.
Pinched wire may have "contributed" to the issue...
Relay might be in your fuse box...
That's it for easy/inexpensive fixes...:confused:

Next would be CDI or ECU...:eek:


Luckymann77
Well that will be my solenoid. I assumed that if the electrical works, the solenoid was working too. After reading your post and then going through my Clymer, I learned it's a starter relay solenoid. It didn't dawn on me to check this area because I didn't know it could be a contributing factor.

I know I'm supposed to listen for a clicking sound with a resistance of 0. However, the Clymer instructs to disconnect the positive and starter motor leads from the terminals prior to the test. How am I supposed to listen for a clicking sound when the positive of the battery is disconnected? :confused: Is there residual energy stored for this? I followed step by step instructions (bike in neutral, kill switch in RUN position, ignition on, positive and starter motor leads disconnected) and DO NOT hear a click when engaging the start button. Furthermore, I get no reading on the continuity test. I'm reading in the Clymer that this is an indicator of a bad starter relay and must be replaced.

If I diagnosed this situation correctly, then I will be ecstatic. HOWEVER, If I reconnect the starter relay/ solenoid back to the battery, put my finger on the starter relay and engage the start button to turn the ignition, I can FEEL the clicking of the unit. :eek: This to me is another WTF moment. If anyone can clarify a proper test or what it is I'm doing wrong, please give me your input. :waiting:
 

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As an add, using a meter in the ohms position is almost useless when working on motorcycles.
Using voltage drops works much better.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Just to be clear, the starter turns the engine over but it will not start?
The terminology gets a bit tricky but yes. The starter motor is good and turns strong and loud when the starter button is depressed. The engine does not want to start at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
As an add, using a meter in the ohms position is almost useless when working on motorcycles.
Using voltage drops works much better.
If its any clarification, I used a homemade light tester on the battery's negative to the starter relay solenoid's positive lead. The light turned on showing that I am getting voltage.
 

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OK, then starter solenoid and all associated components are out of the picture.

Could you do the following:

1. Take voltage reading across battery.
2. Turn on key, take another reading.
3. Leave key on for 5 minutes and then take another reading.
4. Turn off key for 5 minutes and then take another reading.

Post back with 4 readings.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Unfortunately, the battery is currently too low to turn the starter motor due to multiple start up attempts and accidentally leaving the ignition on. The battery is now on a maintainer so i will have to resume tomorrow.
 

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No problem. Post back when you have the results.

As an add, these bikes are usually easy starting, so if there is a no-start, it is best to find the problem instead of grinding the battery down as it puts undue stress on the battery, wiring and starter itself.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
OK, then starter solenoid and all associated components are out of the picture.

Could you do the following:

1. Take voltage reading across battery.
2. Turn on key, take another reading.
3. Leave key on for 5 minutes and then take another reading.
4. Turn off key for 5 minutes and then take another reading.

Post back with 4 readings.
Battery was just taken off the maintainer at full charge. Here it goes:

1- 12.69
2- 12.19
3- 12.22
4- 12.60
 

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Discussion Starter #19


I already screwed in the new plugs beforehand. Why would you suggest not to do that? The plugs appear to be a bit carbon fouled because I am running a bit rich. However, the electrodes are good and no wear marks.
 

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Check for spark. Remove one plug at a time, lead plugged in, hold body against cylinder barrel bare metal. Crank over. Be very careful. If you do not provide a means for a spark jump, like move the plug away from the barrel, it puts your ignitor at risk.
I usually recommend a spark tester but if one is careful, this will work.
 
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