1977 XS650

On to trying to figure out why the electric starter isn't working. I currently have the cable from the solenoid to the starter disconnected (oil is out of the bike and I didn't want it spinning the starter if it were to start working suddenly). I am getting a strong click from the solenoid when I hit the starter button. With the multi meter hooked to the starter terminals on the solenoid it behaves as expected, with no resistance when I hit the starter button and no continuity between them when I'm not. There is no resistance in the cable from there to the starter. Now I have to determine if the starter works (if it spins, then maybe something is jamming the starter gears, if it doesn't, then the problem is the starter itself). So, I'm trying to figure out what my next series of steps should be. Does it make more sense to take off that cover tucked up under the left hand side (then I can remove a gear and see if the starter spins from there) or does it make more sense to pull the starter and bench test it? On the one hand, if the starter spins, then I probably have to take the cover off anyway (and if no issue there, take of the right and cover too), On the other, If I pull the starter and it doesn't, I save myself the hassle to replacing that gasket. I'm leaning towards taking off that left side cover as the upper bolts on the starter look like a pain to get to, but maybe the cover is just as bad being tucked up as it is.
 
Have you tried jumping the starter directly to the battery? That starter isn’t that bad to get at but you have to take your time.
 
Have you tried jumping the starter directly to the battery? That starter isn’t that bad to get at but you have to take your time.
I haven't yet. I wish I had thought to do that before I drained the oil, but hindsight is 20/20. I could probably pull the spark plugs and try before taking anything apart (one would assume there is enough residual oil for it to turn over a couple times if it does work).
 
Starter turns the motor over when I hooked it up directly. Seems loud and seemed to spin more slowly than I would expect (especially with spark plugs out). I'm going to plug new battery in and hook it back up through the solenoid and see if it behaves the same with the starter button. If I remember tomorrow, once I'm ready to try the starter button, I'll try to set up the tripod and take a video of so I can get some feedback on how it sounds.

In the meantime, the caliper rebuild kit showed up so the front brakes are back together and stopping the front wheel as they should. 🙌.
 
Starter turns the motor over when I hooked it up directly. Seems loud and seemed to spin more slowly than I would expect (especially with spark plugs out). I'm going to plug new battery in and hook it back up through the solenoid and see if it behaves the same with the starter button. If I remember tomorrow, once I'm ready to try the starter button, I'll try to set up the tripod and take a video of so I can get some feedback on how it sounds.

In the meantime, the caliper rebuild kit showed up so the front brakes are back together and stopping the front wheel as they should. 🙌.
Xs starters tend to sound pretty gnarly and slow compared to a lot of modern bikes. Especially when the oil is cold. Did you add oil?
 
Xs starters tend to sound pretty gnarly and slow compared to a lot of modern bikes. Especially when the oil is cold. Did you add oil?
I didn't add any oil yet as I wasn't sure if I was going to have to pull starter and I didn't want to waste any if I had to drain it again. I only let the starter spin for about one revolution of the motor. Good to know that it might be normal.
 
I didn't add any oil yet as I wasn't sure if I was going to have to pull starter and I didn't want to waste any if I had to drain it again. I only let the starter spin for about one revolution of the motor. Good to know that it might be normal.
Kinda crude, but you can lay out some foam and blankets and lay the bike over on it's right side. Then you won't lose any oil (just a dribble or two) pulling the starter. And for someone like me who has positional vertigo (don't ask :rolleyes: ), it's quiet a bit easier to remove and reinstall.
 
Kinda crude, but you can lay out some foam and blankets and lay the bike over on it's right side. Then you won't lose any oil (just a dribble or two) pulling the starter. And for someone like me who has positional vertigo (don't ask :rolleyes: ), it's quiet a bit easier to remove and reinstall.
Positional vertigo 😳 Eeep. that doesn't sound fun.

I decided to just pull the starter to test it as the bikes owner claims it hasn't worked right as long as he can remember and it is working fine. It spins like the Tasmanian devil and isn't loud at all. I believe I read, in the manual troubleshooting section, something about a weak starter potentially being caused by short to ground. The terminal insulator on the bottom of the cable was crumbly and brittle and fell apart and It was so close to the frame down there, so I'm wondering if some sort of short could have been the issue. I rotated the cable when I put it back on so the crimp side was towards the starter to give a little more clearance to the frame and put a new insulator boot on it. Was going to try to put up a 7 second video of the test, but doesn't look like that's allowed so here is a slightly blurry photo as I was setting up. Going to put oil back in tomorrow and see if she will fire on the starter button. If not, maybe it's an issue in the starter gears. I think I saw something about the tab on the clip (#3 in diagram below) coming out of its locator notch so, if I have to keep looking, I'll probably look there next.
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Here's my starter test. It works nice and strong in the bike. How does yours compare?


 
Dunno... yours sounds a bit slow to spin up. I think if it were mine, I'd take it apart and, at minimum polish the commutator and ohm the field windings.
But that'll open up a whole new can of worms 'cause more likely than not you'll need to drill the long screws out... and replacements are hard to come by. @jetmechmarty ??
 
Dunno... yours sounds a bit slow to spin up. I think if it were mine, I'd take it apart and, at minimum polish the commutator and ohm the field windings.
But that'll open up a whole new can of worms 'cause more likely than not you'll need to drill the long screws out... and replacements are hard to come by. @jetmechmarty ??
I got the screws on eBay. M5 x 110 as I recall. They came direct from China.
 
Thank you. That is a very informative thread. At this point, since I already have it back in, I'm not sure how much I'm going to worry about it (for now). I'm chomping at the bit to take it for a test ride so I'm probably going to button it up and see how it feels in the neighborhood. Considering the goal is to find it a new home, I have a few more hours of sweat equity into the project than I initially intended already 😅. There is a local "old bike night" on May 1st that I'm hoping to bring it out for so that gives me two more weeks to test drive and decide what else needs to be done.
 
Starts with the electric starter (though I think you are right Jim and I should have opened it up and cleaned it while I had it out). Took it for a couple short test drives. I really love that motor. In 3rd gear, accelerating hard it seemed to pull harder the faster I went. I didn't want to push it too hard (I was on city streets and without the tach I didn't know what RPMs it was pulling), but wow 😳. It felt like it wanted to pull right out from under me.
 
The observant may notice the fork boots are pulled up. I didn't bother pushing them back down yet since I'm planning to do those next.
 
Starts with the electric starter (though I think you are right Jim and I should have opened it up and cleaned it while I had it out).
Dunno, that sounded pretty good. Yeah... maybe just a tad sluggish, but more than acceptable. Yes, you should have done it while it was out, but now that it's in... maybe jus' let it be. 👍
 
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