Starter drive issues

Discussion in 'Touring Models' started by sddurbin, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. sddurbin

    sddurbin Member

    My bike starter has begun acting sluggish and makes a squealing sound when it's hot. I'm thinking it's not fully engaging and slipping. Not good, but I need to know if a OEM replacement is the way to go, or should I look at something aftermarket. Bike is '08 FLHT, stock 96 c.i., w/38,000 miles. As always, TIA!

    Scott in IL
  2. dbmg

    dbmg Guest

    Have you fully tested the electrical system with load testing the battery???
  3. Biffy08

    Biffy08 Active Member

    My starter on the exact same bike and year does also make a sound like it is not fully engaging. I wouldn't call the sound a squeal but more like a non-engaging issue or the gears are jumping. And like you mentioned only when hot.
  4. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Guest

  5. sddurbin

    sddurbin Member

    Thanks for the post replies. I've check/tightened all electrical ends to the battery(which is new,as I thought after 5+ years it was the problem, but no). Same with the starter ends.
    Haven't done a load test yet. Original compensator nut/clutch basket. I couldn't get Capital Jack's site to come up, but will research it further.

    Scott in IL ('08 FLHT-The Mistress)
  6. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Guest

    Jack Klarich
    Apr 6th, 2012, 06:58 PM
    Step 1. First things first, load test the battery. Most auto parts stores or cycle shops will do it for free. Even if it measures over 12.5 vdc it can still be bad under a load. Battery is typically rated at 19 amp hours and 270 Cold Cranking Amps (CCA).

    Start the engine and measure DC Volts across the battery terminals, the regulator should be putting out 14.3 - 14.7 vdc at 3600 rpm and 75 degrees F.

    Step 2. To check the regulator unplug it from the stator. Take a test light and clip it to the negative terminal of the battery and then touch first one pin and then the other on the plug that goes to the regulator. If you get even the slightest amount of light from the test light the regulator is toast.

    To do this with a meter which is more accurate: black lead to battery ground, red lead to each pin on the plug, start with the voltage scale higher than 12vdc and move voltage scale down in steps for each pin. Any voltage is a bad regulator.
    You may get battery voltage on all three pins on the newer 3 phase regulators.
    The no voltage is for older type regulators with diode indicating the diode is bad and the regulator needs replacing.

    Step 3. On the other part of the disconnected regulator plug. Set the multimeter for Ohms x1 scale and measure for resistance across the pins of the stator. You should read something around 0.1 to 0.2 ohms for the TC88 32 amp system.

    Step 4. Then check for continuity between each pin on the plug and frame/engine ground. The meter needle should not move (infinite resistance)(digitals will show infinite resistance) if the meter needle does move (indicating continuity)(digitals will show some resistance), recheck very carefully. If the meter still shows continuity to ground the stator is shorted (bad).

    Step 5. Set the meter to read A/C volts higher than 30 volts (the scale setting for voltage should always be higher than the highest voltage you expect or you may fry the meter). Start the bike, and measure from one pin to the other on the plug (DO NOT cross the multimeter probes! - touch them to each other). You should read roughly 16-20 vac per 1,000 rpm.

    Step 6. If the battery was good under load test, if the stator is NOT shorted to ground, and the stator is putting out A/C voltage, then the regulator is bad (most likely even if if passed step 2).

    Generally the following is true:
    Check your owners/service manual for the system amp output for your bike.
    22 amp system produces about 19-26 vac per 1,000 rpm, stator resistance is about 0.2 to 0.4 ohms.
    32 amp system produces about 16-20 vac per 1,000 rpm, stator resistance is about 0.1 to 0.2 ohms.
    45 amp system produces about 19-26 vac per 1,000 rpm, stator resistance is about 0.1 to 0.2 ohms.

    Hope that helps you.
  7. btsom

    btsom Active Member

    I would put money on your being correct, the starter drive is going bad. It has a sprag clutch and when it is in the process of going bad makes a gear clashing, grinding sound and then usually grabs and you get your start. If you truly have a squeal, you have a different problem. Do you still have the factory compensator on that machine? If you do, have you been getting a metallic bang noise on some or all starts? If so, the weak compensator has contributed to your starter drive failure and replacing just the starter drive will be only a temporary fix.

    Many seem to hold the factory starter drive in low regard, after all that is what has failed. I don't know how long the factory unit would last if it hadn't been turned into mashed potatoes by the weak compensator. When this happened to me, I installed the SE compensator and an Allballs starter drive. So far that combination has given me over 40,000 miles of trouble free service. There are several brands of starter drives and I have seen each sworn by and sworn at. Pay your money, take your chances. All I can say is that on MY machine, an 08 Road King stock 96, the Allballs has done very well
  8. sddurbin

    sddurbin Member

    Thanks to the add'l. posts. I did get Jack's link to come up after I signed off last time. I don't experience any metallic 'bang' when starting the bike, either cold or hot, so maybe the issue is limited to the starter drive. Will have my mechanic check it out in the next few weeks, and will report back. May take a look at the drive units available while I'm waiting.

    Scott in IL
  9. gusotto

    gusotto Junior Member

    More problems when the bike is hot?
    If so, I'd suspect a weak compensator. Do a search on SE Compensator and you'll find much input.

    A weak compensator will eventually cause the starter to go out.

    SE compensator ($250) and two hours of shop labor.
    It'll save you in the long run.

    The SE compensator is now standard on the new bikes. The company realized there was a problem.
  10. sddurbin

    sddurbin Member

    Had my mechanic pull the starter drive unit, and it was indeed bad. Shaft was worn and not letting the gear engage, only slide on the shaft, occasionally catching and starting the bike. Will get a new kit tomorrow and report findings later. Thanks for the help and suggestions.

    Scott in IL-'08 FLHT (The Mistress)