Monday, June 18, 2012

With a little help from a friend

My good friend Lloyd has moved on and now rides a big Yamaha V-Star instead of his "BlackJack" scooter. But I thought he could help out with Max's starting problem. And he did! Big time!

He said he might have a starter relay and maybe even an air filter to fit Max. I was hesitant to get too excited, but the news was good. It turns out that the relay wasn't from a SYM, but it looked real close and we thought we'd try it anyway.

As I drove back home from picking up the parts from Lloyd, I kept thinking that this might not work. All the possibilities crossed my mind. The problem could have a number of causes even though we thought we had it narrowed down pretty well.

I went ahead and put in the new air filter first almost like I was teasing myself. Then I took off the seat and took the old relay out to get a closer comparison. The new part was just barely bigger, otherwise almost identical.

I installed the new part, hooked the battery cables back up and took a deep breath. The moment of truth. I carefully turned the key, grabbed a brake and pressed the starter switch.

A sweeter sound there never was as Max cranked and immediately started. The definition of "Fat and Happy" is the euphoria around the knowledge that you have done something right and good.

And all with a little help from good friends like certain readers of this little blog and people like Lloyd. Many many thanks to all!

Unfortunately I missed Ride to Work day today. But Here's a dumbass question for you all. What method of transportation do you think I will take to work tomorrow?

And by the way, I took a little ride late this afternoon to celebrate. It was hot. I broke out the mesh jacket even though I like the denim one better. I even got a few waves and nods from other riders.

It was a really good ride!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A New "Gut" Feeling

I have this little rule that hopefully might "save" me when I am on the road someday with a mechanical problem. When I am working on the bike, I try to only use tools that I keep on the bike. That way I should always have a needed tool with me for most minor repairs. Oh, and in true Jack Riepe fashion, I always have my MagLite flashlight with me, and I used it today.

Most of the tools stored on the bike. I mostly use the screwdriver and the nut driver.
Today's mission is to investigate the wiring of the starter circuit on Max. I checked certain things such as the connection of the negative battery terminal to the grounding wire on the scooter frame. It looked okay. I thought it would.

 Max's seat can be easily removed. Easy to do.

Undoing six bolts with a 10mm nut driver is all it takes to remove the seat.
Once the seat is removed I can see the starter relay (left) and the fuses (center) on the inside wall of the scooter. I am now suspecting that the starter relay is the source of my starting problem. I don't want to replace it yet, but I wanted to see how hard it might be to swap it out if I desire to do so.

With the seat removed, there's lots of goodies inside.

In just a few minutes I was able to remove the starter relay. I temporarily violated my own rule as it became apparent that I could not get at the bolts on the relay from on top, but had to get at from the side. So I pulled out a small socket wrench to do the job. (Shame on me)

The infamous starter relay or solenoid from Max. Don't see anything wrong with it, it's all sealed.
The purpose of this "gizmo" is to provide a mechanism whereby the electricity going through the actual starter switch on the handlebar is much less than the electricity required to power the actual starter motor. I have replaced this on a car before, many years ago.

If you want to, note the small wires leading from the relay are the same color as the wires going through the starter switch on the handlebar as seen in the next picture. The bigger screw on posts on the relay are attached to bigger wires from the battery and then to the starter motor. I briefly looked at all these wires to see if they might be damaged. They all appeared to be okay.

Looking inside the handlebar at the wires leading to the starter switch.

Okay, to ease my guilt about using a tool not stored on Max, I steal a 10mm open end wrench from my tool cabinet and keep it with Max's tools.

Theft of a 10mm wrench
I then use that 10m wrench to out the relay back in the bike. I get the battery back tomorrow after an extended testing. Then I can start testing the relay and see if it is the culprit.

My "gut" feel now is that this relay is the problem to starting Max
Lets hope that it is the relay. It will be easy to replace. I might have to wait for shipment of the part since there is no dealer here in Wichita anymore, but should be easy to find the part.

Oh, and by the way, I cut myself shaving the other day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Seriously Pi$$ed Off

Comments and suggestions are welcome. Max is down and I am determined to determine once and for all what this little starting problem is all about.

Max's battery is at the battery store for an overnight test. The battery passed a quick test 2 days ago, but had been on the trickle charger for 2 hours. The long term test will either confirm or deny whether the battery is good. The battery is only about 2 months old, but I remain suspicious.

The starting problem is electrical. If the starter cranks, Max will start and run flawlessly, but more and more, when the starter button is pressed, I get nothing. Not a click, just nothing, even though sometimes he'll crank and start like nothing is wrong. This has gone on for a really long time, 2 years or so. At first, only very occasionally, he wouldn't start. Now it seems, only occasionally, he will start. I am very upset. I am not the most patient person with these kind of things. I have no close dealer to rely on.

So, first we are going to get a definitive ruling on the battery. I'll know about that in a couple of days.

If it isn't the battery, the list of possibilities is long. It could be simply a loose connection somewhere. Tomorrow I hope to spend some time taking some of the body off and tightening and inspection every bolt I see that might have a wire attached to it. It could be the starter motor. It could be the alternator, but I doubt that. It could be the starter switch, or the ignition switch or even the neutral switch attached to the brake levers.

I wish I could tell you that on Tuesdays, with a southern breeze, and one foot on the ground, and preceded by a fart of epic proportions, that Max would start every time. But I have been unable to determine a pattern. Very frustrating! Have almost no idea why he starts sometimes, other times not.

If I were a betting man, I'd bet on the brake levers being the problem, but have no scientific evidence, just a gut feel. I also don't want to assume the worst, I've done that before. I am hoping it's just a loose connection somewhere, and not hard to find. I am tired of not riding.

Looks like a Multi-Tester may be in my future.