airhead starter life

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by newride, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. newride

    newride Been here awhile

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    So I had my starter for my R90/6 rebuilt May of 2006 and it seemed like a great fix.
    Fall of 2009, it became really hard to start. It even smoked a bit one day when I was trying to get it started. Battery is about 4 years old but it is usually charged enought to kick over the bike.
    I pulled off the top of the motor and the airfilter covers to look at it to see if there was a loose connection. did not see anything. I did not pull off the front cover too look.
    Should I be worried that it is time for another rebuild already? How long do starters last?
    I have stood there drinking alot of beer looking at it...........and I am all out of ideas. :1drink
    #1
  2. Stagehand

    Stagehand Imperfectionist

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    Is it a Bosch or Valeo? I'm betting Valeo. I'm guessing its nothing under the front cover... but Smoking is bad, regardless. Dont let the smoke out :D


    By "hard to start" do you mean it cranks just fine but the bike doesnt start, or it cranks badly, kinda half-assed, or doesnt respond to starter button very well...

    Most starters will last seemingly forever, until one day it just goes kaput. Feels like usually one or two per bike lifetime, at least. That would be roughly one starter for every 50-100K miles, but I'm pulling these numbers straight out of my ass.

    Do you have a known good starter you could swap out to check it?
    #2
  3. tony the tiger

    tony the tiger Long timer

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    Where'd ya' have your starter rebuilt, and who re-installed it?

    Starter should last decades (although there have been problems with the valeo's as alluded to by Stagehand).
    #3
  4. east high

    east high Been here awhile

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    #4
  5. Yarddog

    Yarddog Been here awhile

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    #5
  6. Dolly Sod

    Dolly Sod I want to do right, but not right now

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    You smoked the starter, or the engine smokes once it started?

    Is this a daily driver?

    FWIW, the starter on my '74 R90/6 may be original, and if it's not it's at least 12 years old, and still going strong.

    ..and as a side note, I got 10 years out of a westco battery, and only replaced it because "damn I have this thing for 10 years.." It was still cranking fine.
    #6
  7. Grider Pirate

    Grider Pirate Long timer

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    First, just replace the battery. Four years - Boston. You probably don't ride year round. Even if the battery is on a battery tender during periods of inaction, four years is still a long time on a battery. Low voltage on the battery side will make the starter draw higher amperage to turn the engine.
    #7
  8. newride

    newride Been here awhile

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    Yeah, good first move I think to replace battery.
    The bike is daily driver when I bring it out inthe spring.
    It has only smoked once recently in the entire time the starter has been rebuilt. Not sure if it is a bosch or valeo.
    It was rebuilt by a company that was in business for 40 years then went out of business a year after it got rebuilt............. hmmmm
    I reinstalled it myself. What a huge PIA it was getting it in an out of the top of the motor. I bascically had to make a "custom" wrench to get it out.
    it usually is tough to start as a rule, but the time it smoked, it just cranked and cranked and didn't catch.
    After that incident, It started more easily. My BMW mechanic mentioned that it was weak and maybe time to rebuild, or maybe it was a loose connection.
    #8
  9. Wirespokes

    Wirespokes Beemerholics Anonymous

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    Someone on the forum here (Datchew?), jokingly responded to every electrical problem with "it's the battery", after replacing everything else first.

    The battery is the FIRST place to inspect - and make ABSOLUTELY sure it's tops! Only then move on. Even though it reads 12.5 V it may not have enough capacity to start the bike. It needs to be load tested - an in-home test is to see what voltage it drops to while cranking. Anything less than 10 or 9.5 and it's got problems.

    Of course, there are other things that can cause a starter to not work, but this is the place to start.

    Oh, and be very precise in describing the symptoms - it'll help enormously.
    #9
  10. newride

    newride Been here awhile

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    Thanks! Will do,
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  11. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

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    First, don't replace anything yet. Throwing money and parts at a problem eventually may solve it but it ain't efficient. :D

    Get a voltmeter and get us some voltages:

    Battery + terminal: battery before cranking, battery while cranking, battery after cranking.

    Starter solenoid terminal 30: before, while, after.

    Start engine, run up to 3000 rpm, measure battery + voltage.

    Repart back, and we'll be able to narrow the possibilities down considerable...
    #11
  12. Beater

    Beater The Bavarian Butcher

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    Somewhat off topic ... but does anyone know off the top of their head when Valeo started rivetting in the magnets ... as opposed to epoxying them in? Just a year would be fine ...
    #12
  13. east high

    east high Been here awhile

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    This.

    #13
  14. Wirespokes

    Wirespokes Beemerholics Anonymous

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    Can't answer your question, but think it was five or seven years ago. However, the magnets aren't riveted - still epoxied. What's changed is a spring clip added between the magnets to help hold them in place, plus a different epoxy is now used.
    #14
  15. Beater

    Beater The Bavarian Butcher

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    Thanks Wirespokes ... found a deal on one made in Nov 08. Just wanted to know if that was the correct vintage :D
    #15
  16. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    I think they're actually held in with wire. I don't think they made the change until after airhead production stopped. So I believe any original starter made by Valeo has glued magnets. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
    #16