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Discussion Starter #1
I am truly sorry, but this will be very long winded. I have a 2004 VTX1300C, California Version, that started exhibiting problems about a month or so ago. The bike will very intermittently die. When I bought the bike it had 7,700 miles on it, and now has 10,949. The problem has only occured in the last 200 miles. So it ran fine for 7 months.

This began happening following the installation of a Kuryakyn Drive Light bar that unfortunately had a wire bundle run up from the bar to the headlight can on the right side of the triple tree where it became pinched between the triple tree and the fork lock mount. Of course, the wires shredded and became grounded, blowing a 30 amp fuse and light bulb.

Once we found the problem, we rerouted the wire bundle and replaced the fuse and bulb, and believed that everything was back to working. The we drove from Sacramento to Reno for Street Vibrations. The bike died the first time coming out of my driveway, still warming up. I assumed I was just low on gas, switched to reserve, and the bike fired right back up. After filling up, I set fuel selector back to normal and got on the road. The second time it died was about 25 miles up I80. I coasted to the side of the freeway and began looking at the bike. Again, my first thought was fuel, and I again switched to reserve, only this time the bike did not fire back up.

I continued looking at various fuel system related hoses, the petcock, took off the air cleaner cover, and played with the choke, all to no avail. Then, after about 15 minutes, the bike magically came back to life. I drove another 2 to 3 miles up the road and the bike died again. This time I was able to get off on an offramp and coast to a stop. By now I had the first inkling that this was an electrical problem and not a fuel problem. Thinking about that, and the last thing electrical that I touched, I turned off my driving lights and pulled the 30amp fuse to ensure that it was out of the system. The bike did not immediately fire back up, so I was beginning to think again about fuel. Then, after about an hour of wringing my hands and almost completely disassembling the bike on the side of the road, including removing the gas tank, The bike fired back to life.

I put everything back together, then road up and down the country road we had pulled off on, to see if the bike would do it again. I shut off and restarted the bike 8 or 10 times to ensure that it would start up again, all with no incident. We continued our trip to SV in Reno with no further issues, drove around for 2 days, and all the way home and no problems at all. Once home I completely uninstalled the driving lights so that I could bench test them and see what else was wrong. I drove the bike back and forth to work and home for 3 more days, then the problem came back again, with the driving lights still off the bike.

It was at this point that I decided that I might have damaged something with the shorted wires from the driving lights. My first thought was that I had fried the Rectifier, and since it was less expensive than the ICM (ECM) I ordered new one from Partzilla.com. While waiting for the rectifier, I started hitting the forums, both here and VTXCAFE.com, finding plenty to support my thought that it was the rectifier, and equally as much suggesting that it might be the stator. I found Rick's Powersport Electrics online and watched his video on testing the stator, so I followed his steps and checked mine. The resistence test and ground tests passed without issue, but the voltage test failed. Instead of 16 to 18 VAC at idle as in Rick's video, I was getting wildly variable readings between 5 VAC and 11 VAC. Then I reved the engine to about 3K RPM and the voltage went DOWN (not up, as in the video) to stabilized at 6.8 VAC. I concluded that it was the stator that was bad, and ordered one from Rick's site as I had read plenty of posts that said that stock Honda Stators had questionable life expectancy. I also decided to replace the battery for good measure.

So to summarize, here is what I have replaced, totaling about $400 yet not affecting the problem at all:
  1. New Stator from Rick's
  2. New Rectifier from Partzilla.com
  3. New Battery from Napa Auto
After replacing ALL of these, it has made absolutely NO difference at all. The stator still does not show proper voltage, but rather nearly the exact readings that I got before. Both the old and new rectifiers passed the diode test (another video from Rick's site), and the battery tests good. On a hunch I disconnected the negative terminal wire from the battery while the bike was running and it immediately died, indicating that bike was running off of the battery and not the stator. Following another hunch, I unplugged the three phase wire that connects the stator to the rectifier, thus isolating it from the rest of the system, and the stator showed nearly the exact same good voltage values as depicted in Rick's video. So the stator passed the voltage test when NOT plugged into the rectifier, and failed when plugged in.

At this point I concluded that I had a grounded hot wire somewhere in the wiring harness. I removed the battery and put it back on the bench to charge, then removed all of the light bulbs so that they wouldn't give me false continuity to ground, and started testing every single positive wire in the bike from front to back. Only one wire went to ground that I thought might be suspicious: the battery cable from the Starter Relay to the Starter Motor. I disconnected it from the starter relay but left it connected to the starter motor and it will test with continuity to ground. This might be proper, but I can't remember and I could not find the answer to this very simple question anywhere online.

At this point I'm stumped. The bike starts and runs, albeit off the battery. Although when I put a voltage tester on the battery, it is getting charged at 13.8 to 14.2 VDC. Yet, when I disconnect the negative battery terminal, the bike dies. I have completely removed everything connected to the driving lights. I have the entire wiring harness apart and cannot find one load wire that is grounding. This afternoon I will check (and clean) all of the grounds), and clean the starter switch. If this does not fix the issue, I will look at replacing the Starter Relay, followed by the Starter Motor, and finally, the ICM (ECM). I still can't help thinking that I have something grounding causing the stator to fail the test when connected to the system, but pass when not connected. I have also considered the possiblity that I received a new rectifier from Partzilla.com that is bad in the exact same way as my old rectifier.

None of the other posts I have seen closely ressemble my symptoms, so I decided, out of sheer deseration, to post and see if anyone can shed any light on this mess.

Thanks in advance!

Mark
 

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You might check the black and the green wires on the ecm they have been known to break and the plastic case is still intact. Start the bike and wiggle them while it is running.

Welcome to the VTXOA from the southeast corner of NC.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Motorcyclereb,

Thanks for the quick response. Definitely tried that as I had read several posts here regarding how fragile those wires are and the possibility that breaks might not be visible. Is there a way to check these wires for continuity?

Thanks again!
 

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I doubt it has anything to do with the starting or charging circuits since you've had no problems starting it back up. Try wiggling the ECM wires with the bike running to see if the problem appears. Or, since your first instinct was that you were running out of gas, it could simply be a bad petcock diaphram, quite common.
 

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The 3 phase AC voltage is tested with the connector OPEN.
Rick did not mention that and it appears that the connectors are mated
but that is Not the case. Later he mentions that people seeing the wires
can relate to it better. He just turned over the 3 phase connector from
the Ohms test.
The reason for the varying AC voltage is the type of regulation.
The OEM R/R is a "shunting" aka "Shorting" regulator, the shorts
are applied across the stator wires as needed to keep the
DC voltage in range.

The 30 amp fuse that blew, was it under the Red cap on the Starter Relay???
The Red cap with 4 wires, two for the Starter Relay trigger wires and two
other wires, one goes to the Ignition switch(Red) and the other wire (Red/White) goes to the R/R.
The connection to the battery is made via the battery terminal on the Starter Relay.

A VTX will not run without a battery.
Without a battery to stabilize the voltage and provide a load the higher voltage
pulses would turn on the shunting even more.

When the engine shuts down---are the headlights, taillights, turn signals still working?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hans&Feet,

Based on the information you provided, there is nothing wrong with the bike. Everything is running fine (starting, battery is charging 14.5VDC, head/tails working, turns and brake working). I based my assessment of a continuing problem on the simple fact that the stator was not passing the voltage test, which I now understand I misinterpreted. This is both good and bad news! It means I can put the bike back together (good), and that I wasted 14 hours yesterday chasing a non-existent problem(bad)! Since I haven't ridden the bike after installing the new hardware, I do not know if the old problem of intermittently dying still exists, but it sounds like it won't.

On the upside, I now have a seriously intimate acquaintance with every single inch of my wiring harness!
 

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Its probably the fuel petcock, they are a real pain the arse. I finally reversed the spring in mine, if Pingel weren't so expensive I'd have one of those.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hans&Feet,

I forgot to mention that the 30amp fuse that blew was inline between the Kuryakyn Driving lights and the battery positive terminal.

Thanks again!
 

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30 amp fuse pretty big for aux driving lights. Is this for the lights only or does it feed
a fuse box and a relay. Fuse protects wiring from a meltdown.
There is a current stator thread that has a failure.

Broken ICM wire usually goes completely open = no spark.
 
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