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Discussion Starter #1
I'm just transitioning from paying other people to fix my shadow to fixing it myself. So I've still got a lot to learn....

1993 Honda Shadow 600

It's been pretty normal on a cold day to need to crank it 2 or 3 times before it fully starts. The other day, after the first or second crank, there was a 'click' and all the electrical was gone. No headlight, no nuthin. and it wouldn't even try to crank anymore.

My first thought was the fuses, but I checked and they are fine. The battery is pretty new, and was working fine up until that moment. but I'll take it someplace to have it tested, just to make sure.

any advice on where to put my efforts if that's not the problem?
 

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Yes- there should be a main fuse that blew. Dont' think it is in with the other fuses. Probably a 30 amp. Someone with a VLX will chime in soon.
 

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I'd still have the battery checked. You get the same kind of "click" sound if the battery shorts itself out. This was a problem on some batteries/battery replacements for a time. The top "grid" of the battery was improperly assembled/soldered and after a while this would "break/short" with a loud "click". So, I'd still put a load meter on this battery to make sure it's OK. Other than that, like others say...main fuse.

Bullzeyet
 

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Discussion Starter #7
thanks for the responses!

I checked the regular fuses as well as the main fuse (30 amp) and all checked out ok.

@angryhatter
yup, i use the choke. when i ride every day its better about cranking right up, but when i let it sit for a few days it takes a crank or two to get it going. the morning this happened it was cold and had been sitting for about a week.

New info:
I checked the battery voltage with no key in the ignition and it's normal (12.4V). When I turn the key, the battery voltage drops to 0V.

So apparently there's a short when I turn the key.
 

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12.4 is not normal, your battery needs a charge and you got a bad short, I am guessing the ignition switch.

12.6V or higher: 100% charge
12.4V - 12.6V: 75-100%
12.2V - 12.4V: 50-75%
12.0V - 12.2V: 25-50%
11.7V - 12.0V: 0-25%
11.7V or less: 0% (and probably not capable of being recharged).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
i'd say ignition switch is a good guess. is that something i can pop off and fix the wires? or is that something I need to replace?
 

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hjones1380 said:
thanks for the responses!

I checked the regular fuses as well as the main fuse (30 amp) and all checked out ok.

@angryhatter
yup, i use the choke. when i ride every day its better about cranking right up, but when i let it sit for a few days it takes a crank or two to get it going. the morning this happened it was cold and had been sitting for about a week.

New info:
I checked the battery voltage with no key in the ignition and it's normal (12.4V). When I turn the key, the battery voltage drops to 0V.

So apparently there's a short when I turn the key.
hjones1380,

Can you explain how you measured the battery voltage? It just doesn't seem right that your battery voltage will drop from 12.4 all the way to zero, just from turning on your switch, unless you let it sit with the switch on for a long period of time. Does it go back to 12.4 when you turn the switch off again? Or does it kill the battery instantly?

A dead short would blow a fuse someplace in short order. If it was shorted before the fuse you'd be seeing smoke...... I think.
 

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Either the battery connections are dirty, or the battery has a broken connector internally, probably the connections, remove and clean them both before proceeding looking for a "short"....eliminate/pursue the easy stuff first...how are you measuring battery voltage?...Mick
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm measuring at the battery terminals with a multi-meter.

When I turn the ignition switch on, the voltage drops to 30-40mV almost immediately. When I turn the ignition switch back off, the voltage goes back up -- 12.48V at last measure.

No time tonight, but I'll clean the battery terminals and reconnect when I get a chance.
 

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Certainly not the expert here but I would turn on the key and then short out the starter relay.

If it starts it's your switch.

If it clicks it's your battery.
 

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I think it could still be your battery, turning the key on and jumping the starter relay is a good idea, but you will be BYPASSING ALL SAFETY INTERLOCKS this way, so BE DANG SURE IT'S IN NEUTRAL!!!!
 

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I'm measuring at the battery terminals with a multi-meter.
When you say at the terminal, are you placing the test probes on the physical battery terminal itself or on the lugs that attach to the battery terminal (which may be the case since it is easier to get to)?

As mentioned regarding bad connections (assuming that's your problem), if you are measuring at the lugs and have a corroded battery connection, the junction acts like a resistor, and with no current flowing, it will show full battery voltage (no voltage drop). When you turn the key and draw current through the resistance of the corrosion, the voltage at the terminal (and the load) will drop (Ohms Law). The worse the connection, the higher the resistance, and the more the voltage drop.

As an example, If your bike normally tried to draw 20 amps to crank, and one of your battery connections had a 0.25 ohm resistance due to a dirty connection, that attempted 20 amp load would drop the voltage across that junction by 0.25 x 20, or 5 volts, so if your battery measured 12 volts no load at the lugs, it would drop to 7 volts during cranking. A higher corrosion resistance would drop it even further.

If on the other hand, you just have a frumpy near end-of-life battery with very low capacity, it may show near normal battery voltage with no load, but fall on it's face during load due to higher internal battery resistance for the same reason.

This same corrsion problem will also reduce the charge current going back into the battery when the bike is running, and even a healthy charge system on a bike is sometimes marginal at best, so it needs all the help it can get.

As suggested, remove and clean the terminals and connections and try again. Easy stuff first.

A little tip ... after cleaning the connections, put a little grease on the connections before reinstalling. This will reduce exposure to air, and minimize future corrosion. (If you really feel ambitious, the same goes for all of the connections in any starter motor circuit that draw heavy current, such as at the starter motor itself, the starter relay, and at the main fuse block because any additional resistance in those connections will drop voltage and cause the starter to spin slower.)

Rick
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I pulled the battery and I'm about to go get it checked out.

The battery terminals are virtually corrosion free, so I don't think the connections were causing a problem. It turns out that I last replaced the battery in '04 which is longer ago than I thought but still in the useable lifetime.

After disconnecting the battery, I measured the resistance on the motorcycle-side of the battery connectors. When I flip the ignition switch 'on', I measure ~3 Ohms across the battery connections.
 

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After disconnecting the battery, I measured the resistance on the motorcycle-side of the battery connectors. When I flip the ignition switch 'on', I measure ~3 Ohms across the battery connections.
It doesn't appear that you did, but I don't guess I need to tell you that if you are using the ohmeter function of your meter, that you don't want to try to make any measurements on a live or powered up circuit as some meters that don't have protection don't take kindly to it and doing so may let the smoke out of the meter :D

If you are measuring the resistance of the load circuit on the battery (across the + and - battery cables) with the key on AND NO BATTERY CONNECTED, I'm not sure this will be meaningful since you will be reading the total resistance of everything connected to the battery with the key on, including the headlight, tail light, starter relay coil, ignition system etc. Somewhere in there would be the total resistance of all the connections involved, but that would be a really small percentage of the larger (~3 ohm) total resistance, so am not sure what would constitute a pass/fail reading.

You could get an idea of how bad a connection is (without disconnecting anything) by putting your meter in "DC volts" mode, putting one probe on the physical battery post, and the other probe on the cable terminal that connects to that post. It should read "0 volts" with everything switched "off" (no current flow). If you switch the key "on", you may get a small reading, maybe a few millivolts, and energizing the starter (lotsa current), would result in a larger reading. The smaller the reading, the better the quality of the connection, with "0 volts" being a "perfect" connection. The problem is to be able to let the meter "autorange" and settle down to get a reading before the bike cranks and you have to let off the starter. Of course if the bike is hard to start, it would be easier. Also a meter with "range lock" prevents the meter from "hunting" and trying to autorange.

I know it may not make any sense putting both probes on what appears to be the same electrical connection, but like I said earlier, the corroded connection forms a resistor, and current through it will result in a measurable voltage drop. The more current, the more voltage drop. This voltage drop further reduces the already loaded "while cranking" voltage of the battery in an otherwise healthy system by that much more.

This is why sometimes when you crank a vehicle which appears to have a fully charged battery, the starter relay (solenoid) will start "clicking". When the key is switched on and the key turned to "start", the voltage drop is low enough to allow enough power to energize the relay and cause it to "click on". As soon as the relay fully energizes and applies power to the starter, the current shoots up, dropping more voltage across the bad connection, and reduces the voltage enough that the relay drops back out and it "clicks off". If the key is held to the "start" position, the relay will continue to click on and off until the key is released, but the starter will not energize because of low voltage.

I hope this explanation didn't put you to sleep.

Rick
 

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Discussion Starter #18
forgot to update

the update: i got the battery checked and they said it was bad. (I'm still convinced that battery testers are nothing more than timers that always say the battery is bad....)

in any case, i got a new battery, it cranked right up! thanks for the advice on sticking with the simple solutions.
 
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