Yes, another starting problem post – new starter motor? - - The Ultimate Ducati Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 2019, 5:49 am Thread Starter
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Yes, another starting problem post – new starter motor?

Ducati and electrics are not the best of friends. So here is another starting issue. I have read numerous posts left right and centre on the net about starting failures before posting myself, however it did not solve my problem.

My 900SS (1999 model) was sitting in the shed for 6 month. I know this is a sin in itself and should be punished, and I was.
I started her up every so often without trouble. However it has gotten colder and instead of firing up there was only a slow clicking noise from the solenoid. The old battery is not holding charge any more so all the following testing was done with an auxiliary battery (marine type with plenty of cranking amps, always fully charged and reading 12.8-13.4 Volts), jumping cables and the old battery in place.

By jumping the solenoid studs the starter motor turned over but very slow. I replaced the solenoid with a new one, same situation. I cleaned all terminals and connections (yes, including negative on the engine block) and after reading about the breakdown of old cables I got myself 16mm2 (5 gauge) welding cable and upgraded battery to solenoid, solenoid to starter motor and battery to engine block. Voltage on solenoid (battery side) reads 12.8V, same as auxiliary battery. No change, still only slow clicking.
When I jump the starter motor directly off the battery she cranks over very slow but not enough to fire her up.

Next I took the starter motor out. Tested and seemed to run fine. To make sure I cleaned the brushes and the armature, made sure there is no dust, checked bushes, measured the resistance of the winding, all good, put it back together and again bench tested it. Seemed ok. I fitted the starter back on the bike and…no change, the solenoid clicks slowly or a slow turning over of the engine when I jump straight to the starter motor.

My question: can the starter motor go “weak”, meaning it has not enough strength to turn the engine over? Without an obvious fault? I could get the engine started once it was warmed up (push start down a hill), but only just and only with battery direct to starter. What else can I check before I have to go for a starter motor replacement (and hope this will fix the issue)?

Thanks in advance for your input.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 2019, 6:04 am
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It still sounds like your battery...marine batteries are deep might not have the cca you need on tap... I'd replace the battery before I replaced the starter
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 2019, 6:50 am
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I have had batteries short out internally and pull down even good jump start batteries so this is a possibility. Even still I would do a voltage drop test while cranking on both positive and negative sides. Starter motors can also short out internally causing them to draw excess amps and crank slowly. Using a clamp ammeter would help see if that's what's happening.

If you cant fix it with a hammer, its probably electrical.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 2019, 6:52 am
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does the engine turn over easily with the plugs out? turn it backwards, which drives the starter, and make sure all that turns ok. the idler gear can gall / weld itself to the pin it spins on.

know all wanker
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 2019, 8:00 am Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the ideas. More testing to be done tomorrow.

Buhgaboo: the marine battery has 580 CCA, plenty enough for the bike. But just in case I might get hold of another bike battery and give it a go. BTW, I also hooked it up to the car, same result.

Turbomart: good suggestion, I was thinking that the battery shorted out. But then I should be able to start it without problems when I go directly to the starter...unless the auxiliary battery is cactus as well.
I haven't thought of the starter shorten out under load. That could be it. In that case a new starter is in order. I'll see if the voltage drops when starting.

belter: I haven't tried it with the plugs out yet. I checked all parts when everything was disassembled and nothing was stuck.

I keep you posted.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old Jul 18th, 2019, 3:27 am Thread Starter
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Update - problem solved

Another test jumping from battery straight to the starter motor, this time I had an additional cable from starter housing to engine bolt and she cranked over no problem. Turbomart was right on the money, the old battery must have shorted out and dragged down any other battery I attached to it. Silly me, I should have isolated the old battery in the beginning. With the upgraded cables and a fresh battery she fires up just by looking at the starter button.

Now I only have to pull everything apart again to fit the washer I forgot in the starter motor
You live and learn...
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old Jul 18th, 2019, 7:55 am
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I have a similar issue with my Busa. Battery checked at 12.6 v, smart charger said “ Full”. Now, a few days later, I jump directly from battery to starter cable : Nothing at all, battery still checks 12.6v , check with different smart charger, battery checks defective and won’t charge. All the electrical systems were going crazy, display pegged out and freezing up . New battery on order.

'96 Ducati SS900CR, '07 S4RS, '06 Busa, '77 Bonny,
'00 Superglide, '85 Sportster, '78 SR500
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old Jul 18th, 2019, 10:18 am
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Best $20 bucks you'll ever spend for battery/electrical system troubleshooting.


It can be used to troubleshoot bad cables, bad cable connections, internally shorted batteries, bad starters, bad solenoids, pretty much anything that is part of the "under load" 12v system.

If a battery fails the load test (but still shows a full charge without load applied), and the motorcycle is a computer controlled bike don't even futz with trying to recover the battery. Just replace it. Also, if the battery is a lead/acid lump and it has leaked at the terminals and corroded the cable terminals, if it were me I'd replace the cables. That corrosion can (and will) make it's way between the cable's strands and the crimped on terminal, causing an under-load-failure. If the bike is computer controlled, dirty/corroded cable terminals or an iffy battery will leave you stuck at that rest stop which is 75 miles from nowhere. If the bike is not computer controlled and the battery takes a shit there is at least a better than snowball's chance in hell that it can be bump started.

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1996 900 CR. ...Go, Blow, Or Put A Hole In The Fence.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old Jul 24th, 2019, 4:34 am Thread Starter
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A word of caution! - I had a Dynavolt Gel battery installed. My mechanic said he sold about 300 of them and 50% failed in a very short time, like mine. He keeps his hands well away from them now.

MotoBatt ordered and on its way
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