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Diagnostic Help, Please


OlGeezer

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I finished my Level 2 service last night. Couldn't commit to the time to meet Russell Bynum, et. al. for a meet/greet/ride, but I did manage to coax a good friend of mine, Jim Bud, to go for a short ride and breakfast at the Rainbow Oaks restaurant. I wanted to return home in time for the football games today.

 

We met and road over the Ortega Highway and pointed the beasts south on I-15. Jim took the lead, but as we approached Temecula, my bike died. I managed to move over to the left shoulder (from the #1 lane).

 

One of the things that occurred today that was totally out of character for me is that I wasn't very well prepared for the ride today. Sure, the bike seemed to be O.K. (at first), but I wasn't. I slept in (first good night's sleep in a few days). I didn't wake until 7:48. I was to meet Jim at 8:30. I was out the door by 8:01, a personal best. In my haste, I didn't pack my cell phone. Not only that, but all my tools, including the bike's tool kit, was home on my workbench. After today, that will never happen again.

 

So, I'm standing on the side of the road. Jim is long gone. No cell phone and no tools. About all I can do is check fuel. The fuel gage is inaccurate (a differed repair), but according to the miles on the trip meter and lack of yellow low fuel light, I believe there is plenty of fuel. I open the tank and try to see fuel with my mini mag light. I can’t see any, but I would have been shocked if it was a fuel problem. The only thing I know to do is walk to the exit (Front St. and go to the gas station. I know I have enough gas, but that's all I know to do.

 

While I'm walking on the shoulder (it's about a mile to the exit), I see Jim heading northbound on I-15. We wave. Moments later, Jim pulls up beside me. I explain the situation. No surprise, he says "Let’s try to fix it". I walk back (no, I don't have my helmet with me), he rides back along the shoulder. By the time I get to the bike, he's got his tools ready. We check fuses. We check the relays. We both try to feel the fuel line (I’ve relocated my fuel filter where it sits on top of the air filter) to see if the fuel pump is working. It’s hard to tell, since the line is so stiff. I swap two fuses and try the ignition and the bike fires up. We pack the tools away and continue riding south.

 

The bike quits one more time about three miles down the road, just before the Rainbow exit. We pull the fuel line from the filter at the supply side and see fuel when the ignition switch is turned on. Neither of us think that it’s a fuel filter problem, but we shrug our shoulders and replace the fuel filter just to try something. It’s easy since I carry a spare and it’s so easy to get to. Amazingly, the bike fires up.

 

We get to the restaurant and have an excessive amount of time to consider all the “what ifs” because service is so slow today. Jim thinks it’s either the side stand switch or the Hall Effect Sensor. I nod, but add that it could be a relay (even though we swapped a few of them around) due to the recent experience I had with the load relief relay.

 

After breakfast, we head south on I-15, turn west on Hwy 76 and then I-5 north. The bike seemed to run fine. We turn south on I-5 and everything seems to be running fine when it coughs once and dies once again. Yes, I’m in the #1 lane once again, but I successfully work my way over to the right shoulder. This time, it’s a little different. We are both off the bikes and Jim notices that my kill switch is in the off position, not the run position. He asked if I had accidentally hit the kill switch to which I shake my head. Jim surmises that the only thing we’ve done is move the side stand (down then up). Regardless, the bike fires up right away. We are back on the road quickly, only for it to die one more time, less than two miles from my exit. This time, nothing seems to work. I pull all of the fuses and re-insert them. I pull all the relays. I reset the Motronics. Nothing. We then take the fuel like off from the return side and turn on the key. No fuel. Jim asks “Did you buy gas from a questionable source?” I say “Chevron”. He asked “Local?” I say “Malibu.” He says “Malibu?” That’s 100 miles away. I respond with “Yeah, I don’t ride local, so I don’t usually buy gas locally.” We connect the return line and uncouple the supply line. Gas flows! We button everything up and I make it home.

 

I immediately start researching side stand switches and the Hall Effect Sensor. It seems to me that it could very well be the Hall Effect sensor, even though I had no problems with my tachometer. The aftermarket repair written by Dana Hager (http://users.rcn.com/dehager/service/oilhead_hall_sensors.pdf) seems pretty daunting to me. Replacing the side stand switch seems a lot easier, but they both seem like good candidates, regardless which is the culprit since my bike has nearly 90k miles and I do a lot of solo riding on back roads, late at night, etc.

 

Here are some of my questions:

Do my symptoms point to a specific problem area?

I’ve read that someone may be putting together some wiring harnesses. Is that still true? Are there any improvements which would make the procedure easier than what is suggested by Dana Hager?

Is there something else I should be looking at?

 

Thanks,

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Normally I might say that the HES is a good candidate but so far we've seen very few (if any?) HES failures on the 1150... although I suppose you might be the first. The intermittent nature of the problem will certainly complicate things. I hate problems that fix themselves every time I make a change, only to fail again a short while later. We've all been there.

 

It sounds like you have a good command of the basics Bill, seems like it's going to be either spark or fuel here. When the engine quits does it sputter or miss at all, or just shut off cleanly? The former would suggest a fuel problem, the latter electrical.

 

If you strongly suspect the sidestand switch you could always jumper around it temporarily and see if things improve. Also, what you mentioned about the run/kill switch is interesting... do you mean to say that you unexpectedly found it in the kill position, or that the bike actually runs with it in the kill position?

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On the times when it died, did the RID stay lit up? With the sidestand down (or a failed sidestand switch), the bike acts like the ignition is off, i.e. no fuel gauge or oil temp on the RID. Likewise, the starter won't turn it over with the sidestand down. If the oil temp was still displayed on the RID and it would turn over but not start, I'd look elsewhere for the problem. BTW, BMW auto part 61-12-1-459-998 is a jumpered plug which fits the connector to the sidestand switch on the harness. Small, easy to carry and allows one to easily rule out the sidestand switch when diagnosing a dead bike.

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Normally I might say that the HES is a good candidate but so far we've seen very few (if any?) HES failures on the 1150... although I suppose you might be the first. The intermittent nature of the problem will certainly complicate things. I hate problems that fix themselves every time I make a change, only to fail again a short while later. We've all been there.

 

It sounds like you have a good command of the basics Bill, seems like it's going to be either spark or fuel here. When the engine quits does it sputter or miss at all, or just shut off cleanly? The former would suggest a fuel problem, the latter electrical.

 

If you strongly suspect the sidestand switch you could always jumper around it temporarily and see if things improve. Also, what you mentioned about the run/kill switch is interesting... do you mean to say that you unexpectedly found it in the kill position, or that the bike actually runs with it in the kill position?

 

IIRC (remember, I was busy negotiating four lanes of traffic), it was pretty sudden. Maybe there was one cough, but not a series of them.

 

I think the kill switch was an automatic response from me when I stopped. I'm pretty sure I didn't hit it.

 

No, it doesn't run when in the kill position. I think Jim thought that I accidentally hit the kill switch.

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On the times when it died, did the RID stay lit up? With the sidestand down (or a failed sidestand switch), the bike acts like the ignition is off, i.e. no fuel gauge or oil temp on the RID. Likewise, the starter won't turn it over with the sidestand down. If the oil temp was still displayed on the RID and it would turn over but not start, I'd look elsewhere for the problem. BTW, BMW auto part 61-12-1-459-998 is a jumpered plug which fits the connector to the sidestand switch on the harness. Small, easy to carry and allows one to easily rule out the sidestand switch when diagnosing a dead bike.

 

I believe the RID was still functioning. I'm certain the starter worked, even though the engine wouldn't fire. I'm talking about on the side of the road, trying to restart. Of course, the sidestand switch won't prevent the bike from starting when the bike is in neutral on the 1150s, so I get the HID etc. while in neutral.

 

Here's what I can answer. Sitting on the side of the road, sidestand up, HID functions, starter works but the engine doesn't fire.

 

Thanks for the jumper PN. Are there instructions on how to install it? I guess it might be obvious if I take off the body panel and look at the connectors, but an illustrated guide would help me "practice" while I'm sitting in front of the laptop. smirk.gif

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I had a similar problem with my RT.......after replacing a bunch of stuff.....and I mean a bunch....it turned out that one of the fuses had a hair line crack in it that was just not visible....and it was only after connecting to an Ohm meter, and wiggling the spades was it evident. Best of luck from the leprechauns to you...........

 

Pat

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Seems like too much of a coincidence that your problems started after your level 2 service. To me, it's more likely something happened or was done during the service than an HES problem.

 

Did you remove any electrical connectors, like the one to the fuel pump. If so, I'd go back and reseat all of the ones you touched. Quick disconnects on the fuel lines securely together?

 

You mentioned "no fuel in the return hose". Did you hear the pump running when you tested it? If you hear the pump, I'd bet you inadvertantly dead headed the fuel pump and blew a hose off something inside the fuel tank. Do ask me why I suspect this. Been there.

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Seems like too much of a coincidence that your problems started after your level 2 service. To me, it's more likely something happened or was done during the service than an HES problem.

 

That concerns me too, considering I haven't had a lick of trouble prior to the service.

 

 

Did you remove any electrical connectors, like the one to the fuel pump. If so, I'd go back and reseat all of the ones you touched.

 

None (intentionally) touched. Reseating is still warranted, however.

 

Quick disconnects on the fuel lines securely together?

 

Quick connects have been long gone.

 

You mentioned "no fuel in the return hose". Did you hear the pump running when you tested it? If you hear the pump, I'd bet you inadvertantly dead headed the fuel pump and blew a hose off something inside the fuel tank. Do ask me why I suspect this. Been there.

 

We couldn't hear JACK standing on the side of the Fwy. But, if I blew a hose off something inside the fuel tank, this wouldn't be an intermittent problem, would it?

 

Thanks for the ideas.

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We couldn't hear JACK standing on the side of the Fwy. But, if I blew a hose off something inside the fuel tank, this wouldn't be an intermittent problem, would it?

 

Good point. Probably not unless the hose was barely on and finally came off. Unlikely.

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Whatever it is, seems like it kind of has the feel of an electrical problem. A failing coil could cause this sort of behavior (or, God forbid, a hairline crack in a fuse eek.gif That one must have been nasty), but simply measuring the winding resistances may not tell you much since the problem is so intermittant.

 

One technique that can be helpful in diagnosing intermittant problems is to (carefully) heat suspect components with a heat gun to see if they change state. You could also try the swapping routine but that gets expensive fast. The best thing would be if the bike would just quit running entirely so you could fix it... smirk.gif

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Likewise, the starter won't turn it over with the sidestand down.

 

Not true on an 1150. The starter will happily crank until the battery is dead, but the engine won't fire (at least that's the way it is on mine).

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Don_Eilenberger
Likewise, the starter won't turn it over with the sidestand down.
On my '04 R1150RS - the starter will very happily turn over forever (or until the battery runs down) with the sidestand down and in gear - but it won't start. I believe this change was made with the change to the 1150 engine.
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Likewise, the starter won't turn it over with the sidestand down.
On my '04 R1150RS - the starter will very happily turn over forever (or until the battery runs down) with the sidestand down and in gear - but it won't start. I believe this change was made with the change to the 1150 engine.

 

That's how mine works.

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Whatever it is, seems like it kind of has the feel of an electrical problem. A failing coil could cause this sort of behavior (or, God forbid, a hairline crack in a fuse eek.gif That one must have been nasty), but simply measuring the winding resistances may not tell you much since the problem is so intermittant.

 

One technique that can be helpful in diagnosing intermittant problems is to (carefully) heat suspect components with a heat gun to see if they change state. You could also try the swapping routine but that gets expensive fast. The best thing would be if the bike would just quit running entirely so you could fix it... smirk.gif

 

I'm guessing it is the coil!

 

I've seen two bikes do the same thing.

 

Jim cool.gif

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Clive Liddell

Bill,

Have you checked the connection (below, rhs of tank)to the fuel pump. Unfortunately on RT's the tank needs to be lifted a bit to access it.

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Bill,

Have you checked the connection (below, rhs of tank)to the fuel pump. Unfortunately on RT's the tank needs to be lifted a bit to access it.

 

I was planning to check that connection. Are you referring to the connection near the right knee? If so, I don't think the tank needs to be lifted.

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Clive Liddell

Bill,

I have been known to become a bit confused smile.gif I have the Roadster and an RT and access to things is very different.

 

Good luck in your quest!

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daveinatlanta
Bill,

 

 

I was planning to check that connection. Are you referring to the connection near the right knee? If so, I don't think the tank needs to be lifted.

 

It does not need to be lifted. I just disconnected it yesterday as I'm in the joyous process of changing my fuel filter.

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I would go back RETRACE every thing you touched. The Problem was-not there before the service, now it is.

Has to be something you put your mitts on.

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I would go back RETRACE every thing you touched. The Problem was-not there before the service, now it is.

Has to be something you put your mitts on.

 

I have a tendency to agree with this point. I'll do this regardless of the culprit.

 

Thanks.

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I'm guessing it's a heat-related electrical problem. That's because your bike stops running while hot, but sometimes restarts after sitting for a while. You thought you were doing something useful while fiddling with hoses and fuses, but really you were just letting things cool off. That's my idea, anyway.

 

Suspects might be a coil, another electronic component in the ignition-system component, or an electronic component in the fuel-pump circuit.

 

I don't know about automotive/motorcycle parts in particular, but in general electronic components often exhibit this kind of heat-related failure as they age. The way they diagnose the problem is by applying a special aerosol coolant spray on suspect components while the circuit is warm and not functioning; the failed component is identified when it is sprayed and the circuit immediately works again.

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What is the consensus?
Don't know enough to answer.

 

Will the bike start a the moment? If not, does the fuel pump pressure up when the key is turned on? If so, if you remove an injector and crank the bike, does it spray a fuel pattern? If not does the Motronic have power to it from fuse F5? If so do you have spark?

 

Bottom line - More troubleshooting is necessary.

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Bill,

I would look closely at the ignition switch and it's wires.

The fact that you do nothing but turn it off/on and it works smells like an intermittent switch. Flex all the wires going to the switch while the bike is running. You could also hook up a telltale LED to things like Motronic power, coil power, fuel pump power. Run the LEDs up to the dash somewhere so you can monitor them. When it quits, you'll have more clues as to what circuit is gone.

 

Mick

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What is the consensus?
Don't know enough to answer.

 

Will the bike start a the moment?

 

Yes. Does that void the rest of the questions?

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Bill,

I would look closely at the ignition switch and it's wires.

The fact that you do nothing but turn it off/on and it works smells like an intermittent switch. Flex all the wires going to the switch while the bike is running. You could also hook up a telltale LED to things like Motronic power, coil power, fuel pump power. Run the LEDs up to the dash somewhere so you can monitor them. When it quits, you'll have more clues as to what circuit is gone.

 

Mick

 

Amazing.

 

I went to the dealer today to pick up new fuses and relays. I mentioned my problem to the parts manager (David Diaz at Irv Seavers). He didn't even have to think about it. He said "Ignition Switch". He showed me his inventory and they've been selling a new ignition switch on average of about one a month. No HESs. A few coils. I came home with an ignition coil trying to figure out if I can change it myself.

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Bill,

I would look closely at the ignition switch and it's wires.

The fact that you do nothing but turn it off/on and it works smells like an intermittent switch. Flex all the wires going to the switch while the bike is running. You could also hook up a telltale LED to things like Motronic power, coil power, fuel pump power. Run the LEDs up to the dash somewhere so you can monitor them. When it quits, you'll have more clues as to what circuit is gone.

 

Mick

 

Amazing.

 

I went to the dealer today to pick up new fuses and relays. I mentioned my problem to the parts manager (David Diaz at Irv Seavers). He didn't even have to think about it. He said "Ignition Switch". He showed me his inventory and they've been selling a new ignition switch on average of about one a month. No HESs. A few coils. I came home with an ignition coil trying to figure out if I can change it myself.

 

Did you mean to say COIL or SWITCH? You can get a good idea of coil health by measuring the resistance. 0.5 Ohms for the primary and 7.5K Ohms for the secondary (disconnected from the bike of course).

 

Mick

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Did you mean to say COIL or SWITCH? You can get a good idea of coil health by measuring the resistance. 0.5 Ohms for the primary and 7.5K Ohms for the secondary (disconnected from the bike of course).

 

Mick

 

I meant to say SWITCH. After further review, I (as well as David Diaz) no longer believes it's the ignition switch because, as I was standing by the side of the road trying to start my bike, the starter would engage but the engine wouldn't fire. So, it's not the ignition switch. I also don't think it's the coil because, when we disconnected the fuel line from the fuel filter, no fuel was being pumped and I don't think the coil has anything to do with the fuel pump.

 

Thanks for the response.

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Did you mean to say COIL or SWITCH? You can get a good idea of coil health by measuring the resistance. 0.5 Ohms for the primary and 7.5K Ohms for the secondary (disconnected from the bike of course).

 

Mick

 

I meant to say SWITCH. After further review, I (as well as David Diaz) no longer believes it's the ignition switch because, as I was standing by the side of the road trying to start my bike, the starter would engage but the engine wouldn't fire. So, it's not the ignition switch. I also don't think it's the coil because, when we disconnected the fuel line from the fuel filter, no fuel was being pumped and I don't think the coil has anything to do with the fuel pump.

 

Thanks for the response.

 

The fuel pump is triggered by pulses from the HES, so that is looking the most likely culprit to me now.

 

Andy

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The fuel pump is triggered by pulses from the HES, so that is looking the most likely culprit to me now.
If you do replace the HES make sure you send the failed one to Mick for forensic analysis... grin.gif
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The fuel pump is triggered by pulses from the HES, so that is looking the most likely culprit to me now.
If you do replace the HES make sure you send the failed one to Mick for forensic analysis... grin.gif

 

Thanks Seth,

I would definitely like to do a postmortem on it if it DID fail. Except for one that was melted, I've never seen a failed R1150 HES. eek.gif

 

Mick

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Had a similar problem after my 100,000 k service. Bike ran fine for about 150k and then intermittantly played up until in the end it would windover but not start. Turned out to be the valves in the quick disconnect couplings on the fuel lines. Replaced both and now bike if fine. Hope this helps.

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Bill, make sure you didn't pinch off or mis-route the fuel tank vent hose during the service procedures.. If the tank vent line is plugged off it will allow the engine to run for a while than it will quit due to vacuum in the fuel tank preventing the fuel form being easily pumped out.. If you can run the bike long enough to get it to quit just open the tank filler cap & see if you hear a woosh as the air rushes in,, if so suspect a plugged off tank vent.. In a lot of cases a bike with a plugged off tank vent will re-start after it sits for a while as air will slowly seep into the tank & allow fuel flow for a while, then it will quit again after running a while longer..

 

Twisty

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Had a similar problem after my 100,000 k service. Bike ran fine for about 150k and then intermittantly played up until in the end it would windover but not start. Turned out to be the valves in the quick disconnect couplings on the fuel lines. Replaced both and now bike if fine. Hope this helps.

 

Thanks for the tip, but I removed the quick connects a long time ago when they fractured during a zero mph crash.

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Bill, make sure you didn't pinch off or mis-route the fuel tank vent hose during the service procedures.. If the tank vent line is plugged off it will allow the engine to run for a while than it will quit due to vacuum in the fuel tank preventing the fuel form being easily pumped out.. If you can run the bike long enough to get it to quit just open the tank filler cap & see if you hear a woosh as the air rushes in,, if so suspect a plugged off tank vent.. In a lot of cases a bike with a plugged off tank vent will re-start after it sits for a while as air will slowly seep into the tank & allow fuel flow for a while, then it will quit again after running a while longer..

 

Twisty

 

Thanks for the tip, but I didn't move the gas tank at all during the service. I relocated my fuel filter outside of the gas tank a long time ago.

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when we disconnected the fuel line from the fuel filter, no fuel was being pumped
When you first turn the key on, do you hear the pump pressure up? If not, do you have voltage going to the pump?
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when we disconnected the fuel line from the fuel filter, no fuel was being pumped
When you first turn the key on, do you hear the pump pressure up? If not, do you have voltage going to the pump?

 

I addressed this earler...we could barely hear each other shouting at each other standing on the shoulder of the freeway. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

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Did you mean to say COIL or SWITCH? You can get a good idea of coil health by measuring the resistance. 0.5 Ohms for the primary and 7.5K Ohms for the secondary (disconnected from the bike of course).

 

Mick

 

I meant to say SWITCH. After further review, I (as well as David Diaz) no longer believes it's the ignition switch because, as I was standing by the side of the road trying to start my bike, the starter would engage but the engine wouldn't fire. So, it's not the ignition switch. I also don't think it's the coil because, when we disconnected the fuel line from the fuel filter, no fuel was being pumped and I don't think the coil has anything to do with the fuel pump.

 

Thanks for the response.

 

There are more wires to the ignition switch than just the starter wire. You could be turning over the engine, but no power making it to the ignition/motronic.

 

Jim 8)

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when we disconnected the fuel line from the fuel filter, no fuel was being pumped
When you first turn the key on, do you hear the pump pressure up? If not, do you have voltage going to the pump?

 

You know, I was going to answer this question sitting here in front of the laptop. After all, I hadn't touched the bike since I rolled it in the garage on Sunday. Everything should have been fine, right? But I thought about it and decided to give it the "full effort". So, I went out to the garage and turned on the ignition. I got the ABS and power brakes noise, but I don't hear the fuel pump. I turn the handlebars and the dash lights go out. Everything goes dark on the panel. I turn it back the other way and they come on. Even when I get the lights to work, the bike still won't fire. I reach down to the wire going into the ignition switch and wiggle it. I can make the lights go on and off. Yep. The ignition switch is bad. Hopefully, that will solve the fuel pump problem. I also don't have the parking light circuit.

 

Jim is coming over tomorrow afternoon and we are going to take a shot at it. I'll have another report either tomorrow night or Friday.

 

Stay tuned.

 

BTW, I can't believe how the voting is going. The folks here don't know me well enough to know about my prior wanton lifestyle blush.gif

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I turn the handlebars and the dash lights go out. Everything goes dark on the panel. I turn it back the other way and they come on.
Sounds like you're getting warm... grin.gif
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Click here for an update.

 

clap.gifclap.gifclap.gifclap.gifclap.gif

 

While you're there, run around and touch the other wires to see if you find any other culprit chaffing wires.

 

Good diagnostics and great advice from the board rip another BMW from the clutches of the dealers hand!!

 

Good job. I've enjoyed following this one. thumbsup.gif

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Don_Eilenberger
WOW, Bill:

 

Thank you for the great Reportage. The details you provided for us will no doubt help others with similar ignition wiring issues.

And one comment.. I have seen WAY too many WAY too tight zipties on oilhead bikes.. mine and friends.

 

I think whoever is doing the harness installation on them in Berlin needs the zip-installing tool recalibrated.

 

Zip-Ties are meant to hold things in place, not to fuse them to the surface beneath them. In general - if the wiring looks at all distorted by the zip-tie it's too tight.

 

Makes a good snow day project while the plastic is off.. go through the bike and see how many you can find that are way too tight, cut them off and replace with ones just tight enough so the wiring doesn't move around and chafe on things.

 

This isn't the first (nor the last I suspect) of this sort of failure I've seen/heard of..

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WOW, Bill:

 

Thank you for the great Reportage. The details you provided for us will no doubt help others with similar ignition wiring issues.

And one comment.. I have seen WAY too many WAY too tight zipties on oilhead bikes.. mine and friends.

 

I think whoever is doing the harness installation on them in Berlin needs the zip-installing tool recalibrated.

 

Zip-Ties are meant to hold things in place, not to fuse them to the surface beneath them. In general - if the wiring looks at all distorted by the zip-tie it's too tight.

 

Makes a good snow day project while the plastic is off.. go through the bike and see how many you can find that are way too tight, cut them off and replace with ones just tight enough so the wiring doesn't move around and chafe on things.

 

This isn't the first (nor the last I suspect) of this sort of failure I've seen/heard of..

 

Excellent advice Don! thumbsup.gif

 

In my experience with the 1200 series, they are still installing the zip ties too tight!

 

Jim cool.gif

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