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What is this starter sound?

3469 Views 46 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  JeffOYB
I have a 1979 custom 12k miles runs great. Its cold now. I've been getting weird sound from my starter. The sound comes and goes. It usually comes on after like a minute of trying to start. A hard start. I got the bike this fall. Never made the sound. Once it got below freezing and I didn't ride it for weeks at a time, it would make the sound during the longer times it took to start. Once it started, the sound would go away on warm restarts. But when cold some machinery definitely changes, and there's a very different bad sort of sound after a minute or so.

[REVISING TO ADD INFO ON THE HARD START: Whew, it took like 5 minutes of cranking to start this last time. I vary all the options. Is there a standard way to hard start in the cold? I try choke out, choke in, throttled a bit, twisted a couple times, no throttle. Sometimes it starts turning over with starter still engaged then it quits when I release the button. In the warm weather it often only takes like a 1/2 second to start -- touch the button, bang. So nice.]

Can you tell me what's happening with this sound? Here's a link to the Youtube....

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The odd sound does not start immediately with the starter motor turning which is interesting. It almost sounds like you're holding the throttle open. Any chance this could be a sticking valve? The loss of compression would make it hard to start.

I take this back ^ It sounds different on my laptop, it does sound more like an electrical motor sound.
In the past, I took the starter motor out and bench tested it - all it did was just whirr without any screeching sounds at all, even when left running for quite a good many seconds. Admittedly it wasn't under any load at all, but when it is refitted, it doesn't do it every cold and/or wake-up start up after a long idle period. I will replace the starter clutch components when I have the motor out to replace the camchain, when that is required, but whether that will cure it, it will just have to wait until then...
I had hastily replied last night (terrible habit). I would add that it sounds like an electrical motor whining, not defectively but like the starter clutch parts are slipping and the starter is turning differently.

It was super hard to tell in video if your engine is maintaining the RPMs over the starter noise and the lack of light on the gauge...and then I realized your lights are dimming when it starts making the weird noise. Is there anyway this is a weak battery/bad connection thing? As in the starter is actually not turning fast enough and the starter is making a strained noise or not putting enough torque into the starter clutch?

I can see your oil light went out as the engine turns over and that's normal, but what's the purple-ish light and should it be going out? I have a CX650c so my dash is setup differently but I think that's your hi-beam? Do these bikes cut the head light off on the start cycle? That bottom light goes out the second that weird sound starts, but so does your oil light.

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I don't know if you can see on the RPM gauge any change in RPMs as the starter is turning, but a drop in RPMs would definitely indicate slippage. A ninja 250 I just went through and fixed made -almost- a similar sound and the roller bearings on the starter clutch were all sorts of beat up, springs were toast, etc. It would mostly make the 'box of rocks' noise but there was also a slight whir-whine-howl thing as it started to catch and slip.

I've let your video play 100 times on loop and I'm pretty sure it's maintaining the normal starter noise/speed/turn over rate through-out the video and through the weird noise meaning it's not the starter clutch slipping.

I would make a note of what RPMs it turns when it does and does not make that weird noise.

I hopped around different forums trying to find a video of failing starter clutches and it's almost maddening that I couldn't find another audio clip like yours. I did find on the Honda Rebel forums someone claiming the sort of sound you have and it being the starter clutch.

You are right though, just bench testing the starter wouldn't tell you much because it's under no load. I couldn't imagine something slipping internally.

As a weird side note; it'd be great to leave your youtube video up for posterity with a description of a solution if one is found.
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It's not my video...
lol people have done this to me on threads >.< Never thought it'd happen to me, sorry for the misfire I did mean to aim it at @JeffOYB .
Am I the only one who'd be driven crazy by not knowing what an intermittent sound is >.<
This thread can't be serious...just wow.
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