Author Topic: Starter just spins engine will not crank  (Read 723 times)

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Offline Rooster55

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Starter just spins engine will not crank
« on: December 10, 2018, 10:21:31 pm »
Hi Group,
Just got a 1995 C10 from a friend and am trying to see if I can get it up and running.
When you try to start it, the starter motor just spins and the engine doesn't crank.
He told me he was riding it and showing off a bit and missed a gear. Heard a clanking
sound and pulled over.  After that the bike won't crank. Not sure if he broke more than
the starter gear, but I'm starting there.
Any advice on where to start and what to check first?
Thanks!


Offline MAN OF BLUES

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2018, 12:06:35 am »
Factory Service manual.. invest.

the gears are robust... sumpin other is off.

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Offline connie_rider

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2018, 12:47:22 am »
Need clarity.
You said; starter motor just spins and the engine doesn't crank.
You didn't say the engine is also turning when the starter motor just spins?

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Offline RWulf

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2018, 01:13:10 am »
I understand. Showing off almost always leads to embarrassment.
If the starter spins and no other noises are heard you may have a broken
start drive chain, if you are lucky.
Anyway you are going to need a manual one way or other.
I have never heard this happening due to missing a gear, unless there
are other parts floating around inside the engine.

Offline SteveJ.

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2018, 11:45:22 am »
I would start by inspecting the starter chain, as alluded to. The chain tensioner can be problematic. There is a commercially available fix for the not too well designed tensioner though if you're handy it can be a DIY project. I did mine using an eighth inch pipe nipple ground to the correct length.

It's been a while since I did it, so no help on the length required. I did install a new tensioner and chain. The tensioner wes banging on the clutch due to the design as things wore out. I believe the bike had about 165k miles on it at the time but that is a bit of a guess. The chain does wear over time.

You will need a manual for all this. Either MaKaw or the Haines Clymer. Oops.

Unrelated:

If you get the Haines manual do be aware that there may be an error when dealing with cams and possibly a couple other thing too.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 05:22:48 pm by SteveJ. »
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Offline The Dude

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2018, 12:51:38 pm »
Why should the manual be a Factory or Haynes?  I have the Clymer and have never had any issues with the info in it.  It IS about to fall apart, though I thought that was my fault.
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Offline connieklr

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2018, 02:11:41 pm »
I understand. Showing off almost always leads to embarrassment.
If the starter spins and no other noises are heard you may have a broken
start drive chain, if you are lucky.
Anyway you are going to need a manual one way or other.
I have never heard this happening due to missing a gear, unless there
are other parts floating around inside the engine.

Or the starter (sprag) clutch has taken a dump. Hope for the chain.

Older Honda sprags failed when the housing would crack from the rollers running up their respective ramps to lock the two shafts together during starting. Quick remedy on Honda's part was to encase the housing with a steel band to reinforce it. Some worked, some didn't.

Our sprags work on a similar principal, but a lot smaller, more compact, and a lot more durable. I'm with Mr. Wulf and betting on the chain.

Laugh if you will, but I carry a spare chain, tensioner, and holder in my tank bag.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 02:19:05 pm by connieklr »
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Offline Rooster55

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2018, 02:36:39 pm »
Thank You all for the great advice and tips!
Believe it or not I found a clymer and service manual in one of the saddlebags last night.
I'm hoping it's just the chain, but we'll see once I get it apart.
I have other bikes, and have some mechanical skills, so I'm hoping for the best.
I'll keep you all posted on what I find.
Thanks Again!

Offline Steve in Sunny Fla

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2018, 04:14:55 pm »
 The highest likelyhood is a combination of the sprag and chain. Basically the chain gets real loose (replace the tensioner) and then it doesn't keep enough load on the sprag. I have done this repair several times for folks and replacing the chain and tensioner always fixed it. Steve
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Offline MAN OF BLUES

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2018, 06:11:18 pm »
The highest likelyhood is a combination of the sprag and chain. Basically the chain gets real loose (replace the tensioner) and then it doesn't keep enough load on the sprag. I have done this repair several times for folks and replacing the chain and tensioner always fixed it. Steve

I have to ask, and only because so far I haven't had to R/R a tensioner so far (lucky I guess), before it stops "working" does it "announce" it's in soon to fail mode....? I.e., do you get any warning noises like Ka-Ka-Ka crunch, ir did they just fail to start, and that was that?

again, only curious, as this would be good to know.

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Offline Steve in Sunny Fla

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2018, 08:36:58 pm »

I have to ask, and only because so far I haven't had to R/R a tensioner so far (lucky I guess), before it stops "working" does it "announce" it's in soon to fail mode....? I.e., do you get any warning noises like Ka-Ka-Ka crunch, ir did they just fail to start, and that was that?

again, only curious, as this would be good to know.

  Yes, lot's of clanging and banging as the tensioner is popping back and hitting the clutch basket. steve
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Offline connieklr

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2018, 03:00:44 pm »

I have to ask, and only because so far I haven't had to R/R a tensioner so far (lucky I guess), before it stops "working" does it "announce" it's in soon to fail mode....? I.e., do you get any warning noises like Ka-Ka-Ka crunch, ir did they just fail to start, and that was that?

again, only curious, as this would be good to know.

  Yes, lot's of clanging and banging as the tensioner is popping back and hitting the clutch basket. steve

Yeah, mine rattles when the bike is cold, especially when under load, but it goes away once the bike warms up.

I really do need to get in there and replace it, and now would probably be a good time since the yard is mush and I don't plan on taking it out of here anytime soon.

EDIT: I guess I could add that mine has been doing this for at least 10-12 years, which is probably why I haven't been too concerned. I did pull the cover during a tech session over in Lynchburg in 2005, but didn't see anything that really scared me, so put it all back together.

Pix with the tensioner out:


From the Manual - tensioner in place:
« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 03:28:26 pm by connieklr »
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Offline Boomer

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2018, 08:46:08 pm »
3 possiblities-

1- As stated above, the tensioner has died. Replace with a new one or repair with this
https://www.ebay.com/itm/KAWASAKI-ZG1000-ZG-1000-Concours-Alternator-Starter-Chain-Tensioner-Tamer-Fix-/251410105725?redirect=mobile

2- Starter motor gear has come loose from the starter motor. Remove the starter motor and inspect.

3- The starter motor clutch has died (links the starter gear with the alternator shaft). This requires a getting the motor out so I really hope it's not this.
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Offline MAN OF BLUES

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2018, 10:44:43 pm »
I'll state again, having never had to R/R a starter clutch, or alternator chain/tensioner, after looking at Guy's excellent photo, and going back to the FSM, and looking closely, I can see no way that the tensioner itself would allow the starter to "spin but not turn the engine over".
i can see that it would make noise, but there is simply too much available contact area of the drive and driven gears and the chains teeth, even if the tensioner was removed, to allow the starter to only "spin".

after looking further, the symptom "starter spins but does not turn engine over" has only one viable answer in the trouble shooting guide:;
"starter motor clutch trouble"  (and yes, sorry, it's an internal part..  i.e., case split required.) :-X :-X

this can be verified by removing the alternator, and also the starter, and manually rotating the alternator dampers by hand, attempting to turn it fully both clockwise, and counter clockwise, it should only be able to be tuned in one direction, and can be visually verified by watching the "internal gear" that mates with the shaft on the starter, by looking into the hole that starter protrudes into.

the only other thing I could imagine, would be a broken starter armature shaft, the end that mates with the internal tranny gear. This would be evident when the starter was removed to test the clutching mechanism right off.
so before I would mess with the right side of the engine, chasing the tensioner for the alternator... I would pull the alternator, and starter, and inspect that from the left side... for starter clutch function or starter shaft damage.

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Offline Eddie-FL

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2018, 12:28:20 pm »
It can be that the starter chain broke. This happened to my 2005 one night; starter motor would spin merrily away, but that's it. Got it hauled home, pulled the cover after consulting with SISF and there was the chain wadded up around the sprocket on the crank. You won't know until you pull the clutch cover.
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Offline MAN OF BLUES

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Re: Starter just spins engine will not crank
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2018, 06:46:20 pm »
It can be that the starter chain broke. This happened to my 2005 one night; starter motor would spin merrily away, but that's it. Got it hauled home, pulled the cover after consulting with SISF and there was the chain wadded up around the sprocket on the crank. You won't know until you pull the clutch cover.

Eddie,
I could agree on that happening also, but I have not heard about a lot of these "breaking", i.e. completely snapping apart..(until you mentioned yours, I don't think I ever heard of one 'breaking'). That would be a much easier scenario to fix than the alternator clutch...but hey, until the cover comes off we won't know.

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and if you are gonna call me names... it's MR. Analdweeb if you please...