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Starter Button Maintenance
By Chet Walters
This works on any Honda, these instructions are for Honda Valkyrie
Click on images to enlarge - Click large image to print it
shows  typical switch for Honda motorcycles. Yours may vary from drawing, but principle parts should be similar.

In this exercise, we will illustrate how to repair or maintain the starter switch common to Honda motorcyles. Sometimes this simple maintenance can save you getting stuck on the road, or the $70 + labor to get it fixed. One should note that Honda motorcycles have the headlight run through the contacts on the start switch so that when the button is pressed, the headlight goes out in order to supply full current to the starter. One should not hook any extra lights or anything else to any of the headlight wires unless one uses a relay. See my Foglites page for more info.

Click the image at the left for a full real life view of the wiring of your start/kill buttons and harness.

Starter Switch Maintenance
TIME: 20 minutes

Bulb Grease
#2 Phillips Head Screwdriver
Utility knife or small flat screwdriver
Needlenose pliers
ScotchBrite pad or light abrasive
From Wolfgang:  I found that a spring from one of those long bic BBQ lighters is the right diameter but too long.
Just cut off 2-3 coils and it works like a charm for replacing the worn and weak shunt spring.  Keeps the button from corroding so fast too!

SWITCH MAINTENANCE: On the Valkyrie Standard/Tourer, VTX & Shadow, remove the screws in the throttle side switch housing and let the lower housing hang down. On the Valkyrie Interstate, you'll have to remove the housing (click here for how). Even though the screw holding in the starter switch looks tiny, it still takes a #2 phillips screwdriver to remove it without stripping. For a view of the switch internals, click here. Carefully remove the mounting screw for the starter switch and pull it out for easy disassembly. Using a utility knife or small flat screwdriver, pry the sides of the switch to remove the contact plate (the one with wires) from the switch. Be careful here, since there are two small springs inside. It is NOT necessary to remove the slider nor the return spring. Clean the headlight and starter contacts on the black top piece with ScotchBrite. Remove the shunt (shown with two views for clarity) being careful not to lose the shunt or the spring (they are NOT connected to one another). Clean the shunt with ScotchBright. Stretch the shunt spring slightly and re-assemble the shunt and spring into the slot in the slider (needlenose help here). Liberally lube the interior of the switch including the contacts with Silicone Gel from Radio Shack. Snap the contact plate into the switch. Test to make sure the slider does not bind. Re-install the switch being careful not to strip the screw. While you are here, lube your throttle boss with Silicone Gel too. Then button up the housing.

HOW THE SWITCH WORKS: See the drawing. The contact plate (the black one with wires) remains in place. When the switch is depressed, the slider moves the shunt from the headlight contacts killing current to your headlight so the load on the battery during starting is reduced. The shunt then closes the circuit to the starter relay engaging the starter motor. Once the button is released, the starter relay is disengaged and the headlight circuit is again closed (normal position of the switch) so your headlight illuminates.

Running too many watts and drawing too much current through those NORMALLY closed contacts -- IF THEY ARE ALREADY INCLINED TO BE BAD - will cause heat and ruin the starter switch. Note: If they are already bad. Good contacts should handle the addition of up to a 90/100 bulb in your single headlamp on a Standard.

Nothing more than a relay trigger should be added to your headlight wires. Never hook additional lamps directly to your headlight circuit. If your shunt is not making contact with the terminals properly, arcing will occur and the heat from this will melt the plastic.

I have had several of these switches apart and have had one in which the shunt was "sticky" and did not move freely with the spring. I found it necessary to file the surfaces of the plastic slider so that the shunt would move more freely. Your shunt should move freely within its mount.

NOTE 1: Most starter switches burn out because the headlight draws heavy current through faulty contacts at the headlight circuit. One can relieve some of the strain on the headlight contacts by taking them completely out of the headlight circuit and asking them merely to keep a relay triggered. Inside the headlight, cut your BLUE/WHITE lead and affix a relay into the cut as depicted in the diagram at left. Then take a lead off of your BLACK/RED +12v from the headlight fuse wire and use that to feed the power in terminal. Optional headlight switching can be added by placing a switch which cuts the ground of the relay as shown. Additional lighting up front can be added to the output terminal with proper cautions taken with the guage of the wires and the amperage of the fuses involved.
Circuit based on a post on the VTXOA board by Vegas Duval.

Note 2: If your start switch has completely melted and you don't want to spend $80 or so bucks on a new one, you can substitute the circuit shown in "Start Switch Replacement." All of these wires can be accessed in the headlight where the harness comes from the right handlebar switches.  The only difference you may notice is that your starter circuit is now controlled by the headlight fuse and not the starter fuse.  If you have any extra lights hooked up to the BLUE/WHITE wire for the headlight, you MUST use a relay just as before (see here for more information).. 

NOTE 3: Since the starter motor is disabled when the bike is in gear, you can use the starter switch to blink your headlight while moving. It is not recommended to blink your light to get attention at an intersection since that is the universal signal to "go ahead" (see Horny Lights How to for a more comprehensive discussion of this as a safety issue). Blinking the headlight in this fashion is one way to say "HI" to another biker or warn opposing traffic of a "hazard" ahead of them on the road (such as a LEO). Do this only when the bike us running, in gear, clutch out and kick stand up (i.e. when you are RIDING).


If you understand how a five pin relay works (if you don't click here), you can follow this little circuit. It uses the GROUND pin of the OIL LIGHT LED to DE-GROUND the relay. When you turn on your key, the "key on" wire gets +12 volts as does the OIL LIGHT wire. Once the engine is started and running (has oil pressure), the oil light wire drops ground and the relay defaults back to the 87a output terminal and your heated clothing gets power. When you turn off your bike, your heated clothing should go dead at its own power source.





Valkyrie starter "relay" problem
 the cheap fix and/or preventive maintenance
by Ratdog of the VRCC edited by yours truly.

A full description with pictures on how to permanently fix this problem can be found here >CLICK<

Part #9 in the pic in red. The fiche calls it a "switch assy". Some call it the starter relay. 

Symptom: bike is "dead". No headlight and the starter button won't start the bike.
Location: Remove the right side cover.  Item in question it sits between the fused link and the fuse panel. It has a 30Amp fuse incorporated into it, a wiring plug, and two allen screws connecting it to direct power. There is a spare fuse located in the bottom of the holder boot.
Troubleshoot: Part #9 visibly fried/charred and fused to the wiring plug coming into the top of it.
: The part lists for $84 from the dealer and houses a 30 AMP fuse. Replace as needed, but try this....
: If it's fried, pry the connection apart to expose the spade connectors (three of them on the plug). Clean the connectors/spades and lather with silicone gel or bulb grease. If you can't reach, pop the top of the plastic (green) off and clean the spades. Pop the green hickey back on, (don't forget about those two direct power connections.. don't let them touch one another). Install a new lathered with bulb grease 30A fuse then protect the connections with some electrical tape.
Maintenance: If it's not fried yet and to save yourself grief and expense, just disconnect the plug, clean the connectors and lather it with silicone gel or bulb grease.  Do the same with the fuse.  It should not be necessary to pop top off the relay itself if not fried, but it makes the spades easier to get at with sandpaper.  Use extra tape to insulate vital parts.

NOTE: there are only three wires here.  The Green/RED and Yellow/Red and a heavy RED. The green/red goes near the fuse on its "right," the Yellow/Red goes near the fuse on its "left" and the red goes on the spade matching the yellow/red.  The fourth spade is empty (the one matching the green/red).  You can't buy the connectors on the harness side without buying a whole new harness (big bucks).  You can "fix" them using quick connectors from Radio Shack 64-3049.

GL1800 Starter Button Maintenance
The tabs on the start switch are very fragile. Usually, just a good spray with plastic safe contact cleaner on a switch that's not taken apart will do the trick.  It is very easy to break the tab shown if you do decide to disassemble.

One extra note:  NEVER START YOUR BIKE WITH THE HI BEAMS ON. The left hi beam is not hooked to a relay, but runs directly thru this switch.  If it's dirty, it can arc and heat up.  Only have your lo beams on when you start your bike.  One 55 watt bulb has cost lots of people their start switch on Honda cruisers (see above) for a long time because those bikes don' have relays.  For the left HI neither does the wing.

Questions? Contact Chet at Chet says 'Be sure to write!'

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