Discussion:
Fix for '83 Virago's Notorious Starter Problem?
(too old to reply)
d***@gmail.com
2020-07-02 19:09:13 UTC
Permalink
Early Yamaha Viragos (1982 and 1983) I have been told have a notorious
starter problem that slowly develops. I'm no mechanic, but I've been told
the starter gears end up having trouble engaging the flywheel, or something
like that. I've also been told a new starter will not fix the problem, and
that
the bike is SOL once it reaches this stage.
Anybody familiar with this problem, and whether there is a workaround?
I've had several Viragos and all had "box o' rocks" starters when I got them. First, pull off alternator side cover. then locate the compression spring on the gear set that contacts the fly wheel. throw that spring away. Next, pull out the solenoid and flush out the plunger with wd40, then a fine spray oil. ensure that it goes in and out smoothly. NOTE: There is a right way and a wrong way to install the actuator arm that goes from solenoid plunger to the gear engage hook shaft screw. Installed improperly, the driven intermediate gear will fail to fully engage the flywheel gear teeth. It will cam off and you'll hear the free spinning starter motor sound. The other thing that causes premature starter clutch wear is a sticking starter button. That sprague clutch is only meant to go in one direction. With the starter still engaged after engine starts it wears this starter clutch (bendix clutch, sprague clutch) out too soon. just squirt wd40 directly into starter button to free it up. Lastly...the damn neutral switch. if it's "flaky jakey" replace it. You can try cleaning it, but I've had no luck doing that. Replacement is cheap and it fixes the issue of low power or poor connection to starter circuit. That neutral light has to be BRIGHT green if the switch is working right. Ok, that's all I got on Virago starter
Steve Singlar
d***@gmail.com
2020-07-02 19:14:29 UTC
Permalink
Early Yamaha Viragos (1982 and 1983) I have been told have a notorious
starter problem that slowly develops. I'm no mechanic, but I've been told
the starter gears end up having trouble engaging the flywheel, or something
like that. I've also been told a new starter will not fix the problem, and
that
the bike is SOL once it reaches this stage.
Anybody familiar with this problem, and whether there is a workaround?
I've had several Viragos and all had "box o' rocks" starters when I got them. First, pull off alternator side cover. then locate the compression spring on the gear set that contacts the fly wheel. throw that spring away. Next, pull out the solenoid and flush out the plunger with wd40, then a fine spray oil. ensure that it goes in and out smoothly. NOTE: There is a right way and a wrong way to install the actuator arm that goes from solenoid plunger to the gear engage hook shaft screw. Installed improperly, the driven intermediate gear will fail to fully engage the flywheel gear teeth. It will cam off and you'll hear the free spinning starter motor sound. The other thing that causes premature starter clutch wear is a sticking starter button. That sprague clutch is only meant to go in one direction. With the starter still engaged after engine starts it wears this starter clutch (bendix clutch, sprague clutch) out too soon. just squirt wd40 directly into starter button to free it up. Lastly...the damn neutral switch. if it's "flaky jakey" replace it. You can try cleaning it, but I've had no luck doing that. Replacement is cheap and it fixes the issue of low power or poor connection to starter circuit. That neutral light has to be BRIGHT green if the switch is working right. Ok, that's all I got on Virago starter -Randy Solis
Steve Singlar
oh yeah i forgot... dont weld or pin anything in your starter mechanism. one good backfire will wreck your engine!
sleazy
2020-07-02 19:41:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by d***@gmail.com
Early Yamaha Viragos (1982 and 1983) I have been told have a notorious
starter problem that slowly develops. I'm no mechanic, but I've been told
the starter gears end up having trouble engaging the flywheel, or something
like that. I've also been told a new starter will not fix the problem, and
that
the bike is SOL once it reaches this stage.
Anybody familiar with this problem, and whether there is a workaround?
I've had several Viragos and all had "box o' rocks" starters when I got
them. First, pull off alternator side cover. then locate the
compression spring on the gear set that contacts the fly wheel. throw
that spring away. Next, pull out the solenoid and flush out the plunger
with wd40, then a fine spray oil. ensure that it goes in and out
smoothly. NOTE: There is a right way and a wrong way to install the
actuator arm that goes from solenoid plunger to the gear engage hook
shaft screw. Installed improperly, the driven intermediate gear will
fail to fully engage the flywheel gear teeth. It will cam off and you'll
hear the free spinning starter motor sound. The other thing that causes
premature starter clutch wear is a sticking starter button. That sprague
clutch is only meant to go in one direction. With the starter still
engaged after engine starts it wears this starter clutch (bendix clutch,
sprague clutch) out too soon. just squirt wd40 directly into starter
button to free it up. Lastly...the damn neutral switch. if it's "flaky
jakey" replace it. You can try cleaning it, but I've had no luck doing
that. Replacement is cheap and it fixes the issue of low power or poor
connection to starter circuit. That neutral light has to be BRIGHT green
if the switch is working right. Ok, that's all I got on Virago starter
Steve Singlar
*sigh*

The post you’re replying to was from 1994. I’m pretty sure his Virago is
long dead.
The Older Gentleman
2020-07-04 12:59:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by sleazy
*sigh*
The post you're replying to was from 1994. I'm pretty sure his Virago is
long dead.
This is what happens when t'internet is used by people brought up on
social media.
--
BMW K1600GTL; Kawasaki Ninja H2, Yamaha 660 Ténéré;
Guzzi Le Mans Mk.2; Honda CD200, CB400F, Yamaha 125 NMax
More secure garages needed....
neil underscore murray at fastmail dot fm
RosemontCrest
2020-07-04 19:59:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Older Gentleman
Post by sleazy
*sigh*
The post you're replying to was from 1994. I'm pretty sure his Virago is
long dead.
This is what happens when t'internet is used by people brought up on
social media.
Exactly how does that make sense?
sleazy
2020-07-04 21:45:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by RosemontCrest
Post by The Older Gentleman
Post by sleazy
*sigh*
The post you're replying to was from 1994. I'm pretty sure his Virago is
long dead.
This is what happens when t'internet is used by people brought up on
social media.
Exactly how does that make sense?
If you have to ask....... I’d suggest abandoning Usenet.
RosemontCrest
2020-07-05 02:46:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by sleazy
Post by RosemontCrest
Post by The Older Gentleman
Post by sleazy
*sigh*
The post you're replying to was from 1994. I'm pretty sure his Virago is
long dead.
This is what happens when t'internet is used by people brought up on
social media.
Exactly how does that make sense?
If you have to ask....... I’d suggest abandoning Usenet.
What medium do people brought up on social media use?
The Older Gentleman
2020-07-05 11:05:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by RosemontCrest
Post by The Older Gentleman
Post by sleazy
*sigh*
The post you're replying to was from 1994. I'm pretty sure his Virago is
long dead.
This is what happens when t'internet is used by people brought up on
social media.
Exactly how does that make sense?
If you have to ask....... I'd suggest abandoning Usenet.
<VBG>
--
BMW K1600GTL; Kawasaki Ninja H2, Yamaha 660 Ténéré;
Guzzi Le Mans Mk.2; Honda CD200, CB400F, Yamaha 125 NMax
More secure garages needed....
neil underscore murray at fastmail dot fm
Futility Man
2020-07-05 00:27:09 UTC
Permalink
The post you’re replying to was from 1994. I’m pretty sure his Virago is
long dead.
You'd be surprised how many of them are still around. This may hold the record
for the oldest post getting a reply, but it's still relevant.

--
Futility Man
m***@sbcglobal.net
2020-07-10 03:55:56 UTC
Permalink
Early Yamaha Viragos (1982 and 1983) I have been told have a notorious
starter problem that slowly develops. I'm no mechanic, but I've been told
the starter gears end up having trouble engaging the flywheel, or something
like that. I've also been told a new starter will not fix the problem, and
that
the bike is SOL once it reaches this stage.
Anybody familiar with this problem, and whether there is a workaround?
Steve Singlar
Mike Miller·Saturday, May 30, 2020·
Final starter fix- MIKE MILLER MOD
(See original post below- HISTORY)
Okay, let me put it this way.
The 'starter problem' is an electrical problem FIRST and a mechanical problem SECOND.
The TCI needs stable voltage to work.
The many actions inherent in cranking a big v-twin causes a wildly varying load on a battery, especially a battery that is not strong and fresh. This load variation translates to a VOLTAGE FLUCTUATION...which can switch off the TCI while cranking.
Result: NO SPARK!
The stabilizer- a simple $15 piece- makes sure the TCI gets clean voltage.
So, with the stabilizer, if the battery is strong enough to get the piston over Top Dead Center on compression stroke, you will get spark. BOOM!
(Did you ever let off the start button and suddenly fire up strong? Like a kick-start? It can happen that you let off just as the piston if flying upward on the compression stroke fast enough to get over the top, and the voltage is there right as the TCI needs it, so the engine starts! That is what caused me to use an OSCILLOSCOPE to chart the voltage while cranking. The voltage swings wildly! Then, I separated the TCI from the rest of the harness, used a SEPARATE battery to feed it, and the engine started cleanly EVERY TIME, verifying the cause. The stabilizer is like a small separate battery for the TCI.)
Yes, a big new battery will get a good strong start. So will jump-starting from a diesel truck!
Yes, renewing the gears will likely keep you cranking and MAYBE start...until the gears again disengage, as explained in my post -"Final Fix for Starters".
Yes, removing the disengagement spring will give you a little more engagement. It can also allow the gear to hang up on the flywheel and wear out other parts of the starter drive. (It sounds like something still buzzing in the case.)
So, I'll say this- GET the stabilizer. Put it in.
If you have EVER had a start problem on the old-style starter designs, just get the stabilizer.
ALL OTHER FIXES are fixes of the EFFECTS of bad, dirty, fluctuating voltage. Strong batteries and sharp gears will always help.
Michael J. Miller
Austin, Texas
Original owner of a 1981 Virago 750
138,000 miles and still using the original factory designed starter system.


HISTORY- MY ORIGINAL POST
The final "fix" to starters, carbs, and weak spark.
Many years back, I posted to DR. PISTON about getting a hotter spark by using the ACCEL HARLEY SINGLE-FIRE COIL. Many of you followed that advice based on my finding that the spark-during-crank was sometimes too weak to fire the rich mix.
It IS a good upgrade, but I wondered WHY the spark was weak on start. So, I hooked up a dual-trace oscilloscope to get a real-time look at the action. What I found was that the juice needed to crank that big piston to top-dead-center for the fire could drop the voltage momentarily to as low as EIGHT VOLTS!
The TCI will not work with less than TEN VOLTS, so, as the piston was getting ready to fire, THE TCI SHUT OFF!
Further, I had noticed that sometimes, as I let off the start button, the bike would then fire. With the info from the trace on the scope, it made perfect sense. Once the voltage came back up, it fired just like kick-starting
Next, I took a small separate battery and used it to juice only the TCI. This kept the voltage to the TCI stable at 12V.
BINGO! It started right up!
So, NOW, OFFICIALLY, I offer this final fix to the start question.
https://www.ebay.com/i/311627034464?rt=nc
Get this voltage stabilizer, hook it in between the wiring harness and the TCI on the R/W wire. And I will bet you that the bike starts just the way you always hoped.
All the bikers I rode with would wait for me to get my cantankerous Viragosaurus '81 to start before they would touch their keys.
Then, after this change, I was cranked and gone, and they had to CATCH UP!
PS- The starter disengaging is mentioned in another post, but here is what happens-
The starter can't keep up with the piston after it hits TDC in compression. The compression pushes the piston downward too fast to keep the gears engaged, so the starter gear partially disengages with each revolution until it jumps out and spins. IF THE PISTON FIRES ON THE FIRST OR SECOND TRY, the starter stays engaged long enough.
SO, when I start my bike, I NEVER hold the start button longer than 2 revolutions. Then let off and do it again. In 130,000 miles, I have made NO CHANGES to my starter gears except to replace the starter with a 4-brush solid magnet starter.
Mike Miller
Austin, Texas
DC Voltage Stabilizer 8-40V to 12V 6A 72W Car Power Supply Regulator Waterproof | eBay
DC Voltage Stabilizer 8-40V to 12V 6A 72W Car Power Supply Regulator Waterproof
ebay.com
The Older Gentleman
2020-07-11 14:35:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by m***@sbcglobal.net
Early Yamaha Viragos (1982 and 1983) I have been told have a notorious
starter problem that slowly develops. I'm no mechanic, but I've been told
the starter gears end up having trouble engaging the flywheel, or something
like that. I've also been told a new starter will not fix the problem, and
that
the bike is SOL once it reaches this stage.
Anybody familiar with this problem, and whether there is a workaround?
Steve Singlar
Mike Miller·Saturday, May 30, 2020·
Why are you replying to a quarter-century old posting, newbie?
--
BMW K1600GTL; Kawasaki Ninja H2, Yamaha 660 Ténéré;
Guzzi Le Mans Mk.2; Honda CD200, CB400F, Yamaha 125 NMax
More secure garages needed....
neil underscore murray at fastmail dot fm
Futility Man
2020-07-11 18:01:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Older Gentleman
Why are you replying to a quarter-century old posting, newbie?
Because like Lance Holtz being a jerk, it's still relevant.
--
Futility Man
t***@gmail.com
2020-07-15 02:36:52 UTC
Permalink
Because people are still using this thread for help. I have a 1984 virago with a box of rocks starter and a bad button. Trying to figure weather I should order button, starter, and solenoid. Thanks.
m***@sbcglobal.net
2020-07-15 15:26:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@gmail.com
Because people are still using this thread for help. I have a 1984 virago with a box of rocks starter and a bad button. Trying to figure weather I should order button, starter, and solenoid. Thanks.
Go to FaceBook page Virago 81-83 only- my page.
In FILES, you will fing "The Final Fix" and much more.
The button can be replaced on Ebay, but I used a piece from a rivet, a spacer from a ball-point pen, and a stronger spring, so mine rockes like a momentary flip switch.
GET THE STABILIZER before you even pull the starter. If may be fine.
As to teh solenoid, you can find the generic replacement for under $10. Same thing- just not Yamaha- used for everything from a 50cc pocket bike to an 1100.

In discussions, you will find a video of a guy who did nothing but put in the stabilizer, and it starts first crank, every time.
Mike
m***@gmail.com
2020-07-21 14:56:55 UTC
Permalink
This may be a post from the last century but it's still very useful.
I just got a like-new 81 XV920RH 5800km and will do the voltage stabilizer fix today.
Can anyone recommend a good place to mpunt it? I understand that heat dissipation is important.
edit to send email
2020-08-04 23:48:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Older Gentleman
Early Yamaha Viragos (1982 and 1983) I have been told have a notorious
starter problem that slowly develops. I'm no mechanic, but I've been told
the starter gears end up having trouble engaging the flywheel, or something
like that. I've also been told a new starter will not fix the problem, and
that
the bike is SOL once it reaches this stage.
Anybody familiar with this problem, and whether there is a workaround?
Steve Singlar
Mike Miller Saturday, May 30, 2020
Why are you replying to a quarter-century old posting, newbie?
In the end, so are you)

Cheers, Bjorn.
--
-----------------------------------------------------------
***@guzzi.demon.nl (Bjorn Rietdijk)
-----------------------------------------------------------
m***@sbcglobal.net
2020-07-10 03:58:42 UTC
Permalink
Early Yamaha Viragos (1982 and 1983) I have been told have a notorious
starter problem that slowly develops. I'm no mechanic, but I've been told
the starter gears end up having trouble engaging the flywheel, or something
like that. I've also been told a new starter will not fix the problem, and
that
the bike is SOL once it reaches this stage.
Anybody familiar with this problem, and whether there is a workaround?
Steve Singlar
The starter SHIM is a problem WITHIN the starter motor itself, where a planetary gearset sits. The RING gear spins if the tension on the assembly bolts is insufficient. Once the ring gear spins, it get loos FAST, and must be shimmed, or keyed to the case to stop spinning.
'
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