1985 700 NEW starter eats itself with a free motor - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-13-2016, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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1985 700 NEW starter eats itself with a free motor

I have spent the last 2 months scouring the forums on how to revive my 1985 Vulcan 700 that I bought off of craigslist. (Yes I know mistake #1) I rewired the bike since the previous owner hacked the hell out of the harness. I had to buy a new junction box, coils, starter solenoid. I also bought a new starter for good measure because I don't trust anything on the bike to be good since he left it outside for over 6 months in Texas. So after I do all of the work and install the new starter I get the bike to finally turn over. I added fuel and primed the carbs for 1 second, cranked the bike over and it turned fine for about 6 turns then stopped dead while still holding the starter button. I let go immediately let the bike sit for about 3 minutes and pull out two spark plugs thinking I flooded the engine. No fuel, no oil and no coolant in the cylinders. Ok so far, but still not running. I put the spark plugs back in, crank the bike over again and it cranks 4 times then I hear the starter free spin. So I pull the starter and the flywheel teeth are fine but my new starter is destroyed on the splines. AWESOME. So I thought to myself to see if the motor was turned over by hand I can atlas see if a valve is bent or if the piston is seized now. Nothing is malfunctioning and the timing is right as far as I can tell looking down the spark plug holes.

Now this is my first bike so I am curious about everything. I noticed that I can turn the flywheel with the bike in neutral and in gear in the reverse direction freely with no movement of the pistons. Is that normal?

I am really stumped and now out of money at the moment. If there is anyone that has an idea on what it could be I would greatly appreciate the advice.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-19-2016, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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Well after messing with the bike further I found out a couple of things:
1) Rebuilding the stock starter is a good thing on an old bike.
2) Spend more than $100 on a new starter. (The starter was made of the wrong metal on the splines and was screaming to shoot itself in the face every time I cranked over the bike)
3) Be sure to kick in the choke to start the bike.
4) Once the bike is running check both cables to the battery and see if they warm up at and and are in the right spots. (My negative cable was hot as it could be before letting out its ghost after running for 30 seconds. It was is a massively wrong spots with really bad connectivity.)
5) DON'T EVER buy a used motorcycle off of Craigslist again.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-19-2016, 06:51 PM
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There is nothing wrong with buying a bike of craigslist. Not sure how that's a rule? It's pretty much the best place to buy a use vehicle if you don't want to get raked over the coals at dealers who are just as inattentive as previous owners. The biggest thing when buying used off CL is learn what to look for as far as inspection goes. Do some research on the model you're going to see, common issues, etc. If you have a bad gut feeling, walk away, there's always another fish too.

Glad you got it sorted out, but I wouldn't immediately discount buying vehicles on CL because you had to put some wrench time in.

1986 Kawasaki Vulcan 750
NGK Iridium Plugs #7803/DPR7EIX-9
Duralast Gold ETX15 AGM Battery
Coastered & Shaved
TOC MCCTs
Metzeler ME880 [110/90-19, 170/80-15]
Balance Dampers Replaced
Tuxedo Mod
Rebuilt Forks w/ Progressive Springs
V&H Cruzers
VN750.com Grill Cover
Meanstreak Seat
Emgo 23-92411 Handlebars
MOSFET FH012AA R/R


1990 Kawasaki Vulcan 750

1998 Honda VFR800 FI

2014 Honda VFR800F

1989 Pontiac Firebird Formula 350
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-19-2016, 06:51 PM
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Sorry to hear about your bike. Not all bikes are bad on Craiglist, I've purchased 4 and got them running with minimal work. Sounds like yours need a lot more attention. Good luck.

"Show me a man who makes no mistakes, and I'll show you a man who doesn't do things." Theodore Roosevelt."

2007 Victory Kingpin
Current projects - 1986 VN750 & 1988 EL250
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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I guess you're right I need to change my statement about Craigslist because I have made some sweet deals in the past. I bought the bike for $100 and I am at about $800 in additional parts and close to 75 hours of labor fixing everything. My mistake was hoping I could buy a cheap bike. But like I said I got the bike to start and now I learned with more research and filling the carbs with fuel, the carbs now need to come back out for additional seals and also the idle screw assembly that is missing so that I can tune the bike. There goes another $100 or so. And now also the tires are dry rotting and leaking and the battery gave up the ghost. The bike now sits in my garage, probably until next summer when I get some income again to finish the bike. 4 years to wait to ride my first motorcycle and counting...
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 03:12 PM
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now I hope you weren't expecting a miracle for $100

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