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'99 Randomly shutting down - Solved! (I hope)

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This is going to be a very long story, but it took me a year. You'll get through it much quicker!

 

I think I'm finally at the end of a year long search for the answer to my intermittent 5th Gen issue of it randomly cutting out while riding. I'll start at the beginning and try to remember everything and the order in which it occurred.

First off, 2017 was very tough on my personally and financially much of it spent working 7 days a week for 3/4 of what I was earning previously, and some early parts of the year I was making zero to less than half. Anyway, what that means in the context of the VFR was little to no recreational riding or time or money to diagnose and repair the issue. 

So I was riding home from work one afternoon. I was on the highway in the left lane, about to pass slower traffic ahead. As I signaled and accelerated, then changed lanes, I hit a moderately severe bump as the pavement transitioned to a bridge. The engine immediately cut off, in gear on the throttle. Dash looked normal, Fi and oil lights on as if key on and stop switch in off position. I pulled in the clutch and tried the starter multiple times as I coasted along to no avail, along with letting the clutch out in gear to let the wheel turn it over. I think I eventually coasted down an off ramp and stopped. I cycled the key and then tried it and that worked. When I got home I, of course, went straight to Stator - R/R - Battery tests. Many years ago I converted to the R1 FH012 Reg/Rec with output routed to the battery + through a 30a fuse and the ground directly to the frame. Later I installed a Custom Rewind rewound stator. I had several years of trouble free charging, so following a severe crash in 2014 and rebuild over the following many months, I never bothered refitting my voltmeter. I had to replace virtually everything in the nose and side fairings and didn't want to cut my new to me, freshly custom painted fairing. Luckily I found a nekkid bike enthusiast with nearly everything from the front of the bike for sale, and I grabbed it up! Headlight was smashed, the gauges looked a little broken but when I got them out of the fairing stay they were flexible due to all the breaks and cracks. I swapped out the LCD to keep my original miles (I'm at 103k now!). The fairing stay was toast and actually snapped one of the mounting tabs off the frame neck! Had to pull the frame off and have it welded back on. Everything plastic forward of the seat was replaced except the little "ears" on the inside of the cockpit. Luckily my SP1 forks and carbon fiber fender were spared!

So anyway, I tested everything I could think of and found no faults. I raised the tank and with it running I pulled the fuel pump power. It died pretty fast, which seemed like what I experienced while riding, so I was thinking maybe the original '99 pump was giving up. I think my bike was built in late '98, and it had nearly 102k miles at the time. I actually have a spare pump, not the assembly, so I was thinking to swap it out. But since it's not the complete assembly it was going to be a lot of effort for a hunch.

So I ignored it for a few more months. 

Eventually I decided to try it again, and it did exactly the same thing in the same spot! Duh, of course it did. I coasted a bit trying the same things, but then remembered cycling the key seemed to work before, and it did again. This time without stopping. 

Still not sure, I continued to ignore. One day I left work and needed to get gas on the way. Started fine at work, but at the gas station it barely turned over. The engine was warm enough to catch though, and I got it home. Back to charging system testing, and I found a dead battery (obvious). Stator tested fine, but the R/R failed on the testing procedure outlined on RoadsterCycle.com. I got with him to order a brand new FH020 and had the battery load tested, it failed. It was a Yuasa for the ST1300, because that was a thing a few years ago that people were doing. Same physical dimensions, but higher CCA. Always on a Tender, maybe 3 years old. 

With the new R/R, and a battery from my one time project bike, I rode it once again to work. Got there fine, but leaving for home it once again barely started. At home I tested everything again and still found faults on the new R/R. Jack at Roadster said he tests them before sending, but I could return it so he could test it and see what happens. He tested it to be working properly, so I started looking at the wiring. I found the output + wire didn't have continuity, and then found the 30a fuse had blown when the FH012 R/R died. I guess my cheap old mini multi-meter wasn't up to the task of properly diagnosing the R/R. Works fine for continuity and voltage, though. I replaced the fuse and was still getting funky continuity reading through it because when it surged it melted the fuse holder a bit and one of the blades on the fuse was beside the female terminal instead of inside it. I sent another email to Jack and had him include one of his 30a auto reset breakers to replace the fuse holder.

New R/R and 30a breaker installed, it charges at 14+ at idle! Yes, back in business! Still not riding much though, cause now it's Fall and still no spare time or money. I did get a new replacement Everstart from Wally World in the ST1300 CCA rating when I sold the other bike. I can't recall exactly when, but I did ride it a few times to work without issue, but those were all not on the same road I was loosing it before. Then I was back on that stretch of highway, but going in the opposite direction and it died, but I was able to cycle the key and get it started pretty quick. Then I ignored it for a few more more months.

Not long ago I decided to go ahead with COP conversion and remove the big ugly coils in favor of some Gixxer stick coils, coil on plug, COP. They were donated, and with some research I discovered I could get the CBR coil harness for like $7. Cheap modding, I'm in! After getting them installed I took it for a test ride to get gas. I had previously siphoned my tank because it had been sitting for several months and my car was low. So why let a full bike tank go bad from sitting, plus it's still in the back of my mind that I have to pull the fuel pump. I head out with the gauge blinking at me, knowing I still have plenty, but also having lots of doubt as to exactly how much gas is in there. As I am nearly turning left into the station, I hit a bump and it dies! Of course it does, but did it slosh gas away from the pump enough to kill it, or is it the old issue?

Restarts and I fill up and get home. The next day I decide to take it out for a longer test and it dies on my within the first 15 minutes. I cycle the key and start it and continue to ride for a few more hours without issue.

At this point, I'm down to one job but looking to get my old one back. So it's plenty of free time but not much money. I saw post on VFRD that got me looking at my main 30a fuse, and not liking what I see. This is the OE fuse holder on the front of the battery box. It's very brown and crusty looking, but not melted. The fuse blades are pretty dark from what I assume is the arcing of a slightly loose connection. I could clean it up and tighten the female connections, or even replace the entire thing with a better more sealed fuse holder, but I decide to get another of the 30a breakers from Roadster. They have nut and bolt connections with ring terminals on the wiring. Much more sturdy connection!

Now that's in, and the tail is off, so I decide to really get cracking on this whole thing. I looked up the wiring and found the 2 relays that could have an affect on the fuel pump. I got them loose from their holders and started smacking them around to see if they responded to excessive bumping. Well, I found that if you hit them hard enough they do indeed break connection, but only for long enough to kill the engine. They would reset themselves and the fuel pump would prime, and I could start the engine without needing to cycle the key. Still not it.

After the big crash I had the replacement front "de-dumboed" and wired in Gixxer signal mirrors. Looks great, works great, but makes taking the front fairing off a major PITA! My only other thought at this point, other than fuel pump, is the bank angle sensor (BAS). It's the tip over cut off, and I couldn't remember exactly if it needed the key cycled in order to clear it. I did trigger it once while riding, but barely avoided a crash, but I forgot how I got it restarted. But now I have no other choice. I have to eliminate it as a possibility. I finally get to it and unbolt it. If I shake it, it makes a loud rattle. I also noticed a tiny bit of fluid on my fingers after handling it. Is it fluid damped? I don't know! I texted SebSpeed, cause I know he's working on a 5th Gen project to ask if he's got access to the BAS and if he thinks it's fluid filled. He didn't have the VFR BAS handy, but another one from a CBR (I think) was in the shop, and he said he never considered it, but it did indeed seem to be fluid filled. I'm looking at mine, and it's clearly got a little bit of exterior damage, but I never would have considered that it was sealed and now that seal was broken. I plug it in and give it a moderate shake while running, and sure enough it immediately dies and won't start. Here's the thing; the starter turns. It's the only shut off mechanism that still allows the starter to turn but not the bike to fire. Cycle the key and it fires right up! I texted Seb back to see if he knows which wires to jump to make it run. I remembered from the wire diagram that the orange wire on the bike side of the connector has something to do with the 2 relays in the tail. He wasn't sure so I tried a couple things and got it to work with orange jumped to green (ground). I could have tried test riding it with the jumper wire in, but it's too much work to get to. I found a BAS from an ST1100 with the same connector on eBay for $6.50 shipped, and jumped on it. It looked the same in pics, and when it arrived it matched exactly the plug and mounting bolts. I plugged it in and it works! Smacked it round and shook it vertically, and it stays running. I can hear a distinct difference in them, my old one sounded like a bolt inside a plastic box when I shook it, and the other one sounds like it's fluid damped to prevent it moving excessively and shutting the bike down.

So that's it! Who would have thought that the BAS could have been slightly damaged enough to work fine for a couple years then start slowly driving me mad?!?! I guess it didn't all spill out, but instead slowly evaporated over time.

I rode it a bit yesterday and hit as  many sharp bumps as I could stand with no issues.

Fixed! 

Of course I found while the fairings were off that the water pump is dripping from the weep hole. Only one thing that means, water pump is on it's way out. Second one on this bike. I forget the mileage on the first one, 30-ish thousand miles? (edit- Actually more like 50k) I was doing track days and swapping out distilled water and cheap parts store coolant. I figure that I should spring for some fancy silicone hoses while I'm at it. I was looking at another 5th Gen taken apart and the seals for the coolant connections to the cylinders in the V on that bike were perished. So, I'll plan on a full cooling system overhaul in the near future now that I'm earning a proper paycheck again. Probably change the spark plugs too, since I don't know how old mine are and I've got the new COPs.

(It never ends!)

Apologies for the  extreme wordiness of my post, but I wanted to illustrate the difficulties of diagnosing an issue while another crops up in the middle of it.

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Always good to have the details. Never know when I might need it.

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Cool. Glad you resolved this. As far as coolant hoses, I ended up buying some fromAS3, other than the kit being for non wax unit 5 Gens, the kit appears to be for all the hoses other than those to the wax unit. 

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1 hour ago, Duc2V4 said:

Cool. Glad you resolved this. As far as coolant hoses, I ended up buying some fromAS3, other than the kit being for non wax unit 5 Gens, the kit appears to be for all the hoses other than those to the wax unit. 

That's what I was looking at online after reading about it on the forum. Luckily I don't have a wax unit!

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Good stuff!  How about cutting the old BAS open for a look-see?

 

Ciao,

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I did that, it was unsatisfactory. (IMHO)

There weren't any real seams to take it apart. I literally had to cut it open. It seemed like it was molded together all at once. It's hard to explain, but there were ABS plastics over rubber seals and interior wiring that was molded in... Weird 

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Good work sir.

 

Definitely worth doing ALL of the rubber parts in the cooling system, tstat, etc while you're in there. Get the hose clamps meant for the silicone hose, the stock ones will chew up the softer silicone. Think I have a bag I ordered from McMaster-Carr. 

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4 minutes ago, SEBSPEED said:

Good work sir.

 

Definitely worth doing ALL of the rubber parts in the cooling system, tstat, etc while you're in there. Get the hose clamps meant for the silicone hose, the stock ones will chew up the softer silicone. Think I have a bag I ordered from McMaster-Carr. 

Oh good, more things to order...

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Good troubleshooting, Kev. That dang BAS had to be from the dark side, to lurk in functionality for two years before haunting you.

 

I followed Duc2V4's lead and ordered a set of AS3 hoses along with their clamp set for my 5th gen. Seb probably paid McMaster-Carr 15% of what AS3 charges for their clamp set. The AS3 parts look good, but I have not installed them yet.

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