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Author Topic: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help  (Read 4563 times)

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JayKael87

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Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« on: July 19, 2019, 05:16:18 PM »

I have a 1996 Heritage Softail, I recently bought it from my father in law who took great care of it. The only issue it's ever really had was with the stock pushrods which I replaced with the adjustable quickies that solved that issue
Recently I've changed my stock bars with 18" apes. I did the replacement myself 100% correct, Harley brand extension, shrink wrap and all that and have had no issues with it.

Two days ago I was riding into work going about 50mph and without any warning or signs of anything going wrong it just died on me. I thought maybe one of my rods was maybe loose and feel on me but they were all in place at the correct position. I tried to restart the bike and it sounded like it wasn't getting spark. I replaced the spark plugs and still nothing. I thought it might be the starter solenoid or whatever but did a spark test and power test and everything is functioning properly. I have an aftermarket starter solenoid on it so I replaced it with the stock one and still nothing. I've pretty much troubleshot everything but am starting to think that it may be the fuses. Does this sound like a fuse blowing to you guys? Almost everything else on the bike is brand new and in great shape. What do you guys think? Please help, I've spent more time wrenching and troubleshooting the bike than I have riding it and it's driving me nuts. I love my bike and never want to get rid of it, but keep having dumb chit like this happen and am starting to get pissed.
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JayKael87

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2019, 05:22:58 PM »

Also when I first replaced the pushrods I had them too tight and when I tried to start it up the rods being too tight wouldn't allow the cam to spin, this not allowing the bike to start. When I try to start it now it's kind of making the same sound it did when that happened. I did check out my pushrods and they all look good. I don't think that riding with the adjustable pushrods tightened to the correct length, would allow them to loosen up AND then tighten too tight, Right? Doesn't make sense
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rayson56

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2019, 06:18:48 PM »

Sounds like an electrical issue, coils or ignition maybe. A good tech with the proper tools would probably have it diagnosed in a matter of minutes. Maybe some of the techs here can shed some light.
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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2019, 06:50:56 PM »

Give us a report once you figure it out....Good luck.
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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2019, 07:09:05 PM »

Does the engine turn over with the starter?  How about the lights and instruments when you turn the ignition switch on?  If all of that still works, you can eliminate something like the main circuit breaker (bikes back then had a circuit breaker rather than the main fuse used these days, and they were problematic).  Check the kill switch, those have also been problematic on older models.  Check for proper spark output, you can get a simple spark tester at auto parts stores.  You need to verify not just a spark, but a strong enough spark to ignite the mixture under compression.  If the engine was running fine without any abnormal noises and just quit running instantaneously, odds are it is an electrical problem and not mechanical.

Jerry
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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2019, 09:27:07 PM »

What Jerry said ^ .  However, at least in my experience the most common piece to just suddenly fail in that vintage was the cam position sensor.  I'd no doubt tinker a bit with pieces easier to change but that's a part I always carried a spare of.
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RonandJanet

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2019, 08:41:29 AM »

Agree with the above comments. I am a little confused about the exact issue.  The bike stopped running with no indication of a mechanical issue correct? If the engine is turning over the starter is working.  As mentioned, verify you are getting the right spark, verify you are getting gas (plugs should be wet).  If this all seems OK you could assume spark is not occurring at the right time . As mentioned a cam sensor will do this and there could be other things at fault as well. Let us know how you progress.
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JayKael87

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2019, 10:01:42 AM »

Yes that is correct I just died on me while I was riding into work. No sputtering, no flickering lights, no throttle delay, no backfiring, nothing. Just *click* followed by silence and me pushing my 850 lb, leaky lover out of traffic 😂😂😂.

Haha, I'm confused right along with you my friend. Thank you, all of you for your input, I will keep you guys updated. I'll be in my workshop all day today trying to figure it out. Hopefully it's a minor issue cause by something I overlooked.
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RonandJanet

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2019, 04:16:29 PM »

Can't wait to hear what you find.
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Dinger1990

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2019, 05:37:20 PM »

Food for thought, one of my riding buddies got stranded 150 miles from nowhere with the same issue. He also had his bars changed recently. Turned out there was a wire that wasn’t run 100% perfectly and wore through and caused a short. $600.00 tow bill and a $100.00 fix...
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JayKael87

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2019, 08:01:19 PM »

When I had the pushrod issue and I was troubleshooting everything electrical following the manuals instructions, I took that into consideration (a possible short in the wiring) and checked all my connections, shrink-wrap and wires for any signs of visible damage. Everything looked good. That is a valid point though mainly because something could've been damaged at a later point while riding.

We'll see. I haven't had any luck so far today. I will let you all know if I figure it out
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SIKBIRD

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2019, 10:00:03 PM »

Something similar happened to a buddy after a long ride...turned out to be a loose coil pack, after hours of troubleshooting, finally found it.  Tightened it up and not another issue the whole trip.  It’s worth a shot to check.  Good luck!
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RonandJanet

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2019, 08:05:14 AM »

Were you able to verify the right spark is occurring and you had gas in the cylinder?   That would be the first step.  This can help determine if there is an electrical problem and if so where.  If the problem is spark not there or not strong enough is one direction, no spark is another or if the spark is fine then that goes back to timing (back to the cam sensor).  Just some thoughts. 
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Grizzly

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2019, 03:30:23 PM »

Hey Jay,

Sorry to hear of your troubles.

I had the exact same thing happen years ago with my 1991 Heritage, and sometimes it is the simplest things that get us.

I'm out for a ride with my buddy and going through a small town another joins in at the back.  About 10 miles up the road, cruising along enjoying the day, my bike just shuts down.  I pull over, my buddy follows, and the tag-along keeps going up the road.  My buddy and I can't figure out what the heck happened to make my bike just quit like that.  We go over all the usual things ensuring the plug cables are seated correctly, check the battery leads, etc. and could come up with nothing - and yes I had lots of fuel.

After about 10 minutes this tag-along stranger returns to see what the problem is. (nice chap)  He can't figure it out either, so with time wasting my buddy and our new found friend take off to the local Harley shop before it closes to get them to bring a trailer for pick-up service.  They arrive to a closed shop, but find about 20 riders who had just visited the shop prior to it closing for the day.

I'm sitting at the side of the road with my beloved Heritage for an hour or so wondering what happened to them, and all of a sudden over the hill comes what can only be described as the cavalry - my buddy, our new friend, and 20 or so others to assist anyway they can!  Isn't the Harley family wonderful?

After another 20 minutes of everyone taking a stab at what the problem could be, with no positive results, one guy walks to the front left side of the bike, looks down just inside the left floorboard and pushes on a little plug... "Try it now" he says.  I did and she fired up as good as ever!

The next day I went to the Harley shop to purchase a $2.70 clip to hold my alternator plug in place.  The boys at the shop informed me that it is a common problem with them vibrating loose, so the clip is a very good investment.  If it was that common, my question was... Why didn't all bikes come standard with the $2 clip for goodness sake?

Never had a problem since and that stranger has been a wonderful riding buddy for the past 20+ years.

Not sure if your year of bike is the same set-up because I know they did eventually change things to avoid this problem, but I though it was worth sharing my story with you.  I hope it helps and your problem is as simple as mine.

Here's a picture of the clip and plug on my beloved '91 that still gets ridden occasionally.

Best of luck!
Mike
« Last Edit: July 21, 2019, 10:15:26 PM by Grizzly »
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johnsachs

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2019, 05:52:48 PM »

I've seen this same problem with the bank angle sensor in the cam cover with the stock ign. pick up.
John
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bbrown

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2019, 07:51:58 PM »

Let us know what you find as a solution  :nixweiss:
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Sprintkid

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2019, 08:48:49 PM »

Are these the ones that had issue with rubbing hole in fuel supply hose in tank. It would rub a hole in it and show 1/2 tank on gauge but not getting fuel to motor. It is easy fix. Just pull top cover on tank and look at hose.
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Twolanerider

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2019, 09:58:30 PM »

Are these the ones that had issue with rubbing hole in fuel supply hose in tank. It would rub a hole in it and show 1/2 tank on gauge but not getting fuel to motor. It is easy fix. Just pull top cover on tank and look at hose.

That was an issue with fuel injected bikes.  Line between the pump and tank inside the tank.  No such line exists on a carb'd bike.
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Sprintkid

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2019, 10:20:27 PM »

Thanks for the clarification. I have a couple friends that got tripped up with that.
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JayKael87

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2019, 03:56:53 AM »

Hey guys thank so much for all the great suggestions and feedback. Sorry I've been so scarce, I'm super busy with work and being a first time parent so I haven't had much time to spend troubleshooting my baby, but I have made some progress I've ruled out any electrical issues. I'm pretty positive it has to do with the fuel delivery. I have great spark as well as compression as well.
I'm waiting for my new fuel filter to come in and and going to be cleaning my tank, rebuilding the carb and knocking out all necessary maintenance, prevantative and otherwise. At this point I'm pretty sure that the issue lies in the fuel delivery system. I'll be out in my workshop tomorrow getting back at it and am confident that I'll have some good news to share. Thanks to each and every one of you, brothers.
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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2019, 02:53:45 PM »

I would check the vacuum line from the carb over to the petcock first. If i recall correctly the petcock relies on vacuum from the carb to operate properly and if that line is worn then the bike won't get fuel.....
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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2019, 04:28:20 PM »

I would check the vacuum line from the carb over to the petcock first. If i recall correctly the petcock relies on vacuum from the carb to operate properly and if that line is worn then the bike won't get fuel.....

+1

Should be able to see if you have gas squirting through the accelerator pump circuit.

What was described in the OP can also be a symptom of an adjustable pushrod collapsing and not allowing a valve to open.
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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2019, 05:25:10 PM »


From an earlier post:  "No sputtering, no flickering lights, no throttle delay, no backfiring, nothing. Just *click* followed by silence and me pushing my 850 lb, leaky lover out of traffic 😂😂😂."

That is not how a carbureted bike quits running if it's a fuel problem.  Checking out the fuel system is still a good idea on a bike that age, but if it just instantly quit with no signs of fuel starvation (sputtering, etc.), there is something else that shut things down.  Even if the petcock shut the fuel off, the fuel in the float bowl would still be there and would continue to be used until the engine started missing and then eventually quit running.  I've never encountered an instant engine shutdown on a carbureted vehicle that was caused by fuel delivery. 

Jerry
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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2019, 10:14:37 AM »

I have a 96 FXDWG that over years of changing oils the filter had wore out the stater plug and finally shut down while on the way home from Sturgis. A couple of sticks and zip ties to hold it in place got me home. New stator and plug and a wire over the top of the plug no more issues. I then realized why I started seeing older bikes with the same wire installed.
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JayKael87

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2019, 10:50:54 PM »

Ok so over the weekend I drained the tanks, pulled the petcock and cleaned the filter, removed and cleaned both Left and right tank, I did notice that there is another crossover line underneath the speedo/ignition switch, that was disconnected. I checked all the fuel and vacuum lines for wear and clogs, they're all good. I reassembled everything, reconnected that upper crossover line. I removed the carb, took it apart and cleaned it out, Jets too. Put it back together and nada.

Also the day it died in me, when I was in the Highway, right before it died, I was struggling to get past 65-70 mph, which never happened before then. I thought I mentioned that in the original post, but I didnt. 

Anyways, I've looked into everything mentioned by you guys and nothing so far. I still need to do an ignition coil test. I have the stock ignition coil and well as an aftermarket coil (which was in the bike when it died) and I changed them out and nothing. I did another spark test and I'm not getting spark. I have an appointment to take it into the shop next week but am trying my damnedest to get it figured out before then. Man I am getting my ass kicked. 😂😂😂
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Twolanerider

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2019, 01:33:48 AM »

All the fuel related maintenance is now just something you won't have to do later.  Your original description of shutting off with no warning nor sputtering of any kind sounded like ignition rather than fuel though.  Still, it's all maintenance that's now done and you'll not have to do again.

If you've swapped coils (and are assuming at least one of them is good) there's not much left to check.  Just for grins make sure there is 12 volts to the coil when the ignition and handlebar run switches are on.  Of the two wires there you're checking the white wire with the black tracer.  If there is power at that wire but you're still not getting spark (and since you've hopefully already eliminated the coil) you're down to only two parts.  Cam sensor or the ignition module.  Of the two the cam sensor is far more likely to fail.  Pull the cam cover and plate off and see if it looks a little melty in there.

If you want to change all of it for less money than a couple of Harley parts will cost you could also consider Plan B.  Something like the Ultima Single Fire kits.  You get a new ignition module that does the job of the original module and the cam sensor both in one new part and a new single fire coil.

Just in case....  Single fire ignition just means that the coil fires on the front and rear cylinders separately and individually each time around.  The stock system fires both cylinders every time.  Honestly, going to single fire isn't that big a deal.  The dual fire systems (obviously) worked fine for year.  Single fire (to my ears) starts a little easier.  The kit lets you play with timing curves in a way you couldn't before (as easily anyway).  Probably more importantly to what you're doing though is that it just replaces everything with new bits so you don't have to think about it.  I'd not do it for just a coil.  Depending on the cost of a new ignition module from Harley that might make me think about it the change.  If the cam sensor has crapped out and I've got to thread it all in and out anyway I'd make the change then "just because."

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JayKael87

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2019, 09:57:33 AM »

Yeah I actually came to the conclusion that it may be the cam sensor after being in my shop till 1am last night following the manual no spark troubleshooting instructions. I'm going to order it today. I'll respond better to your post when I have a little more time I'm at work right now. Thanks!
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RonandJanet

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Re: Bike Just Died While Riding. Need some Help
« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2019, 04:46:28 PM »

I am confused again (actually pretty normal for me).  Earlier you mentioned that you had "great spark". One of the first things that was checked. No you don't have spark?  Maybe you have another problem now after the work you did.  You may want to double check that you didn't inadvertently discount or cause the spark issue as you worked through the fuel delivery. I know I have broke stuff fixing other things before! :) 
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