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  1. #1

    Default 1973 Shovelhead shut down while riding

    Hi Folks - So I went for a ride yesterday on my kick only shovelhead and about 5 minutes into the ride I started to go up a hill and the bike just shut down on me. Nothing seemed or sounded wrong before that.

    I noticed when the key was in the ON position, I had lost my lights. So that's telling me it's something electric, but what?!

    I let the bike rest for about 10 minutes while I figured out how to get back home...then turned the key again and BOOM lights back on...I kicked it and it started immediately. I hopped on to try and make it up the hill and it died right when I started to roll.

    I let it sit for another 10 minutes and tried the key again, lights on, bike starts and I make it to the top of the hill (about 3/4 mile) and then it dies again...at that point I am able to roll it home.

    Battery is charging now, but wasn't dead. Ignition is pretty damn new, I'll clean for corrosion on any connection, I'll put in some new spark plugs and spark plug wires, but does anyone have any idea what might be happening?

    Oh thought I should mention, I've been getting kickback the last couple weeks for some reason, which hasn't happened on this bike before.
    Last edited by lastwaav33; 10-11-2021 at 9:10 AM.

  2. #2
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    when the battery is charged & the bike running, use a multimeter set on volts and place each probe on the +&- terminals of the battery & make sure it is charging up to 14,8v when reving the bike a bit & about 13 at idle & down to 12v with the ignition off, if the volts dont rise as you rev & is below 12v running the regulator or stator or rotor need looking at

  3. #3

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    The fact that you lost your light while the bike was running, and the fact that it kept starting right back up reminds me of an issue I had. When you say the ignition is new, do you mean the ignition switch or the ignition itself? I got a faulty 3 position switch one one time where the it wasn’t holding in position well. Sometimes I would ride and the key would drop to one of the positions and I would lose lights. Fixed it by replacing the ignition switch.

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    Check what the others have said, their suggestions could locate the culprit. The fact that it will get it's juice back after 10 minutes could also be a circuit breaker resetting... Be alert for any wires that may be skinned and intermittently shorting, causing a breaker trip. Next time it happens check to see if you have voltage on both sides of the breaker(s), or on just one side.

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    I bypass ignition switches to test them if I lack a spare (the cheap Drag Specialties switches are good for about ten years) by attaching all the leads to one post.

    Backfiring/kickback can be caused by intermittent electrical power. Agree on the thermal circuit breaker reset time.

  6. #6

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    Rockman prob nailed it.

    I agree with Circuit breaker and possible short BUT ---
    Similar happened to me 600 miles from home.
    My 127 suddenly died, ATM I cannot recall if I lost lights et al but it would kick right over and go
    about 100 feet and die. Side of road in rain and hail I changed Coil ( we always carried important spare parts in the saddle bags if Long way from home), even swapped to a spare Batt. Even switched Points/condenser on the road.
    I was stumped, cold n wet.

    Only thing left to do was try a Hot-wire Bypassing the Ign Switch.
    Stripped a short length of wire clipped on a couple ends ( always had wire and ends and other elect. stuff ).
    Hooked one end to Batt P and removed Ign Wire Nut from Coil screwed the Hot-Wire down to the Coil, Kicked it and
    Wa La-- No more Probs.
    Spent the next 6 days removing and replacing the Hot-Wire on the coil every time we stopped.
    Back at my shop I jiggled this and prodded at that -- it was a Broken wire Inside the insulation about 1/2 "
    from the Ign pole on the 6 pole HD switch. it made contact while sitting but jiggled Out of Contact
    as I began to drive. Of course I had every thing to fix it But simply did Not pinpoint it till we got home.

    PS. Changing plug wires and plugs will have nothing to do with your prob -- they are Not involved.
    You'll figure it out

  7. #7

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    Yeah it's the 3 position key switch. I don't know the brand but I do know that it was new and sitting in a garage when we rigged'er. It seems to hold its on position...

  8. #8

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    Fixed it. Of course it was something so stupid.

    Thanks for the help!

  9. #9
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    Thanks for posting the result!

    Completed threads help others (and it's always nice to know how stuff works out).

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