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Electrical/Ignition/Lights Have questions regarding your ingintion system? This is a place to find answers to ignition questions of all types.

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  #1  
Old 06-09-2006
Wango2003
 
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More Sportster ignition problems

2003 883 Sportster. From a cold start (doesn't matter what ambient temp is) I get appr., 5-10 minutes run time whether it's idling or in gear. Then it just dies as if the ignition has been turned off. After it has set several minutes (2 at least) It will crank back up, but will only run for a few minutes and dies again with same time frame before being able to restart it. Both myself and a mechanic friend of mine have confirmed this is due to the abscence of a spark. I have tested the coil and ignition cables with a multimeter and they are all within specs. I have also replaced the spark plugs and bank angle sensor for good measure. The problem still persists. Before I shell out for a new ignition computer/module or cam shaft sensor I was wondering if anyone could back me up on my hypothesis of the problem being with the ignition computer/ module. I have searched the board and found that some one has had an almost identical problem with a 2000 Soft tail. (please excuse the earlier plagarism, the symptoms really are identical) The solution was apparently to replace the cam shaft sensor. Any advice or suggestions for after market ignition modules would be greatly appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 06-22-2006
Wango2003
 
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Re: More Sportster ignition problems

Update: I decided to shell out for the Harley Davidson Screamin Eagle igntion module for my modle Sportster based on a well written recommendation at
http://www.mklsportster.com/xly2kperformance.htm . I also spoke to the maintainance crew at Peninsula Harley Davidson who were very helpful and based on their help and the advice I found online I was able to more confidently diagnose the igntion failure as being due to the ignition module.

Proceedure: The replacement is very straight forward as detailed in the Sportster service manual or instructions that come with the new module. I did however encounter a few things that the manual doesnt mention.

1. If you have to repair this "on the fly" like I did in my office parking lot, get a blanket and find a patch of grass. Turn off your fuel, spread out the blanket, and carefully lay your bike down on its side. This makes pulling the ignition cable through the hole in engine casing, well.... possible if you dont have a secure lift.

2. You'll need to disassemble a Deutsch (German... Lustig, nein?) connector to plug in the pins from the new module which will require a pair of tweezers.

3. Drilling the rivets off the outer ignition cover is a pain in the ass. I practically had to drill the rivets into dust before I could pop the cover off. After you do this once you should get the inner cover tapped and replace the rivets with screws. I repacled them allen heads to match the rest of the engine.

4. For reasons beyond my comprehension an oil line partially obstructs the ignition wiring hole so you'll need a long screw driver with a wide flat head to push this down and out of the way. You'll also need a pair of needle nose pliers to grip and tug the insulation through the hole.

5. If you're not going to time the ignition when you replace the module (dont bother unless the engine is obviously having problems) make sure to mark the postion of the old module in the casing before you remove it to obtain (really quite good) approximate timing.

After I replaced the module the engine started right up and hasnt failed on me since. Based on what I've read online and my own experience I would recommend replacing the Harley factory igntion module as soon as you buy the bike. (Granted I can only speak for late model Sportsters) Why? Its always better to replace a part at your convienence than at your inconvienence, especially if you like to go on long rides far from home.
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  #3  
Old 08-12-2010
stoneman123us
 
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Re: More Sportster ignition problems

i got a 2001 sporty that does about the same thing. It runs great when its cold but once its hot you shut it off and no way to start it. Yet sometimes it will run but only for a short time and then it quits again. I been told ignition sensor and i been told module.. where do you start without spending a ton of money. i hate the mechanic that changes parts till he gets it right. When it doesn't start i tested and there is no spark to the plugs. i could use some answers as well
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  #4  
Old 08-18-2010
Dirty White Boy Offline
Dirty White Boy
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Re: More Sportster ignition problems

2001 sportster 1200: similar problems - starts fine, then after about 12 miles lshuts down. Will not start for about 30 min. to an hour after everything cools down. Hve put new coil, plugs, and plug wires. Opened wire harness across the rocker boxes, found no apparent heat damage. There's not too much else to check. Guess I'm in for ignition module replacement unless I hear a better idea.
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  #5  
Old 08-18-2010
chamokie
 
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Re: More Sportster ignition problems

Get the service manual for that bike and the electrical diagnostic manual. Follow the instructions step by step, you will find the problem. Trial and error is very expensive way to fix any thing. If you dont want to invest in the manual's pay an indy $50 for his time and let him do the diagnostic part.
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Old 08-26-2010
Dirty White Boy Offline
Dirty White Boy
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Talking Re: More Sportster ignition problems

New ignition module finally came in, installed and problem solved!!
I found Wango's tips very helpful. The only thing that I can add is: to help feed the new wire and pins past the oil line blocking the feed channel, I found it much easier after putting electrical tape on the pins to keep them together up to the outer protective sheave. Thanks guys, I'm in the wind again!!


"I,ve never seen a Harley parked in front of a shrink's office."
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  #7  
Old 08-26-2010
templar2 Offline
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Re: More Sportster ignition problems

Good post. I had a similar problem on my 98' RK, apparently the glue inside the module would heat up and expand causing all sorts of problems, did the replacement and it was fine. Part of owning a Harley is that it owns you right back!
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  #8  
Old 10-10-2010
StaarFS47 Offline
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Re: More Sportster ignition problems

Same problem on my 2001 1200 xl. Found that if I run some water over the nose cone for a minute to cool it down, starts right up. Waiting for new module. Expect Success.
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  #9  
Old 04-12-2011
Jimmys1200
 
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Re: More Sportster ignition problems

I have a question about other options to the Ignition Module. I had (or well still have) the same problem on my 98' XL1200C. The problem though is that the ignition module was just replaced. The module was replaced with a screaming eagle ign before I bought it. But soon after buying the bike, that had the wires sawed through by the sharp edge of the case, so I had to replace it again. ground down the sharp edge of the case and called it good. Worked great and I was back up riding again, but only temporarily. I took a decent ride about 150 miles on a hot summer day, and ended up getting stranded in the middle of nowhere when this NEW ign overheated and shut down. Same problems as you all talked about afterwords with only being able to run for maybe 30 mins or just a few miles if I took it out, before it would just crap out.
I've talked to several Harley Cert mechanics and looked around the net to see what the problem is, and best I can tell, this is a well known problem. One mechanic told me without hesitation that it was my ign module because as he said, "They're notorious for overheating and breaking down." So my question is, since I don't want to buy yet ANOTHER ign module that is "Notorious" for having problems when you are most enjoying the ride, does anyone have experience with aftermarkets such as the dyna module etc... They seem like the best answer, but almost TOO good to be true as it were. Since they are almost half the price of the screaming eagle modules and are solid state without all that gel to overheat and cause problems. Anyone have an idea or opinion on what I should do so I can get back riding. Thanks for the help.
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  #10  
Old 08-09-2011
StaarFS47 Offline
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Re: More Sportster ignition problems

Here's an update to my post from last October. I replaced the OEM ignition module on my 2001 sportster xl with an aftermarket single fire module and coil. I have had a year of trouble free riding and was beginning to feel pretty confident that I had solved the module break-down problem. Then recently the new module began to misfire on one cylinder when the engine had reached full operating temperature. It first began to misfire in right hand turns which indicates to me that the hot crankcase oil is sloshing over to the nose cone and raising the temperature of the module causing the misfire. Let it cool down and it runs fine. Since it is summertime here in Alabama and the temps are in the high 90's during the day, the problem is most common in the afternoon. At night I haven't had the problem. While I look for a replacement module, I am playing with the idea of buying a spare module cover plate and modifying it with vent holes to channel some cooling air into and out of the module chamber. A couple of holes, an small air scoop, and a hole to let the air exit might do the trick. Also, I will experiment with mounting the module using some spacers under it to lift it and isolate it from the floor of the module chamber which might allow some air to flow under the module to keep it cool and prevent the heat from the crank case from being transferred directly onto the module. We'll see. I'll let you know.
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