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  1. #1

    Polaris SL900 96 Domestic Possible Bad Starter

    Hi,

    Newbee here.

    I've searched high and low and couldn't find my answer. Apologize if it's already there somewhere.

    I had left the lanyard attached for a couple weeks and found my battery completely dead. I guess that causes a drain. Won't do that again. I've since replaced the battery. Now my ski does the infamous 'clicking' of the solenoid when I press the start button. I don't like coincidences, but I don't see how it's related.

    I've followed the Octane Service Manual as it has a good checklist on testing the path to the starter. Battery and cables thru to the solenoid test to spec. Solenoid passes. I still need to test the wire to the starter, but it's a hard reach, though that's next, but seems unlikely. Engine ground seems good as I have little resistance from battery negative to the engine block. When I had applied the start button, I can reach to the starter and it is warm. Engine turns by hand fine.

    Assuming it is the starter, can I access it by pulling the exhaust? Do I need to pull the exhaust manifold? One exhaust bolt is just below the body and I can't apply a socket. Do I use a low profile socket?

    I see new Catric brand starters on Amazon that claim to fit. Are these good? I don't like the thought of replacing it with a 20yo version from ebay.

    Thanks for any thoughts.

    Chris


  2. #2
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Welcome

    Leaving the lanyard in place should have no effect on battery drain. Something else is going on to cause the battery to go flat.

    Measure the battery voltage right at the battery posts (not the cable ends, the actual posts), then monitor the battery voltage while pressing start. How low does the battery voltage sag? If the battery voltage sags below 10.6 volts at the battery then the battery is weak. If the voltage is WAY below 10 volts then the battery may be bad.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the quick reply.

    Voltage at post is 12.38 standing, and 8.31 with start depressed. It is a new battery sealed. I also tried it with the plugs out thinking it wouldn't take much energy to turn it over.
    Should I still focus on battery?

  4. #4
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBielman View Post
    ... Voltage at post is 12.38 standing, and 8.31 with start depressed. It is a new battery sealed...

    Should I still focus on battery?
    The starter motor may be seized, which will create a huge load on the battery and huge current draw, hence the heat you reported from the starter motor.

    Since you can turn the engine over by hand, it does seem likely that either the starter motor itself or the Bendix Gear assembly is jammed up. Sometimes a few very solid hammer 'taps' on the starter motor will release it, although long term it will likely bind again, perhaps at a bad time, out on the water somewhere.

    Starter motor can be removed with engine in the hull, but the exhaust system will be very much in the way. Often the starter motor snout will be 'stuck' in the engine housing, requiring some effort and perhaps deft hammer work to get it to slide rearwards (after the two small starter motor mounting bolts are removed, of course).

    Bendix gear change requires removal of the flywheel. Doable with engine in the hull, but not much fun.

  5. #5
    If bendix gear is jammed up, do you think it would make it difficult to rotate engine by hand? It rotated without much difficulty, so I was thinking it could mean that I'm not also rotating the starter. Unless of course, it's simply just jammed up enough to mess with the starter, but not engaged to the engine.

    I'll try your hammer idea.

    Back to the exhaust, it is very much in the way. Reading my original note, do I pull the upward facing exhaust bolts? The one on the left side is just under the fiberglass and can't accept a socket yet too low for a wrench. Do I use a low profile socket? Do I need to pull exhaust manifold? (from side of engine)

  6. #6
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBielman View Post
    If bendix gear is jammed up, do you think it would make it difficult to rotate engine by hand? It rotated without much difficulty, so I was thinking it could mean that I'm not also rotating the starter. Unless of course, it's simply just jammed up enough to mess with the starter, but not engaged to the engine.

    I'll try your hammer idea.

    Back to the exhaust, it is very much in the way. Reading my original note, do I pull the upward facing exhaust bolts? The one on the left side is just under the fiberglass and can't accept a socket yet too low for a wrench. Do I use a low profile socket? Do I need to pull exhaust manifold? (from side of engine)
    The hull seat rim can be flexed outwards a little using a 2x4 length and some leverage. The engine has rubber engine mounts which will also give you a bit of flex to shift the engine sideways. Don't overdo it, just enough to get at the occluded bolt

    Until you get into it you won't know whether the stator or the Bendix gear is jammed. More typical is the starter motor, but either can happen.

    The Bendix gear is designed to not engage the flywheel ring gear until the starter motor spins up. If things have seized with the Bendix retracted, which is the normal 'rest' position for the Bendix, then the engine crankshaft can rotate freely even if the Bendix is jammed up.

  7. #7
    David Drkvampire2001's Avatar
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    2x4 method as Keith explained, works best, if you are in a pinch the back of a hammger, will else move the motor and bend the fiberglass enough to get the bolt out( i used the back of a deadblow)

  8. #8
    Thanks guys, this helps a lot. I'll try the hammer on the starter just to see if it jostles it into working, which would also lend credence to that being the issue.

    If I determine it is the starter, I'm curious on your opinion of a new starter. Amazon shows a new one by 'Catric' brand. I was a little surprised to see something new on the market for this old girl. I'd much rather put in new than something pulled from a 20 year old boat. Do you think this is a good direction to go?

  9. #9
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBielman View Post
    Thanks guys, this helps a lot. I'll try the hammer on the starter just to see if it jostles it into working, which would also lend credence to that being the issue.

    If I determine it is the starter, I'm curious on your opinion of a new starter. Amazon shows a new one by 'Catric' brand. I was a little surprised to see something new on the market for this old girl. I'd much rather put in new than something pulled from a 20 year old boat. Do you think this is a good direction to go?
    My understanding, just going from memory here, is that the same starter motor was used on a wide range of watercraft engines, and not just Polaris brand.

    I have forgotten whether the blue Polaris Fuji engines also used the same starter or the same Bendix as the red Polaris engines. I should know this stuff, but for whatever reason it refuses to stick.

  10. #10
    Yes, I know the feeling!
    That's a good point on the Fuju vs domestic. But it's encouraging that it likely is not a very proprietary/unique starter. I'll be sure to challenge the seller when/if I make the purchase.

    Thanks much. I feel more comfortable moving forward.

    If I need to remove the flywheel for the bendix, it would seem I should consider the ignition update. Mine is original. I see SBT is selling updated kits, which I'm shocked, as I thought that was done and gone. Do you know if the CDI updates are the real deal?
    Last edited by CBielman; 11-02-2014 at 07:13 PM. Reason: typo

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