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  1. #1

    Question Starter, Battery or Wiring?

    Went to take the venture out this weekend and drove it all the way over to the ramps (luckily only a mile away). When I got there I was going to dry start it to make sure it started before I put it in the water. It typically takes it awhile to start. I've found that it starts best if I hold the start button for about 10 seconds, let off, then hold it another 10 seconds and it will usually start up. This has to be terrible on the starter, but it's about the only way I can get it to start. Side topic: I have a primer kit that I'm going to install when I pull the carbs out to rebuild them - most likely this week - which should vastly improve my starting issues.

    Anyway, back on topic, after the first 10 seconds, when I let off and then hit the start button again, it stopped turning over. I could hear a single click coming from the battery, and multiple (15 or so?) clicks coming from in or around the black box near the motor. Even though I continued to hold the start button, the clicks stopped themselves after a few seconds.

    After doing some searching/reading on here, it sounds like the most likely culprit is either the starter or the wiring (possibly the ground wire).

    Battery Test: If I hook a meter up to the battery and I get 12V, does that rule the battery out or is it better to pull it and take it to an auto parts store to get it tested?

    Wiring Test: I should be able to follow the ground wire from the battery to where it grounds at or near the starter and ensure everything is tight and clean.

    Starter Test: I read you can run a jumper across the wires on the starter to do a test, but I need to do some more reading to figure out the exact procedure to test it.

    Any other suggestions? I want to get this diagnosed so I can hopefully do all of my maintenance/repairs this week and get it back running for the weekend. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Marley Creek, MD
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Most likely the starter relay, or your on/off/kill/start switches. Refer to manual to diagnose those.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the diagnosis link - I'll go through that and see if it helps me figure out the problem.

    As a clarification, as I said above, when I push the start button, it gives me a series of clicks (like a relay opening and closing a bunch of times in a row) and then stops after a few seconds. I can repeat this multiple times (in other words, I can press the start button AGAIN, and I get the same series of clicks for a few seconds). I just wanted to make sure I clarified that it wasn't a one time thing.

  4. #4
    Alright - I went along rebuilding my carbs and installing the primer kit under the "assumption" that my starting problem was due to a low battery charge.

    I finished up the other work and charged up the battery. I still get the same problem (it won't start)... it seems to do a few different scenarios:

    1) series of rapid clicks coming from "electrical box" in front of motor.
    2) single click coming from "electrical box" in front of motor.
    3) nothing - no audible noises.
    4) single click coming from near battery combined with 1 or 2 above.
    5) very rarely I can hear what sounds like the engine trying to turn over, but it never makes it a full rotation, it sounds almost like a quick "grunt".

    I had the battery tested and it tested good at Advance Auto, so I've ruled that out. The next steps involve testing of starter components. There's two main areas it sounds like I need to test, one being the relay which should be inside the electrical box. Is the best way to access this to take off the cover plate where the power wire goes into the box or do I really need to remove the entire electrical box?

    The second area I guess is the starter itself. I'm guessing that the starter sits under the electrical box on the front of the motor, possibly behind the flywheel cover. Is this correct? Is the only way to access this to remove the fuel tank?

    I've seen a number of different methods to do the tests, I'm just trying to figure out how to get to that point.

    Does anybody have any other tips on this procedure?

  5. #5
    Marley Creek, MD
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Don't know if you HAVE to open the black box, but i would (should inspect inside and clean anyway).

    The cllicking noise would be the relay. Could be bad relay, bad wire, bad starter, bad battery, don't know yet (autozone tests aren't all that good, but better than nothing).

    Just start jumping things until it starts.
    Then post back what worked. Then we can go from there for what the problem is.

    1. That's the relay clicking repeatedly. Could be a bad +12 'big' wire problem (load/power wiring). Could be a bad +12 'little' wire problem (control wiring).
    2. Same thing, less clicking.
    3. Didn't get lucky at all.
    4. not good, check battery connections. Clean them... even if they look good, clean them, then wire brush them and clean them again. Could be battery, could be wire, dunno yet. Jump things out.
    5. Almost got lucky.

  6. #6
    Thanks for the link - I think the moral of the story is like you're saying I need to start jumping things to figure out where the problem lies. I've just got to figure out where to find everything first...

    I'm trying to decide between taking a day off work to get some time in working on it or taking it to (gasp) a shop to just have them get the damn thing running.

  7. #7
    Marley Creek, MD
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Double GASP!! Can't have an 18 year old ski and rely on shops...

    This should be a 1.5 hour diagnosis tops, probably more like 2 to 20 minutes. (really should take longer to find your jumper cables, screwdriver, a bolt, and some electrical tape, and miscellaneous than it will to find the problem)

    First, ground your battery to the motor. Get out your jumper cables and attach one black end to negative battery and other end to motor somewhere you don't mind digging the jaws in and making a few little scratches, must be a metal part, best to be the engine block. If it cranks up now then you have a bad ground somewhere. Easiest (not best but easiest) fix for this will be to run a new ground from battery to any fairly large bolt on the engine, metal to metal. Can get a battery cable at any autoparts store temporarily (these will corrode really fast in water conditions, especially salt, but will probably last 2+ years anyway), or get wire from somewhere and some marine grade connectors, this would be better.

    Second, get your jumper cable. Stick a little bolt into one of the red jaws. Make sure you got that red jawed bolt touching the positive side of starter (wrap tape around all but the very ends of the bolt so it doesn't touch things accidentally) cuz it is hard to get to it, but is possible. When you're sure you got it on the positive side of starter, touch the other red lead to the positive battery terminal. This is gonna tell you 90% of the problem. If this makes it turn over then: a) your grounds are good. b) your battery is good. c) your starter is good d) your jumper wires are good (haha) e) the problem is either a bad wire, loose connection, or bad relay, or bad start controls (low power, ie: the switch or a little wire issue).

    Note: Since your solenoid/relay is clicking:
    That would indicate you have 2 or more electrical loads in a series wiring (typically). This causes the electrons to reach one device, and operate it, but while that device operates now all of a sudden the electrons reach the other device and leave the first, then.... you get the idea back and forth. This second 'load' (first one is the starter motor) is likely a bad wire, loose or dirty connection, bad relay/solenoid contacts, or anything else that would create a resistance to electron flow. So for these reasons your problem is 98% likely to be a problem with the 'big wires', not the little ones. (the other 2% chance would be a switch or wiggly connection acting really stupid, and this is rare, or a bad relay coil).

    Third, open up that black box (it's really not that bad) and jump right across the big lugs on the relay. If it fires up now then you've isolated the big wires to not be the problem; the problem is your solenoid/relay.
    If it fired up, then check for +12 volts across the little wires of the relay when you push the start button.

    Plus if you have another no start clicking issue when you're out on the water, now you'll be able to just beach it, and figure out what is wrong, and Mcgyver fix it, and ride some more. Or pay for a tow, and another shop bill.

  8. #8
    jdog800's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Alexandria L.A.
    check your fuses

  9. #9
    95yami701: Woah woah woah, it's only a 12 year old ski!! Seriously though, you have no idea what a relief that post was. I've done some searching around but all I have found so far is really generic instructions. I don't like for there to be any gray area, I want to know exactly what I'm doing - especially the first time. I would definitely PREFER to fix it myself, I'm just spending a large amount of time working on this lately and I need to start subbing some stuff out so I have time for other things, haha. I'll go through those steps to try and get a better idea of where the problem lies and report back any findings. The only thing I'm not sure of is A) where the starter is mounted, B) what all I'll need to take apart in order to get into the black box. Hopefully both of these questions can be answered in my manual.

    jdog800: I checked the fuse that sits in the rubber "chamber" on top of the electrical box and it was fine. Are there more hiding somewhere that I should check?

  10. #10
    jdog800's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Alexandria L.A.
    inside black box next to start relay

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