Question about Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster Motorcycles

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My 72 sportster is getting power to the coil but no power to the terminal leading to the points. Any advice?

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Remove the wire from the points and check for 12 volts, if you have it then you have a short in the points or wire installed against ground, or just the points were closed. Brian

Posted on Aug 07, 2010


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2 Answers

Why doesnt get spark from coil to distrubutor

replace the high tension lead from the coil. Check for cracks in the distributor cap

Jan 18, 2015 | 2006 Nissan 1400 Bakkie

1 Answer

Why can't I get my 1978 1000 sportster to fire, was then it stopped.?

1978 is back beyond my knowledge or expertise but:

Check your pick-up sensor located inside the timing cover, behind the adjustor plate. If the filament is not intact you will have no spark.
A defective coil, cam position sensor, or stator will also cause a no spark condition.
Ignition Coil Primary Circuit Test
Remove the coil. THEN set your ohmmeter scale to RX1 and place ohmmeter leads on the primary coil windings A (front of coil) to B (middle of coil), B to C (front of coil) and check for primary coil winding resistance which normal resistance range is 0.5-0.7 ohms. If primary resistance is not within this range check out test results below.

Ignition Coil Secondary Circuit Test
With the ignition coil removed from the motorcycle and the ohmmeter set to the RX1K scale place the ohmmeter leads on the secondary coil windings B (middle terminal) to
R (rear secondary terminal/socket), B to F (front secondary terminal/socket) and check for secondary coil winding resistance which normal resistance range will be 5.5-7.5K ohms. If secondary resistance is not within this range check out test results below.

Test Results
A low resistance value indicates a short in the coil winding which requires coil replacement.

A high resistance value might indicate that there is some corrosion/oxidation of the coil terminals requiring the coil terminals to be cleaned and the resistance test then repeated and if after the test is repeated the resistance is still high after the terminals were cleaned the coil must be replaced.
If there is an infinite ohms or no continuity) resistance value the coil is open and must be replaced.

Some time ago 4wdity posted that:

Take the plugs out of the heads, put them back in the wires, and lay the plugs on the heads so that they have a good ground. Turn the ignition on and then turn it back off. When you turn the ignition switch off, you should see a spark. If you do, then something is wrong with the ignition unit. If you do not see a spark, you have a bad coil or a wiring problem. You can also do this test by "hot wiring" the coil.Anytime you put 12 volts to the coil then stop it, you should get a spark.

If you have spark, it sounds like either the sensor in the timing cavity of the engine is bad or the electronic ignitionunit is bad.

May 13, 2014 | 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

1 Answer

I need very detailed instructions on how to test a starter relay for a 1988 1200 sportster

All relays are coils that turn into electro-magnets when energized by power to both ends of the wire that forms the coil. A break anywhere in the wire (open)causes the relay to fail. The relay can also fail from a short (usually the varnish insulation on the wire sometimes break down from heat or physical damage, and then one part of the exposed wire contacts another part of exposed wire and the power takes a short cut instead of traveling the designed route). Relays can be tested by using an ohmmeter(with power isolated) to check the continuity across the coil. With the power off, measure the ohms from one side of the terminal that that the coil is attached to the other. An "OL" or infinite reading is a open coil. The coil should show a moderate reading. To check the relay with power on, do the following. Attach a voltmeter to the terminal on the relay that receives the power to operate the coil (same terminal as mentioned in first example) and make sure power is available there. All the normally open terminals or connections should have power, the normally closed should not be energized. Measure all terminal with one lead to ground and the other to the terminal when checking for power (this can be done while the relay is still attached to the equipment.A relay can also fail because of defective contacts.

Sep 01, 2013 | Harley Davidson Motorcycles

1 Answer

78 sportster with no spark. checked coil, wires leading to and from, new spark plugs, wires, points, condenser.

You are missing something here. If you have check all above then you must have a spark. Battery maybe, only joking. Use a voltmeter to confirm primary circuit. Check for 12 volts at the points when open (bike turned on).Check for 0 volts when points closed. Check both sides of primary side of ignition coil, one should be 12 volts when points are open or closed, and the other connect should be 12 volts when points open and 0 volts when points closed. To allow for losses in wiring ) 0 volts may be up to .5 or there abouts but not 2 or higher. If this is the case, you have a damaged wire. If all o/k then coil is the problem. simplest way to check is by replacement as static resistance checks can be misleading. Coil could be arcing internally.

Sep 01, 2013 | 1993 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster 883

1 Answer

1974 ironhead, ran fine untill today, now its only firing on cylender one. I changed the plugs, wires ect.. still has same issue, BUT, if i pull number two wire off and let it hang on to the plug bairly,...

The first thing I'd do is check the points. I'm sure whoever built the engine or did the restoration replaced the points. When a set of points are installed, the breaker block, that piece of fiber that rubs on the breaker cam that opens and closes the points, wear rapidly to begin with. Check the points and set them at 0.018". The timing should once again to back to the proper setting once the points are correctly set. Then, test the primary resistance of the coil. Take the wires off the small terminals on the coil. Using a digital volt ohm meter set the meter's function selector switch to OHMS in the R X 1 scale. Put the red lead to one of the coils connectors and the black lead to the other. Your meter should read between 5 and 6 ohms for use with points. Now, if your bike has been converted to an electronic igntion, the coil's primary resistance should be between 2 and 3 ohms. To check the secondary of the coil, put the meter's selector switch to OHMS, in the R X 1K scale. Put one lead into each coil tower. The meter should read about 16.0 K to 20.0 K.

Good Luck

Sep 22, 2011 | 2001 Harley Davidson XL Sportster 883...

1 Answer

1999 sportster sport will turn over but will not start changed signal lights on it and will not start act like no fire but havent checked yet was wondering if there was a fuse block for this model

Yes there is a fuse blow or a circuit breaker block on the bike. It's either under the seat or behind the triangular plate on the left side of the bike. Usually, the ignition circuit in on a different circuit from the lights.

Take a test light or a Volt Ohm meter and check for voltage on the coil. To test the coil, unplug a spark plug wire and insert another spark plug in it. Make sure the plug is grounded to the engine. Turn the ignition switch on and then back off. The spark plug should spark once when you turn the switch off. If not, you either don't have power to the coil, or the coil is bad.

To further test the coil, disconnect all wires from the coil and connect a DVOM (digital volt ohm meter) across the coil. Connect one lead from the meter to one of the small primary terminals and the other meter lead to the other primary terminal. Put the meter's function switch in OHMS, R x 1 scale. You should read 2 to 3 ohms, no more or less.

Good Luck

Nov 22, 2010 | 2000 Harley Davidson XL 1200 S Sportster...

1 Answer

My 72 sportster is getting power to the coil but no power to the terminal leading to the points. Any advice?

Well, power only comes in from one side of the coil and if the points are closed, your meter will not read voltage on the other side. Make sure the points are open when checking for voltage.

To check the coil's primary circuit. Take all wires loose from the small terminals at either end of the coil. Using a DVOM (digital volt ohm meter), put the meter in OHMS, R times 1 scale. Connect one meter lead to each terminal of the coil, make no difference which one goes where. The meter should read between 5 and 6 ohms of resistance. If it reads "Infinite" the coil is open and if it read "Zero" the coil's primary circuit is shorted.

The easy way to test the coil is put a spark plug in the plug wire and lay it on the head. Make sure it has a good ground. Turn the engine over until the points are closed. Turn on the ignition switch and use something to open the point. Each time you open the points, you should see a spark at the plug. If not, you've probably got a bad coil.

Good Luck

Aug 06, 2010 | 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

1 Answer

2002 sporster no fire at the plug bypassed ignition, bypassed the bank angle sensor, by passed the kill switch, ran power straight to coil...... any ideas

Test the coil. Using a DVOM (Digital Volt Ohm Meter) , check the resistance of the primary winding of your coil. Disconnect the wires from the small wire connections on your coil. Put one meter lead of your meter on each small terminal. It makes no difference which lead go which connector. Put the meter in OHMS< R X 1. You should read 3 to 4 ohms of resistance.

Another way to test the coil is run a power wire straight to one side of the coil. One the other side, connect a straight wire. Turn the power on to the coil and the momentarily ground the stright wire on the other side of the coil. When you take the wire away from ground, you should see a spark at the spark plug.

If your coil test good and you have power on the coil when you turn the switch on, your problem is the sensor plate in the timing cavity or something to do with a security system.

Jul 19, 2010 | 2002 Harley Davidson XL 1200 S Sportster...

3 Answers

Keeps burning the coil

This is strange. I've been working on Harley's for almost 40 years and I've only run into two bad coils on the later model bikes. Are you using original equipment coils? If so, are you using the correct ones?

Coils come in different varieties for different uses. There are coils made for racing, road use, electronic ignitions, and points type ignitions. The coil you want is for road use with electronic ignition. If you use a digital volt ohm meter and test the resistance of the primary winding of the coil, it should check out at between 3 and 4 ohms. The "primary" winding is the coil of wire inside the coil that goes from one small terminal to the next. Put your DVOM leads on the small terminals, one lead on each terminal, with the meter in "R x 1" position. It should read between 3 and 4 ohms.

Apr 04, 2010 | 2000 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster...

1 Answer

No spark to the plugs or the coil

Troubleshooting No Spark Your new engine won't start or your old engine suddenly quit and won't run. You're pretty sure there is no spark but how do you determine what the exact cause is? Definitely do a test for spark at the plugs. Remove one of the plug wires from a plug and hold it near grounded metal. (If the plug end has a long insulated shroud, you may have to improvise to get ground close enough to the end of the wire.) Have someone crank the engine while you watch for spark. If you get an 1/8" or so of spark, that should be enough to fire. If you don't have a helper, you can do it this way: Pull the hi-tension lead out of the distributor cap and hold near ground.
With ignition On, turn the engine pulley CW past the TDC mark. You should get some kind of spark, although if you turn slowly the spark may be weak.Check the distributor cap inside for signs of cracks or carbon arc tracks.
Also, check to see that the little carbon contact for the center terminal is in place; without that you can have spark but it won't get to any plug wires!It's rare, but a rotor with an internal short or carbon tracks on the surface can kill the spark before it even gets to the cap.

Quick review: The coil is a big transformer with a magnetic core. Current from the battery goes into the primary winding on Terminal #15. That same current goes out Terminal #1 and through the point contacts. This current creates a magnetic field in the core of the coil.When the points open, the magnetic field in the coil core collapses, creating a high voltage in the seconday winding, which is fed to the center Hi-tension terminal. The condensor across the points helps to control arcing at the points, which would soon destroy them, and also makes the spark a higher voltage by creating a resonant (ringing) circuit with the coil winding. All we really need to know is that without the condensor, the spark would be pretty weak.
Troubleshooting: You can find out quite a lot about the coil circuit with very basic tools. A voltmeter is helpful (I prefer the older analog meter with a needle over the digital ones because changes in readings are more easily seen.)If you don't have a meter handy, a simple test lamp will do just as well. If your car is 12 volt, use a 12 volt bulb; if 6 volt, use a 6 volt bulb. Put some wires on the bulb, maybe with alligator clips, and you're in business.Connect the tester (meter or bulb) from ground (engine case) to Terminal #15 on the coil. Never mind what the actual markings on the coil say; connect to the terminal which has the thick Black wire from the main harness on it. I say never mind the markings on the coil because someone may have swapped wires around which could lead you astray.The tester should show 12 volts (or 6v). If it doesn't, there is no power from the Ignition Switch. Track that down (bad switch?).Double check that there is power at Terminal #15 while cranking the engine with the key. This is important because sometimes power will be lost while cranking due to a contact failure inside the ignition switch.OK, you have power going to the coil. Now, hook the tester from ground to Terminal #1 on the coil (where the Green wire from the points connects).Leave the Hi-tension lead out of the cap. With ignition On, turn the pulley by hand (or have someone crank the engine). The tester should go On and Off twice each revolution. If it does that, you should get spark.If the tester stays ON while cranking, the points are not closing. Watch them while turning the pulley to see if they appear to close. If they do, there may be a surface film on the points or the points are eroded and pitted. Replace the points. I strongly recommend using Bosch points as many of the off-brand points give very poor life. In a pinch, you might lightly file the points. When replacing points, be sure to put a tiny amount of grease on the cam lobes or else the fiber rubbing block will rapidly wear and change the point gap. One other rare cause of an "open points" condition is failure of the tiny braided pigtail lead which grounds the advance plate. If the pigtail is broken, the advance plate may only be intermittently grounded. This will cause loss of spark as the advance plate moves or maybe no spark at any time. (There is no pigtail on distributors which have no vacuum advance.)If the tester stays OFF while cranking, there are 3 possibilities:
Points shorted (stuck closed).
Condenser shorted.
Coil open.Take the Green points wire off the coil terminal. If the tester now goes ON , either the points or the condenser is shorted. Replace both.If removing the Green wire still did not turn the tester ON , the coil may be open.
Double check that there is still power to Terminal #1 on the coil. Also look to make sure that there are not any other wires connected to Terminal #1.
(Sometimes, someone will mistakenly connect the Backup light wire to Terminal #1; this will cause no spark when in Reverse!)
Replace the coil if the above test shows the coil open.


This will help. Thanks please keep updated.please do rate the solution positively .thank you for using fixya

Feb 28, 2010 | 1989 Mercedes-Benz 190

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