Troubleshooting the Grey Wire Issue - Ignition Removal - ZX Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-06-2017, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Troubleshooting the Grey Wire Issue - Ignition Removal

TLDR: How do I get better access to the wiring harness that's between the radiator and headers? I need to disconnect the ignition switch from the wiring harness.

Hey guys, first post here. Hoping I can get some advice on how to disconnect my ignition switch from the wiring harness that's between the radiator and headers. Using THIS post as a guide I was able to remove the ignition switch from the upper triple clamp, without removing the upper triple itself. The security bolts holding the ignition to the triple had previously been replaced with regular hex hardware. Now my issue is gaining access to the wiring hardness that's between the radiator and headers. I need to actually disconnect the switch, and I can't because I don't have space to work.

I've removed the tank, airbox, and some of the smog equipment to make some room. There's a black plate bolted to the head of the motor. It seems like if you remove this plate you would have room to work on the wiring harness. However, it appears that you need to disconnect the throttle cables / remove the carbs to gain enough clearance to remove the plate. I could be wrong, but I've never had to disassemble an entire bike to gain access to one connector. I tried referencing the Kawi service manual without any luck. Does anyone have any advice for me? Should I try dropping the radiator to make room?

I need to pull the ignition to troubleshoot the infamous Grey Wire issue. I backprobed the grey wire with the key in the on position and only saw 5.8 - 5.9 volts to the grey wire before trying to crank the motor. After the I tried to crank the motor the headlights would kick on. Afterwards I would only see 5.2V across the grey wire. I was going to attempt soldering a new 100 ohm (is that the proper resistance?) and cleaning the connections before I bought a new ignition off ebay.

I've attached some pictures to help detail my issue. If there are any 7r experts out there with any advice, I'd greatly appreciate it.






If you are unable to see the images, here's an Imgur link to an album: http://imgur.com/a/Cl2bf
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 08:34 AM
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A little hard to tell from the album, but looks like you might get away with just loosening radiator or radiator fan.

Would help to know what year - mine was a 98 and that black plate came off easy.

Taking off everything to get to one bloody component is pretty standard for me, but I have always had bad luck...
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-07-2017, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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I was able to get the ignition off the bike! I ended up pulling the upper faring, and black blockoff plate off the bike to gain access. At the end of the day I could have done without removing the upper faring. But, the bike is absolutely filthy and this will help give better access to wipe everything down. I apologize for the poor photo quality. I figured what I was asking about was clear enough from the text description I gave.

The bike is a 1997 model year with ~34.5k miles on the clock. Now I can only hope that replacing the resistor in the ignition switch will bring the bike back to life. I did notice another thing though, there's a brown wire running from the ignition switch, back to the CDI. The female side of this connector had begun to melt the connector housing enough to make getting the housing apart difficult. Does anyone know what this brown wire is for?

Hopefully I can get a new resistor soldered in and get the bike running.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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I finally found time to tear into the ignition tonight. I thought I'd find broken / bad solder joints for sure. However, all I found was lots of old WD-40, light grease, and very minor corrosion. I cleaned everything up with a mix of engine de-greaser for the WD-40 and grease, and rubbing alcohol for cleanup. I decided not to solder in a new resistor immediately since the solder joints didn't look bad. The previous owner of this bike has definitely replaced the resistor before, how likely is it that this resistor has gone bad?

I reassembled the ignition coating the electrical contacts in dielectric grease. Now when I probe the grey wire with the key in the ON position I get 5.95v through the wire. Is that voltage close enough to the 6.0v threshold to allow the bike to start? Before cleaning everything I was getting 5.80v-5.90v through the grey wire. Should I just go ahead and solder in a new resistor / order a new ignition? Is there anything else that can keep the grey wire from getting the 6v signal besides the resistor in the ignition?

I've attached some photos of the solder joints in ignition, and the voltage reading on my multimeter when probing the grey wire.





e: link to album, seems the forum doesn't like imgur links. http://imgur.com/a/5XoNe
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 04:07 AM
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Originally Posted by 7Rider View Post

I need to pull the ignition to troubleshoot the infamous Grey Wire issue. I backprobed the grey wire with the key in the on position and only saw 5.8 - 5.9 volts to the grey wire before trying to crank the motor. After the I tried to crank the motor the headlights would kick on. Afterwards I would only see 5.2V across the grey wire. I was going to attempt soldering a new 100 ohm (is that the proper resistance?) and cleaning the connections before I bought a new ignition off ebay.
Just a thought, 5.9 volts is pretty close. You should see 6v in a perfect world. Normally the problem with this resistor is that it burns up completely or breaks at the solder joint. Neither is the issue in your case if you're that close to 6v.

Check you battery to make sure you have a full 13v(or more) at the terminals. If your battery were a little undercharged, say, 12v even (or less), you could see less-than-optimal readings at the grey wire terminal.

As a side note, 7Rs don't tolerate low voltage at the battery very well at all. Mine starts hard if I have anything less than 12.75 volts at the battery.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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Just a thought, 5.9 volts is pretty close. You should see 6v in a perfect world. Normally the problem with this resistor is that it burns up completely or breaks at the solder joint. Neither is the issue in your case if you're that close to 6v.

Check you battery to make sure you have a full 13v(or more) at the terminals. If your battery were a little undercharged, say, 12v even (or less), you could see less-than-optimal readings at the grey wire terminal.

As a side note, 7Rs don't tolerate low voltage at the battery very well at all. Mine starts hard if I have anything less than 12.75 volts at the battery.
Thank you for the insight and information! I recently put a brand new Deka AGM battery on the bike (YTX12-BS) and the battery has been on a tender while sitting off the bike. I'm getting a solid 13.5v out of the battery when I probe the terminals. I'm going to try and run the bike tonight and see if it decides to start, I'll update the thread once I give it a go.

Anyone else care to chime in on this issue?
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-21-2017, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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No dice! Soldering in a new 100 ohm resistor didn't help. I'm still getting anywhere between 5.95V and 8.85V over the grey wire with the key in the ON position. Usually the voltage is on the ladder of that spectrum though. I'm unsure of the next steps I should be taking to troubleshoot this issue. I was thinking I should buy a replacement ignition off of ebay and see where that gets me? Are there any other electrical issues I should look for that would cause the grey wire not to carry 6v?

If a replacement ignition doesn't work I'm not sure what other issues I should look start looking for. I'm starting to get a tad dishearted here. I've owned the bike since last October, and I've only been able to put ~200 miles on the thing before It stopped running. Any help would be appreciated.

Last edited by 7Rider; 02-21-2017 at 07:39 PM.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-22-2017, 05:47 AM
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What was the original issue? I re-read your post and didn't see what the original problem was - just a no-start? Lock cylinder jimmied?

Some background and model year may help.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-27-2017, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Blakjack21 View Post
What was the original issue? I re-read your post and didn't see what the original problem was - just a no-start? Lock cylinder jimmied?

Some background and model year may help.
Maybe I should start a new thread to attract more attention. I don't want to clutter the forums though.

Bike is a 1997 ZX7R with 34,500 miles on the clock. I've only owned the bike for a few months and in that time it's always had a habit of being somewhat difficult to start. Once the bike got going, it ran reliably and would start up without much issue. Since I've owned the bike I've done the following: Valve adjustment, Manual CCT install, new plugs, new battery (Deka YTX12-BS), carb sync, and air filter replacement. I believe the bike to be mechanically solid. With that being said the bike doesn't currently run. It'll crank and crank all day long but never attempt to turnover. I also don't believe that the fuel pump is working. With all of these symptoms I believe I'm having the rather common grey wire issue.

My earlier posts have more detail but, I started troubleshooting by backprobing the grey wire and only saw ~5.5-5.8v with the key in the ON position. I removed the ignition switch from the bike, at this time I noticed the brown wire connections were slightly melted. I removed the contact block from the ignition; I noticed that the previous owner had opened up the ignition and possibly replaced the resistor at some point. all the solder connections still looked solid though. there was also a nice coating of old WD40 all over everything. So I and cleaned everything with rubbing alcohol, and applied some dielectric grease to the contact points on the switch.

After cleaning and reinstalling the ignition I backprobed the grey wire again. There was a somewhat noticeable change in voltage, I was averaging 5.8v pretty often now. This still wasn't the 6v I need though. So, I ended up removing the contact block from the ignition again and soldering in a new 100ohm resistor just to eliminate the possibility. No change in voltage, I was still getting ~5.8 volts regularly. That leads us to where I currently am in the troubleshooting process.

This Saturday I went though every electrical connection on the bike that I could find (pretty sure I got them all). I separated each connector and cleaned the contacts with a light filing and reassembled the connections with dielectric grease. While combing through each connector I only found two melted ones, the connection between the alternator and wiring harness is melted pretty bad. However, it's been this way since I bought the bike so while it is an issue, I don't believe it's the root cause of my no start issue. As far as a fix goes, could I just cut the connector out and put a new (better) connector? The other metled connector that I found was the subframe ground that runs from the negative battery terminal to the subframe.

I was able to cut the melted boot off of the connector using a hobby knife. From there I filed the melted bits / corrosion off of the two connections and joined them back together with some dielectric grease. Once I was finished cleaning each connector I reinstalled the ignition switch and placed a freshly charged battery in the bike. Once again I backprobed the grey wire and was able to get 6.0-6.04v running through the grey wire (picture below). Unfortunately, my victory was short lived. I was unable to keep a steady 6.0v around for very long. Often the voltage through the grey wire would hover around 5.95-5.99v more often than not. I also discovered I was able to manipulate the voltage by jiggling the wiring harness coming off of the contact block in the ignition, and or turning the ignition on/off again.

However, this doesn't make sense to me because I know the connections on the contact block inside of the ignition are solid. I was able to give the bike a few solid cranks with 6.0-6.04v running through the grey wire. I couldn't get the bike to turn over though, it did look like the fuel pump was moving fuel (or trying) to move fuel to the carbs. When I started cranking the bike the fuel filter was pretty dry, after a few cranks I noticed there was probably 3-5mm of fuel sitting in the fuel filter. I also noticed while cranking that the voltage through the grey wire would drop to about ~5.0-5.4V, then would jump back to ~5.95-6.0v once I let off the starter switch, is this normal?

I haven't taken the time to verify spark / proper fuel pump operation. Mostly due to the fact that the bike was running fine before this issue started up. A few days ago I ordered a new ignition off of eBay (Very similar to: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kawasaki-Ign...lWcuTK&vxp=mtr). I'm hoping that installing a new ignition will solve my issues as my ignition is very tired and has a lot of play in the actual tumbler assembly.

However, if installing a new ignition doesn't solve my issues; what other areas should I troubleshoot next? I'm quickly running out of ideas here besides replacing all of the major electrical components on this bike. That or, creating a custom wiring harness for the bike. Oh, and I've also replaced every fuse in the junction box / starter relay with brand new (and proper) voltage / amp fuses.

Any help solving this issue would be greatly appreciated.


Direct link to image: http://imgur.com/a/blTKM

Last edited by 7Rider; 02-27-2017 at 09:02 PM.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-28-2017, 04:01 AM
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I haven't taken the time to verify spark / proper fuel pump operation. Mostly due to the fact that the bike was running fine before this issue started up. A few days ago I ordered a new ignition off of eBay (Very similar to: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kawasaki-Ign...lWcuTK&vxp=mtr). I'm hoping that installing a new ignition will solve my issues as my ignition is very tired and has a lot of play in the actual tumbler assembly.

However, if installing a new ignition doesn't solve my issues; what other areas should I troubleshoot next? I'm quickly running out of ideas here besides replacing all of the major electrical components on this bike. That or, creating a custom wiring harness for the bike. Oh, and I've also replaced every fuse in the junction box / starter relay with brand new (and proper) voltage / amp fuses.

Any help solving this issue would be greatly appreciated.


Direct link to image: http://imgur.com/a/blTKM
This is good info, thanks for taking the time to write that up.

If you really suspect the grey wire issue, verify spark next. If you're getting spark, the grey wire/resistor isn't your issue and it's time to look elsewhere.

If you're not getting spark it's possible that the grey wire is the problem, among other things. We can cross that bridge when we get there.

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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-28-2017, 08:09 AM
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5.5-6.0 volts are fine. The issue is when the voltage goes much above 6.0 volts. This makes me wonder if you have an issue with the neutral safety switch, etc. Have you gone through the steps in the "My ZX7 Won't Start" sticky thread at the top of this ZX7 sub-forum? The steps in that listing may help you isolate the issue.

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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This is good info, thanks for taking the time to write that up.

If you really suspect the grey wire issue, verify spark next. If you're getting spark, the grey wire/resistor isn't your issue and it's time to look elsewhere.

If you're not getting spark it's possible that the grey wire is the problem, among other things. We can cross that bridge when we get there.

Whew! It's been a minute since I've had a chance to update this thread. I had the flu a few weeks ago and was down for the count. Thankfully I had some time last weekend / today to take a look at things further. Anyways, one of the things I've verified now is that I am in fact getting spark. I took out each plug, placed them back in their respective boots, then grounded each plug by placing the electrode of the plug on the valve cover bolts.

All in all, the bike has clean spark on each cylinder.

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5.5-6.0 volts are fine. The issue is when the voltage goes much above 6.0 volts. This makes me wonder if you have an issue with the neutral safety switch, etc. Have you gone through the steps in the "My ZX7 Won't Start" sticky thread at the top of this ZX7 sub-forum? The steps in that listing may help you isolate the issue.
The previous owner jumped / removed all of the connections that will prevent the bike from cranking when: The kickstand is down, the bike isn't in neutral, or the clutch isn't pulled in (I think there's a sensor there?). Any others that I'm missing here? As far as troubleshooting the issues from the list posted in the "My 7R won't start" thread I've pretty much done all of them. I've quoted the list below, I've checked the items in bold.

Quote:
Check these:
Grey wire having just under 6 volts [Grey Wire Now Has 6.0-6.04v running through it]
All grounds clean and tight (engine, frame behind fuel pump, subframe, water pump, harness to battery) [All grounds have been gone through, cleaned, and reassembled]
Jump the kickstand switch by unplugging and putting the two ends together [Done by the previous owner]
Make a jumper wire and plug in to the outside two plugs of the left control on the harness side (unplug from left control and jump) [Don't think this is done? Does this bypass a safety switch?]
Open and clean the kill switch bar control [No corrosion, cleaned and reassembled anyway]
Make sure the fuel pump relay is plugged in well [Pump Relay Connections have been cleaned]
Remove all wires from the starter relay and clean them
Check/clean the power wire going to the starter
Make sure the neutral switch wire is clean and tight
Make sure the ignition pickup connector is tight
Check the connector to the alternator is not melted, corroded, etc. This happens often. [The connector is melted pretty badly. However, it's been this way, and the bike ran fine before (Hense why I haven't replaced the connection yet)]
Take the handle of a screwdriver and smack the starter solenoid and junction box. The relays inside get stuck from time to time

If none of those, check the fuel pump relay. [Been Done, Also installed a new fuel pump]
I've pretty much covered all of my bases here. While I was out with the flu I ordered a new fuel pump. Today I installed the new fuel pump, and verified operation proper operation of the pump. I can hear the new pump operating while I crank the bike, and I verified fuel moved through both the fuel filter, and towards the carbs. Unfortunately, I still can't get the bike to start.

7R's can run without the airbox on, right? I've read that the airbox is needed to pressurize the float bowls in the carbs. I haven't had the airbox on while I've been running down these issues. I'll leave with this small piece of hope though. Since I couldn't get the bike to start even with the new fuel pump I went to check that I still had spark on cylinder #2 (I accidentally tore the boot up the other day); thankfully I still have spark on boot #2. While I was cranking the bike checking for spark I heard the engine make some pretty consistent noises like it was trying to fire (Bad description I know).

Right now I'm letting the battery charge, I ran it decently low cranking the bike earlier. Hopefully the bike didn't fire earlier because the carbs weren't primed yet. I'm going to try and turn the bike over later today. I'll update the thread by the end of the night.

With that being said though, what other problem areas / parts should I begin inspecting or replacing? Does anyone know where I can get a new sparkplug boot that will work on this bike? I can't seem to find any used boots on ebay.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 05:50 PM
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With all the mods on the wiring that the previous owner did.
Id be tempted to just get a new harness and start fresh.
Might save alot of frustration.
Thoughts?


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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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With all the mods on the wiring that the previous owner did.
Id be tempted to just get a new harness and start fresh.
Might save alot of frustration.
Thoughts?


***March 2, 1836
Texas Independence Day
Remember the Alamo!!
Eh, only a few the safety connections have been jumped. None of this harness is seriously mangled, its just not in the best shape in the world. I may go wire up a new harness if I keep this 7 around much longer.

In other news, I GOT THE BIKE TO START and idle! All it took was putting reconnecting the smog equipment and putting the airbox on. She fired right up as soon as I put my finger on the starter. The bike idled comfortably for ~5 minutes before I called it quits for the night. I tried giving the bike some gas but she seemed to hesitate and want to die. However, I can bring the idle up two or three thousand RPMs using the choke.

Hopefully I can figure that issue out tomorrow evening. The carbs are probably due for a cleaning in all honesty. Oh, and the new fuel pump I installed makes the most obnoxious clicking noise when the bike is running. Can't decide if I'll be putting the old pump back in or not at this point. Last question for the night. What is the correct routing path for the ignition switch / thermostat harness coming off of the main wiring harness?

Do these harnesses run underneath the black piece of plastic that holds the smog gear (The one that bolts to the valve cover). Or, does the harness run underneath, staying closer to the headers / cooling rail above the headers?

e: I see you're in central Texas Green. If I can't get this thing to run properly I may try and drag you down to Austin to help troubleshoot :P

Last edited by 7Rider; 03-12-2017 at 09:35 PM.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 03:51 AM
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Whew! It's been a minute since I've had a chance to update this thread. I had the flu a few weeks ago and was down for the count. Thankfully I had some time last weekend / today to take a look at things further. Anyways, one of the things I've verified now is that I am in fact getting spark. I took out each plug, placed them back in their respective boots, then grounded each plug by placing the electrode of the plug on the valve cover bolts.

All in all, the bike has clean spark on each cylinder.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 7Rider View Post
Eh, only a few the safety connections have been jumped. None of this harness is seriously mangled, its just not in the best shape in the world. I may go wire up a new harness if I keep this 7 around much longer.

In other news, I GOT THE BIKE TO START and idle! All it took was putting reconnecting the smog equipment and putting the airbox on. She fired right up as soon as I put my finger on the starter. The bike idled comfortably for ~5 minutes before I called it quits for the night. I tried giving the bike some gas but she seemed to hesitate and want to die. However, I can bring the idle up two or three thousand RPMs using the choke.
I was gonna say. If you've got clean spark, you've eliminated the 6v signal to the CDI as the problem and you're most likely looking at a fueling issue. Cleaning the carbs, going over their settings, and synchronizing them is a great place to start. Nice work.

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