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Exorcising another demon from the Gilroy Indian



I just wanted to post a little info about the relay problems on the Gilroy Indians. What the relay does,what causes the problem and a solution.

Every Indian rider knows the sound. You get on your bike, hit the start button and all you hear is click. The dreaded Gilroy relay click. The problematic relay on the bottom of the harness control (under the console) has probably left more Indian riders stranded and cussing their bike than any other problem on the bikes. There were more serious problems, but none more aggravating or unpredictible than that stupid little relay. Sad thing, it was (is) an avoidable problem. Had Gilroy just put a little thought into it.

A relay's purpose in life is to remotely control switching by ultilizing smaller control wires. Either for cost, convienience or safety. The "switch" on your handlebars doesn't actually engage the starter. It engages a small relay, which in turn engages a larger solenoid (relay) that does the real work. the relay makes it possible to have a small switch convieniently located without having wires the size of your little finger and a huge heavy switch.

Let's look at our problem child. Most people call it the "starter relay". Actually, it's not. It is the solenoid relay. Here's how it works...

When you hit the start button on your handlebars, 12 volts is sent via teeny wires to the relay. Actually to the coil inside the relay. The current passes through the coil which is wrapped aroung a pole, causing a magnetic field to be produced and the magnetic field pulls the contacts of the relay closed. This closing of the contacts sends 12 volts via heavier wires to the solenoid on the starter. The solenoid is really a relay too. They call relays solenoids when there is mechanical action caused by energizing the relay. In very high current applications, they call relays contactors. Anyway, the solenoid is pretty archaic. It works the same way as the tiny relay under the EHC does, except the contacts are heavy to carry high current and it is made with a circular disc that rotates as the starter spins and the contacts hit in different spots everytime. The action of the solenoid applies voltage to the starter and pushes the starter drive gear in mesh with the flywheel and spins the engine...theoretically. Herein lies the cause of the problem with the relays. Whenever you close a set of contacts under high current, an arc is produced and a burn is put on the contacts and the disc. The more times you start the bike, the more burnt spots on the disc. Pretty soon, the contacts are arcing on top of previous arcs. Every time adding more and more resistance to the circuit. Resistance equals heat. Resistance means more battery current for the solenoid to do the job. The resistance stresses the whole starting circuit. Engine spins slower, making it harder to start. You have to spin it longer to get it to fire. You add this to high compression, a possible weak battery and a questionable timing set-up and soon the weak link fails. ...The little relay. Had everything stayed perfect, the relay would have lasted it's normal life of about 100,000 cycles. But the overcurrent kills them. It distorts the little contacts or burns them, making them not conduct. You can just put in a higher rated relay, but that just masks the problem. To really fix the problem, you have to reengineer the whole circuit. most people don't feel comfortable doing that, so i have come up with a plug and play fix for the problematic relay.

Let's put something that will last. A 70 amp, high current/high quality relay will outlast the bike if properly installed. Instead of doing a lot of rewiring we will ultilize the small relay in the EHC to energize the heavier 70 amp relay we are going to install. Rewiring is actually an easy task, but many are intimidated by it. I you spend a couple of minutes thinking about it, you can figure out what rewiring would consist of and if you feel inclined, you can go that route. So, for now, we will just "slightly modify" the original circuit. The reason I decided to recommend doing it this way is two-fold. First, there are no modifications to the original circuit and it is easy, effective and fast. Second, the relay that is used in the EHC is the same relay that is used in millions of automotive applications and they are very reliable. They are reliable because the circuits they are used in doesn't strain the contacts the way they are strained in this application. They very seldom fail is not overloaded. To protect the new relay from damage from the failure of the solenoid or other problems, we will use a 10 amp circuit breaker. The self-resetting type. If the breaker trips, you know you have a problem downstream and you can deal with it before it fails. Taking the disc out and filing and cleaning it and the contacts will put it back right and you are good to go for months. If you are in a bind and need to get home, you can bypass the breaker with a pair of pliers or two screwdrivers. Just jump between the two terminals. Enough of the tech BS. Let's just do it.





Pull the right side fairing. (looking from behind the bike) Right in front of the battery box you will see that a smaller positive battery wire goes to a little box with two posts. This is the 30 amp main circuit breaker for the bike. Take the nut off the terminal on the other side (opposite of the one coming from the battery).

Look for black wire that goes to the solenoid. It is usually marked STARTER. Identify it and remember it. We will come back to that.

Find a good mounting spot and mount the new relay/breaker/plug assembly. A good spot is in front of and above the lower fairing bolt flange on the side of the battery box.


Find the black STARTER wire again. Unplug it from the solenoid. Insert this plug into the black/white wire with a male plug on the relay wiring harness. Take the red wire with the female connector and plug it into the starter solenoid. Connect the red wire with the loop connector to the post on the OEM 30 amp circuit breaker you unhooked ealier. Connect the other black wire with the loop connector to the negative battery post or a good ground. This completes the wiring of the relay.

Check and recheck the connections for a good connection and correctness. Hook up the battery and give it a test. Forget about the relay and ride.


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