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Thread: 1961 panhead electrical question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Central New York State
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    35

    1961 panhead electrical question

    With the ignition switch one click clockwise, the engine starts, and runs fine. With the engine running, when I turn the switch to the two click clockwise position, the lights go on, but the engine dies.

    I have the wiring diagram from the Harley manual, but electrical stuff is not my expertise.

    With the dash cover off, there is no continuity from the switch terminal lug to the coil with the switch in any position. With the switch in the first and second click position, there is no continuity between the switch terminal lug and the battery positive terminal, but there IS continuity with the ignition switch in the off position, which seems weird.

    Shouldn't there be no continuity to the battery with the switch off ?

    The wiring conncetions to the switch lugs seems to be in good shape, I don't know why in the lights on position, the engine dies. It seems the juice to the coil is being shut off,but I don't know why

  2. #2

    Re: 1961 panhead electrical question

    With test light or voltmeter, test between ground and the switch terminal lug in question.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Central New York State
    Posts
    35

    Re: 1961 panhead electrical question

    Tried connecting between each lug and the frame, test light does not light at any of the lugs.

    In the second switch position, the lights light. Not intermittent, it's good solid, steady light, so the connection seems to be making good contact. In the second switch position (engine and lights), it seems there should be 2 wires - one to the lights, one to the coil. There are 2 wires, and if the lights are operating as they should, it seems that the problem is in the circuit from the ignition switch to the coil. If this is the case, if I connected a jumper from the switch lug to the coil, the engine should run - correct ?

  4. #4

    Re: 1961 panhead electrical question

    The terminals and miniature barbell in the switch get dirty and cause problems like this.
    Remove switch, clean terminals and barbell.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Beautiful Northern NM
    Posts
    12,202

    Re: 1961 panhead electrical question

    Is the switch original or a modern replacement? If original is it the correct type as per post location, there are early and late types with the posts reversed. Is it the correct 5 post or a Shovelhead era 6 post? A picture of your switch would answer these questions.
    Friends help friends move,
    Real friends help friends move bodies!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Central New York State
    Posts
    35

    Re: 1961 panhead electrical question

    I don't think it is original. The speedo is reproduction, I think the plate assembly is too. I believe it is 5 post. I will take a picture when I get home after work

  7. #7

    Re: 1961 panhead electrical question

    Make sure that the switch isn't grounding out on the dash base when you turn it to the lights position. A friends 65 had a repo switch and dash base and when he switched to light is contacted the dash base and grounded out. All the repo stuff was ill fitting and once I saw the spark and grounding out and told him he fixed the situation with a correct switch and dash base and no more problems. May no be it but was in his case.

    Rollo

  8. #8

    Re: 1961 panhead electrical question

    On repro switches if you switch to light position fast they stay running..if you don't do it fast they die.Does it start & run in lights on position?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Central New York State
    Posts
    35

    Re: 1961 panhead electrical question

    Quote Originally Posted by duffeycycles View Post
    On repro switches if you switch to light position fast they stay running..if you don't do it fast they die.Does it start & run in lights on position?
    I will have to try switching it fast. I have not gotten it to start with the ignition on lights & run. It starts in run position, and stays running if only in run. As soon as I switch it to lights & run, it dies. I will try starting it and switching quickly to lights & run and see if it keeps running.

  10. #10

    Re: 1961 panhead electrical question

    Mine's the same with a dead spot between the 2 positions. I learnt to give the switch a little wriggle to settle it into ignition+lights position. Easier if you do it riding. Usually I momentarily throttle off to make the switch.

    I did wonder if there was a way of losing the dead spot by configuring the switch differently or perhaps with a jumper? I suppose it's all been thought of and studied before??

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