GL1100 Electrical and Timing Gremlins

You might consider this item: GL1100 Carburetor Repair Manual written by noted GL1100 guru Howard Halasz

This Tech Tip is provided courtesy of Howard Halasz – noted GL1100 Guru. Howard is a frequent contributor of technical columns and other information to GWRRA’s Wing World Magazine.

“A common failure with all GL1100s is the vacuum advance part of the pulse generator assembly. The units for the 1980 models use a higher advance angle than the unit for the 1981-1983 models.

Unfortunatley, the vacuum portion of this assembly is not rebuildable. GL1100 pulse generators are no longer available from Honda and good used units are hard to find now. But, the work-around is easy. Simply plug the vacuum fitting at the the #3 carburetor – the loss of vacuum advance will never be noticed other than a very slight decrease in fuel economy. Performance loss is also negligible.

Sometimes you will notice a tar like substance on the frame right below the GL1100 transistor spark units. This is usually a tell tale sign that the units are about to fail if they haven’t already failed. To prolong the life of the transistor spark units, disconnect them and remove them from the frame. Mix some 5-minute epoxy glue and fill the units where the tar melted out of them. Let the epoxy glue set until it is completely cured, and then reinstall the units.

Another GL1100 weakness, particularly with the ’83 models, is early turn signal flasher failure. The ’80-’82 models rarely had these failures, but they were quite common with the ’83s. Using an automotive flasher connected to the gray wire and black wire will fix the problem a lot cheaper and better than replacement with the Honda OEM flasher.

A unique electronic Honda flasher was used only on the ’83 models. It used a black 3-pin connector rather than the standard 2 blade flasher connectors on all other GL1100s.”

Howard Halasz, Wing World Technical Contributor – Houston, TX

17 thoughts on “GL1100 Electrical and Timing Gremlins

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  1. Hi. My 82′ GL1100 has sat for some years in a garage. Deciding to put it back together I decided to get it actually running before I dressed it back up. In reassembling the air suspension compressor and hoses, everything was fairly obvious. My problem lies with the air compressor not shutting off. Running continually until I switch the key off. It actually inflated the front and rear shocks and also displays the correct pressure. Is there a pressure switch located in the system that might be stuck closed?

  2. I recently purchased a 1980 GL1100 and am in the process of refurbishing it. My question is about a plastic unit attached to the frame member inside the shell. It has a nipple for a small vacuum line. Between Carb # 3 and the vacuum advance is a vacuum hose with a “T” that seems to have a metal restrictor molded in. The hose connected to this “T” wasn’t connected, but seems to have (at one time) been connected to this plastic “box” attached to the shell frame. Does anyone out there know what this plastic unit is for? The only function I can come up with is to bleed off vacuum from the advance a bit quicker?

  3. I have an 83 GL1100A my ignition switch has died. So I am wiring a wireless device instead and will use a key fob to turn on and off the ignition. I have one wire that I am conflicted over. It is the Green / Black wire. What is that wire and in the old switch does it touch the solid black or solid red >

  4. Hi. I was just looking for some help with my 1980 Gl 1100, the neutral light will only go out when I pull in the Clutch and the rear shock air sensor lights stay on even though the air pressure is good. I tried grounding the sensor to see if it would go out like the service manual says, with no luck. any suggestion.
    Thanks Joe

    1. Hello there, as much as we would like to assist, there are so many questions to be answered. We do not have a direct repair procedure that would pinpoint your concern. Our suggestion of course would be follow the causes. Our assumption would be some type of circuit is losing a ground or the reaction of the cable is moving a circuit that may be impending on the instrument panel connections. Troubleshooting electrical can be a tedious task. The rule of thumb is follow paths, patience and ensure grounds.
      Thanks You for the inquiry,
      Randakk’s Customer Service Team

  5. I have a 1980 GL1100 Standard. It has about 24,000 miles on it. I was getting high voltage across my battery terminals, over 15v. I checked my stator, and noticed my connection was very corroded. removed the corroded connectors, peeled back the wire, and installed new connectors. Still high voltage. I replaced my rectifier / regulator with a new OEM Honda piece. Voltage now seems OK. Cooling fan switch failed. Replaced it. Volt reading went up when fan turned on. Replaced fan. Checked my ground wire to frame. Cleaned it and reinstalled. Looked at fuse box. Cleaned all fuses and fuse connections. All look good. Noticed my 10 amp headlamp gets hot on the input side of the fuse holder. Checked hi/low switch. All looks good in there. Checked ignition cut off switch. All looks good in there. Checked ignition switch. All switches were clean, good contact switches with no evidence of arching. When I turn my ignition to on, and leave the headlamp on, my fuse holder gets hot, but fuse does not blow. I have removed all ignition components, removed my stereo, fog lights and marker lamps from the issue, just so that I can isolate on this hot fuse. Any ideas to help me resolve this electrical issue would be greatly appreciated.

  6. I have a 83 interstate and it starts bang on when I hit the start button ( no choke needed ) and runs great but within a minute it starts to run rough on idle, if it’s dirty carbs why would it run perfect on higher revs?

  7. My turn signal has been intermittently failing to flash for some time, especially when engine is at running temp for some time. When cold, it flashes fine. So today I installed a new Novita EP35 Electronic flasher. I cut the old supply terminal wires off and soldered them to the universal connector which fits the new flasher. Turned on the ignition and turned on each side blinkers and neither side will flash. I even unplugged the green ground wire and still same results, no flashing. Only thing that changes is the side that is activated causes the front light to go out but comes back on when switch is in neutral position. Don’t know what to check next. Tail light works and horn works.

    1. Some electronic flashers are not well-matched to the turn signal “load” on vintage bikes.

      I’ve found that it takes a bit of experimentation to get aftermarket flashers that are compatible.

      An old-fashioned flasher usually works best for me:

      STANT #552
      NAPA #552
      Federal Mogul #552
      (Most 12V, 2 wire standard flashers will work. I like these because they are very compact.)

  8. 1983 GL1100A – plugs fire only one time when the starter button is pressed and once again when the button is released.
    Ballast resistor resistance is 2.3 ohms.
    both PGs resistance is 540 ohms
    all PG terminals show infinite resistance to ground
    spark unit B/W wire has 12V
    spark plug caps show 5K ohms.
    cranking voltage remains above 9V
    coil resistance is 16.4K ohms
    vacuum advance works correctly, tested when motor was out of bike
    mechanical spring advance works correctly.
    Any suggestions?
    Thanks for your help

    1. That’s an odd symptom.I would investigate: a circuit defect in the ballast circuit, ignition switch, kill switch, 30amp fuse and all ground wires. Possibly a failing battery. Then I would post the question on the NGW Forum for more ideas. Good luck.

      1. This might be an oddball reply. But the headlight cuts out when you hit the start button to conserve voltage and send it all to the starter. Could something get mis wired so that either the coils or starter are also set to cut out when the head light cuts out. Like maybe if you wired in an aftermarket starter relay and swapped some wires around wrong. Just thinking out loud here. Also check neutral switch and clutch diode. A loosened positive battery cable will give enough power for the starter to spin up but you won’t get spark, I found that out the hard way in the grocery store parking lot.

        1. The wiring is designed to eliminate the headlight whenever the starter is engaged. This allows higher cranking speed for easier starts while preserving some energy in the battery.

          It’s possible I suppose, but not very likely that anyone mis-wired to kill the ignition when the starter button is pressed. Something else is more likely to be the culprit.

  9. reading your note about the transistor spark units, the bike i just purchased (1980 GL1100I not yet running) had the tar, I read about a fix for this being something called “seal-tex” an electrical sealing putty as well as plumbers putty that works just as well. now my question is when these units fail do they fail completely? as in 1 pair of cylinders not firing? or is it a poor running or intermittent condition? thanks for any input you may have.

    1. There are several failure modes: total, intermittent, only when “hot,” etc. Only the 2 cylinders connected to the failing box will be affected.

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