PVL IGNTIONS EXPLAINED
By Jason Lorenz(Jay)
Ok I see a lot of people with no spark problems with Polaris domestic carb engines. I hope that this will help all of you who have lost the spark in your pwc relationship!!
Here we go:
The ignition that you have in your boat is a PVL that is made in Germany. It is one of the best performance ignitions out there for most power sports applications. It is a true digital ignition. Polaris has always been a performance oriented company always trying to lead the industry in all it has produced. That being said, they contacted PVL ignitions to make them a system for their watercraft. The first system was used in a production boat in 1996 on the hurricanes, sl/slt 700, SL 900, sltx 1050. These first few years would be tough and needed some revised parts. There are a few ways to identify your current PVL ignition in your machine.
First is the cdi. This is your black box that is in your electrical box. It tells the coils when to fire and for how long to saturate the primary side of the ignition coil. It can be one of three boxes. The first being the red podded (color of epoxy where the wires come out) box with a com port. This was found on very early boats and if you have one in your boat you should upgrade when you get the chance. It will fail you sometime in its life. The second generation box is red podded with a com port nest to where the wires come out. This is programable/adjustable. Better but not the best. The third is the current black podded with a com port this is the best cdi ever produced. These rarely have any problems. This is the toughest part of the ignition system. Over the years, I have had only 6 bad boxes that are black podded. Most of them were other than spark problems (won't crank over, will not hold a steady timing degree, etc...)
Stators are the weakest link in this system. They fail often. The latest version is the best version and the life out of one of these is great. The earlier stators did some crazy things. Early stators are easily identified by the plug ends and the white insulation around the trigger coils. If you have one of these, better get a new one, It will fail you soon. They do things like limit a boat to 3000-4000 rpm, no spark, jump timing, drain batteries etc... Stators currently have four versions. There is a twin with an 8 pin plug and one with multi-connectors. Same with the triples one with an 8 pin plug and one with multi-connectors. You can use either twin or any twin and either triples on any triple. Difference is that plug. Now here is the nice part. If you have a stator with a multi plug you can get yourself an adapter that allows you to use the 8 pin stator and it makes for a faster job.
You just plug in all your connections in the box and the connector stays outside the box. This leaves you with a nice, easy engine removal and stator changes. Now you can only use this stator if you have upgraded your ignition system because the wiring is different. The nice thing is that you can just order a stator for a newer boat and not waste the money on the stuff you don't need. Below are the part numbers for the connectors.
When you use these connectors you must order this stator. 4010170 triple, 4010172 twins. Connectors come with the rubber packing in them for the electrical box. Like I said, you had to have upgraded the ignition before. If you are not sure if you have an upgraded ignition check the stator as mentioned above also check the cdi as well also mention in above paragraph.
What makes the stators go bad do you ask? well here it is as I have found through the years: battery voltage spike(charging battery when in craft with too high of a amperage charger not having the battery isolated(disconnected),jump starting craft with a car running or jump box, battery connection arcing from loose connections(grounds, post connections)pour grounding of stator(i.e. corrosion/early stator poor design), over revving engine(spinning a modded engine over 7600 rpm they will not last long at all) they lose the ability to ground properly/dissipate heat and a lot of heat(heat makes the resistance higher and makes it hard to get a good ground) making a lot of heat is from the electricity made from the stator and cannot dissipate the heat fast enough through the aluminum stator plate and flywheel housing(this is why the fuel injected models with the big stators need to run water through the front housing to cool off the aluminum so that the stator does not burn up). this mod can be done easily and pretty cheap(depending on you model of boat). I do it all the time to modded boats and it works very well. these are the most common causes of failure. and of course the obvious just plain went bad. Most of you reading this are like D@#n I did that. it's ok life is a lesson and every day we learn something new. I know I learn everyday!
Coils are tough units. As in all applications, Pwc, ATV, Motorcycles & Cars, these rarely fail. There are a few times when they do, but, itís not usually the case. The triples do not get an updated coil when getting an ignition upgrade kit. I think I have seen maybe 5 bad coils in Polaris pvl ignitions for the triples. There is a newer version of the coils red podded being older and black podded newer version with sockets for the high tension leads (spark plug wires). Both are very good units. The 700 twins got new coils/wires with there kits. This was needed for the 700's. The newer version has sockets for the high tension leads and has wings to lie in the electrical box.
Ok, so know you are armed with the major components of this system. There are a few other things in it but that will be for later. So letís start!!!!!!
You have no spark!
Grab a multi-meter (if you don't have one you can get them anywhere starting about 30.00 and will help you out in the long run with many things on your pwc.
Do you have a good battery? Must be fully charged and be at least 10.6 vdc while cranking your unit (measured at battery). A bad battery will drive even the best techs nuts. Charge and load check them when you have a no spark condition. Make sure they have fluid in them or they will die like us.
. Usually you will see a spark when you let off the start button if the battery is weak.
The battery plays a big part because it is a digital ignition and needs battery voltage to fire the coil and run the diodes, capicators, and micro-processors in the cdi box. Hey you computer will not work if you do not have it plugged into a good working outlet.
Ok battery good next step.
Please get a service manual before going any further. You must check the stator and other ignition components for good continuity. Some of the reading that you are going to get from the stator might not be exactly as mentioned in the service manual. so here are some of the tests that I have come up with. Now this is a guide and not a how to so you must understand all of the components in your system. Not mentioned here is the LR module that later boats had to use the same button to start and stop unit as well as run the bilge pump. That is clearly outlined in the service manual and please make sure that you have a good LR module before going on as well.
Check all your connections at battery and engine grounds through the box and check you terminal board in you electrical box and see if they are corroded. Also check the terminals on the board. Move them and see if any are loose. You also need to check the back of the board and make sure it is not all corroded and has dielectric grease on the back. This helps the corrosion factor and keeps moisture out (we are using these on water) LOL. This can be done with a meter on the ohms scale and or the vdc (volts d.c.) to measure voltage drop. you should not have any more than 1 ohm and no more than .5vdc drop on any given wire/circuit. please check ground at engine block and to electrical box as well. all good in there next step.
while you are in there disconnect the black/yellow wires at the terminal board (this is your shut off/kill circuit). it takes it out of the equation. still no spark, hook this back up so that if it starts you can shut it off.
disconnect the grey wire going to the cdi box (this is the limiter and sometime if you have a bad cdi will ground out and not cause any spark. you can leave this unplugged.
Ok now check for 12 volts on your red purple wire going to the cdi box. If you do not start back tracking on the wire that splits off and goes to the circuitís breakers that are know for corroding. Check for voltage drop across the circuit breaker as well as an ohms test. You are looking again for no more than .5 vdc drop and no more than 1.0 ohm of resistance. You should have battery voltage on this wire. This is the wire that feed the cdi with power. If you have power than move on and reconnect the red/purple back to cdi and other places that you might have disconnected.
Now unplug the brown wire at the cdi box. This is your feed to the stator that will supply voltage to the trigger coils. Now with your meter on volts dc put the black to engine ground and red to the brown wire coming out of the cdi box. Make sure that you are on the right wire here you want the one coming out of the cdi box. Crank the engine over and you should see 7-9 vdc. If you do than your cdi is putting voltage out to the stator. Chances are here that the stator is bad. Do the next check to reconfirm these findings as well.
Now with that same brown wire disconnected at the cdi box do the following. Find the wire going to the stator (again make sure you have the right wire). Get yourself a 9 volt battery. Then put the negative side of the 9 volt battery the engine ground and the positive to the brown wire going to the stator. Crank engine over and see if you have spark. If you do than you have a bad cdi box. If you do not you have a bad stator.