Starter just spins!

I have just completed the work on my VF1000RE, she started up a treat a week ago using a make shift fuel tank whilst mine was being cleaned out. She ran for an hour or so like this whilst I set up the new pilot jets and then balanced the carbs. It was running very smoothly.
I got the tank back today, fitted to the bike and went to start….the bike tried to start once and now the starter just spins without engaging the engine.
Very disappointed as the tank was the last part!
Any ideas on what the issue could be please?

Hi Fry,
a bit odd indeed, haven’t heard of this before. Had you previously removed the clutch side cover?
Unless the intermediate gear is correctly installed on it’s floating shaft then the starter won’t engage. I can’t see any reason why it would stop working now.
I reckon removing the clutch cover to investigate is the next step, but maybe remove the starter to make sure that the splines on the end haven’t stripped? If a vf 750 starter has been fitted, they only engage for about 2/3 of the original depth.

Is it an original starter?
You could pull the starter,check the splines if they are ok spin the starter gear with a finger to see if it locks up.
If it spins freely the starter clutch is suspect
nb spin the gear clockwise

Hi Bif, yes I didn’t take the starter off during the engine work just removed the wire and left in place.
I have changed the oil and filter and used MOTOREX 4T semi synthetic oil, but that was in it before and it ran ok.
I’ll remove the starter tomorrow and check splines and if I can spin the gear

Hi speedygp, yes I had the clutch cover off so I could remove the engine from the frame and also to have the cover painted. The bike has started since then as well using a dummy tank. I ran it to set up he carbs post cleaning.
All I have done since is replace the tank and seat and try to start.
The starter did bite once then just span, every time I push the starter now it just “free wheels”

Hi Bif, Speedy, I have removed the starter and the starter splines are good, I can spin the starter idler gear in the starter hole clockwise from the clutch side and it wont turn move the other way.
The starter idler gear feels like it has a fair bit of play is that normal?
Note the teeth on both the idler gear (that connect with starter spline) and also the smaller gear wheel on same shaft look good.
Should I delve further?
What do you think?
Thanks in advance

I also then removed the clutch case/cover to see what was happening, when you push the starter button you can see the starter clutch just spinning without turning engine, I took the starter clutch out to take a look and no marks on the bearing faces and all the little springs etc in place and indeed when you turn by hand it does indeed lock! I am stumped and would very much welcome some additional input.
Again thanks in advance

I should have said clockwise through the hole the starter fits into.
It sounds like the clutch does engage by hand but not when the starter is operated.
I would try washing the clutch out with either carb cleaner or petrol and try the starter again just to be sure there is no contamination on the clutch

Hi Bif, the starter solenoid has now just about packed up, it either does nothing OR takes a few seconds to actually fire the starter. So I have ordered a new solenoid and also the 3 little springs for the starter clutch (the rollers and caps are not available) from David Silver. I’ll clean the clutch and then fit these items when they arrive and then update at that point…hopefully later this week

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Very exciting day, I got the starter clutch back together and in the bike, re assembled and running see video below.
Jobs include: reworked cams and followers, valve guide seals, lapped valves, replaced all seals and gaskets (water & oil), tappet set, cleaned up carbs with some new jets, new carb mount boots, repaired starter clutch, tidied up paint on engine covers and frame, set up new pilot jets and balanced carbs….
Thanks for your help especially Bif & Speedy!
I can’t add the video so here is a picture

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Here is a link to the video on facebook if anyone is interested!

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Top job,she sounds sweet