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Old 06-17-2014, 02:08 PM   #1
nmalozzi OP
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Charging Issue '83 r80rt

I've done a BUNCH of searching and reading both on ADV, snobum's site, and other sites. All I've been able to figure out with all that research is that I'm CLUELESS when it comes to motorcycle electronics. Even simple setups like on our bikes. So I wanted to just toss out my situation to the greater community and see if I can get pointed in the right direction.

Bike: 1983 r80rt

Battery: WestCo Sealed AGM 12V/30AH (http://www.euromotoelectrics.com/Bat.../bat-12v30.htm). The battery was purchased new at EME about 4months back, and takes charge quite nicely from my trickle charger. So I have to assume the battery is fine.

Symptoms: A few weeks ago I was on a 20mi ride on my way home from work. I try to commute to work on the bike about once a week. It's a short ride, 2mi as the crow flies, but I always try to extend it a few miles in the morning and then take a 10-30mi loop home depending on time.

She got to work with no issues at all... started fine, all warning lights ran as expected. Went to head home, and the Gen Light didn't come on when I turned the key with kill switch on. She fired up anyway and I took her for about a 20mi ride keeping an eye on the Gen Light. With the motor running at idle the Gen Light stayed on bright. When riding it remained on but dimmer. At high RPMs it almost goes out, but it still remained on faintly.

Under the advice of a fellow Airhead I checked all my ground connections and any connection under the tank I could easily get to. I even pulled most of them apart, lightly cleaned them up, and added some dielectric grease for good measure. The above symptoms remained, but the Gen light did run a bit dimmer overall. Then the bike sat for about a month (just wrapped up a major kitchen remodel that kept me from riding). Took her for a ride about a week ago and the Gen light didn't come on ever. Not even faintly at idle when first started (which is what I normally see).

My intuition is that the bulb is shot, but I have ZERO idea how to prove this. Like stated before, I'm a total rookie mechanic and electronics are about as complicated to me as quantum physics. In other words... if you have advice, THANK YOU, but please break it down to the simplest explanations possible. Assume I know NOTHING, because well... I don't, haha.

Thanks in advance!

edit: Other info that may be helpful. about a week prior to these symptoms I rode in steady rain for about 20mi. This was literally the first time I've had the bike out in the wet like this. Just food for thought maybe.
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Old 06-17-2014, 05:08 PM   #2
Warin
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The read waring ligh not coming on at start up is an indication that the alternator will not be starting up .. thus not charging the battery (can be confirmed by measuring the battery voltage - as the engine speed increases the voltage should increase to over 13 volts) ... . This can be caused by;
warn/stuck rotor brushes
open circuit rotor winding.

Testing procedure;
disconnect the battery negative lead (protects fro accidental shorts)
remove front engine cover (2x 5mm allen key bolts)
reconnect the battery negative lead
turn on the ignition
check red light is not on
short (connect using a bit of wire) across the rotor or the rotor brushes. If the light now comes on ... this is the area of the fault. If the light does not come on then check the globe (you could swap it for one of the others and see if the fault follows the globe). If it is not the globe and the short does not make the light come on then it is the wire between t e globe and the voltage regulator.
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Old 06-17-2014, 06:16 PM   #3
Jim K in PA
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What does your volt meter show?

I would not put $$ on the bulb being the failure point. Check the grounds on the diode board. Check the connector at the VR. There is a good write up for testing that I think _cy_ wrote up on here somewhere.

Time to get out the Fluke and do some testing.
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Old 06-17-2014, 07:39 PM   #4
SohoPhil
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Boy does this sound familiar! Been bringing an 81 R100RT back
to life recently. All the usual goodies, battery,fluids pushrod seal tubes et.
Had a bought last week with a VM acting a little crazy but it settled down and the voltage across the battery was 13.7 @ 3000rpm.....Charging!
Tonight, I go to pickup my daughter, bike runs fine....sounds great!
Come out of the gym and WTF! Gen light is on and stays on the whole way home! I'm going to the Laconia Rally on Thursday so I get home and install
my new rotor and diode board that just came from Col. Fire her up and Gen light is still on! Not great with electronics either so I'm crossing my fingers and riding. What an adventure!
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Old 06-17-2014, 11:20 PM   #5
boxerboy81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SohoPhil View Post
Fire her up and Gen light is still on! Not great with electronics either so I'm crossing my fingers and riding. What an adventure!
Unfortunately, I suspect the adventure will continue if you don't sort that charging/GEN light issue.

Is the blue wire from D+ to the regulator connected correctly?

Check wiring is to the right places and grounds are clean and tight.

If the light glows faintly at normal running speeds, check the brushes for dust. If they're new, are the spiral springs applying enough pressure to the brushes?

Check the condition of the 3 wires coming off the alternator to the diode board. If they lose insulation they may go to ground.

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Old 06-18-2014, 02:37 AM   #6
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The charging systems on the 81 - 84 wasn't stellar .

Try reving up to 3000 rpm's when warming up to see if charging light goes out.

The best $500 you can spend is a upgrade to the EME Endralast charging system ... Take you 2 hours to install ... and never have to worry about that battery and charging again.
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Old 06-18-2014, 07:04 AM   #7
nmalozzi OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warin View Post
The read waring ligh not coming on at start up is an indication that the alternator will not be starting up .. thus not charging the battery (can be confirmed by measuring the battery voltage - as the engine speed increases the voltage should increase to over 13 volts) ... . This can be caused by;
warn/stuck rotor brushes
open circuit rotor winding.

Testing procedure;
disconnect the battery negative lead (protects fro accidental shorts)
remove front engine cover (2x 5mm allen key bolts)
reconnect the battery negative lead
turn on the ignition
check red light is not on
short (connect using a bit of wire) across the rotor or the rotor brushes. If the light now comes on ... this is the area of the fault. If the light does not come on then check the globe (you could swap it for one of the others and see if the fault follows the globe). If it is not the globe and the short does not make the light come on then it is the wire between t e globe and the voltage regulator.
Thanks for the step by step. I'm going to try and run through this over the weekend if the Mrs doesn't decide she wants to go camping, haha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim K in PA View Post
What does your volt meter show?

I would not put $$ on the bulb being the failure point. Check the grounds on the diode board. Check the connector at the VR. There is a good write up for testing that I think _cy_ wrote up on here somewhere.

Time to get out the Fluke and do some testing.
No volt meter on my model. I'll check those connections though while I'm doing the things Warin suggested.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R100LT View Post
The charging systems on the 81 - 84 wasn't stellar .

Try reving up to 3000 rpm's when warming up to see if charging light goes out.

The best $500 you can spend is a upgrade to the EME Endralast charging system ... Take you 2 hours to install ... and never have to worry about that battery and charging again.
The light does not come on at all at this point, at any RPM.

I was already contemplating upgrading to the Enduralast charging system since I do commute on the bike, and take other short stop and go trips. Seemed like a good upgrade to keep my battery charged. EME is also about 2mi from my house. So I can save the shipping cost and I've also got a $20 coupon. In other words I could save a few bucks on it, and have it same day. Is it reasonable to think doing this would solve my issue, or will there still be work to do after swapping in the new charging system?
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Old 06-18-2014, 09:32 AM   #8
dm635
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Hi Nick. Can't help much with your charging issue. But I did need to comment on some similarities between your bike and a buddy I knew in high school. Knowing full well that your bike is blue and the name you've penned it, my buddy (Hunter) had a blue Datsun B-210 he also named Beatrix nearly the same color. Don't see any Datsun's anymore unless it's a Z car.

Good luck with the charging problem, Dave
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Old 06-18-2014, 02:37 PM   #9
Jim K in PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nmalozzi View Post
No volt meter on my model. I'll check those connections though while I'm doing the things Warin suggested.
Put a DVM on and make sure the voltage is just sitting steady. Then I would check the rotor continuity, and go from there.


Quote:

I was already contemplating upgrading to the Enduralast charging system . . . Is it reasonable to think doing this would solve my issue, or will there still be work to do after swapping in the new charging system?
It would be a leap of faith. You may find/solve the problem by doing so, but then again you may not. While tempting, it would be best to start out knowing what the failure point is/was before putting new parts in with the hope they coincidentally solve the problem.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:08 PM   #10
nmalozzi OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warin View Post
The read waring ligh not coming on at start up is an indication that the alternator will not be starting up .. thus not charging the battery (can be confirmed by measuring the battery voltage - as the engine speed increases the voltage should increase to over 13 volts) ... . This can be caused by;
warn/stuck rotor brushes
open circuit rotor winding.

Testing procedure;
disconnect the battery negative lead (protects fro accidental shorts)
remove front engine cover (2x 5mm allen key bolts)
reconnect the battery negative lead
turn on the ignition
check red light is not on
short (connect using a bit of wire) across the rotor or the rotor brushes. If the light now comes on ... this is the area of the fault. If the light does not come on then check the globe (you could swap it for one of the others and see if the fault follows the globe). If it is not the globe and the short does not make the light come on then it is the wire between t e globe and the voltage regulator.
Whew... been a couple weeks, but I finally got to looking into my charging issue. Warin, thanks for the advice. I also did some reading on snowbum's site and followed these steps:

Procedure:
1. Disconnect battery (removing all the wires to the negative post will do).
2. Remove front cover.
3. Reconnect battery.
4. Turn on ignition. GEN lamp should still be out.
5. Pull off the wire/connector going to the brush holder male spade that is marked as Df.
Df is the place the lamp and VR both apply the initializing current (and, after the alternator produces current, where the alternator self-energizes).
Stick a bent paper clip into the wire/connector, and ground the clip to the case. The lamp should light up. If you do not have a paper clip, UNplug the associated wire, which is the D- female spade connection, and plug that Df wire into the D- female. D- is ground. If the lamp lights up when grounded, and not when to the Df terminal, then the rotor is open, or the brush(s) not making contact. If the lamp does not light up when grounded, it is the lamp, or the wiring or pod connector or the VR.

I did all as he described (only difference is I used a small piece of wire as opposed to a paper clip).

Results:
-When I ground the DF wire/connector to the case and turn on the bike my charging light comes on.

So as I understand things this means that my rotor is open, or the brushes are not making contact. First and foremost, I have no idea what my "rotor being open" even means? So any clarification there would be fantastic. Secondly, the brushes "appear" to be making good contact. Here's the best photo I could grab with my phone https://www.dropbox.com/s/4jsv01t1bm...2013.04.44.jpg

The bike only has 45k mi on it, and if my research is correct most brushes are good up to about 80k. Point being... I'm guessing it's not the brushes Maybe?

So what's my next step? New rotor?
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:39 PM   #11
190e
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"Open rotor" means open circuit or infinite resistance. The coil of wire has a break in it so no current will flow.

In a good rotor the coil of wire has a low resistance value of something like 3 ohms. Most meters are not very accurate at measuring low resistance values so the exact figure measured isn't critical but it's very easy to distinguish between open circuit and a few ohms.
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Old 07-05-2014, 05:04 PM   #12
Warin
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Originally Posted by nmalozzi View Post
. First and foremost, I have no idea what my "rotor being open" even means?
The rotor simply consists of a long length of wire wraped (coiled) around a lump of metal. The length of wire should conduct electricity ... your does not look to do that ... if you pulled hard enough on a length of wire to pull it apart that would be "open circuit".

The simplest way to check that the rotor is the problem - put a bit of bare wire under both brushes - thus connection them together .. and check if the alternator light now comes on - no need to start the motor .. just turn it on. If the alternator light comes on with the bit of wire and goes out with only the rotor .. it is the rotor .. and you'll want a replacement ... the old one can be 're wound' with a new bit of wire, so don't throw it out! Some do an exchange service - your old one for a rewound one.

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Old 07-05-2014, 06:04 PM   #13
nmalozzi OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warin View Post
The rotor simply consists of a long length of wire wraped (coiled) around a lump of metal. The length of wire should conduct electricity ... your does not look to do that ... if you pulled hard enough on a length of wire to pull it apart that would be "open circuit".

The simplest way to check that the rotor is the problem - put a bit of bare wire under both brushes - thus connection them together .. and check if the alternator light now comes on - no need to start the motor .. just turn it on. If the alternator light comes on with the bit of wire and goes out with only the rotor .. it is the rotor .. and you'll want a replacement ... the old one can be 're wound' with a new bit of wire, so don't throw it out! Some do an exchange service - your old one for a rewound one.
Bingo. It's the rotor. I was having a hard time getting the wire actually under the brushes. So I just wrapped them both with the bare wire. Seemed to me like this achieved the same connection. When I did that and turned on the key my light came on. Took off the wire and turned the key again just to double check, and the light was out again.

I'm going to order a new rotor from EME. They are just a few blocks from my house. So I should be able to swing by and pick it up Monday and get this sorted out. Few questions though....

Looks like they have two different rotors:
http://www.euromotoelectrics.com/pro...t-rotor642.htm
http://www.euromotoelectrics.com/pro...rotor642oe.htm

The 642oe is a few bucks more. Is it a better product? I'm happy to spend the few extra bucks if it's the better product (especially since I don't have to pay shipping).

It looks like it comes with new brushes. I assume I should just go ahead and install the new brushes too while I have it all apart, no?

Anything else I'm missing?
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:02 PM   #14
Warin
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Originally Posted by nmalozzi View Post
Looks like they have two different rotors:
http://www.euromotoelectrics.com/pro...t-rotor642.htm
http://www.euromotoelectrics.com/pro...rotor642oe.htm

The 642oe is a few bucks more. Is it a better product? I'm happy to spend the few extra bucks if it's the better product (especially since I don't have to pay shipping).
Talk to them about it.

-----------
To take the rotor out you need one 'special tool' number of web thingys on it .. just hardened rod. People have made them out of an Allen key cut up.
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:03 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warin View Post
Talk to them about it.

-----------
To take the rotor out you need one 'special tool' number of web thingys on it .. just hardened rod. People have made them out of an Allen key cut up.

Yea, I saw the tool on their site. I'll pick that up too. Thanks!
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