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Old 03-05-2011, 11:09 AM   #1
MotorradMike OP
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Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Mallorytown Ontario
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Alert: All Oilhead owners: Electrical issue

While determining how to fuse my headlight wiring which I knew was unprotected, I discovered some other unprotected wiring. I've read about several harness meltdowns and one completely burned bike. So this needs to be addressed.

I believe this affects all Oilhead models, 850 - 1150, 1993 - 2004:
Check your wiring diagram. If it's like the R1100RS, you'll see an unfused red line from Batt(+) to the load relief relay, and another to the ignition switch. These are critical because they flex whenever the bars are turned, and they sometimes have issues due to overtight zip ties.

Mechanical:
Two fuses are required. Here's how I mounted them in a vacant bay in the fuse box. I put in 10A for the pic, more on that later.


Access:
Access to the fusebox wiring is from below.
Remove any tupperware in the way.
Remove the rear wheel.
Remove 4 philips screws from the top corners of the box.
Remove 2 6mm Allen cap screws from the sides of the box.
Remove 2 more Philips screws from below, they are near the top sides of the box which serves as the front of the rear wheel well.
Pull the fusebox bottom down and out.
Here's what it looks like with the lower fuse box part removed.


Wiring:
Here's the Batt(+) splice in the fusebox. The heavy wire comes from the battery, the other 6 are distribution.
Ignition fuse goes in the red wire you see here on the left, heading up front to the ignition switch.
Load relief fuse goes in the red wire to that relay. The other 4 wires go to fuses already.
Edited 07-Jun-2012 for accuracy, old text stated "The other 5 wires go to fuses already."


First do no harm:
Make nice splices. Solder the connections. No wires sticking out of the heatshrink. Neatness counts.


Re-assembly:
It's difficult to get the fuse box parts to mate properly. Do that first, taking care to get the 2 grommets seated correctly. Once the 4 top screws are in, the rest is easy.

About fuses:
It would be nice if a fuse could hold 100% of its rating indefinitely, but open instantly at 101%. Unfortunately they don't work that way. Fuses are blunt instruments. They work well protecting wire because they fail in the same manner, so can be a weak link. To size the fuses correctly, I intend to run the bike while monitoring current with an ammeter, then install a fuse with a rating of about 120% of the max. current I measure. I won't go below 5A or above 20A.
You can read all about ATO and other automotive fuse Engineering here.


I hope this helps save some bikes.
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Mike
So far, everything that has surprised me has been completely unexpected.

BMW R1100RS

MotorradMike screwed with this post 06-07-2012 at 10:41 AM Reason: For accuracy, error pointed out by JLeather.
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Old 03-30-2011, 01:53 PM   #2
bornagainbiker
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wish I had been fused

I am in the process of rebuilding or replacing my wiring harness from meltdown that seems to have come from headlight wiring. I will add fusing to lighting circuits and appreciate your pictures and descriptions. I am replacing individual wires that had been fried because harness is too expensive. (unless I find salvaged one.)
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Old 03-30-2011, 07:37 PM   #3
supershaft
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I think your thread has a good title. If I owned one, I would be doing just that. I have seen about or almost ten of them go up in smoke.
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Old 03-30-2011, 08:12 PM   #4
rdwalker
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Lucas

Who knew these bikes were designed by the Brits?


Robert.

(Former and current owner of German bikes and British cars).
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:03 AM   #5
MotorradMike OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bornagainbiker View Post
I am in the process of rebuilding or replacing my wiring harness from meltdown that seems to have come from headlight wiring. I will add fusing to lighting circuits and appreciate your pictures and descriptions. I am replacing individual wires that had been fried because harness is too expensive. (unless I find salvaged one.)
Glad to hear your bike didn't burn up.

Since you're doing lots of wiring.
A suggestion:
Run a heavy gauge(at least 14AWG) from the battery all the way to the headlamp(fused near the battery of course).
Then use the headlight switches to control relays located up front.

You still have to add the other two fuses though.

Beemerboneyard often has salvage harnesses. Look here.
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So far, everything that has surprised me has been completely unexpected.

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Old 03-31-2011, 12:21 PM   #6
bornagainbiker
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Bluhduh headache

Thanks again. I found a (2001) harness on e-bay and am waiting to hear back if it is still available. The photo shows an extra relay in relay/fuse box. I am hoping it has something to do with added lights and not integral ABS. My manual does not show this extra relay either. My harness melted down after I changed a headlight bulb and performed a cannisterectomy. I think having the handlebars hard over during the bulb change screwed things up but I haven't actually discovered the source of short yet. I see from other forum comments that it could possibly be in ignition switch. At any rate I will add fuses as you suggest. What a headache!
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:36 PM   #7
MotorradMike OP
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What year and model is your bike?
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So far, everything that has surprised me has been completely unexpected.

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Old 03-31-2011, 02:26 PM   #8
bornagainbiker
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Eh? headache

2001 1150 GS. vin: WB10495A01ZE53056. I just called the closest bmw shop (Anchorage AK), 200 miles away. The service guy said he didn't think it was integral ABS (I only had the bike a month before disaster but do not think it felt like an integral ABS). I also went to realoem.com and looked at part costs and and harness options. The diagram there looked like my bike is not integral ABS.
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:21 PM   #9
Beezer
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I think the integrated ABS started in '04. Believe the 'o1 to be the same as my non-integ 2000.
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:58 PM   #10
bornagainbiker
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95% sure

Thanks Beezer. That's what it looks like. Are there any good bmw mechanics in Anchorage outside of Motorcycle Shop?
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Old 04-12-2011, 05:30 PM   #11
bornagainbiker
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fused and confused

Mike, I think I can see which 2 wires need fuses:
1. The red wire in bundle that goes forward to ignition.
2. The red wire to load relief relay.
Is this correct?

I am confused about the 14ga wire you suggest running forward to lights. Where do I wire it into fuse/relay box area and where does it wire into light or light switch? Since the light is always on with the ignition should I just wire it into same red wire bundle as ignition wire with a dedicated fuse and run it directly to light and bypass switches? Also, do you think 10 amp fuses are correct or should I do some more headscratching? Thanks again for all your help with this. The photos are great. Bill
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:45 AM   #12
MotorradMike OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bornagainbiker View Post
Mike, I think I can see which 2 wires need fuses:
1. The red wire in bundle that goes forward to ignition.
2. The red wire to load relief relay.
Is this correct?
Yes, pic #3 has an arrow pointing to the smaller of the 2 red wires going to the big splice, that's the one.

I am confused about the 14ga wire you suggest running forward to lights. Where do I wire it into fuse/relay box area and where does it wire into light or light switch? Since the light is always on with the ignition should I just wire it into same red wire bundle as ignition wire with a dedicated fuse and run it directly to light and bypass switches? Also, do you think 10 amp fuses are correct or should I do some more headscratching? Thanks again for all your help with this. The photos are great. Bill
Headlight 14AWG wire:
This is a mod that people have been doing for years in order to provide a lower resistance current path to the headlight. I did some before and after measurements on my mod and got almost 10% more headlamp power!
I wired it right from the battery(fused near the batt) and used the existing headlight wiring to power relays situated near the headlamp. That way, those tiny switches just have to carry relay coil current.

Fuses:
I haven't done any current measurements yet so can't say too much. I've run about 300 miles with the 10A fuses in(spares in my pocket).
Bear in mind, headlight current no longer goes through my load relief relay. I have it on good authority that a 20A fuse is OK in that circuit if you have the stock headlight wiring.

Whatever you do, you need to restore the burned wiring first. If you make any mistakes in the new wiring it'll be another layer of confusion while trying to sort it out.

How far along are you?
Have you found the point where the short occurred?
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So far, everything that has surprised me has been completely unexpected.

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Old 04-14-2011, 10:12 PM   #13
bornagainbiker
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relay confused

Good! The pictures are back.
I have pulled out the burned wires and they all seem to be in lighting circuit, however they did burn into a couple other wires (including horn that started honking) where they were tight. I got another harness from e-bay but it has a cracked motronic plug, plus some other issues, so I think I'll try the individual wire replacement first. Plus it looks like I have to remove tons more stuff to re-route it. I haven't discovered where the short is for sure yet but the most fried wire is between the headlight and multiswitch in the main harness and also the lighting wire going forward from load relief switch. I will figure out a way to test system before I energize it and keep searching for source of problem.
Relays near headlights? I see no light relays on wiring diagram or bike. Is this something I need to add?
I really appreciate your help on this....I'm obviously out of my element here. Bill
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:12 AM   #14
MotorradMike OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bornagainbiker View Post
I'm obviously out of my element here. Bill
I say you're doing quite well.

Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned the headlight relays. IMHO it's necessary to get the bike back together stock first.
Then, if you're still keen, you can do the headlight relay mod.

Here's a diagram:



Advantages are:
- Heavy, low loss wire all the way from the battery to the headlight.
- Shorter distance because the wire carrying the load current doesn't have to detour over to the left bar end where the switches are, and back to the light.
- Load relief and switches work like before.
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So far, everything that has surprised me has been completely unexpected.

BMW R1100RS
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:19 AM   #15
bornagainbiker
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relay good.

Got it. I'll run the wire while I have everything open and then hook it up after I get the stock wiring in order. Now if you'll just do my taxes for me I'll be set.
Bill
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