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Old 11-23-2012, 07:22 AM   #1
baldwithglasses OP
Godspeed, Robert
 
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Joined: Jul 2007
Location: East Atlanta Village, Atlanta, Georgia
Oddometer: 795
Melted negative battery terminal!

I was visiting a friend's bike (with his permission, of course!) and when was trying to fire the R100 up to warm the motor.

I thumbed the starter and noticed the starter was a little slow as if the battery didn't have enough juice. I tried again and smelled something, and the starter wouldn't fire. I looked down and all the lead around the battery post had melted and some even dripped on the bike's swingarm.

Now I'm out a battery (I had loaned him the battery out of my bike), and I have to make his bike work again or send it to someone who's actually competent - after all, I fragged his bike's electrical system.

The R100 has the stock charging system and stayed plugged into a trickle charger that had been working fine. Any suggestions? What could cause that terminal to overheat like that? Stuck solenoid? Anger?
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Old 11-23-2012, 07:36 AM   #2
Kai Ju
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I have to admit that in all my years of wrenching I haven't seen a melted terminal due to trying to start an engine.
Couple of questions.

How did you get involved ? Almost sounds like he asked you for help in getting his bike running.
When was the last time that engine ran ?
Will it turn over ? Put it in one of the higher gears and try and rotate the rear wheel. If the engine doesn't turn over it could overload the battery/starter motor and may have caused the battery post melt down.
If the engine turns over I'd have to say that the starter motor has a straight short to ground.
In either case I'm still surprised that the ground cable insulation didn't go up in smoke first.
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Old 11-23-2012, 07:43 AM   #3
lilsmokey
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How long were you cranking it? My 71 f-250 vapor locks so you have to crank it for a while to get gas into the carb. If you hold it to long on my truck the solonoid will melt. So i'd just get a new battery and crank it no more than 4 or 5 seconds.
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Old 11-23-2012, 07:45 AM   #4
baldwithglasses OP
Godspeed, Robert
 
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Joined: Jul 2007
Location: East Atlanta Village, Atlanta, Georgia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Ju View Post

How did you get involved ? Almost sounds like he asked you for help in getting his bike running.
We were going to swap vehicles for a day - my pickup for his bike. He had problems with keeping his battery charged, and it failed, and... oh, I see what's going on here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Ju View Post
When was the last time that engine ran ?
Tim claims it ran earlier that day. I have also previously fired the motor up on earlier visits with no problem.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Ju View Post
Will it turn over ?
Yes, but slowly. Drivetrain and motor seem to be just fine and rotating smoothly.
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Originally Posted by Kai Ju View Post
If the engine turns over I'd have to say that the starter motor has a straight short to ground.
That's my first guess, and I wanted some ideas on where to start looking.
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:26 AM   #5
baldwithglasses OP
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Location: East Atlanta Village, Atlanta, Georgia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilsmokey View Post
How long were you cranking it?
Tried to spin it for about 10-15 seconds.
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:35 AM   #6
crazydrummerdude
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Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but I've also melted a negative battery post. It was a combination of loose wires and dirty connections at the battery and starter. I actually was able to keep using the battery after threading the bolt into the melted stump for oh.. another couple years!
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:10 AM   #7
baldwithglasses OP
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ehrmergehrd.
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:43 AM   #8
Biebs
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Wink Loose wires create arc - Likw Arc welding!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazydrummerdude View Post
Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but I've also melted a negative battery post. It was a combination of loose wires and dirty connections at the battery and starter. I actually was able to keep using the battery after threading the bolt into the melted stump for oh.. another couple years!

Yes loose wires will create an ARC keep it up and you will have the softer metal melting!!!!
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:44 AM   #9
Mugwest
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Kind of related, on the other end of the neg cable: Back in the low/no-maintenance Wilderness Years, i was cranking the RS over and after a few turns began smelling Funny StuffTM.
I wiggled the neg cable at the batt and then grabbed the ground connection at the speedo cable. The vented ground bolt was loose, but the cable was making just enough contact to weakly turn the starter. I took my thumb and applied it to the vented bolt head to assess how loose it in fact was. In an instant my thumb sizzled and a few yelping WTF?!'s later i look at my thumb to see the perfectly-seared imprint of a 10mm hex bolt head, complete with the vent hole!
The batt was dutifully dumping amps into that weak ground connection, heating it up in the process to medium-rare cooking temp.

Thus, checking grounding integrity became a rule of thumb i've carried ever since
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Old 11-23-2012, 10:35 AM   #10
Bill Harris
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BWG, I wouldn't feel guilty. There was a poor connectio to the battery negative terminal that generated a LOT of heat. It was a failure waiting to happen.

--Bill
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:23 AM   #11
00_Green
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Harris View Post
BWG, I wouldn't feel guilty. There was a poor connectio to the battery negative terminal that generated a LOT of heat. It was a failure waiting to happen.

--Bill

What Bill said, either a loose/dirty connection to the battery post or corrosion between the negative cable conductor and terminal end which creates high resistance and heat during current draw.
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