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Old 11-28-2012, 01:48 PM   #1
Sabre170 OP
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Complete Loss of Electric Power

Ahhhh!!! *Please Help!

1978 R100/7

Ok, so here is the scoop. *I just changed my oil and decided to go for a quick test ride. I got about 1/4 mile from my house and the oil light came on. About 1 second later, the engine killed on me. I costed into a gas station, and upon stopping discovered I had lost all electrical power. *No running lights, no head lights/turn signals, no horn, no starter.....no nothing....however, after hooking up a volt meter to my battery, I find that the battery does still have a 12v charge.*

Background info: *I just recently purchased this /7, and it is my first airhead, so by all means, this could be something simple that I am just missing. *The bike came with out a headlight glass/bulb, but did have the bucket and all wiring. I installed a used glass/bulb and it worked just fine. I rode it for about 15min prior to the oil change with no issues.

The complete loss of power has me baffled.....I would love suggestions.*
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Old 11-28-2012, 01:55 PM   #2
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The fact that the oil light came on before the loss of elec power is more troubling than the loss of elec power.

Try the kill switch. It's on the right side handlebar control. The Red lever needs to be pointing straight across. Either pushed up or down the least amount kills the elec to the ignition.

When the engine starts do not ride or run bike until the oil light goes out.

Did you mess up the oil change you just did? If this is the first time you have changed oil in an Airhead I think you have messed up the oil change. Push bike home and let's then diagnose what is wrong with the oil and filter.

Check the oil level. Did you put oil in the engine?
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:12 PM   #3
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Yes, definitely added oil.*

Regardless of if I screwed up the oil change or not, I don't believe the oil change had anything to do with this power loss.....the two aren't related.....right?

Red rocker switch.....I tried all 3 positions....no luck. *(oddly enough, when I first bought the bike, I played with that switch ad found it did nothing as the bike would run in all 3 positions....almost as if the previous owner bypassed it). *Even if I did have a bad switch, I would still see lights and have the horn, no?
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:27 PM   #4
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What color was the warning light? The "Generator" light and the "Oil" are right beside one another so if it was the generator light then you may only have one problem. it is common for someone new to airheads to mix the two lights up.

As disston has mentioned the more serious of the two possible problems is the oil light and the engine should not be restarted until you know why it came on.

If it was in fact the generator light start by checking all the electrical connections (battery first, then ground connection).
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:27 PM   #5
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Check your fuses......Disston is right about the oil light. Changing the oil on an airhead is a bit controversial. You could do a lot of damage if you installed the cover and oring improperly. Look at this and this for more info on the problems. Fuses are euro 8amp grey in the back of your headlight bucket.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabre170 View Post
Yes, definitely added oil.*

Regardless of if I screwed up the oil change or not, I don't believe the oil change had anything to do with this power loss.....the two aren't related.....right?

Red rocker switch.....I tried all 3 positions....no luck. *(oddly enough, when I first bought the bike, I played with that switch ad found it did nothing as the bike would run in all 3 positions....almost as if the previous owner bypassed it). *Even if I did have a bad switch, I would still see lights and have the horn, no?
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabre170 View Post
The complete loss of power has me baffled.....I would love suggestions.*
As disston suggests, check all your oil change steps, make sure everything is correct. Now check your electrical, first things first, look for the simple then dig deeper as needed:
1. check battery cable connections at battery posts, check ground cable at transmission (or frame, etc.)
2. check condition of battery cables. corroded? frayed?
3. check battery. how old is the battery? batteries fail often, and they can read 12 volts but not function correctly.
4. check positive cable connection at starter.
5. that's a few basics. we can investigate more in depth as necessary.
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disston View Post
Try the kill switch. It's on the right side handlebar control. The Red lever needs to be pointing straight across. Either pushed up or down the least amount kills the elec to the ignition.
Once, I practically took apart a bike, trying to figure out why it wouldn't start. Yes, it was the kill switch. Don't tell anyone.
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:50 PM   #8
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RecycledRS was right.....it was the Gen light not the Oil light.....oops. The way they were labeled, I was looking in the wrong direction.......dumb airhead newb. Haha.

The Oil light never was illuminating.*

As for the electrical problem.....I think I found it. I did as you all suggested, and started at the battery.....all was good, but as I traced wires forward, I saw a pretty mangled wire. After a bit of wiggling of all the wires in that area....TA-DA! *It starts up just fine (with no OIL light.....I'm such a dummy...haha).*

So, now I just need to repair/replace that wire.*

All this talk of screwing up the oil change has me a bit scared now. *It seemed pretty straight forward.....yeah, the filter/o ring setup wasnt exactly normal. *I'm not leaking any oil (yet) and the oil light is staying out.....safe to assume I didn't screw that up???
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:04 PM   #9
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Sounds like your learning quickly in finding the problem. Enjoy the ride!
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabre170 View Post
RecycledRS was right.....it was the Gen light not the Oil light.....oops. The way they were labeled, I was looking in the wrong direction.......dumb airhead newb. Haha.

The Oil light never was illuminating.*

As for the electrical problem.....I think I found it. I did as you all suggested, and started at the battery.....all was good, but as I traced wires forward, I saw a pretty mangled wire. After a bit of wiggling of all the wires in that area....TA-DA! *It starts up just fine (with no OIL light.....I'm such a dummy...haha).*

So, now I just need to repair/replace that wire.*

All this talk of screwing up the oil change has me a bit scared now. *It seemed pretty straight forward.....yeah, the filter/o ring setup wasnt exactly normal. *I'm not leaking any oil (yet) and the oil light is staying out.....safe to assume I didn't screw that up???
Glad you found it!!!! Electrical crap is always a blast....sorry to panic you about the oil change. If you're nervous you could check the oil pressure, but make sure the bike is very warm when you check it. I bet you're fine!
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:28 PM   #11
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Thanks for your help.....I am still chasing the problem though. The mangled wire I thought was the problem.....wasn't.*

I do, however know the issue is between the battery and the ignition. If I run a jumper from the battery directly to the ignition, all power is there. Then I remove the jumper, no power.*

I'm going to continue spark chasing. *I likely will just run a new line all together.*
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:57 PM   #12
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Your bike is 35+ years old and as such all the connectors should be cleaned and treated with a di-electric grease to protect the clean connections. Take the opportunity to learn the circuits and component locations. You'll feel a little more in control of the situation should other electrical problems arise in the future.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:29 PM   #13
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yeah....you are totally correct. I was just able to trace the problem to some corrosion on a terminal on a solenoid (maybe start relay???) under the tank. There are two 1"x1" solenoids side by side under the brake MC. One of the copper leads were completely "blue" with corrosion. I'm going to completely re run that entire wire terminal to terminal. Also will take your advice and get some contact cleaner and do a once over while I've got the tank off.*
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:36 PM   #14
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Sounds like you are making progress.

It is an Axiom of mechanical problems and their repair in all types of vehicles that when anything happens, look at the last thing you worked on. Turns out that this time you have a wiring problem and it does not seem related to the oil change. You will eventually figure the wiring out. It's good to have a wiring diagram for wiring problems. It is true that our bikes have a lot of wiring. The wiring is not simple on these simple machines. Wiring diagrams can sometimes be found on the internet but hard copies work best I think. And hard copies can be found in all the popular after market manuals. You should have either a Clymer's or Hayne's manual. They are not really cheap but they will pay for them selves.

You should have this tool for tracing wires;



I forget where I stole that photo but it is so descriptive of what is needed and how we chase wires. Yes sometimes wiggling the wires will produce results sometimes but this tool clipped to a ground source and then probed to wire ends will tell you where the hot wires are.

A version of this tool is available at Harbor Freight and almost any parts store will have several versions. You do not want the one that does "Spark Plug Wires" Get a standard DC Current 6-12 volt test light.

Hardwaregrrl mentioned this site earlier. This is very important information about your bike. The white O-ring used in the oil filter cover is called today the 2,000 dollar O-ring. We are not kidding. The improper understanding of what this is about and the failure to have the correct assembly of these parts will cause thousands of dollars damage. Here is the site again, that Hardaregrrl mentioned before. I'm posting it a second time for you because this is important.

http://www.largiader.com/tech/filters/

Edit; About the test light I recommend. They also sell one called "computer safe" it will work but you don't need that. And sometimes they sell one with a 6 foot lead, or longer, you don't need that either. You want a standard size incandescent bulb non-computer safe test light.
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disston screwed with this post 11-28-2012 at 05:52 PM
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:47 PM   #15
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+ 1. cool Charlie, I use that all the time.
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