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Thread: Electrical woes - low voltage, starting issues, etc.

  1. #1
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    Default Electrical woes - low voltage, starting issues, etc.

    Hi all,
    First a little background. I've owned my 82 GS650L for like 8 years now. It was my starter bike, and it is no longer my daily driver. But I kept it around as a project bike to continue learning about motorcycle maintenance and I do still ride it from time to time. I've been making little improvements here and there, working my way down the list of stuff as money and time allows. One thing that has always plagued me on the bike is the electrical issues it seems to have.

    It has always had low voltage to the blinkers, horn, headlight, etc. and lately has been having some starting issues. Occasionally I will push the starter button and nothing happens... this happened the other day when I stopped to fill it up for gas. No clicking, starter motor not turning or anything. I turned the key off and on a couple times and eventually it fired... but I thought I was gonna be calling a tow truck. So I'm scared to take it too far right now.

    So, I decided to start investigating. A couple months ago, I found that one of the connectors under the seat was a bit melted. I replaced that with a brand new connector. Then I went through basically the entire wiring harness from head to tail and cleaned each connection with some DeOxit and a small wire brush as needed. Nothing looked particularly corroded. I also replaced the main connectors going to the battery, since they did look a little rough. All of that work and it didn't really have a benefit. I let it be for a while.

    Now I decided to replace the burnt out bulb for my high beam light indicator on the instrument cluster. I decided to try an LED bulb for it, and found that upon replacement it would light up but it is VERY dim. A halogen bulb will light up though. So I checked the voltage with my multimeter and it's only getting about 7.5 volts. I also tested the horn (which has really never worked) and it only get like 3.5-4 volts. So it's clear that I am having some massive voltage drops somewhere. My battery is older at this point, probably about 5 years but has not had much use and it's always been on a tender during down times. As far as I know it's still OK since the bike does start and run, and it seems to hold a charge.

    Short of redoing the entire harness, where should I be looking? The fuse box is the original, and I have read that those can be a trouble spot. Should I replace that with something new? Recommendations on what to get? I do plan to have the battery tested just to be sure but just looking for any advice for where to go next. If you can't tell, I'm not super electrically inclined. I just feel like I must be missing something obvious with that kind of voltage drop!
    ------------------------------------------------
    1982 GS650L
    2020 Triumph Speed Twin

  2. #2
    posplayr's Avatar
    posplayr is offline Forum LongTimer GSResource Superstar
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    Get a volt meter and learn to use it.
    Start with the Quick test and report the numbers.

    BTW, if yoiu were only brushing the contacts instead of getting into crimps you may have been doing little to alleviate corrosion inside of a crimp.

    The good news is most connectors are not that likely to give any issues. The main ones are between battery, R/R and fuse box including ignition switch. The headlamp can be an issue also because it draws so much current.
    Read about Charging Quick Test GS Charging Health GS Stator

    "The smallest giant of mankind, is he who stands on the shoulders of a larger giant who himself stands on the shoulders of yet a larger giant, and therefore sees the most light from GOD." Posplayr 2017 adapted from : Bernard of Chartres


  3. #3
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    Also, when you did the harness cleaning, did you disassemble the switches and clean them?
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  4. #4
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    You mean the switch controls on the handlebars? Well, not this time. I have in the past thoroughly cleaned the left side switch controls when I was trying to get the horn to work. Had some success... got it to where the horn would function if I was in motion but still wouldn't work at idle / with the engine off. That was a few years ago. I have not cleaned the right side switch controls.

    Re: the headlight... would replacing it with an LED bulb help that issue? Since an LED would draw less current?

    I do have a multimeter and know how to use it at a very basic level. Still working on being competent enough to fully understand the motorcycle's electrical system and how to test it and isolate where the voltage drop is happening. I am happy to take any advice, or pointers to videos / tutorials that might help me out.

    And I will def. check out the quick test... you mean this one right? http://gsarchive.bwringer.com/storag...-ends.html#A20
    Will report back with those numbers. I did do this one years ago and everything checked out but I suppose it is time to do it again to make sure my battery is still okay.
    ------------------------------------------------
    1982 GS650L
    2020 Triumph Speed Twin

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by exzachtly1 View Post
    Re: the headlight... would replacing it with an LED bulb help that issue? Since an LED would draw less current?
    Only after you've made sure the charging system and the switchgear is up to snuff. Before you fit an LED headlight you have to dump the old reg-rec and replace it with a series type (Shindengen SH-775, Compufire, etc) because the lowered current draw of the LED will just result in more current being dumped back into the stator, which is already running on the ragged edge.
    ---- Dave
    79 GS850N - Might be a trike soon.
    80 GS850T Single HIF38 S.U. SH775, Tow bar, Pantera II. Gnarly workhorse & daily driver.
    79 XS650SE - Pragmatic Ratter - goes better than a manky old twin should.
    92 XJ900F - Fairly Stock, for now.

    Only a dog knows why a motorcyclist sticks his head out of a car window

  6. #6
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    Here are the results from the quick test. The only place I saw problems was step 5 - seemed low and was wavering all over the place. It suggests that I have "bad connections" and mentions checking the grounds, positive legs between R/R and battery, fuse box, and large bullet connector to battery. I will do my best to figure out how to check all of those but can someone point me in the right direction? What is meant by "check the grounds" exactly? Hoping I can figure out the rest but I'm beginning to suspect my fuse box. Any advice is appreciated.

    20200701_181322.jpg
    ------------------------------------------------
    1982 GS650L
    2020 Triumph Speed Twin

  7. #7
    posplayr's Avatar
    posplayr is offline Forum LongTimer GSResource Superstar
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    Did a quick look at your 5k voltages. Assume the bouncing is charging noise interacting with the voltmeter(not to worry). So just average the numbers 13-14.2==>13.6v which is lower than 2.5k rpm. Therefore dirty connection between r/r and battery (both grounds and 12v side).
    this doesn’t mean that stator is perfect, need to check fix connection before peeling back anymore layers of the onion
    Read about Charging Quick Test GS Charging Health GS Stator

    "The smallest giant of mankind, is he who stands on the shoulders of a larger giant who himself stands on the shoulders of yet a larger giant, and therefore sees the most light from GOD." Posplayr 2017 adapted from : Bernard of Chartres


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by posplayr View Post
    Did a quick look at your 5k voltages. Assume the bouncing is charging noise interacting with the voltmeter(not to worry). So just average the numbers 13-14.2==>13.6v which is lower than 2.5k rpm. Therefore dirty connection between r/r and battery (both grounds and 12v side).
    this doesn’t mean that stator is perfect, need to check fix connection before peeling back anymore layers of the onion
    Thank you. I pulled the battery today and started going through things again. Here is what I've found so far...

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/HAGP68e92yfBLF5K9

    Photo 1 shows the ground wire coming from the R/R. You can see that it seems to be extended with a bullet connector (also in photo 9), but I'm not sure why. I don't think it needs the extra length. Is it that way from the factory? You can also see that I've already put a new ring connector on it since the old one was pretty fried. EDIT: I realize now that the length was added so they could run it directly to the negative terminal on the battery. That's a good thing right? Less resistance?

    Photo 2 shows a concerning rusty looking bolt, at the bottom of the battery cage... this is holding two wires. One of them goes up to the negative terminal on the battery and the other one connects to a point right above where the RR is, I think just to the frame. That bolt is very rusty but the metal point where it connects to the frame underneath is clean. I plan to try to clean that rust as much as I can. You can see the ring connectors weren't the best either, I didn't bother trying to clean them. Simply replaced them with new ring connectors. That's basically photos 3-7 and 9. You can also see in photo 9, that wire had also been extended with a butt connector... not sure why. I removed it.

    Photos 10-11 show the 4-pin connector from the R/R that previously was partially melted. This happened a long time ago, not exactly sure when it fried but I replaced that connector completely as you can see. Any idea why that could have happened?

    The last 4 photos are of the fuse box. I wanted to show the condition of it... to me, it looks OK but maybe I'm wrong? It does seem like it could use a little cleaning so I will probably go through it with some deoxit.

    Anything obvious jumping out from my description or photos? I'm doing what I can to clean/replace stuff but feeling pretty unsure about my progress (or lack of) so far.
    Last edited by exzachtly1; 07-05-2020 at 08:01 PM.
    ------------------------------------------------
    1982 GS650L
    2020 Triumph Speed Twin

  9. #9
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    Here is a pic of the melted R/R connector, from back in march...

    20200322_111851.jpg

    Again... it's been replaced and so far so good but I also have not ridden the bike a lot since then. Could this point to a faulty stator or R/R or both? Also, and forgive me if this is a total newbie question but... would faulty stator or R/R components create the other symptoms I'm seeing? Voltage so low at the instrument cluster that it can't light an LED bulb... voltage too low to operate the horn, dim lights, etc.? I understand that these components are related specifically to the charging system but was not sure if they could also cause the other symptoms I'm seeing.

    Also, if there's any chance that the stator or R/R is bad, I'm more than happy to just bite the bullet and replace both of them. Been slowly upgrading things on this bike and I feel like it would be good peace of mind to just do it. Caltric brand looks like it would be a total of ~60 bucks shipped for both parts, and then I'd just need a stator cover gasket.
    Last edited by exzachtly1; 07-05-2020 at 09:29 PM.
    ------------------------------------------------
    1982 GS650L
    2020 Triumph Speed Twin

  10. #10
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    Last post for the night ... Is this normal? There is a ground wire spliced into the main negative battery cable, and it was running from there (battery terminal) to the ground point at the bottom of the battery box. It looks like maybe something someone added (I replaced the ring connector though):

    20200705_214421.jpg

    Wondering if it's needed or if I can clean it up / remove it. The insulation around it is kinda crappy and falling apart.
    ------------------------------------------------
    1982 GS650L
    2020 Triumph Speed Twin

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