Intermittent short in tail light circuit


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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cardinal
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Motorcycle: 1998 GL 1500SE

Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby cardinal » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:09 am



1995 1500 SE has an intermittent short that knocks out the gauges and lights on the panel as well as the tail lights. We've checked out all the wiring on the back end and found nothing suspicious. Now we've got to get into the front end.
Anyone ever changed the harness that feeds the fuel and temp gauges, OD light, back lights on the speedometer, tach and taillights? Any suggestions on finding a short that comes and goes?
I'm ready to put a super heavy fuse in, hoping it will "mark" the point of the short....but I'm afraid I might set the whole bike on fire
Any suggestions on finding the short? Or should I just plan on changing out the harness?



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silverado6x6
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Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby silverado6x6 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:54 am

Being an SE I would take a look at the illumination circuit wires going to each control box on the handle bars. Might be chafing inside or around the bars themselves. Or any harness under the seat.
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virgilmobile
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Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby virgilmobile » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:53 pm

What I do....
Locate the blown fuse....say a 10 amp....select a lightbulb that uses near that power....for a 10 amp,use a headlight bulb.Be mindful that it will get hot.
Attach the necessary 2wires to the bulb and use it in place of the blown fuse.....
Now If you wiggle a harness and a wire shorts out,it simply lights the bulb to full brightness.
This method allows you to locate the short area without blowing fuses.
Using a headlight lamp,it needs about 7 amp to light it up fully.When used in place of a fuse,it will light about half way....the rest will go to the other lights. They also will be dim.

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Uncle Fester
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Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby Uncle Fester » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:43 am

Cool idea with the headlight bulb. . . Will have to remember that one, thanks for sharing it !
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virgilmobile
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84 GL 1200 I

Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby virgilmobile » Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:58 pm

It's something I've done for many years.I have a 12 volt 55 Watt lamp I set up with pigtail wires and small push in connectors for the 10-15 amp fuses.
Take note that a test lamp (4 watt) would not work.They take so little power to light it would be bright with or without a direct short on the line.

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Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby WingAdmin » Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:42 am

I use one of these shunt ammeters:

http://www.harborfreight.com/30-amp-aut ... 67724.html



You plug it into the fuse block in place of the fuse, and then plug the fuse itself into the meter. The meter will read out exactly how many amps are being drawn through the circuit.

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Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby wingpilot08 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:02 am

Just as a thought...check your #3 relay and make sure it is firmly inserted. Remove it, clean contacts, tighten spade connectors, re-connect relay. It does control all the functions you specified.
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cardinal
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Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby cardinal » Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:24 pm

Got busy and didn't check back here for a while. I'm going out now and work on it a bit. Will start with the #3 Relay, that looks like the easiest place to start. Then start shaking wires as best I can. Will probably get a meter from Harbor freight and have my Son or Grandson watch and holler if I get a rogue reading.
Thanks for the suggestions.
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strangeman
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Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby strangeman » Sun May 04, 2014 9:13 pm

I too have the same problem (1991SE) and just when I think I have found it CCWT (Old telephone tech talk for Came Clear While Testing). It came back yesterday and CCWT this afternoon while I took a break to watch the end of the race. Had not touched a thing on returning and turned on the switch and walla all lights on and starter works. One thing I did do yesterday when the fuse blew was take a heavy wire and just touched the + batt terminal and the starter solenoid + terminal and started so could return home.


I have a short tracer that works fairly well for chasing a short circuit. Do not leave without it and my good volt meter and spare wire and tools to remove the seat and spare wire terminals and tools.

KD Tools 2524 Short Circuit Detector
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000RH6JP6/ref ... 1_ST1_dp_1

This is a circuit breaker to replace the fuse and am amp meter with a coil to pick up the sudden current rush just prior to the circuit breaker acting. Very quick on a pair of wires running parallel will stop the meter swing as you pass the short. Only problem is on the Goldwing the common wires going to this circuit have multiple branches and you have to try to determine the most predominate needle swing and some of the places are hard to get the meter lined up with the wires. Advantage is you can here the circuit breaker click when it opens and you can see the needle swing.

One way to test without the switch on (can take some time) is to take a test light and connect the clip to a + source and insert the probe into the left side of the fuse holder. If the circuit is shorted to ground it will light and go out if the ground is found and removed.

I have shaken wires under the seat, around the head light, under the radio, each side with cowlings removed and it still evades me, getting personal as I was an inside tech with the phone factory a number of years back.

Will post if I ever find the source please do the same.

Strange Man StrangeMan@BellSouth.net

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cardinal
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Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby cardinal » Sun May 04, 2014 11:24 pm

I finally just wired the tail lights direct, bypassing the circuit the gauges and panel lights were on and put a little higher amp fuse in the new line. Haven't had a problem since.
Edit to add: Nor a raging fire in the tail end!!!!

strangeman
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Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby strangeman » Sun May 18, 2014 6:50 pm

I found it, was in the trailer harness. Found the main harness connector coming from the fuse/relay box, in a plastic box laying on the rear fender just above and behind the fuse box. Disconnected the the connector and made a layout of the connectors. Read and recorded the pin voltages coming from the fuses/Relay box and then started reading the ohms to ground on the connector going to the lights & etc. On the number 2 pin it was 0 and the mating pin was 10v so that had to be a problem. Checked all to be sure. This is the brown with white tracer that goes everywhere. Then it was tracing the brown wire going to the rear by removing the tape. Found a junction of 3 wires so decided to cut them one at a time. The second one removed the grown, Repaired the first one and started tracing the cut one and where it split at the right side going to the tail light and the trailer circuit cut the side going to the trailer circuit and that was it. Their is too much on this circuit and I am going to split the it at a later time.

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Re: Intermittent short in tail light circuit

Postby WingAdmin » Mon May 19, 2014 8:41 am

Do you have a trailer isolator? If not, this is a primary reason why you should install one. That way, a short in the trailer wiring harness (or in the trailer itself) won't take out your bike's brake/turn signal lights, it only takes out the fuse that supplies the isolator.




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