Alternator problems


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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Philcott
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:10 pm
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Motorcycle: 1987 GL1200A Aspencade
1999 GL1500

Alternator problems

Post by Philcott » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:44 am



My GL1500 is my commuter vehicle, and the other day it left me standing by the side of the road. As I left home, I noticed that the (aftermarket) voltmeter was reading 10 volts, and I thought, "Surely I didn't draw down the battery that much just starting the bike?" Two blocks later, it was 7 volts, and then everything started to shut down.
I took the alternator out and headed to a shop that the Honda folks recommended, in order to get my alternator rebuilt. Guy at the shop says the alternator tests out fine. No problems there.
What could be causing the the system to stop charging, other than the alternator going out?



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virgilmobile
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Motorcycle: 1988 GL1500 I
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84 GL 1200 I

Re: Alternator problems

Post by virgilmobile » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:16 am

The alternator does have a "get it going" wire attached to the back of it.Its suppose to have 12 volts on it when the key is on.
There is also a dogbone fuse between it and the battery.A good chance its cracked.
Its also possible that its intermittent internally.
A broken armerature connection or sticking brushes.
My first suggestion is to remove and replace the dogbone fuse that connects to the alternator.

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MikeB
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Motorcycle: 1998 - GL1500 Aspencade.
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by MikeB » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:41 am

I'd suspect that the brushes were stuck and not making proper contact with the commutator. If I were you, I'd replace the brushes and reinstall the alternator.
MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA

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aj1500
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by aj1500 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:55 am

MikeB wrote:I'd suspect that the brushes were stuck and not making proper contact with the commutator. If I were you, I'd replace the brushes and reinstall the alternator.
+1 , also verify the exciter wire is getting voltage when you put it back together

Philcott
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:10 pm
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Motorcycle: 1987 GL1200A Aspencade
1999 GL1500

Re: Alternator problems

Post by Philcott » Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:14 pm

Thank you! I'll run those past my alternator guy, and see what I can figure out. Might go for a 95-amp alternator anyway.

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lamasue
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Location: Winslow,maine
Motorcycle: 2000 1500se

Re: Alternator problems

Post by lamasue » Wed Jun 01, 2016 8:51 pm

Your in that gap of years where alt has bearing problems get in touch with ken hemming he deals with golding alts got a 85 amp off him

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hugger-4641
Posts: 203
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Location: McKenzie, TN
Motorcycle: 1994 GL1500 Aspencade, 1982 CM 200 Twinstar, 1984 VT500 Ascot

Re: Alternator problems

Post by hugger-4641 » Thu Jun 02, 2016 10:36 pm

My bet is also that the brushes were stuck. The slight banging around involved with removing the alternator probably freed the brushes and it tested fine at the shop, but if reinstalled, they will stick again.

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Mh434
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by Mh434 » Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:02 pm

Philcott wrote:Thank you! I'll run those past my alternator guy, and see what I can figure out. Might go for a 95-amp alternator anyway.
The higher-output alternator would be my suggestion - it probably won't cost any more than getting your old one rebuilt, you'll have a brand new alternator (rather than a repaired old one that still has most of its worn parts), and you'll have another 55 amps to play with! You would, though, need an AGM-type battery to go with it, if you don't already have one, as I understand the standard (non-AGM) batteries aren't up to the output of the high output alternators.

RodneyH
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:39 am
Location: Chappells, South Carolina
Motorcycle: 1999 GL1500SE

Re: Alternator problems

Post by RodneyH » Tue May 09, 2017 2:14 am

My 99 1500se hasn't been started in a few weeks and when I tried to start it today the battery was not able to turn the engine over enough to start it so I rolled it off. After riding it to the store about 5 miles away it started fine. I made one more stop on my way home and the bike started up fine again. While riding, the volt meter is over where the 1st green light or two are lit up but pulling into my drive at idle the lights stay on the amber color. Does that sound more like I need another battery or need another alternator? Thanks in advance for any advice.

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MikeB
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by MikeB » Tue May 09, 2017 9:53 am

If you had not kept the bike battery connected to a Battery Tender type of float charger when it is idle, you have probably run your battery down.
MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA

RodneyH
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Location: Chappells, South Carolina
Motorcycle: 1999 GL1500SE

Re: Alternator problems

Post by RodneyH » Tue May 09, 2017 10:50 am

Thanks Mike, if the battery just sat and got weak shouldn't it charge back up as I ride it if the alternator is working and assuming there's no dead cell in the battery? I don't have a battery tender but I do have a 12 volt deep cell marine battery charger. Is it ok to connect my marine charger to the battery without disconnecting the battery from the bike? Thanks.

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MikeB
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by MikeB » Tue May 09, 2017 11:03 am

RodneyH wrote:Thanks Mike, if the battery just sat and got weak shouldn't it charge back up as I ride it if the alternator is working and assuming there's no dead cell in the battery? I don't have a battery tender but I do have a 12 volt deep cell marine battery charger.
Yes but that puts a pretty heavy load on your alternator to take it from flat to operational.
RodneyH wrote:Is it ok to connect my marine charger to the battery without disconnecting the battery from the bike? Thanks.
In a word, No. The higher current car and marine battery chargers can damage your motorcycle battery.

A Float Charger is a much better idea.
MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA

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Mh434
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by Mh434 » Tue May 09, 2017 11:06 am

Lead/acid batteries build up a layer of non-conducting sulfates on the lead plates over time, which reduces their capacity. The best defense against this is constant draw & charge cycles, which a fully automatic smart battery-maintainer mimics. Sitting idle, though, hastens sulfation and reduces battery capacity over time. Even an excellent alternator can't return a sulfated battery back to life, and a marginal or under-performing alternator only makes this worse.

IMHO, an aftermarket alternator, an AGM ("absorbed glass mat") type battery, and a quality motorcycle-specific battery maintainer are the key to a healthy GL1500 (well, any motorcycle's) electrical longevity.

In any case, to diagnose your issue, we'd need some voltage readings from your bike: 1) voltage, measured at the battery, bike shut off & at rest for awhile; 2) voltage, measured at the battery, with the bike running at idle, 3) voltage, measured at the battery, engine running at 1500-2000 RPM.

Those three measurements will go a long way toward us being able to tell you what we suspect the issue probably is. Until then, we're guessing...

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MikeB
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by MikeB » Tue May 09, 2017 11:13 am

Very well stated Mh434.
MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA

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Corkster52
Posts: 353
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Location: Perrysburg, OH
Motorcycle: 1999 GL1500 Aspencade
1988 GL1500 (sold 4/17)

Re: Alternator problems

Post by Corkster52 » Tue May 09, 2017 12:28 pm

MikeB » Tue May 09, 2017 12:03 pm
In a word, No. The higher current car and marine battery chargers can damage your motorcycle battery.
:oops: Guilty of having done so many times.

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MikeB
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by MikeB » Tue May 09, 2017 12:42 pm

:D Aren't we all. Knowledge is power it's too bad we're too old too soon and too smart too late.
MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA

RodneyH
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Location: Chappells, South Carolina
Motorcycle: 1999 GL1500SE

Re: Alternator problems

Post by RodneyH » Tue May 09, 2017 12:51 pm

I don't have a hand held voltage meter. Will it help diagnose the trouble if I go out there and turn the switch to the "on" position and see what the voltmeter on the bike reads, then start the bike up and see what the voltmeter reads at idle, the turn the throttle to 2-3000 rpms and see what the voltmeter is reading then? Thanks.

RodneyH
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by RodneyH » Tue May 09, 2017 12:54 pm

I guess Im just not understanding what you mean by "at the battery". All I have is the kurykan voltmeter that was mounted on the bike when I bought it.

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Mh434
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by Mh434 » Tue May 09, 2017 1:10 pm

You need to purchase a cheap multimeter (I like digital ones). You should be able to purchase a workable one for $15-$20, and they are a truly indispensable tool for working on a 'Wing. They can be purchased at any local auto parts place or hardware store. It's not just useful for the bike - they have thousands of uses on all types of vehicles, household applications, etc. I probably have a dozen, including one tiny one that folds up into a case about the size of a deck of cards, but only half as thick.

The aftermarket Kuryakyn voltmeter on your bike will only tell you what the bike's voltage is with all the ignition system, etc. drawing power, so it's not appropriate for these tests & won't tell you what's actually going on at the battery. We need to know what the voltage is, measured directly between the positive & negative poles of the battery itself. That's the "true" voltage, exclusive of the ignition system, lighting, stereo, etc. etc.

I appreciate that many have little experience with this sort of stuff, so I'll give some pointers here.

On a GL1500, the battery is located directly behind the right-side plastic side cover, directly below the seat edge & false fuel tank. It has plastic studs, which push into rubber grommets, thus holding the side cover on. Be careful pulling the cover off - pull it gently, at each corner in turn, so the studs pop free of the grommets (those plastic studs are fragile, and hard to repair if they break). Once the cover's off, the battery will be clearly visible. Facing the battery, the (+) pole is to your right, and the (-) pole is to your left - the bike's main battery cables are bolted onto these poles.

Once you have a multimeter, with the bike's ignition turned off (and the bike having been shut off for at least 10 minutes), and the multimeter set to DC Volts, hold the metal tip of the red probe to the (+) pole on the battery & the tip of the black probe to the (-) pole. Ideally, the reading should be in the 12.6V to 12.7V range. Regardless, write it down so you can report it to us. Secondly, do precisely the same test with the bike running, at idle, and again write down the result. Finally, have someone keep the revs up to the 1500-2000 RPM range, do the exact same measurement again, and write down the results.


Once we have those results, we can take a pretty decent shot at diagnosing the problem, and advise how to best fix it.

Hope that helps!

RodneyH
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Motorcycle: 1999 GL1500SE

Re: Alternator problems

Post by RodneyH » Tue May 09, 2017 1:53 pm

Thank you very much. Ill go get a multimeter today and ill check the readings you suggested and post my findings back on here either later today or early tomorrow. Thanks again for the help and for your patience.

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Mh434
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by Mh434 » Tue May 09, 2017 10:12 pm

We're always happy to help!

RodneyH
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by RodneyH » Tue May 09, 2017 10:25 pm

I got that multimeter today and will test the battery tomorrow. That's about the only thing I know how to check. I don't know how to test the alternator or even where it's located. Today it started up with no problem, after about 7-8 miles the kurykyn meter started dropping from the green led lights to the amber ones so I turned around to get back home. On the waaback home it would go back and forth from the amber lights to the green, a couple of miles later there was nothing but red lights lit up and they blinked on and off until I finally had only one red light lit up. As I was turning into my driveway the last red light went off and the bike stopped running right then. Does this description hint to anyone what the problem might be? Thanks again for any help on this.

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Bluewaterhooker0
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by Bluewaterhooker0 » Tue May 09, 2017 11:51 pm

Regardless of where your bike meter is connected and getting its voltage reading, it sounds like you definitely have a charging issue. Either dirty and sticking brushes in the alternator, or a loose connection somewhere in the charging circuit. You could check the simple items first. Tight clean connections at the main alternator wire, battery and dogbone fuse. A good solid clean connection at the exciter wire connector and where it connects to the alternator. Next would be dirty weak connecting brushes inside the alternator, a very common problem that can exhibit intermittent readings like you are experiencing. Having experienced the brush issue, that would be my bet, as they can get REALLY dirty and encrusted with the carbon dust that inevitably wears off the brushes with normal use. That will require removing the alternator, disassembling it, and cleaning the brushes, holders, and pretty much everything else you can access with an electrical contact cleaner, then reassembling and reinstalling the alternator.
Yours is behaving just like mine, only I had voltmeter readings on my bike meter instead of colored lights. But, same results, same outcome.

RodneyH
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by RodneyH » Wed May 10, 2017 12:16 am

I will check for loose connections at the battery but where is the main exciter wire and dogbone and the other connection you mentioned? I don't even know where the alternator is located on the bike. I haven't owned it long at all and all I've done since I've had it is checked the oil. Thanks.

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Bluewaterhooker0
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Re: Alternator problems

Post by Bluewaterhooker0 » Wed May 10, 2017 9:30 am

This may help. It regards installing a Compu-Fire alternator, but shows location and removal.






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