Alternator


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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GBKid
Posts: 43
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2015 9:54 pm
Location: Oostburg, WI
Motorcycle: 1989 GL1500

Alternator

Postby GBKid » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:48 pm



Three weeks ago I installed a set of Show Chrome driving lights on my '89 GL 1500 (featured in the monthly newsletter if you missed it on my forum post at that time). Well this isn't about the driving lights per se, they are a great product. My alternator has expired coincidentally on the heels of installing the driving lights. Now my bike has 74,000 miles on it and the only other electrical draws are the stock equipment, and my add on Garmin GPS and an I-Pod. My question is could the addition of the driving lights put extra stress on the alternator enough to cause it to fail suddenly? Or is it just simply a coincidence?



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ct1500
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Location: Glastonbury,CT
Motorcycle: 1988 GL1500
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Re: Alternator

Postby ct1500 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:14 pm

It is coincidence I am sure your alternator problem is mileage related and are the brushes in it that are stuck in all likelihood.
This is what I do
Local and need repair help with your 1500, Valkyrie or ST please PM

GBKid
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Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2015 9:54 pm
Location: Oostburg, WI
Motorcycle: 1989 GL1500

Re: Alternator

Postby GBKid » Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:13 am

Can someone also tell how to diagnose the the problem so I am certain it is the alternator not charging. The battery is a Honda battery less than a year old that is always kept on a battery tender.

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Bluewaterhooker0
Posts: 556
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:27 pm
Location: Tampa, Fl
Motorcycle: 1997 Goldwing GL 1500 SE

Re: Alternator

Postby Bluewaterhooker0 » Sun Jul 10, 2016 12:04 pm

There are only 2 wires to the alternator. First, with the bike running, check the voltage at the large connection on the alternator (large wire and nut). You should see around 12.? V at idle, and it should increase to 13.? V as the rpm's increase to around 2000 rpm.
If you don't see that voltage increase, check the small wire that feeds the alternator. It should show battery voltage of 12.? V. If you have the voltage at the small wire, but no voltage increase at the large wire connection upon rpm increase, there is likely an issue with the alternator.
If you show the correct readings at both wires, check for the same voltage increase at the battery terminal. It should show the same voltage fluctuation between idle, and at 2000 rpm. If not, then there is likely a break in continuity between the battery and the alternator. Check for tight connections on all connection points.
The attached post discusses some of the things to check for on the alternator itself.

viewtopic.php?t=30296

GBKid
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Location: Oostburg, WI
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Re: Alternator

Postby GBKid » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:56 pm

Thank you Bluewaterhooker0!

GBKid
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Re: Alternator

Postby GBKid » Sun Jul 10, 2016 2:50 pm

Bluewaterhooker0. So if I don't see at least 12 v at either the large or small wire with the engine at idle, it's the alternator? I see 12.7 v at the battery and alternator large wire, 0 v at small wire with the ignition off. 11.6 v at the battery and alternator large wire and small wire with ignition on. 11.6 v at alternator large and small wire and battery with engine at idle. Seems like alternator to me. What do you think?

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Bluewaterhooker0
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Re: Alternator

Postby Bluewaterhooker0 » Sun Jul 10, 2016 6:41 pm

[I see 12.7 v at the battery and alternator large wire, 0 v at small wire with the ignition off.]

I believe that is correct with the engine and or ignition key turned off. The small wire is the "exciter" wire that tells the alternator voltage regulator how much voltage/amperage is needed to maintain the battery charge.

[11.6 v at the battery and alternator large wire and small wire with ignition on. 11.6 v at alternator large and small wire and battery with engine at idle]

That is almost identical to the bad readings I had on mine when the alternator died. It is not even maintaining the 12.7V static reading that the battery has when the bike is turned off. It will surely loose charge at that point, and the bike will run until the battery reaches about 10V, where the engine cannot continue to run.

Since the alternator is receiving the correct signal to charge via the small wire, but not showing any voltage higher than battery voltage under load, your alternator would be suspect. I would start by disassembling the alternator, and checking the rotor for continuity, before proceeding with a cleanup or brush maintenance, as a dead rotor is a common occurrence, and brushes will not save it. To check it, you simply read the resistance across the 2 copper slip rings on the rotor shaft. If it reads infinite resistance, or OL, the rotor is dead and time for a rebuild or new alternator. If the rotor reads good, then a cleanup of the whole assembly and brushes, or even replacement of the brushes may get you back in business. There is also an possibility that the voltage regulator is bad. But, from my experience, and readings on this forum, rotors and brushes seem to be the primary culprits. Let me know what you find.

EDIT: To be more specific, the brushes can become stuck in a retracted position, where they no longer contact the rotor slip rings, or without enough pressure to maintain operation. I had such a problem on mine, intermittently. I cleaned up the whole alternator, with specific attention to the smoothness of the brushes in the holders. It fixed my initial issue, but the rotor died a few months later. Just wanted to add this info so you understand why the cleanup is needed. I would clean them up and run the bike. Maybe order some new brushes for replacement in the future, if all seems well after the cleanup. This all assumes the rotor is not toast.

I wound up replacing mine with a Lactrical 85A unit, that is a big step up (OEM is 40A) in performance of the charging system. It's been on over a year now, and working great. About 5K miles.

If you make it to the point of cleanup, let me know. I was trying to find some instructions regarding that, but can't find them. There is a trick to getting the brushes held in place for reassembly. I got pretty good at disassembly and reassembly after fooling with mine a few times.

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Re: Alternator

Postby FM-USA » Sun Jul 10, 2016 7:20 pm

IF you haven't pulled your Alternator yet, try this first.

While the bike is running (presumably after a battery charge) take a small hammer and tap the rear of the Alt in different places and angles all the while using compressed air, you might work loose the stuck brushes.
I did this on mine and it started working proper. I then R-n-R the Alt, removed the rear case, cleaned the brush holder with compressed air AND straightened out the brushes wires. Made sure the brushed were smoothly working. My Alt worked flawlessly for 3 more years. In the meantime I self installed volt meter and seen the charging voltage act erratically. I immediately did a brush replacement and new rear bearing.

I agree with Bluewaterhooker0... if your rotor is out and you need repairs/new/different Alternator, get a higher output. An Alternator/Starter rebuild shop can install parts to get you 47 amps output, tho it cost you about $75.00 and a few days of no riding. :(
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Taste testing as the miles flow, souring as that acid grows.
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GBKid
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Re: Alternator

Postby GBKid » Sun Jul 10, 2016 8:59 pm

Thanks for the information fellows. It sounds like the problem is with the alternator. I think I'll just buy a new one and replace it. I'll tinker with the old one and check out your suggestions for sure and if it is a simple fix, I'll keep it as a spare or sell it cheap on eBay. Thanks again for the help!

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Bluewaterhooker0
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Motorcycle: 1997 Goldwing GL 1500 SE

Re: Alternator

Postby Bluewaterhooker0 » Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:00 pm

It took me almost a year to find a shop that would work on the 1500 alternator. Not like I was looking every day. But, finally a guy with my local bike club, referred me to a shop in St.Pete ( 30 miles away) that worked on them. I brought mine in, and he had one on the shelf already "rebuilt". We swapped out, and $117 later I had what I now use as a backup 40A OEM unit. The reason I say "rebuilt" is because I wasn't thinking clearly at the time, and didn't get a really good definition of what exactly "rebuilt" meant. I know it has a new voltage regulator, because that was the reason for an additional $30 worth of the job. BUT, whether the rotor (which is VERY important) was rewound, I don't know. I suspect the bearings were replaced. I guess the reason I'm mentioning all this is that I don't really think rebuilding, what is essentially a barely adequate OEM 40A alternator, is really a good route to follow. The higher output units 80A, 90A, etc., are really the way to go. My battery was OK with the OEM working as it did, but as a for example....when I would put the Battery Tender Plus on my battery after a days riding, it might take several hours for the tender to indicate a FULL charge. After installing the 85A unit, the battery tender would indicate a FULL charge after 1/2 to 1 hour. Indicating to me that the battery was being charged much more efficiently by the new, higher output alternator, and nearly perfectly charged by the end of a days ride. I've never had to use the tender on a regular basis. The bike usually only sits for a week, at most. I sometimes just use it as an indication of battery health, and those were the results. Anyway, if yours is at its end of life, and a rebuild job is in the $80-125 range to rebuild, I would just spring for the additional few dollars, and get a new high output unit. Even if you are only looking for a spare. My "rebuilt" was $117, and another 85A would have been just $140. I know...a no brainer. Just my opinion, after dealing with what you are likely looking at. After getting used to the 'full voltage at any RPM's' characteristics of the high output unit, I know the spare OEM will not satisfy me for very long. I will be buying another new 85A to replace it, if or when the need arises.

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Bluewaterhooker0
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Re: Alternator

Postby Bluewaterhooker0 » Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:09 pm

I just saw your newest post. If you can determine that it's just the brushes, it will be well worth the cleaning to make it operational again. As you say, keep it as a spare. I wish I could have. A spare is a really good thing to have. Especially if your on a trip, or vacation in the mountains, etc. You can just swap them out, and save a trip without waiting for the necessary delivery of a new one. Good luck.

Without writing up a whole new essay, I would go with the Lactrical. There are varying opinions on these and other pages. But, in the end, any of the new alternators can have issues, and I can't see spending $300-400 for a Compufire that has quite a few failure issues listed in the forums, the same as the less expensive brands. If I felt that $$$ spent would near guarantee a failure proof alternator, I'd spend the money. But from what I've read, those dollars spent don't provide that assurance.

GBKid
Posts: 43
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2015 9:54 pm
Location: Oostburg, WI
Motorcycle: 1989 GL1500

Re: Alternator

Postby GBKid » Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:27 pm

Thanks Bluewaterhooker0! You were a big help and you clearly know what you are talking about. Check out my 2 posts WingAdmin featured in this month's newsletter. I was really honored. They have to do with the Show Chrome driving lights I installed when I replaced my timing belts and a petcock rebuild. I lack a bit in the electrical realm. Thanks again!




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