4th Alternator GL1500


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Don Fonzarelli
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4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Don Fonzarelli » Fri Sep 01, 2017 5:43 am



My apologies for any laguage mistakes, I'm from the Netherlands.
I wonder if you guys could shine a light on this problem I'm running into for three years now.
3 years ago I bought a second-hand GL1500 from 1988.
Pretty soon I was looking at some problems with the alternator, so I got my hands on a refurbished one. After 2 days I heard it 'screaming and squeeking' so I went back and the garage did put in another refurbished one.
After a year the whole block made some disturbing noises. I was able to buy a block from 1998 with only 6000 mls on it.
That block was a whole new experience, let me tell you.
But on Holiday in France this year, my 3th alternator quitted on me, so numer 4 is in it now.
How come?
3 alternators in3 years seems a bit strange to me.
What to do?
There are many alternators for sale.
Which one to choose?
Most of the offerings on eBay do not ship to the Netherlands.

Thanks in advantage.



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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Mh434 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:23 am

In all probability, the alternators you've been using were China-sourced Honda items, rather than the original Japan-sourced ones. The ones from China have proven to be weak (barely adequate to maintain a GoldWing's needs) and short-lived.

Many of us GL1500 owners have switched to aftermarket, higher-output alternators (you should also switch to an absorbed-glass-mat (AGM) style battery when doing this). These alternators are vastly superior to the original Honda ones, both in output and longevity.

I personally bought an LActrical 95-amp alternator (and a generic AGM battery) and have had no problems since. Here's a link:

https://www.amazon.com/LActrical-ALTERN ... ingdocs-20

They do ship internationally, so that shouldn't be a problem for you. As you can see, the price is VERY reasonable and, as they're essentially modified Saturn car alternators, they're designed for very long, reliable service. They can also be rebuilt by virtually any alternator service shop.

Hope that helps...

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Don Fonzarelli » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:08 pm

Thank you very much for your reply.
That link is perfect and the price is very reasonable.

Could you please be more specific about the battery?
What's the difference with the stock battery?
are you talking about what is called a 'gel' battery?
Why is that a better choice with that alternator?
I'm using a Varta battery with a higher Ampére at the moment. Very satisfied with that.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by RBGERSON » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:07 pm

Yep AMG is gel type battery.. The difference is the gel batteries like/can handle the higher charging rate 14.5 or so..while lead/water can start to boil out over 14-14.5 .
HAD LOTS OF GOLDWING 75-83
NOW INTO 1500'S..RIDING A 1998 SE

FAIR WINDS,
RB

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Erdeniz Umman » Fri Sep 01, 2017 8:49 pm

RBGERSON wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:07 pm
Yep AMG is gel type battery.. The difference is the gel batteries like/can handle the higher charging rate 14.5 or so..while lead/water can start to boil out over 14-14.5 .
Just a little correction. AGM batteries are different from GEL type batteries.

Actually both are lead acid type like OEM batteries, but they have an absorbent material inside the cells to keep the electrolyte. One uses gel substance, the other fiber sheets.

The gel type batteries are mostly used as backup battery for computer systems, because they can be safely mounted in vertical or horizontal position.

The AGM batteries have been used on airplanes for many years, and now on the cars and motorbikes. They are more efficient, powerful and durable when compared to the OEM and GEL batteries.

For more information you can search the topic on YouTube.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Mh434 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:49 am

^^^Yes, this! AGM batteries are able to handle sustained higher charging rates than regular, flooded batteries. They also don't leak acid if punctured, work in any orientation (even upside down), and have a longer usable life.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Dusty Boots » Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:24 pm

I've gone through 3 Compu-Fire alternators and a Saturn one over the years on my 92,
One of the reason's I'm selling my wing with 340,xxx kms on it and bought a 2013 Victory Cross Country Tour

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Don Fonzarelli » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:24 am

Dusty Boots wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:24 pm
I've gone through 3 Compu-Fire alternators and a Saturn one over the years on my 92,
One of the reason's I'm selling my wing with 340,xxx kms on it and bought a 2013 Victory Cross Country Tour
That doesn't sound promising for me to order a Saturn one in the USA.
Apparently some GL1500's eat alternators for breakfast and others ride around for years with only the stock one.
Is it the way we ride?
Something else?
How come?

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Mh434 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:32 am

Aside from the rare faulty unit, which can happen in any brand of alternator (and LActrical warranties their alternators rather well), I haven't heard of any problems with them...they seem to be extraordinarily reliable.

I suspect the reason that GL1500's "eat" stock alternators is that they are under rather a heavy load pretty much all the time and, even with a bike in stock form, the alternators were marginal at best. Add on a few electrical "farkles", as most of us do, and the load quickly overwhelms them. In the mid-90's, Honda started sourcing their OEM alternators from China, instead of Japan. These later alternators didn't put out any more current, and weren't as reliable as the Japanese Hitachi ones, so they tend to go sooner.

I suspect that if you did a poll here of all those who have gone to aftermarket alternators, like the LActrical unit, you'll find the vast majority are utterly happy with their choice, and alternator failure, as well as insufficient current, become a thing of the past. Speaking for myself, I replaced my Japanese Hitachi unit (even though it was still functioning perfectly) to get the extra juice to run my add-ons, and so far at least, it's been perfect. I have 14.2 V and 95 amps available, even at idle - more than I could ever need. My original Hitachi made 12.8 V at idle, with a theoretical maximum of 40 amps...barely enough to run the bike's basic systems, even at high RPM's. Considering that the cost of rebuilding my Hitachi (when it would have become necessary) locally was about the same as a brand new LActrical, and the decision was simple.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Don Fonzarelli » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:50 am

Mh434 wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:32 am
Aside from the rare faulty unit, which can happen in any brand of alternator (and LActrical warranties their alternators rather well), I haven't heard of any problems with them...they seem to be extraordinarily reliable.

I suspect the reason that GL1500's "eat" stock alternators is that they are under rather a heavy load pretty much all the time and, even with a bike in stock form, the alternators were marginal at best. Add on a few electrical "farkles", as most of us do, and the load quickly overwhelms them. In the mid-90's, Honda started sourcing their OEM alternators from China, instead of Japan. These later alternators didn't put out any more current, and weren't as reliable as the Japanese Hitachi ones, so they tend to go sooner.

I suspect that if you did a poll here of all those who have gone to aftermarket alternators, like the LActrical unit, you'll find the vast majority are utterly happy with their choice, and alternator failure, as well as insufficient current, become a thing of the past. Speaking for myself, I replaced my Japanese Hitachi unit (even though it was still functioning perfectly) to get the extra juice to run my add-ons, and so far at least, it's been perfect. I have 14.2 V and 95 amps available, even at idle - more than I could ever need. My original Hitachi made 12.8 V at idle, with a theoretical maximum of 40 amps...barely enough to run the bike's basic systems, even at high RPM's. Considering that the cost of rebuilding my Hitachi (when it would have become necessary) locally was about the same as a brand new LActrical, and the decision was simple.
Thanks for the reply.
The thing is I have no extra's on my GL1500. I even have LED in my headlight instead of the stock H4's.
Occasionally a Garmin GPS, but that's it.
But I will order one of those LActrical alternators very soon.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Corkster52 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:35 am

I've heard nothing but good things regarding Lactrical!

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Corkster52 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:43 am

Don Fonzarelli wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:50 am

I suspect the reason that GL1500's "eat" stock alternators is that they are under rather a heavy load pretty much all the time and, even with a bike in stock form, the alternators were marginal at best. Add on a few electrical "farkles", as most of us do, and the load quickly overwhelms them. In the mid-90's, Honda started sourcing their OEM alternators from China, instead of Japan. These later alternators didn't put out any more current, and weren't as reliable as the Japanese Hitachi ones, so they tend to go sooner.
Just for reference, I received this info from a trusted friend regarding amp draw on the 1500s...

1998 – 2000 GL1500 “SE” Electrical Amperage Requirements
(See special note below for other years/models)

292 Watts 24.33 Amps (Regular system with high beams on, radio on,
cruise control set and in overdrive)

Note: The above includes 55/60-watt headlight bulbs.

99 Watts 8.25 Amps (Four optional lights: fairing, saddlebags, trunk and tail)

Note: This includes the saddlebag lights with six (6)
bulbs.

391 Watts 32.58 Amps Total Wattage and Amperage required.

Just running down the road in overdrive with high beams on, cruise control set, listening to tunes, you are using 32.58 amps.

You have about 12.42 amps for additional accessories.

You have about 13.25 amps for additional accessories. (If using low beams)

You have about 14.92 amps for additional accessories. (If using stock 45/45-watt
headlight bulbs)

Driving lights (55 watt x 2), adds an additional 9.16 amps of draw.

Electric jacket liner adds an additional 6.4 amps of draw.

Brake lights: 108 Watts 9 Amps (Only a temporary draw on the system)

Turn signals: 44 Watts 3.66 Amps (Only a temporary draw on the system)


The original stock GL1500 alternator can generate full output amperage (45 amps) at 2800 RPM’s.

You can do the math to determine how much your amperage draw would be based on what additional electrical accessories you are running.

Special Note: The 1988 – 1990 Gold Wing and 1991 – 2000 Aspencade does not have
the (full time accessory lights), they require 3 Amps less.

The 1990 – 1997 SE does not have the (full time accessory lights), they
require 3 Amps less.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Don Fonzarelli » Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:16 am

Corkster52 wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:43 am
Don Fonzarelli wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:50 am

I suspect the reason that GL1500's "eat" stock alternators is that they are under rather a heavy load pretty much all the time and, even with a bike in stock form, the alternators were marginal at best. Add on a few electrical "farkles", as most of us do, and the load quickly overwhelms them. In the mid-90's, Honda started sourcing their OEM alternators from China, instead of Japan. These later alternators didn't put out any more current, and weren't as reliable as the Japanese Hitachi ones, so they tend to go sooner.
Just for reference, I received this info from a trusted friend regarding amp draw on the 1500s...

1998 – 2000 GL1500 “SE” Electrical Amperage Requirements
(See special note below for other years/models)

292 Watts 24.33 Amps (Regular system with high beams on, radio on,
cruise control set and in overdrive)

Note: The above includes 55/60-watt headlight bulbs.

99 Watts 8.25 Amps (Four optional lights: fairing, saddlebags, trunk and tail)

Note: This includes the saddlebag lights with six (6)
bulbs.

391 Watts 32.58 Amps Total Wattage and Amperage required.

Just running down the road in overdrive with high beams on, cruise control set, listening to tunes, you are using 32.58 amps.

You have about 12.42 amps for additional accessories.

You have about 13.25 amps for additional accessories. (If using low beams)

You have about 14.92 amps for additional accessories. (If using stock 45/45-watt
headlight bulbs)

Driving lights (55 watt x 2), adds an additional 9.16 amps of draw.

Electric jacket liner adds an additional 6.4 amps of draw.

Brake lights: 108 Watts 9 Amps (Only a temporary draw on the system)

Turn signals: 44 Watts 3.66 Amps (Only a temporary draw on the system)


The original stock GL1500 alternator can generate full output amperage (45 amps) at 2800 RPM’s.

You can do the math to determine how much your amperage draw would be based on what additional electrical accessories you are running.

Special Note: The 1988 – 1990 Gold Wing and 1991 – 2000 Aspencade does not have
the (full time accessory lights), they require 3 Amps less.

The 1990 – 1997 SE does not have the (full time accessory lights), they
require 3 Amps less.
To put this straight; I didn't write that at the top ;-)

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Mh434 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:05 pm

I agree that, in theory, the original, stock, OEM alternators should be easily capable of running a GL1500. However, I've read countless times that the OEM alternator makes 40 amps, not 45. And that would be when new, not when they're getting on in age, and electrical systems on the bike are aging as well when electrical draw may be creeping up. I'm not sure the later, China-sourced OEM alternators were as capable.

I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the write-up of current use on a 'Wing, but in noting these sentences "Just running down the road in overdrive with high beams on, cruise control set, listening to tunes, you are using 32.58 amps. You have about 12.42 amps for additional accessories.", these calculations are based on the alternator producing a full 45 amps at any engine speed it's required. The experiences of people here seem to be that, at idle & at low RPM's OEM alternator output is low, even to the point of slight discharge rather than charging, particularly as the alternator & bike's systems age, and the common experience seems to be that 40 amps is the best they can manage.

If this is true, and the calculated usages shown are also true, then the bike will be using 32.58 of its 40 amps, just driving along. Bring the engine speed down to idle (where the alternator isn't able to produce its 40 amps), add in a heated vest (bringing the draw up to 38.98 amps, which is over 98% of its maximum output...when brand new), and you're in discharge.

Considering that GL1500's have rather small batteries for their requirements, and are extraordinarily sensitive to low voltage situations, you can easily find yourself on the side of the road with a battery that will spin the engine nicely, but it won't start. This is an extremely common GL1500 malady, and has been reported here countless times. Riders of GL1500's with stock alternators are all familiar with their headlights dimming noticeably at idle - this is a clear sign that the alternator is not producing sufficient amperage at idle to keep up with current (sic!) demand, and the bike is running partially off the battery's reserve.

By the way - an interesting error in the list of calculations - ALL GL1500's, from 1989 through 2000, used 45/45 watt bulbs as standard, NOT 55/60 watts as shown in the list, so the "trusted source" has made at least one error. Interestingly, almost all large bikes of the time used 55/60 watt bulbs, and (considering that they were essentially a direct-replacement retrofit). *if I were a suspicious sort, I'd thing that maybe, just maybe, Mother Honda knew the alternators weren't really up to the task & downgraded the headlights as a result reduce the bike's amp draw enough so it wouldn't kill batteries. Most of us who ride at night have, at some point in our bike's life, upgraded to 55/60 watt bulbs...a definite increase in the demands on the alternator, at ALL engine speeds.

In the end, I maintain that an upgrade to the alternator in a GL1500 should be seriously considered. There are some who seem to carry on just fine with a stock alternator, but there are many, many more who complain of a myriad of electrical & battery issues that can ultimately be traced to insufficient charge. Sometimes, empirical evidence trumps theory...

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Don Fonzarelli » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:34 pm

Thanks again Mh434 for your very clear and interesting reply.
It makes me think that the way I ride for longer distances, I'm a photographer and I'm riding for hours in the country-side, let's say at 25mph, with as less noise as I can make, so at very low RPM in the highest gear, could be causing the problem.
On my home I usually kick it's butt and ride at least 65 mph for more than an hour.
What are your thoughts on that?

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Mh434 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:12 pm

Well, any time you can get the revs up for a while, you're going to equal or exceed the bike's energy budget, so you're going to be adding charge, however small, to the battery. Very low RPM riding or worse, stop-and-go rush hour riding, will take charge from the battery, essentially using up your reserve.

A higher-output alternator, on the other hand, is always adding to your battery reserve. With a current-hungry machine like a GL1500, you do need a healthy reserve.

Another thing to consider is battery life. Taxing a battery by constantly running it down & at the very bottom of its efficiency will shorten its life. Batteries like to be cycled, and often, but they need to spend the majority of their time well into the plus side of the ledger. Abuse it and, one day, it WILL let you down.

Hope this helps...

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Don Fonzarelli » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:16 pm

All information helps!
Thank you kindly.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by hondabob4454 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:56 pm

Why am I on my 4th alternator in 20 years? I had 2 OEM under warranty, and 2 "compufire" put in and now I am in need of another one

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by hugger-4641 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:59 am

20 yrs, but how many miles?
The rotor winding problem most likely explains your two OEM failures, but I'm curious how many miles you got on the compufires?
My original alternator lasted until about 80k , then I went thru a couple OEM replacements that lasted 10k to 25k. Then I found out about the rotor problem and repaired the rotor on my original, which went another 30k before the brushes wore out again. I replaced it with an 85amp from DB electrical, which only has a few thousand miles on it now, but so far is doing good. So I've got 150k+ miles on the bike and I am technically on my 5th alternator.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by hondabob4454 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:44 pm

Sorry, for the late reply. The replacement Compu fire went about 15K miles. I have 130K miles on the Bike.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Goldwinger365 » Fri May 18, 2018 5:24 pm

Older thread,I know,but I have a story about my alternator I'd like to share. My 94 Aspy quit charging this spring (have a voltmeter installed) and I opted to order a 90 amp from DB Electrical, because I've heard good things about them. After I installed it,took it for a ride and between 1200 and 2200 rpm's it really growled,to the point of feeling like the exhaust was rattling on foot pegs. Ordered replacement,received in two days, installed replacement,took a test ride,same thing,but a bit quieter of a drone,same rpm range. I'm quite fussy when it comes to vibration and noises,so I'm looking for anyone else's experience or opinions with these DB alternator's. Also,a friend had a stock original off a 93 he let me borrow (he upgraded to a Computer) and it's smooth and charging again,so I'm good for now.Thanks in advance for the replies.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Bluewaterhooker0 » Fri May 18, 2018 11:57 pm

Goldwinger365 wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 5:24 pm
Older thread,I know,but I have a story about my alternator I'd like to share. My 94 Aspy quit charging this spring (have a voltmeter installed) and I opted to order a 90 amp from DB Electrical, because I've heard good things about them. After I installed it,took it for a ride and between 1200 and 2200 rpm's it really growled,to the point of feeling like the exhaust was rattling on foot pegs. Ordered replacement,received in two days, installed replacement,took a test ride,same thing,but a bit quieter of a drone,same rpm range. I'm quite fussy when it comes to vibration and noises,so I'm looking for anyone else's experience or opinions with these DB alternator's. Also,a friend had a stock original off a 93 he let me borrow (he upgraded to a Computer) and it's smooth and charging again,so I'm good for now.Thanks in advance for the replies.
I put in an 85A Lactrical a few years back. I noticed the same growl that you mention. It also had what sounded as a distinct bearing noise on the rear end, via a stethoscope. I sent it back as well, for a replacement. The replacement was better regarding the grown, but still not the quietness of the OEM unit. I came to the conclusion that the additional power required to turn the higher output alternator was the cause of the growling noise. Since it is a kind of direct drive, with only those near solid "rubber" dampners, I think it is just the nature of the larger alternators with the vibration transmitted to the engine. I've had no problems since, about 10K miles.

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by Goldwinger365 » Sat May 19, 2018 6:30 am

Yes Bluewater,I don't mind the whine of an alternator charging,but when they drone and growl, something isn't right,to my way of thinking.Im a 30 year small engine / auto tech and when something growls or drones,it's usually not a good sign. I've installed alot of 130+ amp alternator's on utility trucks that didn't make any noise at all. That being said,both of my DB alternator's charged great,just can't stand the noise ,once again, probably too fussy,but it is a Goldwing,made to be seen not heard,,,,, LOL :D

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by minimac » Sat May 19, 2018 6:35 am

Dusty Boots wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 5:24 pm
I've gone through 3 Compu-Fire alternators and a Saturn one over the years on my 92,
One of the reason's I'm selling my wing with 340,xxx kms on it and bought a 2013 Victory Cross Country Tour
Let us know how many you go through when the Victory has 340,000kms!

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Re: 4th Alternator GL1500

Post by DenverWinger » Sat May 19, 2018 7:31 am

PO installed a High-Output alternator on my 1500, not sure if it's a Compufire or LActrical (how do you tell the difference?) - It whines, but does not growl..... Lots of "juice" though, even at idle.... :)


They say 98% of all Hardleys ever made are still on the road..... The other 2% made it home. :lol:
(I stole this from somebody on another GW site...) :roll:

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