MAJOR short circuit


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Swagonmaster
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MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »



In all likelyhood I will wind up just venting since no one is here it's hard to diagnose a random short circuit. In the event it jogs someone's memory I will lay out what I have.
About two years ago the altenator went out (original 40 watt),well the bike is thirty years old and has about 142K on it then so no big deal, I get the alt rebuilt and go on down the road. A couple of months ago I had taken an about 75 mile trip and on the way back the alternator went out again. This time I replaced the alt with a 90 amp replacement. Since this was the only symptom the two may not be related.
Ok, come down to two days ago and I was riding locally and the bike shut off again. This time there were other problems. Four fuses blew, the main 55a, the 15 amp fuses for the ignition, tail lights and stop lights. The alternator seems to have died, all of the front lights and dash lights gave up but the rear lights are ok which tells me that the short is likely in the rear. Only problem I am having is that I can't see any damage to any wires!
Unless there is something that is prone to go bad this is just a random, Lord only knows what caused it type of issue but if there are any words of wisdom (or offers of booze to drown my sorrow) I am open to offers.


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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by MikeB »

If it were me, I'd be looking for anything that is an aftermarket install. I'd start with the trailer lighting. If there is a trailer light isolater, I'd look closely at that.

A failed alternator should not have taken out the fuses. If it did due to overvoltage, it would certainly fry the the electronic control module.

Did you test the circuits associated with the blown fuses? Did you replace the fuses?
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Swagonmaster
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »

Yes I did replace the fuses and found that the engine would start again. The alternator I think was the result of the short and not the cause, it went out when a short started drawing so much power that it maxed the system out before the fuses could blow. The voltage surge took out every light that was turned on in the front but didn't do so in the rear, they work ok, thats why I think the short is somewhere toward the rear of the fuse panel. The fuses didn't just blow, they valporized the fuse metal so a major short! That's why I am having trouble with the idea of not finding something that obviously has had the smoke let out of it. I dislike intermittant problems. :evil:
Btw, no trailer light harness.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »

I guess I put the info in about the alternator wondering if a smaller momentary short has been the cause of my three alternator problems. There were no other symptoms the first two times other that I had to call for help to get it home and could drive it just fine with the help of a jumper battery so it may have no connection to now.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by newday777 »

Have you unplugged each connector on the bike and inspected for burnt pins. The ground pins usually go first on the 1500 when there are extra incandescent bulbs added from the stock wiring without running a separate accessories fuse panel and new switched positive and negative wires to the added lights so no added loads to the stock harness.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by gipsy42 »

This picture shows what I use to find a short:


Instead of replace a fuse I hook the fuse emulator with the lamp at the terminals.
Any short will make the lamp glow.
This allows me to disconect things or open conectors and trace the circuit much better than a multimeter.
Hope this helps.
Mario
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by MikeB »

Swagonmaster wrote: Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:13 pm Yes I did replace the fuses and found that the engine would start again. The alternator I think was the result of the short and not the cause, it went out when a short started drawing so much power that it maxed the system out before the fuses could blow. The voltage surge took out every light that was turned on in the front but didn't do so in the rear, they work ok, thats why I think the short is somewhere toward the rear of the fuse panel. The fuses didn't just blow, they valporized the fuse metal so a major short! That's why I am having trouble with the idea of not finding something that obviously has had the smoke let out of it. I dislike intermittant problems. :evil:
Btw, no trailer light harness.
You are saying that there was a voltage surge and it "took out every light that was turned on in the front"? When you say it took out the lights, you are saying that the lights went out and the filaments burntout right?

It almost sounds like you were struck by lightening. And now that you are saying this about a voltage surge, perhaps the alternator you used had an internal voltage regulator fault and it caused the regulation to run away and cause the damage. Did you by chance use a DB Electrical alternator? I've heard some real horror stories about them.

For a short to be so bad that it shorted out the fuses in that manner and the alternator was also destroyed, there had to be a large line shorted directly to ground. Like a 12 gauge wire that was pinched against a ground point on the bike. Have you taken anythikng apart and reassembled it in the last few months? Is it possible that a power wire got pinched and the insulation didn't get worn away right away.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »

At this point I am speculating on what caused the problem but while an overcharge situation will damage electronics and burn out bulbs it won't damage fuses so I am thinking that a wire has shorted out somewhere. I agree that a short of that type should be quite obvious and likely a constant draw not intermittant but after replacing the fuses everything seems to work (except the light bulbs and alternator). Comparing this to a lightning strike is sort of a good comparison, if the hot wire is shorted the alternator starts charging uncontrolled and shortly burns itself up but for a second there is far over normal voltage on the wire and anything that is hit by that type of voltage is likely to be damaged. Herein lies my difficulty, not all of the electronics are damaged, not all of the bulbs are damaged and I haven't yet at least found a damaged wire to blame it all on!
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Swagonmaster
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »

Well, I still haven't been able to come up with a cause for the fuses blowing so I am going to have to consider the possibility that the alternator was indeed the cause of this mess. Am going to pull it off and look inside to see if there is visable damage or just electronic.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by MikeB »

Have you tried running the motorcycle yet? if the battery is up to proper charge it will still run even if the alternator does not work.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »

Yes, it runs just fine, that is one of the things that confused me about this, the fuses and some of the bulbs is all that I lost. You would expect that if bulbs blew then control units would go also but not the case here.
After 40 some years of turning wrenches for a living I have never seen an alternator or any other power surge cause fuses to blow and not burn up everything in sight but I guess I am looking at it now. I took the alt apart and one of the brushes is awol, oops!


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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by MikeB »

Who made that alternator?
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by MikeB »

Swagonmaster wrote: Wed Feb 10, 2021 12:01 pm Yes, it runs just fine, that is one of the things that confused me about this, the fuses and some of the bulbs is all that I lost. You would expect that if bulbs blew then control units would go also but not the case here.
After 40 some years of turning wrenches for a living I have never seen an alternator or any other power surge cause fuses to blow and not burn up everything in sight but I guess I am looking at it now. I took the alt apart and one of the brushes is awol, oops!
email1612976176934.jpg
You are pretty damn lucky if all it did was take out light bulbs and fuses. Like you, I have never seen an alternator take out fuses.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by WingAdmin »

I'm trying to come up with a failure mode for an alternator to take out fuses.

Alternators can definitely fail in a way that it puts out too much (or not enough) voltage, but that won't blow fuses. High voltage will definitely blow light bulbs, however.

The only thing that blows fuses is overcurrent, and you can't "push" too much current - it has to be drawn from somewhere.

So...the only two things I could come up with are:

1. Alternator/regulator fails, field current spikes, causes huge spike in output voltage. Output voltage blows light bulbs and who knows what else. One of those blown things fails shorted in a way that draws huge current, blowing fuses.

2. Alternator fails dramatically with an internal short, backfeeding power from the battery, through the fuses and into the alternator, and thereby blowing fuses.

It could be a combination of the two, I suppose.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »

This is what I call an "it can't do that" event. I hope that once I get a replacement alternator there isn't an unpleasant suprise in the way of a damaged something or other because while I did try the stop and tail lights and the engine ran (those were the things protected by the blown fuses) I didn't really operate everything.
The main 55 amp fuse going I can see, the short in the alternator would cause that and the burnt out bulbs being caused by a short lived over voltage condition is reasonable but I was really expecting to find a lot of burnt wiring when I took the bags and trunk off. Some times things quit for no good reason and it seems that the reverse is true, there is no good reason for this bike to be in as good a shape as it is.
As to your question about the brand of alternator, I have to admit to buying one on Amazon, an ATI brand, likely a Chinese unit.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by newday777 »

And no voltmeter on board the bike to monitor volts?
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »

gipsy42 wrote: Mon Feb 08, 2021 5:02 pm This picture shows what I use to find a short:
P8010291a.JPG
Instead of replace a fuse I hook the fuse emulator with the lamp at the terminals.
Any short will make the lamp glow.
This allows me to disconect things or open conectors and trace the circuit much better than a multimeter.
Hope this helps.
Mario
That looks like a good idea thanks, as to your signature line, there is a German saying something like it is too soon that we get old and too late that we get smart. We will now have a moment of silence for the things we wish we had done.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by MikeB »

newday777 wrote: Wed Feb 10, 2021 8:53 pm And no voltmeter on board the bike to monitor volts?
I kind of doubt that a voltmeter would have been of much use for this particular incident. That voltage spike was most likely quick and dirty.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by MikeB »

Swagonmaster wrote: Wed Feb 10, 2021 8:57 pm That looks like a good idea thanks, as to your signature line, there is a German saying something like it is too soon that we get old and too late that we get smart. We will now have a moment of silence for the things we wish we had done.
My dad would say "Too old too soon, too smart too late." His dad was an old German farmer.
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »

The way my dad said he heard it from the old folks was "ist too soon ve get olt und to late ve get shmat" (with German/English accent).
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by wingdings »

check out for mice damage !! to the wiring !!



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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Crusty1 »

Looking at the photo of the brushes. It appears both brushes are in the holder. I see what appears to be a foreign object thin copper strip embedded in the holder. Did something else come apart and cause the failure? Maybe a slip ring or bearing?
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Swagonmaster
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »

You have good eyes, I saw that myself but didn't think about it at first, I was too angry. I am not sure where that piece came from for sure but there is a groove on the end bearing that is about the same width where that could have been knocked off during assembly. Not at all sure why a ring would be needed though. The replacement alt came today and works ok for now. I didn't want to take the time to pull the end cover off to check the new one, I hope that doesn't come back to bite me. :roll:
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Re: MAJOR short circuit

Post by Swagonmaster »

All things considered I came out ok with this mess, didn't have major wiring damage, the new alternator came quickly and I am only short one 194 bulb and the 55 amp strip fuse of having everything I needed to repair the thing in my stash. As I said before, I just hope the first drive doesn't turn anything else up and I'll live with it.


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