Need an alternator guru


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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Lebouc
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Need an alternator guru

Post by Lebouc »



Hi all,
My question is : Is there something electrical like a loose wire or anything like a relay or fuse that can burn an alternator after only couple of weeks to a month and a half ?

When i got the bike out this year i had to change the alternator because it was burnt , the reason i stored the bike in the first place last year , but after a month and a half i had to change it again , ok i figured since i put the alternator from my other Wing which is a twin ( same bike , same year , even same color ) maybe it was about to go on the other bike too so i had the one i took out to be rebuilt and once it came back put it on the bike , again i did about a month and a half or so and then , burnt alternator .

So i ordered a new one ( jobber ) but a new one , no more rebuilt for me , well that was 3 weeks ago and again today it stopped charging , since i had another NEW one because i decided never to ride again without a spare one so i got a second one , few minutes ago i put on that second new one and its charging of course .

To be honest i'm kinda scared to get stuck again even if i just put a new one , is there something i should know or check ? or could i have been just unlucky enough to buy a default alternator ?

My bike is a GL1500SE 2000 ( which might be on the verge of being for sale with a second one for parts ) lol
Thanks in advance for your help !!!


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Rambozo
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Rambozo »

One thing is to check just what failed on the alternator. That can help point you in the right direction. Next obviously is to check the bike wiring for any problems. Anything that would stress the alternator. Then when installing a new alt. check the voltage and current output on the bike. There are a lot of substandard alternators out there these days. Hence the market for outfits like Compufire.
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seelyark1
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by seelyark1 »

I too have a 2000 SE and am on my third alternator. I finally went to an automotive elect shop and he ordered a new one for less than half the price of the others. Didn't have another problem with that one! I put on a cheapo voltmeter also as it is no fun to pull up to a red light and it just quits because the alternator wasn't working. It is nice to know that it is! As of late I have been riding one of my sons three 1800s. Haven't had that problem with them.
Ride safe, and smart. Asphalt is like #1 grit sandpaper. Dave
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Swagonmaster
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Swagonmaster »

Also, how many aftermarket add one do you have on your ride? The original alternator is only a 40 amp unit and if there is a lot more draw then the poor thing will have a short life. You didn’t say if the “new” alt is a 90 amp or OE.
Try to learn from the mistakes of others..... you won't live long enough to make them all yourself!
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Lebouc
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Lebouc »

Swagonmaster wrote: Wed Aug 18, 2021 6:40 pm Also, how many aftermarket add one do you have on your ride? The original alternator is only a 40 amp unit and if there is a lot more draw then the poor thing will have a short life. You didn’t say if the “new” alt is a 90 amp or OE.
I run a 40 amp alternator on my Wing which is as is from Honda , no extras , no lights , no gauges , no nothing so should the 40 amp be enough to power the bike since it was Honda's choice in the first place ?
And it's my third Wing , the one before , rode about 8 years without having to change the alternator and it was a 40 amp also , that's what i don't get , do 8 years with a bike but only 2 months with another , so i guess i'll have no choice but to go with a 90 amp CompuFire next time !!!!
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Swagonmaster
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Swagonmaster »

You are quite correct, if your setup is stock then the 40amp unit should do fine and should last a lot more than a few months. I can't think off hand how to check the current draw without testers that are too expensive to be used once for this job, perhaps WingAdmin or some others of our electronic types can suggest something cheap and effective. I would seem at this point that trying to verify wether there is really a problem in the bike or just a bad run of alternators would be a good idea so that installing another alt doesn't run the risk of seeing this issue again.
Try to learn from the mistakes of others..... you won't live long enough to make them all yourself!
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DenverWinger
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by DenverWinger »

These are essentially automotive alternators with a modified nose to fit the motorcycle engine. Why don't you take the dead one to your local automotive alternator rebuild shop, standard diodes/ regulators and other parts fit inside. He can probably repair it good as new for small cost.
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by WingAdmin »

Swagonmaster wrote: Thu Aug 19, 2021 7:38 pm You are quite correct, if your setup is stock then the 40amp unit should do fine and should last a lot more than a few months. I can't think off hand how to check the current draw without testers that are too expensive to be used once for this job, perhaps WingAdmin or some others of our electronic types can suggest something cheap and effective. I would seem at this point that trying to verify wether there is really a problem in the bike or just a bad run of alternators would be a good idea so that installing another alt doesn't run the risk of seeing this issue again.
A simple cheap shunt ammeter like this one will tell you exactly how much current is being drawn from your alternator:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KP ... S45GSS7J12
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Rambozo
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Rambozo »

WingAdmin wrote: Fri Aug 20, 2021 2:43 pm A simple cheap shunt ammeter like this one will tell you exactly how much current is being drawn from your alternator:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KP ... S45GSS7J12
Or these days a hall effect type is about the same price and no shunt to hook up.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DDQM6Z4/?tag=goldwingdocs-20
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Lebouc
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Lebouc »

DenverWinger wrote: Fri Aug 20, 2021 12:28 am These are essentially automotive alternators with a modified nose to fit the motorcycle engine. Why don't you take the dead one to your local automotive alternator rebuild shop, standard diodes/ regulators and other parts fit inside. He can probably repair it good as new for small cost.
I did , 3 times actually , the first two times i put the alternator in i started the bike and it didn't even charged not even a second , the third time it did , but can i trust it ? if the first two times didn't work , i'm not vey confident about the third times !!!
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Swagonmaster
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Swagonmaster »

Ok, I remembered something I read about Wings and their starters. We have one of the few bikes with reverse but it can come at a cost, if you are backing up an incline and have the engine at an idle you are putting a tremendous load on the alternator at a time that its not able to put out it's full amp capacity and risk overloading it. I realize that we all do the backup with the engine at idle but sometimes it can be too much. I have started raising the idle speed with the "choke" to prevent just that problem since I've recently gone through two alternators myself. I don't know that that is your issue but it can't hurt.
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by AZgl1800 »

Swagonmaster wrote: Tue Aug 24, 2021 3:57 pm Ok, I remembered something I read about Wings and their starters. We have one of the few bikes with reverse but it can come at a cost, if you are backing up an incline and have the engine at an idle you are putting a tremendous load on the alternator at a time that its not able to put out it's full amp capacity and risk overloading it. I realize that we all do the backup with the engine at idle but sometimes it can be too much. I have started raising the idle speed with the "choke" to prevent just that problem since I've recently gone through two alternators myself. I don't know that that is your issue but it can't hurt.
I always twist the throttle to around 2500 RPM, to assist the battery/alternator
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Swagonmaster
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Swagonmaster »

Lebouc wrote: Sat Aug 21, 2021 9:38 pm
DenverWinger wrote: Fri Aug 20, 2021 12:28 am These are essentially automotive alternators with a modified nose to fit the motorcycle engine. Why don't you take the dead one to your local automotive alternator rebuild shop, standard diodes/ regulators and other parts fit inside. He can probably repair it good as new for small cost.
I did , 3 times actually , the first two times i put the alternator in i started the bike and it didn't even charged not even a second , the third time it did , but can i trust it ? if the first two times didn't work , i'm not vey confident about the third times !!!
You know, it would be interesting to know what was found when the alternator was repaired each time, it's always possible that the rebuilder got a bad batch of parts or could Indicate that you have a shorted wire for a freshly rebuilt part to never charge at all.
Try to learn from the mistakes of others..... you won't live long enough to make them all yourself!
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Rambozo
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Rambozo »

AZgl1800 wrote: Tue Aug 24, 2021 4:40 pm I always twist the throttle to around 2500 RPM, to assist the battery/alternator
I do the same thing. You can hear the difference in how the starter motor labors.
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agedbikeman
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by agedbikeman »

I'm surprised the alternators last as long as they do, reversing the half ton beast is probably a similar load to starting the engine, the alternator should have been disconected during reverse, let the battery do the work, I'd love to be able to measure the current during reverse. Back to the problem, in my opinion (retired electonics service engineer) there must be an excessive intermittent load to kill a new or refurbed alternator, ie chaffed wire shorting intermittently, but saying that if a load was that heavy enough to kill an alternator, I would excpect a smell of burning or a wisk of smoke during the said short circuit. Also a bad connection causing the alternator to run without a load which you should not do with a vehicle alternator as the voltage can rise above the maximum rated voltage of the internal rectifier components and has also been known to puncture the insulation on the armature windings.

The above being said, I rode 25 miles with a stuck on starter solenoid, unknowingly running the starter motor whilst riding, not noticing until I stopped to pay my motorway toll only to find a dead battery, the alternator has live on, although running an unloaded starter is a lot less current than starting the engine.
Hope this is of some help
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Swagonmaster
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Swagonmaster »

Thinking about this I wonder what is the chance that the nonworking alternators were really ok and the bike has a wiring problem like a broken exciter wire? It is really rare to get multiple defective parts especially if they came from a local rebuilder who would be (hopefully) testing their work after they finish the repair. I know this is a long shot but wiggling the wires might turn up something.
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by peppilepew »

More info is needed to correctly understand the issue. A direct short would cause a fire. An open in the main, or exciter wire would cause the battery to run dead. I assume your battery is not causing an overcharge issue. It is impossible for so many parts to be bad, even in today's market of crappy inop parts right out of the box. Is the unit overheating causing the diodes and windings to short and open? You can use an infrared temp meter to gauge the load on the alternator. Anything about 25 degrees over engine temp would indicate a heavy load. I suggest you bring the bike to someone knowledgeable in electrical, not necessarily a bike shop. Bring a schematic, strip the Tupperware, and give them a through breakdown of everything you have done. Avoid parts changers like the plague.
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Swagonmaster
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by Swagonmaster »

peppilepew wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 8:58 am More info is needed to correctly understand the issue. A direct short would cause a fire. An open in the main, or exciter wire would cause the battery to run dead. I assume your battery is not causing an overcharge issue. It is impossible for so many parts to be bad, even in today's market of crappy inop parts right out of the box. Is the unit overheating causing the diodes and windings to short and open? You can use an infrared temp meter to gauge the load on the alternator. Anything about 25 degrees over engine temp would indicate a heavy load. I suggest you bring the bike to someone knowledgeable in electrical, not necessarily a bike shop. Bring a schematic, strip the Tupperware, and give them a through breakdown of everything you have done. Avoid parts changers like the plague.

This is why I was wondering if Lebouc knew what went wrong with the previous alternators, it would tell a lot about what the cause of the failures was. Much more than a transient, partial short would take out the alternator and also the dogbone fuse and I'm not sure he rode the bike long enough to run the battery down, sounds like the failure was caught soon after installation.
Try to learn from the mistakes of others..... you won't live long enough to make them all yourself!
dnt13
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by dnt13 »

seelyark1 wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 10:17 pm I too have a 2000 SE and am on my third alternator. I finally went to an automotive elect shop and he ordered a new one for less than half the price of the others. Didn't have another problem with that one! I put on a cheapo voltmeter also as it is no fun to pull up to a red light and it just quits because the alternator wasn't working. It is nice to know that it is! As of late I have been riding one of my sons three 1800s. Haven't had that problem with them.
What make/model of new alternator did your auto electrical guy order??
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Re: Need an alternator guru

Post by hugger-4641 »

I suspect that you or the repair shops you've been taking your alternator to have been obtaining OEM Hitachi alternators. A repair shop could buy one of these for $50 or whatever and charge you a small mark up for "rebuilding". You'd never know the difference and they'd have a profit with no labor involved.
The OEM Hitachi alternators built after 94 were made in China and had a weak spot in the rotor wiring. The average rebuild shop is not going to take the time required to repair this. I have a DIY thread here about how to make the repair if you are mechanically minded enough to try it. It's titled "rewinding gl1500 alternator"
My advice would be to get an 80 or 90 amp replacement from Compufire or LA Lectrical.


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