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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was supposed to go riding with a group today. I went out to start my old girl, and she turned a few times and quickly lost the will to start.

Facts:
1. I have her connected to a battery tender which was showing a full charge before I tried to light the fires.
2. We had our coldest night of the year so far last night. Temps went down to 26 degrees F.
3. The old girl stays in an unheated garage.
4. I was trying to start her with an ambient temp of around 45 degreed F.

Questions:
1. Would the battery have more starting power if I took it and the tender inside a heated environment for charging/maintaining?
2. Would it help her start if I used a tarp and space heater on the bike? (I don't like this idea because I have vissions of looking outside and seeing the garage on fire.)
3. Does it sound like my battery is failing?
4. Is it true that Gel Cell batteries work better in cold weather than the normal lead acid batteries?

Thanks
 

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Still Learning
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Pull the spark plugs and check for cylinders filled with gas. That's hydrolock caused by leaking float valves and petcock left on. If that is the case, turn off petcock, put rags over the plug holes, kill switch off and turn over motor to expelled the gas from the cylinders. Liquid will not compress.
Or it could be antifreeze in cylinders from leaking head gaskets.
 

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Sounds like your battery is weak, it should have had no problem starting it at that temperature.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Just an update...

After leaving the battery on the tender another 2 hours, the old gilr started right up. I took her for a 30 minute ride then shut her down and put a volt meter on the battery. Read a solid 13.72 volts. I let her sit for another hour disconnected from the tender and then tested the battery. I got 12.82 volts. I pushed the starter and she fired right up with no hesitation. Immediately shut her down and checked the battery and had 12.45 volts.

Does any of this tell anyone anything?

:?
 

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Still Learning
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Why junk? It recharged the battery from "dead" to starting the bike in 2 hours.
A battery tender could not do that recharge in 2 hrs from dead. Tenders are to keep a fully charged battery topped off.
 

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Do you have the tender hooked up to a lead acid battery? If do,is the water level up to where it needs to be?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My tender is a Battery Tender Jr. Here are a few of the specifications:

Perfect for charging all 12-volt lead-acid, flooded or sealed maintenance free batteries (AGM and gel cell)
Complete 4-step charging program (Initialization, Bulk Charge, Float Mode) allows for optimization of battery power, without overcharging
Automatic charge cycle functionality switches to float mode after fully charging the battery

So when I used the term "dead" (please note the quotes) it was probably down to something like 9 - 9.5 volts. The lights were on, but not enough juice to turn the engine.

At that point, the tender goes into an Bulk Charge... like a battery charger.
 

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Well I'm not a fan of battery tenders to begin with. Beyond that your battery might be failing, or it could be a result of the cold. Either way i'd be replacing that battery before spring.
 

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Battery Tenders are great for a light charge and for maintaining the battery charge for extended periods of time without damage to the battery. However, I don't think it would recharge a battery that was down to 9 or 9.5 volts in two hours. The unit you have will charge at .75 amps, so for a two hour charge you are only putting 1.5 amphours back in a 20 amphour battery.
How old is your battery? You could take the battery out and get it tested to see if it needs replacing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I intend to take the battery for testing today. The battery is less than 1 year old, and is the second battery I have had in the bike in the past two years. I have tested the stator and it is charging within specifications. The first battery failed a load test after 6 months, so the second battery is identical, from the same source, replaced under warranty.

I had a local cycle shop recommend the gel cell batteries because "they will perform better in the cold and under the heavy load of a touring bike".

If this battery fails the load test, I am wondering if I need a gel cell, or was that shop just trying to sell me something.
 

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If you are going to maintain a wet battery on your bike, then you need to get a hydrometer meant for checking the electrolyte in each cell of a wet battery.
The electrolyte will have a "specific gravity" that is read on a graduated scale of the little "meter" and compared to whatever is noted in the service manual for your bike, or to this in general @ 68 F:

Fully Charged = 1.28
Normal Charge = 1.26
Needs Charging = 1.20

Charging rate will depend on temperature (both static external temperature of the battery and the electrolyte temperature itself) and charge current supplied by the charger (2 amp is best for small batteries).

The battery will heat up when charging so try to find some way to measure the electrolyte temperature when charging it. Going beyond 140 degrees F, or thereabouts, while performing a charge from a somewhat dead (below 10 volts) battery may distort the plates and either create or allow creation of excess sulfation to occur.

Wide temperature extremes (external static air temps) can contribute to excess sulfation while "maintenance charging" due to internal condensation, so try and charge the battery (your old one, the one that failed to originally start the bike) indoors somewhere, preferably somewhere ventilated...

What you need:
2A charger
Battery Hydrometer
Distilled Water (No Minerals)

If, after charging, your hydrometer cell readings are not equalized fully to 1.26 after about 12 hopurs of sitting after charging, then get a new battery. You have at least one bad cell that should show up using a hydrometer. No sense in trying to correct the cell when wet batteries are as inexpensive as they are.

...
 

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snip... If this battery fails the load test, I am wondering if I need a gel cell, or was that shop just trying to sell me something.
The gel cell batteries are a better battery for your motorcycle. I have had one in mine for almost 5 years now and it spins the starter over just like it did when new. Another benefit of the gel cells are they don't leak or spill acid on your bike and they don't have to be checked for water levels. They cost more but are worth it to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I finally listened to everyone's advice and replaced the battery (again).

I did not replace it with a Gel Cell because what I have read here and what I was told at Battery Specialists (where I bought the battery). I don't want to start a s**t storm, but I have been told from several sources that it is too easy to overcharge a gel cell and fry the battery.

I went with a MotoCross sealed AGM battery (sorry, but I dont remember the model number) that is maintenance free, with 350 cold crank amps. Put the battery in the old girl last night and connected the tender.

This morning, outside ambient temperature was 38F, turned the key and barely touched the starter and she fired with up. No hesitation, no lugging. I honestly thing the engine fired before is turned the first full revolution.

If she starts like that every time, then I will become a stron proponent of the AGM batteries.

Thanks for all your comments and suggestions.....

NOW LET'S GO RIDE!!!!!!
 

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I'm with Larry on this one.. [Jell type battery] be sure to clean up all your connections especially at the ground to the frame...There nothing like have a good ground to brighten things up...
 

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Well batteries lose lots of there power when it gets cold. Up here in the cold north battery's usually die in the fall early winter. When the first freezing temp's hit a battery that was good all summer they die.
The problem with the battery tender is it does not charge at a high enouh rate to warm the battery so that it may indeed be fully charged it's low temp gives it very little cranking amps. After you ran the battery down the charger had to charge for Cpl hrs and gave the battery some heat. The batteries on goldwings a very marginal at best. I have not much experience with gel batteries and they may well hold up better in the cold.
taking the battery out and storing and charging in a warm place would be best option if you plan to ride it once in a while in the cold.
Wilf
 
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