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Being new to working on Gold Wings I am no sure where to start on this one.
I have a new to me, 1985 GL1200 LTD and I am seeing what I believe to be an unusually large drop in my voltmeter reading. PO installed a switch to turn off the tail lights. I have eliminated the switch so that tail lights operate as they did when new. Prior to switch removal, I was seeing 14.2V at idle. Turn the switch on and voltmeter reading dropped to 11.9V. Same is true now that the switch is eliminated. Obviously the problem is somewhere in the tail light circuit as the voltmeter will increase to 14.2V if I pull the tail light fuse.

Next, I pulled all the bulbs out of the sockets within the tail light circuit. I expected to see a significantly lower drop off in the Voltmeter reading, however, the voltmeter reading was unchanged.

Question is: Does this sound like a ground problem or a short in the circuit?

Not sure where to go from here. I would appreciate any help or suggestions as I am not much when it comes to electrical problems. Thanks
 

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Still Learning
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Welcome scooby
You could have a bad ground but more likely is a stray hot wire from removed accessory lights with that drop.
Look in, behind, and under the bags, farring, bumpers, seat ect.
There may have been or is a trailer harness with a short. Youwill just have to dig in to find it. Let us know what you find. Do you have a test meter, its a good investment, @ $12 at harbor frieght.
I have a Scooby on my trunk.
 

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Welcome.

I have a 86 SEI (same bike as the LTD).

Firstwhere does your bike idle at for rpm's?? It should idle at around 1000+ - 100 rpms. Aidlethat is to low will drop the voltage out put. I asume your voltage goes up as you bring the rpm's up??

Next you should check the stator wires (three yellow wires in one plug)next to the battery to see if they re bured inside the connector. This is a commond problem.

You can also check the battery. Have a load test done. Battery could be going bad, happens with age. Make sure all plugs and batteryare clean and re check.



I don't think you have a problem. Voltage will drop on most bikes when at idle. Most bikes have a rpm rating for the reg. to start charging at.

Your below that when at idle.



I think your going to need to get used to seeing the voltage raise and fall.

It's just the nature of the beast!





Kurt
 

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Token Canuk
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With 14 V +/- @ idle your stator sounds good, not a bad idea to deal with the yellow wires/connectors regardless, (remove plug & join/solder wires") You might also have a "pinched" power wire from something being removed & replaced or add on's at previously mentioned. Wiring problems can make a good man do bad things.:sadguy:
 

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scooby1956 wrote:
...PO installed a switch to turn off the tail lights. I have eliminated the switch so that tail lights operate as they did when new. Prior to switch removal, I was seeing 14.2V at idle. Turn the switch on and voltmeter reading dropped to 11.9V. ...
Sounds about normal to me.. the bike will usually not charge at idle.. what does it do at higher rpm??

First time I have heard of doing that here, but maybe that is why the PO installed the switch, so it could idle for long periods of time (orto be less visible from behind??)


Edit: but not normal at an idle speed of 1600rpm as indicated in later posts.. and I think I missed the mark by not reading the first post carefully..as pointed out there andlater.. symptoms look more like other things going on that you can see by reading on..
 

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sandiegobrass wrote:
scooby1956 wrote:
...PO installed a switch to turn off the tail lights. I have eliminated the switch so that tail lights operate as they did when new. Prior to switch removal, I was seeing 14.2V at idle. Turn the switch on and voltmeter reading dropped to 11.9V. ...
Sounds about normal to me.. the bike will usually not charge at idle.. what does it do at higher rpm??

First time I have heard of doing that here, but maybe that is why the PO installed the switch, so it could idle for long periods of time (orto be less visible from behind??)
Sorry but 11.9vdc @ idle speed, 1000rpm, does NOT sound normal compared to how mine charges.. It should be between 14.2 to 13.8vdc at idle depending on how hot the bike is... The only times I've seen the voltage drop into the 12 volt range at idle is when the brakes are applied or when the air suspension compressor is used.



Which brings up a question. Are the brake lights on all the time also and you just haven't noticed them on yet??:shock:
 

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sounds pretty normal really, 14.2 to 14.5 volts is required at 3000rpm it can drop to around 11 to 12 volts at idle which should be 950 hot, plus or minus 100rpm. and this is normal.

the stator operates on revs,and the regulator governs where the power goes, so a drop in volts, at idle, or braking etc is normal.
 

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oldishwinger wrote:
sounds pretty normal really, 14.2 to 14.5 volts is required at 3000rpm it can drop to around 11 to 12 volts at idle which should be 950 hot, plus or minus 100rpm. and this is normal.

the stator operates on revs,and the regulator governs where the power goes, so a drop in volts, at idle, or braking etc is normal.
Not to pick bones Rob but your idle speed recomendation is incorrect. Per the Clymer shop manual I've got, in Table 8 TUNE-UP SPECIFICATIONS, the idle setting is 1,000 + 100rpm. This setting is for both carburated and fuel injected models.As you said, stator output depends entirely on how fast the engine is running.



I remember a post a couple of weeks ago from a member who was having problems with low charging at idle, the bike was not idleing smoothly, and stumbled while taking off. His problem was the bike was idleing at 750rpm!! Lets make sure this gentleman has the idle setting correct and we can go from there!!



Also remember we're dealing with a 500 watt stator here,not a 360 watt model!! A higher voltage at idle is to be expected with a larger stator!!:cool:
 

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The 85 LTD I used to own from new always read around 13.9 volts on the bike's voltmeter at idle... until you put on the brakes and then it would drop down in the 12v range. Then if you bring the rpm up the voltage will rise also.

If yours is dropping down into the 11 volt range with just the tail lights on and not the brake then you definately have a problem.
 

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This might not be very helpful since I have a newer 1800 with an alternator, but my bike puts out 11.9-12.2 V at idle but at 1500 - 2000 rpm it's right around 13.9 V. I do believe that the idle should be at a minimum between 800-1000 rpm for that bike though. 800 would be pushing the lower limit though and you would be best to stay around the 900-1000 range. I honestly have not seen any gas engine idle at less than 750 without problems keeping it running. However, I could be way off. I'm not a mechanic by trade (Computer Tech).
 

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Once you determine or fix any shorting out point, you can put 28-45 LED Tower bulbs in the brake/tail lights and that will eliminate the drop on the brake light application. Tower LED bulbs give the most light on these old retrofit lights as the incandescent bulbs reflect off the reflector as do the tower LED bulbs, use at least 28 LEDs per bulb.
LED turn signals(tower bulb also) will require a new LED turn flasher install to keep the proper flash rate and drop the voltage/wattage draw on turn signal application. (use of a load resistor will not drop voltage draw on turn signals)
 

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As I see it you have no change when you pull the bulbs so there must be a short somewhere. Where was the switch tapped into? The problem would be somewhere between that point and the tail lights.
Edit;Forgot where I was going while I was thinking about it.
 

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scooby1956 wrote:
Next, I pulled all the bulbs out of the sockets within the tail light circuit. I expected to see a significantly lower drop off in the Voltmeter reading, however, the voltmeter reading was unchanged.

Question is: Does this sound like a ground problem or a short in the circuit?

Not sure where to go from here. I would appreciate any help or suggestions as I am not much when it comes to electrical problems. Thanks
It looks like the previous butcher oops owner has done some non standard wiring.

If that much current was going trough the tail light fuse it would burn out almost instantly,
I would look for non stock relays and unplug them until you find the culprit.
 

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Sorry but need to clarify something...
In your initial post you stated you get the voltage drop by turning onthe previously installed switch and then again with switch removed. You don't mention having to press the brakes. Does the voltage drop occur at all times now and if so do you see any change in brake light intensity when you squeeze the lever or step on the pedal. Very commonly the rear brake switch can stick causing the brakelights to be on full bright at all times. This would result in a "full time" voltage drop.
 

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Oh, I almost forgot!! :shock:Welcome to the Site scooby!!!!:cool::coollep::coollep:
 

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It's easier to diagnose if you split the system into sections. Disconnect the tail/brake lamp sensor. If the draw goes away, the sensor and/or taillamps are at fault. Bypass the sensor, if the symptoms disappear, the sensor is faulty. If it doesn't, the problem is in the taillamps. If you unplug the sensor, and the load is still there, the problem is forward.
 

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My LTD will show lower voltage on the volt meter when idleing than at higher RPM's. Since every in dash volt meter is different, keep this in perspective. At idle when warm, 900 - 950 RPM, my volt meter will read 13.1 +-.2 At an RPM higher than 1700 or so, it will go up to 14.1.

When I come to a stop and have a foot on the brake, Mine will drop to the 12's...... long stops, high 11's with my foot on the brake, if I let up on the brake, it goes to the normal range when idling.

My point, there is fluctuation...... a lot of fluctuation....

My fix is 2 part.......

#1 - Don't look at the volt meter when idling.

#2 - Don't sweat any electrical problem til roscoepc tells me it's a problem......... and I meet up with him so he can fix it........ OK, that a bit much, but he has been a HUGE help in getting mine fixed when I needed him.
 

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I remember a post a couple of weeks ago from a member who was having problems with low charging at idle, the bike was not idleing smoothly, and stumbled while taking off. His problem was the bike was idleing at 750rpm!! Lets make sure this gentleman has the idle setting correct and we can go from there!!
That'd be me :raspberry::waving:

Setting the idle up to 1,000 helps. I also had similar voltage readings (11-12v, sometimes as low as 10v) at idle. I had other electrical issues going on (which still haven't been resolved :whip:), but in trying to solve it I went on a soldering marathon. In that,I fixed the three yellow wires in three different spots. After that my charging at idle jumped to 12-13v. I'd go after them yellow wires and the idle and see where it goes from there. But also make sure you track down those tail light wires and make sure there's no loose bits running around.
 

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jobe05 wrote:
Don't sweat any electrical problem til roscoepc tells me it's a problem......... and I meet up with him so he can fix it........ OK, that a bit much, but he has been a HUGE help in getting mine fixed when I needed him.
Yer right!! That IS a bit much!!!!:shock:I'm a Legend in my own Mind :coollep::cheeky1::cheeky1::cheeky1:
 

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There really needs to be some feedback at this point, Scooby.

As Wingsam pointed out, these Hondas have a rear brake light switch which sticks easily. Have you checked to see if the switch is functioning? Another common problem is, as Ken mentioned, P.O. wiring. Are there any other lights than stock? Lightbars on the trunk, or bags? Driving lights? Maybe the P.O. converted the turn lamps in the lowers to be on full time? Anything that isn't box-stock is suspect.

Oh, and welcome to the forum.

 
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