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I just bought a 1987 GL 1200 Aspencade from a private party a week ago. When I looked at it I heard this rattle in the engine. He said it was normal and he had heard that for the year and 1/2 he had the bike. I bought it and it seems to be getting worse and with only 77,000 miles I didn't think it could be anything major. The sound is more noticeable at an idle. I can hear it at higher RPM, but not as noticeable. I took it to a shop and they said it was either the main bearings or the rod bearings. I took it to a friend that owns older wings and rebuilds engines. He listened with a engine stethoscope and felt the noice was coming from the altenator area. This guy told me to change my oil and see if there was any steel flakes in the oil. I saw a few flakes large enough to pick up with my finger. My mechanic friend felt if it was a main or rod bearing it would have seized by now, and is certain it is in the altenator bearing or a gear. Any thoughts? The origional owner sold it at 65,000 miles and he sent me an e-mail saying teh engine was very quiet when he sold it. The guy I bought it from said he just had the oil changed 10 days before I bought it and there was no shavings in the oil.
 

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Is it maybe possible that the brushes are totally worn so the metal springs are grinding against the collector? Just a guess....
 

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1993 gl1500, 1976 gl1000
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Might be a loose bolt at the rear of the stator (what you're calling the alt). This bolt is used to turn enging when timing. Easily gets loose if turned ccw. ???
 
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