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I ran the bike (1994 GL1500 A) about 10 miles yesterday afternoon, parked it for several hours, came out and the battery was deader than a doornail. Key was off, in the fork-lock position. I jumped it and ran it home, no problem. How did the battery die?

Now the history. Ran the bike 8000 miles Sept and Oct with no problems. Yesterday morning, I ran the bike for 80 miles, including stopping for breakfast, again no problem. Bike started fine, battery seemed fine. For the afternoon run, the bike started fine, ran fine. However, just when I stopped, I tried to set the scorpio alarm (which has been on the bike a long time), and it wouldn't set. This MIGHT have been early evidence of low battery voltage. I just chalked it up to "investigate later". Once I jumped it, the scorpio functioned normally.

Recent changes: Yup, I made some electrical changes and might have screwed them up. I added some led strips on the side lights, replacing the small incandescent bulbs that were previously there. Of course, these are on the same switched circuit that the previous lights were and they should have shut off easily with the ignition.

So, what happened? The alternator seems OK, since the battery was totally dead and a jump caused it to work just fine, charging the battery and running the lights, etc. There might be a short in the new LED lights that increased the load, when running, but why wouldn't a fuse pop? Once I jumped it and ran it home, all the lighting worked fine, and all fuses were intact. When I parked it, the lights were all still working, so the battery voltage may have been low, but had to be at least in the 11v range to make the lights work. When I came back to it, and the battery was dead, it was reading 5v right at the battery. So there had to be a continued drain while it was parked, I think?

Some possible reasons:
a) sudden failure of the battery. Battery is an AGM, of unknown age, but probably about 2 years old, when the PO replaced the alternator.
b) Is there an alternator shut down feature of the GL1500? LEDs are supposed to be lower draw than incandescent bulbs, but I put very bright SMD LEDs and a lot of them, so is it possible the draw was high enough to cause the alternator to overload? How close to max load of the alternator is the GL1500--how much excess capacity is there? I'm reaching here.
c) Could there be a short in the leds that doesn't pop fuses?


I can't think of any other reasons. I have the battery on a charger and will try to determine if the battery has failed.

In the meantime, its hard to contemplate a trip on the bike, if I might come out and find the battery dead......

Anyone have any thoughts?

Thanks in advance. Mark.
 

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Monkey with a Football
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Normally you have plenty of alt reserve on a properly working stock system.
Something in the range of 20 amps.

Your LED draw would not have been able to pull the system down.

You should already have something to tell you when things are needing attention on your bike electrically. Either a SmartLight or a voltmeter or both.

I would get the battery out of the bike and take it down to be tested at an auto parts store.
Next I would add the above mentioned devices so you know in real time what is going on.

You may have intermittent brushes in your current alt.

You should also do some measurements and do an electrical current draw audit of the items added to the bike, just so you know where you are.

After all that, I expect things will be more obvious as to the cause.
 

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Thanks guys. Good info. Apparently enough excess alternator capacity not to be overloaded. And apparently AGM's can fail this way. I do know that AGM's are noted for sudden failure, with little warning. This one appears to be a 2002 model, after further digging in the PO's records. Loads appear reasonable and voltages indicate the alternator seems OK. A new battery has been ordered and hopefully will fix the problem.
Thanks, guys and to Dave for the PM's.
 

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I'll ask the dumb question. Since you parked it in the lock position I wonder if you were really in the park position where the park lights were on and since it was daylight you may not have noticed the difference between lock and park?
 

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with the bike shut off, disconnect the battery ground and stick an ammeter from the post to the lead. Any reading? Yes - something's draining battery. No - battery needs testing.
 

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The Irish Crew
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If the battery really has been in the bike since 2002, that would make it a suspect in my mind.
 

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Monkey with a Football
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tlbranth wrote:
with the bike shut off, disconnect the battery ground and stick an ammeter from the post to the lead. Any reading? Yes - something's draining battery. No - battery needs testing.
The system normally has a small 5ma draw with the bike off to support the clock and the radio settings. If a battery can't support this small load then one or more of the following is likely:

The battery is ready to be replaced.

The charging system has a problem.

Additional, non-factory loads have been added.
 

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Piaggio MP3, was 02 GL1800
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SailorKane wrote:
I ran the bike (1994 GL1600 A) about 10 miles yesterday afternoon, parked it for several hours, came out and the battery was deader than a doornail. Key was off, in the fork-lock position. I jumped it and ran it home, no problem. How did the battery die?
I was just rereading this thread and finally woke up to what you said here.

This has happened to me several times.

Lock the forks and oops! took the key out in the Park position. That leaves the tail lights on and the battery runs down over night.

Double check when locking the forks, that ALL of the lights and systems are OFF. :coollep:
 

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A 1994 GL1600? did I miss out on this, was this an interim between the 1500 & 1800 or was it a machinist mistake :)
 

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Putting the switch in park instead of lock appears to be the culprit. I tried putting the switch in park and the alarm showed the same symptom. The battery recovering so fast on the ride home is another indication.

This ranks with the "dumbest things I've done on a motorcycle". In my defense, in the bright Florida sun at midday, its VERY hard to see the lights. And I haven't had the bike long--bought it in August. I needed to read the owners manual better, since I didn't even realize there WAS a park setting. But it was a DUMB mistake!

OTOH, the battery is 7 years old, and AGM's have a history of catastrophic and sudden failure when they get old. So, buying a new battery is probably good PM and I don't feel too bad. You learn something new every day.

And occam's razor holds. The simplest explanation is probably the right one.


tricky wrote:
A 1994 GL1600? did I miss out on this, was this an interim between the 1500 & 1800 or was it a machinist mistake :)
tricky, didn't you get the upgraded model? The extra 100ccs was an option in February of that year.
 

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tricky wrote:
A 1994 GL1600? did I miss out on this, was this an interim between the 1500 & 1800 or was it a machinist mistake :)
If you run a 1500 without oil for a while, the pistons will naturally hone the cylinders oversize and you'll have a GL-1600.

They say the difference in horsepower is notable.

:cheeky1:
 
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