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Author Topic: Ongoing Electrical Issues  (Read 2063 times)

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Superchuck

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on: July 23, 2018, 12:49:11 pm
Howdy folks,
 
Been a long time.  I’ve been having electrical issues on my AVL for even longer.

You may remember this old (lengthy) thread where I mentioned blown lights and a breakdown, which culminated in me replacing my battery, and at the time that truly was the root of the issue:   https://forum.classicmotorworks.com/index.php/topic,24570.msg283466.html#msg283466

I rode it a good amount during 2017 after the fix, but was always plagued by inconsistent wiring gremlins, namely a loose ignition wire near or in the ignition switch, and general shenanigans with the turn signal and brake lights which were due to both a worn/shoddy OEM wiring harness and the fact that I did a chop-job mounting up some aftermarket lights.  Nothing that left me stranded though.

 All was pretty much ok last fall… until this spring when I finally decided to dust of the old thumper and see if it’d run.

When logging on to the forum this morning I noticed this other thread….

https://forum.classicmotorworks.com/index.php/topic,26203.msg301517.html#msg301517

Seems like a similar issue to what I’ve been experiencing, but figured I’d write this separate post in order to elaborate a bit on my bike’s particular quirks.  Also, maybe if we try and keep this thread alive with some additional troubleshooting, perhaps it can help that other person, and others in the future.

So here's the story... I fired up the Enfield a few weeks ago.  It rode great for about 4 miles, then while accellerating from a stop I miss-shifted, which revved the engine up really high.  My headlight got really bright, then all my lights went out.  The bike kept running though, so I putted to the top of my hill, and shut it off to see if it would turn back on again.  Nope.  Dead as a doornail.  Rolled/pushed her home.

From what I've read here and elsewhere I expect the issue to be a failing or inconsistent Rectifier/Regulator unit.  I have the green TCI box, which came stock on my AVL.  Is there anything else I should be doublechecking / troubleshooting / testing to confirm?  Also, does anyone replace wiring / electrical components with specific known high-quality components from other manufacturers?  (I have heard japanese bikes don't have the wiring woes we have, but I'm sure all countries produce their own share of reliable and/or buggy products)

 In addition to replacing my – what I assume to be the R/R unit, I am interested in swapping out the main wiring harness for a well-constructed replacement, with the hopes of chasing away my intermittent but never-ending electrical gremlins.  I see there area a number of wiring harnesses available on Ebay (specifically for the AVL Electra) but I don’t want to buy a garbage component and run into the same issues I’ve been having with the OEM rat’s nest.

Thanks very much in advance.  I can't wait to get this thing on the road again.

Chuck


Mick Bailey

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Reply #1 on: July 24, 2018, 03:16:17 am
So far I've had excellent results with the regulator mentioned in post #7, fitted on two bikes;
https://forum.classicmotorworks.com/index.php/topic,26045.0.html

Assuming you have a multimeter, I would start by checking the battery voltage. A damaged RR can drain the battery fairly quickly, depending on how it has failed. The bike will start and run without the RR so I would unplug it anyhow for the time being.

If the battery is flat, charge it and reinstall it in the bike and check that the fuses are OK and the lights are working. Also check the chassis ground connection is good - this is failure-prone. Then check if there's a spark. Rather than using the starter, I would remove the plug, hold it against the head and turn the engine over off the kickstart to see if there's a spark. Here's where an assistant is handy.

If there's no spark remove the three-pin connector from the TCI unit and ensure that there's battery voltage present on the connector pins. The connector has a battery +/- and coil connection - I forget the colour coding without checking but it's posted on the forum somewhere. If you have power to the TCI but no spark then its likely that either the TCI or the coil is damaged (or both). I have an elaborate test rig to check the TCI, but it's not something many people would want to construct. You would need to eliminate the possibility of coil failure before replacing the TCI. If there's no power to the TCI then the ignition switch may be playing up.

Don't reinstall the original RR - I would now always replace the original unit with something better.



 



Superchuck

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Reply #2 on: July 24, 2018, 03:18:59 pm
Mick,

This is excellent.  Thank you very much for the detailed synopsis on troubleshooting.  It's been raining off and on all day, but if it lets up this evening I'll get out and start poking around.

Will report back once I have some additional information (or more questions most likely).

Cheers!
Chuck


Superchuck

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Reply #3 on: July 24, 2018, 08:08:44 pm
Ok, so the rain let up and I got a few minutes of troubleshooting done this evening.

Battery had a charge.  Main ground was secure.  Fuse was intact. 

Turned the key.  No lights.  Played with the control clusters just in case.  No lights.  Removed the headlamp.  It was getting power (+/- 10v), but not lighting up.  I am assuming it and all my lights have blown. 

My lights blew a year or two ago but that happened during a slew of other problems, and the blown lights remained an undiagnosed mystery.  I replaced the bulbs then went on my merry way.  However, with this recurrence I am assuming the RR unit (or something else??) is at fault.  Does this make sense?

So after testing the lights, I removed the spark plug and reattached it to the coil lead thingie.  Turned the ignition on, held the plug against the engine head while hand-cranking the kickstart lever (not nearly as vigorous as a standing full body leg kick).  It sparked. 

Since there is a spark, am I correct in assuming that whatever broke me down is an intermittently failing part?  Since the bike will run without an RR, does that mean it's also the TCI? 

Since it's dark out and my bike has no lights, and it was parked-in by my car I did not dig the Enfield out to fire it up for real. 

It should also go on the record that my ignition switch has been funny for a couple years.  At the beginning of my test ride this year (where this breakdown happened) I was not able to get my ignition switch to connect until I dripped water down inside the keyhole.  However, when my bike broke down during this test ride, I carried a bottle of water for just that, and the dribble-fix didn't work, so I am assuming it was a different issue, not the ignition switch.  My bike's been sitting in the rain for the past day, so the ignition switch worked like a charm every time today.

I am fine with starting to throw a few parts at the bike if anything seems like it is 'probably' at fault.  It sounds to me like replacing/upgrading the RR unit would be good practice even if it's not at fault.  I don't want to muddy the waters though, and I am glad to do some additional preliminary troubleshooting if you or others have some additional suggestions. 

Thanks very much, and thanks in advance for any continued advice!
Chuck


Mick Bailey

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Reply #4 on: July 25, 2018, 02:56:29 am
Having a spark is a good result so far. Your ignition switch is likely to be corroded and needs replacing. Corrosion at best causes a higher than normal resistance which will drop the battery voltage, or worst-case cause complete loss of supply to one or more circuits. Dripping water in the barrel temporarily improves things but ultimately worsens the problem and should certainly be resolved. The TCI will operate down to about 7v but this isn't a good situation.
 
I've now found in two cases that the original RR is not effective at regulation. It's perhaps ill-advised to extrapolate such a small sample size to represent all bikes, but reading other posts about blowing lights does not instill confidence and I would obtain a replacement unit. You can check your existing unit on the bike but this is risky and could cause further damage. A working RR should maintain the charge voltage between about 13.4v and 14.4v (or thereabouts, but no higher) at all revs and with the lights on or off. This is measured across the battery terminals with the bike running. A faulty RR can fail intermittently under load even if it seems OK at idle/low revs and give several tens of volts, which if you're lucky will just blow bulbs.


Adrian II

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Reply #5 on: July 25, 2018, 07:12:13 am
My own Electra-X's ignition switch got very tempramental with an intermittent contact. They're cheap enough to replace individually, though it's a bit of a pain if you still want to use the one key for the ignition, steering lock and side covers/tool boxes, as you'd have to replace the entire lock/ignition switch set.

Check the wiring around the headstock in case ageing and repeated flexing has led to brittle fracture and failing wires.

Also the reg-rectifier Mick identified is pretty cheap, almost to the point where it's a consumable, can't be any worse than what's already on there.

A.
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Mick Bailey

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Reply #6 on: July 25, 2018, 08:55:54 am
So far both bikes have been running fine with the Chinese replacement RR and the charge voltage is still well-controlled and no more drastic electrolyte loss due to overcharging.

Occassionally I've dismantled ignition switches and cleaned them up with a glass-fibre pencil. Then use 'contact grease' which is designed to be applied to low-voltage contacts to prevent corrosion. It can be a fiddle (especially if the body is crimped up) and sometimes doesn't work out if the contacts are severely corroded. 


Superchuck

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Reply #7 on: July 25, 2018, 09:15:05 am
Cool, I'll order the replacement RR today.

If I have a chance this evening I'll pull the ignition switch out and check out the solder joints, re-solder if necessary, and check impedance.

We've got rain all week in Baltimore, but hopefully I can fire it up in a couple days once it's all buttoned up again.

Will report back.

Many thanks!
Chuck


tooseevee

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Reply #8 on: July 25, 2018, 09:58:18 am
    This is just a side comment on SuperChuck's continuing electrical problems all of which I went through when I bought my brand new, zero mileage 2008 AVL Classic in 2010 from the lawyers for an out-of-business dealer in Missouri.

      I was far from an idiot about cars and motorcycles, but some of you remember that I knew NOthing about these particular bikes except from what I read online, in Pete's miraculous manual and from the guys on this forum who knew them inside and out. I was even afraid to start the damn thing until I did a complete dealer service on it from stem to stern.

     Anyway...months passed, I did all I could to learn as much as possible, wrote and received thousands of words back and forth on these forums, on and on and on.... New battery, new fluids, took the carb (BS 29) apart just to do it, new gas.

      Then I found I had NO lights at all. NONE. I started tr-shooting wires and connections until I finally discovered (by chance) that Every Single Bulb on The Bike Was BLOWN OUT including the directional flasher. It blew my mind! Was THIS why the bike sat in a back room for two years unsold? How do you blow BOTH directionals? Both Hi and Lo beams? Do you put the right on, watch the bulb blow and then put the left on? Put he Hi beam on, watch it blow, then switch to the Lo?

         Anyway...long story long, it totally blew my trust of ANYTHING electrical on the bike and I spent the next two years totally bullet-proofing it all (AND getting all the bulbs needed AND spares) and upgrading everything to the best of my ability including unwrapping the whole main harness (what a clusterfuck THAT was! Unbelieveable!) and rewrapping the whole thing with black cloth vintage NON-sticky harness tape. It was originally wrapped with about a thousand feet of sticky black vinyl electrical tape. UnGODly mess! Some of the splices were just totally exposed twisted copper. Inside the headlight took days of fiddling to make sense of.

          The strange thing is that after I replaced all the bulbs and had not done anything else yet (rectifier, alternator, fuses, nothing) it never blew a bulb again. No one on the forums at that time could ever come up with a scenario to explain how that might happen. 

         Sorry I can't help you more, Chuck, but I'm not really good at electrical crap (I use the water pipe method), I'm just stubborn and persistent and like a dog with a bone. I'm not happy unless it's right and won't fuck up on the road. 

     Anyway, by last year or the year before, I finally trust the damn thing to not leave me dead in a ditch somewhere sending up smoke signals, but I had to change, fix, upgrade, replace, touch, feel, kiss, hug and pet everything before that happened. Nothing on the bike is the way it was when it left the capable hands of Mr. Black Vinyl Sticky Tape in Chennai except for the tires and it's a waste of $$$ for me to replace them because I can hardly even ride the damn thing any more or get the damn thing on the center stand now, in fact last time I rode it I couldn't and it still sits on the side stand (whose switch was disconnected 9 years ago to get THAT out of the equations).
« Last Edit: July 25, 2018, 10:13:11 am by tooseevee »
2008 AVL Classic.Extensive head work by Ace.Ace canister/TM32/Ace manifold.Small open bottle/hot tube removed.Pertronix Coil.Bobber seat.Fed mandates removed.Battery in right side case.Decomp&all doodads removed.'30s Lucas taillight/7" headlight.


Superchuck

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Reply #9 on: July 25, 2018, 10:59:22 am
Tooseevee,

Thanks for the input.  I, too am very interested in replacing the entire wiring harness.  I have had many loose or intermittent electrical connections over the years I've owned the bike, and it's left me stranded a number of times.  I have had very little mechanical issues with my AVL, but I have had a lifetime's worth of electrical issues.

Alas, I am realizing I do not have the time to rebuild the electrical harness from scratch, although that's what I'd really like to do.  Does anyone know of a quality replacement main wiring harness that is a direct swap?  Or is anything purchased just garbage, making DIY the only real solution?

Cheers!
Chuck


Superchuck

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Reply #10 on: July 31, 2018, 06:56:33 am
I ordered the replacement RR unit... It's on the slow boat from China but should be here in a week or two.

Mick, you had said that the one connecter doesn't marry-up to the Enfield wiring harness.  Did you end up splicing the wires and reusing the existing connector?

I replaced my headlight bulb, and it works fine now. Turn signals were luckily all ok, but I still need to pick up a tail light bulb.

I removed the ignition switch and noticed that 2 if the wires on the bottom were pretty corroded at the soldered terminals.  I resoldered them, and also used a bit of mineral oil on my key to work the lock core barrels back and forth.  I put it all back together and it seems fine now.  It's still a small sample set, so only time will tell if the entire thing needs to be replaced, but at least this is promising.

We've had crazy weather swings as of late, and I noticed a lack of engine compression when trying to kick it over.  While I await the RR unit I'll dig in and retorque the header and adjust tappets.

I am hopeful that this will be the last of my electrical woes for a while, but who's to say.  Knock on wood!

Chuck


Superchuck

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Reply #11 on: August 01, 2018, 10:16:33 pm
Tonight I bought a replacement tail light bulb, and figured I would plug it in and go. 

The brake light worked, but the running light was still off.  I got the bike running to make sure I was giving it full power and still no light. 

Spent the next 3 hours troubleshooting wiring.  I had the bike off at the time to not wake my neighbors. 

I found out that the gray wire which exits the ammeter and powers the tail running light does not seem to be getting any power. 

I need to try this with the engine on, but is there a chance my ammeter got fried during my power surge breakdown?  Thing is, the ammeter seemed to be working properly when the headlight was hooked up... It dipped a little when the headlight was lit, and ticked just above halfway at a standing idle (like normal). 

It's just not outputting any power to the gray wire.    (Again I did not get a chance to test the gray wire at the ammeter with the bike running).

Ideas are very welcome.  Now i need to find a parking lot where I can tinker at idle without disturbing the peace.

Cheers,
Chuck


Adrian II

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Reply #12 on: August 02, 2018, 09:10:16 am
Quote
I found out that the gray wire which exits the ammeter and powers the tail running light does not seem to be getting any power.


Ammeter direct to tail light??? Something wrong there, surely the lights (apart from the stop light) are all fed via the light-switch cluster, unless this is a requirement for the USA market? Do you have access to the wiring diagram for your model?

A.
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heloego

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Reply #13 on: August 02, 2018, 10:19:44 am
   The grey wire does tie in to the ammeter, however if I read my wiring diagram that circuit is ancillary only, and does not supply power directly to the tail lamp. It is simply a means for the ammeter to sense power draw in the lighting electrical circuit. Since it is in parallel to the lighting circuit it would have no effect on the operation of the tail lamp.
   The grey wire at the tail lamp running light is the power wire and runs forward into the pilot lights and then to ground, with the ammeter grey wire merely an offshoot for sensing purposes.
   If your pilot lights are working, and you see a slight dip in the ammeter reading when you turn on the lights, the ammeter circuit and the forward lighting circuit (head lamp, speedo lights, pilot lights, ammeter lamp) are most likely working just fine.
   
   Find the tail lighting connector and check the grey wire at that 8-pin connector under the seat and forward and above the rear mudguard. Check for power between the grey wire there and ground.
   If there is power (12v) at the control side of the connector the problem is in the harness to the tail light. First, check the connector(s) for pin corrosion or possibly a broken wire at the grey wire terminal.
   Have you checked contacts on the lamp itself and the socket contacts for corrosion or wear? Those positive (power) contacts are nothing more than lead solder and do wear down resulting in intermittent or no proper contact.   Several owners have found the harness routed inside the mudguard chafed from the tire. Give it a good visual inspection and repair if necessary.   If there is not power at that connector you'll need to check the grey wire from that connector forward to the 9-pin connector in the headlamp housing. Check continuity between the two connectors, and check for power to the grey wire there. With the multitester attached between power and ground perform a "wiggle check" of the connectors to see if if the resistance reading is affected. This will indicate whether a connector or wire has an intermittent open short.
   If you don't get power there but all the forward lights are working fine, now you get to pull the tank and check the harness that runs between there and the rear connector.
   Most likely it's the commonest of problems, like a chafed wire in the mudguard harness.   Good luck and let us know what you find.

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Mick Bailey

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Reply #14 on: August 02, 2018, 01:15:13 pm
I extended the yellow leads on my wife's bike and used the supplied connector as this plugs directly in. (my RR is located differently due to a different carb arrangement). The smaller connector could be chopped off your old RR and swapped - the one on the new unit is a different type. I has a new connector to hand so crimped on a replacement;

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2-WAY-PIN-CONNECTOR-6-3MM-PLUG-SOCKET-COMPLETE-BIKE-BOAT-QUAD-ATV/281811653924?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649