|Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - 05:45 pm: ||
I occasionally see threads on needing help tracking down a short or other electrical fault so I thought I would share my recent "event".....
Lots of newbies here so I'll go into some detail to help other folks.
Electrical issues are sure to occur, especially in these 20+ yr old bikes, weather, storage, previous owners modifications etc, all lend themselves towards electrical problems.
When troubleshooting electrical problems I always follow a logical approach..
Whats the last thing I did: Did I do something or change something that I need to take a closer look at to see if its failed due to chaffing, rubbing, ground short, faulty component, etc...
Whats been modified: Has Previous Owner done something to the bike that was maybe beyond their skill level, or same questions as above....
75% of all electrical problems are ground related: Check all major grounding straps and ground points
Some bikes have trend issues in their mfg assembly process, a bundle routed to tightly through or around something that creates a pinch or pull point... (FORUM HELP)
Check all electrical connections to see if you can isolate the system.
Methodically start from front of bike to back of bike, pull all body panels and fuel tank etc. so that you can see everything and start shaking, touching, pulling etc. to see what kicks off the short.
Some (at least) electrical basic(?) knowledge
Good forum support (experts exist, use them)
Extra turn signals (to use as a test set)
Wire for jumper lines
The issue I had:
First noticed that tail light/turnsignals was out on my 98 S1W. Headlight worked fine
Integrated LED turn signal tail light
No independent rear turn signals
Zepto turn signals in the front
Every time I replaced the 15amp fuse and turned the ignition on it would blow the fuse immediately. I couldn't even get a few minutes of shaking wires to see what the or where the problem was. It would immediately blow the fuse.
and then it wouldnt.......
Bike up on a stand, replace fuse, brake light and turn signals worked..
Pull bike from stand, put it on the kickstand and as soon as the kickstand touched concrete (ground) it would blow the fuse... right about now I"m thinking direct short to ground....
and then it wouldn't.....
remember patience?...after about a dozen fuses I parked the bike and walked away...time to regroup and keep a clear head...
Attacked the problem again... set the bike in a bike stand and started from scratch....
Fuse would not blow...turn signals worked... brake light worked... everything worked... right now im thinking I had a wet connection in one of the electrical blocks... and it dried out..
Pull bike out of stand, back it back into parking spot... turn handlebars to full limit for a tight turn..POP!!! its actually good news... electrical problems dont solve themselves, and now I have a place to look.
I'm now thinking a bad set up in the zepto turn signals that have a small in line circuit board..
Remove headlight, start checking wires, reroute a few make sure nothing is pinched by headlight... test system, all turn signals work, tail light works... reinstall headlight... pull bike out of chock... turn handlebars... POP!!
back in chock, replace fuse, pull headlight, check wires.... etc.. test systems, everything works..
Reinstall headlight, pull bike from chock... POP, I repeat this several times, then I notice that the clutch cable guide from the clutch cable was sitting down in the wire form cable guide for the clutch cable and front brake line, making contact with the triple tree... I pull this back up into place, and everything works, fuse doesnt pop under any circumstance (however the wire form and the triple tree should both be "ground", why is there a short between them? Why is there a free 12v source?)
I pull the bike out of the chock, back it up, and I smell smoke, then I see smoke... the wirform cable guide is melting the plastic coating on the front brake line...
I have basically removed the opportunity (the clutch cable metal guide) for the bike to discharge the electrical potential... Now its just generating heat in a direct short to ground, the wireform is thin enough to convert that electrical potential into heat.
I go through all of the steps, pull and replace the headlight multiple times, replace the turn signals, trying to isolate and remove all potential problems, including changes and modifications.
Multiple rounds of pull, remove, test, reinstall headlight...
Wireform gets hot enough that within 5 seconds the wire form will burn your finger, which makes it real easy to "test".
Now it's time for patience and to think about "what's the common variable?"..
Everytime I pull the headlight and test it, the issue doesn't exist... reinstall the headlight...problem exists.... so the issue has to do with the headlight, either pinching a wire, or somehow its the headlight..
I disconnect the white quick disconnect block, reinstall the headlight.... no issue!, reconnect the headlight quick disconnect.. and the wireform gets hot..
here's the source! now whats the problem...
Using a test lamp connect to ground since I'm looking for stray voltage, I touch the test point to the mounting point of the headlight and the light turns on... I have voltage at the headlight shell... WHY???
disassemble the headlight and find...
look closely at the peanut bulb... the ground wire is connected directly to the bulb instead of the base/case/ground tab and the hot 12v orange wire is connected to the ground tab, putting 12v directly to the shell of the light.....
it should look like this...
I've never been into this light and I've owned the bike since maybe 2006 more or less (can't remember)Ö and I'm the second owner... that means that either this was done at the factory (seriously doubt it) or previous owner was in there for some reason... This was a rescue bike, literally from someone's back yard ...in the middle of the back yard.....
I've never had an electrical issue with the bike, so near as I can tell everything was isolated in the mounting by the paint...a few years of riding, the paint finally wore through to provide an electrical connection and POP!!!
As you trouble shoot, dont forget to look at the "theres no way there is a problem like that" type of things.....
Hope this helps folks approach any electrical issue they have with success!
|Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2019 - 06:07 am: ||
|Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2019 - 06:27 am: ||
Great work and bulldog ethic!
A pity this board doesn't have a like button function.
|Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2019 - 11:50 am: ||
Interesting find and story Dave. Thanks for sharing. I was cleaning up the S1W Iím working on and noticed some copper showing on a wire going to the ignition module. I touched it and the insulation was dry rotten and sluffing off. I pulled the wire from the deutsch connector and ran a couple inches of shrink tubing over it.
|Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2019 - 06:02 pm: ||
I always like that line from the X1Files:
YOU are the problem!
Meaning what is the last thing you've touched.
Useless start, dies, no restart, no click, no nothing.
I went berserk with external toothed washers on the battery leads and that was the problem. Removed all except the ones under the bolt heads and back in business.
|Posted on Friday, March 01, 2019 - 11:48 am: ||
Wow. OK, my right rear turn signal is not working, so this is very helpful at a very opportune time for me. Thanks!
|Posted on Friday, March 01, 2019 - 12:38 pm: ||
a single leg or "channel" is much easier to find, since all other turn signals work your entire system is working, its just the one leg that is bad.
ok obvious but...check the bulb first...
then check the signal...sometimes the wire breaks inside, and these are old so it could be that simple.
try using a different turn signal plugged in to see if the turn signal itself, move that suspect signal over to another point on the bike, does the problem follow it?
when checking the wiring dont stop at the bullet connectors for the turn signal plug in, follow it all the way up to the point that it joins the rest of the system.
Do you have a test lamp?
do you have a voltmeter?
volt meter: disconnect the turn signal at the bullet connectors and use the volt meter (with the turn signal turned on) to see if you are reading voltage across the turn signal wires.. it will jump from zero to a voltage then zero..like its flashing..
test lamp...connect the clip to ground and the point into the hot leg of the turn signal bike harness...test lamp should flash... if it does, your turn signal or conncetion or bulb is bad... if it doesnt flash then you are not getting any voltage down that leg.... work further up...
hope that helps