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Discussion Starter #1
So, I have been lurking on this forum for the better part of a decade, since becoming the proud owner of a Honda Twin myself. Today I come to you with my hat in my hand seeking tokens of knowledge:

I start the bike, ride it around for a little while, and when I get home it’s dead. I have gone through the charging system, and ALMOST every test I have performed checks out; the diodes in the regulator seem good, the alternator puts out about 50 vac, and when I meter across the battery it behaves like it’s supposed to (~12v sitting, ~10v when the starter’s running, ~14.5v when the engine starts). The only thing that doesn’t check out is the amperage on the battery while it’s running (meter between the positive terminal and cable on the bike). I get nothing. Zero. Zilch. According to CLYMER (yes I know) I should be getting about 5 amps... or at least SOMETHING.

I am very confused as to where all my current is going? It seems that, logically, if I get a proper volt reading on the battery I should be getting a proper amperage reading too. But I’m not. So maybe I am missing something? This could have been human error too, or maybe my meter is bad. I get small, ambient current readings on the AC setting, but I get absolutely NOTHING on DC.

Since that doesn't make any sense, then my only other suspect is the starter motor. Even on a fully charged battery it doesn't really turn over the way it should... it will turn once> pause>turn again>pause>turnturnturnturn>igniton. I am wondering if it is worn and simply running it drains the battery to a point that I haven’t ridden long enough for it to recover from. And, I obviously don’t want to risk stranding myself miles from my house to test that theory. The screws that hold the starter together are too corroded for me to take it apart for inspection/service, so the only option is to get a new one and try it to rule that out… which is another $100 that I don’t want to throw away if I don’t have to, hence why I am actually posting for once.

This has been, at the risk of sounding dramatic, emotional for me. The bikes former owner was keeping it around as a parts bike for his other nighthawk, but decided he didn’t want it anymore, and short of the fact that it ran O.K, it was basically junk. I have spent countless dollars, time, blood, sweat, and tears over the past 5 years cleaning and/or replacing virtually everything on this bike. I just want to enjoy the fruits of my labor but the season is almost over here in Michigan and I am running out of time. So please, any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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First I would charge the battery and get it load tested, most auto parts stores do that.
Then I would go through the charging system diagnosis in the FSM. PM sent for the FSM.
It's possible that the regulator has failed and is passing AC voltage to the battery which will destroy it. Typically a fully charged static battery will have over 12V.
 

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I second a load test on the battery. Could have a bad cell or two. The starter being rusted could be causing a problem. I'd inspect the brushes if you can get to them. Starter may need a good cleaning inside. Could it cause a drain on the battery? Possibly if it's not fully disengaging. But this would more than likely burn out the starter. Slow starter could be the sign of a weak battery, hence I have it checked first.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks for the responses!

First I would charge the battery and get it load tested, most auto parts stores do that.
Then I would go through the charging system diagnosis in the FSM. PM sent for the FSM.
It's possible that the regulator has failed and is passing AC voltage to the battery which will destroy it. Typically a fully charged static battery will have over 12V.
Than you soo much for the literature! It is very much appreciated. I actually have replaced both the battery and the regulator.. however never both at the same time. As in, I first thought the regulator was bad despite my testing, but when replacing it didn't fix anything I went back to the one on the bike because the after market was the wrong form factor and would need some fabrication to be mounted. I then replaced the battery -the last thing I did before posting. However, I can see how putting a bad battery on a good regulator or vice-versa wouldn't appear to solve the problem if either were at fault. I just didn't realize that a bad regulator would actually DAMAGE a battery... I will probably charge and have both batteries tested, because I don't want to buy a new one if one or both are fine.

I second a load test on the battery. Could have a bad cell or two. The starter being rusted could be causing a problem. I'd inspect the brushes if you can get to them. Starter may need a good cleaning inside. Could it cause a drain on the battery? Possibly if it's not fully disengaging. But this would more than likely burn out the starter. Slow starter could be the sign of a weak battery, hence I have it checked first.

See above; It's a new battery... not that it couldn't be bad too. A little more on the starter: there is no way for me to inspect the brushes because the screws holding the starter together are too rusted/seized so trying to get it apart for that purpose would be a lost cause. When I do hit the starter, the entire bike blacks out sometimes... so my thinking was that the starter was drawing so much current that it was draining the battery completely just to start once. This starter has a cable running from the solenoid to the starter, which is grounded to the bike through the housing. The cable that carries the positive charge is connected to the starter by a bolt that turns freely inside the housing, and I have found that turning that bolt on the starter seems to make it work "better" if it's in the right spot. I thought that maybe, just maybe, it being in the "wrong" spot was causing a current leak while simultaneously powering the starter and causing an excess drain on the batter. But, based on the responses, that seems like a straw grab. Occam's razor... right?

I am currently in the process of charging both batteries. It will probably take all day, so I will have them up to the auto parts store tomorrow morning. I will post an update as soon as I can, provided I still have at least one good battery to go through the FSM tests with. Thanks again for your insight.
 

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The stud that the starter cable is connected to should not turn. It is electrically and physically connected to the field coils in the starter. That starter needs to be repaired or replaced.
 

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A note on your meter. If it is reading ZERO amps, it probably has a blown fuse. Usually, near the battery, there will be a fuse holder or two that are for protecting the meter against over current. One or more of those is likely blown. You can check them with the resistance setting on the meter.
 

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I'll second the idea that the starter is shot. That bolt should not be loose, it's causing a bad connection. Time for a new one, since you cant get the old one apart. Often a rebuild kit will cost half if not more then a new starter. Always a good idea to check the fusees, at this point I'd say it's a secondary fuse. If the main fuse was blown you couldn't start the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So a bit of an update:

Just took both batteries to the store and the older one was bad. So I have at least 1 good battery.

I tried to check the diodes on both of my regulators, though, and neither one of them is checking out per the manual. It states that I should get "at least 2000 Ohms" in one direction and "5-40" ohms in the other. I get about 10mOhms in one direction, but try as I might I can't get the 5-40 ohm reading at all, and it's the same for both regulators. I am assuming that I am doing something wrong, or my meter isn't sensitive enough. Any clues? Everything I look at seems to say to perform a diode check and not a resistance check... which seems to check out.

As far as the starter goes, it sounds like I need to replace it anyway... but are those of you saying that it's bad agreeing that it is the problem as well or just that it's broken? I will probably order a new one sometime today, so it will be a little while before I can change it out to test.

Thanks again for the help everyone.
 

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I'm saying replace the starter due to the post being loose, it can be taken apart and repaired with new parts.
Here's a source for pieces or the starter http://www.stockers.com/index.php?oc=1
For the diode test try switching your leads around, the test is for a positive ground ohm meter and you may have a negative ground type.
 

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The repair is not difficult. I just did one recently on a friend's CB360. Until you get it off and apart, it's really hard to know just how badly it's damaged.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm saying replace the starter due to the post being loose, it can be taken apart and repaired with new parts.
Here's a source for pieces or the starter http://www.stockers.com/index.php?oc=1
For the diode test try switching your leads around, the test is for a positive ground ohm meter and you may have a negative ground type.
On each diode that I get that high (10mOhm) reading on both regulators, I get nothing but a big fat OL if I reverse the leads in the same configuration. I have actually tried 3 different meters, and it's the same across all 3.The "aftermarket" regulator is a Caltric brand that I bought off of ebay that was purportedly the correct fitment for about half the price of most of the others, so it could very well be poorly made and/or bad, too. It's just that, despite the fact that I am not getting the "correct" readings on either regulator, I am getting the same readings on both. That leads me to believe that they are both functioning the same, and since one is brand new, therefore correctly. The lack of getting proper readings has something to do with me or my equipment. But maybe I am wrong.

The repair is not difficult. I just did one recently on a friend's CB360. Until you get it off and apart, it's really hard to know just how badly it's damaged.

Oh I don't doubt that. The issue is that the two screws that hold it together are soo badly corroded that trying to turn them with a screw driver would only strip out the heads. I suppose I could cut them with an angle grinder and pull it apart... but then I would have to a)find replacement screws and b) hope the threads aren't seized to the point that I could get whats left of them out of the housing without ruining it. I am probably better off just getting another one, and if I CAN fix this one I will just throw it on ebay or something to recoup part of the cost.
 

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I dug up an old regulator. Haven't put a new battery in the VOM so actual readings are somewhat suspect. - and + are reference to the VOM leads - meaning the ground lead
- Red + Yellow 20K ohm scale 1.0, 1.04, 1.12
+ Red - Yellow 0 reading on all scales
- Green + Yellow 200K scale 2.47, 2.58, 2.52 ....2000K scale 133, 136, 142
+ Green - Yellow 2K scale .65, .67, .68
This tells me that the diodes are working one direction only one the Yellow charging leads and both sides of the diode see ground like they should.
 

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I'm not saying the starter is the problem but it sure isn't help the situation any. It's possible a bad positive lead is causing a problem for the regulator. But this would most likely be on the feed side to the starter... May have arc-ed and sparked enough to fry the regulator.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well I had a long week and no time to work on the bike until today.

I replaced the starter and the problem seems to be resolved. I started her up a few times, took her on a bit of a jaunt around the city, came home and she fires right up when I shut her down.

If she starts acting up again I will just go ahead and buy an OEM regulator and replace that, but as of right now everything seems good to go.

Thank you all for all of your help!!
 

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Glad you have it resolved. Thanks for posting the outcome for others . Enjoy!

If you're looking for a place to dispose of the old starter bits...... I live just across the river from you.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I had to cut the nut off of the post of the old starter with an angle grinder to get the cable off... but if you want PM me an address and I will send it your way.
 
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