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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 24th, 2006, 7:18 pm Thread Starter
 
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Starting problems

Hi all,

This is a bit longish ...

During the winter, I removed the battery off my 2001 and topped up the cells with distilled water and put it on a trickle charger. This is the stock battery non-gel type.

When the weather got better, I put it back on the bike but saw that the bike was hesitating in starting and the ABS was blinking "maltfunction" .. so I think, need a new battery.

I got the sealed Panasonic battery which is very similar to the specs of the stock and used by many, plugged it in and everything was fine again until today. Again the hesitation in starting. However, once started everything is good.

Pulled into garage, removed the tool tray and am now checking voltage. 12.78v .. looks healthy. So I think maybe the alternator is not providing charging voltage.. so I attempt to start, but no luck. after a prolonged spell of holding the starter down .. I see smoke coming out from under the tank... now I know something is really wrong ...

Have't taken apart the fairing to see what is smoking, but any idea what is up ?

Thanks for any pointers.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2006, 3:26 am
 
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You guys who think you need to take your battery out!!! causes more problems than it solves. It's usually a bad thing when the smoke gets out of the wires...Since you have a new battery, the most likely problem is a corroded or loose connection at the battery. Did you make sure both cables are nice and clean and tight? A poor connection would heat up and smoke. The other thing that might smoke would be the starter if it went bad. When you held down the starter for a long time was it cranking?

Also, what type of trickle charger do you have? It shouldn't have killed your old battery. Or maybe it wasn't bad.

Good luck,
Jerry
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2006, 6:07 am
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Old batteries are great, mines 6 years old and still going fine. Normally I'd say go buy a hydrometer and check the cell gravities after charging, but unfortunately you got a sealed battery. My next new battery will be the same as the last one. Get the hydrometer, re-charge the old battery and test it.

You may be unlucky and have a dud battery. On the other hand your ABS lamps could be just acting like the Ammeter that BMW didn't fit. The ABS lamps latch on if the battery voltage drops too low during a start.

Given you've got smoke under the tank and that's where a lot of high current wiring runs, the ABS lights might just be telling you you've got a fault and a massive current load at startup. Keep getting smoke and you might wipe out your loom, your bike if the tank goes up and yourself if your sitting on it.

Most of the circuits are fused, Headlights and starter aren't - well unless you regard the wires as the fuse. Normally on starting the headlights, grips etc are not powered by the loadshare relay. So that just leaves the starter/solenoid and the big thick wires to the battery

As Stephejl says, if your lucky it's just the battery connections need cleaning and Vaseline and you should do this first. But a faulty starter or its wiring shorting is not healthy. You shouldn't be cranking the bike for long periods - it stuffs the battery, reduces starter life and heats up wiring. Look for other problems. Even cold my bike always starts within 2 seconds.

You should now be checking for any wiring damage. Remove the plastic AND the tank and visually check the loom, battery terminals and the big wires to the battery where they might rub against metal and short. Have your fire extinguisher handy, Hang a voltmeter across the battery and crank the starter for A COUPLE OF SECONDS whilst still looking for smoke. If the voltage drops below about 10-11 volts on a new battery, either the terminals are corroded or there's an excessive current draw from the starter or solenoid, or you bust the new battery with all the cranking. This on load dc cranking voltage, is the only one that gives some meaning to your battery capacity. The actual current draw from a starter can really only be checked with a dc clamp meter. If you are seeing the voltage drop, the starter is turning sluggish and there's smoke then something's up.

My battery stays 24/7 on a tender through the accessory socket and only comes out every 6K to clean around the compartment, check the cell gravities and top up electrolyte levels.

I hope you just got a problem with corroded or dirty battery terminals. Good luck.



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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2006, 9:18 am
 
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Vox,
Good advice.

A couple of points for discussion: I don't like to take my battery out every 6 months so I went to a dry cell and will never get another wet cell for that reason. I strongly agree with you to just hook the trickle charger up through the accessory socket. But make sure it is a trickle charger designed to be left hooked up for extended periods of time. Some people think their charger must be good enough and cook their battery.

And the ABS lights on the R-bikes are notorious for alarming when battery voltage is below 13 volts so I'd guess thats what he is seeing.

--Jerry
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2006, 10:39 am Thread Starter
 
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Wink

Well, it is yet another one of those "User Errors"

Stupid as I feel writing about this .. just for completeness let me close this for the archives.

There are 2 cables that attach to the negative terminal, not ONE. So I obviously attached only one on it, so the other was left dangling and I suspect touching metal somewhere. Hence there is sense in not taking out the battery, because one tends to forget minor things over a period of a few months.

Once I attached the other one, the bike started up appreciably stronger.

I imagine the old battery was/ is fine, so I unnecessarily spent $50 on a new battery

I still have to resolve the "smoke" issue since I think that some wires may be exposed. How do I know this ... when I switch on the key to ignition without the started, I hear some sparking/cackling sound apart from the whine and clicks of the ABS (I think).

Anyway.. on the bright side of it, I also changed the coolant and fill flush the brake & clutch fluid while I am at it

Thanks for your responses.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2006, 12:09 pm
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalakar
Well, it is yet another one of those "User Errors"

Stupid as I feel writing about this .. just for completeness let me close this for the archives.

There are 2 cables that attach to the negative terminal, not ONE. So I obviously attached only one on it, so the other was left dangling and I suspect touching metal somewhere. Hence there is sense in not taking out the battery, because one tends to forget minor things over a period of a few months.

Once I attached the other one, the bike started up appreciably stronger.

I imagine the old battery was/ is fine, so I unnecessarily spent $50 on a new battery

I still have to resolve the "smoke" issue since I think that some wires may be exposed. How do I know this ... when I switch on the key to ignition without the started, I hear some sparking/cackling sound apart from the whine and clicks of the ABS (I think).

Anyway.. on the bright side of it, I also changed the coolant and fill flush the brake & clutch fluid while I am at it

Thanks for your responses.
Kalakar,
Thanks for the followup post. There are those who resolve thier problem and never post what they found and I think they often find user errors that they don't want to share. These can be the most important ones as often I'm sure I've done something wrong and have to start searching the archives to find out what.

I don't have the wiring diagrams handy but I'm sure there are guys here that do and they'll now be able to tell you what likely fried. However, I'd say the first thing to do would be to VERY CAREfully follow back the small wire that you left off looking for melted insulation. you'll probably have to cut open an outer sheath that holds several wires together. Take a digital photo or two so you can tape it up and put it back neatly like you found it after the surgury.

Are you sure it wasn't the positive (red) terminal that you left the wire off of? I think there is only one on the negative and if a negative wire grounded on the frame it would most likely not be a problem.

Good luck,
Jerry
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2006, 1:04 pm
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kalakar you said:

..........There are 2 cables that attach to the negative terminal, not ONE. So I obviously attached only one on it, so the other was left dangling and I suspect touching metal somewhere. Hence there is sense in not taking out the battery, because one tends to forget minor things over a period of a few months...............

If you left the big ground off and it wasn't touching the frame, then the starter is trying to pull 200 Amps plus through the much thinner ground wires intended for the lower current electrics, up to the point where they hit the first frame bolt connection. That's why you get smoke and those are the wires to be looking at first. I don't know physically where that first frame ground bolt is, but if the wire travels through the loom to get there - that's what's fried and possibly other wires alongside.

There's no way you can now be confident with your bikes wiring until you've visually checked all the thinner ground wires - you have to bite the bullet before riding, else bigger and very expensive problems could come back. Sort it now, not later.

On our bikes it seems BMW needed to get the electronic and accessory grounds right on the battery - so you have 2 terminals and a disaster like yours waiting to happen to somebody else. They should have designed a short insulated copper battery link strip bonding the present 2 terminals together, with a single hole to couple up to the battery. I might look into that, because corrosion at the negative battery terminal could produce the same problem.

Sorry to post what may seem bad news, but it's a lesson for us all to learn. Big fat wires MUST be connected to the battery, otherwise the little thin one's left can get fried. In most vehicles the big battery negative is taken to the frame on the shortest wire and other grounds come off that point. Since you only have one ground terminal on the battery negative, nothing can go wrong. It's not a problem with the positive wires, accessories etc if you forget one, but the negatives are very important when you turn that starter key.. Good Luck



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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2006, 3:05 pm
 
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If Vox has indeed figured out which wire you left off then I fully agree with his advice. Good luck. --Jerry
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 4th, 2006, 5:37 pm
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WOW Can't wait to read about the cooling system, brake and clutch problems. Yeah I know it was mean but its winter and the rest of the board seems to be turning in on itself.

Wow I didn't know BMW made motorcycles, Yeah I think Honda does too.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old Mar 5th, 2006, 4:55 pm Thread Starter
 
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Only Electrical Problems Scot ... the rest is normal maintenance which needs to be done anyway
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