Weird regulator problem - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-21-2011, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Weird regulator problem

The regulator on my TLR has never been very good. The lights keep flickering when the engine is a little over idle, and the battery tends to die slowly (over the course of a month or two of regular riding). The stock regulator on the TLR has never been very good, it turns out, and one of the popular mods on the TL boards is to replace the regulator with a different kind. I'm already planning to do that, replacing with a stock Yamaha regulator, but wanted to mention for the record what I'm finding since it could be useful for others having the same trouble.

What drove me to do the latest round of troubleshooting is that the battery died on me twice this week. The first time, it was dead when I went to leave work. I'd overcharged it last weekend, though, and it was on its last legs anyway, so I wrote it off to a bad battery and promptly replaced it. The second time was last night, when the engine stalled and would not restart. Since this happened in the middle of a drive, either the battery had to be in bad condition to start with, or it wasn't charging at all.

After giving the battery a bit of a boost, I tested the charging system output with a DMM. Spec for the TL is 13.5-14.3 volts at 5000 rpm. On mine, as the engine accelerated from idle, the voltage rose steadily to a little more than 14 volts at around 2250 rpm, and then tanked to about 13.1 volts. This is also about the speed at which the lights would start flickering. Obviously this is out of spec, so something is wrong. I'm assuming, at the moment, that the stator is OK (it has continuity across all three windings and about 100MΩ terminal-ground, anyway).

Bench testing the regulator pack seems to come up fine, too, other than that the forward continuity (between the stator connections and the positive terminal) was a little below spec. That says the rectifier half of the pack is working correctly. It doesn't say much about the regulator half, though, and there's no easy way to test the regulator directly.

So, I did something silly: I hooked up a scope to the battery.

The waveform across the battery at idle was flat DC, what you'd expect. As the engine speed increased, ripple suddenly appeared around 2000 rpm or a little more. It was odd ripple, though: DC, which then begins rising on what looks like a sinusoidal peak. At the peak, it switches to a linearly rising voltage, then suddenly cuts off and drops back to DC, which completes the cycle.

I'm not really sure what this means because I don't know the details of the regulator circuit, but it kind of looks like the regulator is cutting off its output a little too aggressively, so rather than getting to (say) 13.8 volts and then capping the output there, which I'd expect to show up as a sawtooth ripple, it panics and cuts off completely. The details may not matter much, if it really does point to a regulator problem. One possibility is that one or more of the SCRs in the regulator is burned open, which causes an overvoltage and trips a crowbar circuit (that's not shown in the service manual and might not actually exist), killing the output.

I haven't seen any mention of this exact problem, doing a quick search, but wanted to detail it out in case it's useful to anyone else troubleshooting an SCR-type regulator. I also wanted to throw it out there and see if anyone else has any ideas about this or has seen something similar.

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-21-2011, 12:08 PM
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No idea..... But based on the scope analysis it sound like the regulator.

The only wild-card would be an RPM driven / vibration caused intermittent connection.

Twins shake a fair amount.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-21-2011, 12:18 PM

 
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These Suzuki's have the main line from the fuse panel leading out to a junction box that splits power to the components.Lights,fuel pump,ignition and such.

This wire from the fuse panel will lose contact with the junction box intermittently causing a whole host of things to go wrong.

If you think this bit of insight came easy you'll be sadly mistaken .

If your Suzuki acts funny try this.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-21-2011, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morrand View Post
The waveform across the battery at idle was flat DC, what you'd expect. As the engine speed increased, ripple suddenly appeared around 2000 rpm or a little more. It was odd ripple, though: DC, which then begins rising on what looks like a sinusoidal peak. At the peak, it switches to a linearly rising voltage, then suddenly cuts off and drops back to DC, which completes the cycle.
...
The details may not matter much, if it really does point to a regulator problem. One possibility is that one or more of the SCRs in the regulator is burned open, which causes an overvoltage and trips a crowbar circuit (that's not shown in the service manual and might not actually exist), killing the output.
In addition to what Gus said,

Could be one of the SCR's although they usually fail in the ON mode. That would cause a crowbar at some point. It could also be a rectifier that has some breakover problem, where when the reverse voltage rises to some high level, it lets it through (backwards).

Either way, replace the Rectifier/regulator unit and you should be OK. However, check the stator before installing the new regulator unit. Bad Rectifiers have been known to fry stators.

Did you check charging CURRENT?

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-21-2011, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by resurrection View Post
These Suzuki's have the main line from the fuse panel leading out to a junction box that splits power to the components.Lights,fuel pump,ignition and such.

This wire from the fuse panel will lose contact with the junction box intermittently causing a whole host of things to go wrong.

If you think this bit of insight came easy you'll be sadly mistaken .

If your Suzuki acts funny try this.
Actually, on the TL (the R, and I think the S also), the battery lead first goes into the starter relay. The main fuse is a part of the relay assembly, and behind that it splits it out to the ignition feed and the main feed, which then go off and feed everything else in due course. The connection to the starter relay is done through a cheesy cheap plug that's well known for corroding and failing; since that carries the entire system, the result is usually a dead bike, or at least some really funny problems. Many of the TL guys either (a) bypass the headlights and the R/R around that to cut the current down dramatically, or (b) solder the harness directly to the relay.

I actually had this connection get weak on me once; the result was a bike that ran fine at speed (though the tach would drop to 0 and stay there) but stalled instantly when it got close to idle, and wouldn't restart (no juice to the ignition, if I remember); whacking the connector a couple of times usually solved the problem enough to get home.

I don't think there's a junction box, exactly, in the TL's harness, but there are plenty of multi-pin connectors and they're also known to corrode. My headlights kept going out a while back because of this. I had been thinking of buying some big mil-spec Amphenols to fix that, but the thought of installing 20 lbs. of connector wasn't appealing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beac83 View Post
In addition to what Gus said,

Could be one of the SCR's although they usually fail in the ON mode. That would cause a crowbar at some point. It could also be a rectifier that has some breakover problem, where when the reverse voltage rises to some high level, it lets it through (backwards).

Either way, replace the Rectifier/regulator unit and you should be OK. However, check the stator before installing the new regulator unit. Bad Rectifiers have been known to fry stators.

Did you check charging CURRENT?
The times I've checked the stator before, it's usually given me about 75 VAC across all poles, which is in spec. This time, I just ohmed it out; it was about 0.5Ω between any poles, and no continuity to frame, which is correct. I did get about 75 MΩ to frame when I used that setting, which then kept rising through around 140 MΩ, but I'm taking that as a good insulation reading. It's possible that it could have a turn-to-turn short that wouldn't show up on that test, but at the moment I've got no reason to think the stator is bad: up until the regulator dumps, the voltage comes up very quickly with rpms, and even after that I didn't see any irregularity or imbalance between phases on the scope. If it is going bad, it seems like it is being awfully organized about it.

I did not check the charging current, since my Fluke clone doesn't have a setting over 10A and I don't feel like risking it when the voltage pretty well speaks for itself. For what it's worth, the first time I checked, the battery was well discharged (about 12.2 V) and the charging voltage never got much above 12.5 V at 5000 rpm. That's not a valid result according to the manual, since the battery was so low, but it still makes me think that the R/R is malfunctioning: even in that case, it should be working to pull the bus voltage up over 13 V or so, I would think.

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-21-2011, 06:42 PM
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scope the stator in AC and see if you have a clean wave in each wire

then do an AC wave after the regulator. see how the diodes look



You don't use a in series test to check for amperage, you will fry any multimeter or scope. You need an inductive clamp to check for amperage.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-21-2011, 07:13 PM
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Your charging voltage should be something over 14 volts. Charging Current should not exceed 2A. (but starting current will be MUCH more.

When one of the diodes shorts, it will over-current it's phase of the stator winding, eventually causing a stator failure. Then when you replace the R/R, the missing phase will cause the other two to overload, eventually killing them, too and sometimes taking the new R/R with it. So whenever it is you install a new R/R, always check the stator at that point to be sure it's still good.

Sounds like your stator is good at this point.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-21-2011, 09:42 PM

 
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The fuse panel not the main 30A.

The fuse panel has a fuse called IGN. It leads out to the junction box next to the panel it looks like a box on the same frame as the fuse panel.

I just looked it up on bike bandit .com
your bike has it.....

This may not be your problem as you seem confident enough to tell us what your problem is.

You might want to take another look just find it and give it a look see for the old man.Wiggle it you know, maybe with a test light.

That goes for EVERYONE that seems to have a Suzuki gremlin.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-21-2011, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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Gus, you ask so nicely, I just had to jump up and head out to take a look. I did understand what you were saying, incidentally, but wanted to add the reference to the main fuse since that's been a common problem for the TLs.

That side box is the turn signal / sidestand relay (in this case, anyway--not positive about anything else). That definitely could cause the ignition or signals to cut out if it gets loose or crappy. Oddly enough, I've been having spotty problems with both (fast blinking signals, and once in a while, no crank on start). I pulled it and the contacts looked a bit dirty, not bad, but enough to be noticed and maybe enough to make problems worse with the low bus voltage, so I cleaned them up. Thanks for the tip; hopefully this won't become the next problem to solve.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-22-2011, 11:10 AM

 
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find the ign. fuse my guess is that does not lead to the turn signal relay.

The IGN. fuse sends power to several things all at once if it is loose all or some of these things will lose power.

Gus
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Last edited by resurrection; 05-22-2011 at 11:14 AM.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-25-2011, 07:53 PM
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I found 2 connector plugs on the Aprilia that the wires were discolored and getting hot over the years. So I cut the wires off the connectors and solderied and heat shrinked them. Problem solved. Those molex style connectors become a problem over the years. They get loose and corroded. If you question the connector. Cut the connector off and soldier them together Do one at a time so you don't forget where each goes.

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-04-2011, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Bringing it full round:

I changed out the original (SCR based) reg/rect for a Yamaha unit (MOSFET based). This is one of the popular modifications for the TLR, and it sounded reasonable so I went for it. (It required some wiring harness modifications, but they were generally recommended anyway.)

After the mod, the voltage on the battery starts at about 14.1 volts at idle and rises to around 14.4 or so at 5000 rpm, which sounds a whole lot more like it's being regulated than the old readings (13.1 at idle, 14.3 at around 2500 rpm and tanked above that). The lights aren't flickering now. In fact, I can actually see the dash indicators in the daytime now; it was a little shocking to actually be able to see the turn signal indicator on the way home from work yesterday. I hadn't really seen it before now, except at night.

The biggest problem I ran into, other than the amount of wiring work needed to adapt it for the new R/R, is that the raised system voltage apparently was too much for one of my six year old headlamps, and burned it out as soon as I started up. (That the lamps were six years old may be a clue to how long this has gone on.)

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-04-2011, 10:55 AM

 
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I wonder if your troubles where in the old wiring or the reg?

anyway it's great your on the road again

Gus
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-04-2011, 11:58 PM
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Ha, I just ordered the same regulator today

Darn English Charging ckts.
you could loose a fingerprint on the oem regulator...... funny they have a bulletin/adapter harness from the factory that has you use one of the ones like you mentioned Fa012aa or something like that.

On my bike one of the connectors was going south previously and I cut it out and soldered both the connectors.
Stator ohmed out and had balanced AC out as expected.
At least it didn't leave me in Wisconsin or something.
Where did you get yours?


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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-07-2011, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohfugit View Post
Where did you get yours?
The Web's Largest Powersports Dealer, not to name names. You've probably seen their ads in the banner a few times. And I'd heard about the exact same regulator being used in the Triumphs. Makes plenty of sense if it's a plug-in replacement.

The story apparently is that there are (basically) two series of regulator out there: the SA ones, that use SCR regulation, and the FA ones, that use FET (actually MOSFET) regulation. The SCR regulation is old-school and wastes power when it clips the voltage (hence the fingerprint stealing you mention), while the MOSFET regulation is more modern and wastes less power.

Gus, I took voltage measurements at the DC output of the regulator and they were consistent with the measurements at the battery, so the core problem--the low charging of the battery--was almost certainly in the regulator. That the voltage swung so widely with RPMs backs that up, I think, unless the engine was drawing so much more power at speed that it kicked the voltage drop up across something. The flickering lights could partly have been in the harness, but I don't think so. At any rate, the existing harness is intact for the moment, except that the regulator output and the headlight supply are both bypassing it, and it seems to be working fine.

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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-07-2011, 10:03 PM
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Biggest recent regulator problem is Nate Dogg passed away.

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