Alternator bad or?

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Alternator bad or?

Postby Dynamohum » Mon May 07, 2018 11:25 pm

My 79 always runs good. The battery is just two years old and the alternator brushes less than that. After riding over the Sonora pass into Nevada I noticed the gauge was showing less than 11v. As I continued I saw the gauge going down and down. Luckily I made it to Topaz Lake south of Carson City before dark. Now there is no sound at all when I hit the starter button. Even if it bump starts in the morning it’s unlikely I’d make it to Carson City on battery alone (if) it has any charge at all right? Is it more likely the alt or brushes vs the battery or battery? I’ve never lost a battery on tour or a day ride. They’ve always been on tenders and one lasted six years and another nearly eight.

Question, if the battery was slowly losing voltage as I rode would the meter still show 13.7+v as usual until it died altogether or, would the meter slowly decrease in ‘re’ charged voltage as mine showed today? The latter would be my best scenario, just a tow and a battery. Whaddyathink ?
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby desertrefugee » Tue May 08, 2018 1:34 am

Rotten luck on the road. I'd get the battery on a charger overnight. You really need a meter to see if the alternator is charging or not. (Probably not). Brushes would be pretty easy to check, perhaps a bit harder to replace quickly, if bad. Dave was recently talking about a common alternator failure mode and I believe it's the rotor. Hope that's not your issue...

Best of luck to you. Nothing worse that being broke down on the road. Been there. Hondas aren't supposed to do it, though.

EDIT for your edit: Good question. If your gauge slowly drifted down, that sure suggests that you were not charging. Hate to say it, but don't think it's a battery problem - other than currently being discharged.
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby Dynamohum » Tue May 08, 2018 2:34 am

Well, even in my misery...I’ll post pics. I’ll start calling shops in the morning. There’s nothing here but a motel, casino and gas station and my phone. Say, if I replace the battery and it (was) the problem, the meter should show full charging as usual around 13+ @ 2,500 revs right? But if I replace the battery and it wasn’t the problem, the meter should react the same as it did this afternoon then right, meaning I’m in a spot! Who can fix whatever is wrong, how long will it take, leave it or wait, and how do I get home w/o it and how do I retrieve it when it (is) fixed?? Can a small truck be rented one way? :D ....CRAPOLA!
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby whatscooking » Tue May 08, 2018 4:23 am

I had this type of problem with mine and, I found the area on the rotor where the brushes slide needed sanded to make contact good again.
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby daves79x » Tue May 08, 2018 7:19 am

Go to an auto shop and ask them for a multimeter to check your charging system at the battery. I'm sure you will find it's not charging. Get them to charge your battery while you check the alternator out. You have enough tools in your tool kit to remove the alternator. Look at the brushes first. If the outer one is at the scribe line, that's your problem. You can shim the brush to get a bit more life from it and get you home. But if those are good, then you need the same multimeter to check the rotor and stator. If it's the rotor, or even brushes, you'll need parts. It is not the battery, I'm sure.

On a fully charged battery, with the headlight fuse pulled, you can run a few hours. But you have to disable the headlight, it is the biggest draw.

Is this the bike with 70,000 miles? How many sets of brushes have you gone through? Is it time for another set according to the bike's history?

If you get into a situation where you can't wait for parts to be shipped, renting a truck is about your only option. Good luck!

If you're really stuck, PM me and I'll give you my phone number. Call and I'll walk you through some things.

Dave
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby Jeff Bennetts » Tue May 08, 2018 9:17 am

What's the biggest town near you?
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby Dynamohum » Tue May 08, 2018 11:00 am

Gardnerville then Carson City then Reno. I have no transportation unless I call my road service for a flatbed. First I have to wait until 9 to call some shops to see if anyone will see me. I’ve had the brushes replaced several times over the years when it was being worked on for other things but I don’t have a spare set with me. I removed the alt cover and the clutch plates are severely grooved. They were new about 15 years ago replacing the OEMs. The old ones weren’t grooved just worn out. What could cause grooves? And could the grooves prevent charging, not ‘locking’ together enough?
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby daves79x » Tue May 08, 2018 2:48 pm

You've probably done something by now. You are a very fortunate long-time CBX owner that has never had to get intimate with the alternator. There are volumes written about every aspect of the charging system here. But you don't want to hear that right now. If your plates were slipping enough to cause no charging, then you would hear an awful racket. A bad bearing can cause slippage, as well as a sacked spring. Have you ever replaced the bearings and seal? Have you measured the spring? Have you ever added shims to the spring? All that needs routinely checked.

But if the brushes are good, it is either the rotor or regulator. Better check the red plug from the alternator also. Highly likely it's melted to some degree. All part of what should be looked after with the alternator.

As I said, if you are willing to run without the headlight, and can get the battery fully charged (you do have an AGM battery??), you can run a long way, then repeat the procedure until you get where you're going, or home.

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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby Dynamohum » Wed May 09, 2018 1:25 am

Just got in thanks to Penske truck rentals. Testa Motorsports in Minden NV tested everything (for free BTW) and the verdict was the alternator, R.I.P. I guess nearly 70,000 miles over 39 years has taken its toll. I guess I’ll look at sourcing an OEM replacement or look into the conversion unit, both I’m sure are pricey as hell. After it’s fixed I’ll still have a motor that I’m sure could use some new valve guide seals and rings and maybe even a full valve job. :)
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby daves79x » Wed May 09, 2018 6:22 am

Glad you made it home. Now - why do you think you need a new or replacement alternator? Just diagnose what is wrong - it is very easy to do - and fix that. If you are willing to read here and learn how to easily test the components, you can have it working again in very short order.

I'm going to say something here that may not be well received. At the risk of stating the obvious, these bikes are not new any more. Somewhere in the course of all those years and miles, the CBX has become 'vintage'. Almost by definition, vintage bikes take money and skill to maintain and enjoy. Sometimes a whole lot of both.

Maybe I've finally worn out my welcome and have reached the end of my usefulness as Technical Director of the club. We'll see. I find myself becoming less and less patient with new (and old) CBX owners. And I get tired of going over (and over and over and....) the same old things.

My apologies to those of you that I have been less than cordial and patient with.

Dave
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby steve murdoch icoa #5322 » Wed May 09, 2018 9:48 am

Dave, you are never going to wear out your welcome or your usefulness.
You have been incredibly patient and generous with your knowledge of these old brutes.
Some of us need a gentle nudge in the the right direction and some of us need a boot to the backside to get our problems sorted.

Having said that, using the search feature on this site will usually provide a TON of info.
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby desertrefugee » Wed May 09, 2018 11:08 am

I don't know, as a new CBX owner, you very recently helped me (and everyone else) and took the time to put together a checklist on resurrecting a machine that has been idle for an extended time. Crotchety old men don't take the time to do things like that. Every forum needs a pillar of experience and one who can put that into words. Not all forums are lucky enough to have it.

But I will agree on one thing, the search function can offer treasure trove of archive information. It can be frustrating when folks ask questions on very common issues when a quick search might yield half a dozen or more answers.

I'll say one more thing while we are on the subject. Talking about these classic bikes, I will submit that while they are nice to have and very desirable, they are not for everybody. I've been in one classic bike community or another for a long time, and it does get tiring to see folks who, in some cases, don't know one end of a screwdriver from another expecting to hop on, turn the key and happily go where they want to go. Doesn't work that way.

I sure understand why Dynamohum was anxious to get to the bottom of his problem on the road. We'll cut him some slack on that one. I am not referring to his situation in my rant. I just think I know where Dave is coming from...
Last edited by desertrefugee on Thu May 10, 2018 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby Dynamohum » Wed May 09, 2018 3:40 pm

Well I don’t have any idea ‘where Dave is coming from’. Why do I think I need a new alternator? Just diagnose what’s wrong and fix it? It is very easy to do? Really? Just fix it? Riiight. From whose mechanical background is it so easy? From my position and on the road circumstance it (was) diagnosed and the problem is the alternator. Dave’s ‘worn out his welcome’ speech should have nothing to do with me and is down right perplexing to find it as a reply to my situation.
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby herdygerdy » Wed May 09, 2018 6:04 pm

Dynamohum wrote:Well I don’t have any idea ‘where Dave is coming from’. Why do I think I need a new alternator? Just diagnose what’s wrong and fix it? It is very easy to do? Really? Just fix it? Riiight. From whose mechanical background is it so easy? From my position and on the road circumstance it (was) diagnosed and the problem is the alternator. Dave’s ‘worn out his welcome’ speech should have nothing to do with me and is down right perplexing to find it as a reply to my situation.


Hi Dynamohum,
I don't think Dave's comment should be construed as being aimed at you personally, and sincerely hope you don't take it that way.

Over his many years on this and other forums, Dave has without exception been both extremely patient and more than generous with sharing his deep and detailed knowledge of our amazing machines. With the passage of time, these forums become an incredible respository of the collective knowledge and experience of all members on how to service and keep these old gals happy.

We are here to coax, coach, educate and help owners keep their machines alive and well, should they choose to do so. But the key point there is '...should they choose to do so'. Some owner's preference is to simply 'put it in the shop' to get it fixed, and I really understand folks taking that position.

But if you are of a mind to break out the tools and, using and searching through this amazing repository of knowledge, to challenge and grow your understanding and undertake a journey of education on precisely how your CBX works, then not only is the search function your very best friend EVER, but we are here to guide and assist in that journey. Being alongside an owner with a problem and sharing the awakening of their increased understanding is part of the fun of being on this forum. But they have to be prepared to be open, honest vulnerable and teachable in order to get the best out of that journey to success.

That said, pretty much any problem that has ever happened to any CBX has happened to someone else before and the problem diagnosis, suggested solutions and the wonderful arrival of the "Ah HAH!" moment when the root cause is found and fixed are all well documented here and discussed ad nauseum many, many times over.

Just prior to your unfortunate malaise (which we fully accept were under very trying circumstances), another inmate had similar charging issues and time and again Dave made a suggestion on what the root cause was likely to be (rotor failure). It took many attempts to coax the owner to simply attempt what was being suggested. And sure enough, the rotor was the issue.

Now you come along with yet another very similar charging issue, albeit in pretty awkward circumstances. As said, I am confident it is no reflection on you whatsoever, nor aimed at you personally, but unfortunately you just may have been the straw that broke Dave's camel's back, so to speak. I hope you can understand that having to repeat the same stuff time after time after time to reluctant/fearful owners gets old pretty quickly and definitely wears thin sooner or later - perhaps its a bit like asking a teenager to tidy up their room or put the garbage out!

Now I truly understand that electrics and in particular charging issues (especially when on the road) can truly seem like 'white man magic' and so far over both yours and my pay grade /knowledge to even think about attempting to diagnose and solve. Yes, you can put it in the shop and you pays your money and roll the dice. And to be honest, in effect, you are actually paying someone else to learn about your CBX - all you get out of it (hopefully) is a happily charging CBX - at least till next time. And by 'putting it in the shop', you really are missing out on a perfect opportunity to learn new skills and grow in your confidence in how to maintain your CBX yourself.

Imagine if you can , the problem happening again, but this time you are somehow magically empowered with the knowledge to not only diagnose the problem correctly yourself, but also how to come up with a work around to get yourself home. Well right in this forum is precisely where that magic can happen - but only if you want it to.

So, if you truly want to give it a red hot go to try and learn, diagnose and solve the issue, then please go ahead, do some searching on here and I guarantee you will be very well rewarded. Also check out Mike Nixon's http://www.motorcycleproject.com web site - he has a VERY excellent book dedicated solely on the CBX charging system. https://www.motorcycleproject.com/text/ ... hging.html

If I was in your situation, I would go and get my bike back from the shop, do the aforementioned searches, get Mike's book and enjoy your supported journey of enlightenment down the road to a happily charging CBX once again.

We are definitely here to help you every step of the way, but first you need to help yourself and be prepared to "have a go". And please don't be too hard on Dave, it was most definitely not aimed personally at you.

Good luck in your journey Dynamohum and I hope this has been of help. A happily charging CBX will be in your future once again very soon and we look forward to helping you get there.

Best Regards...Tony

P.S. thanks for the GREAT pics too, they look AMAZING!
Last edited by herdygerdy on Thu May 10, 2018 3:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alternator bad or?

Postby tevan » Wed May 09, 2018 6:30 pm

daves79x wrote:Glad you made it home. Now - why do you think you need a new or replacement alternator? Just diagnose what is wrong - it is very easy to do - and fix that. If you are willing to read here and learn how to easily test the components, you can have it working again in very short order.

I'm going to say something here that may not be well received. At the risk of stating the obvious, these bikes are not new any more. Somewhere in the course of all those years and miles, the CBX has become 'vintage'. Almost by definition, vintage bikes take money and skill to maintain and enjoy. Sometimes a whole lot of both.

Maybe I've finally worn out my welcome and have reached the end of my usefulness as Technical Director of the club. We'll see. I find myself becoming less and less patient with new (and old) CBX owners. And I get tired of going over (and over and over and....) the same old things.

My apologies to those of you that I have been less than cordial and patient with.

Dave

Dave,
I understand what you are saying totally. You are a very valued person for these cbx’s and the forum as a whole. Please don’t let a few people that don’t want to take the time to do the search feature on this forum have you leave from here. I have learned allot from you as well as many others. I know you helped many and I mean many people get there bikes going again.
Terry
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