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3rd Gear..WooHoo!!
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

Just wanted to pick a few brains to find out where I want to start troubleshooting an electrical gremlin in my significant others 1993 Vulcan 500.

Last year the turn signals worked fine. When I took the bike out of storage this year what is happening is when the bike is at idle the turn signal will come on, but not flash. When you add a couple hundred RPM it starts to blink veeeeery slowly, and when you get the RPM up a bit more, it blinks normally. I'm thinking that the flasher relay is just shot, and was thinking about replacing that first as it's easy to get to. Does anybody else have any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Change the flasher relay before tearing into the electrical system. There are pricey electronic ones available, but if you do not plan on getting any LED bulbs,stick with the plain silver canned flasher relay.

I'd suggest getting new bulbs all the way around while you're at it(tail light,and turn signals).
 

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3rd Gear..WooHoo!!
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Discussion Starter #4
Hey sfair,

I just got off the phone with my local dealership, and they think the same thing. I'm going to check the charging voltage at the battery, and see what's up there. I'm hoping I don't have a serious problem developing.
 

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I'd say start the bike up, rev the engine to about normal driving speed in neutral,see what the charging voltage is. I believe any voltage above 14 is an indication of either the reulator/rectifier going out or a stator problem(I'm used to 80's Kz's and not familiar with the cruisers).
 

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3rd Gear..WooHoo!!
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Discussion Starter #6
"I believe any voltage above 14 is an indication of either the reulator/rectifier going out or a stator problem"

I believe what you actually mean is "below 14 volts", am I not correct?
 

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Battery Not Charging?


I know you think your battery is OK. Most folks who have a bad battery think that. A bike battery is kind of junky made with too few plates and a tendency to sulfate. I have seen tons of 6-month old batteries hit the junk pile. Get a very small hydrometer from the auto parts store. They cost about $3. They look like an eyedropper. Find a small piece of hose and draw in some battery fluid from each cell as each cell must be tested separately. If any of the balls in the hydrometer fail to float, that cell is pretty much shot. If the battery passes muster, top it off with distilled water and take the time to check the connections coming off the battery. The black cable will go down to your engine or to the frame and must be securely fastened. The red connection will go to a lug on your starter solenoid. Make sure these connections are clean and then slather them with dielectric grease to ensure they don't oxidize in the future. You can get dielectric grease at any auto parts store.

If your battery is OK... go to the next step. Otherwise buy a new battery. If you do, charge it with a low amp (1A) trickle charger for at least 12 hours. Don't use a car charger as these charge to fast and lead to a very early battery death.

If you disconnect the stator wires from the regulator/rectifier, and you have a three wire stator (they will all be yellow or pink, blue and yellow, the three stator wires should be measured . You put the probes of the meter on pair A & B, then A & C then B & C. You should see the same AC Voltage. I would put the meter on a lower range as well; perhaps 100VAC. You must measure between all three wires in pairs and check that the values are the same or close. I also don't believe you will see 70 VAC on any pair on a vintage Kaw... more like 35-50 VAC in my experience. If you get NO value between any pair, it means there is a short. If the value is low, it means the rotor is OLD and partially demagnetized

If you have adequate voltage (35-50VAC on all three tests), then reconnect and stop the bike. Now put your meter on VDC in a lower VDC scale; perhaps 100VDC. Start the bike. Put your probes (red to positive and black to negative) on the battery and measure at idle. Normally you will see just a shade over 12VDC at idle with headlight on. Rev engine to 4K rpm and you should see 14.5VDC. If you see less... say in the high 12 volts range, your regulator/rectifier is bad or you have dirty connectors coming out of the regulator/rectifier and connecting to the battery OR main harness... this will be the white and/or white/red larger gauge wires. Disconnect these and clean with electric contact cleaner (spray) and daub with dielectric grease. You can find these two items at an auto parts store. Repeat the test and if you find that you still have low voltage at the battery at 4K rpm, the regulator/rectifier is likely the culprit.
 

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I had a simular problem last summer on my 900 vulcan. Was going up to the store or something and I noticed it didnt seem to flash like it did. So when I got home I looked at it. The left front would not flash. I took it apart at the signal and the bulb was OK. So I cleaend the contact points of the socket up and it worked fine.
 

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Low Voltage High Current
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Check surface charge on battery with engine off for 12+vdc. Then engine running for at least 13.5+vdc (If you dont have at least these voltages something else is amiss). I would then check light sockets, cleaning them up, making sure that I have 12+vdc at the sockets. Then the flasher, they are electromechanical devices that wear out or fail. If the problem is still not solved, start looking over wiring for wear or partial breaks, checking/cleaning any connectors along the way.
 

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Check surface charge on battery with engine off for 12+vdc. .
That is not a good idea as when a battery has a surface charge present, it can give an artificially high reading. Always dissapate the surface charge, or better yet, check under load. This gives a good reading of the internal resistance.
 

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Low Voltage High Current
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That is not a good idea as when a battery has a surface charge present, it can give an artificially high reading. Always dissapate the surface charge, or better yet, check under load. This gives a good reading of the internal resistance.
I wouldnt necessarily say that it is not a good idea, though surface charge of the battery could be as much as, 1volt or so, high(over an actual 12.0v). Is this a bad thing? Most people dont have load testers for their batteries and have to simply rely on weather or not the starter is turning the motor over as it normally would. You can even check voltage drop of the battery while the starter is engaging. I suppose another way is to start their engine, immediately turn off the engine, leave the lights on for a few minutes, then check the batteries voltage drop over the time that they leave the lights on, then turn everything off and check voltage recovery time back to initial surface charge. These other methods, though not as good as actual load testing of the battery, that still haved served me well in a pinch.
 

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Surface charge only present after the battery has been charged. As soon as a load is put on it, surface charge vapourizes, never to return again until the battery is exposed to a charging voltage.
A battery that is kaput can still exibit a surface charge, so any voltage reading taken at this point is meaningless.
 
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