Improved Lighting

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by rdcamp, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. rdcamp

    rdcamp Been here awhile

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    The alternator on my R80RT '86 is the original one,

    I have no idea how much juice I am producing at the moment.

    What sort of options (affordable) are there to improve the amount of light I produce?
    #1
  2. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    The cheapest things are clean up the slip rings on your alternator and check the brushes, clean up all connections so they shine. replace some of your bulbs with LEDs to conserve power, and put in an 80/120 watt headlight bulb. Lotsa light but hard on the battery in town if you ride more than half the night.. So it depends on the riding you are doing.

    On the higher end there are both potent but low draw LED and HID setups to maximize what you got (280 Watt alternator max in that bike) and/or an aftermarket 450 watt alternator feeding monster bulbs anytime under any conditions.

    I use an LED for a front running light and I'm adding two more cheap ones. (http://www.eskimo.com/~newowl/r100rs_hyperwhites_install.HTML). At night I use an 80/120 halogen main beam. I don't spend much time at low RPM at night so I get away with the big watts out front. I don't know how well the big bulb works in a stock headlight shell. it gets hot. My shell is gutted and I have a heatsink set up on a /5 conversion socket for the bulb. All this may be unnecessary. I have stock bulbs elsewhere augmented with LEDs in the tail and brake lights. A lot of them.

    Really potent LEDs will cost you 300, a big alternator 500+
    #2
  3. rdcamp

    rdcamp Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the info. This is definitely something ill keep in mind for later on


    Im prinarily gonna be commuting at night. Due to my schedule

    Most of my fun riding will be within daylihht hours.

    How much juice would an electric vest use?
    #3
  4. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    Depends on your dimensions and whose vest you chose. All makers of them list the wattages.

    Get a trickle charger and trickle the bike every day when you are sleeping.

    Are you nearsighted as in can see close things but need eyeglasses for distance vision?

    If you are plannining on night commutes at this time of year in upstate...mmm...have you considered professional help?
    #4
  5. supershaft

    supershaft because I can

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    Get a brighter bulb. Personally, I wouldn't go higher than 80 watts. Too much heat otherwise.

    Except for a bike that has been sitting for some time, I have never seen slip rings that need cleaning? Popular on line topic but . . . .

    Charging system? Start at the battery. Positive AND negative cables good and tight? Clean? Not hard as a rock? Closer to the Alt. chances are the B+ wire IS hard as a rock. Cooked and needs replaces. Same with the diode board ground wires. I would replace the stock setup with a wire connected directly to the diode board and then to the front starter mount bolt hole. To a lesser extent, your voltage regulator subharness might be hard and cooked too. Connections sure but I find the wires themselves being most of the problem a lot of the time. Good luck!
    #5
  6. rdcamp

    rdcamp Been here awhile

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    No vision is fine. I live and work in Albany so watching for deer isn't THE biggest concern anymore.

    Well, my current ride is CDTA (capital District Transit Authority) :clapand my cannondale. :evil

    I work evenings, probably not gonna be commuting on the bike that much until it definitely warms up.

    I'll worry about upgrading the electrical system if and when the time comes. It isn't a priority right now, I just wanted to get some input
    #6
  7. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    Never noticed the elasticity of the insulation to effect the conductivity of the copper inside, but always new things to learn.

    Never saw a slip ring that didn't need cleaning.
    #7
  8. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    I was thinking the same thoughts and was looking into upgrades, recently. I don't really want to ride much in the winter anymore. Too hazardous. It's the 70 degree days that turn into 45 degree days up on a pass that I get cold hands. So I am looking to make some heated overgrips. About 30 watts for the pair.
    #8
  9. 100RT

    100RT Long timer

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    Years ago I went to the next higher bulb wattage from stock, cant remember what it was, I wasnt much of a difference wattage wise but it did eventually melt the bulb holder. Keep that in mind since you also have an RT

    Later on I read that you should buy the older style bulb holder since they were made from bakalite and wont melt. I went back to the stock bulb and bought a holder form Auto Zone (high heat)

    I do have a pair of El Cheapo running lights that I use on occasion!
    #9
  10. supershaft

    supershaft because I can

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    +1 Hotter bulbs will melt those. IF I ran a higher voltage bulb, I would rewire the headlight wires with heavier gauge wire. Especially if it is one those models that come with thinner wire there.
    #10
  11. supershaft

    supershaft because I can

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    Neither have I so don't learn that from me! :D I said hard wire, not hard insulation although the two often do go hand in hand. If a wire has been hot enough to get hard, it does effect it's conductivity a lot. Very often the wire is only hard close to the connectors. Like I said earlier, some of the wires get cooked on a regular basis. I have replaced many of the said wires many times over and very often get a half to a whole volt higher charge for it.

    What are you going to gain cleaning slip rings that have had good brush contact? The setup cleans itself if it has been working right. Need cleaning? 99% of the time? No they don't.
    #11
  12. Wirespokes

    Wirespokes Beemerholics Anonymous

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    Funny, my battery ran down last summer because of no charging. The slip rings normally look black, but figured what the hell - can't hurt to get them nice and shiny, and what do you know - that fixed it.

    If you go with a higher wattage headlight (and even if you don't) one way to make it brighter is wire in a relay. Normally all the headlight current goes through the light switch, which, for one, is hard on the switch, and secondly limits the current.
    #12
  13. supershaft

    supershaft because I can

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    There you go. I have never seen any slip rings that weren't nice and shiny clean from the brushes rubbing on them. If I saw black rings, I would look into what was causing it. Loose brush springs? Installed a coil too loose? Hanging up? Something is up. Black is not normal. Two shiny clean brush tracks are what is normal.
    #13
  14. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    Temperatures of 365F have no affect on copper. I say this because that is the median melting point of common electrical solder. When I want to soften hard copper (typically hard copper tubing) I heat it to dull cherry red and let it cool in air. Gets nice and soft. To harden it again it has to be reheated and then quenched to temper it. I've never had this work too well. The structure of the metal has changed and it resists changing back unless things are just right. Same problems with phosphor bronze.

    Vibration is another story and when wires are vibrated they do indeed harden, and break. Often vibration in a wire matters most at the endpoints of the wire where it is restrained by some connection.

    Oxidation (and sulfation and a few other things) happens at terminals, thus on the older bike they need cleaning. The corrosion conducts poorly and when working w/ only 12VDC, it matters. My landlord once was having trouble starting his van. Clearly not enough juice to the starter. He had a freshly charged battery and the battery terminals looked ok. I took the terminals off and cleaned them to bright shiny lead. The problem vanished. I was surprised, I was suspecting the problem was something really bad looking at the started end of things. it was acrtually a very thin oxide layer at the battery. I certainly didn't suspect it just looking at it.

    The brushes on the alternator arc to the slip rings all the time. if all is in good shape like you say, the arcing is minimized. But it's still there. You get an oxide layer on the rings. There is also an almost imperceptible oil mist in the the front compartment and on the later models with ventilated front covers, a lot of dirt. Heavy black deposits are coked on oil. In any event, polishing the rings with 1200 grit cloth restores things. However it is not overly long lasting. I check it yearly when I am in the front cover for general inspection. I need all the power I can get.

    I run a pair of relays on the headlight bulb and a third for the horns. Each of these is an independent fused circuit from the battery built with heavy gauge marine wire.

    I was suspecting heat problems from the big bulb, especially with the RS headlight glass. So I took measures up front. Glad to hear I wasn't wasting my time. I still need to clean up the connection board, it's just stuffed to one side of the headlight shell wrapped in rubber.


    (psst...higher wattage bulbs, not higher voltage. Below)
    #14
  15. Houseoffubar

    Houseoffubar HoFmetalworks.com

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    Some of the new HID bulb/ballast kits are crazy cheap. I have seen them for $30-50 for a bike. They are crazy bright, and pretty darn reliable from what I have seen. I saw a new bulb/and ballast on craigslist the other day for $20!
    These draw less power than the stock setup, around 35 watts. I don't know how you can beat that.
    There are some amazing LEDs, that are also pretty cheap, and draw even less power, but will require some fabrication if you want to do it cheap.
    #15
  16. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    Reflecting further on it the cheap way to get light and heat without modifying the bike would be to run dead loss off a second battery. A set of decent driving lights (maybe Hella 500 series) have 55watt halogen bulbs and give the bike the total rally look. So 9.2 amp draw for the lights. Add a vest at maybe 36 watts so 3 amps for the vest. if you want light and heat for 4 hours of commuting per day you have a 12 amp draw for 4 hours so you need at least a 48 amp-hour deep cycle battery.

    This is a nice one and the price is right:

    http://www.batterystuff.com/batteries/mobility-scooter-wheelchair/UB12500-45977.html

    Totally sealed, deep cycle type and the Chinese need the money. I doubt you'll beat $100 for a new battery.

    So you could get into the whole show for $150 plus the vest.

    The battery is fairly small but heavy (up to 35 lbs perhaps) so it rides behind you on the seat. Milk crate if you have to (blowing your rally bike image).

    You charge it daily.

    A side benefit is you are pulling the power from house current, not your bikes engine. You have maximum power out of your engine for hauling butt 'cause you're late to work.

    if your commute is shorter than 4 hrs/day then smaller battery, just do the numbers.
    #16
  17. supershaft

    supershaft because I can

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    Vibration? No. Wires get hard from being over loaded.

    Brushes arching? Nothings perfect. I don't see dirty slip rings and I have looked at a LOT of them. I am sure it happens but . . . . I have put a lot of miles on my own bikes and serviced bikes getting tons more and I have never had to clean slip rings. The only time I ever found slightly dirty slip rings is the two times I diagnosed the slip ring being machined off center thusly allowing the brushes to bounce. Fix the cause, not the symptoms.
    #17
  18. tofgasp

    tofgasp Adventurer

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    Did you just tried to wash the inside of the glass and the reflector (carefully) ? You should be really surprised of the amount of loss that 27 years of dust can create.
    #18
  19. Rucksta

    Rucksta SS Blowhard

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    +1 on this.
    One of the cheapeast and most effective ways to improve lighting.
    The older your wiring the bigger the gains.
    2 relays fed by a direct fused link to the battery each triggered by the Hi/Lo switch.
    Std relay can stay in place.
    Using an additional bulb socket and jumper wires with spade connectors installation requires no cutting of the existing loom
    and is easily rolled back to standard or bypassed in the event of failure.

    The installation can be done for around $20.00

    Halogen lighting operating at lower than optimal voltage runs hotter than it does at correct voltage.
    It's related to the efficiency of the metal halide exchange in the gas envelope.
    Not my explaination but it sounded plausable when demonstrated.

    I run a 120/90 in the G/S nacell with a generic plasic lense/ reflector (cheap & lightwieght)
    No problems with heat though I do not run hi beam at slow speed in the bush due to reduced alternator output at low RPM.

    There are kits available.
    #19
  20. Bluethumb

    Bluethumb Been here awhile

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    Good sources for said kits?
    #20