need some REAL juice on your airhead?

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by datchew, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. datchew

    datchew Don't buy from Brad

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    I saw a blurb on the MOA site and emailed this guy about an 800W alternator upgrade for airheads. Pictures to follow:


    Here's what he said in a word doc:

    “Need driving lights” in Australian = 800 watts for an airhead
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    During my trips to OZ, I had heard of some great modifications that the Aussies have made to BMWs in order to adapt to the Australian continent and animals…and this is one of them
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    As it says in the song, “there once was a guy from down under”…. and his name is Les Farrad.mechanic extrordinaire and certified air head living close to the Outback of Australia. He works as a mobile field mechanic on the local farms around Moree NSW Aust. and has been into off road adventure motorcycling camping trips for about twenty years. He originally came up with the idea when for his Kawasaki 650 Tengai back about 1990. He machined up a special housing for a narrowed a 55 amp Bosch alternator and mounted it to front left side of engine case and driven via. an outboard pulley and belt straight off the crank. Worked brilliantly (Maybe the KLR650 list might be interested in this also). Used to run 800 Watts lighting system on that setup.
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    Then he bought the '92 P/D and set to work on fitting a larger alternator to it also. From an engineering point it was not that difficult just a bit fiddly but the end result worked great. If you do night riding you MUST HAVE serious lights (ie.600 Watts) or it becomes a game of Russian roulette with the wild life, especially the roo's. The general plan is to develop this alternator conversion to a marketable stage, set up a website with photos, instructions and a list of F.A.Q's and sell them all over the world i.e. A., Germany, Europe, England and anywhere else.
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    Les does a lot of riding at night and because the road kill down there is COMPLETELY different. - Roos, wombats, emus, black snakes, etc.- the need for lots of candlepower makes for engineering and skin-saving necessity.
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    On my last rip down there last fall, a friend put me in touch with Les and he told me about an adaptation he made to his airhead with great success. BIG watts from an airhead via a complete rethink of how to adapt a common car alternator for the design and space limitations of a G/S.
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    I kept bugging Les to make a production version of his alternator adaptor..and he has. The bike I had in Death Valley for the Airheads DVX rally was fitted with the alternator & modified engine cases off his bike. The unit is the first prototype he built about six years ago & has been extremely reliable. The only maintenance in over 90,000 klm. (60,000 miles), has been a couple of drive belts & a set of alternator bearings ($20). It is still on the original brush set. Prototype No 2, which he has built and shipped to me incorporates a few major changes & improvements. Mainly cosmetic changes so the whole conversion looks more presentable. Actually, EVERYONE who walked by the bike couldn’t tell that it was out of the ordinary,,just a normal R80G/S…with lots of lights. You literally had to get down and look up behind the horn to see anything about the system. Les did a fantastic job of design and installation.
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    For this trip, I had a full Gerbing jacket (77 watts), BMW heated grips (? watts), a set of Motolights (110 watts), an auxiliary set of aircraft landing lights (200 watts), the headlight (120 watts), and a small microwave (just kidding). On Saturday night, I was elected to lead the group back from the Opera house at DV Junction (about 60 miles RT) and was told from those behind that they could follow without using their lights at all. All the critters and bumps in the road were visible to everyone. And the voltmeter never budged off the 13.5 point no matter how many switches I had on…except heating the ham and cheese sandwich in the microwave that brought it down to 13.3.
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    I should add the standard BMW relays won’t handle any extra amps going through them and that includes fitting a 120-Watt high beam bulb. No further problems once I wired in separate heavy-duty relays ($5) and wiring. Any add-on accessories (i.e. driving lights etc) MUST be run through separate relays powered straight from the battery. The production unit produces about 800 watts and around 80 amps or so. Real power when you need it. Even the horn sounds louder!!
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    This is NOT a plug and play replacement like the offering from Motorad Electric and is targeted for a different market. Motorad is for 95% of the “more watts” market.
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    The installation was very straightforward with some excellent instructions from Les. One important point is that the starter must be a Valeo, not the Bosch. Has to do with the physical installation of the alternator brackets. A good result from this kit is that the Valeo now has a strong air mass passing by. So a cooler starter along with Valeo’s fixing of their magnet problem with the new production eliminates those concerns.
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    All the wires came labeled and color-coded. There is some work to installation as the front cover, the timing cover and the engine top cover are modified, one hole needs to be drilled and tapped in the engine block, and a couple brackets need to be moved on the frame so you need access to a Dremel. Relays have to be upgraded and good wiring decisions are necessary. But there is no more diode board, voltage regulator, rotor, or stator and now replacement parts are available from your local NAPA dealer. My spare parts kit now consists of one V belt ($5.95)
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    Figure around 2 days total from start to finish and the results are wonderful. So if you will be doing 2 up with heated stuff to keep everyone warm, have a need for warm hands, and ride at dawn, dusk, or like the night riding and need to see what’s out there - this may be a viable alternative. Just kidding about the microwave, but Fry’s does carry a nice 12-120V-converter kit…
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    I have installed the kit in two R80 G/Ss and an R80ST (which did a round the US trip with no problems..only compliments). Am just now finishing up an R100/7 that will be a hack when done.
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    Greg
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    #1
  2. datchew

    datchew Don't buy from Brad

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    here's the pics.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. Beemerguru

    Beemerguru Beemerguru...G/S guy

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    Greg in Foster City here with an update....yeah I'm the guy running for Director over on the BMW MOA side of the house :evil

    As I tell everyone,,,this setup is for the .01 of 1% of the BMW airhead market who wants/needs the reliability, ease of maintainance, and at least double the wattage of the other 2 electrical upgrade kits for BMWs. For almost everyone, either one of the other upgrades kits will work just fine.

    I've done a dozen of these kits now..all working fine with not a single parts failure...not even a belt broke in the 5 years I started buildng engines with this setup. I know the first one now has over 100K miles on the G/S and the last I heard was in Africa doing some serious work. This is the heavy duty setup for round the world, doing the Pan American, riding in Siberia adventure. 'Course it works well just riding around San Francisco too...never worry about a dead battery riding in stop and go traffic :clap
    #3
  4. Cpt. Ron

    Cpt. Ron Advrider #128

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    Yup, they're the real deal. I looked into that unit a while back, but the price put me off. The two options available for original location replacement is much more in line with most people's needs, that's for sure. I have to say I'm more than pleased with the output of the Endurolast system I bought over a year ago. The idea of roadside repair with auto-style replacement parts has not been an issue with me, yet.
    #4
  5. Robin

    Robin R100RT

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    So, just how much IS this paragon of electrical productivity? And how does it compare to Snowbum's alternator installation?

    Robin
    #5
  6. datchew

    datchew Don't buy from Brad

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    It's more than I suppose I'll ever need, but it's still pretty cool to see that alternator shoe-horned into an airhead motor.
    #6
  7. Wirespokes

    Wirespokes Beemerholics Anonymous

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    I thought those were the ones you were doing, Greg. It looks like a pretty simple and clean conversion. But I don't understand why it would cost any more than the other two. It appears to be just a special pully, two idlers, a belt and an alternator (and it's mounts). How much IS the kit?
    #7
  8. Stagehand

    Stagehand Imperfectionist

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    An old mechanic I used to frequent used to talk about a belt driven auto alternator. He was thinking maybe scamming an oilhead setup onto an airhead--Its definitely better than towing a 5600w generator behind you. Bet it weighs a english tonne.
    Also, what is the piece sticking way up out of the starter cover? Looks like the Alternator 3-phase wiring and a heat sink, but it doesnt get in the way of the top tube?

    Good luck with the nomination, Greg!
    #8
  9. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

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    That's the cleanest auto-alternator refit I've seen for an airhead. Good work. What's the ding, contact information etc?

    Lornce
    #9
  10. Beemerguru

    Beemerguru Beemerguru...G/S guy

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    The installation is pretty straight forward..you remove the entire front of the engine block...sell the rotor, diode board, stator, VR. Best to do this with the engine out but can be done with the engine in place.

    The instructions tell where to cut the timing cover off at a prediscribed line, same for the front cover and starter cover. Drill and tap one hole in the engine block up by the oil breather outlet..then it's all bolt on work.

    The heat sink mounted on top of the starter cover is the rectifier setup..no interference at all with the downtube or gas tank. I've installed this on a /7 but most of the bikes have been '80 on G/S and GSs.

    I prefer the post '84 where BMW moved the relay mounts back near the battery..gives you a clean place to mount the extra relays for all the lights.

    Total time to install would be about 2 days. New parts would be a timing cover gasket and a timing cover seal. Everythng else is included with the kit including 2 V belts.

    The $800 is not that far off the other two kits...but considering that all the mounts are CNC aluminum and everything's designed around a bolt on installation..not a bad deal.

    Contact: Greg Hutchinson
    Foster City, CA
    1.415.205.7829

    Vote early and vote often over at BMW MOA
    #10
  11. Wirespokes

    Wirespokes Beemerholics Anonymous

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    :rofl

    Thanks Greg. And good luck getting into office.
    #11
  12. Beemerguru

    Beemerguru Beemerguru...G/S guy

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    There's a distinct possibility that I could have anywhere from 2-5 of these bikes at the 49er this year. I just heard from some of the owners and they seem to want to get together and show off their rides and tell some tales..

    www.bmwnorcal.org

    for details
    #12
  13. ducsingle

    ducsingle Been here awhile

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    I could see this being handy for sidecar applications where you want to run lots of lights and accessories for two people.
    #13
  14. Beemerguru

    Beemerguru Beemerguru...G/S guy

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    That's what the /7 rebuild was for. He wanted to run everything but the plasma TV so he got the upgrade. Only pre'81 engine I've done so far.. Actaully looks better esthetically(sp) than the later models.
    #14
  15. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    what a nice setup!
    #15
  16. outfit

    outfit Been here awhile

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    Same principle, different application = $50. Nowhere near as good looking, but hey 15 yrs of sterling work and not a part replaced.

    Attached Files:

    #16
  17. disston

    disston ShadeTreeExpert

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    I've seen several of these around Cy but they aren't common. There may be several versions, by different people. Don't think any of this is patentable so make your own if you want. The total killer set up. You can also hang the alternator off the side and adjust the belt tension with a movable arm. That's a little easier to do actually just need and old rotor to machine to take a pulley. Also helpful to have an extra front engine cover because you are going to cut it up and you may want to keep the original in original shape.

    Charlie
    #17
  18. One Less Harley

    One Less Harley OH.THAT'S GONNA HURT

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    My concern w/ the alt over he engine, is that it's somewhat exposed to the elements. What does all the dust and moisture do tot he alternator? It's going to get inside of it and create havoc??? The bean can may be a little more susceptible to moisture too? I know it has a gasket, but one would want to make sure it's sealed up.
    #18
  19. caponerd

    caponerd Kickstart Enthusiast

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    Even if it's patented, any D.I.Y.'er is permitted to copy a patent if they want to.
    I'd like to see a picture of the one above with the external alternator with the front cover off. What does it use to drive that pulley?
    #19
  20. Stagehand

    Stagehand Imperfectionist

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    I dont think there's much in harms way inside the alternator... Its pretty much just wires and magnets and they're sealed inside varnish anyway, right? I would think heat is the bigger killer, although there are probably a couple of electrical connections that could stand a good bit of grease to keep the direct contact with the environment at bay.
    #20