1150 GS Alterntor melted?!

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by donned, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. donned

    donned Adventurer

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    73,000 miles on my 01 GS. 22,000 of those have been since 23rd April this year through Canada and America. Got stuck in some traffic in Vegas last week and the bike was showing 7 bars on the temp gauge. Managed to get it parked up but had to move soon after to the hotel car park. The bike ran for a few minutes then stalled. It started again, but wouldn't hold idle and just died. It was REALLY hot so I just pushed it into the parking lot. Left it for 2 days while we explored Vegas, and it's been running perfectly since. The only thing I've noticed a few days after the event is that the running voltage can drop to as low as 12.8V at 3000rpm on my cheap voltmeter. No battery light when running and the battery is about 1.5 years old. The bike has been quite slow to start first thing in the morning (2×5s cranks) but fired up first crank there after. Having a look around the bike last night I noticed the below. I'm guessing it's due to the severe heat in Vegas, and could potentially be related to the occasional low voltage reading on the meter, but not sure. We've done over 1,200 miles since Vegas so there don't seem to be any major consequences. I'm just trying to figure out how worried I should be? We're in LA area and are planning to ride to Ushuaia. If it's a major issue I'd rather source a part in the states rather than further down the line.

    Any input is appreciated.

    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    Well that's a rare one! Before I took off for a long trip abroad, away from tools, etc., I think I'd swap in a rebuilt alternator + a fresh & uprated voltage regulator (VR). A charging voltage of < 13 volts is WAY too low.

    Here in the States, quality rebuilt alternators are under US$200... https://www.euromotoelectrics.com/Reman-Alternator-K-Oilhead-BMW-ALT020R-p/bmw-alt1020r.htm

    The above unit probably includes the uprated VR, but if not they're only about US$40... https://www.euromotoelectrics.com/BOSCH-Voltage-Regulator-BMW-R-K-p/boalt-reg365.htm

    And a fresh belt, too... https://www.euromotoelectrics.com/category-s/1713.htm

    BBY probably sells all this stuff, too. The above is but one source.
    #2
  3. donned

    donned Adventurer

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    Yep, rare indeed.

    $200 is a good week on the road, so im slightly reluctant to just swap something out conservatively, not mentioning the effort/time to do so, if it's most likely not going to get any worse.

    The voltage reads 13.6V this morning, but fluctuates quite a bit throughout the day of riding.

    I wasn't aware you can get the regulatoes seperately, so that may be a good option, thank you.
    #3
  4. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Fresh battery too. Carry a spare belt as well as fitting a new one. Also just as an aside either fit full metal valve stems to the wheels or carry a spare rubber valve stem. I speak from experience with the three above items.
    #4
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  5. zaxrex

    zaxrex Been here awhile

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    ... Exactly what am I looking at that melted?

    Is it the insulation from the stator windings?
    #5
  6. donned

    donned Adventurer

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    Very good question. Not sure, I have no experience with alternators and electricity is magic.
    #6
  7. donned

    donned Adventurer

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    Belt is 22,000 miles / 6 months old and looks good, battery seems good and again, reluctant to just throw money without any hard facts. Got some spare valve stems. Tyres being replaced in San Diego on Saturday hopefully.
    #7
  8. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    I suspect the melted gunk is what's left of the dampner material inside of the alternator. On earlier models, those parts were replaceable, but by the 1150 they were integral.

    And if the alternator was hot enough to melt that internal rubber, it's almost certainly a sure sign of pending failure. Ambient temps, even in Hot Vegas, ain't nearly enough to cook that stuff.

    The alternator had to short to generate that much heat.
    #8
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  9. zaxrex

    zaxrex Been here awhile

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    Solid observation. Would also explain the incremental loss of alternator efficiency.
    #9
  10. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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  11. donned

    donned Adventurer

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    Sorry for my ignorance in this area, but is that likely caused by the alternator itself, or something else on the bike? Is it likely that the same thing will happen to a replacement?

    Cheers gents
    #11
  12. PaulBarton

    PaulBarton Long timer Supporter

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    So, you are familiar with the phrase "penny wise, pound foolish"

    You have an alternator that has oozed something in a strange color. I know you said you have no experience with alternators but they should NEVER ooze anything. ;-)

    Here's the facts as you've laid them out:

    1) Bike stalled and struggled to idle/stay running. Parked for two days.
    2) Bike is "running perfectly since" ...except it's not. Charging voltage shows major variance and it struggles to start cold.
    3) You are about to leave North America and head for Tierra del Fuego.
    4) Inmates at this asylum are suggesting replacing the alternator....

    I get it that money doesn't grow on trees and I'm definitely being a smartass here but saving $200 now to likely spend mucho tiempo y dinero once you travel south of the border and it heats up again seems foolhardy at best. Not sure what's available in San Diego for reman alternators or even a tested used one but Saturday would be a good time to get tyres and charging issue resolved. Also not sure how wrenchy you are. The link that lewisjr1 shared shows you at least how to look into your alternator but really not sure what benefit that would provide at this point other than confirm it needs to be fixed/replaced.
    #12
  13. zaxrex

    zaxrex Been here awhile

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    Problem with internals in alternator.

    I've always been under the impression that alternator and VR should be replaced at the same time. I THINK the VR is integrated in the alternator for the R12, but I'm not sure for the R11xx. If it's separate on your bike, might want to replace both at the same time.
    #13
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  14. donned

    donned Adventurer

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    Well that's good news at least. I'll look into getting a replacement sourced and let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again.
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  15. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    #15
  16. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    You're in Vegas. That's really a car town with a great deal of resources available.

    If time & tools are tight, it's worth making a few phone calls to find a shop that rebuilds alternators, starters, etc. They've probably still got one there, and if they do have them also check out your bike's starter.

    If not, however, EME is a good source for rebuilt electrical stuff. I might try limping home by simply replacing the VR - or on a budget even just soldering in new brushes. That's a band-aid approach, though, and I could never take off on a real adventure with my only option being that band-aid.
    #16
  17. PaulBarton

    PaulBarton Long timer Supporter

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    He's in LA now heading to San Diego by Saturday. LV is just where it heated up and he hung out for two days. Moved on. Same suggestions for LA it just may be harder to get to (with traffic and all ;-)
    #17
  18. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Long timer

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    A long time ago I sold :locomy 06 1150 GSA to someone with 88K miles on it.
    With the sale I included a spare FD main bearing and a new seal. I told the buyer that the bike still had the OEM bearings in the FD and it would be wise to replace the FD bearing before his trip to Ushuaia.. Low and behold he didn't and it cratered in BFE Peru or some such and he blamed the whole world for his own stupidity.
    While simple to replace at home with a few good tools, on the road it is a PITA.

    Long story short, it is your trip and your money, but I agree that a 'penny wise and pound foolish' is not a smart thing to do. Plus a 18 year old alternator is seeing its best days in the rearview mirror..
    I also look into the HES wiring as the insulation is heat sensitive.. YMMV
    #18
  19. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

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    That looks like melted copper. It is a 3 phase alternator. It is possible for one of the 2 phases to short, and the 50 amp alternator becomes a 20ish amp unit. There is a characteristic sound they make, is you alternator whining?

    You need a new alternator one one from a competent local rebuilder.

    I would tend towards a used Bosch rather than a new china in your case. The magnet wire on some china units is not high enough temperature. I do not know what yours is made with. Some china units are very good. That said the Euto Motorsports guy is very knowledgeable. He will not steer you wrong. So ask him.

    Rod
    #19
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  20. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    That melted clump looks like copper, to you? I thought it was melted rubber, or maybe even a polyurethane adhesive, though the volume is large enough that it bothered me. Maybe it's at least partly the monitor that I'm looking at.

    Copper's melting temp. is nearly 2K deg. F! Someone please tell me that melted clump is not copper.

    Either way, I'd want a new(er) alternator, preferably with the uprated VR, and maybe even a fresh battery. Oh, and definitely a new alternator belt.
    #20