Starter or Battery Redux

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by roger 04 rt, Aug 4, 2019.

  1. roger 04 rt

    roger 04 rt Long timer

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    Back when I had my red ‘04RT (miss that bike), I spent a lot of time working out what it takes to get a dual-spark Oilhead to start in less than a second when cold: https://advrider.com/f/threads/starter-or-battery-2004-r1150.924913/ . Bedsides the usual suspects (fuel, compression and spark), the ‘04 bikes need a clean electrical system, a fully charged non-sulfated battery and a good starter that doesn’t draw too much current.

    Fast forward to the past week: my 2001 R1150GS is turning over a bit slower than usual and takes a full second to start first time in the morning, and the starter sounds a little rough. That’s not bad but it was faster a couple years ago. On top of that I’ve had three occurrences where I get ABS errors that don’t clear after riding off (blinking in tandem sometimes or both flashing alternately other times). The ABS errors can be cleared by restarting the bike.

    Yesterday I hooked up my GS-911, selected all realtime values, put the 911 in turbo mode for fast data collection, and collected a realtime log. The log confirmed it was starting okay but the voltage readings went 13V to 12.6V at key on (that’s fine) and then to about 8V for the first couple samples when I hit the starter. The 8V dip explains the slightly slower start and the ABS errors (btw, an 8V dip on a dual spark would really mess up the start).

    The question is, do I have a bad battery or starter or something else?

    The bike has 42,000 miles on it, the starter is original and has never been serviced, and the bell housing area shows a lot of clutch dust. The battery is a PC680, several years old, but well maintained and still holding 100% SOC even after the surface change is bled off by turning on the headlight for 30 seconds. The cables to the battery, ground, alternator and starter are tight and clean as a whistle.

    I hate throwing parts at a problem so I’m going to begin by servicing the starter, we’ll see ...
    #1
  2. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    You're the one that I look to for this particular expertise, and given what you describe those would be the first two steps I'd try.

    My bet is that it's the starter. And if instead it turns out to be the battery, a.) a starter refresh will likely extend the battery's ability, and b.) even if dropping to 8v for a second that battery has several to many months left in it.

    I do admire your dedication to this detail.
    #2
  3. Steve W.

    Steve W. Boxer Pilot

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    Get a replacement starter housing with the magnets clipped in, your og starter has the magnets glued in. The magnets are a known failure point. Replacing the housing is a preventive measure. Now while you have it apart clean it, and grease the reduction gears. There is a good how to in the resources tab. You can source parts from https://www.euromotoelectrics.com/Default.asp My 01 was the same and good after a cleaning and lube. Also be sure the plate at the gears is tight, if it comes loose it can short out. A little PM is all that is needed. Cheers
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  4. roger 04 rt

    roger 04 rt Long timer

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    Thanks guys, I planning to go the "clean and service" route first. Here's a better view of what's going on.

    Screen Shot 2019-08-04 at 10.18.44 AM.png
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  5. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    Those voltage levels at start typically point to a failing battery. However, a very dirty starter can cause the same thing in my experience.
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  6. roger 04 rt

    roger 04 rt Long timer

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    Agreed on the battery, but then there’s the rough sound of my starter ...
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  7. Zoef zoef

    Zoef zoef Long timer

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    I would start with servicing the starter. If that does not have enough effect, battery replacement (whic IMHO is the culprit here, given the ABS issues.
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  8. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    Never rule out the complicated, multi- hour or tool project, esp. when that task allows or requires the purchase of still more parts or tools, when a simple or straight-forward alternative is available!

    Where's the fun in the latter, after all?

    Well, except maybe for the riding, but I digress. Bring More Wallet because, well, why not.
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  9. Callisto224

    Callisto224 Long timer Supporter

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    Sounds like your starter could use a good servicing.

    Be sure to add plenty of good beer during the process! :photog

    In all seriousness, when the battery drops to 8 volts during starting, I'd suspect that it's going bad.
    #9
  10. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    Beer? Did someone mention that?

    Keys down & steins up?
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  11. roger 04 rt

    roger 04 rt Long timer

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    Beer, starter, battery ... I think I’ll go at it in that order ...
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  12. Coma

    Coma Long timer Supporter

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  13. roger 04 rt

    roger 04 rt Long timer

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    I want to figure this out tomorrow and don’t have a load tester and in my rural area don’t have access to one.
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  14. mouthfulloflake

    mouthfulloflake Not afraid

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    dropping to 8 volts is very likely the battery, but also the starter cover plate shorting out, or the rotor stalling ( on a catching or hung magnet) would bring even a good battery to 8v...

    so yeah, you are going to have to do some testing and tell us Roger.

    :photog
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  15. LAFS

    LAFS Long timer

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    Roger I think on the Wethead bikes if you hit 8 volt or below it wont start and things will not function. Pretty sure the ABS faults and all that light up until the battery stays above 8 volts on the start.

    I have read many accounts of the starter needing cleaned but I like Steve W. and that approach. Seems like a great upgrade part.

    Of course if just a little time for PM is all you need that is great also.

    Look forward to what your results are and what you find when you dig in to it.
    #15
  16. roger 04 rt

    roger 04 rt Long timer

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    I had a chance to make several measurements this morning.


    1) I pulled the fuel pump relay rather than F5 so I didn’t lose my adaptive values. The cranked and measured the battery voltage. Although there is a half-second drop to 8V, it will then crank for 20 seconds (as long as I cranked) at 10.6V.


    2) While cranking, the voltage drop from battery (-) to engine case is 100 mV


    3)The voltage drop during cranking measured from battery (+) to the stud on the starter was 125 mV.


    The cable drops mean their resistance is a few milliohms which seems fine.
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  17. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    It is angling towards a bad/dirty starter. Time to take it out and disassemble it and clean it, or buy a $45 ebay starter and swap it out.
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  18. roger 04 rt

    roger 04 rt Long timer

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    Jim, Is 10.6V during cranking about the norm?

    Starter is coming out now for cleaning. Then as needed I'll look at a replacement. I may also recondition the PC680 by running it through a few discharge cycles.
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  19. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    It is in the acceptable range.
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  20. roger 04 rt

    roger 04 rt Long timer

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    The starters out, the drive end was disassembled, cleaned, lubed (not the solenoid) and reassembled. It was pretty dirty and the planetary gears and nose bushing were dry but there’s no smoking gun and the gear grease cover was tight and intact.

    Tomorrow I’ll get at the back end
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