Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Technical, Bike forums > BMW Tech

BMW Tech BMW Tech Forum - For Questions specific and of interest to BMW riders only. Questions comparing which bike is best etc go in the "Which Bike" forum.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

7 Litre Camel Tank Lets You Explore More, Click to Find out More!

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10 May 2008
Tim Cullis's Avatar
Moderator
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Putney, SW London
Posts: 1,339
1200GSA electrical problem in Morocco

After my first failure on the 1200GSA last week (fuel pump controller), I am currently experiencing a second showstopper failure. Possibly something to do with the ignition or battery.

I was mapping new (to me) tracks in the Rif and stopped to chat to some farmers and when I came to restart the engine everything was dead, no signs of life in the display area. After several minutes of faffing around checking things, taking out the key, putting it back, etc., the ignition came on, but when I tried to start the engine I got a thud sound which sounded like a flat battery.

I was on a very gentle slope and tried bump starting but the loose surface of the piste meant the wheel just skidded. After some time, though, the engine started on the key. I was 35km from tarmac and all the way was experiencing a stuttering on the throttle. I kept the revs up and made the main road just south of Ketama when five miles later the bike died on me with a totally dead display.

It was getting dark and as "luck" would have it I pulled in next to two obnoxious youths who after trying to sell me some dope and get me to drink from their bottle of vodka, were determined to get me to leave the bike and go and stay at their house. Earlier in the day the front bulb had failed so I replaced that (just in case). Fortunately I always carry a head torch with me. Then I tightened the battery terminals and had a general poke around. By this time the display was lighting up, but still a thud when I tried to start the engine. So I pushed the bike back up the hill, rolled back down and managed to bump start it.

Again I had the stuttering of the engine, but worse. Then after only three miles it failed again. By now it was totally dark but I was next to a bus halt with a seat. Over the next few hours I tried various things, then decided to settle down and get some sleep. I had an emergency space foil thingy in my accident first aid kit which was amazing when it unfolded, but was very glittery in car headlights and I was woken three times by drivers stopping their cars to offer me to sleep in their house, but they had all been drinking, one could hardly stand up. In any case I thought I should stay with the bike. I woke roughly every hour and did exercises to get some warmth. It started light rain at one point so I put my helmet on. The temperature fell to 7c which isn't that low but after 29c during the day it felt freezing.

In the daylight I could see better and pushed the bike half a mile to the top of a big hill then bump started it. This time the engine ran smoothly and at the top of another big hill I tried killing the engine and restarting off the button and everything was fine.

Then it died on me again and I rolled to a halt next to a truckstop. Eventually the display came back to life but I got the thud from the starter, so after a while I got someone to take me and the bike the 80km back to Fez (400 dh but I was a captive customer and it included free coffee, arabic lessons and a minor bung to the police).

The manual does say that a discharged battery can cause the engine to die suddenly, "You can continue to ride until the battery is discharged. Bear in mind that the engine could cut out suddenly and that the battery could discharge until completely flat in which case it might have suffered irreparable damage."

However there wasn't a warning about insufficient battery charging or any other warnings when running other than the defective front bulb.

My level of technical knowledge isn't good. I don't understand why, according to the above quote from the BMW manual, a knackered/flat battery could cause the bike to suddenly stop--after all, some bikes don't even have a battery.

And if I can manage to locate some jump leads tomorrow, would these enable me to start the bike even if the battery is knackered? I'll take the battery out in the morning and see if I can get it tested/charged.

I would very much appreciate anyone's ideas on what's wrong!

I have a thread on this running on UKGSers as well at
HELP NEEDED: electrical problem in Morocco - ::. UKGS'er.com .::

Tim
__________________
"For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
and enlarges the world in which you live,"
Irving Mather (1892-1966)

Access the Morocco Knowledgebase
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 10 May 2008
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Edinburgh
Posts: 761
my experience of a knackered battery is that (depending on knacker-age) connecting up to another battery will bring about smooth running, but on disconnecting you'll be back to square one. But at least you know more.

I imagine on the GS the engine management requires a certain level of battery charge, otherwise it fails the entire 'running' process. As opposed to something like an enfield which doesn't have any notable electrics (or brains like the GS) and therefore runs without a battery, on mechanics. Brains need power to do their calculations on how much fuel to dump in, etc, etc.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10 May 2008
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 3,370
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougieB View Post
my experience of a knackered battery is that (depending on knacker-age) connecting up to another battery will bring about smooth running, but on disconnecting you'll be back to square one. But at least you know more.

I imagine on the GS the engine management requires a certain level of battery charge, otherwise it fails the entire 'running' process. As opposed to something like an enfield which doesn't have any notable electrics (or brains like the GS) and therefore runs without a battery, on mechanics. Brains need power to do their calculations on how much fuel to dump in, etc, etc.
Having read your post Tim and scratching my head along the way, I go with Dougies' thoughts: I also had a battery problem recently (not a Beemer) and the bike would start easily with jump cables or by bump starting using a slope and/or pushing. No way would the bike circuitry charge the bike battery however.

Also, as Dougie says, the bikes that run without batteries have completely different electrical circuits with no electric starter of course: oh those days were so much simpler! (Only last year actually, when I owned a kicker TT600R!).

I also agree with you: try a replacement battery, assuming that all of the relevant connections are in good condition, no corrosion, well earthed etc.
Even if you cannot get the "right" Amp-hrs to suit the bike, borrowing one that is more or less right may prove the problem diagnostics.

Good luck,

ps Yes, modern "electronic" bikes need a small amount of power in the battery to activate the various circuits/electronic brains. That's why they will start by pushing etc: when the starter motor is not drawing current from the battery.
__________________
Dave

Last edited by Walkabout; 10 May 2008 at 23:01. Reason: ps added
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11 May 2008
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Moscow, Russia
Posts: 1,003
Tim,

I can't add much here, but I would definitely post this on ADVRider.com as well, in the GSpot forum--people are pretty quick with GS-specific diagnosis there.

Good luck!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11 May 2008
Tim Cullis's Avatar
Moderator
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Putney, SW London
Posts: 1,339
Thanks for the replies, guys. I think I understand the problem better, and have cross posted on AdvRider as well.

I'm going to try to find a replacement battery.

1. Has to be 12v
2. Has to fit in battery tray
3. The manual says 14Ah, so is it OK if I try for 10Ah or better?
4. Does it matter if it is unsealed and has to be filled with acid and then charged?

Anything else I need to be aware of?

Tim
__________________
"For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
and enlarges the world in which you live,"
Irving Mather (1892-1966)

Access the Morocco Knowledgebase
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 11 May 2008
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Northumberland
Posts: 173
Yes check if your Reg/Rec is what has caused the problem and over charged (Boiled) your battery.
__________________
Home of the UK Coast 2 Coast off-road Challenge
www.C2CChallenge.co.uk www.4X4Safari.co.uk
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 11 May 2008
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Edinburgh
Posts: 761
before you buy a new battery, you could have a car/bike shop test your existing battery. If they can fully recharge it for you, and it holds the charge (off the bike), then you can put it back on the bike and see if it holds the charge with the bike running.

to expand on the above post. when you fit the battery, check the it's not being fried again. I guess you've no electrical tester? At the very least run the bike and check for smells/leaks/bubbling/heat/etc coming off the battery.

An electrical tester would tell you if the battery is charging while the bike is running. So I guess do the above sensual test, and then ride to a car/bike shop and borrow a meter (or get them to help you). if the battery is not charging your reg/rec could have gone faulty (only when the unit gets hot?).
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 11 May 2008
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 3,370
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cullis View Post
Thanks for the replies, guys. I think I understand the problem better, and have cross posted on AdvRider as well.

I'm going to try to find a replacement battery.

1. Has to be 12v
2. Has to fit in battery tray
3. The manual says 14Ah, so is it OK if I try for 10Ah or better?
4. Does it matter if it is unsealed and has to be filled with acid and then charged?

Anything else I need to be aware of?

Tim
As mentioned, the regulator/rectifier may be stuffed - this can give a smell of bad eggs from the battery as the latter is cooked by over-charging, but the reg/rec may be under charging so that the battery simply goes flat.
In any case the smell thing may not be relevant with todays sealed batteries! (I am not sure about that one).

Nevertheless, IMO, trying a different battery is well worth doing; so many problems in the electrics start with a duff battery.
I was "hoping" that you could borrow another battery, ideally, or use the jump leads as an alternative to test the starting side of things.

Borrowing a batt is preferable IMO (for fault finding), because once you add the acid to the batt in the way you mention, it it "activated" and, therefore, sold (in any UK dealer anyway). Once you prove the problem source, then you could buy the battery.
Yes to the 12V.
Battery tray fit, yes, if you want to ride with it rather than just test the starter etc at a standstill.
Capacity: well 14 Ah would be much better, but it may be worth a go, provided that those fancy electronics on the bike do not "object". With lower capacity you would get a shorter time to the battery being discharged when running with lots of gadgets, lights ablaze, heated clothing etc etc. Also it would turn over the starter motor for less time before being flat.
Doesn't matter if it is an unsealed version: just an earlier technology.
__________________
Dave
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12 May 2008
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Posts: 1,366
Hi Tim...
I suspect that the connection from one cell in the battery to another cell is going open circuit, hitting the battery top may do some good .. at least you'll be happerier giving it a hit

This bike won't run without the battery .. needs the battery to 'smoth' the alternator output.

If you are stuck for a reasonable battery for the bike - just get a small car one (the cheaper the better (you will be throwing it away eventually) and put that in parrallel to the bike battery - put it on the rear rack and run good thick wires up to it.

An unsealed battery may leak acid if the bike falls over .. make certain any vent tube is long enogh that any fluid will not touch the bike - even when tilted on its side.

You are meeting heaps of locals this trip!
Do check the battery voltage when the bike is running - more that 13 and less than 14.5 is ok. But on the symtoms I too think it is the battery .. or a loose connection .. check the earth wire... sometimes the lug to wire connections go faulty too.

Good luck.

------------------- Battery Specifications
The Ampere Hours (AH) won't worry you too much ..

The CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) may worry you - on a cold morning this gives the maximum current you can exect to draw from the battery .. should be in the order of 150 amps at least IIRC .. things like the Oddessy battery are over 220 amp .. your starter would draw 90? amps .. more on a clod morning ..
__________________
---
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S

Last edited by Frank Warner; 12 May 2008 at 05:25. Reason: More info ..
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12 May 2008
Tim Cullis's Avatar
Moderator
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Putney, SW London
Posts: 1,339
I took the battery out yesterday and flashed the terminals--nothing at all.

I think (or rather am hoping) the problem is isolated to a duff battery. The chances of getting a powerful enough one locally are remote and although there's a BMW dealer in Casablanca the logistics are flakey. So a helpful GSer in Spain is getting one this afternoon and handing it someone coming over to Morocco next week.

In the meantime I'm planning to take the rear seat off, strap a small car battery in its place and jury rig it to the bike battery points by cannibalising some heavy duty jump leads.

At least that way I'll know for sure whether it's just the battery. Will let you know as things progress. In the meantime many thanks for the advice and support.

Tim
__________________
"For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
and enlarges the world in which you live,"
Irving Mather (1892-1966)

Access the Morocco Knowledgebase
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 13 May 2008
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 3,370
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cullis View Post
I took the battery out yesterday and flashed the terminals--nothing at all.

I think (or rather am hoping) the problem is isolated to a duff battery. The chances of getting a powerful enough one locally are remote and although there's a BMW dealer in Casablanca the logistics are flakey. So a helpful GSer in Spain is getting one this afternoon and handing it someone coming over to Morocco next week.

In the meantime I'm planning to take the rear seat off, strap a small car battery in its place and jury rig it to the bike battery points by cannibalising some heavy duty jump leads.

At least that way I'll know for sure whether it's just the battery. Will let you know as things progress. In the meantime many thanks for the advice and support.

Tim

Tim,
Good to hear that you have a potential solution, assuming that you have the time available for the new one to be delivered.
A pic of your jury-rigged battery on the back of the bike would be interesting! I guess you will use the jump leads with your existing batt before cannibalising them into more permanent connections.
__________________
Dave
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 22 May 2008
Tim Cullis's Avatar
Moderator
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Putney, SW London
Posts: 1,339
Waahay, I'm mobile again!

Thanks to Steve Larkin (GRingo on UKGSer) who sourced the battery and Bill Oates (Fanum on UKGSer) who brought it to me, it looks like everything is now sorted.

The battery had a charge of 12.35v as delivered, and after going for a run it's now at 12.85v. The voltage when the engine is running is 14v, and the current drawn by the bike when the ignition is off is 10mA.

I've just ridden over to Fanum and his crew to thank them, they are heading south again today. Waldin (on UKGSer) pointed me to a useful thread with more details: Flat Battery Fault Finding - ::. UKGS'er.com .::

I'll continue to monitor the battery closely over the next couple of days, but in the meantime many thanks for all the helpful suggestions.

Tim
__________________
"For sheer delight there is nothing like altitude; it gives one the thrill of adventure
and enlarges the world in which you live,"
Irving Mather (1892-1966)

Access the Morocco Knowledgebase
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 22 May 2008
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 3,370
It's always the battery!

Tim,
Nice work all round.
I guess you didn't bother with the jury-rig for a car battery?!
__________________
Dave
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 23 May 2008
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Posts: 1,366
Goodo Tim.

The 12.85 volts after the run could be 'surface charge' and would go away afer some time .. say 1/2 an hour.

10 mA .. say 4 Ah ... would take 400 hours /24 = say 16 days to get to a badish sate of discahrge (cold engine .. need to start bike after stoping so long .. might need a few goes .. ) . Not great but aceptable.
__________________
---
Regards Frank Warner
motorcycles BMW R80 G/S 1981, BMW K11LT 1993, BMW K75 G/S
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 23 May 2008
Nomadic1's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Sheffield, UK
Posts: 119
Hi Tim,

If it were any other bike, I'd say it was a regulator/rectifier issue, not charging the battery.

Does the GSA have servo brakes, like the standard 1200 does? If this is the case, then having a discharged battery would cause your engine to stall (as a safety measure).

Otherwise, could it be a ring on its way out?

blown bulbs dont usually cause any offense to batteries, as the canbus is meant to stop any power to any deffective bit?

Certainly sounds like you've had a good time though!
__________________

Visit my space here
See my photos here
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Electrical Problem !! big t Yamaha Tech 29 11 Apr 2008 05:39
yet another electrical problem magyver Yamaha Tech 15 2 Nov 2007 01:02
toyota/split charge electrical problem jamieT 4WD Overland Tech 2 9 Jul 2007 12:13
xt600e electrical problem - help! simonlgp Yamaha Tech 9 24 Jun 2007 19:46
XR400 electrical problem colsan1 Honda Tech 2 14 Feb 2007 14:27

 
 


HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




All times are GMT +1. The time now is 00:15.