Author Topic: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4  (Read 362 times)

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Offline 43and countiing

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Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« on: November 05, 2018, 04:03:40 pm »
Desperate for some guidance here: I don't do well with electrical problems. My 1975 Honda 550/4 k1 is over charging the battery (15.2 volts at 4,000 rpm with the headlight on, 14.8 with it off). I replaced the voltage regulator with a rectifier about 2 years ago, and recently clumsily broke my 50/40 sealed beam headlight, where it seemed to work ok. I just put in a not-sealed beam lamp 35/35. I have a gel battery. It reads 12.9 disconnected/not running, 14.7 engine running no lights at 4000 rpm, and the 15.2 with headlight on at 4000 rpm.
I thought the rectifier would control the voltage load. Is it possible the "alternator" if it has such a thing, is overproducing to the point a rectifier couldn't balance it? Why would it go higher when the headlights are on?
Begging for some insight...I'm 70 and this is my only ride.

Offline Robbo

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Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2018, 05:06:24 pm »
First question...with the original sealed beam headlight, was the charging system acting in a more “normal” fashion ?  Do you recall the charging rate at 4k rpm with headlight off and on with the 40w/50w headlight?

Second question... what is the bulb type in the new headlight?

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« Last Edit: November 05, 2018, 05:12:40 pm by Robbo »
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Offline calj737

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2018, 06:43:33 pm »
For starters, the Regulator, not the Rectifier controls the voltage to the battery.

Irrespective of the headlight change, the Regulator is getting a false reading of the actual battery voltage. This is very likely due to corrosion in your harness and through the connectors.

If you remove the BLACK wire from the Regulator, touch it with a probe from your meter and the other probe to the battery POS cable. What is the reading? I suspect you are going to see >1v. If so, then the Regulator belives the battery is actual at a lower voltage condition than it truly is, hence it is allowing more current to the battery than it should be.

You need to track down where the excessive resistance is, and clean it up. Fuse block, solenoid, grounds, etc are common locations.

As an aside, your battery may see voltage spikes of greater than 14.nV intermittently, especially if you're taking readings with a DMM. If you are reading sustained voltage above 15v, then you definitely need to sort out the offending resistance.
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Offline TwoTired

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2018, 12:37:30 am »
If your black wire distribution system develops series resitance, increased loads on the system will depress the voltage in that distribution.  This makes the vreg see false voltage status of the battery, and will try to compensate by overcharging it.

Connections in the path between battery and vreg sense include connectors, key switch contacts, and fuse block components.  All may contribute to false reporting to the vreg.

Cheers,
Lloyd... (SOHC4 #11 Original Mail List)
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Offline Deltarider

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2018, 01:48:32 am »
43, you can do the checks that are mentioned above. I don't find your readings very worrying. I've have them often enough myself when I use a digital multimeter. So far I didn't have to replace bulbs or add destilled water to the battery and my batteries live long (7 years or more). I wouldn't be surprised that, if you connect an analogue voltmeter, you'll find readings more around 14,5 V. Some DMMs have a tendency to hold the spikes. For checking and maintenance however I'd start with the GROUND as this route is more exposed to the elements. Also a lot easier to fix.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2018, 01:51:08 am by Deltarider »
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Offline 43and countiing

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2018, 03:59:27 am »
As a clarification, I installed a "Regulator Rectifier" This is how it is described, and also as perfect for my bike.


Honda Regulator Rectifier

Description
 This new unit combines your bike’s separate rectifier and regulator into one modern unit that is perfect for custom café racers! This is designed to plug into the stock wiring harness. 

Offline calj737

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2018, 05:17:35 am »
As a clarification, I installed a "Regulator Rectifier" This is how it is described, and also as perfect for my bike.
Honda Regulator Rectifier

Description
 This new unit combines your bike’s separate rectifier and regulator into one modern unit that is perfect for custom café racers! This is designed to plug into the stock wiring harness.
Understood, but all the advice still holds true. And the checks mentioned are required for you to ascertain the issue.
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Offline TwoTired

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2018, 07:18:15 am »
The voltmeter reports difference in potential between its probe tips.  If you place one probe on battery POS terminal and the other probe on the vreg black terminal, it will report the voltage loss in that power path.  The loss will be higher with increased loads, such as turning on the headlight.
You should do this for retun connections also, battery NEG to vreg green connection.  The sum of these two measurements is the error being reported to the regulator sense. Healthy systems will lose no more than 0.5v, as reported to the Vreg.

To find offending devices, you can use the voltmeter to measure accross each device in the power pathway, such as the fuseblock or main switch.

Cheers,
Lloyd... (SOHC4 #11 Original Mail List)
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Offline 43and countiing

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2018, 03:27:32 pm »
Just to update as I am grateful for all the guidance. We removed the "rectifier/regulator" and found 2 of the connection "boxes" were fried...guessing they sent so much voltage that it actually began to melt the connector. We are sending the unit back to the manufacturer to be "tested". I do however have a concern: perhaps these more modern devices do not actually work well with the old electronics? Despite the claims, would I be better off just installing the old type voltage regulator??
Also, with what was going on voltage wise, how come it did not blow a fuse???

Offline TwoTired

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2018, 05:57:13 pm »
If you check the wire diagram, you'll find the charging system does not pass through any fuses.  The rectifier blocks any current going toward the charging system in normal operation.  Only allowing current to flow toward the battery.

If the regulator is designed properly, it should work fine in these old bikes.  But, no one evaluates the many design offerings that are available.

It is not voltage that fries wires, it is current, which you can't have without a voltage differential.

It only take milliseconds of reverse polarity applied to the rectifier to draw enough amps to melt bits you don't want melted.  Hook up the battery backwards and smoke happens.

Finally, all my bikes still happily use the original design electro mechanical regulator, and separate rectifier.  I've never found the need to replace them.  ...Which might surprise people who knew I worked as a tech and electronic design engineer for over 30 years.

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Offline HondaMan

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2018, 07:01:43 pm »
If I may depart from bike advice for a moment: those voltages are entirely normal for a gel-cell battery and will not harm it at all. The gel-cell was developed to help raise automotive battery voltages (circa 1990s) so as to improve overall electrical tolerances in cars, and these bikes benefitted from that technology as well: something like this doesn't always happen our way!

The gel-cell technology can work fine up to 16.4 volts without damaging the battery or its chemistry.

So, my short comment is: I wouldn't worry about this one?

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Offline 43and countiing

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2018, 05:40:25 am »
More confusion, as I spoke directly with the gel battery manufacturer. He told me the 15.2 was completely unacceptable and over time, would destroy the battery and more. And now I have to wonder also, did a faulty regulator/rectifier  cause the wires to fry, or is it something beyond that ?

Advice welcome, as the saga continues.

Offline 43and countiing

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2018, 04:38:56 am »
Update: So, the modern regulator/rectifier was evaluated by the manufacturer and they said it was near the bursting point, as the back of it was beginning to bulge. No idea as to the cause. I am going to install an OEM charging setup and retest with that in it. There are also 2 disconnected wires in the headlight unit: I have to find if they are supposed to be hooked up to anything. I suspect they pulled out during the many times I was replacing the headlamp..not a whole lot of room inside that. Frustrating, because the bike runs fantastic and everything works.
I don't mind diagnosing mechanical issues.
Electrical simply suck. On any vehicle.
I'll update again nest week, around 12/18/2018

Offline Deltarider

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2018, 08:21:07 am »
Study the appropiate wiring diagram for your model first. You will find it not unusual to have blind (female) connectors. It has to do with features other markets had* or you can use them for accessories. Not connected male connectors is not a good thing however.

*My CB500K2 (ED) for example has the same wiring the CB550K2 has, including lightblue/white and orange/white wires for those silly looking running lights European markets - thank goodness - never had.
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Offline calj737

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2018, 08:32:02 am »
Irrespective of new stock type, or aftermarket, you need to evaluate and remediate any issues in the harness. I would not install a charging component until you determine if the malfunction was associated with an issue on the bike, and not due to manufacturing failure.

Failure to do so may result in a permanently damaged battery and worse.
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Offline jakec

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2018, 02:55:10 pm »
This is a pretty good thread. We reduced the overcharging by cleaning connections and replacing fuses.

http://forums.sohc4.net/index.php?topic=174330.0
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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2018, 07:15:55 pm »
Cmiiw, but don't gel cell batteries require solid state electronic vreg/rec to avoid catastrophe?  Or is that only for lithium batteries?
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Offline calj737

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2018, 07:21:12 pm »
Cmiiw, but don't gel cell batteries require solid state electronic vreg/rec to avoid catastrophe?  Or is that only for lithium batteries?
Neither really. The just want the correct “charge profile” for their type.
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Offline TwoTired

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2018, 08:00:35 pm »
Lithium applies to a family of batteries.  Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) is what is recommended for Motorcycle charging systems, although such a charger will not keep the cells balanced for best performance. or protect it from deep discharge (which usually voids warranties).   Lithium Poly has a tendency to flame up if not charged smartly.  There is also lithium Ion, which has it's own charging profile.

Also don't confuse Gell cell batteries with AGM technology. 

Cheers,
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Offline 43and countiing

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Re: Charging system issue 1975 Honda 550/4
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2018, 12:00:59 pm »
Ok, And in advance I want to thank all of you for your input. We installed the original type bike electronics, meaning the separate voltage regulator and rectifier, fired it up, and it worked like a charm. Absolutely no issues with voltage, headlights on or off maintained the perfect range. Out of all this, my own thought is that regardless of several people having success with a modern combined unit, I do not think they work properly on old electrical systems. I finally feel comfortable being able to take multi-day rides into the hills again.

 

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