Electricity, the Black Arts? PDF Print E-mail
Written by BMWVMCA NEWS   
Thursday, 31 July 2008

Electricity, the Black Arts?

Recently my friend Beryl brought his R90/6 over for me to diagnose some problems he was having with a brand new, but dead battery. I promised him years ago I’d help with any problems he might have with his bikes.

I don’t know dip squat about why his new battery would be dead except that something was not working. If I can’t see the electricity moving from one point to another in a mechanical fashion, then I am being asked to believe it is so, purely on blind faith, something of which I really don’t have very much.

Beryl is my friend. Besides, a promise is a promise.

First thing I did was disconnect the  ground strap from the battery and hook up a 12 Volt battery tender. After about 24 hours, the battery came back up to full charge. (Somebody told me once that a battery prefers to be charged slowly as opposed to ‘HOT’ charging. This, I accept on blind faith).

I then removed the front engine cover and looked for anything unususal. No broken parts.

Next, I needed an education.

I have Doug Rinckes excellent book on slash 2 electrics.  This book, though probably the best I’ve seen concerning the electrical systems on BMW’s made between 1951 and 1969, wasn’t much help to me in diagnosing the 900.

Search the web! That’s like commanding an illiterate to read a train schedule.  Just do it!

I found an ‘airheads’ site with an outstanding treatise on /5 and /6 electrics for dummies. I also looked up Rick Jones’ Motorrad Elektrik site. Between these two, I became armed with enough information to either locate the problems with Beryl’s bike, or destroy it.

A further phone call to Rick Jones proved to be one of the more worthwhile conversations I’ve had in recent times.

Rick walked me through all the tests needed to be done with a multi-tester. The alternator checked out to be OK.

I ended up replacing the starter relay, the regulator and the diode board with a fancy new Omega diode board made by Emerald Isle.

The R90/6 charging system now functions as it should. Beryl is once again a happy rider. I’m relieved that I didn’t let him down.

I also bought Rick’s book, “Classic Boxer Charging”, Self Help for the Electrically Challenged.  The book covers the Boxer Twins from 1970-1995

I would like to quote the first line in Rick’s introduction: “The intended purpose of this book is to provide enough information in clear terms, to enable the average rider to correctly approach charging system problems and to correctly diagnose and repair them.”

Motorrad Elektric is an active sponsor of the VMCA. They helped us, let’s help them. BUY SOMETHING!

Motorrad Elektrik
3347 Anchor Drive
Southside, AL 35907
Phone: 256 442 8886 

BMW /2 Electrics, by Doug Rinckes     

I tried to contact Mr. Rinckes via e-mail, but to no avail. That means I don’t have his permission to quote from his book.

“BMW /2 Electrics” covers all the models made between 1951 and 1969. This includes the singles. The book is 66 pages written in 9 point serif type. Even for my tired eyes, it is easy to read.

A well organized ‘Table of Contents’ is found on Page 2. The author follows on Page 3 by gently leading the reader and student through a brief explanation of the reason why the book was written, and on through a basic overview of the electrical systems discussed in the book.

The author includes information that was either overlooked or incorrect in the BMW factory repair manuals.

This book has the most in depth descriptions and explanations about BMW electrical systems, how and why the work, and how to make some of your own special tools for testing these systems.

The author gives tips on how to test ‘coils that are notoriously difficult to test,’ setting the timing on the twins, and later on the singles.

There are one and one half pages devoted to trouble shooting ignition problems, another three pages on coil and spark polarity and how to make a special tool to determine spark polarity.

There are two chapters devoted to explaining how the charging systems on our bikes work, and further, how to diagnose problems, make repairs, and how to adjust the voltage regulators.

He even included a chapter laid out as a tutorial, aiding the student’s understanding of how magnetos really work.

I normally don’t go around telling people what they need to do. Please forgive me if in this one case I make an exception: ‘If you want to know more about the electrics on your bike, you need to buy this book!’

It is available from:

Bench Mark Works
3400 Earles Fork Road
Sturgis, MS  39769-8736
tel/fax 662 465 6444
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(Buy the book! Buy the book! Buy the book! Buy the book! Buy the book!)

Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 July 2008 )
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