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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, I think I accidentally drained my battery this morning, but it's made me curious...

This is what happened:
I start up - paddle around for a few minutes back and forth and realize there's no way I can get out without moving my car - it's just not going to fit. I run back inside to get the car keys. I think I left the moto ignition on. The process of moving my car takes longer than expected because I can't find my car keys et al. Get back on the bike, go to start it again, it gives half a healthy sounding crank and then quits. Next try no click no nothing. Huh. The parking lights are still on - maybe there's enough juice for that, but not enough to start? I've heard that moto batteries are more easily drained than cars, but this seems like it shouldn't have been enough. But it has been kinda cold (for Tucson - below freezing in the mornings) and my last few trips were short. Plus, as I'll find out later, the battery needs water.

So there are questions number one and two. Was that enough to drain the battery? (It's probably 18-24 months old, BTW) Am I right in thinking that even though the parking lights are on, there's not enough juice to actually start is?

Off to work I go in the car (heartbroken I might add, to have to be driving the car). When I get back, I pull out the battery to see if it needs water. It does - it's not REALLy dry, but it IS below the indicated level. In goes the distilled water. I gently mix, but it looks low again. Top off again and mix. Low again. Top off third time. Third time is the charm.

Next question: was the repeated topping off the right thing to do?

Then I figure that I should actually fully charge the battery, rather than jump it and ride. So I hook it up to our weird manual charger and put it on the lowest setting (10 amp). (Schumaker Manual Battery Charger SE-1250 50/30/10 amp). If you look at the owners manual, it's not entirely clear how to figure out when it's "done." But for kicks, I buy this cheapo hydrometer (the only one that was small enough) and check it about 1 and 1/2 hours into charging. I THINK the thing says it might be done, but it's not clear. I test it out, and I get different readings for different cells.

That's my next question - why would I get different readings for different cells? 1st two were practically dead, 2nd two were almost fully charged, the last two in between.

Last question: I am right to start off by assuming this IS a battery issue?

Anyway, it's back on the charger and I'll go from there.

So... until then I'm curious about the whole battery thing! I have a nasty habit of turning the simplest things into learning experiences.

Many thanks to all!
 
S

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when you fill up a new battery, it has 80% charge, and you can install it right away and ride away. I can only imagine that if you filled the battery back up, and then charged it up, it should be good to go (at least partially). As for repeated filling, I'm pretty sure that's the proper way to do it. If nothing else, see what the warranty is on the battery, maybe get it replace, or see about getting a new one (and a battery tender).
 

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Q #1: Was that enough to drain the battery? Well, it depends on the condition of the battery.  Odd that it only took one crank, but as you said you hadn't run it very long and the trips you make are short so it's very possible.  Starting the engine is the most demanding on the battery, and it's small.

Q #2: Am I right in thinking that even though the parking lights are on, there's not enough juice to actually start is?  Yes.  When you hear clicking but there are lights on, that only means there is only enough amperage to run those circuits.  The clicking is the Solenoid trying to actuate but running out of amperage to STAY actuated.

Q #3: was the repeated topping off the right thing to do?  Yes.  gas will sometimes get trapped underneath the cells.  it is important to get all the gasses out and replace them with Distilled Water.

Q #4: I am right to start off by assuming this IS a battery issue?  Yes.  it is generally the first place to look when having issues like this.


OK, i hope that helped.  here's another little helper.  GET THAT BATTERY OFF THAT CHARGER!  A 10 Amp charge is INSANELY HIGH for a motorcycle battery.  at very MOST 5 Amps for an hour, and that's with a dead battery, not one that is being maintained.  A standard charge I THINK is ~1 Amp for 10 Hours.  I wont say that you've ruined it, but anything is possible now that it took such a high charge.  You should find a DIGITAL MULTIMETER (About 20-30 bucks) and test the batteries Voltage now that it's taken such a charge.  It should read no more than 13.2 Volts and no less than 12.6 at the terminals.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Laughing... I just came in from taking it off the charger! Yeah, I'm expecting to have to buy a new battery, but thought I'd mess about and learn a little something first. (Since it's too late tonight for any more shopping!)

I don't even think I heard the click when it wouldn't start. Does that change anything?

Question about the voltage meter. There may even be one hidden in our carport - I will check it out. But, and just curious, will that offer me different information than the hydrometer? From what I understand, the specific gravity reflects the status of the battery's charge. Does checking the voltage just tell me whether or not I've killed it, or will it also reflect how well it is charged?

Since I may very well be battery shopping tomorrow, any recommendations?

I love this forum! Thanks all!

UPDATE - 13.08 volts according to the meter. Haven't recheck hydrometer.
Incidentally, what constitutes a "short trip" battery wise, anyway? 10 miles? 1/4 mile?
 

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The voltmeter will tell you if you've got a shorted out cell, or an over charged state based on voltage. A hydrometer does not as it's purpose is to determine the density of a liquid relative to water.

a short trip would be less than a 10 minute trip i'd say.

You say you didn't hear any clicks? Do you know how to check for continuity?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Do I know how to check for continuity? No. But haven't looked it up yet. Maybe you can tell me!
Just checked hydrometer - better now.
 

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Seems like somewhere, maybe years ago, that I read where testing a battery's no-load voltage can be misleading. Crummy quick-to-drain batteries can still provide voltage sufficient to fool a multimeter but the same battery won't provide the amperage under load to get the job done.

But that any battery that tests at low voltage also is soon to be (recycled) garbage.

Any correction or updated information welcome.
Should wet cell & gel cell batteries (rare) be tested the same?
 

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operaflute said:
Do I know how to check for continuity?  No.  But haven't looked it up yet.  Maybe you can tell me!
Just checked hydrometer - better now.
First, tell me if the bike still starts.  let's not run down the list (for future post whoreing purposes) if we don't need to.

Mr. SciTrek: Yes, but not for specific gravity. I too dislike the method. a multimeter and a load tester is all you should need to diagnose a electrical system.

*off-topic*
Lucky#13: I love the Avatar!  good choice!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Fair enough! Will post up in the morning!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, I she started up fine this morning. A tear of joy slips down my cheek. I ride around on the edge of town, for what should be plenty of time. Stop for gas on the way home. And then the same thing. Go to start: nothing. Not even a click. (I listened carefully this time without my helmet on.) Can't get it going with jumper cables, either. Gotta go hook up the trailer and pick her up. :'(

Now what?
 

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Since you've got yourself a multimeter, and before you go out and by a new battery, test the Rectifier/Regulator module.  The attachment below will tell you how to go about it.  There's no sense in buying a new battery if the underlying issue is the bike's recharging system.

[attachment deleted by admin]
 

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operaflute said:
Can't get it going with jumper cables, either.
You guys missed this part! :-X

It is not the battery if another good known battery can't get your motorcycle started. So what good will putting a good battery in do? Nothing!

That being said, I think it could be a mulititude of problems. Maybe a bad ground strap? Maybe a bad master relay? Maybe a bad ignition unit? Maybe a bad starter motor?

Did you try to push start it? Did the headlight turn on? Lots of questions.
 

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Also forgot to mention that if the bike won't jump start, then it is probably not the charging system either - that would be a seperate failure.
 

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I thought it odd that the solenoid wasn't clicking, and if the battery is low, it should... but it started.

the clicking is important. if it doesn't click, it's either a connection issue or switch issue. I'm still concerned about the R/R.
 

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You can toss the multi meter into the drawer, the hydrometer told you the story. (the meter is fine you just already had the info you needed) the "Dead cells" are just that. they should all have read in the 1200 or higher range. Filling it frequentlly is fine , but you said "stir or shake" this is a no, no. If you invert or shake a old battery you can disturb the sediment that has fallen to the bottom of the cells enought to cause it to short out a cell or cells.

FOG
 

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In my limited motorcycling experience, when a battery has a low charge, the motor will still turn over, but the motor will not fire.

Not hearing clicking is just another symptom that it is not JUST the battery.

Knightslugger said:
if it doesn't click, it's either a connection issue or switch issue.
I agree with this. A connection issue somewhere. Maybe even as simple as the start button.

If it is intermittent, my money is on a bad connection somewhere. Especially if the bike doesn't cut out while running, and you don't hear at least a single click when you hit the start button, it is probably somewhere in the starting circuit.

I say all of this assuming you have a good battery. Sounds like you have more than one problem, because FOG is right about individual cells being bad.
 

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MaximX said:
In my limited motorcycling experience, when a battery has a low charge, the motor will still turn over, but the motor will not fire.

Not hearing clicking is just another symptom that it is not JUST the battery.

Knightslugger said:
if it doesn't click, it's either a connection issue or switch issue.
I agree with this. A connection issue somewhere. Maybe even as simple as the start button.

If it is intermittent, my money is on a bad connection somewhere. Especially if the bike doesn't cut out while running, and you don't hear at least a single click when you hit the start button, it is probably somewhere in the starting circuit.

I say all of this assuming you have a good battery. Sounds like you have more than one problem, because FOG is right about individual cells being bad.
well, he would be right had that really been the case. OperaFlute said that the levels were back to normal after a spell, which does occur after you add h20. the battery SOUNDS fine so far. over 12.7 volts, specific gravity is good... the only thing missing is a load test.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Okay, so I trailered the bike home, and that's about all the time I had, before I had to pack and leave. (I have to work in Phx for the next 10 days or so, but I'll be going back to Tucson once during that stretch. And was hoping to bring up the moto on the second stretch!)

Anyway - lot's of info here for me to study. Ironically, I have a lot of spare time up here, but the bike isn't here for me to work on. But I CAN read, ask, order things etc. in the meantime.

Knightslugger - I starting looking through the pdf you attached about checking R/R. The first step is to check things with the engine running! Um - no can do! Alternative suggestions?
Admittedly I haven't read everything completely and I still have to dig into my Clymer manual, which I will do tomorrow. I'm a fan of the scientific method, so I like the idea of the information I might gain by checking all of this!

MaximX - no I didn't try to push start it, but I thought about it. I don't quite know how to do that, although I think I get the principal (get it moving and then shift into gear?) Do you get someone else to push you? Anyway, I envisioned myself taking a spill trying to do this, so I didn't try it. (Only been riding 1 year.) But do explain if it sounds like something I can easily try, at least in order to get it started to run the tests in the document posted by Knightslugger.

Regarding the headlight - um, don't our headlights stay off until the bike is running? (I can't remember!) So I guess I can't answer that yet.

Regarding shaking the battery after filling - I inverted it ever so gently a few times after each fill, for what it's worth...
More curiosity: does the hydrometer tell us anything about the status of the battery that the voltage meter DOESN'T?

Yes -the lack of a click is what kept me up last night... I was kind of hoping that maybe I just didn't notice it between the helmet and the loud "Wha???" in my head! But it was most definitely absent today.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
correct. no click.

I couldn't have messed something up when I put the direct wire cord for my radar, could I? (just remembering.) I don't leave the unit connected though. I just put the two terminal rings on the appropriate terminals... the radar works fine.

Incidentally, (I noticed when I put on the radar wire) the little square nuts that are supposed to be at the battery terminals were replaced (by the prior owner, I guess) with smaller nuts - they're a PITA to tighten because they're not held by the terminal bracket, but I seem to manage to hold it still. They seem tight. Just more info.

Okay - off to work.
 
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