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Charging woes

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' started by Rake, May 6, 2010.

  1. Hey guys. New here, heard good things about this forum :)

    I see a couple charging threads already but I'd like a more specific 2nd opinion.

    A couple months ago I got a '92 Kawasaki ZZR250. I'm new to bikes, but I've done plenty to cars, so I wasn't shy of taking to her with some spanners. She's done quite a few K's (nearing 60,000) and shes a little rough but I did a big service on her - oil, valves, plugs, carb sync, etc. She seems pretty well maintained and runs good. I was given the workshop manuals too so I've referenced to those where I can.

    When I got her she was reluctant to start. Feeling the battery was shot I replaced it. Things were good, or atleast better for a while, but now she's running into issues again. Battery will gradually drain, and then she's not able to start. Runs fine when it kicks over though, had to get used to clutch starting her real quick.

    I suspect the Regulator/Rectifier is busted. To recap what I've done:

    - Replace the battery

    - Disconnect the R/R and ran the bike purely off the battery, testing the A/C voltage from the 3 wires from the alternator. Around <30VAC at idle, upwards of 60VAC around 4,000RPM+. Consistent across all 3 wires, so while the voltages are a bit higher than the workshop manual says to expect I think the stator is OK.

    - Tested DC voltage, just across battery terminals, with bike both off and running. Off is just below 12v (around 11.8), On is around the same, 11.8v-ish. Was expecting it to rise to atleast 13's.

    - Couldn't get the bike to start last night without jumpstarting. Rode for maybe 25-30 mins, turned it off. Would not start again - was reluctant to clutch start, luckily got it on the 3rd go. Once running, ran OK.

    - The pins in the plug between the R/R and main bike loom were pretty corroded. I took them out and cleaned them up, and multimeter shows continuity, but I'm concerned the plug is still in poor shape.

    - Removed R/R from the bike and tested it with a multimeter, checking for resistance outlined in the workshop book. I get, bizarre results, eg, no connection at all when there should be an ohm reading of some level.

    - The battery has been run low before, but still enough to bring up dash lights etc and clutch start it (until now). Put in on a charger a couple of times to keep it up. Since its also new, it should be OK.

    I'm fairly confident the R/R is the culprit, but as said, Bikes are not my forté and I'd appreciate someone else's thoughts :) The bit that gets me is why the bike does run OK once it manages to start. Got near to an hour's riding out of it last night, I would think that would be enough to polish off a battery were it running only from what charge it had.

    If I need to get another Regulator/Rectifier, has anyone any recommendations on which and where to get? Located in Sydney, not made of $$ though :(

    Also, I believe replacing the plug/socket on the loom would be a good idea. I'm good enough with a soldering iron etc, I'm not a total stranger to electrics. But I don't know my chances of finding an OEM connector, yet alone where. Anyone know what I'd be best to do?

  2. I think you've diagnosed and found your problem quite well, sorry can't help you though with finding a place to buy a reg rec.
  3. I would agree with Smee a good diagnosis, it certainly sounds like the Reg/Rec. Re a replacement plug try an auto electrician as easiest first option. Regulator ring around and see what a new replacement is worth first just from local Kwaka dealers. If they quote you a high price then it is worth looking further afield.
  4. If your from melbourne, there's Vic Wreckers. If you call them, get a quote on a price, and get the guy's name. The f-wits in there will tell you say $30 over the phone then charge $60 in person and refuse to budge at times. Problem is, they have a good range of stuff and they know it.

    Failing that, also call up a few bike workshops - they made have an old one lying around or in the process of wrecking a bike etc etc.
  5. new aftermarket reg/rec are starting to find their way onto ebay.
  6. For the connector have a look at the following link. Then check out your REPCO/Super cheap etc who will probably stock them.


    Had a similar prob and ordered a plug from the USA only to see an extremely similar looking plug in a autoparts store locally.

    Ok hows this for doing the work for you. Look at this link and see if this RR unit looks the same as yours. From memory the US never bothered with "ZZR" tags and kept "Ninja" instead. Obviously ring a local wrecker first for a cost comparison otherwise take advantage of our strong dollar.


    Good luck. :angel:
  7. 60 volts AC out of the stator when reving is good. Sounds like the rec/reg is dead for sure. Put the battery back in and jump start the bike. Even with a dead battery you should still get around 14 volts when you rev the engine across the battey terminals. If it still shows 11 volts when running theres a break in the loom. Dont go genuine Kawasaki, they cost a packet. Ring Jack at City Auto 03 9350 6677 and he'll post one out to you. He does good atermarket stuff for around half the price.
    Heres the the last one I had in the shop with charging issues. http://www.everythingtwowheels.com.au/
  8. Thanks guys :)

    A good universal guide to diagnosing faults is here .. http://www.electrosport.com/technical-resources/library/diagnosis/fault-finding-guide.php (grab the PDF). I didn't do absolutely everything in it or the Kawa workshop manual, but I feel I got far enough.

    As posted in orig thread, I'm in Sydney NSW, westish specifically.

    Got a price on a new Kawa Reg/Rec, $260+. Ouch. Wrecker wants $85. Given it's an older bike with higher K's I'm not really thinking a new R/R will be viable.. If I get one 2nd hand that still has plenty of life in it that would do me OK.

    I've got the battery off the bike for now, and had it on a charger overnight just to help keep it healthy. So it could probably run off it, but I'd prefer to sort the R/R first regardless. I might use my multimeter to test between the R/R plug and somewhere else where the white wire connects, probably the fuse/junction box and the starter relay.

    smoky - interesting! I'll keep an eye out for them.
  9. AC voltage should be 80v+ between any two terminals. Also check each of the wires to earth ( motor stationary of course). Charging voltage at the battery should be 13.8v + with headlights on, and not more the 14.5v DC. Most of the time it's that stator that goes, but you need to check it when hot, because they can give you a good reading when cold, but the insulation breaks down when hot and the wires start touching together. My gues is that you will be replacing this soon. Very often it's the stator that causes the reg/rec to go, so be careful... In my workshop, I use a growler to test stators when off the bike, static tests.
    Inside the reg/rec are a series of diodes. Current should pass through one way, but not the other, so doing a leakage test is a good idea.
    I used to be on the spanners for a well known Kwaka dealership, and they have the weakest electronics of all the Jap brands, sorry to say.... that's not to say that the other makes don't have their troubles, they all do...

    Hope that helps....

  10. Voltage didn't change between the bike being off, and the bike running. Definite problem there..

    I had ridden the bike perhaps an hour or two before I got past some distractions and was able to test the A/C voltage. It idled OK, so it might not have been properly warm, but it was the best I could do for the time of day that it was. The workshop manual says to expect 45v @ 4,000RPM - I got higher, in the range of 60v+. I was a little worried, but other stuff I read suggested this was OK, and I checked each yellow wire against eachother and the output was consistent which was reassuring - obviously an inconsistent reading would mean a problem for sure!

    When testing the 3 yellow wires, I checked 3 times, pairing wires 1>2, 2>3 and 1>3.

    The manual also says to check the resistance between each, I just went out and tested it then. Same as above, 1>2, 2>3, 1>3. Each were spot on 0.6Ω which is right in the middle of the range specified in the manual (0.2 - 0.9Ω). So that's good.

    I hear you say the stator could likely well be buggered anyway, for now though I just can't seem to fault it. And it it's working properly I'm not about to complain!

    I found the wires from the alternator under the bike, near the side stand, they're covered by a sheath which was covered in crap, but I gave it a quick clean and the loom itself looks to be in good nick. Not trapped/pinched/crushed anywhere, doesn't look to sit against anything hot, etc. Sure, would be best to try it hot, but I've got it apart and its not charging at all so I don't really want to ride it yet.

    Big thanks though, good info :)
  11. Sometimes stator readings are consistent with what the book says, but they are still f#%^ed. Once you replace the r/r, and as long as your voltage at the battery is not less than 13.8v DC, and not more than 14.5 or 6...., but just try to do your checks when the bike is hot. Check each of the stator wires to ground as well ( hot)... The reg/rec are a constant nuisance as well....,

    What is the voltage at the battery?
  12. Voltage would be just below 12v, and would not change depending on whether or not the bike was running.

    Hopefully can pick up a replacement R/R today and test everything out then.
  13. Yep, it's only running on battery power....

    I seriously recommend having the stator checked out as well, before you spend on the reg/rec. Usually, you would get voltage variation at the battery if your stator was ok. Without any voltage variation, either stator is no good or broken wires, but my guess by what you have mentioned, points to stator... They are not hard to remove, dump the oil first. The stator should look nice and clean, if the insulation has been discoloured and blackened, then replace it.

    I expect you will end up replacing both units.... This is common.

    A lot of charging issues, reg/rec dying etc., are mainly precipitated by the battery not being in good condition...

    Hope it all works out for you mate, nothing on these bikes are cheap...
    Good luck,

  14. Despite the Multimeter test showing same-voltage between on and off, I will note that (noticed if riding at night) the dash lights would be a bit stronger/brighter with RPMs. But I still think things were bad.

    I took the gamble and picked up another R/R. Had to clutchstart the bike to get it going, (I think it was probably a little flooded after several attempts to start it last week). Once it got going she ran OK. Checked voltage, ~14v. Rode for around half an hour, checked when warm at home. Idle had approx 13.3v, revving her will get 14.5, peaks around 15v. A little high? but all things considered, it' appears to be working as it should. In any case, it confirms the original R/R was fried.

    Checked the resistance between the stator's yellow wires and ground. Got a consistent 9.3MΩ on each. Does this sound healthy?
  15. Another simple test for the stator is to connect a load to each of the three phases in turn. A sealed beam headlight works well for a load. The voltage can check out OK but the stator will not stand up to load. If it passes this then your stator is fine.
  16. Could you elaborate specifically how to perform this test?
  17. Yeah sure. Get your bike running, I am guessing you will have to supply power to the ignition circuit by way of jumper wires, then unplug the loom coming directly from the stator. Then connect one of the terminals on the sealed beam to each of the three same coloured wires coming from the stator with your engine at idle. One at a time. Usually yellow on Hondas but not sure on your bike. Earth the other terminal to the bike. Give it a gentle rev up to 4000 odd revs. The light should be bright as all get out. The sealed beam doesn't care that its AC power. Don't get too carried away or you'll blow the globe. You will easily see if one of the phases is producing drastically more or less current than the others. Simple but it works.
  18. ...you must be an old fart. I haven't seen anyone do this in years :LOL:
  19. This is what a dead stator looks like.

  20. I have a box full of those, most of them much worse.... The AC test on a sealed beam is a good one, it shows a level of experience... and you can probably buy one from any wreckers ...
    One thing I will almost guarantee is those a lot of the time reg/rec and stator need to be replaced... and even the battery...
    The old Suzuki's used to boil the batteries dry, when you measured voltage at the battery, sometimes 20 volts... When a bike came in for a service, and the battery took nearly a litre of distilled water, and then you had to give the customer the bad news, it wasn't pretty... or they would come in saying all my dash lights are blown, can't see what speed I'm doing at night.... Sure enough, needed major surgery....