Saturday, December 29, 2012

Notes on installing a DVR2 on a Mondial 175TV

A friend asked me some questions about how I installed my DVR2 on my 1955 Mondial TV 175. I was about to email him and thought that this might make a somewhat interesting blog post. You can see it in the picture above installed in the recess under the gas tank. I had to make the black bracket shown.

I suggest running the bike with the original mechanical regulator first. That way you can verify that the bike does run and that the wiring is correct. Use a voltmeter to check the following:
  • Voltage at the battery with the battery unconnected
  • Voltage with the battery connected but with the ignition switch off. Should be the same as above.
  • Current from the battery connected but with the ignition switch off (should be zero!)
  • Voltage with the ignition switch on *and the points closed* but the bike not running. I get 3.5A with the "Spia" lamp on. This is the Spy lamp on the headlamp shell that tells you the ignition is on and the battery is not charging. If you remove this lamp the current should fall to 3A. (Thus my lamp draws 3.5 - 3 = 0.5A.)
  • Voltage and current with the ignition switch on *and the points open* but the bike not running. The only current flowing should be through the "Spia"; about 0.5A on my bike. If you remove the Spia lamp the current should fall to zero.
  • Voltage with the bike running at idle. The Spia lamp should go off at any higher RPM.
  • Voltage with the bike running at a higher RPM, maybe 3000. The Spia should be off.
(In all the above tests, when I say "with the ignition on", I am using the switch position that turns the ignition on but that DOES NOT light the headlamp or tailamp. On my bike this is the center switch position.)

These old mechanical regulators are often fairly crude in output and can overcharge a lead acid battery causing it to boil. They are adjustable, but are not very temperature stable. Note the vintage manual says the regulator should be set to 8.0 to 8.5 Volts with the battery removed! Additionally, many SLA / gel batteries have an internal fusible link, and that link can pop with overcharging causing permanent and total battery failure. Hence the interest in the modern DVR2 regulator that provides a nice constant 7.2 volts.

A Note:
As we are talking about the charging system, it is imaginable that someone playing with this on a Mondial 175TV might decide to remove the dynamo's armature while looking around. If you are going to do this it is critical to remember something.  The center bolt that retains the armature of the dynamo to the engine is REVERSE THREAD! If you ever need to remove the armature, remember the center bolt is loosened by turning it clockwise. I recommend leaving the armature in place as it can be delicate to remove!

So how to install the DVR2? It comes with a handy instruction sheet, but here are a few more tips. Remember this as a 6V installation.
Essentially all you have to do is:
  • Remove the battery from the bike for safety.
  • Connect the black ground wire on the DVR2 to a solid ground point. Remember that the gas tank may not be a good choice for that and painted screws can be a problem as well. Choose a good ground.
  • Connect the brown and white wires from the DVR2 together (because this is a 6V installation) and then connect that to the battery. This is the charging side of the circuit and would be a good place for a fuse.
  • Connect the yellow wire from the DVR to the +D of the dynamo.
  • Connect the ggeen wire to the Field of the dynamo.
  • Reconnect the battery .
Of course, it sounds a bit simpler than it is. Here is what I suggest.

1) Don't disconnect anything on the bike until you carefully document it. Label all wire ends (little strips of masking tape work well). And take pictures.

The underside of my original regulator looks like this:
You can see terminals are handily labeled F (for field), +D (for the positive output of the dynamo) and +B to the battery. When you remove the wires, label them like this.

Now under the engine side cover, you can find the Dynamo. You will see this part, the stator, with terminals labeled +D and F.

And here is a crude schematic of the stator:

2) So up at the regulator: after you disconnect and label the wires, you should verify that they run to the proper terminals on the stator. Just temprorily disconnect the stator wires at the terminal, and check the resistance with your ohm meter.

3)  Check the wiring from the regulator B wire to the battery connector (remember your battery should be removed).

Note: Your original regulator may have multiple wires connected to the terminals of the old regulator. It is a good idea to investigate where those go as well. Consult your schematic and ohm the wires out.

4) Determine where you are going to connect the ground wire from the regulator. Remember that connecting it to the gas tank may be a bad idea, as the tank may have rummber mounts and painted mounting posts etc. I recommend running a wire where you connect the negative side of the battery to the frame.

5) Add fuses to the circuit as appropriate. I'm not an expert on this! But the idea is that if there is a short anywhere on your bike the fuse blows before anything is damaged. I rewired all of my Mondial so my wire colors are not the same as anyone elses. And I moved circuits as I wanted.  So don't look at my wiring diagram and expect it to be like yours! At any rate, on my diagram you can see I have three fuses. One fuse is on the battery, another fuse is on the +B side of the regulator and the last one is built into the headlamp switch and protects all of the lamps and headlamp, except for the Spia.
6) Now connect up the DVR2 I added a set of bullet connectors between the DVR2 and the wiring system of my bike. In this pic you can see the bullet connectors and the colors of the DVR wires and the colors of the wires on my bike. Note my bike wire colors will be different than yours!

And there you go. Add a bracket to hold the DVR2 to the tank and you are just about done.

7) As the last step I recommend running all the voltage and current tests you did at the beginning. Everything should be the same except for the voltages with the bike running. You should get a nice solid 7.2 Volts out of the DVR2 at any RPM.

Good Luck!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Found this in my mesh oil screen

From my 2010 Husky TE250.
I had some trouble getting the mesh oil screen out of the bike... found it was hung up on some metal particles. Used a magnet to pull them out, so they are magnetic.

Man, I hope this isn't a significant problem. But these are more than a shaving. Almost look like parts from a tiny ring or washer...
Any ideas?

Well, this ended up being a disaster.
Ok, so here is my wrap-up. 5 weeks and $1100 later and my bike is back and ready for action. We found all the bearings and some of the cage bits under the right hand side cover. The rest of the bits were under the left cover stuck to the magnetic parts there. And there were a few bits crushed and wedged up against the crank bearing. Here a pic of my collection:

Here are my tips for the next person with this problem:

- Count your bearings. If you can find them all and most of the cage bits without splitting the cases... well some people might consider that good enough. If all you do is ride in the back yard on your farm, I might not split the cases. But we did find some bits in there. And its hard to flush them out. I ride in the desert and on trips far from home and a failure out in the field would really spoil a vacation (at the least). So I split the cases and looked.
- The replacement bearings from Husky look identical to the original. They are marked: "NSK 6901 INDONESIA". You might do some research to see if you can get something that is *known* to be better. I'm hoping my originals just were from a bad batch.
- There is a chance that this gear and bearing could be replaced fairly easily during a valve adjustment. I might consider upgrading/replacing the bearings at that time.
- The bearings were $15 and the gear was $22. The parts are cheap.
- Don't ignore and metal pieces in your oil! If you find anything check that top timing gear's bearings. Maybe you can catch it before it falls apart.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

GPz550 Caliper Rebuild

This is a followup to my earlier post on disassembling the calipers.

I used a white scotchbrite pad (the mildest version) to clean up the bore. While the piston rides on the seal, it's still important not to mark up the bore with an abrasive. There was lots of crud inside the bore so this took quite a lot of time to get done right. Also I ended up using a pick to help clean up the grooves that hold the seals.
Here's a good shot of the bore after cleaning. While I removed all the corrosion there remained some marks from where the corrosion was. I hope that's OK, but it has to be better than it was! I'd suggest showing this to a real mechanic if you try to do this yourself.

 This pistons actually looked good. One had the tiniest scratch on it so I bought new pistons and the new ones where scratched worse! So I returned them and just polished up the old pistons. Here is the ready to go piston.

 And both calipers ready to assemble.

There is much debate online on weather to use brake fluid or brake caliper grease to lubricate the parts before assembly. Those who dislike using brake fluid claim getting any of it outside the caliper seals is a bad thing as it attracts water and corrosion. They advocate grease as it preserves the rubber and keeps water out. Those who dislike caliper grease claim it could contaminate the brake fluid. I chose to use brake fluid because that is what the Kawasaki shop manual recommended.

Now the hard part. There is a trick to reassembly and I did a bunch of web searching to determine how to do this. You have to put the seal in the bore first. Then the hard part, the dust seal/cover. That seal needs to be put on the inside end piston first! Like this:

Then you carefully insert the outside of the seal into the bore's groove while holding the piston just outside of the bore. I started in the back like this:

Note the piston is not yet in the bore! Its just above it.
Then work the rest of the seal into the groove. Eventually just the front remained out.

And I used a tool to delicately push the remaining seal down into the groove. Being very, very careful not to damage the seal. This is a shot with the dust seal completely in the groove and on the piston, but the piston is still just sitting on top of the bore.

Now you carefully push the piston down making sure it remains straight to the bore. This should be done by hand! Once it started to go through it just zoomed by the seem all the way down the bore. I wish I had controlled it better as It happened so fast when it went in that I didn't get a chance to carefully put the seal in the piston groove, it appeared to just land in there by itself. Regardless, it looks good to me.

Unless you are very confident in your skills I'd leave this project to a professional mechanic.

Regarding the master cylinder, I determined that was shot. The bore was very corroded and you can't hone an aluminum master cylinder. If you do, you destroy the finish and the bore will chew up the rubber piston seal. So I bought a new master cylinder, being careful to get one with the same bore and leverage as the original.

Now, onward to assembly!

Shorai Lightweight Battery

A year ago I put a lightweight Shorai battery in my Husky with great results (story here). I've been getting my 1981 GPz 550 ready for the road and I found that the previous battery acid fumes had rusted the battery box horribly. So I decided the GPz needed a Shorai battery as well.

The weight savings is fantastic! Here are the numbers for the conventional battery and the new one.

Yuasa YB12A-A:             8 lbs 13.3 oz  =  141.3oz  = 4006g

Shorai LFX14A5-BS12:   2 lbs 4.4 oz  =  36.4oz  =  1032g

So that is a savings of 6.5 pounds or 2.9kg!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Choosing a Battery Charger: CTEK or Noco Genius

Note: I  posted a new review of Lithium battery chargers here:
Lithium (LiFePO4) Battery Charger Review and Comparison: OptiMate vs CTEK vs NOCO Genius
The original review of lead acid battery chargers continues below.

This is a review and comparison of the CTEK Multi US 7002 and NOCO Genius G7200 battery chargers. Both are chargers for 12V car or truck batteries and provide up to roughly 7 amps. Note that these chargers are too powerful for use with motorcycle batteries.
Some background:
I have a bunch of "Battery Tender Plus" 12V 1.25A chargers that I use on my modern motorcycles. And I have a 6V UC800 CTEK charger I use for my vintage 6V bike batteries.
I've always used the "Battery Tender Plus" on my truck or car when they needed to be topped off. But if the big truck battery is low, it takes the little Battery Tender a LONG time to bring it back up to full charge.
I do have a big old Sears charger, but that this is a bit old school in design, and I wanted something with all the smart charging electronics.
First I tried a Schumacher SC1200A charger that I found very cheap on Amazon.... and it worked VERY poorly. It did not recognize when the battery was fully charged and started boiling it away. No good. I returned that thing immediately.
While I've loved my Deltran Battery Tenders, the design of those seem rather old and out of date. Battery charger tech has moved forward and Deltran just hasn't kept pace. For instance, it is known the the Battery Tender Plus charger really shouldn't be left on a motorcycle battery long term as it will burn off the acid.

Looking at the new smart chargers available it seems there are two main contenders available here in the USA: CTEK and the newer NOCO Genius. I wanted the largest ones I could get for a reasonable price, and the 7 Amp versions where available from both manufacturers for about $100 each.

So I ordered one of each: a CTEK Multi US 7002 and a NOCO Genius G7200.

Unfortunately I don't have the equipment or the time to fully test these chargers electronically. So this review and comparison is all about the details on the websites and in the manuals for the units.
Frankly, the specs on these 12V battery chargers are very similar. The two big differences are that the NOCO also works with 24V batteries and the NOCO also claims 12 charging steps compared to 8 for the CTEK.

Step Chart Side-by-Side Comparison:
The CTEK steps are on the white upper box and the NOCO'S are on the black lower box:

  CTEK                             NOCO                            Comment
   -                                     Diagnostics                       Diagnostics is a step?
   Desulphation                   Recovery                          Different name same function.
   Soft Start                        Soft Start
   Bulk                                Bulk
   -                                     Bulk                                 Are these extra steps or just LEDS?
   -                                     Bulk                                 Are these extra steps or just LEDS?
   -                                     Bulk                                 Are these extra steps or just LEDS?
   Absorption                     Absorption
   Analyze                           -                                      Is Analyze a step?
   Recondition                     -                                      Like NOCO 16V Boost
   Float                              Trickle                              Different name same function.
   Pulse                              Maintenance                     Different name same function.
   -                                    13.6 Supply                      This is a mode, not a step.
   -                                    16V Boost                        This is a mode, not a step

The biggest difference I could find is that NOCO claims to do 4 bulk steps where CTEK just does one. But it's not clear that the "4 steps" are significantly different from CTEK's one bulk charging step. And some of the other "steps" NOCO claims are a bit dubious. 

I mean, if you compare the charts, the extra steps NOCO claims are 3 extra bulk stages, diagnostics and then the 12.6 volt supply and 16 boost modes. The first Diagnostics step isn't really a charging step and the last two are separate modes, not part of the charging cycle! Of course, CTEK claims an analyze stage as well. So the only significant difference might be with the bulk charging...

On Bulk Charging differences:
Here is what NOCO says about it's bulk stages:
Step 4-7: Bulk
The Bulk charging process continues using Max Rate, High Rate, Medium 
Rate and Low Rate charges and returns 80% of battery capacity, indicated by 
the 25%, 50% and 75% CHARGE LEDs.

And here is what CTEK says abut it's bulk stage:
Primary charging where approximately 80% of the charging happens. The charger delivers maximum voltage until the terminal voltage has risen the the preset level. After a number of hours, the charger goes to the next phase, even if maximum voltage is not reached. Bulk is indicated by lamp 2.

Now the above descriptions of bulk make the NOCO and CTEK sound different... but I'm not sure. Frankly, if you hold the battery at a constant voltage, the current delivered decreases as the batteries charge increases by basic rules of physics. So while NOCO claims 4 specific rates as distinct stages, they don't say enough to verify that claim. But they DO have different indicator LEDS. So maybe NOCO has something useful with the claimed 4 steps of Bulk charging, but I don't know for sure.  On the flip side, I'm wary because they claim 12 step charging, when 2 of those steps are clearly completely different modes. So they aren't seeming very credible on the # of steps issue.

On NOCO's Recovery, Trickle and Maintenance and CTEK's Desulphation, Float and Pulse Steps
There might also be some differences here, but it's hard to tell if there is. There just isn't enough info in the manuals to tell any difference between the two devices in these modes.

CTEK's Recondition 'step'
CTEk shows this as a step, but I think it only happens in "Recond" mode. In Recond mode, the CTEK follows all the usual steps and then adds the Recond mode. So in normal operation this "step is skipped.

The real "Step" count.
This is what I think the step count is for each charger set in the mode for a normal battery. I'm omitting modes that are skipped for a good battery and analysis/diagnostic steps.
CTEK: 5 (Soft Start, Bulk, Absorption, Float, Pulse)
NOCO: 5 (or possibly 9)  (Soft Start, Bulk...., Absorption, Trickle, Maintenance) If Noco really does something besides light LEDS for the other Bulk steps they list, the 9 steps might be credible. I just don't have the information to judge that.

I must admit to liking NOCO's LEDs.

Bulk charging takes much of the process time and I like that NOCO clearly shows you the 25%, 50%, and 75% charging marks during that part of the process. After the Absorption phase the NOCO goes to trickle and Lights the 100% LED.
The CTEK's first lamp is to indicate Desulphation (blinking) or Start (lower voltage charging), the second lamp indicates Bulk charging, the 3rd lamp is Absorption and 4th is Float/Maintenance. This is a nice clear indication of the separate charging steps, but I would like to see the progress in the bulk charging. (Maybe someday CTEK could add a few more LEDs to cover that too.)
Both chargers also have an error LED and LEDs to indicate their various modes as selected by a button.

Side View

Bottom View

Mode Button
Both chargers feature a "Mode" button to select what mode the charger is in. Both chargers feature  modes for a normal batteries, cold weather or AGM batteries, a supply mode at 13.6 volts and a recondition mode at 15.7V (CTEK) or 16V (NOCO).
Additionally the NOCO features modes for 24V batteries (For RVs and motorhomes, etc.).

Connectors, clips and accessories
In my opinion, these were about the same for the two charges.

Frankly, I'm disappointed with the construction of both of these. When I saw the pictures I thought the NOCO might be a heavier duty unit, seeing the ribbing on the top surface. But I was disappointed to see the bottom was just a plain flat bottom and in my hand it doesn't feel any sturdier than the CTEK. These are units that are going to be put on a garage floor, and could be dragged around or stepped on. I'm not sure either of these units would survive falling off my workbench onto the cement garage floor. It would be nice if they were made more solidly and had some rubber protective edges.

 + Only 12V, simpler if you only have regular vehicle batteries 
 + Smaller
+ LEDS indicate the charging steps of Start, Bulk, Absorption and Maintenance
 - No 24V mode.

+ 24V mode if you need it
+ Possibly more bulk charging steps (unclear if this is a real advantage)
+ LEDs indicate 25% 50% and 75% of bulk charging and then trickle (100%)
- bigger

My choice
I chose the CTEK Multi US 7002. I liked the simpler interface as I only need 12V. Additionally, I have experienced great support when I had questions about my other CTEK charger. Their forum and emailing them generated immediate helpful responses. (NOCO may have good support, but I haven't tried it and they don't have a forum.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Vintage Oil Changes

This is the used oil from my 1955 Mondial. It has no real oil filter only a wire screen. And this is only after a couple hundred miles. Note the Mondial has a wet clutch, so some metal is to be expected. Looks like the stars in the milky way!

Clearly, frequent oil changes are important.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Prepping for the Giro d' California 2012

Balancing the front wheel.

Lubing the brake pivot:

And I checked the pads and checked adjusted and lubed all the cables. More prep tomorrow!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fox Shox

I searched all over for a pair of these... seem as rare as hen's teeth! Finally found guy who had a pair from his old GPz550 race bike. These where the hot ticket back in the day.

I'm just hoping I can get them properly rebuilt for a reasonable price...

Comparing Kerker Exhausts

I just received a "new old stock" Kerker exhaust that I found on eBay. In the eBay advertisement, it was reported to be for a KZ550 LTD. But I gambled that it might fit my GPz 550.
On receiving it I was thrilled to find this sticker inside the header!

So apparently this is exhaust IS for my bike!

Here is another cool sticker I found in the header.

The muffler has an "XJ" stamp on it, and the end of the header is stamped "191-101".

I called Supertrapp, who bought Kerker years ago and asked about these numbers. The helpful guy dug up an old paper catalog and called back. The numbers didn't match his caralog perfectly, but he said the system appeared to be for an 81-83 GPz 550 or an 80 - 83 KZ550. His catalog showed a "5" at the front of the header number: 5191-101.

Interestingly, this exhaust is shaped significantly differently from older the black one I bought earlier. Also the baffle on the new chrome one has a cast end on it and reaches all the way up into the header. These are definitely different exhausts.

 Note the chrome muffler has a significantly longer baffle. You can also see the stock factory fiberglass wrapping was simple done and held on for installation with masking tape.
 The black muffler has a shorter baffle and came with a mounting bracker. I'll have to fabricate one for the chrome pipe.

 Note the nice cast baffle end piece that came with the Chrome exhaust. 

But both have a small baffle tube down the center.

 Note the chrome pipe definitely bends to the left in this picture (to the right side of the bike when mounted).
Could it be that the Chrome exhaust is a "street version" with easy access for oil and filter changes. And the black one might need to be removed to access the oil and filter?
I guess I won't know until I try mounting them.
Not everything is perfect. The "new" chrome pipe has some rust in between the down pipes. It also has other minor corrosion.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Disassembling the calipers and master cylinder

From the outside my calipers looked "OK". My GPz550 only has about 15,000 California miles on it, so stuff generally looks good. But it's 31 years old so this needs closer inspection. When I test rode the bike before riding it, the seller said the brakes had been freshly bled, and they did have pressure. But on my short and slow test ride the pressure varied a lot, and once the lever came back to the bar! Not cool. I haven't ridden the bike since. ;-)

I loosened all the bolts before I pulled the entire front brake system from the bike (as all those banjo bolts and caliper split bolts are hard to loosen when you are holding the caliper in your hand!). To remove the piston from the first caliper I was able to use pressure from pulling the hand lever. But to get the piston from the other caliper I've heard people use air pressure. Hmm... thus I ended up cutting one of the lines and making this gizmo: 

When I pulled the dust seals, I found one was actually torn. And here is how the piston bores looked. On the left you can see some corrosion just inside of the oil seal and on the right ( the other caliper) you can see a line of build up that must have been "behind" the piston.  

Opening the master cylinder things looked pretty gunky.

And it looked gross down the bore as well.

 The good news is all of this looks to me like it will polish right up up. So here are all the parts ready for cleaning:

Steering head race

As my "new" 1981 GPz550  is 31 years old, I am going through it and checking all the "running gear". This is the upper steering head race. You can just see a little wear. I did buy replacement needle bearings but I decided this little wear was OK, as replacing the head races is a real pain. I've done it a couple times on other bikes... with dubious results for bearings that weren't to bad to begin with.  Also, banging out the head races with the bike on the rear stand and a block under the engine is fraught with peril! And another issue is that if the height of the new tapered roller bearings is different than the old bearings then the headlamp brackets that fit just perfectly between the triple clamps might be the wrong height.

So I just cleaned, installed new balls with fresh grease.

And then of course, after the forks and bars are back on, I could still feel a little play and had to disassemble twice and tighten the bearings a bit more to get rid of the play. It seems this is always true every bike I do this on!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I just received a Kerker exhaust for my 1981 GPz550. I bought the exhaust on eBay. These are very desirable, so I just closed my eyes and clicked the buy it now even thought I thought it was overpriced. I just didn't want to miss it.
Well, I just opened the box, and I was very happy to find it in much better condition than I expected. The pipe has been repainted... and the eBay pictures had been weak. But incredibly the pipe seems to be dent free with only minor scratches! With a good cleanup it should come out looking very good, close to "like new" I hope.
The headers have a rough texture. I assume this is from rust and pitting. Old headers are just like this; with the exhaust heat the original finish dies quickly and corrosion sets in. But the headers are still very solid with no scrapes or dents. Again with some nice finishing they will look fine (although they will keep the pebbled texture, I don't know any sensible way to fix that).

The inside of the exhaust looks very clean and the baffle is solid. I was shocked that wasn't rusted to bits. Its a street baffle, so it won't be too loud.

More pics: