81 XS650 Special - Charging system issues. NEED BIKE READY FOR BIKEWEEK!

XSnin0

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First of all i want to say i hate for this to be my first thread instead of a proper intro thread. I'm a long time lurker of this forum and i must say there is a lot of good information for this particular platform thanks to contributions from members in this community, what makes it much more valuable is that even though this platform is almost 50 years old and yet there is still plenty of support out there both from aftermarket manufacturers and from awesome forums like this one so all sorts of xs owners worldwide can keep these amazing bikes on the road. Thank you all for your helpful contributions!

So after looking for a nice xs starter for quite some time, i finally came across what i found to be a fairly good slate to build onto.

1981 XS650 with a big bore 750 kit, Mikuni 34MM's, and Boyer Brandsen adjustable ignition
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More info/details and progress of the bike will be documented and logged on a progress thread at a later time as i continue with the build, for now first things first - getting this thing on the road....realiably. As in 500mile roundtrip to
Daytona Bikeweek by next week's end reliable..

Issue at hand - Charging system
So the charging system on this thing just doesnt work, how do i know? Well it's drained the battery(newish battery), twice, which lead me to put a multimeter to the battery's terminals to check both for voltage after the battery has just been recharged. and after the engine is started and reved up to various speeds on the RPMs. Instead of voltage numbers going up when engine is started as they are supposed to, the voltage readings start decreasing, not drastically since the battery is newish, but they surely start lowering.
Let me just buy a new regulator/rectifier and i'll be done with this, well thats what i initially thought as this has been an issue on other bikes i've owned in the past, i had this same issue with an R6 and its a fairly common issue on alot of motorcycles, and replacing the rectifier and/or stator will solve it in most cases. But when it comes to an old bike like the XS, this changes as it uses an older style charging system - with more components that can go bad - and replacing these with a used part isn't a very good idea since a 'used part' is often a 30+year old part that may either be bad or on its way out, and ofcourse purchasing brand new charging system components can be costly, and in the case of the XS maybe not so efficient since there are options to upgrade the entire charging system -to a newer and more efficient type- for the cost of entirely new components or even less in some cases. Also after looking thru the forums, i found that there are many parts that can go bad in this bike such as the insulation on the rotor itself which will cause it to short out and fail, magnet weakening out over time, wire brushes that wear out and not make contact as opposed to always coming down to a bad reg/rec.

I then proceeded to test the rotor, pulled the side case and surprise, a few stripped screws, dirt, grease and other grime in a spot that should be rather clean. cleaned as best as i could and removed the brushes, then proceeded to test the rotor since i couldnt pull it out for 2 reasons, 1 the bolts that hold the stator casing in place are stripped to shit, getting them out would imply them being out for good and i need them for obvious reasons until i can get some replacement screws, and 2 even if i had removed the stator and nut that hold the rotor in place i dont have the removal tool or a flywheel tool to remove it without damaging it, so i took readings with the rotor still on, and this is what i got *scratching my head :umm:
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"Set your multimeter to reading Ohms in the appropriate range, then test for resistance from the 2 separate rings, anything below 4.0 and your rotor is toast"
After reading numerous threads here, on chopcult, and even here:
http://www.bikermetric.com/techtips-2-the-xs650-charging-system/
This is what i came up with, i was expecting to get a reading, something, 4.8, a 2.2, anything, but instead this is what i got, i was not expecting to get a 0 reading, i made contact with different spots on the rings and still nothing, wiped them clean with electronics cleaner and still nothing, my question is how rare is it to get a 0 reading from the rotor? i would think it would have some sort of resistance even if its not above 4 Ohms. Or is there anything im doing wrong?
I then proceeded to run the continuity tests, one lead on one of the rings and the other at the base in the center by the nut, and the tester didnt beep.

At this point im a bit confused, and i dont know what to do next, i dont want to order a new reg/rec from mikesXS because i know that if i have a bad rotor it will basically make the reg/rec go bad again, i dont know if i should pull the trigger on a new rotor because not only is it pretty expensive but im not 100% sure its bad and it will fix my problem and not give me any other charging system-related problems down the line.

Basically i dont know if i should even try to replace the bad components on my stock charging system, or if i should just upgrade to a Permanent Magnet Alternator system and which route is the smarter way to go

I've narrowed it down to these 3 options
I can either:

1. Replace the rotor for a new or 4.5+Ohm rotor, and hope reg/rec is good, if reg/rec is bad then either go the Chrysler rec route, or get one from MikesXS, and hope the stator is good, if not dish out another 140 for a new stator.
Anywhere from $100-$350 depending on how lucky i get and what route i choose to go.

2. Upgrade to a PMA system with a conversion swap, try and piece one together with banshee and other components as others have done, not exactly sure on how to go this route and what is needed and the availability of parts, also i dont know how long this may take.
Anywhere from $100-$250?

3. Buy a 'plug and play' kit such as PAMCO, Hugh's Handbuilt, or a few other available through MikesXS, my only question with going this route is, are these truly the only way to get rid of the charging system weak link on the XS? How reliable and quality built are these kits and what are your experiences with them?
Anywhere from $250-$600 bucks. depending on the one i choose.

Things to note: 1981 XS650 Special(CDI), with a 750 Big Bore kit and Boyer Brandsen Ignition system
Essentially im looking for the most reliable option, that gets rid of the charging system problem for good so i wont have to worry about it later down the line as the project continues, and that doesnt break the bank!
This bike will either end up as a cafe or Hardtail bobber, looking to stick with power ignition and a battery as this is a high compression 750cc motor that is a BITCH to kickstart everytime.

Your input, opinions, experiences, and suggestions are greatly appreciated and welcomed.
Time is of the essence as i plan on riding the bike for Bikeweek to Daytona friday the 13th.

Thanks in advance
 

TwoManyXS1Bs

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Let's test the meter first. Using the same test procedure, touch the two leads together, see if it shows something like 0.2 or 0.3. If it still shows "1___.", that's an open circuit, you may need to plug the red connector into the "A" port (like on some meters), and retest the rotor.

Otherwise, the test you did shows that your rotor has an "open" circuit.

You'll need to remove the stator housing anyway, so should invest in an impact driver to service tight screws like those.

After stator housing is removed, see if rotor looks burnt. Can also check the 2 wire ends, see if their soldered connections to the rotor rings are broken. Also, do the rotor continuity test on those wire ends.

There's more, we'll stop here...
 

650Skull

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Simple answer is to buy a completely new charging and ignition system to replace the old one if you are time restricted.

Don't YELL IT IS RUDE. Time problems are yours not ours


I see you have shorted the probe against the Stator so your reading will be off.

A good impact driver will remove those Stator screws and if you were real careful and did the job properly without more damage then they could, (again using the proper tool properly), be used again at a pinch if you really need to.

As for the options. If you are going to go a PMA, then the ignition system has to be replaced. The Factory electronic ignition is not PMA compatable..

A rewound rotor, (again time restricted), or a new one one from Mikes, ( or whoever), and/or a replaced rare earth magnet, (plenty of info about this in some threads), should get the bike running again.

You have to do some testing on the reg/rect yourself. They do pack up but generally they last well.

Money issues are relevant to you and your situation
 

XSnin0

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Okay so first of all thank you all for your timely responses, i was really hoping knowledgeable OG members on this forum such as skull pamcopete and leo would chime in.

Simple answer is to buy a completely new charging and ignition system to replace the old one if you are time restricted.

Don't YELL IT IS RUDE. Time problems are yours not ours


I see you have shorted the probe against the Stator so your reading will be off.

A good impact driver will remove those Stator screws and if you were real careful and did the job properly without more damage then they could, (again using the proper tool properly), be used again at a pinch if you really need to.

As for the options. If you are going to go a PMA, then the ignition system has to be replaced. The Factory electronic ignition is not PMA compatable..

A rewound rotor, (again time restricted), or a new one one from Mikes, ( or whoever), and/or a replaced rare earth magnet, (plenty of info about this in some threads), should get the bike running again.

You have to do some testing on the reg/rect yourself. They do pack up but generally they last well.

Money issues are relevant to you and your situation
Skull appreciate the response, i know me working on a timeline is ultimately my issue, just trying to find a way to make this whole thing work out with fingers crossed, and sorry about the caps haha.

Doesn't it make a difference that im running a Boyer Brandsen ignition system instead of stock? or is it the same thing? if not then which one should i upgrade to?

For the bolts they're really not a concern, i can easily get the proper tools and remove the bolts, alive or not, doesnt really matter since i'll be replacing those, they're only a concern when the bike is sitting in my backyard and i'd rather be able to put the entire thing back together as i did yesterday and ride it to my friend's shop.

As for testing the reg/rec i read this could be quite tricky, and while i know my way around a wrench wiring is my weakness, could you guide me to a noob friendly guide to test the reg/rec? Sorry if im asking to be spoonfed, i've seen it being mentioned on threads where youre basically checking for resistance from the different wires but again im no wiriing expert and i would hate to do it wrong since i dont know how exactly to go on about doing this.

I understand costs fall on whatever i have planned to spend. But truth is time is ticking, and i gotta get ordering, just not exactly sure on what to order at this point.

Again, THANK YOU FOR YOUR RESPONSE! :thumbsup:

Let's test the meter first. Using the same test procedure, touch the two leads together, see if it shows something like 0.2 or 0.3. If it still shows "1___.", that's an open circuit, you may need to plug the red connector into the "A" port (like on some meters), and retest the rotor.

Otherwise, the test you did shows that your rotor has an "open" circuit.

You'll need to remove the stator housing anyway, so should invest in an impact driver to service tight screws like those.

After stator housing is removed, see if rotor looks burnt. Can also check the 2 wire ends, see if their soldered connections to the rotor rings are broken. Also, do the rotor continuity test on those wire ends.

There's more, we'll stop here...


Okay so, im sorry i didnt mention this, ofcourse i know that a test should be made for the multimeter leads, and if there is anything there other than 0 it must be subtracted from the actual reading on the rotor.
ie. Set multimeter to OHMs reading, put leads together get 1.1, then take leads to rings, reading is 5.7, this means your actual reading is 4.6 OHMs of resistance of the rotor.

Is the removal of the stator MANDATORY to be able to test the rotor? I just saw skull mentioned me shorting out the test with the stator housing but i made sure i was only coming into contact with the rotor rings themselves, dont know if im missing something there, i've seen videos of rotors being tested while still on. Such as here

As i said its not that i cant remove the stator, its that once i remove it i will probably not be able to put everything back together and take the bike anywhere if needed be.

Should i be testing again with the red lead on the Amps connector of the multimeter?

Again thank you all for your responses they are greatly appreciated!
 

XSLeo

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He says he has a Boyer installed, So if it runs well he won't need a new ignition.
If you don't have a hand impact tool, you should get one. If not you can use a 1/4 inch drill bit, drill into the head of those screws. Just deep enough to get the head off.
Now you can pull the stator off. With no pressure on the screws, they may just spin out with your fingers. A pair of vise grips will get them out if not.
Take these screws to most any hardware store with a decent selection of metric bolts. Find some bolts that size with Allen heads. You may not get the exact right length. If not get them the next length longer and cut to length.
As others mentioned don't let the probes touch anything but the slip rings.
Usually measuring so low an ohms, it best to do a pretest on the leads. Touch the probes together, note the reading. I have several meters and they all vary a bit. One this reading is .1 ohms, one is .7 ohms. It don't matter much just note what your meter reads. This is the ohms of your leads.
Now test your rotor, Using my .7 ohms meter if the test reading is say 6.2 ohms I would subtract the first reading, just the leads. So 6.2 - .7 = 5.5. This is a good reading.
Now lets just say your rotor tests out bad. It maybe hard to get a replacement in under a week.
On your stator, follow the wire bundle up to above the engine. You will find a large plug. It will have 7 wires in it. A green, brown, 3 whites, a red and black.
Unplug this plug. Near by you will find a single plug with a yellow wire, unplug that one too.
Now in the plug half on the stator side, number the thee white wires, 1, 2, 3. You will test ohms on these whites from 1-2, 2-3 and 1-3. They should all read the same. Around .9 ohms. You may not get exactly .9 ohms but that isn't so important as they all be the same.
Also test from the whites to the body of the stator. Don't want a short to ground.
If your stator test ok then you just need the rotor.
There are some things you can test an the 80 up combo reg/rec, but only on the rectifier half. The reg/rec is a hardy piece of equipment, seldom fails. The rotor is the number one failure. This is mostly because some one tries to keep a bad battery going.
The alternator uses battery power to charge the rotors magnetism. With a weak or bad battery it can't supply enough power so it can't fully charge the battery, this keeps the rotor fully charged with magnetism all the time. This builds excess heat in the rotor.
With a good battery, the alternator can fully charge it. When the battery is full the reg/rec shuts of the power through the rotor, this allows the rotor to cool down.
There are some tests that you can do to determine if the alternator is working. You bypass the regulator. On your bike put the brushes back in. Have a jumper wire handy. Clip one end of the jumper to ground. Now start the engine. With your meter hooked to the battery, touch the jumper wire to the green brush wire. This allows full battery voltage flow through the rotor. The voltage should rise up if you rev above 2500 or so.
If this test works, the reg/rec is bad.
Reading through the charging guide will have more test procedures.
Leo
 

chizler62

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Take a pencil eraser and clean the slip rings and the brushes. Put it back together and check what you're getting for dc volts at the battery at say 3500.
If you're going to get silly and purchase a system buy the best for the XS available, PowerDynamo.
 

XSLeo

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I guess I was writing the same time you where, so disreguard the lesson on meter use.
Leo
 

XSnin0

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Leo, as clever as it was that we were both writing at the same time, i appreciate your detailed guide on how to do it, and also on how to test the reg/rec, i will get those bolts out later today when i get home, and try to find a way to remove the rotor without the tool as i cant wait for it to get to me if i ordered it at this point. I will also attempt to test the reg/rec.

Any concrete info on whether the rotor must be removed and our to successfully and correctly test it? i made sure the multimeter leads weren't making contact with anything other than the rotor slip rings when i was testing it, i even spun it little by little using the center nut and cleaned it with a rag soaked with electronics cleaner through the top opening on the stator housing and on the hole thats available after you remove the brushes holder, and i still got the same reading, i even checked if connecting and disconnecting the battery terminals made a difference, and still nothing. i will attempt cleaning the rotor slip rings with a pencil eraser as stated above, and obviously at the rotor terminals on the back once i remove it.

Also one thing im not entirely sure about, there are 2 versions of the Boyer Brandsen ignition systems, im not exactly sure which one my bike has, but having either one of them does this allow me to upgrade to a PMA system? as it says on MikesXS "Will also fit 1980-84 models running aftermarket cam timed ignition systems." Can anyone clarify if the ignition system im running on my bike will be compatible with the PMA kit on MikesXS?

Time is ticking and i need a working charging system whether it be for next week, or for next year, if the bike is planned to be on the road and intended to be used as i do then this has got to be fixed and addressed sooner or later.
Seen as im obviously new to this platform, and many of you have been messing with XS for years now, would you all recommend for me to stick with the stock charging system or upgrade to PMA? What are your experiences and what do you think is the better option in the long run? What charging systems are you all running on your bikes and what route would you suggest i go?

Again thank you all for your input.
 

whynot2

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A couple of years ago I had a charging problem on my '81. I used this site, thank you guys, and <electrosport.com> and Rick's and my favorite shop. Joe, in my favorite shop, replied, when I asked him if I should go aftermarket, " How long did that one last?" So I ordered a new rotor, put it in and thought I was done. I wired a meter to the battery, attached it to the tank and with a fully charged battery rode around some back roads. The wisdom from both Rick's and Electrosport, "If you are replacing the rotor, replace the R/R also.", was very obvious. My R/R had failed and was overcharging my battery. Another $99, but money well spent.
Get some tools, impact driver, JIS screwdrivers, that cheap simple tool to remove the rotor. Everything is easier with the right tools.
whynot2
 

TwoManyXS1Bs

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...of course i know that a test should be made for the multimeter leads, and if there is anything there other than 0 it must be subtracted from the actual reading on the rotor.
ie. Set multimeter to OHMs reading, put leads together get 1.1, then take leads to rings, reading is 5.7, this means your actual reading is 4.6 OHMs of resistance of the rotor.

Is the removal of the stator MANDATORY to be able to test the rotor? I just saw skull mentioned me shorting out the test with the stator housing but i made sure i was only coming into contact with the rotor rings themselves, dont know if im missing something there, i've seen videos of rotors being tested while still on. Such as here

As i said its not that i cant remove the stator, its that once i remove it i will probably not be able to put everything back together and take the bike anywhere if needed be.

Should i be testing again with the red lead on the Amps connector of the multimeter?

I don't know about your meter, but if it needs the leads to be plugged in a different way, then the rotor test is invalid.
Just wanted to be sure. Still don't know. Do you get any reading when you short the leads?

If the rotor does indeed test bad, it (and the stator) need to be pulled anyway. You can leave them off if you need to limp the bike (total loss mode) to a shop...
 

XSnin0

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Its a regular Digital Multimeter, and as far as i know it operates just like any other one, i've owned it for over 10 years in fact lol

I did try pointing both leads together, (or shorting) while on the Ohms reading setting, i actually got a 1.0 Ohms reading, while its on the high side, i am aware that if i tested the rotor and i got 3.5 Ohms, after subtracting the 1.0 difference the actual reading on the rotor would be 2.5 Ohms, sorry if i wasnt clear at the beginning, not sure if im missing anything?

Anyway i just got home, gonna remove this thing now once and for all, will check back later with my findings.

I'm also contemplating placing an order for a PMA kit-soon, like later tonight soon- can anyone confirm if my Boyer Brandsen ignition system will work plug and play with the PMA kits? It says not compatible with the stock ignition system, not sure if Boyer Brandsen is considered to be stock or not..

Also what route should i go? Hughes, PAMCO?
The Power Dynamo looks to be pretty bad ass but not only expensive as shit, but also not sure if it will get here on time.

All your input is greatly appreciated guys thanks
 

TwoManyXS1Bs

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If your problem is just the rotor, it'll be a bit faster and easier to replace than doing a PMA setup.

There's a boatload of "XS650 rotor" listings on eBay.
Maybe some close by that you could pickup or could overnight ship.
Since you're not using TCI, requiring the trigger magnet, any year model will work.
Avoid any used ones that have a dark color.

Have you done the 1-2 2-3 3-1 continuity/resistance test on the stator yet?
 

650Skull

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Sorry, i did read you had a Boyer ignition system, kinda didn't register. I don't know of the Boyer works with a PMA, I'm sure someone else will help you there.

I think your confusing the Pamco ignition system with a charging system. The Pamco is an Ignition system and is complimentary with a PMA charging system. Mikes sells them both as a kit or as separate units/kits.

With a fully charged battery and removing the headlight fuse the bike would give you up to an hour long journey, even longer, just not good to do that to the battery to often.

Go through THIS LINK, (scroll down to posts #23-#25-#26-#27), and you will also find links throughout the manual relating to the an area in the actual chapter. You will see what i mean when you look.
 

chizler62

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Boyer Brandsen's ignition for the xs650 I've seen are a dc type ignition. So a mag setup is useable.

303-769-2629 is an Ohio distributor for PowerDynamo. You can purchase just the PMA. Not sure if theyd stock that.

Irregardless in your position I'd just replace with stock parts.

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