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Old 12-10-2015, 02:02 PM   #1
Jae
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Electrical fire

So had a scary incident on my way into work yesterday, kinda curious if anyone else has ever experienced anything like this...

My battery has been getting a little weak and not wanting to start when it's cold, so I put her in the garage on a battery tender overnight, Tuesday morning she starts right up. Ride about an hour into work, shut it off in the parking garage, and all of a sudden I'm smelling that ozone/burning electronics smell. Start looking around and my voltage regulator is glowing a bit on the epoxy side. Work on getting it off the bike and it's just smoking more and more. Luckily I spotted a garage worker and flagged him to grab a fire extinguisher and screwdriver. Used the extinguisher to put out the open flame once the epoxy got hot enough to burn, and was able to get the battery disconnected. Sure enough, with the battery disconnected the voltage regulator immediately starts cooling off and it appears so far that there's no other damage. Nothing like an open flame under a plastic tank full of gas to get your heart rate up in the morning.

So, any ideas what happened? My best guesses are that either the battery developed an internal short and/or maybe a diode went bad on the voltage regulator? I dunno, it's weird as that electricity was feeding back through the charging circuit with the bike off, and the last thing I want to do is start bolting up new parts only to have it happen again.
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Old 12-10-2015, 03:50 PM   #2
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Sounds to me like the battery was over charged. Glad nothing too crazy happened!
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Old 12-10-2015, 03:51 PM   #3
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If it is a Honda I would say the regulator went. Suzuki as well on certain years. But Honda's love killing voltage regulators.
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Old 12-10-2015, 03:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae View Post
So had a scary incident on my way into work yesterday, kinda curious if anyone else has ever experienced anything like this...

My battery has been getting a little weak and not wanting to start when it's cold, so I put her in the garage on a battery tender overnight, Tuesday morning she starts right up. Ride about an hour into work, shut it off in the parking garage, and all of a sudden I'm smelling that ozone/burning electronics smell. Start looking around and my voltage regulator is glowing a bit on the epoxy side. Work on getting it off the bike and it's just smoking more and more. Luckily I spotted a garage worker and flagged him to grab a fire extinguisher and screwdriver. Used the extinguisher to put out the open flame once the epoxy got hot enough to burn, and was able to get the battery disconnected. Sure enough, with the battery disconnected the voltage regulator immediately starts cooling off and it appears so far that there's no other damage. Nothing like an open flame under a plastic tank full of gas to get your heart rate up in the morning.

So, any ideas what happened? My best guesses are that either the battery developed an internal short and/or maybe a diode went bad on the voltage regulator? I dunno, it's weird as that electricity was feeding back through the charging circuit with the bike off, and the last thing I want to do is start bolting up new parts only to have it happen again.
That's what happens when you trade in your old bike for new euro trash
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Old 12-10-2015, 04:55 PM   #5
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At least you kept your head about you and handled it. Lots of people would have just watched the bike burn up.
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Old 12-10-2015, 05:07 PM   #6
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I just get that funky smell when I crank on the starter for a prolonged amount of time. Bad cell or plate is shorting inside the battery. Enough juice to start when warm but not enough to fire up when cold.
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Old 12-10-2015, 10:57 PM   #7
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Old 12-10-2015, 11:07 PM   #8
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My brother bought a Ducati ST4 a few years back. I took him to pick it up. He road it from Dickinson to the house in Seabrook. As I'm backing my truck into the driveway I see him dismount to open the gate. While his back is turned "POOF"!!! BILLOWING smoke from the r/r. Sure sucks but it was probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
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Old 12-11-2015, 10:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
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Sounds to me like the battery was over charged. Glad nothing too crazy happened!
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:36 PM   #10
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Old 12-11-2015, 04:45 PM   #11
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It was the Triumph, and as far as I can tell is the original R/R. I've never heard of one failing in such spectacular fashion, but it apparently happens. I wasn't worried so much about the battery being over charged as if perhaps something inside physically broke and somehow allowed it to reverse polarity, but that would've shown up immediately when it happened, I'd think, if it's even physically possible. Sounds like it was just a really unfortunate R/R failure.

Either way, battery was on it's way out (getting weak), so I'll get it and the R/R swapped out, and check out the stator while I'm there, just for good measure. From what I can tell, there's no real damage to anything else, aside from being really dirty (covered in powder from the extinguisher). Thanks guys.
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Old 12-11-2015, 06:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae View Post
It was the Triumph, and as far as I can tell is the original R/R. I've never heard of one failing in such spectacular fashion, but it apparently happens. I wasn't worried so much about the battery being over charged as if perhaps something inside physically broke and somehow allowed it to reverse polarity, but that would've shown up immediately when it happened, I'd think, if it's even physically possible. Sounds like it was just a really unfortunate R/R failure.

Either way, battery was on it's way out (getting weak), so I'll get it and the R/R swapped out, and check out the stator while I'm there, just for good measure. From what I can tell, there's no real damage to anything else, aside from being really dirty (covered in powder from the extinguisher). Thanks guys.
Have the British ever manufactured a vehicle that didn't have electrical issues?
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Old 12-11-2015, 06:20 PM   #13
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Regulators generally fail either closed or wide open overcharging

Closed is much more common. Open is what you just experienced. I've seen them basically cook a battery to the point of explosion.
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Old 12-11-2015, 07:18 PM   #14
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Electrical fire

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I've seen them basically cook a battery to the point of explosion.

Exactly what you want in your crotch region lol
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Old 12-11-2015, 08:11 PM   #15
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[QUOTE=Jae;3971848I wasn't worried so much about the battery being over charged as if perhaps something inside physically broke and somehow allowed it to reverse polarity, but that would've shown up immediately when it happened, I'd think, if it's even physically possible. Sounds like it was just a really unfortunate R/R failure. [/QUOTE]

Over charged? Where does the idea of an over charged battery causing all this damage come from?

Batteries don't reverse polarity like that.

I think you're right. R/R failed and fried.
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Old 12-11-2015, 08:43 PM   #16
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Old 12-15-2015, 11:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bumblebee View Post
Over charged? Where does the idea of an over charged battery causing all this damage come from?

Batteries don't reverse polarity like that.

I think you're right. R/R failed and fried.
Yeah, that's why I said "I don't even know if it's possible". I'm not familiar with every way the battery could fail, but with the ignition off the battery and R/R are basically the only two components that could possibly be involved at that point.

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Not knowing the batteries history, I would test the battery on its own before tossing it out. Your weak battery could have been the effect of the bad regulator, either draining it over time or improperly charging the battery. Load test and/or check bank voltages will verify that easily.
The battery was testing at 12.3 V with the bike off (completely unloaded), but even leaving it on the battery tender overnight it couldn't start the bike in the morning. Didn't even have enough juice to crank the engine over more than about two revolutions. Battery is definitely getting weak, think it was just coincidental that the R/R failed at the same time.

Ended up being out of town working the entire weekend, so I'm hoping I can get it home in the next few days.
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Old 12-15-2015, 11:21 AM   #18
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12.3v is not fully charged. That it won't take a full charge means the battery is bad.
The second indication is that it won't crank the bike.
That shows it doesn't have much capacity.

Just to share a little info...
A battery needs 2 things to operate properly, sufficient voltage and enough capacity. It can have what appears to be correct voltage because some of the cells are strong enough to take a full charge. They can power a volt meter.
When one or more cells goes bad, usually a cracked or broken plate, then the capacity is reduced. The remaining cells can't power a starter motor. As soon as you apply a load, like trying to start, the voltage goes way down and you're left with nothing.

You need a new battery and it would be a good idea to verify what caused the fire.
That would be no fun on a crowded freeway at 70mph
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