Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rode the Beemer Again

Yesterday, I rode the Beemer again for the first time since picking up the Ural. When I started the Ural in the garage, I noticed that the headlight wasn't lit and glanced at the tail light and it was out as well. Hmmm, check the fuses and one of them (third one down) was blown. Tried another one and it blew immediately so I needed to look for a short that evening. Fortunately, there is now a spare bike. I rolled the Beemer out of the garage and it started immediately so off to work I go.

A brief comparison, the Beemer has higher gearing so the clutch needs to be slipped a little going up the hill out of the driveway. Once on the main road, getting up to and slightly beyond the speed limit happens quickly and effortlessly compared to the Ural. Shifts are quieter and smoother and even though it was raining, the RC is almost completely dry after arriving at my office. This is in sharp contrast to the Ural with only a windshield and no fairing. After riding in the rain, the RC is pretty wet (but completely dry on the inside!) especially the legs. Right turns are much faster with the Beemer when hanging off the seat the same amount. I think that the extra 6" in the width of the rig makes a big difference. There is no intake noise at all with the Beemer whereas you can really hear it on the Ural. More baffling within the air cleaner housing as well as different materials. Plus the Beemer has a clock. I hadn't realized how many times I look at the clock.

Anyway, after getting home that afternoon, I focused on looking for the short and thought it was in the tail light (or presence light) circuit. I disconnected the sidecar to split the system in half, removed the seat, disconnected and removed the tail light assembly, propped up the gas tank and the pulled the headlight. And there was still a short evidenced by my ohm meter even though every light was disconnected. Hmmm, pinched wire? After looking at the wiring itself, I noticed that the wires leading to the third fuse were grey (head light) and not yellow (presence light) which meant I was looking in the wrong place. I disconnected the high/low beam switch and the short was still there. I then disconnected the right switch assembly and the short went away. I then tested the wires within the switch assembly to see if the short was within the assembly and it tested good. I'm not at all sure why the wiring even runs to the right hand switch as there is no switch installed. Maybe there either used to be a headlight switch or something in other markets.

I then tested the output wires from the non-existent headlight switch as it splits to power the dash lights and the high/low beam switch. It turns out the there was an intermittent short in one of the lights illuminating the speedometer. Simply unplugging the wiring from the light eliminated the short. It looks like the bulb socket may have gotten damaged when the tach wiring was added as there are two wires spliced in to provide power and backlight to the tach. So can't blame this on Ural. Easy fix!

I did not follow this directive in the repair manual

I did learn how to remove the seat and lift up the gas tank. There is a crossover tube that runs from the left to the right side of the tank and would need to be removed if you actually wanted to remove the tank completely. I just lifted the tank to see if I could spot a pinched wire but now need to look into some sort of valve or fitting to put on that crossover line. And the tail light bulb was burned out but, fortunately, I had a spare in the Beemer. I think I will be adding a relay to cut power to the headlight when the starter is engaged or simply a headlight switch. Not too important now but it may help with cold weather starts.

Just to add something else that needed looking at, while at work today, I noticed that the rear brake light on the bike wasn't working. The sidecar worked just fine so I knew that the switches were working. It turned out to be glue, probably from the assembly process, between the eyelet on the brake wire and the light socket. Not sure how long it wasn't working as I thought I had checked the lights right after picking the rig up. One oddity is that both the brake light and the tail light are wired backwards from "normal". I.e. ground is the center conductor of the bulb. It'll need to be re-wired if I ever want to use LED bulbs.

12 comments:

redlegsrides said...

Ah yes, the vissicitudes of Ural ownership....you are great at electrical troubleshooting I must say! Yes, the tailight is positive ground, weird huh? They do make LED lights that handle positive ground btw but with the output from the alternator you shouldn't need to switch to LEDs IMHO. Raceway sells a kit for the crossover tube, I believe. I think they outfit the rigs they sell with it as a matter of course.

Interesting comparison as to each rig's handling characteristics....Yoshie my V-strom rig was much more powerful than my Ural rig and yet it was the URAL that got most of the road time....

Sometimes, the small metal tab on the tail light sockets have to be bent a bit so that they exert more pressure on the base of the bulb.

On my 2014, the dealer had to replace the brake light switch under warranty. It failed shortly after I got it. On a happier note, URAL has come through once again and found out why the early batch of 2014 rigs were having small leaks in the forward seal of the final drive, a bulletin went out to the dealers and I am awaiting parts from URAL to reach my dealer.

RichardM said...

You are right about the power output of the alternator. The only good reason to switch to LED bulbs is much longer life. I am planning to switch out the headlight at some time for an H4 as ChrisL had mentioned in one of his recent blog posts. Same wattage but they have a better beam pattern and replaceable bulbs instead of the entire light.

I have a lot of experience tracing wiring problems though the glue on the terminal was a real odd one. I wonder why the tail light assembly is positive ground? It seems really odd.

I saw the quick disconnect for the fuel line on Raceway's page but they only ship UPS so they charge something like $35 shipping to Alaska for a little tiny part. I'll look for the same part from a different vendor. Or wait until the next trip to Oregon.

BTW, I had to look up vi·cis·si·tude. I hadn't heard that word before.

Conchscooter said...

I go on vacation and you go and lose your mind! Still living in an igloo I guess that was bound to happen. I look forward to the endless list of repairs and fixes to keep your soviet steed running. It sounds like you are off to a good start! Mind you , with long winters and sound engineering training and a peculiar cast of mind you will enjoy this excursion through the looking glass. Have fun.

Trobairitz said...

Hooray for spare bikes. Good thing you are handy at chasing down wiring issues.

I enjoyed reading the comparisons too.

RichardM said...

Yep the opposite direction from a Bonneville. I think I enjoy fixing and improving things. You'd have to if you get a Ural I'm told. But barring major mechanical issues I'm thinking that this is going to be fun. The rig is simple, has a kick starter which took me a while to figure out, and is a blast to drive around. The 31 year old Beemer seems modern and sophisticated by comparison. I don't think I could deal with anything modern...

RichardM said...

A spare bike is handy, probably really handy if one of them is a Ural ;-)

Chasing electrical problems for me is in the "fun" category. Especially if I'm sitting at home in the garage and not on the side of the road in a storm.

Unknown said...

Richard:

I could never be an Ural owner, unless I lived next door to you, or Dom. Perhaps it would be different if I had a warm place to work on a bike. Everything would have to be done outside and I would have to juggle cars in and out to make room in the carport

I like the idea of LED bulbs for longevity

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

redlegsrides said...

I can, if you wish, order the parts and then mail them to you?

RichardM said...

Or you get very good and work quickly. 25 years ago, I changed out the axle on a VW Rabbit in 15 minutes since it was -12F outside. You learn to work quickly....

RichardM said...

Thank you but I found the same quick-release fitting available at Amazon with free shipping. Amazing what you can find on Amazon.

Dar said...

I miss having a spare bike! We had some electrical issues with Scarlet two weeks ago and Kirk had her completely apart. He found a few issues with the starter switch and fixed that and found a short, so we are good now. So which do you prefer riding more the Ural or Beemer?

RichardM said...

You're right, having a spare bike is really handy. In the past, I would've resorted to taking the truck or riding the bus. Or start troubleshooting. I think the whole process took only about half an hour.

I think I really prefer riding the Ural. I enjoy the clunk of the transmission, the lack of low speed shimmy and the light steering of the Ural.