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Discussion Starter #1
My tale:

Went to start the KLR this past Monday after it sat for a week and a half or so. Just got a buzzing from the starter relay when I pushed the button.

Put it on the Battery Tender and in about 8 hours it was fully charged again. I thought this was unusual. I should have trusted my instincts, but kind of chalked it up to a battery going bad since mine is 3 years old.

Rode it to work and back (about 60 miles) on Tuesday. No problems.

Rode it to to work today. It fired right up this morning. It sat in the parking lot for 9 hours or so. Started right up when I went to leave. Rode it about 2 miles to another place and it sat there for about an hour and a half.

Came out to start it and nothing: no buzzing from the starter relay; no lights of any kind.

Shit. By now I'm starting to believe maybe there's a problem with the battery. The wife is still in town, so I call her and she drives over there and I try to jump-start it. With the cables connected, bright lights again but nothing but a buzzing from the relay. Leave the cables on for about 15 minutes: no improvement.

By now I'm into full Worst Case Scenario Mode because I can't really leave the thing where it is, and even if we go get the Toyota and ramps, I don't think my wife and I can get it up in the back of it unless it's running and moving under its own power.

I decide to call around town to see if, by any slim chance, anybody has a battery that's at least somewhat charged. So, I pull the battery out so I can read the part number and call about 4 places. One of them carries the battery, but they're all still dry in the box.

I'd looked at the terminals while waiting on the wife and checked to make sure they were tight. I now started looking at them more closely and they seemed to have a slight bit of corrosion: nothing glaring but there was kind of a film on them.

So, before the night really starts to suck, I decide to take a flat-tip screwdriver and scrape the terminals and connectors, then try it again. So, I scratched them up all up with the flat tip and put the battery back in.

Near-disaster when I hooked up the negative cable to the wife's battery and was greeted with sparks and yanked it away real quick as the wife got all excited that we were making progress and yelled, "Hey! It didn't do that before!"

I then realized that I'd gotten flustered and was trying to hook the cable that was attached to the KLR's positive battery terminal to the negative terminal on the Durango. Mucho Stupido, there. I'm probably damned lucky I didn't burn up some wiring or at the least blow a fuse.

Switched the cables back to the proper polarity and tried it again and, voila, the KLR fired right up.

So, in the end, while I like my little pigtail I keep attached to the battery I use to hook up the Battery Tender, not removing the battery on a regular basis led me to neglect the terminals. Just because there's no corrosion on the outside doesn't mean there's not corrosion between the battery post and the connector where you can't see it.

My theory is that the corrosion prevented the KLR's rather anemic charging sytem from getting a good flow of electricity into the battery and it gradually degraded to the point where it didn't have enough oomph to trigger the starter relay. The start when I left work today was probably its last gap and I was doomed when I shut it off at my next destination.

After I charged it with the Tender on Monday, it was okay for awhile, but it caught back up with me again today. There was obviously enough corrosion there that it prevented a good jump-start from the wife's Durango that was not running. Once the corrosion was removed and a good contact was made, things worked as advertised.

So, this weekend I'm going to pull the battery out again and thoroughly clean the posts and connections and treat them with some spray I've got for the car batteries.

Lesson learned. Completely disconnect the battery terminals at least a couple of times a year to check for corrosion between the flat connector and the top of the battery posts.

Actually, I think the problem originally started due to another facet of my lack of smartness. The screws I use for the battery connections are a little short so I took some steel washers and put them under those damned little square nuts that go inside the posts so I could get the screws to engage threads on the nuts. I noted those washers still under the terminal nuts were white with corrosion so think they're the culprit that started all this.
 

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Battery terminal care

I know your pain!
Many years ago, my Suzuki Cavalcade's battery quit out on a ride.

Here's my sad tail of woe:
Went for ride. Stopped & started 3 times. Stopped along side of stream to eat my donuts, and drink my coffee. Went to start the Cavalcade, "Nothing". A guy stopped to see if he could help. By luck he had jumper cables. I connected the last cable connection, and "sparks"!
I pulled the cable off right away, but it was to late.

To make long story short, I got my trailer, and took the bike home, where I found a ground wire burned up.
As I was repairing the wires, I found a wire powering my running lights had a "pin-hole" (compression type) insulation short to the engine guard frame.
( I had ty-wraped the wire to the engine guard ) Over time the insulation had worn away, creating a short to the wire inside.

Now I have a volt meter on all my bikes. My favorite is the kuryakyn, led battery indicator. It's waterproof, easy to surface mount, and accurate.
http://www.whitehorsegear.com/review/product/list/id/6674/category/67/?limit=50&orderby=by_date&sort=asc

A small amount of dielectric grease on the terminal connections help keep oxidation from forming. I just use ordinary white lithium grease on my battery terminals, and even on the base of my trailer light bulbs. The trailer sits outside and the bulbs were always getting oxidized. since treating them with grease, I haven't had a failure.
 

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Larry31 beat me to it but dielectric grease is the way to go for fighting corrosion. I use it on all my battery terminals and any exposed connectors.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, I need to get some of that stuff. Thanks, guys. I should have been using it all along.
 

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I guess that's one advantage of winter as I remove my battery from the KLR and store it in the heated garage. But thanks for the warning because the Goldwing lives in the garage and the battery hasn't been out for 5 years.
 

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Dielectric Grease

Larry31 beat me to it but dielectric grease is the way to go for fighting corrosion. I use it on all my battery terminals and any exposed connectors.
Works good on interlock switches, like clutch, and side stand.
 

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planalp,
I do hope that you did not fry a diode or two in the Voltage Regulator, when you cross the jumper cables.

Best to connect a volt meter to the battery, check nominal voltage, start the bike check for increasing voltage, rev the engine to 4000rpm and check to see if charging voltage increases to 14.2-14.5 volts.
If Not, you may need to purchase a New Voltage Regulator!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
planalp,
I do hope that you did not fry a diode or two in the Voltage Regulator, when you cross the jumper cables.

Best to connect a volt meter to the battery, check nominal voltage, start the bike check for increasing voltage, rev the engine to 4000rpm and check to see if charging voltage increases to 14.2-14.5 volts.
If Not, you may need to purchase a New Voltage Regulator!
Yeah, I guess I can figure out my multimeter enough to do that. It offers too many choices and intimidates a simple man like myself with all those numbers and mysterious symbols. It would be nice to confirm whether or not I'm getting a good charge to the battery.

I did get so far as to recharge the battery and thoroughly clean the battery posts. I'm thinking of adding some kind of voltage meter.

I'm kind of like this when it comes to electrical systems:

 

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Pulled the battery out of the Goldwing today. Terminals weren't too bad but gave everything a good cleaning. Found that all the cells need to be topped up too so this post was timely. All good now. Monday we ride.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I got the battery charged and all terminals/connections cleaned up and got it back in this morning.

Battery shows 12.4 volts. I had my wife manipulate the throttle while I held multimeter leads on the battery and it shows 13.4 volts at 4,000 rpm.

The battery's about 2-1/2 years old so I don't know how efficiently it is taking a charge and storing electricity. I should probably just get a new one.

So, I'm not getting up into the 14-volt range. Would an aging battery have an effect on that reading or does the condition of the battery not matter?

Edit: Also, does anybody have any recommendations for a cheap voltage meter? I'm thinking one might be a worthy addition to the KLR to monitor the system in the future and was thinking about this one, although a digital one would be nice:

http://www.harborfreight.com/in-dash-voltmeter-95779.html
 

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Also, does anybody have any recommendations for a cheap voltage meter? I'm thinking one might be a worthy addition to the KLR to monitor the system in the future and was thinking about this one, although a digital one would be nice:

http://www.harborfreight.com/in-dash-voltmeter-95779.html
When it comes to a digital voltmeter you will get what you pay for. Size of display, water resistance, filtering, non-glare diffuser lens etc. Low-cost voltmeters rarely have any filtering in them. They will read the voltage off a battery quite accurately, but as soon as there is any kind of noise, they start reading much higher than they should.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p3984.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.X3+wire+voltmeter+red+led+display&_nkw=3+wire+voltmeter+red+led+display&_sacat=0&_from=R40
 

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Discussion Starter #14
On a side note, I also dealt with my battery terminal nuts. My battery has those kind of "hollow square" lugs and with added wire lugs on each terminal, the screws I use to attach the wires to the battery were too short to engage the threads on the nuts when they're resting in the bottom of the terminal blocks. Plus, they flop around all over the place and are never positioned directly beneath the screw hole in the top of the battery post. It's no big deal to finagle the negative terminal nut around since it's on the outside, but is impossible to do with the positive terminal.

I suppose someone with more sense than me would just buy longer bolts or screws, but the hardware store's 30 miles away, plus that doesn't solve the problem of making sure the nut is resting directly in the center of the lug to start the threads of the screw.

To solve this problem, instead of putting the rectangular nuts in "longways," I put them in a bench vise and filed some material off each of the short ends, then used a hammer and screwdriver to lightly tap them into the lugs "sideways," making sure they stayed at the top of the little slot with a friction fit so my screws readily engage the nuts and they don't fall out every time I remove the battery.

As noted before, I'd used some cheap steel washers jammed in there beneath the nuts to try to keep those nuts in place so I could get the screw threads to engage. I think those steel washers contributed greatly to corrosion getting started on the battery terminals. It started in the washers under the nut then spread up to the connections, themselves.
 

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The battery on my Goldwing has a threaded block that entirely fills the terminal. When that battery dies I will be keeping those.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The battery on my Goldwing has a threaded block that entirely fills the terminal. When that battery dies I will be keeping those.
Definitely. Not only a good idea to create and offer such a thing, but a good idea to hang on to them for your next battery.
 

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Cheap Volt meter

Edit: Also, does anybody have any recommendations for a cheap voltage meter? I'm thinking one might be a worthy addition to the KLR to monitor the system in the future and was thinking about this one, although a digital one would be nice:

http://www.harborfreight.com/in-dash-voltmeter-95779.html
I've used several of these... http://www.whitehorsegear.com/kuryakyn-led-battery-gauge
I even put one on my Kubota. I find them quite accurate.

Here's mine mtd. on my KLR.. http://www.powers31.info/2011_KLR650.htm
( Scroll to 2d pix... Lower right in pix. )

Harbor Freight usually has a DVM for free if you buy stuff.
This one... http://www.harborfreight.com/7-function-multimeter-98025.html
I've got 2 of them. Built kind of cheap, but accurate, and great deal if you get it free.
It's good for the shop tool box.

Look for their adds in cycle magazines, or in their flyers.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks, larry31. I'd seen that chrome-looking 9-LED guage during my search. Thanks for the pic on your KLR: it seems like a good size.

I've been using the red HF multimeter you showcased: got it from sardog1 a couple of years ago. It's come in handy on a couple of occasions to check voltage but if i ever have to check resistance or something along those lines, I'll have to go to YouTube to figure out how to do it.......

Can you just run 2 wires to the battery with a guage like that or should you wire it so it only comes on when you turn on the ignition? Not sure how much of a draw those little LED lights would make on a battery if it was on and active all the time.
 

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Battery shows 12.4 volts. I had my wife manipulate the throttle while I held multimeter leads on the battery and it shows 13.4 volts at 4,000 rpm.

The battery's about 2-1/2 years old so I don't know how efficiently it is taking a charge and storing electricity. I should probably just get a new one.

12.4V is about when my KLR battery had to be replaced because it keep the motorcycle running but I could not be stopped the key turned on for a minute, I had to pop the clutch a couple times and one of those was on the level surface... was not a pretty sight..
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I wound up ordering a Deka ETX-15L and should get it this weekend. Guess I messed around with my terminal nuts for nothing. While I'm sure the corrosion was the main problem with it not starting, it seems like it doesn't spin over quite as fast and the headlight looks a little dim when I turn on the key. Got almost 3 years out of my $40 Walmart wet battery so that's not bad.

I've got some riding to do where I'd be kinda screwed if it failed to start for me again. I'm kind of leery of shutting it off now. When you get that feeling of unease, it's time for a new battery.
 
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