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Thread: Burned out generator armature 1965 Panhaed

  1. Burned out generator armature 1965 Panhaed

    Dear Friends, here is a question about a technical challenge from an European AMCA member

    A couple of weeks ago I had a similar issue; the armature of the 12 volt generator of my 1965 Panhead was burned out
    I found a NOS replacement armature at a local parts dealer and installed it back in the generator
    The generator started to charge immediatly and I was able to do a few short trips without having any problems with the charging system
    Last week I made a longer trip at an evening and when it was getting late I turned the lights on; after about 8 miles the generator light lighted up. I switched the lights off immediatly and was able to come home (a large battery is helpful to power the ignition ☺)
    Today I removed the generator and I was smelling immediatly a burning smell............the armature was burned out again.
    The regulator was NOS (new from the box) when I put the motorcycle together about two years ago; I have not made any adjustments on the regulator so far and I also never tested current and voltage output of the charging system.
    Lights: I use a front beam of 55 Watt, taillight of 5 watt and two contour lights of 5 watt (in total 70 Watt, that uses a current on 12 Volt of maximum 6 Amp I calculated
    In the HD service manual is noted that regulator is set at about 10 Amp current

    Do you have any idea what the root cause is of the fact that these armatures burn out when the lights are used?

    Thanks for your help in advance
    Adri van Groningen

  2. #2

    Re: Burned out generator armature 1965 Panhaed

    If your battery is old, the electrolyte may be low, and that will burn up a generator, or alternator. It makes them charge full, the whole time they operate. Even if it still holds a charge good enough to run. It can also burn up the regulator, due to the constant juice going through the charge coils.

    One other thing happened in my shop a few years ago. This one, was similar, but it would get the genny hot, and melt the contact arms on the regulator. chased it for a few days. Ended up, they had installed the wires , in a woven sleeve, and held them in place between the cylinders with the little oem strap. Apparently, they installed the strap, at the same time that they installed the woven cover, and pinched the charge wire. It was not grounded, unless it got wet. When the woven cover got wet, it stayed wet. Replaced the wires, and it was fine.
    Keep the old iron on the road.

    51 Pan (project)
    60 XLCH (project)
    66 Panshovel (project)
    66 FLH
    68 XLCH (project)
    69 XLH
    69XLH (project)
    70 XLH
    73 FLH

  3. Re: Burned out generator armature 1965 Panhaed

    Hello Shovithead

    Thanks for your responce; you made some good comments to consider
    The battery is only 18 month old and an OEM Harley unit and the electrolyte is filled till above the plates but I will check the battery again and do some other measures.
    The battery charges up quickly though with my automatic service battery charger, so that is why I dont suspect the battery at firt glance.
    I will check as well the charge wire from generator to regulator and from regulator to the battery.

    The fact that it seems to happen when the lights are on only (at apperently higher output levels of the generator) is remarkable.
    Any thought about that?

  4. #4

    Re: Burned out generator armature 1965 Panhaed

    Just because the electrolyte is above the plates, does not mean that the battery is good. All it takes, is some metal contaminated(regular drinking water) water, to ruin the cells. Plus, if a plate grounds out, or falls from placement, It can damage the battery. But, the only way you will ever know, is a load test. On the newer bikes, the electric starter acts like a load tester. If the battery is going bad, the starter will let you know, by dragging. In your case, it only takes a few amps to make it run. But, when you add the lights, it has to work twice as hard, and probably charging the battery full time, and then, add the lights.

    you mention the amps you are using, but you did not allow for ignition, and any loss at the generator
    Keep the old iron on the road.

    51 Pan (project)
    60 XLCH (project)
    66 Panshovel (project)
    66 FLH
    68 XLCH (project)
    69 XLH
    69XLH (project)
    70 XLH
    73 FLH

  5. #5

    Re: Burned out generator armature 1965 Panhaed

    After 4 trys, I sent you a email.........
    Keep the old iron on the road.

    51 Pan (project)
    60 XLCH (project)
    66 Panshovel (project)
    66 FLH
    68 XLCH (project)
    69 XLH
    69XLH (project)
    70 XLH
    73 FLH

  6. Re: Burned out generator armature 1965 Panhaed

    Hello Shovithead

    Thanks again; good suggestions.

    The bike cranks very good on this battery. (that is why I not immediatly suspected the battery)
    I have an electronic Snap-on battery tester; and will use it to test this battery
    The tester also has an excelent Volt meter and Amps clamp meter

    Indeed the ignition and the speedometer light and tacho light also pulls additional amperage (next to the loss in the generator)

    The generator was fine when I installed it; I always test generators by ussing them as electra motor (grounding the field connection)
    And then it runned very smooth....

    I need to pick up a new armature first to get the generator back right first before I am able to continue
    thanks again for your help

    I keep you informed
    Adri

  7. #7

    Re: Burned out generator armature 1965 Panhaed

    To bad, you don't have a spare to try. The new armatures leave some to be desired in quality. But, in some cases, they are all you can find. I buy every generator I see at the swap meets, just so I have plenty. I take them, and swap parts to make good generators. Anyway, let us know what you find. Not to mention, if you get real rich one day, buy yourself a CE generator. They are excellent, and I usually don't say that about many aftermarket parts. But, they can get expensive. You can get one that looks stock, and use the OEM regulator. Or get the system with the electronic regulator on the end. One wire, and done.....
    Keep the old iron on the road.

    51 Pan (project)
    60 XLCH (project)
    66 Panshovel (project)
    66 FLH
    68 XLCH (project)
    69 XLH
    69XLH (project)
    70 XLH
    73 FLH

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Central Penna
    Posts
    151

    Re: Burned out generator armature 1965 Panhaed

    After putting everything back together before starting your bike, did you polarize/flash the voltage regulator ?


    1967 FLH
    1968 FLH
    1968 FLH

    1972 FX

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