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Ironhead Sportster Motorcycle Talk (1957-1985) For all those that wanna talk about Ironhead Sportster Motorcycles

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  #11  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
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There seems to be a little mystique about the little black boxes known as the regulator and a couple of old wives tales on how they work so this I hope will clear some things up. If we can understand something better, we are more apt to diagnose and repair it. The generator adjusts itself to the load and no excess current is sent to ground.
First of all, the generator is actually an alternating current devise (ac). Since silicon rectifiers were not invented yet, the ac was changed to dc by the commutator and brushes. As the commutator is rotated in the magnetic field, a current is induced into the armature windings and is sent to the commutator segments and brushes to the output. The current and voltage will peak as the magnetic field peaks and starts to decay to a negative value on the ac wave form, but just before the it transitions to a negative direction, the brushes switch the ends of the armature coil where the current and voltage is now rising to a peak positive value. These peak values from the armature windings are combined to create a high steady value instead of a series of high/low pulses.
THE BALANCING ACT

The regulator consists of three sections: cut out relay, current regulator and voltage regulator.
1. CUT OUT RELAY: Generator at high speed is equal to exceeds battery voltage, charging takes place, but at low speeds, generator output is below battery voltage and will discharge the battery through the generator so the cut out relay opens to prevent this from occurring.
2. CURRENT REGULATOR: Limits the generator out put amperage to prevent the armature winding from burning out.
3. VOLTAGE REGULATOR: Maintains the voltage to a set level to charge the battery with out damaging it.

The cut out relay has two coils, one for the battery and one for the generator that perform a balancing act of two magnetic fields. The coil on the battery holds the contact open so no current can back flow to the generator and its ground brush. When the generator out put exceeds the battery voltage, the magnetic field on its coil over comes the coil on the battery and closes the contact allowing current to flow. When the generator out put goes below battery voltage, the magnetic field on the battery coil over comes the generator coil and the contact opens to prevent back flow.
The voltage regulator has a shunt winding of fine wire connected across the generator and an accelerator or series winding that speeds up the action of the vibrating contacts. A flat steel armature attached by a hinge is above the coil core and has a set of contacts. When the voltage regulator is not operating, the tension of s spiral spring holds the armature away from the core so the contacts connect the generator field coils to ground. When the generator voltage reaches a set value, the magnetic field over comes the armature spring tension and pulls the armature down and the contacts open which inserts a resistance into the generator field circuit and the field current is reduced. The reduction of generator voltage reduces the magnetic field of the regulator shunt winding and the magnetic field is weak enough to allow the spring to pull the armature away from the core and close the contacts. When the contacts are closed, the field coils are grounded and cause the generator out put to increase. Remember in the generator the field coils are fed from the output of the armature current. This cycle is repeated many times a second and keeps the voltage at the desired level.
The current regulator has a few heavy turns of wire, which carries the full generator output amperage. A flat armature with a hinge is over a coil core and has a set of contacts. When the regulator is not operating, a spring holds the armature away from the coil core and the contacts are closed. The generator field circuit is completed through the contacts in series with the voltage regulator contacts. When the generator current reaches its set value, the magnetic field of the coil pulls the armature down over coming spring tension. This action inserts a resistance in the generator field circuit and the generator output is reduced. The reduction in current from the generator reduces the magnetic field of the current regulator coil and the weak field is overcome by the spring tension and the contacts are closed. This grounds the generator field coils and the generator output increases. This cycle is repeated several time a second and keeps the amperage at a set level. This also prevents the generator from burn out due to high current through the armature windings.

All mechanical adjustments and contact cleaning must be done with the battery disconnected. “ The cut out relay must never be closed by hand with power connected or it will over current the regulator and damage it. This is what smokes the resistors on the back of the regulator.”
Very slight adjustments can be made to the voltage regulator point gaps to change the settings. The same is true for the current regulator. However, you must use a calibrated current source to correctly set it or you could over max the generator and burn the armature windings.
There are ways to test the regulator on the machine. Do not over look the battery! A high battery temperature will reduce its resistance and the regulator will over charge it. Shorted plates will also affect the regulator but not effect the rest of the electrical system until the battery output is too low.
Remember, the machine will primarily run off the generator output and only draw power from the battery if the generator cannot keep up.

What’s up next, possibly a 101 on the electronic version. Yes they can be repaired if you want to take the time and effort!!


http://xlforum.net/forums/showthread.php?t=1973669

Last edited by bustert; 4 Weeks Ago at 22:24..
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  #12  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
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anyone have an explanation as to why his lights work with a battery and not with a battery charger set at 10 amp?i don't have a battery w/my magneto ignition. I've used a battery charger set at 2 amp to check lighting issues for decades.although I've never went through voltage regulator to do this .
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Wow, that's one heck of a VR 101 class. Is there going to be a test?

Is it possible that his battery charger detects a "no-load" situation going through the VR first before it sees the load from the headlight bulb and thus the battery charger goes open circuit? With the charger driving the VR, he didn't say whether he measured a voltage after the VR.
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well, i must have skipped that point, bad habit that sometimes gets me into trouble. i would have to do a re-read, but lazy so not now.
i guess it would depend on where the charger is inserted for one. there is one cravat however. most wally world chargers have a lot of ripple, even the hd genny has some and can be measured. remember, the regulator coils operate off DC and not AC. remember, the avg of a sine wave = ZERO. now that said, if the ripple is high enough, the coils in the reg will not function because the voltage/magnetic flux cannot act together to move the contacts in the reg.
this leads to another issue. what if the commutator segments are snafu'd? well, this induces more ripple and this ripple will cause issues with the reg. another point is if the genny is not polarized, then the current is reversed and the coils in the reg will operate in reverse, this causes the points in the reg to vibrate violently and burn out and can smoke the resistors on the back of the reg.
this leads to another issue, they do make positive ground regs and are usually marked as so and also have diff color coils.
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ok, felt guilty so went over thread. man you guys are hard!

first of all, the capacitor only function is to allow AC ripple to ground, it cannot pass DC unless the capacitor is bad, aka, leaky.
this will help remove flickering in the lighting and helps protect the filament. they do not like ac current because they will vibrate and burn out.
in the ignition side, they do not ground out current, if they did, the ign will not work. they are like a storage battery so to speak, they absorb current and help prevent point burn out due to high voltage when the points open. when the points close, this energy is sent through the coil (around 300v) and helps create max magnetic field in the primary which induces higher magnetic flux (and voltage output) in the secondary.
high voltage you say? well, yep!, remember, the primary coil has winding that act as a transformer.
people think the coil is all DC and that is not true. some think it is pulsed DC and that is not true and this causes misconceptions on how it works.
when the primary filed collapses, the rapid fall in current cause a fall in magnetic flux which is induce back into the primary winding. this is not a one time shot, because as the field collapses, the voltage will ring, seen on a scope and can be an indication of coil issues. remember, current always tries to keep flowing, it is not an instant shut off, also, the coil also acts and inductor which helps this current flowing. this ringing is an AC current so there is a marriage of the two.

Last edited by bustert; 4 Weeks Ago at 14:38..
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Here http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/boschmechreg.htm
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