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Thread: Oilhead + Bike Washing = Electrical Issue. Maybe?

  1. #1
    Off shore and glassy calnalu's Avatar
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    Oilhead + Bike Washing = Electrical Issue. Maybe?

    Got back from a weekend ride and decided to wash bugs and road grime from my 99 R1100R. I'm always careful about using a water stream with pressure on my bike for fear of getting moisture into the electronics but it appears I may have done so. Or so I'm guessing.

    Next day, Monday morning commute: bike starts normally and I get about 1 mile from my house when the engine sputters once and dies. I coast to the side of the road, make a couple attempts to restart. Nothing. Gas is low but not low enough to trigger the low level light but it could be out of gas or maybe the low level light is busted. Call AAA for some gas. Three gallons in. Still no start. Electronics (lights, gauges) seem to be OK, just won't crank over and start.

    Have bike towed home. Check fuses (OK), check spark plugs and connections (OK), check external wiring as much as I can see (all OK). Notice that when I turn the key on the tach needle is flicking up and down.

    Thusly puzzled, I have my bike towed to BMW dealer for diagnosis and my service dude tries to start it unsuccessfully, notices the tach flicker, and tells me they'll get to it the next day and warns me it could be "up to five hours of diagnostic work" to figure out what's wrong.

    Next day: BMW calls to tell me that they tried starting it again and it started. They turned off the engine and restarted it, four times. They rode it around the block a few times, no stalls, and it restarted normally back at the shop.

    My question to the group is: If I indeed incurred some water intrusion or condensation from washing my ride, where exactly might that have occurred (and don't say in my driveway)? If I was able to ride about a mile and then had the engine shut down, is there a possibility a puddle of water was sitting on my bike or engine somewhere post washing and trickled down into the electrics? I've ridden in rain storms and through a foot of standing water before with no intrusion problems.

    And if it wasn't a water intrusion problem, then what?!?!

    Immediate lesson learned: won't wash bike again. But still interested in figuring out what happened.

    Any thoughts or insights from esteemed peers would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Marty
    Marty Takimoto
    1999 R1100R
    BMWMOA #107071/IBA #44006
    El Cerrito, CA

  2. #2
    Registered User m_stock10506's Avatar
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    "Got back from a weekend ride and decided to wash bugs and road grime from my 99 R1100R. .... Notice that when I turn the key on the tach needle is flicking up and down. "

    Tach needle flicking around after water event is classic signs of Hall Effect Sensor failure. Once it dried out, it was able to start and run but this could get worse and fail again even without moisture. Either replace the HES with a new one or pull the old one and rewire the harness on it - the insulation on the original wires has turned brittle and cracked off.
    Michael Stock, Trinity, NC
    R1100RT, R100, R60/6

  3. #3
    Macrunch MCrenshaw's Avatar
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    From first hand experience, I agree with that diagnosis. The HES wiring is cracked and susceptible to shorting when damp. Expect to pay $500-600 if a dealer replaces the HES. OEM sensors are available and can be replaced by you assuming you are confident in your skills. Or, you can buy a replacement sensor and rewire it. I just came across this source for replacement HES. http://www.bbautomacao.com/home_hall...r_cyhme56.html.

  4. #4
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Absolutely classic symptoms for moisture in the wiring bundle connecting the Hall Effect Sensor to the Motronic ECU. R1100 bikes all came out of the factory with wiring in the HES bundle that has crappy insulation. After a few years and many heat cyles the insulation on the individual wires in the bundle deteriorates, cracks, and crumbles away. Moisture in the bundle (it gets in at the top end) provides an intermittent path for arcing inside the bundle from the hot wire to one of the HES signal wires. Each arc tells the ECU that the engine is at top dead center or bottom dead center.

    The indications on the tach are a dead giveaway that an errant signal is coming from the HES. Close examination would show you that the spark plugs are firing and the injectors are squirting - even though the crankshaft is stationary and not turning at all.

    The emergency fix to get you home is to inject alcohol or even WD40 into the top of the outer sheath. This absorbs the water and provides a non conductive fluid insulator inside the bundle.

    The correct fix is to either replace the HES assembly (plate, sensors, wiring, connector) with a new part - or to take out the old one and very carefully replace the individual wires inside the bundle with silicone insulated high temperature wire.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

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    Replacement wire

    I have the wire if you need some. Silicon aircraft wire,a very fine gage.

  6. #6
    big44g@gmail.com
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    I had the same problem with my R1100RT. It quite on the interstate had a friend pick me up; trailer the bike home to have it start the next day. I still do not know for sure what happen and it was several months ago. But I ordered an HES for backup due to the symptoms. I removed the tupperware and front engine cover to tried to reproduce the wet conditions with a water hose. I was unable to get the engine to quite. However while looking around the bike for the problem, one of the ground wires was so loose that I could not believe the bike would start. I fixed the loose connection. I have not rode the bike in the rain since but It's raining today. I have to get home from work so I guess I may find out if its fixed.

    Gary Fulton

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    Oilhead + Bike Washing = Electrical Issue. Maybe?

    This problem sounds like my '72 Norton Interstate. Every time I washed it, it would not start. It had a large capacitor on the rear fender for just such occasions.
    Sorry this happened,thanks for sharing. 02R1150R

  8. #8
    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    Brit bikes may need extra rain-proofing, but I thought that big ol' cap was just to help smooth the output from the Lucas regulator (zener) diode -?

    Being a '72, try a good spray of Ignition Kote on the plug wires & plug caps; maybe on the coils too.

    Since I sometimes ride in inclement weather, I've sealed the back sides (wire entry points) of most connectors with a dollop of silicone; I even have some on the starter lugs. Easy to pull off if you need to & it keeps water and crud out.

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    Oilhead + Bike Washing = Electrical Issue. Maybe?

    The cap on the Norton was to start it. You pull the plugs, turn on the ignition, kick it several times, put the plugs back in, kick it, and the juice from the cap would fire the motor. Go out and ride to charge the dead battery. LOL

  10. #10
    Off shore and glassy calnalu's Avatar
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    Hall Effect Sensor Replacement-Wrenchable?

    Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. When Michael first mentioned the "Hall Effect Sensor", I thought he was pulling my leg as I have NEVER heard about this! I thought HES was in the same league as a Flux Capacitor.

    I found this doc on advrider: http://advwisdom.hogranch.com/Wisdom...ll_sensors.pdf. Rewiring the existing HES may be beyond my wrenching abilities. How hard is it for an average skilled wrencher to install a new one?

    Thanks again.

    Marty
    Marty Takimoto
    1999 R1100R
    BMWMOA #107071/IBA #44006
    El Cerrito, CA

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    Quote Originally Posted by calnalu View Post
    How hard is it for an average skilled wrencher to install a new one?
    Yeah I wasn't sure I could do a perfect job on rewiring the plate and just bought the bmw part.
    It isn't hard to replace the whole plate.
    I have an RT so there is a lot of tupperware to remove before you can get down to business.
    Yours should be nicer.
    Just go ahead and remove the tank completely so you can access the wiring harness and the alternator cinch bolts.
    The belt and crank pulley have to come off. The "vane" cup is keyed so don't sweat the alignment.
    There is an official BMW tool to lock into the flywheel to hold it still while you break the nut loose.
    I don't have that so I worked it up into 5th gear and put a bungee around the center stand and the rear brake pedal.
    If I remember right it's a 17mm, same as the lug wrench?
    Some little screws hold the plate in.
    If there's enough age on the belt this is the time to get a new one.
    There is a small amount of adjustment available as the screws go through slots in the plate.
    You're probably supposed to use a timing light or some such but I just aimed to put the screws in the middle of the slots.

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    So if three people on the message board can come up with the obvious likely culprit within four hours, how is it that the dealer service technician sees the same signs, estimates five hours diagnostic work, and is then seemingly mystified when it works the next day? Perhaps the tech should spend the first of the five hours on Google, or bmwmoa.org/forum.

    I'm not one who thinks dealers are out to scam customers. But things like this make me question basic competence.

  13. #13
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesInCA View Post
    So if three people on the message board can come up with the obvious likely culprit within four hours, how is it that the dealer service technician sees the same signs, estimates five hours diagnostic work, and is then seemingly mystified when it works the next day? Perhaps the tech should spend the first of the five hours on Google, or bmwmoa.org/forum.

    I'm not one who thinks dealers are out to scam customers. But things like this make me question basic competence.
    That is a troubling question. This is neither a new nor obscure issue on R1100 bikes. But I have no way of knowing whether the specific tech has lots or little experience. I do know that the first time I personally encountered the problem I towed the bike home and it took me a couple of hours to figure it out.

    In fairness to the tech, and shops in general, I applaud them for giving what ought to be a topside estimate of time needed. If it takes less time - great. But I would hate to get a one hour estimate that resulted in 4 or 5 hours of work.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

  14. #14
    Off shore and glassy calnalu's Avatar
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    Fairness

    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    That is a troubling question. This is neither a new nor obscure issue on R1100 bikes. But I have no way of knowing whether the specific tech has lots or little experience. I do know that the first time I personally encountered the problem I towed the bike home and it took me a couple of hours to figure it out.

    In fairness to the tech, and shops in general, I applaud them for giving what ought to be a topside estimate of time needed. If it takes less time - great. But I would hate to get a one hour estimate that resulted in 4 or 5 hours of work.
    This happened at San Francisco BMW, where I've taken my ride for all servicing (since Marin BMW closed ) All my previous encounters with the service crew at SFBMW have been highly successful and I trust their group to provide quality and knowledgeable service. In this case, the bewilderment of the tech I was working with was genuine and, as Paul mentioned, it may simply be that since this is related to R1100 bikes only, he's just never seen it before.

    SFBMW had my bike in their service area for a couple of days before it started again and another two days before I had time to pick it up. They didn't charge me anything and (if I'm unable to figure out how to replace the HES or its wiring on my own), I'll feel comfortable taking my bike back there. Not so comfortable wallet-wise but I need to get to the Salem rally without stalling out in the redwoods somewhere.

    Thanks again, everyone, for the comments. If you'll be at the Rally in Oregon, I'll fill you in on what eventually happens!

    Marty
    Marty Takimoto
    1999 R1100R
    BMWMOA #107071/IBA #44006
    El Cerrito, CA

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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    one hour estimate that resulted in 4 or 5 hours of work.
    I do this to MYSELF a lot... well every time I work on the thing really.

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