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Thread: Valeo Starter Failure - Another Cause of Failure

  1. #1
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Valeo Starter Failure - Another Cause of Failure

    Background...
    For a few days, I had noticed a difference in starting ability, referring to the sound the starter made during starts even though they were of normal duration...say the usual one second that the starter button needs to be depressed.

    Then after having stopped for a couple of photo ops, the starter failed to turn over. I did manage to get it started the first time, but not the second time and a boost was needed during that attempt. The symptoms were an electrical system shut-down (lights, digital clock, etc) and a voltage reading of approximately 5V to 8V (varied depending on start attempt) on my on-board digital voltmeter indicating to me a very heavy current draw and/or a battery near the end of its life.

    The funny thing is, the starter worked repeatedly upon arrival later that day at the hotel I was staying at. There is nothing like an intermittent problem; those are tough to diagnose, at least in minutes.

    The day after arriving at the hotel, I replaced the battery because I was getting strange voltage indications on my on-board voltmeter while riding on the day of starting issues, and with the BMW-Exide battery more than 5 years old (the original BMW-Exide battery lasted just under 5 years when I installed this one back in 2008), I thought it was time to replace it...even though it might be a starter issue. I was on tour in Austria and without access to the test equipment I have at home, a meaningful diagnosis of the battery wasn't possible.

    An afternoon ride and numerous starts, I thought the issue was solved. Wrong! Obviously, the starter was the issue. Wiring and connections were perfect, by the way.

    The fault found...
    A simple quality control problem at Valeo (what else is new) caused an intermittent internal short circuit within my starter motor.

    The following describes what caused the internal short circuit....



    I've had Valeo starters fail on two of my BMW motorcycles so far.

    The first failure occurred on my 1990 BMW R100 GS when one of the motor magnets delaminated itself from the motor housing and attached itself to the motor armature causing it to lock.

    The second failure (described in this thread) was on my 2003 BMW R1150 GS Adventure.

    The reasons for failure can be found on the label above...the French should stick to producing wine and cheese and leave engineering to Germans!!!!!!! End of rant!



    The part above is a plate that is pressed into the housing of the planetary gear set. The plate serves as a grease retainer for the planetary gear set.

    The tabs on the edges of the plate are meant to lock into the planetary gear housing much like a press-on nut. Unfortunately, due to poor design and quality control, the grease retaining plate come loose and ultimately was the reason for the short circuit within the starter motor.

    The side pictured faces the motor armature. The hole in the center of the plate is for the motor armature shaft & gear to pass through to the planetary gear set.

    As can be seen, some arcing took place due to a short circuit. Some marks left by the motor windings (the DC power source), can be seen.



    The part above is a plate pressed in the housing of the planetary gear set. The plate serves as a grease retainer for the planetary gear set.

    The side pictured faces the planetary gear set.

    Due to the colour of the plate, it is quite obvious that the plate got very hot during short circuit conditions.



    The motor armature with the coating abraded off on the end of the windings due to rotation against the grease retaining plate that had come loose from the planetary gear set housing.

    As a result, grease had also worked its way into the motor housing.



    A close-up view of the planetary gear set that is used to increase torque to the starter drive gear.

    The grease retaining plate shown in the previous photos above would cover the area within the planetary gear set housing, except for a pass-through hole for the motor armature shaft and gear.



    The new Valeo D6RA75 starter motor...now Made in Poland...and hopefully better.



    The new Valeo D6RA75 starter motor installed.



    Installation complete and back to normal. Euro 400 later (I happened to be on my annual motorcycle tour in Europe), I was rolling again.


    I'll repair the old Valeo starter as soon as I get home.
    Last edited by GlobalRider; 07-03-2013 at 10:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User roger 04 rt's Avatar
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    Alex,
    This is exactly what happened to mine 6 months ago,

    Nice write-up and photos.
    Roger

  3. #3
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger 04 RT View Post
    Alex,
    This is exactly what happened to mine 6 months ago,

    Roger

    Thanks Roger! Good to know. I haven't really stayed on top of Valeo failures other than reading the odd recommendation on this forum regarding cleaning and greasing.

    This type of failure is totally unacceptable and cannot be chalked up to wear and tear. There are no forces against that grease retainer to cause it to pop out.

    When I rebuild my old starter, I'll be scribing a shallow groove into the planetary gear housing so that once that grease retainer is in place, it stays put...as it should.

    When it comes to Valeo products, they get a huge thumbs down from me.

  4. #4
    BMW Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalRider View Post
    ...the French should stick to producing wine and cheese and leave engineering to Germans!!!!!!! End of rant!..........
    I certainly have not kept track after all these years but you might prefer the Japanese folks to handle the engineering side. To use a few examples such as Goldwings on the motorcycle side and Honda Accords along with Toyota Camry's might provide a few well known examples. I have said good and bad about BMW within this forum but my gut tells me Japan is actually better than Germany. More so when discussing with acquaintances on the car side concerning BMW automobile issues. I simply don't get that type of feedback in quantity from the Japanese side of the market.

    What a Japanese product lacks in soul is more than made up in reliability. Gentleman, start your engines!

  5. #5
    Lucky motorradmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalRider View Post

    I've had Valeo starters fail on two of my BMW motorcycles so far.

    The first failure occurred on my 1990 BMW R100 GS when one of the motor magnets delaminated itself from the motor housing and attached itself to the motor armature causing it to lock.

    The second failure (described in this thread) was on my 2003 BMW R1150 GS Adventure.

    The reasons for failure can be found on the label above...the French should stick to producing wine and cheese and leave engineering to Germans!!!!!!! End of rant!

    The French copy nobody, and nobody copies the French.

    Nice write up!
    Mike Marr
    1978 Yamaha XS750 (Needs rings), 1996 BMW R1100RS, 2004 Honda CRF230F

  6. #6
    Registered User GKman's Avatar
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    Sorry to see you having a problem, thanks for sharing the information.

    I can't see enough to tell, could three or four small welds around the perimeter be added to retain the plate?

  7. #7
    Day Dreaming ... happy wanderer's Avatar
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    I would not bother rebuilding a starter that got fried tt that extent. I'd never trust it again no matter how many new parts were installed. Heat of that intensity warps things.

    That said those overheated plates are some of the finest garage wall art I've seen!
    MJM - BeeCeeBeemers Motorcycle Club Vancouver B.C.
    '81 R80G/S, '82 R100RS, '00 R1100RT

  8. #8
    Pepperfool GSAddict's Avatar
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    Fixed one with the identical issue a couple of years ago.
    Bent the tabs out and made sure the plate locked into the carrier,
    Applied some 5 min epoxy to the exposed windings (after cleaning) and re-assembled.
    Client was/is happy and no issues.
    That being said, it is a poor design.
    Not so poor as to say after 244,000 km my starter ('00 GS) has had 1 brush replacement/lube/commutator polish.

    I have repaired/rebuilt many Japanese starters and they are not without their issues as well.
    A good example would be the Yamaha Virago.
    '
    Ufda happens..........

    It's all about the details.

  9. #9
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GKman View Post
    I can't see enough to tell, could three or four small welds around the perimeter be added to retain the plate?
    Nope. The planetary gear housing is not metal.

    Along with putting a shallow groove in the housing, I was planning on bending the tabs out a tad just as GSAddict had.

    The rebuild will be a late summer project. I do not have issues trusting my rebuild; it'll be better than when it came off the Valeo assembly line. That shouldn't be hard to do.

  10. #10
    . AntonLargiader's Avatar
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    Just cleaned & greased the Valeo from my Airhead GS today. It's been replaced before (I probably did it) because these magnets are clipped. I've almost sworn off opening them up, because they are just so cheap to replace, but I did go through this one (didn't replace any parts, just cleaned and greased) and the horrible squealing did stop.

    As with every other time I've opened one, the cover was firmly in place. I didn't look to see if there was a groove but i've never seen one come out. I've opened maybe 10~20 of them, guessing.

    Interesting failure you had.
    Anton Largiader 72724
    largiader.com bmwra.org

  11. #11
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntonLargiader View Post
    Just cleaned & greased the Valeo from my Airhead GS today.
    Anton, what parts got cleaned and greased. Having been one of the first if not the first to have rebuilt (dropped magnet) the Valeo for my airhead GS (no DIYs found on the web back then), all I can remember cleaning and greasing are the planetary gears. And with the grease retainer plate in place, it took a while to flush all the old grease out with solvent. As for greasing the shaft at the brushes end, it goes into a plain bushing.


    Quote Originally Posted by AntonLargiader View Post
    It's been replaced before (I probably did it) because these magnets are clipped.
    What do you mean by "clipped" or are they mechanically held in place as well as glued.


    Quote Originally Posted by AntonLargiader View Post
    horrible squealing did stop.
    I was under the impression that the squeal originated by a worn starter drive, which is sealed.


    Quote Originally Posted by AntonLargiader View Post
    As with every other time I've opened one, the cover was firmly in place. I didn't look to see if there was a groove but i've never seen one come out. I've opened maybe 10~20 of them, guessing.
    Maybe the cover wasn't installed properly to the correct depth; a QA issue then. I never saw a groove in the housing, now and back then, but I'll be putting a shallow groove in the original unit.

    Quote Originally Posted by AntonLargiader View Post
    Interesting failure you had.
    And apparently I'm not the first to experience it. A nickle and dime part car mess with your day. I know how cheap they are here; I have a new Valeo sitting on the shelf as a spare for my airhead GS. Unfortunately OE or aftermarket were equally expensive in Trento, Italy.

    BTW, I was last in home town as I drove through in 2011.

  12. #12
    . AntonLargiader's Avatar
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    First let me say I'm no expert on overhauling starters, although the internet certainly thinks I am. All I can find on a web search is my own sorely outdated page and pirated copies thereof.

    Cleaning/greasing the planetary alone has never helped much. I do that anyway, by popping the cover off and flushing with solvent, but it's just one thing. Mostly I flush the spiral drive section and the sprag clutch, then I grease the spiral with CV joint grease. I'm not at all sure that greasing is even a good idea in that environment with all of the clutch dust, but I seem to get away with it. I wash with regular parts cleaning solvent, then flush with a non-residue solvent (BraKleen would work).

    The solenoid plunger and cavity are always gummy so I clean them. They should probably stay dry.

    The important bushings are:
    1) the nose bushing. If this is worn, you need to replace it. Otherwise you will never get good operation because the shaft will try to orbit in the nose bushing.
    2) the bushing at the brush end. I have seen this egged-out on older starters. The solution is to replace the magnet housing.
    3) where the bendix section passes through the wall to the planetary. Not sure if it's actually a bushing, but it needs to spin smoothly. You can pull out a C-clip and slide the shaft through a few mm into the planetary housing to simplify the clean/grease routine.

    If you pop the retainer off the nose of the shaft, you can disassemble a lot more but it is such a pain to reassemble it that I don't bother.

    Yes, the new magnet housings have steel clips as well as glue. I really need to update my web page so I'll try to get some photos of this. I have new magnet housings on the shelf.
    Anton Largiader 72724
    largiader.com bmwra.org

  13. #13
    ONE LESS HARLEY 04r1150rs's Avatar
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    exactly what happened to mine a couple of years ago.
    Richard
    2004 R1150RS
    1984 R80 G/S
    2003 Suzuki DRZ 400S

  14. #14
    Nickname: Droid
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    I must have been lucky. The original valeo on my 94 Rs worked well up to 120K. I then rebuilt it by cleaning it and re-glued the magnets into the casing with JB Weld epoxy. That served me well up to a few weeks back, now at 172,000. I just replaced it with an Enduralst Valeo copy.

  15. #15
    Pepperfool GSAddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntonLargiader View Post
    The solenoid plunger and cavity are always gummy so I clean them. They should probably stay dry.

    Absolutely, solenoid plunger (armature) and cavity should be clean and dry, and never be lubricated.
    '
    Ufda happens..........

    It's all about the details.

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