Board index Flathead Power-Technical Questions, Answers, and Suggestions Indians ELECTRICAL???


Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:31 am

Posts: 190
Location: Clearwater, fl
I know this is posted in the wrong catagory, but I'm hoping it will not offend anybody as this problem could related to any 6v system. My '47 Chief will not run with the headlight on. 6v system. Will run with it on for 4-6- miles after initial start up then the bike begins to sputter like the timing is retarded or it's running out of gas. Turn the headlight off and she runs fine. New wiring harness. All connection checked, double checked, triple checked. I've tried 3 ignition switchs with no change. I've disconnected all other lights, the horn, etc from the ignition switch and reconnected them one at a time with no change. I disconnected everything from the switch and bolted all the connections together with no change. I've eliminated the Hi/Low switch, no change. Eliminated the horn button, no change. Changed out the coil, no change. New cut out, no change. Replaced the cap, no change. Wired the headlight bulb directly to the switch, no change. Gennerator is charging at 7v and the battery maintains a charge of 6.5v. In my mind I've run out of options, any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance, Randy

P.S. I've got a sealed beam in there.
Last edited by ANTEKS on Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:57 am
Pa Site Admin

Posts: 5843
Location: Ohio USA

This may sound off the wall....but are you sure you have'nt got a 12 volt bulb in your headlamp, and not a 6 volt ? Pa

Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:01 pm

Posts: 190
Location: Clearwater, fl
Thanks for the suggestion Pa, but I've checked and even tried another bulb. BTW, I thought a 12v bulb in a 6v system would only make the bulb burn dimly.

Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:06 pm
Pa Site Admin

Posts: 5843
Location: Ohio USA

Not being an electrician by any means, I figured a 12 volt bulb in a 6 volt system, may, during higher voltage output, steal current from the system. A 6 volt bulb in a 12 volt system would burn out almost instantly.

Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:49 pm

Posts: 332
Location: north central Ma.
Are you sure your batterys good?
I used a NEW sealed battery in my K model and had same problem as you head light on = sputtering.
Being as the bike was new to me and the battery was a week old i spent around $300 rebuilding the gen with all new NOS parts i could find....
Same problem. With head light off it would run fine but fart out the carb only once and a while (i thought sticky valve due to sitting 20+ years) but then everyone said battery....
Sure enoguh i tested the battery bump it and it would drop one cell shake it it be back to new battery been fine the last 4 years.

"Smok'in the competition NOT Tobacco"
"Transplant organs, Don't bury them!"
Why dwarf? 5/8 scale race cars!

Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:07 pm

Posts: 109
Location: belgium
what kind of generator do you have?
if it's alike the 3-brush generators on old HD, the third brush may be regulated for more power output. Normally 4Amp. without lights.
when switching over to headlight, the shunt fieldwinding of the generator should be switched on resulting in more power output (approx 4 amp more)
but this is for HD Delco Remy generator
does this happen ? Is it the same way on your motorcycle?
on HD generator this shunt field winding is connected to point B
point R is connected to the cutout relay

if it's like B340 Indian wiring:
you don't have a shunt fieldwinding
and your generator should be regulated for adequate output power:
factorysetting is :
only ride by daylight : 4 amp (mostly without lights)
factory setting ride with lights on all the time: approx 8 amp

Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:20 pm

Posts: 190
Location: Clearwater, fl
Thanks all for you replys. The battery is new and keeps a charge of about 6.5-7v. I tried another fully charged battery anyways with no change.

The generator is a standard Chief Auto-lite and puts out about 8v. The relay points stay closed when the bike is running and open when the bike is turned off. I think that's the way it's suppose to work.

Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:56 pm

Posts: 251
Location: Hudson, Florida
My sons sporty was acting the same way, with headlights on breaking up an no
light. Found the headlight ground wire in the headlight assembly only hanging by a few strands, replaced it an so far no more problems.

Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:36 pm

Posts: 190
Location: Clearwater, fl
Thanks for the tip, but the headlight works fine and it's ground is tight.

Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:16 pm

Posts: 543
Location: Wa, USA
If you are grounding through the neck bearings, that can cause problems. This can be eliminated by grounding the light to the frame.

Post Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:23 pm

Posts: 190
Location: Clearwater, fl
Thanks for the input. Are you saying that even with the headlight ground tight and the light nice and bright, a bad ground through the neck bearings can cause the bike to run erratically?

Post Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:56 am

Posts: 168
Location: Cork ,Republic of Ireland
You say its a " new wiring harness" , have you just fitted the harness? or was the bike running fine before and just developed a problem?

if its a newly fitted harness, personally i would get a VOM (meter) and firstly check every cable to make sure there is continuity between both ends of each cable and secondly check between each cable end and the frame to make sure there is no damaged cable "shorting " the circuit and dragging it down.

You could also get 2 circuit diagrams from different sources ( to cross check each cable is going to the correct location) then mark each cable end with its origin / destination - to be sure. (Electrical schematics are open to different interpretations by people). i havnt experienced the "pain" of an Electrical fault on a scoot yet but i have elsewhere and quite often its down to a short /open circuit or incorrect connection.

just my 2 cents.


Post Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:49 am

Posts: 190
Location: Clearwater, fl
Thanks. The bike is recently restored and the harness newly installed. Wires that can be pinched are protected by heavy wire loom. Problem has existed from the get go. All wires have continuity. The wiring to the switch is quite simple and logical. Basically all power goes to 1 terminal, and all lighting to the opposite side. Horn & ignition have sepatate terminals. I've checked it over and over, and also have had others check it. It is correct.

Post Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:28 am

Posts: 1676
Location: Interlaken, NY USA

O.K, Sounds interesting. First review Indian generators for me.
It looks like they can be 3 brush generators, and use either a relay, or a regulator for control.
How is yours set up?
Next, If you can get a hold of an ammeter, check the current into and out of the battery. disconnect the present wire to the positive battery terminal, and insert the ammeter into the circuit. Hook the leads so that the negative meter lead goes to the battery, and the positive hooks to the wire you took off the battery.
Start up, and check the current into or out of the battery with lights off, then on. It should give a negative amp reading with ignition on, but engine not running. Once started, the reading should go positive, showing the generator is putting juice into the battery, besides supplying all power necessary to run the loads that are on.
From the discussion to date, it sounds like you've covered all the standard problems that can arise, bad wires, switches, etc.
Therefore, if the bike is dying, it's not getting enough electricity to fire the plugs. Electricity comes from the generator eventually, so get the ammeter, put in circuit and see what's happening.
Take some readings and let us know what you find, Hang in there, the light at the end of the tunnel isn't a freight train.

Post Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:23 am

Posts: 190
Location: Clearwater, fl
Thanks for chiming in Dr. Dick,

Generator with cut out relay.

Ignition on, bike not running, the ammeter goes slightly neg. Bike running ammeter goes positive. Lights on and bike running ammeter goes slightly neg. Juice coming out of the relay is 8v. Battery stays charged at about 6.5-7v.

I'm not sure if the genny is suppose to have a cut out relay or regulator, but it's got a relay on it now. One wire coming out of the genny.

One theory for the problem is that the frame was powder coated and therefore the engine isn't being properly grounded. Might not be grounded through the neck bearings as well, although the light is working and bright. Is this possible?


Post Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:08 pm

Posts: 1676
Location: Interlaken, NY USA

Randy, that negative amp reading with light on isn't a good thing. It has to go positive or you're running on the battery to make up the difference. It should take longer than 5-6 miles to cause a problem though, depending on the battery size.
On the ground issue, could be causing a problem, quick check if you have a digital voltmeter you trust. Make a good ground connection with the meter negative lead on the generator body. Go for clean no paint metal. Take a reading with the positive lead on the negative battery terminal. Should be virtually the same. A few tenths of a volt would be o.k, anything more, clean away coatings to get good contact from generator body to frame, and battery neg terminal to frame.
Do the ground tests with the engine running, no lights on.
The engine to chassis ground issue is an interesting point and possible cause of problems. Every bad ground makes a resistor in the electrical path. It's possible that a poor ground at the battery and one at the engine could lower the effective voltage at the coil to cause the misfire.
Once you're sure you have a good ground between genny and battery, do the check to the engine:
Check between the genny frame and engine just like the genny and battery, this time, negative lead to battery negative. Only do this after you're sure the battery to frame connection is good.
Check to cam cover. Again more than a few tenth's of a volt and there's a problem.
Make check with ignition on, points closed, engine off.
I would think that getting the engine into the frame and fasteners digging into "paint" would get you a good ground along the way, but check it anyway if there are still problems after you're sure of the genny-battery connection.
Check the batt-gen ground first, and fix. Then check engine ground.
If still not getting a positive reading from ammeter with light on-running, See if you still have a third brush, and if so, see if it can be adjusted for more output.
Lastly, or maybe firstly :lol: It may be that your genny just won't put out enough to run the sealed beam light! Lots of the old bikes used a 30watt bulb on the headlight. A typical 50-60 watt bulb may just be too much.
Keep us informed,

Post Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:17 pm

Posts: 190
Location: Clearwater, fl
Thanks Dick, Lot's to consider.

Ground from battery (with in line 15apm fuse) is directly to the engine case.

The genny wouldn't put out any juice until I ran a ground from the genny body to the engine case. Then it started to work, like I said, 8v. Seems to me that if the genny wouldn't work before I grounded it to the engine, and then started to work after I grounded it to the engine, then the engine must be grounded also. But what do I know? I'll try regrounding everything.

My buddy with 3 Chiefs says negative output from the ammeter is normal for Indians.

Post Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:40 pm

Posts: 190
Location: Clearwater, fl
Oh, I forgot to mention, the relay stays closed all the time until you shut the bike down.

My understanding is that the relay will stay closed until the battery output is higher than the genny output. Once the battery is higher than the genny is puttung out, the relay points open and it cuts off juice to the battery. With the genny putting out 8v, and the battery always lower than that, this seems correct. So, as long as the battery is staying at 6.5-7v (even with the lights on) does this seem normal? Thanks, Randy

Post Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:05 pm

Posts: 1676
Location: Interlaken, NY USA

Well, Doesn't sound like the engine or the genny has a good ground to the frame, but you did a work around with the separate ground wire to resolve the issue, so it probably isn't the cause of the present problem. A good ground from the headlight bucket to the engine or good chassis ground is always a good idea. Grounding through the head bearings tends to shorten headlight bulb life. It acts as an intermittent connection, causing stress to the filament. Again, not your current worry.
Well, if the indian experts say a negative reading is o.k., I'll believe them, But, it says to me that the genny doesn't make enough to meet the headlight's draw. But, Hey, what do I know, I'm 1500 miles away :lol:
Just as an aside, the relay isn't going to open 'till things get really bad, so not opening isn't a much more than a "go-no go" indicator.
Try this; disconnect the headlight, power it up directly from your battery with the ammeter in the line, check current draw. Write that down. ( well, if you're over 40 write it down). Multiply by 6 to get the watts, or power draw of the bulb. See how that compares to stock bulb. Of course, if you have some Indian friends, they may have already told you that the headlight bulb you're using is something they've tried and works o.k. for them. If so, I'm running out of quick ideas.
I keep coming back to the genny not making enough to do the job. The Voltage readings are somewhat confusing, but the basic fact seems to be that the coil is starving for electricity when the headlight's on. That's the problem. Either we're not making it, or it isn't getting to the coil when the light's on, and you're running down the road.
How about this:
You've made the road run, the bike starts cutting out, and you stop the machine. Still have a problem? Does motion down the road enter into the equation?
Make a run, create the problem, head for home, leave it running, check your voltages, still good?
Can you sit there with the meters hooked up and turn the light on and off and create the problem and make it go away?
Another question, is the ammeter you're using part of the bike's equipment? Or a digital one you're hooking up to take readings?
That's it for now, answer me these, said the Riddler...

Post Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:17 pm

Posts: 190
Location: Clearwater, fl
Interesting, the bike seems to run ok sitting still. Only occasionally can I get it to act up parked at idle. You go down the road and she sputters and quits. Flip off the headlight and we're good to go. One time, after she quit, I had no headlight or horn.

The ammeter is part of the bikes equipment (I know, not great for taking readings) After a run, with the problem occuring, the battery was at 6.5-7v.

Someone suggested a ballistor resistor at the coil.

I'm going home shortly and will work on what you've suggested.

Thanks again,


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