Workbench: March 2016

Technical Questions and Answers


Headlight Aim

Stu,

I own a 2008 Gold Wing with a 2011 CSC trike conversion. With headlights on high beam, they only reach out about 60 feet in front of the bike when adjusted all the way up. The Honda shop said the only way to raise them up was by replacing existing front springs with heavier ones thus raising the front of the bike up. Is this the only alternative I have or is there some other adjustment that can be made? I have noticed that when parked next to other bikes in the club, that mine set about 3 or 4 inches higher in the back then anyone else’s trike. Any help would be greatly appreciated. It can be pretty scary riding after dark.


Harold Hollister
Lowell, Ohio

Harold,

The electric headlamp adjusters operate within a certain range of movement, and that range can be altered vertically by turning the vertical adjustment screws on the back side of the headlamp assemblies while the adjusters are in the full-up position. There are also horizontal adjustment screws, which should not be altered unless necessary. The vertical adjustment screws are the ones closest to the respective sides of the motorcycle. The entire procedure, including drawings, is outlined on pages 4-23 and 4-24 of the 2006-2008 GL1800 service manual under the heading “Headlight Aim.” Because your shop’s service personnel are obviously unaware of this, consider
asking one of your more capable club buddies for a hand.

But first things first, I’d recommend comparing the height of the rear and front of your CSC with that of another CSC in your club. If the difference in the rear is indeed 3 or 4 inches, either your rear suspension is adjusted incorrectly, or the other trike’s is. Or, perhaps your trike has larger rear wheels than some others. Consult with CSC on this issue if in doubt. On the front end, compare the distance between the top of the fender and the nose of the fairing. If your trike is actually sagging at the front compared to the others, then perhaps new springs really are needed, especially if yours are original Honda parts. Note that most of the others have likely installed aftermarket front springs as part of the conversion process.


Stu


Fog Lights, Headlights

Stu,

I have just upgraded from a 1985 LTD Gold Wing to a 2015 HPNAM Gold Wing. Just a little upgrade. I am looking for some advice on the following: 1. What fog lights would you install? (I like the looks of the ones designed for the Generation 2, not the round ones.) 2. Would you swap out the stock low and high beam headlights? If so, with what? (The stock ones seem weak.) 3. I notice several Gold Wings have lights mounted under the front cowling. I live out in the countryside and could use some extra lights during my ride home after work. What would you install in this area, if any at all? Thanks you in advance for all of your help and advice.


Dennis Black
Roy, Washington

Dennis,

Right. Just a tiny upgrade!

No. 1: Fog lights? Or are you referring to driving lights? Fog lights (low, flat beam) actually help you see in fog, while driving lights will put you into a total whiteout situation if turned on in fog. No kidding, you wouldn’t be able to see 25 feet in front of the bike. I never enter heavy fog intentionally. But if I were unfortunate enough to find myself in that situation, I’d rather have fog lights than driving lights. But most folks disagree with that opinion and would prefer lights capable of singeing a deer’s eyeballs at 200 yards. In that case, you’d want driving lights, which is what most, if not all aftermarket GL1800 light kits consist of. The rectangular ones could be a difficult choice, though I like the looks of Electrical Connection’s LED kit, which mounts to the cowl rather than the engine.

No. 2: Regarding a headlamp swap, I can’t think of anything I’d rather have. The stock GL1800 headlamps provide some of the best illumination in all of motorcycling and as good or better than most cars using Halogen lamps. And if you’ll be installing driving lamps anyway, then I guess I don’t see the point. Again, that’s just my opinion. Some feel the need to install HID headlamps, so you might investigate that option.

No. 3: If you mount driving lights, as opposed to fog lights, mounting them higher and wider than the usual location in the OEM fog light holes may be a more effective option. If it were my personal bike, I’d go for the best of both worlds by mounting a Genuine Honda Fog Lamp kit (08V70-MCA-S40) in the lower cowl and a Rivco Gold Wing Driving Light kit under the mirrors or on the engine guards. The Rivco kit consists of two 2-inch diameter, 55-watt halogen driving lamps that can be aimed both horizontally and vertically for best effect. While the Honda LED Fog Lamp kit is rather expensive and, oddly, consists of round lamps to fit rectangular holes, it contains actual fog lamps which will improve vision in fog.


Stu


Trike Front-End Wobble Tips

Stu,

I love your “Workbench” articles and look forward to them every month. The reason I am writing is in the Nov. 2015 issue, the “Shake, Wobble and Whoa” article states he has a strong wobble in front on his triked Wing. I too had this problem with my trike conversion. It turned out that the front tire, when remounted onto the bike was not done so following the manual on the remount to the bike bolt sequence as stated in the Gold Wing service manual (not done by a Honda shop). Have him loosen bolts and then retighten them and maybe his front shake will go away like mine did. Maybe mine was a fluke but might be worth trying. Thanks for all you do.


Mark Seibel
Sanford, Maine

Mark,

I don’t think yours was a fluke, but that’s only one of myriad possibilities that cause front end wobble on a trike. Glen Coleman of Easy Rider Trikes advises that setting the tire pressures to 36 PSI and maintaining that pressure usually eliminates the symptom. Then again, he’s talking about a correctly assembled and well-maintained trike, not a trike on which someone has installed the front wheel incorrectly. This is a real issue, not just with nonfranchise mechanics, but with some Honda Service Associates as well. RTFM (ask your buddies) is the cure for that.


Stu


Battery Cover

Stu,

I recently had the right-handed side battery cover come off and skid down the road. When I went online to see about purchasing a new one, I found that the “Cover, R. Side *R176C* (Candy Specta Red) 83600-MN5-000ZN” is no longer for sale. The side cover itself is OK, just scratched up. Do you know where I might be able to send it to get it repainted? It has a chrome scuff guard on it that will need to be removed, also. It is double-side taped to it, but I have never had reason to remove it so I’m sure it is stuck on pretty tight. Any help you can be would be appreciated.


Mike Doran
Swartz Creek, Michigan

Mike,

It doesn’t surprise me that body pieces for a 24-year-old bike have been discontinued. The chrome aftermarket scuff cover can be removed by sawing through the adhesive with a length of monofilament fishing line. As for painting, this will be a challenge. Even if you found Candy Spectra Red paint available from ColorRite, the chances that it would match the paint on your “Sun Drenched” Candy Red bike are close to zero. Red fades worse than almost every other color. You might check eBay for a replacement cover. Other than that, you’ll need to find a body shop that can match the existing shade of red on yours. Either way, I recommend replacing all of the rubber grommets that attach both side covers. They’re still available.


Stu


1800 Electrical Problem

Stu,

As an individual who loves working on his own bike for farkles, maintenance, service, and loves riding, your articles in every issue are priceless. Please continue.

I have a few perplexing problems on my 2007 GL1800 with GPS and ABS with 102,000 miles. My local dealer has had the bike for three weeks and still has not been able to resolve the issues, although they have really tried. I ride in New Hampshire, until the snow flies, then sometimes take a quick ride if we get a 50-degree day in the winter if no ice is around. And I am the first out in the spring, which can be as early as February or March. I use a battery tender once the bike goes in the garage after it snows. It is my main/favored transportation vehicle. The most important, is first:

1. The following occurs only in the first 5-10 minutes of riding but has resulted in killing one 2-year-old battery and has been draining a new one. Battery indicator light goes from green to red indicating discharge condition, headlights dim, radio goes off, and panel goes dark. All lights work, the engine runs. This slowly reverts to normal conditions, and repeats itself multiple times in the first 5-10 minutes of riding. The seat/grip heat also goes off when this happens, if it is on. The panel comes back on in same condition/place it was when it went out, not as if it turned off, just as if the light only turned off. If it is on a map, the map returns without rebooting. This does not appear to occur if the bike is left idling. All battery terminals and connectors were verified as tight.

The day before bringing it to the dealer it started in garage OK. I rode to work and parked the bike for about six hours. Upon starting, it was slightly difficult. I rode about three-quarters of a mile to another building at work. About one hour later, the battery was dead. It had to be pushed to start. The battery has been replaced with a brand new, fully charged battery, but there are still the same symptoms. Rectifier, alternator, voltage regulator? Charging system checks OK, both by Honda and I. It does not matter at what gear or RPM the engine is running. When stopped, the engine will idle OK, but have never stopped when the power appears off, as it seems to go back on before I can find a safe spot to pull off road. Power is out less than one-two minutes each time it goes off. It does this consistently in the morning and on way home, as if it works fine once something is heated to running temperature.

2. Mirror blinkers: If you turn on the blinker, the opposite side running light/blinker goes off. You can make it go back on if you “finger” the blinker switch to the side that is now out. This happens the same on either side. The controls on left handlebar were replaced with new controls. Same problem reoccurred. Any other suggestions you may have obviously would be greatly appreciated.


Charles Howard
Boling, Texas

Charles,

Depending on how long the ride lasted after the power came back on, a week of this could easily drain the battery enough to cause a no-start. Running the bike for 10 minutes after using the electric starter with all accessories and lights on, but with the charging system off line could put the battery in a low state of charge, and riding an additional short period (less than 30 minutes) would not fully recharge the battery … far from it. So each day (each start, actually) starts with a progressively discharged battery, until you end up needing a jump or push start. You say you’ve tested the charging system, so I’m assuming that after the first 10 minutes, the system reads 14 volts or more across the battery terminals and never drops off again till the bike has cooled completely. Of course, that assumption may be false, so check it again thoroughly.

The black/yellow wire from fuse #16 on your 2007 model powers a lot of the devices that seem to misbehave during these episodes, including the alternator field coil. The ECU normally keeps the alternator off line for around 10 seconds after each engine start, so what could cause the alternator to charge inconsistently for 10 minutes, and only when the engine is cold? First, I suggest confirming that the issue doesn’t exist after an engine start when the engine is at normal operating temperature. Even if you can’t get to the road shoulder before it resolves, you can squeeze the clutch, cycle the ignition key, then restart while still rolling. If it happens after each engine start, warm or cold, check your farkling to be sure nothing other than OEM devices are plumbed into that black/yellow wire.

Yes, it could be temperature-related. Remove the connector from the alternator, and check for corrosion, loose terminal pins or frayed wires. Perform a key-off current drain test. A large drain could indicate battery discharge with key off through a bad rectifier diode and failure to provide adequate charge with the engine running. My final thought (distasteful, so I saved it for last) is to remove the fuel tank and check the condition of the main ground point of harness/frame. Problems here have been shown to be responsible for more weird electrical problems with the GL1800 than at any other point in the wiring system.


Stu

Stu,

Thank you so much for your response. My commute to work, and thus engine run time is 40 minutes each way. I have even had the battery tender plugged in nightly and left in the morning with a full charge. I have tried the ignition switch cycling while running, but frankly can’t remember if the below 12 volts red light went on again. My recollection is that it did not.

Since she has been in the local dealer for about a month now, I am forwarding your email to my service manager in the hopes that it will help. I will let you know the outcome. Thank you again.


Charles Howard
Boling, Texas


Ride-Off Center Stand

Stu,

I have an ’08 GL1800 and my problem is that the older I get, the harder it is to get the bike onto the center stand. I considered getting a ride-on-and-off center stand and talked to my Gold Wing repair man, Hobbs Cycle, Fairfield, Pennsylvania. He told me he did not sell them and to try backing the bike onto a three-quarter inch board, which I did. Problem solved. This allows you to put it onto the factory center stand with greatly reduced effort, and once on the stand, you can pull out the board. Then you can rotate the rear wheel as usual to check the tire and air pressure. Note: I beveled the end of the board to make it easier to back onto it. I am not sure this was necessary. If you think this information is worthwhile, please pass it on. I always read “Workbench” first and enjoy your problem solving.


Stuart Six
New Windsor, Maryland

Stuart,

This little trick with the board has been around probably since I was in diapers (sorry for that mental picture). But what I think is common knowledge often turns out not to be. So sure, I’ll be happy to pass it along to the rest of the Members. Kudos to your dealer for suggesting the board, and also to you for taking their advice.


Stu


Radio Repair

Stu,

I have to write this by hand, because I do not use a computer real fast. I am right handed and I am missing some tips of my fingers on the right hand, I lost across the pond. My wife is out of state visiting our kids or it would have been typed.

I have a 1988 1500 Wing with 128,000 miles. My bike is in awesome condition because I read the “WorkBench” section and watch your illustrated video. I have saved many articles over the years. I have a file for those only. My problem is my LCD will not display AM or FM with the radio on. It still works on AM/FM, it just does not show up on the screen. Also, the little icon that shows the direction of the tape does not show up either. Cassette works fine though. Both the radio station and direction of tape used to come on every once in a while, but not anymore.

I have been looking and trying to figure this out for at least a year now. I have no other option but to ask for some advice to lead me in the right direction. I would be delighted, since this is the only thing that is not perfect on the bike. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I took your advice and put a Randakk carb kit in, cleaned the carbs in an ultrasonic cleaner, and I bought the gauges and synched my carbs. I get constant 42 mpg two up, always.

I tried to buy a Vacula Radiator Flush kit but was told they were out of business. Since I work on bikes occasionally, I do use Plast-Aid.


Van McElhaney
Jefferson City, Tennessee

Van,

You just might be the only person whose handwriting is less legible than mine. Luckily, my wife isn’t out of town, so she translated your chicken scratch to the best of her ability and typed it up for me. I hope we got the email address correct. If not, you’ll be able to read this when it’s published.

I’m glad to hear you’ve saved a bunch of articles, because you never can tell when you might need the info. The only radiator flush kit I remember writing about was the Coolant Pulsator by Hecat. They’ve sold that product to Gates … the same folks who make Gates belts and hoses. It can be found on their website http://tinyurl.com/jnugnpt. They call it The Gates Power Clean Tool – part# 91002. Vacula also made some handy products, including a brake flush and bleeding system, and that may have been what you were thinking of, because I wrote a review of that product years ago. Unfortunately, you’re correct about Vacula; they’re a dead horse. You can still find unsold product at Toolsource.com and on Amazon, but when it’s gone, it’s gone.

So let’s talk about your radio and cassette player. Remove the radio/cassette unit after disconnecting the antenna plug and both the large and small wiring plugs. The white, 6-pin connector that you needed to unplug contains the 5 wires going to the LCD unit. The yellow/red wire goes to the CB. Examine all of the wire terminals in that plug and also on the radio, looking for looseness, corrosion, dirt, etc. Connecting then removing it from the radio several times will clean the terminal connections somewhat. But if things are really messy in there, you’ll need to use a commercial electronics cleaner spray. Temporarily install the wires on the radio chassis, and see if the display now functions. If so, button everything back up. Otherwise, you’ll need to disconnect the black, 14-pin connector from underneath the LCD unit, the 6-pin white connector from the radio chassis, and perform a continuity test on those wires between the two wiring plugs, repairing any wires that don’t show continuity between those two points. If this doesn’t resolve your problem, write to me again. But next time, wait till your wife gets home!


Stu


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