Take Charge Of Your Charging System

Article & Photos By: Bart Mitchell

(Bart Alan Photography – mrbreezephotos@yahoo.com)

Originally Published In The October 2013 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine


Charging systems can be misdiagnosed or all out forgotten about. This is the heart of your electrical system! Do yourself a favor and read up on it! Get a manual!


We did this with our friend Bart Mitchell’s ‘99 Heritage. Something wasn’t right; the bike was running like crap. We brought the bike over to BC Cycles in Upland, CA. The first thing to do was to get a good voltage meter. If the bike will start, turn the meter to DC. Put the indicators on negative and positive on the battery posts. Is it reading over 12 volts? It should be. Raise the RPM. Does the voltage reading on the meter go up as the RPM goes up? It should be. If it doesn’t, you know you have a problem.


Let’s get into it. First, check the stator/alternator. Different people will call this part either of the two names. The stator is located in your primary housing. It’s covered by the rotor. The rotor has several magnets in it and rotates around the stator. Checking the stator is the first step in eliminating possible issues in your charging system. Look up this step in the manual, because it can be confusing. Your regulator will be plugged into the stator plug. Unplug it. What you will be checking for is a grounded stator. With the meter switched to Ohms, put the negative lead on your engine case and the other on one of the terminals coming out of the stator. The reading should show O or OL, which means open line; that’s good! Any other reading is bad.


If you do get a good reading, then it’s very possible that your regulator needs to be changed. Harley does not give you a way to diagnose the regulator. The flow chart in their repair manuals say to replace the regulator if the stator is good. As a rule of thumb, if the stator is bad, we change it all. Believe me, we’ve done the job of just changing out just the stator or just the regulator soon to be on the side of the road wishing we would have changed both. So that’s what we did; we changed both. First, we hit up our friends at Accel. Everybody knows Accel. Why? Because they make good products that last! We got the 32 amp charging system kit. This kit comes with all the components necessary to change out your charging system.


The initial first step in this job will be to get a manual for reference. You’ll need it. Unbolt the leads off the battery. Next, drain the primary fluid. Remove any floorboards or foot pegs that get in the way of removing the primary cover. Take out all the screws that hold in the primary cover and place them in order as they were taken out. You will need to take the clutch basket off, compensating sprocket and chain tensioner. Again, refer to socket sizes in manual. Taking off the rotor that covers the stator is a little tough. There is a special tool in the manual. I use two dental picks that have right angles on the tips. Stick those through the two exposed holes in the rotor. Gently pull on the rotor. Work it back and forth to ease the rotor off the sprocket shaft of the motor. You now will see the stator exposed. There are four screws holding the stator. Remove those screws. Gently pull the stator off the engine case and ease out the end of the stator plug protruding from the engine case. You’re half way done!


Clean the area very well. Install a new stator by gently feeding the plug through the engine case. Take your time to not damage anything. I’ve had to put WD-40 on the plug to make it a little easier to feed through. There should be a Loctite patch on the screws provided to install the stator, if not, put some. Gently install the stator with provided screws. Do not over tighten and break the screws! At this point, I put a little silicone on the inside of the stator plug so primary fluid doesn’t leak outside the case. Next, install the new rotor that covers the stator. Use the same process of taking it off to re-install. Take the dental picks and line up the rotor on the splines of the sprocket shaft. Gently ease the rotor against the stator. Because of the magnets, it will want to pull swiftly against the stator, so be gentle.


Great job so far. Take your time with electrical. Re-install the compensating sprocket, clutch basket and chain tensioner. Install the primary cover. Fill with recommended primary fluid. Re-install foot pegs or floorboards. Now it’s time for the regulator install.


Look at how the regulator is installed. How is the wiring laid out? If the person did a good job, you will want to duplicate it. The main thing is you don’t want the wire that is going back to the main breaker to rub on anything. You do not want this wire to ground out on the frame. Double and triple check this. Remove the regulator. Follow the wire from the regulator to the main breaker. In this case, it’s on a splash guard behind the oil tank. I do not recommend installing this wire on the positive lead on the battery. I see it all the time. Harley does it to the main breaker for a reason. Install the


regulator. Some regulators have a ground wire; some are grounded by the housing. Both are fine. Route the wire along the bottom edge of the frame in this case. Refer to the manual for proper routing. Plug the other wire from the regulator into the stator plug protruding from the case.


Hook up the battery. You’re done. Put your meter on DC. Start the bike. Put the indicating leads on negative and positive. Are you reading 12 volts? With a rise in RPM is the voltage going higher? If it is, congratulations you are charging! This is a job that you need to take your time on. Read the manual. Thanks again to Eddie Cazares and Wyatt from BC Cycles! We could not have done it without you.


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