- Jul 20, 2009
Yesterday, fortunately while close to home, my engine suddenly quit. My first thought was that I forgot to open the petcock but a quick glance showed it was on. Then I saw a thick white acrid smoke pouring out from behind the battery cover. I quickly pulled off the cover and confronted a bundle of melted wires engulfed in a small flame! I was able to blow out the fire (thank god I had gotten a handle on my oil leaks a few weeks before, installing a small catch bottle in the oil tank breather, so there was noting else to burn. A couple of weeks ago I'm sure the entire bike would have gone up in flames).
Okay, here's what happened. It was entirely my fault. . . though with a little help from whoever decided it was a good idea to go against the rest of the world and engineer a positive ground electrical system. A few months ago I installed a battery tender, wiring up the pig-tail that allows you to plug it in easily. The plug has a bare negative terminal, but also a rubber cap that covers it. Apparently, the cap worked its way off, made contact with the (positive) frame and created a dead short.
Wires in the main harness as far forward as mid top tube are melted, but so far as I can tell only the ground wires are toast. None of the fuses blew, either the main one, or the small 7.5 amp one in the pig-tail. I guess that's logical since the pig-tail was connected directly to the battery and the short was direct from the negative wire through the frame (and red ground wires) back to the battery.
So, the big question is were any electronics damaged? The engine did quit, but I'm not sure if it's because the Boyer is fried, or because a wire melted through. The bike still has its original rectifier and zener, but there's an un-opened Pod-tronics unit in the box of parts the original owner gave me, so maybe now's the time to install it.
I guess the first step is to replace all the melted ground wires and power it up and see if it works, then go from there. I've given some thought to going ahead and replacing the entire harness ($125 from Commando Specialists), as the wiring was a bit of a rats nest even before the fire. My larger desire is to convert to a negative ground system, which I'll ask about in a subsequent post. Otherwise, any thoughts or suggestions from you guys would be appreciated (except telling me what an idiot I am).