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Ignition Issues with Aftermarket Systems

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David Elkow
(@4949)
Posts: 308
Reputable Member
 

Hello again.  I chimed in earlier in this saga. 1978 R100(RS). I’m still running with the EME / Sachse ignition system. Mine is the variation that fits on the stock Bosch alternator. The system continues to function without a hitch. I just recently verified the timing, and it remains exactly where I set it 3 years ago. I am single plugged, using standard Bosch 6V replacement silver coils. I like the fact that my points are still in the bike and can be put back into service quite easily should a failure occur with the EME system. Thus far I’d say this ignition is a keeper. 

 
Posted : 11/27/2023 13:19
David Elkow
(@4949)
Posts: 308
Reputable Member
 

Another picture of the EME module mounted atop the voltage regulator. 

I should add, the EME system is also very reasonably priced!

 
Posted : 11/27/2023 13:21
Steven Rankin
(@14724)
Posts: 204
Estimable Member
 

Chiming in with a bit of fluff.  I ran my stock BMW electronic ignition system for roughly 150K miles and never had a problem.  I changed it to the Alpha system from Motorrad Electrik as a "let's see what it will do". moment.  Frankly, I have not noticed any difference between it and stock.

On my 78RS, I replaced the Dyna point replacement with the new Wedgetail system again from Motorrad, that system did show a big difference in cold start performance and maybe a small improvement in riding performance.   

The Wedgetail system was very easy to install, requiring not cutting or splicing.  LOL the only thing I had to do was find a spot to mount the ignition module and I ended up attaching it to the bottom of one of the gas tank mounts.  

Unhappily I cannot give a long term report of the Wedgetail because 5000 miles after installing it, I totaled the bike.  

IF I were to buy another bike with points, I would definitely install the Wedgetail system.  St.

Beware! I do not suffer fools gladly! St.

 
Posted : 11/28/2023 10:27
David Fliehr
(@acftfliehr)
Posts: 24
Eminent Member
Topic starter
 

Steve and Dave,  Thanks for your input...  I'm sitting on the fence for Wedgetail response (and warranty that they claim lasts 2 years)...  Given the problems of the domestic Dealers Health (Tom Cutter)?  as well as the recent passing of their co founder in Australia I am giving the quest a bit of hope...  I agree the Cold Start performance was superb and my mileage went up a wee bit (imagination?)!!!  I have several e-mails etc. going out and silence is what I receive.

I'm going to give Tom a Phone call and another week and if nothing happens then, I'll pull the trigger on the EME system.  At least it's supported and the way things are going without BMW support available, may be the one to go for due to the Wedgetail situation, whom Rick (Motorrad Electrik) and I thought was going to be the go to system going forward...

Again, thanks for both of your inputs this validates my path forward on how to get through this.....

 
Posted : 11/28/2023 12:18
Richard W
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2558
Member
 

Very sorry you continue to have issues.

All I can do at this point is summarize the main trouble spots and clarify some details in order of likelihood.

► Any electronic ignition (EI) designed for a "1986 Airhead" is proabably designed around the internal primary-side resistance of the stock, OEM BMW 'coil set'. If the bike has 2 individual coils, then the sum their internal resistance must match the single "dual coil". And, ANY aftermarket or 3rd party coil MUST also match that exact internal resistance.

First thing I'd do is contact the EI maker and ask what ignition coil internal resistance (they may use the word "impedance") the unit is designed to use. Ignitions with "points" absolutely do not care about this spec, consequently coil resistances are all over the place. BUT, since the coil in an EI system is triggered by a transistor circuit, the coils must operate within a VERY narrow resistance range and your coils must comply with that spec. Often times the EI maker will offer their own ignition coils. If you are going to use any after-market coil, then I would HIGHLY recommend using theirs. Yes, they are over-priced... but there's a reason... they work.

► Remember that the original lot of BMW dual coils are known to have faults. There is a BMW recall I believe. There is a blue and a black model, one of which is NOT to be trusted. Someone else will know the details.

► Total resistance in the high voltage section (the secondary-side) is also critical. "Resistor wires" are common on cars, but under no circumstances are to be used on an Airhead. Resistor sparkplugs are common, but cannot be used on an Airhead. The OEM BMW 5K Ohm resistor plug caps are known to go bad after 40 years. At a total cost of $20, these 3 items (wires, caps, plugs) are simply easier to replace than troubleshoot. You MUST use metal-core spark plug wire and non-resister spark plugs. A lot of members report using the NGK 5K Ohm plug caps (available on Amazon) with good results.

► Voltage supply going to the EI module is extremely important. The OEM points system worked great on almost any voltage from 8VDC up to 15. But again, because the new ignitions are transistor-based, the bike's Voltage Regulator must deliver and hold the entire system at a much higher DC voltage that the EI demands. Measure voltage across the battery poles with the bike running at 3500 RPM and with the ignition turned OFF. There is probably a new minimum voltage of around 12.2VDC.

► Finally we get get to low voltage due to corrosion on or within the bike's DC wiring. You might have 14.2V at the battery, but only 12.1V at the EI module supply lead. There are a lot of physical connections within the harness and if each one knocks off 0.1V... then the sum of these "very doubtful" connections will leave a much lower voltage supply at the EI module. This is where harness treatment with a deoxidizer can really help. (See this article on terminal corrosion.)

 

So remember the difference between getting spark from a points ignition system and EI is akin to the difference between getting analog music from a hand crank Victrola and digital music from a CD. There's a quantum leap in the technology that REQUIRES a quantum leap in your thinking, tools and test procedures. EI is fabulous when it works, and not so fun when it doesn't. 

Hope this helps.

This post was modified 6 months ago 3 times by Richard W
This post was modified 4 months ago by Richard W

Owning an old Airhead is easy.
Keeping an old Airhead running great is the true test.

 
Posted : 11/29/2023 08:52
Steven Rankin
(@14724)
Posts: 204
Estimable Member
 

David, thank you for your update.  I was not aware of the death of the Wagtail fellow.  I am aware of Tom Cutter's semi retirement and issues.

I would have liked to be able to give you ongoing long term updates on my wedge tail system but that bike is in the parts bin. I don't know if I will be installing the system on another bike or not.  Most likely not.

I purchased my system from Rick at Motorrad, I was surprised the sale went to Tom, hopefully the two can sort things out for customer sakes.

Richard mentions the issue with the early twin lead single coils, "crack o matic". if you have one keep an eye on it and don't trust it. St.

Beware! I do not suffer fools gladly! St.

 
Posted : 11/30/2023 10:07
David Fliehr
(@acftfliehr)
Posts: 24
Eminent Member
Topic starter
 

Richard and Steven...  Thanks for you inputs on all regards.  Everything mentioned I have already been thru etc...   

The issue with getting support from Wedgetail has indeed been quite frustrating.  Partly from Tom being in the hospital for these many months as well as the manufacturer being in Australia.... 

I would go to the EME solution, however I have the latest Dual Bosch .8 ohm (new) coil installed replacing the .8 blue coil when I installed the Wedgetail in Feb. If I go EME than higher resistive coil will have to be purchased.  I think the latest Bosch coil is the most robust of the dual coils out there (according to Rick in which I'm in agreement).

Also changed out the secondary cables with Ricks New NGK wires and caps.  Electrical system has been rang out and checked to include the ground (earth) paths solid from the Batt Neg post to Frame Points and even to the Module and front chin case.

The Stock reman bean can and module work better than the confirmed defective Wedgetail triggering unit.

Good news is that I have just spoken with Tom and we are set to go with a replacement unit.

Hopefully will report back when I switch back the the Wedgetail system next week  for the group of the results.

Since the first system was purchased via Australia, I will have to send the defective unit back to them for warranty consideration.  Maybe they can repair it, and send it back then I will have back up set for possible future problems, but from what I hear, these units are really reliable.  As I think I'm the only one with an issue in the fleet perhaps?

I tend to agree that Rick Motorrad Elektrik would be a good add for domestic support for these unit as a backup for Tom.

I use my bikes (1985 K100RT and this 1986 R100RS) daily for work as well as Patriot Gaurd Rides in the Bay area...  K100RT is like a Carryall (Suburban) to drive, and is great in the winter.  The R100RS is such a joy to ride however and cannot wait to get that machine back on the road!!!

 

Thanks again to all for you inputs and discussions..

 
Posted : 11/30/2023 14:07
Steven Rankin
(@14724)
Posts: 204
Estimable Member
 

Hey Dave, I am glad things are working out for the better.  Again, thank you for sharing all information regarding this issue.  Not only do we members or owners at large need the advertisement positives about new products and services, the negative if written professionally is of great use as well.  

You have been very professional dealing with all concerned, a gentleman.  I would read any product review you write in the future if you do so again.   

Good riding. St.

Beware! I do not suffer fools gladly! St.

 
Posted : 12/03/2023 07:40
chris stone
(@noblenobby)
Posts: 10
Active Member
 

HI I had enduralast system got me to Alaska and back then quit. Switched back to bean can, finally got a wedge tail system all good, build quality is awesome, comes with 2 year warranty. nice   

 
Posted : 12/03/2023 14:09
David Fliehr
(@acftfliehr)
Posts: 24
Eminent Member
Topic starter
 

All,

Update:

Following the successful run with the stock BMW system: 

"The Stock reman bean can and module work better than the confirmed defective Wedgetail triggering unit."

Received the wedgetail system and reinstalled 2 weeks ago...  The problem reappeared!

The only thing not replaced in the circuit was the Tach P/N 62 13 1 244 127? 

Found two on e-bay and installed it the has been resolved.

I am going to take the defective tach to Palo Alto and see if they can figure out what is the issue....

On the E-bay unit the resistance between the Red wire and Brown approx. 8K Ohms and the Green and Brown was 35KOhm.

I also purchased another tack and it had similar readings...

The removed Tach was Red to Brown 2Meg Ohms and Green to brown was 35K Ohms.

I think the Wedge Tail system revealed this issue where the BMW system being of a cruder design "masked" the problem perhaps?

I want to let you all know Wedgetail's support despite the issues of the pandemic, Tom's health issues as well as one of the developers of their system passing has been outstanding... 

I've been working my real job so the time to do all this troubleshooting had to take back seat for this during this time....

Just make a note, the tack can cause ignition issues so beware.....

 

 

 

 

 
Posted : 01/23/2024 18:47
Rob Tayloe
(@1247)
Posts: 7
Active Member
 

I have a Boyer electronic ignition system on my 77 R100RS.  The Boyer does not use the mechanical advance system with the weights and springs.  When I got my 77 RS I found one of the posts to which the spring was attached was broken.  I tried various "jury-rig" fixes to no avail.  I checked with Re-Psycle (at the time I lived in Columbus, Ohio and Re-Psycle was not too distant and a pleasant ride [depending on weather and time of year]).  The cost of a good used mechanical unit was about twice that of the Boyer unit and also meant that I'd still need to fool with points.  As I recall I obtained the Boyer electronic ignition from Rocky Creek when they were still in Xenia, Ohio.

I like fiddling with points and a dwell meter as much as the next guy.  The thing that I really didn't like was trying to keep the square cross section rubber "gasket" in place around the points when re-fitting the cover. [I never found a glue or adhesive that worked to hold this rubber in place...maybe I wasn't holding my tongue in the correct position in my mouth when re-fitting the cover!].

Anyway the Boyer has been in place since around 2004.  I removed the cover once to check on the brushes on the charging system.  [The notion to replace the soldered attachment for the brush connector for a crimped "eye" is simply GREAT!]  That braided copper wire to the brush looks (and acts) a lot like solder-wick.

I had a Dyna electronic ignition (unused) that I gave to the Motohio BMW dealer when I sold him my /5 prior to moving from OH to NC.  [The Dyna also uses the mechanical advance unit - which was problematic for me.]

This post was modified 6 months ago by Rob Tayloe
 
Posted : 01/26/2024 05:35
Rob Tayloe
(@1247)
Posts: 7
Active Member
 

My bad... I purchased the Boyer electronic ignition from Rocky Point Cycle, formerly owned by Stan Smith, when it was in Xenia, Ohio.  Stan has retired and he sold the business... Alas, it appears that Rocky Point Cycle is now defunct.

There is a Boyer Bransden Electronics website (in England?) that has motorcycle electronic ignition.  Here is a link to a page that shows systems for pre-1979 12 volt BMW airheads -

http://www.boyerbransden.com/microdigitalmicropower.html

 

 
Posted : 01/26/2024 08:10
David Barnett
(@viejo)
Posts: 21
Eminent Member
 

Posted by: @wobbly

I ran a Boyer for several years on a 1979 R100 without incident. They are not big in the BMW world, but they are huge in the Brit bike world. They make a very good unit that is supported in the USA. 

 

UPDATE 12/4/23

I should also add that the Boyer provides a reluctor that fits onto the bean can drive shaft in place of all the BMW auto advance unit hardware. Then, all the stationary pieces inside the bean can are replaced by a Boyer circuit board which holds a Hall Effect device. 

The controller, which is the size of a cigarette pack, can then be strapped to the frame near the voltage regulator. There is NO auto advance unit with this controller. (And thus no AAU maintenance.) The advance curve is programmed into the software inside the controller, and that curve is much more realistic for 21st Century gasolines.

 

I must admit that Boyer was off my radar until recently, but the more I hear the more I like.... very highly recommended by my friends at Martindale Motor Works in Texas.  The only "dig" I have come across regarding the Boyer system is that it can become erratic if the charging system voltage falls below 12.2/12.1V.  Now, to me, that's a problem with the charging system and not the EI system.  To the best of my knowledge all EI systems are fairly voltage sensitive. 

I believe that a Boyer EI system that became erratic due to low voltage input will return to full performance levels when the charging system issues have been successfully addressed. Wobbly- can you confirm that, one way or another?  Thanks!

Viejo

 

 
Posted : 01/31/2024 14:10
Richard W
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2558
Member
 

Posted by: @viejo

I must admit that Boyer was off my radar until recently, but the more I hear the more I like.... very highly recommended by my friends at Martindale Motor Works in Texas.  The only "dig" I have come across regarding the Boyer system is that it can become erratic if the charging system voltage falls below 12.2/12.1V.  Now, to me, that's a problem with the charging system and not the EI system

And to my knowledge... this information may be in error. The earlier Boyer versions with the BLACK controller box were voltage sensitive. However the unit Boyer sells for the BMW Airhead is the later, digital version and wears a RED controller box. The difference in performance between the Black and Red box is "night and day". And too...

1. Voltage fluctuations are a big issue on classic British-made bikes with their antiquated (designed in 1958), single-phase alternators, which really have no "modern" type of charging system or current control. The Airhead with its fully variable output, 3-phase alternator and REAL voltage regulation is 100X more modern and a vastly more reliable charging system. 

2. And most of the Boyers used on classic "Brit bikes" are the BLACK controller. A digital Boyer is available, but most Brit bike owners are simply too stingy to buy the more advanced system. IOW... they buy the cheaper system and then complain loudly when their charging system gives up, thus making the ignition system erratic. 

 

Posted by: @viejo

To the best of my knowledge all EI systems are fairly voltage sensitive. 

And to my knowledge... this information is true. The classic ignition "points" system is basically a mechanically operated electrical switch, and as such will allow any voltage or current level to pass. Consequently a "points type" ignition may work just fine on 8V, and (because it made no difference in operation) over time owners became accustomed to lax maintenance habits. Whereas the newer electronic ignitions ("EI") are designed using transistor gates to control the timing of the spark. It's these transistors themselves that require the presence of a tightly controlled voltage source in order to operate.

It's like placing a 1.5V battery in your 9V transistor radio and expecting to hear something. It's not that the radio waves went away and can't be found. It's that the transistors inside the radio simply can't operate.

 

Owning an old Airhead is easy.
Keeping an old Airhead running great is the true test.

 
Posted : 02/01/2024 06:00
David Barnett
(@viejo)
Posts: 21
Eminent Member
 

Posted by: @wobbly

Posted by: @viejo

I must admit that Boyer was off my radar until recently, but the more I hear the more I like.... very highly recommended by my friends at Martindale Motor Works in Texas.  The only "dig" I have come across regarding the Boyer system is that it can become erratic if the charging system voltage falls below 12.2/12.1V.  Now, to me, that's a problem with the charging system and not the EI system

And to my knowledge... this information may be in error. The earlier Boyer versions with the BLACK controller box were voltage sensitive. However the unit Boyer sells for the BMW Airhead is the later, digital version and wears a RED controller box. The difference in performance between the Black and Red box is "night and day". And too...

1. Voltage fluctuations are a big issue on classic British-made bikes with their antiquated (designed in 1958), single-phase alternators, which really have no "modern" type of charging system or current control. The Airhead with its fully variable output, 3-phase alternator and REAL voltage regulation is 100X more modern and a vastly more reliable charging system. 

2. And most of the Boyers used on classic "Brit bikes" are the BLACK controller. A digital Boyer is available, but most Brit bike owners are simply too stingy to buy the more advanced system. IOW... they buy the cheaper system and then complain loudly when their charging system gives up, thus making the ignition system erratic. 

 

Posted by: @viejo

To the best of my knowledge all EI systems are fairly voltage sensitive. 

And to my knowledge... this information is true. The classic ignition "points" system is basically a mechanically operated electrical switch, and as such will allow any voltage or current level to pass. Consequently a "points type" ignition may work just fine on 8V, and (because it made no difference in operation) over time owners became accustomed to lax maintenance habits. Whereas the newer electronic ignitions ("EI") are designed using transistor gates to control the timing of the spark. It's these transistors themselves that require the presence of a tightly controlled voltage source in order to operate.

It's like placing a 1.5V battery in your 9V transistor radio and expecting to hear something. It's not that the radio waves went away and can't be found. It's that the transistors inside the radio simply can't operate.

 

 

Thanks, Wobbly- questions answered!

I broke in on early to mid '60s Brit Bikes (Matchless/AJS).....  therefore scarred for life by Lucas.

Viejo

 

 
Posted : 02/01/2024 21:41
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