Wing tips #6

Tips and Recommendations from Guru Mike Nixon

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mikenixon
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Wing tips #6

Post #1 by mikenixon » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:08 am

The ballast resistor
Honda used a part on the GL1000 that came from the auto world, the ignition ballast resistor. Not too surprising, considering that Honda's auto division designed this engine. In fact, consider how many -600 center codes there are in the GL1000 engine's part numbers, a number that was at the time of the Wing's intro reserved for the company's car parts. It's very revealing. The interesting thing about the ballast resistor is that its original purpose on '57 Chevys was to combat ignition coil voltage loss at high engine rpm, a weakness Kettering ignition is famous for. The resistor was supposed to block voltage input into your dad's car at low vehicle speed, conserving it for later use when the ignition really needed it at higher speed. Thus its name. It ballasted energy. A neat idea, but ballast resistors actually have been used in other roles as well, and this includes the GL1000. You may be aware that on the 1000, the resistor is instead used as part if a two-voltage starting/running system. During starting, the resistor is bypassed, allowing the full 12 volts to the ignition coils, but once running, the coils are fed through the resistor, receiving only 6-8 volts. It's a goofy system actually and completely unnecessary, and somewhat typical of what happens when the two galaxies -- powersports and automobile -- collide as they did in the GL1000. Happily, for almost 50 years I have been defeating the GL1000's nonsensical ballast resistor and opening up the spark plug gaps 10 percent to suit, on nearly every GL1000 I have serviced during that time. Improves carburetion. Doesn't hurt the points. And doesn't even begin to hurt the coils. In fact, GL1000 ignition coils are designed to withstand the stress. Back in the day we used to put GL1000 coils on 750s, un-ballasted. Kind of a quasi-factory, period high performance option.

The driven flange/moly grease debacle
Most folks are aware that GWRRA's Wing World magazine ran an article by then-tech editor Joe Christian which "exposed" the GL1100’s severe final drive flange wear. Honda in response initiated a temporary warranty extension (three years, 50,000 miles) on the part and published a special revised rear wheel assembly procedure designed to increase the life of the assembly, later applying it also to their V4-powered shaft drive bikes. As icing on the cake, the company also added a corporate office tour just for GWRRA members, and I was privileged to not only be a GWRRA member at the time but also a corporate Honda employee and thus found myself in the enjoyable role of tour guide. Cool deal. But I digress. Many have insisted that the swingarms were the real problem, being made wrong (I actually saw some techs reweld them to good effect, and Christian had angles and metrics all sketched out in his articles), and blamed Honda for taking the easy way out via the alignment procedure. Maybe. The fact is, the special technique does work, and the driven flanges so treated do last longer. And here's an interesting fact: the success of the warranty extension may have been due as much to the new procedure as to use of the then-new Honda moly (molybdenum disulphide) grease introduced specifically for this problem. The grease was really unusual. Unlike most greases labeled moly this was the real deal: 40 percent actual moly by volume, later increased to 60 percent, and good enough and rare enough that even the BMW guys were gleefully using it for their troublesome K bike transmission splines. A success story for sure, but now things get murkier, for inexplicably, Honda has discontinued the grease, replacing this remarkable and unique product with a run-of-the-mill moly-based assembly paste, good in its own right and similar to what BelRay and others have offered for decades, but like the BelRay product a mere engine assembly lube, not a high pressure lubricant that will stand up to the unique requirements of the Gold Wing's final drive. Unfortunately, the original Moly 60 is no more. The Honda part number simply supercedes to the wimpy replacement product. Owners of Honda and other shaft drive bikes are left searching for a new source of flange grease.
Mike Nixon

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Re: Wing tips #6

Post #2 by Whiskerfish » Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:01 pm

mikenixon wrote:SNIP its original purpose on '57 Chevys was to combat ignition coil voltage loss at high engine rpm, a weakness Kettering ignition is famous for. The resistor was supposed to block voltage input into your dad's car at low vehicle speed, conserving it for later use when the ignition really needed it at higher speed. Thus its name. It ballasted energy. SNIP



Mike I do not understand this, can you expound please ?

I always thought of the Ballast as a amperage saving device by increasing the resistance (when in use) it decreases the amperage flow. Without the Resister the ignition circuit could draw 25% or more of the stators rated output. The ballast drops that to less than half.
"Agreement is not a requirement for Respect" CDR Michael Smith USN (Ret) 2017
1975/6/7/8/9 Arthur Fulmer Dressed Road bike
1975 Naked Noisy and Nasty in town bike
and a whole garage full of possibilities!!

Psst. oh and by the way CHANGE YOUR BELTS!!!!

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Re: Wing tips #6

Post #3 by mikenixon » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:08 am

Hi, Steve. It's easy to be confused about ignition ballast resistors. And maybe it's me that's confused. :) But, the theory is that the ballast resistor ballasted available energy.

Let's start with the Kettering system's greatest weakness, that of being voltage sensitive. Because Kettering saturates its primary then collapses it before firing its plug, it's extremely voltage-sensitive and at higher rpm this means the system can become voltage-starved. Like no other ignition system, Kettering can run out of voltage. This can actually be observed in the Honda CB350 twin whose charging system regulator often failed, lowering battery voltage, and resulting in the bike running on just the left cylinder. A classic symptom.

Image

The ballast resistor's role, so it was once believed, was to "store" energy by feeding the ignition less voltage when requirement was low, and then more when it was higher. It didn't actually store anything, it just administered. Whether it did this by becoming less resistive with heat (counterintuitive regarding resistors, I know, but my personal theory) or however it did it, this is the idea, at least on 57 Chevys. :)

That said, it is obvious the ballast resistor on the GL1000 (and on the CX650 Turbo) is not being used in this way. Instead, it is merely a moderately high wattage resistor that enables a lower voltage path to branch out to the ignition coils on demand, in the Wing's case, after starting. In other words, the GL1000 starts on the full 12 volts to its coils but after starting operates them at a lower voltage.

I have never agreed with the idea of doing that. Why only on the GL1000? My feeling is the automotive team that gave the motorcycle division this engine had a pet principle they wanted realized. In my mind there is no legitimate value in operating the ignition at a lower voltage, and I have proven it countless times by bypassing the ballast resistor.

It is interesting to note that technical training exists that recommends the ballast resistor as a load testing tool. I have used it in that capacity but have long since preferred the Ohmmite instead.
Mike Nixon

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Re: Wing tips #6

Post #4 by Whiskerfish » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:04 pm

I am gonna have to study on this some more :lol: :lol: :lol:
"Agreement is not a requirement for Respect" CDR Michael Smith USN (Ret) 2017
1975/6/7/8/9 Arthur Fulmer Dressed Road bike
1975 Naked Noisy and Nasty in town bike
and a whole garage full of possibilities!!

Psst. oh and by the way CHANGE YOUR BELTS!!!!

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Re: Wing tips #6

Post #5 by mikenixon » Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:44 am

Most of this is moot, Whisker. The takeaway should be that just as offroad guys used to put 6v Bosch "blue" coils on their 12v, VW powered buggies, so we too can run the Wing's essentially 6v stock coils on the bike's full 12v with no drawback and plenty of potential benefit. One of the many secrets old Wing tuners have in their servicing repertoire. :)
Mike Nixon


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