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"KRS/GT" Technical Q&A K1200RS/GT Technical Questions/Answers

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  #1  
Old 07-10-2012, 08:11 AM
hasafraker hasafraker is offline
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Unhappy headlight Q

grrr... On my way in to work this morning I pulled up behind a black service van and noticed... no headlight reflecting back at me. It was fairly light this morning so I wouldn't have noticed the light on or not but I notice it's not on.

I normally ride with the high beams on too so the blue indicator that the high beams were on didn't trigger any notice so when I flipped them back to low and the high beam indicator remains lit I'm assuming either fuse or less likely... both bulbs? I'm at work so I figured I would tap into the brain trust!

thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old 07-10-2012, 08:31 AM
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Re: headlight Q

Quote:
Originally Posted by hasafraker
grrr... On my way in to work this morning I pulled up behind a black service van and noticed... no headlight reflecting back at me. It was fairly light this morning so I wouldn't have noticed the light on or not but I notice it's not on.

I normally ride with the high beams on too so the blue indicator that the high beams were on didn't trigger any notice so when I flipped them back to low and the high beam indicator remains lit I'm assuming either fuse or less likely... both bulbs? I'm at work so I figured I would tap into the brain trust!

thanks in advance!

That is a common problem with the k1200RS and the K1200GT (2003-2005) headlight. There is a weak ground wire (brown) and attached SPADE connector inside the headlight assy that gets too hot. The problem is more common if you ride often with the high beam for long period, because on this headlight both the LOW beam and the HIGH beam bulbs will be ON simultaneouly (and pull more watts) when you run on high beam. In traffic (no airflow), the inside of the headlight gets too hot on the high beam. BMW engineer have a tendency to use the minimum size wire a bit too often...

As far as I know, there is no “improved” part number or Service-bulletin relating to this. The only known solutions are to either replace the whole headlight as a unit (approx. $US 580) or replace the burned ground wire (and connector) inside the headlight. I am aware of a few owners who had the whole headlight unit replaced under warranty.

My machine was out of warranty when the problem occurred, so I chose to repair the wire inside the headlight assembly myself.

See this message thread on the same subject for instructions and pictures:
http://www.i-bmw.com/showthread.php?t=35861
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Old 07-10-2012, 08:34 AM
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Re: headlight Q

What is the recommended gauge wire to replace the weak one?
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:21 AM
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Re: headlight Q

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyG
What is the recommended gauge wire to replace the weak one?
Depends on the bulbs you're running. If it's the wire that carries ground for both bulbs, and let's say your bulbs are 55W low and 60W high, that's gonna need to carry almost 10 amps. The charts say you need 18ga for a short run, but I'd probably step up to 16ga. In this case, I don't think the wire size is normally the problem, it's the connectors. That's where you'll get resistance built up from the heat cycles causing the crimp or spade connection to loosen. Any dirt or corrosion will make it even worse. Concentrate on all the connection points and I'm sure you'll find the problem area.
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:23 AM
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Re: headlight Q

I expect that you should just use a heavier guage wire than the stock bit. Also, while you're in there you might as well replace the wimpy stock headlight with an HID kit - simple swap, at least for the low beam. You can source the part from Jerry at http://pirateslair.net/HID.htm - here's an install link, http://www.i-bmw.com/showthread.php?...&highlight=hid
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:00 AM
hasafraker hasafraker is offline
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Re: headlight Q

Jean, thanks for the info I think you called it, my symptoms are exactly like the several other threads I've now read. I think I can handle this without too much swearing heh.

CJS... yup! you got it my thoughts exactly, HID kit is in my very immediate future. I don't like running higher wattage bulbs, I have some experience frying the crap out of harnesses not rated for the increase in juice to the hotter bulbs so I avoid that when possible.

...and the cost of the HID kit from the Pirate is very reasonable so yeah that's a no brainer. Gotta get it all working again first tho! Kinda need that head light working!
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:59 AM
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Re: headlight Q

Agreed that the ground wiring is a weak point in the headlight wiring. You can have wire that's too small for a load but don't worry about too much about "too heavy". Instead of the long, wimpy wire for the return, use heavier wire to a frame ground near the headlight. End of that problem.


But... remember that the high/low switch is part of the lighting supply. If you're going to bump up the headlight wattage, install a relay that's controlled by the high/low switch. The low current leads are enough for the relay control, and the contacts get the heavy (12 or 14 AWG) wire. Running high currents through the switch can, over time, cook the contacts or the switch itself (overheating warps the switch's plastic bits). See your Friendly Local Auto Parts Store (FLAPS) for the relay.

On HID's, at least take a look at the DDM Tuning kits. They work well for me (high and low beam).

DISCLAIMER: I have no connection with DDM Tuning save as a customer.
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:08 AM
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Re: headlight Q

Nice little relay set ups for just them applications at EasternBeaver. Plug & Play.

http://www.easternbeaver.com/
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:20 PM
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Re: headlight Q

Quote:
Instead of the long, wimpy wire for the return, use heavier wire to a frame ground near the headlight

Do not do that!

BMW do not use the frame to carry the battery negative except for the starter, alternator and possibly rather stupidly their horn. That is why you see so many Brown wires in their wiring and inside the loom. There are plenty of reasons why you should not treat the frame as your electrical ground and add wires to it. Parts of the bike may not keep good electrical connection, interference issues and pickup on radios and most important of all is the cranking current from the starter if you leave off the second (frame) ground wire to the battery. By keeping all the equipmet grounds off the frame, you lessen the risk of burning out the loom if the starter doesn't have the thick black battery wire connected. Over 300 amps starter current could take the shortest path it can find back to the battery - your add on wiring to the frame and all the loom Brown wires!

If you want to do a proper job on the headlight and later additions like HIDs or relays, run a 16 gauge wire fused at the battery positive post and a brown 16 gauge wire connected to the battery negative post under the tank following the loom, then connect to a fuse distributor outlet block in the cockpit under the headlight.
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:03 PM
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Re: headlight Q

Vox, good to know about using the frame as ground... appreciate the insight.

pulled the plastic off tonight, pulled the headlight assembly, sure enough, fried ground wire.

cut the burned wire back to where the insulation was still soft, soldered a shorter length of wire to the stub and connected it to the lead to the low beam since it's a common connection between the two it shouldn't hurt. The other connecter was pretty toasty so I tossed it. I will see if I can find one of the little spade connectors later and redo it.

I hit the remaining connectors that look very oxidized with some deoxit and put it all back together, reconnected the headlamp and turned the key and.... he said LET THERE BE LIGHT!!! and there was, and it was gooood!

put all the plastic back, so I can continue to enjoy this insanely decent weather we've been having.

much appreciation to everyone for the info and feedback, thanks!

Ordered my HID kit for the low beam so the 35watts should help keep things a little cooler, I did notice that the previous owner installed higher wattage bulbs so that probably didn't help things either.
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:41 AM
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Re: headlight Q

I stand by my remarks.
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Old 07-11-2012, 01:26 AM
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Re: headlight Q

I did the frame ground thing, just an extra wire fron the headlight to beef up the existing one and hopefully prevent melting the OEM.

Not the best setup but that was the quick way then after reading about them bad headlight grounds. Following winter brought a large wire right from the battery post and established a proper ground post at the front. Then I can ground all the lights/accessories there without wires running all over the place. I hate spaghetti wiring....

Hi/Low HIDs are both on separate fused relays, powered at a "Positive" post I established at the rear.That post is protected by an 25A intermittent fuse/relay.

No extra wires at my battery, I hate spaghetti wiring at battery posts....!

Distinct advantage of the relay set ups is better voltage at the lights, +0.71V or so in my case from avoiding the increase resistance of the switches and too small BMW wiring.Horns are louder also with a relay setup.

Wire runs...I use sheated regular 14/3, good for 240V and way more Amps that we will ever put through them. Commercial grade, Oil/Fuel proof, best of all it was free, I have lots of that. Even better, no need to figure out how to case it. Anyone selling trailer lighting/accessories will have something like that in stock, maybe even 14/5 if you want lots of accessories and no spaghetti.

Yep, I remember getting a little poo poo from Vox about them frame grounds back then. He was right....!
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:45 AM
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Re: headlight Q

Quote:
Originally Posted by voxmagna
Quote:
Instead of the long, wimpy wire for the return, use heavier wire to a frame ground near the headlight

Do not do that!

BMW do not use the frame to carry the battery negative except for the starter, alternator and possibly rather stupidly their horn. That is why you see so many Brown wires in their wiring and inside the loom. There are plenty of reasons why you should not treat the frame as your electrical ground and add wires to it. Parts of the bike may not keep good electrical connection, interference issues and pickup on radios and most important of all is the cranking current from the starter if you leave off the second (frame) ground wire to the battery. By keeping all the equipmet grounds off the frame, you lessen the risk of burning out the loom if the starter doesn't have the thick black battery wire connected. Over 300 amps starter current could take the shortest path it can find back to the battery - your add on wiring to the frame and all the loom Brown wires!

If you want to do a proper job on the headlight and later additions like HIDs or relays, run a 16 gauge wire fused at the battery positive post and a brown 16 gauge wire connected to the battery negative post under the tank following the loom, then connect to a fuse distributor outlet block in the cockpit under the headlight.

Now that I'm back in the US (Germany was lovely but occasionally damp and stormy, thanks - let's not talk about how Germany faired in the UEFA EM...), there are a couple of points above that need some attention.

First and foremost, automotive electrical systems are capable of seeming to create magical events. Accounts of "I tapped the horn and the turn signals blink" aren't just the result of one beer too many. All too often the problem can be traced to a bad ground (or return) wire. Electrons try very hard to come back to where they started (well, really, Benjamin Franklin had a fifty/fifty chance of getting the direction of electron flow right and... missed - truth is electrons move from the negative terminal of a power source, through the load, and return to the positive terminal and not vice versa - those odd cars with positive ground systems were, in fact, correct as far as electron flow goes - moving on... as it were...). If, for some reason (i.e., broken wire, poor connection), they can't take the path offered by some engineer, they look for another route and take that, even if it means returning via the turn signals on the way from the horn relay. The point here? Bad connections break stuff - don't let bad connections happen, and if they do, fix them properly.

Granted that using a swing arm, triple tree, or tupperware sub-frame as a frame ground is a bad idea (too many bearings or bushings, too much grease, etc. for reliable contact), there is no reason not to use the main frame as a return. That is, if the battery is also tied to the frame directly or through the motor (with a solid connection to the frame). If there is no connection from the battery to the frame, might as well leave the return wire dangling, for all that's worth. Unless BMW Motorrad have cleverly articulated the frame (which would put non-conducting bushings in the way), the main frame is just fine for a ground.

The notion that the K1200RS starter pulls something like 300A is... um, yes, let's just mark that as "not quite". At a guess, I'd say that the K1200RS starter takes under 100A (unless the motor is in a bad way, in which case all bets are off) and probably more like 75A at most. Even my boat's starter takes about only 120-130A to crank over a four cylinder diesel motor with it's 21:1 compression ratio and no compression release. The KRS' compression ratio is a "mere" 11.5:1. 300A starter current? I rather doubt that...

Going back to automotive electrical magic, it is possible, I suppose, for the starter current to somehow find its way back to the battery via the headlight wiring. If beeping the horn might make the light flash, it's possible. Maybe. I expect to see one or more UFO's long before I ever hear about a starter cooking unrelated low current wiring.
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:52 PM
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Re: headlight Q

All you have to do is work out the current path the starter current will take if by accident the black frame ground disappears behind the battery case when the battery is replaced and does not get re connected. It is a common problem for many.

It matters not whether the starter current is 100 amps or 300 amps. If it goes up the loom wires with a wire fusing current below 30 amps, the result is the same - just takes a little longer. You may be confused by average running/cranking current and 'peak' cold start currents. You can destroy an ECU with a voltage spike coming from a current surge in tens of milliseconds. At first contact of the starter relay you will be getting far more than the 75 amps you mentioned. If the battery voltage is low, then even more and the possibility of welded starter relay contacts.

Then there are all those electronic modules with semiconductor input and output circuits. They do not like their ground wires suddenly getting a voltage surge as the starter current makes its way down them back to the battery post and the ground reference wires get an elevated voltage spike. The alternator control circuit and diode bridges are permanently across the battery. Leave the frame ground off and get ground spikes and you risk having the charge light stuck permanently 'on' - alternator diode or control regulator faulty. Not a nice component to get to or replace.

We can help to solve most problems confined to one major component. But multiple faults on an efi system after a loom burnout or spike overload is a bridge to far and the poor sod getting multiple faults needs the expensive Stealer to fix the bike. For any tech., multiple unrelated and illogical faults are the worst kind which take an expensive long time to fix.
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