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While I wait for a new switch, can someone wise the mysteries of the electron help me avoid a recurrence?

The situation: To supplement my LT, last spring I bought a used R1100GS that had been equipped with a Euro switch (right hand switch featuring control over lights), a wiring harness with relay for PIAA’s (no lights or mounting included), and a 40amp relay controlling the PIAA relay. The Euro switch was re-wired for 1> lights off, 2> headlight on (high beam controlled by standard left-hand switch), 3> headlight on as #2, and driving lights slaved to high beam. I.e. when the Euro switch was in the second “on”, and the high beam was “on”, then the 40 amp relay was energized and sent current to the PIAA relay turning on the driving lights.

I wanted to add both driving and fog lights with the driving lights slaved to the high beam as before, and the fogs on with the low beam. I reasoned I could do this by replacing the 40 amp relay with a single pole, double throw relay. ‘Normal Open’ energizing the relay for the driving lights, and the ‘Normal Closed’ the relay for the fogs. Got a relay at NAPA rated 20/30amps that seemed adequate, as its purpose was to control the relays for the lights. Call this Relay 1.

I added a pair of Hella FF50 to each light circuit with each light rated at 55 watts (so 2 * 55 = 110 watts). I replaced the PIAA wiring and relay with the two Hella’s kits that featured noticeably heavier gauge wire. I left in place the wire to Relay 1’s coil (85) that was hard connected into the high beam circuit at the left switch connector; and Relay 1’s power lead (30) that was hard connected into the right switch connector getting current through “on” position #2. Those wires were 16 gauge and had been shrink wrapped together for the journey to the relay. Hey, it worked for the other guy.

Sit Lux. Great light for a couple of weeks until one day I flipped on the extra lights and had an acrid cascade of smoke billow from under the gas tank. Crap. I pulled over, checked for flames, and, after determining the problem lay in the second “on” position and disconnecting Relay 1, continued home with the regular headlight.

The aftermath: For as far as I can see around the connector (where the right hand switch plugs into the wiring harness) the insulation is bubbled on the wires providing power from the ignition switch (Green/Blue) up to the Euro switch’s “on” positions, and then back down to the connection to the power lead to Relay 1 (30). The insulation on the power lead to Relay 1 was melted from the connector to a point about half way back to the relay. Here the copper was exposed through its insulation and a layer of shrink wrap. From that spot to the relay the wire doesn’t look as if it got hot.

Being as all the damage is upstream from Relay 1, I surmise that at that halfway point the wire may have shorted after being pinched between the frame and gas tank, or at a pre-existing flex fray. Sound Right? Or am I missing something more basic? How many amps does it take to energize the coil of a relay and what wire gauge is needed? Any reason to replace the 20/30 amp relay with a 30/40?

Thanks for any help and elucidation.
 

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jkersh1 said:
While I wait for a new switch, can someone wise the mysteries of the electron help me avoid a recurrence?

The situation: To supplement my LT, last spring I bought a used R1100GS that had been equipped with a Euro switch (right hand switch featuring control over lights), a wiring harness with relay for PIAA’s (no lights or mounting included), and a 40amp relay controlling the PIAA relay. The Euro switch was re-wired for 1> lights off, 2> headlight on (high beam controlled by standard left-hand switch), 3> headlight on as #2, and driving lights slaved to high beam. I.e. when the Euro switch was in the second “on”, and the high beam was “on”, then the 40 amp relay was energized and sent current to the PIAA relay turning on the driving lights.

I wanted to add both driving and fog lights with the driving lights slaved to the high beam as before, and the fogs on with the low beam. I reasoned I could do this by replacing the 40 amp relay with a single pole, double throw relay. ‘Normal Open’ energizing the relay for the driving lights, and the ‘Normal Closed’ the relay for the fogs. Got a relay at NAPA rated 20/30amps that seemed adequate, as its purpose was to control the relays for the lights. Call this Relay 1.

I added a pair of Hella FF50 to each light circuit with each light rated at 55 watts (so 2 * 55 = 110 watts). I replaced the PIAA wiring and relay with the two Hella’s kits that featured noticeably heavier gauge wire. I left in place the wire to Relay 1’s coil (85) that was hard connected into the high beam circuit at the left switch connector; and Relay 1’s power lead (30) that was hard connected into the right switch connector getting current through “on” position #2. Those wires were 16 gauge and had been shrink wrapped together for the journey to the relay. Hey, it worked for the other guy.

Sit Lux. Great light for a couple of weeks until one day I flipped on the extra lights and had an acrid cascade of smoke billow from under the gas tank. Crap. I pulled over, checked for flames, and, after determining the problem lay in the second “on” position and disconnecting Relay 1, continued home with the regular headlight.

The aftermath: For as far as I can see around the connector (where the right hand switch plugs into the wiring harness) the insulation is bubbled on the wires providing power from the ignition switch (Green/Blue) up to the Euro switch’s “on” positions, and then back down to the connection to the power lead to Relay 1 (30). The insulation on the power lead to Relay 1 was melted from the connector to a point about half way back to the relay. Here the copper was exposed through its insulation and a layer of shrink wrap. From that spot to the relay the wire doesn’t look as if it got hot.

Being as all the damage is upstream from Relay 1, I surmise that at that halfway point the wire may have shorted after being pinched between the frame and gas tank, or at a pre-existing flex fray. Sound Right? Or am I missing something more basic? How many amps does it take to energize the coil of a relay and what wire gauge is needed? Any reason to replace the 20/30 amp relay with a 30/40?

Thanks for any help and elucidation.
Well, I'll at least take a shot; others can correct me :)

From what I can tell from the above description, you have the power used to drive the lights going *through* the Phoenix switches in the right grip cluster. These switches are _not_ designed to carry the full current of the lights themselves -- only to carry the current to control the relays. You have ~10 Amps flowing through wires designed to carry a *max* of only about an amp or so.

<<EDIT:>> Moreover, all your light power is coming through the low beam circuit, which means the low beam wire is supplying *both* the 55W headlight *and* the 110W aux lamps -- on an stock wire that is marginal, at best, for just the single 55W low beam load!<</end Edit>>

Hate to tell you this, but you need to do a MAJOR rewire. You don't need a relay heavier than the 20/30 you have.

First, I strongly advise taking power for the lamps directly from the battery (through a fuse! :)), rather than through the ignition switch, to terminal 30 of your relay.

Next, tie your high beam to the input to the second Phoenix switch, and the output from the second Phoenix switch to the relay trigger (85) -- that way your second switch controls the activation of the relay, but only a small amount of current passes through the switch.

Finally, do not run the full current for your headlight through the first Phoenix switch -- add a relay, with only the control current going through the first Phoenix switch. This means bring a wire from the low beam supply to the input of the Phoenix switch, and the output from the first Phoenix switch to the control terminal (85) of the new relay. The headlight low beam supply line goes to terminal 30, and the relay output 87 to the headlight.

<<Edit:>> -- Note: This arrangement will *not* allow the fog lamps to be slaved to the low beam, as power is no longer (unsafely) running from the low beam headlight to terminal 30 of the 20/30 relay. In fact, it will result in the fog lamps being always on (unless the high beam is on).

I suggest either:

-- using the first Phoenix switch to control the fog lamps (and give up the low-bream turn-off capability), or

-- add a separate switch (from your PIAA or Hella harness) and take the fog lamps off the 20/30 relay, with the fog lamps controlled via a new relay by the output from the first Phoenix switch (the same line controlling the relay which turns on/off the low beam), or

-- keeping the fog lamps on the 20/30 relay, but running the power for the fog/driving lamps from the battery through a first relay controlled by the output of the first Phoenix switch, with the power from the relay going to the 20/30 relay. This would give you the desired "automatic" selection of fog or driving lights, with the fogs slaved to the low beam, the driving slaved to the high beam, and the low beam controlled by the first Phoenix switch.

Let me know if you want me to sketch any of the arrangements out and attach a .pdf of the diagram :)
<</end Edit>>

HTH -- post more Qs if you have them!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, Mark. But I must not have described the set up very clearly. Working from the auxiliary lights backwards, each pair receives its power directly from the battery controlled by a fused relay. These two relays are in turn controlled by the single throw, double pole “Relay 1”. The power that comes in Relay 1 at terminal ‘30’, goes out through ‘87’ or ‘87a’ to the one fused relay's coil (‘86s’, and then to ground ‘85’) does flow through the Euro switch. The Euro switch has been re-wired so the headlights don’t share this current after the physical switch, i.e. headlight power (and tail light, RID) go down the gray wire, Relay 1 is the sole user on the white/yellow. So I think only the coil of one of the Hella’s fused relays is a draw.

I hope I’m not being a complete idiot, but it won’t be the first time.

While I am in idiot mode, can I connect my multimeter between Relay 1 and its ground, and measure the current draw? Hate to send another device to electron heaven.
 

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jkersh1 said:
Thanks, Mark. But I must not have described the set up very clearly. Working from the auxiliary lights backwards, each pair receives its power directly from the battery controlled by a fused relay. These two relays are in turn controlled by the single throw, double pole “Relay 1”. The power that comes in Relay 1 at terminal ‘30’, goes out through ‘87’ or ‘87a’ to the one fused relay's coil (‘86s’, and then to ground ‘85’) does flow through the Euro switch. The Euro switch has been re-wired so the headlights don’t share this current after the physical switch, i.e. headlight power (and tail light, RID) go down the gray wire, Relay 1 is the sole user on the white/yellow. So I think only the coil of one of the Hella’s fused relays is a draw.

I hope I’m not being a complete idiot, but it won’t be the first time.

While I am in idiot mode, can I connect my multimeter between Relay 1 and its ground, and measure the current draw? Hate to send another device to electron heaven.
Sorry for the delay in responding -- been a bit busy today. Thanks for the clarification; still need a little more help :)

The parts that are confusing me is the reference to something "flow[ing] through the Euro switch," combined with the "The Euro switch has been re-wired so the headlights don’t share this current after the physical switch, i.e. headlight power (and tail light, RID) go down the gray wire, Relay 1 is the sole user on the white/yellow" --

Are you saying the current from the w/y headlight wire is brought to the Euro switch, and then it is split, so that one wire goes to your Relay 1, and another goes to the headlight (the gray wire?)? If so, that still runs all the lowbeam current through the Euroswitch (not good, but easy to re-wire to avoid the problem).

So, am I anywhere near understanding? :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks. I'll try and attach a crude schematic for the driving lamps only in a Word doc. Forgive floating boxes, etc. The problem wiring is the dashed red where I suspect the fault.

12v from the ignition switch goes to the switch and is used to power the running lights, headlights, etc. via a gray wire. This is an R1100GS remember. The white/yellow wire that used to power the headlights now only runs power to Relay 1, and then only to energize one of the auxiliary lamp relays. But you're right all the power for the headlights goes through the switch. On the diagram the broken red line is actually white/yellow wire from the switch to the wire bundle connector where a "new" and dedicated wire was run to the relay.

As a result of my new found fondness for the GS wiring diagram I now know that not only does all the power for the headlights go through the switch, the stock headlight circuit (and others) on the GS are UNFUSED. When I get this current (no pun) mess straightened out I'm adding an Easter Beaver relay kit.

Another question Mr Wizard. I'm trying to get inside the wiring connector that connects the right hand switch to the wiring harness, but not having any luck. An AMP 1-828 878-1 if you're keeping score. I'd like to remove the plug, slide the covering sheath off the individual wires in the bundle, and examine/replace the individual wires in the bundle without cutting the sheath.

There are two (at least) parts to the connector, an inner component holding the pins/sockets and an external body. By working with a small screwdriver blade I can start to separate the two, but it doesn't feel like the pins/sockets are going along. I've tried a pin extractor with no luck. Is there a retaining clip or device that must be released?
 

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