Electrical - FADM Stern GNSF
The main component of the electrical system is the bike's wiring harness, which connects all of the bike's electical componets and systems together via a network of wires and connectors. The harness is one of the most important things on the bike, but gets the least amount of attention. While major system failures can cause a bike to loose functionality of that system, a wiring harness problem can render a bike inoperative. It also seems to be considered the most scary part of the bike, as it contains many colored wires that go everywhere.
The wiring harness is nothing more than individual wires that are bundled together to keep the wiring neat and protected. While it can seem intimidating, if it is looked at one wire at a time it really isn't. The good thing about these harnesses is that when they were made they used different colored wires to help make troubleshoot problems very easy. It is important to check this harness every now and then for any signs of damage (cuts, heat damage) and make the appropriate repairs before a failure occurs. Because the harness is bundled, a failure within it is very hard to locate, but fortunately most problems are caused by its connectors.
Any time a wire leaves the harness, it eventually terminates in a connector at the appropriate component or system. This design allows parts to be replaced without having to cut wires or desolder things, basically making the parts all "plug and play". Most wiring problems end up being a bad connector, as these are simple "mechanical contact points" that are subceptable to corrosion and breakage.
For an electrical connection to be any good, it MUST have ZERO resistance and be mechanically SOUND. Any connection with anything above 0 ohms acts as a resistor which WILL affect the operation of the circuit. Any connection that is not mechanically sound will operate like a switch, opening and closing the circuit. There are several ways to make sure ALL electrical connections are good, and a bit of time spent on this will give you many years of problem-free riding time.
- Corrosion Proofing
The biggest enemy of wire is corrosion, which is the oxidation of the metal creating non-conducting oxides (like rust on steel). When wiring is made, the insulation provides this protection for the wiring, but this insulation must be removed where wires terminate (connector pins). This leaves this termination site open to the elements and corrosion. The best way to solve this problem is to seal the wire to prevent air from coming in contact with it, and solder is the best method there is. As well as adding a lot of mechanical strength, the solder "encapsulates" the wire so that corrosion can not take place. This however cannot be done with mechanical contacts at mating connectors, as they work on the principle of "pressure fitting" to allow parts to be easily removed and replaced without wire cutting. For these connections, applying a "paste" that isolates the connection from the atmosphere is the best method. A good dielectric grease will prevent corrosion and not hinder the electrical conductivity of the mating metal surfaces.
- Mechanically strengthening
Mechanical "bonding" is important for all connection so that vibration does not affect the joint, and so loose connections don't cause the wiring to break free. Wires that terminate at connector pins are "crimped" (deformation of the metal pin to ally pressure to the base wire strands) to the wire, which can come loose and allow corrosion to develop. As listed above, soldering connector pins on the wires solves this connection issue and ensures the wire stays on the pin forever and corrosion free. Again, this can not be done with mechanical contacts at mating connectors. For these connections, ensuring the pins fit "mechanically tight" is important and should be checked regularly.
The importance of good grounds cannot be stated enough, as they are critical to a properly operating electrical system. You must picture the elctical system as a collection of wires joining everything together, annd this INCLUDES the bikes frame, as it acts as a giant wire that is just too big to wrap up into the harness. Since all of the ground points on the bike rely on "mechanical" connections, these must be kept clean and tight for the connection to be solid. All of the frame ground points rely on the mechanical connection being formed by a bolt or nut that secures the wire (usually terminated in a ring connector lug) to the frame metal. Here it is important that the ground point where the lug bolts onto is BARE METAL and has no paint present. Using only the bolt for the connection is not wise, as a nut/bolt connection introduces THREE seperate connections (wire to bolt head, bolt to nut, nut to frame), where as having a good bare metal frame spot uses only ONE (wire to frame). These connections should also be protected from corrosion, and dielectric grease works well (you may need to reapply every now and then if it gets washed off).
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