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The Honda CA95 / Benly 150 Restoration The little brother to the CA160 in our family of Hondas

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  #1  
Unread 10-13-2013, 07:54 AM
tjejenskille tjejenskille is offline
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Default Bad Condensor Symptoms

I decided to start this thread to get tips and opinions on a bad condensor.

Another bike I have, a 2-stroke Kawie from '73, the bike would shut off in night-time mode unless I increased the RPMs a whole bunch via the idle screw. Well, finally put a new condensor on it and runs just fine.

So now I start looking at my '63 Honda CA95. I've always had to increase the RPMs via the idle screw a whole bunch to get it started and usually can only start in with the key in day-time running position (not a chance in night-time position), and also it is almost next to impossible to start it in 45 degree weather or cooler.

So I'm suspecting the condensor as well (and looking at it it has scratches on a corner of the condensor). Easy fix, so I have one in the mail on the way, and I'm just doing this based off previous experience on other bikes, but what do you guys think? Will it solve my starting issues???
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  #2  
Unread 10-13-2013, 09:14 AM
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Larzfromarz Larzfromarz is offline
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Actually it seems like you are treating unrelated things in both cases. Changing mixture to solve a potential electrical problem doesn't add up to me. I can't address the Kawasaki, I don't know those bikes.
However on the Honda the charging system always seems to be a little suspect and frankly I'd never start one with headlight on if possible. The headlight draws a fair amount of current and along with the electric start you can easily be headed for disappointment.
Cold starting and raising the throttle slide to get started under normal conditions would indicate a carb problem.
All of that being said we must have the 3 basics to run, Air, fuel and spark, all in the right ratios and happening at the right time.
WRT to spark we 'd like to see a strong bright blue(blue/white-ish) at the plug. A yellow to orange-ish spark is usually consider weak. Any of the components in the ignition system (except the key itself) could be a contributor (battery,coil, plugs, plug wires, spark plug caps or ends,points and condenser). I'd suggest an easy test- unplug both plug wires and then with a new properly gapped plug, connected to the plug end, lay or hold the threaded portion of the plug against the cylinder head and crank the engine. Check of the color of spark (a darker environment is good, not noon with the sun over your shoulder). IF you get the yellowish spark, remove the points cover and see if the is any sparking at the points that is also yellowish and possibly even 'spraying' about, you very likely have a bad condenser. There are further checks on other components but this is the best I am aware of for the condenser. So...could a weak spark contribute to poor starting, sure, but there are too many variables to really tell across the internet.
You did not indicate your use of the choke when cold starting but things sound like they might be rich.
I'm sure there will be others jumping in as well...
L
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  #3  
Unread 10-14-2013, 04:42 AM
tjejenskille tjejenskille is offline
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Thanks for the tips! I'm pretty sure my carb is good, in fact, a shop once commented on how darn clean the thing was. The only weak link I could suspect would be that I don't have that little black o-ring that fit in the back of the carb pressed against the carb insulator. I can't find one online anywhere. So I made do by filling that cavity with liquid gasket. Other than that, I have what I believe is a good carb insulator with the appropriate gasket.

I'll do some checking this weekend with the spark as well and see what I get, I'm sure my spark plug caps or wires have seen better days.

My choke use, well, I try following what's in the driver's manual. From cold I pull the choke shutter closed and I usually kick start a few turns. Open the choke closer to half, and if the weather is warm it usually starts up. Then I turn the key to night time mode since I prefer having the headlight on for safety. And since I usually have to increase the RPM like crazy, the engine is roaring loud and I have to turn the idle screw on the carb down to stop that as it warms up.

I am new to the condensor concept, but from what I've researched here's what I understand in layman's terms (feel free to correct me). The condensor absorbs excess voltage once the magneto (or maybe the ignition coils) discharges. So like on my Kawie, the condensor was the last piece of the puzzle I looked at actually, I went through the ignition switch, checked all wires, and it checked out fine till I got to the condensor. So my understanding is that the condensor helps the points provide a good blue spark, if the condensor is weakened, the spark isn't as great and to compensate I have to increase the RPMs a whole bunch to get a hot and fast spark? For my Kawie, night-time mode absorbed enough electrical juice it was a challenge without alot of RPMs to start it. On my Kawie, I know that the new condensor helped because I had actually fixed everything else on the charging circuit before that, so it was a process of elimination.

Another thing is that my battery tends to I think it's called overcharge, where over time some of the electrolyte goes down and it gets a bit of corrosion on the positive terminal. It's a new battery (just a few months old), and from my understanding a weakened condensor could also contribute to an overcharging battery.

I guess you can see why I'm really leaning to condensor, but I usually jinx myself that way. There are tests you can do to test a condensor, but for 20 bucks I figured it is easy enough to get a new one. I will let you guys know what happens, I plan this weekend once I visit my parents' place and replace the condensor...well, we'll see what happens.
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  #4  
Unread 10-14-2013, 05:24 AM
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Larzfromarz Larzfromarz is offline
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Condensers are cheap, replacement is good idea.
Your over charging is a bad rectifier/regulator and not contributed to by the condenser (if anything just the opposite). Good luck!
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  #5  
Unread 10-15-2013, 12:07 AM
VegeKev VegeKev is offline
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A good tell-tale for a failing condensor is pitting of the points contact faces...

Again I agree with Larz.....check your spark, then look at your mixture. As Larz said, engines only need three things to go bang. If you'e got spark and the mixture is around 14:1 then it goes bang...no magic required
Hav Phun,
Kev.
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  #6  
Unread 10-18-2013, 12:05 PM
hellride731 hellride731 is offline
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I've got a problem that I cant figure out. The green wire at the condenser has constant power to it but I've got no spark at the condenser of the spark plugs..do I have something grounding out or what else could be causing no spark at the plugs?
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  #7  
Unread 10-18-2013, 04:29 PM
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Larzfromarz Larzfromarz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellride731 View Post
but I've got no spark at the condenser of the spark plugs..
Not exactly sure what you mean by this statement.
Do you have spark at the spark plug? Even a bad condenser can still give some spark at the plug.Condensers are not easily tested with a multimeter as there is no continuity across a condenser (if there is it's bad for sure). Power to the condenser MAY only indicate that the coil is intact and possibly ok and that's about all.More troubleshooting is required. You'll need to expound a bit regarding what you know about the situation and your skills to sort it out before a decent answer can be formulated. Reading this thread as well as searching the forum for similar circumstances should be helpful.
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  #8  
Unread 10-19-2013, 07:56 AM
hellride731 hellride731 is offline
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my bad.. I meant that my test light tells me that I have power going to the green wire on the condenser but no spark at the points , coil or plugs. I've changed the condenser but I'm having the same results. Is the green wire at the condenser suppose to have solid constant power at it ? I really know NOTHING other than what I've read on this cool site about 64 Honda benlys 150. The amount of free time I have to tinker or read up on this bike is minimal at best. I'd like to hear it run but I'm thinking of getting rid of it anyway. Just because I really don't have a use for it once it is running anyway.
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  #9  
Unread 10-19-2013, 09:52 AM
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Larzfromarz Larzfromarz is offline
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Let begin with the basics. The ignition system has some very basic components in its simplest form. These components include the battery (your power source- it's fully charged, correct?), perhaps an On/Off switch (in the case of a CA95 the key switch), possibly a fuse (it should have continuity and be of the proper size/rating), the ignition coil (actually it's a transformer and steps up the voltage to make a spark), the condenser, the contact/breaker points, the high tension lead (heavy "spark plug wire") and a spark plug and finally the wires to connect the components. Please see the "Simple ignition" diagram. All of the components should be healthy for the system to operate as it is designed. In this diagram, if you "trace" the line (which represents the wires in your bike) from the battery into the ignition coil, then out of the ignition coil, to the contact breaker points you can see it is continuous and therefore should have "continuity", or as you have traced it, be one unbroken line (or wire in your bike-Note: A connection does NOT count as a break in the line but must be considered as a potential spot of trouble).
In our simple diagram, the black wire comes from a power source (the battery), connects to the ignition coil (internally runs through the smaller "loopy" part) and comes out of the ignition coil as a green wire. This green wire then travels to one side of the contact breaker points and then continues on through the contact breaker points to ground (the "forky" symbol). This is called the "Ignition Circuit". You can see that the condenser branches off from the green wire (in the Simple diagram) and also travels to ground (again the "forky" symbol-Note: All "forky" symbols essentially return the electrons to the battery-see it has a forky symbol too).

Let's look at the more advanced (and therefore more complicated looking) wiring diagram that represents the circuits actually on your bike. For this discussion we are only going to speak of the ignition circuit to help relieve some confusion (close examination will identify the same components as the Simple diagram-battery, ignition coil, etc).
In the approximate middle of the Wiring diagram, identify the ignition coil (small box with the + and - inside of it) and note it has the black wire going in to the (+)plus side and a (G) green wire coming out of the (-)minus side of the ignition coil symbol. Since the black wire supplied power from the battery to the ignition coil, we should expect to see the same voltage as we see at the battery (Ca95 stock is 6 volts). From our simple diagram we know that internally the plus side connects to the minus side. The conclusion here is that we should see the same voltage (or very nearly) coming out on the green wire as we see coming in on the black wire (this is the answer to one of your questions).

We must also note that the contact breaker points are supplied power (voltage) by the green wire, so the conclusion here is that we should see the same voltage that we see coming in to the ignition coil as well as coming out of the ignition coil, at the connection to the contact breaker points(breaker points must be open to check this!). If all of this is confirmed (voltage at the points when the points are open) we can generally conclude that we have continuity in the ignition system up to the contact breaker points. If we DO NOT have voltage at the points (again with the points open) we must try to find where the "discontinuity" or break is the this circuit, remembering it can be anywhere in the circuit. Reviewing what has been covered to this point, you should be able to see where you DO and DO NOT have voltage using your meter or test light.

So you are probably asking "What then, does the condenser have to do with anything?". In the simplest sense, not much, but it IS important to making a healthy spark down at the plugs and also helps preserve the contact points from burning up or arcing. Also note, in both diagrams we've looked at it is NOT connected in-line (or series) with the circuit. It simply branches off of the main circuit and goes to ground (remember the forky thing). This connection is called a "parallel connection".

In practice the condenser acts as a small battery (condenser is another word for capacitor which is an electrical storage device similar to a dry cell battery). The condenser helps out the ignition coil during its charging and discharging cycle and acts sort of like a "voltage shock absorber". They, condensers, can get old and weak, just like a dry cell battery, and eventually will stop working. Here is not the place to discuss capacitor/condenser theory/principles. Since they are cheap its usually best to just replace them. Often weak or bad condensers are indicated by arcing or spraying sparks at the contact breaker points (when running) or a weak sparking at the spark plug (usually yellowish to orange sparks). If you see a lot of pitting on the faces of the contact breaker points (again due to arcing) you should replace the condenser while replacing your points. Notice this is why they sell "Tune Up" kits that have points and condensers in them together.

The contact breaker points are a basically a switch that turns the ignition coil on and off with the rotation of the engine. This turning on and off allows the ignition coil to receive energy and build up enough energy (through "inductance") to create a spark at the plug. The coil works as a transformer changing battery voltage (6 or 12 volts) to a high enough voltage (15,000 to 40,000 volts) so that the energy created can jump the spark plug gap exactly like a lightning bolt jumps the gap from the clouds to the ground (in conventional thinking). This voltage "stepping up" happens inside the coil and then travels the path created by the high tension wire (spark plug wire) to the spark plug. How it actually works is a bigger discussion than there is room for here.

Please note that this discussion does not take into account things like the ignition switch or "start/stop/kill" switches, other circuits like charging circuits but is just the basic part of how a bunch of electrons get from the battery to the ignition coil and down to the spark plug. This discussion also takes into account that the user understands the basic functions and usage of a Volt/Ohm meter, multimeter, digital multimeter or test light.

Hopefully this will answer some general questions regarding the "old fashioned" points/condenser/coil style of ignition systems found on most cars and motorcycles from the pre-1970's era.
Please if there are any additions or corrections feel free to point them out or add to. Nobody is perfect, least of all me.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg simple ignition.jpg (107.5 KB, 6 views)
File Type: png cacb160wstarter.png (22.4 KB, 1 views)

Last edited by Larzfromarz; 10-19-2013 at 10:08 AM.
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  #10  
Unread 10-19-2013, 10:35 AM
tjejenskille tjejenskille is offline
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Hey just an update. I put the new condensor on my '63 CA95. As a side, I did put new points and a brand new silicone rectifier (vs. selenium) from that guy in Oregon on this bike last spring.

Anyways, probably around 30-40 degrees where I'm at currently, took a few kicks but the bike started up. Once it was warmed up, the button starter started the bike up just fine.

I'll keep you guys updated if it starts starting up better, verdict is still out I suppose, but it did start in cold weather where it usually struggled to do so.
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  #11  
Unread 10-20-2013, 06:16 PM
tjejenskille tjejenskille is offline
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So just to throw fuel on the fire and have a healthy debate on this, I found this link http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...1014740AAKiQo8

Discussing motorcycle condensors and how they can overcharge the battery. Though I agree that the rectifier too, if in bad shape, can contribute as well. I'm by no means an electrician and still learning how the heck it all works, but I'm interested in others' responses.

I have another vintage bike with a voltage regulator instead of a rectifier, the battery electrolyte levels get low on it and builds corrosion on the terminals, which I guess I could suspect the regulator and/or condensor. I'm almost getting the impression it is so cheap and easy I may as well replace condensors on every vintage bike I ever work on.
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  #12  
Unread 10-21-2013, 04:41 AM
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Larzfromarz Larzfromarz is offline
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The statement you refer to "If no capacitor were attached to an older system which requires one, voltage (and thus current) can flow backwards into the battery" refers to a design issue. Since there IS a condenser in the system the point is moot. You can draw you own conclusions.
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  #13  
Unread 10-26-2013, 04:55 PM
tjejenskille tjejenskille is offline
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Good point Larzfrommarz, I always appreciate learning more. So condensors can't cause your electrolyte level to go low or cause corrosion build up on the battery terminals so quickly (my new battery is only like 4-5 months old), corrosion that fast? I have put some anti-corrosion spray on the battery terminals however now.

The rectifier then eh? I have that new fancy silicon rectifier suggested on this forum from Oregon. Pretty sure it's grounded, I dunno, I'll just keep any eye on my battery I suppose that easiest.
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  #14  
Unread 10-27-2013, 05:35 AM
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Larzfromarz Larzfromarz is offline
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The Oregon rectifier is a good choice if you ordered the correct one. Additionally there are fairly simple tests you can do on your current rectifier.
The rectifier is a simple "wheat bridge" design and is just a conglomeration of diodes and diodes are just like a one-way check valve for electricity.
Its just those orange plates don't look like a diode from Radioshaft.
Spokes uses stock ones all of the time and so do the rest of us if they remain operational, but I do prefer more modern components.
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