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#698846 - 06/17/17 10:54 pm Ammeter Update  
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Lannis Offline
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Lannis  Offline

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Central Virginia
We've been talking at various times over the last 20 years about the uselessness of the typical ammeter on the typical British bike.

Between the undamped nature of the ammeter action, and the vibration that is part of the bike's nature, the ammeter:

1) Typically doesn't center at "0" when the bike is off.

2) WILL indicate when the key is on and the points are open or closed when the engine is not running, so that's good.

3) Once the engine is running, the needle just slams back and forth from stop to stop until one day it's had enough, and falls off.

So pretty useless overall.

I've heard of folks boring a little hole in the plastic case, using a hypo to fill the case with mineral oil or glycerin, making real sure that the last bubble is out, then sealing the hole with epoxy, and it damps the motion and makes it useful.

Question: Has instrument technology improved such that someone sells a PRE-DAMPED ammeter that will fit in the holes in our nacelles and headlights, and therefore be of some use as we tool down the highway as dark approaches?

Thanks!

Lannis


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#698847 - 06/17/17 11:00 pm Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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R Moulding Online content
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R Moulding  Online Content
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I seem to remember that Rob (Snakeoil) took his original Ammeter apart and found a friction adjustment for the needle that sorted most of the problems above.

Rod



#698857 - 06/18/17 12:23 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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A more meaningful device is a voltmeter, ammeters were normally fitted when dynamos were used on cars and bikes.
I have these just 'glued' to the back of the headlamp shell, you must use resistor plug leads or caps with them but they
indicate battery condition and show whether the alternator and regulator are working, which is what you want really.
Filling the original style ammeter with clear epoxy is the most appropriate fix, or remarking the scale to read Inches/sec
which i believe is the American standard scale for vibration measurement may be an alternative.


http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/0-56-Waterproof-Digital-LED-Voltmeter-3-5V-30V-Car-Voltage-Meter-12V-24V-TE614-/232183647115?hash=item360f394b8b:g:6TYAAOSw44BYXQww

The downside is that LED devices are not readable in bright sunlight, but then lucas ammeters are not readable/accurate in any light.



#698861 - 06/18/17 12:56 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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RF Whatley Online content
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The tension is adjustable on the Lucas units. I took mine apart and placed a big glob of silicone grease on both the pivots. This dampened the movement without fear of springing a leak, like with the mineral oil.


Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!

RF Whatley
Cornelia, GA

"Shop Boy" at Rodi British Bikes
#698862 - 06/18/17 1:01 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: NickL]  
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Lannis Offline
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Central Virginia
Originally Posted by NickL
A more meaningful device is a voltmeter, ammeters were normally fitted when dynamos were used on cars and bikes.
I have these just 'glued' to the back of the headlamp shell, you must use resistor plug leads or caps with them but they
indicate battery condition and show whether the alternator and regulator are working, which is what you want really.
Filling the original style ammeter with clear epoxy is the most appropriate fix, or remarking the scale to read Inches/sec
which i believe is the American standard scale for vibration measurement may be an alternative.


http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/0-56-Waterproof-Digital-LED-Voltmeter-3-5V-30V-Car-Voltage-Meter-12V-24V-TE614-/232183647115?hash=item360f394b8b:g:6TYAAOSw44BYXQww

The downside is that LED devices are not readable in bright sunlight, but then lucas ammeters are not readable/accurate in any light.


Thanks! The bike I'm looking for a better ammeter for HAS a dynamo, 6 volts, so the ammeter will be fine with me. I have a digital voltmeter still installed on the Norton (alternator) that I used to debug the charging system, but the old-timer, I think I'll keep an ammeter ...

Lannis


"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."
Voltaire
#698870 - 06/18/17 3:21 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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KC in S.B. Offline
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I am all Boyer here, and as we have shot back and forth over the years, I'm thinking you have come over to the EI side now also right? If so, a voltmeter is really useful. Wish I could post a photo on this iPad to show you what I have found and use on my '67 A65 now. Fits in the original headlight hole, connects with 2 light gage wires inside the headlight to anything with power. Simple and useful. I believe a 6 volt version was available, but it's been awhile........

Last edited by KC in S.B.; 06/18/17 3:33 am.

Down to 1 BSA, 2 Triumphs, 2 '56 Chevys
#698871 - 06/18/17 3:45 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: KC in S.B.]  
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I run one of the 'new Lucas' ones. There is a little screw at the back that adjusts the tension on the pivots for the needle (that RF mentions). You can adjust that to damp it enough to still move but not shake. I discovered this as I thought it was a 'centering adjuster' (oops - don't ask). They actually seem to last some time for me when adjusted.

For me, an ammeter together with a LED battery monitor is the perfect combination. Original look, all the info you need. For me the battery monitor is just cable-tied to the wires up to my handlebar dipswitch, down near the steering head where I can see it as I ride.

Like this one:
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Motorcycle-Battery-Charge-Voltmeter-Volt-Meter-alternator-warning-lamp-indicator/201338524013?_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIM.MBE%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D20140106155344%26meid%3Dc3217541687a44f89783896546a7c92b%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D1%26sd%3D201338529709

Ray


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#698877 - 06/18/17 5:38 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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This one must be Lucas,,,, it says so. wink

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/ALL-NEW-VINTAGE-BIKES-LUCAS-TYPE-AMMETER-8-0-8-DIA-1-3-4-/172716812258?hash=item2836b967e2:g:BgsAAOSwc1FXb4sl



#698878 - 06/18/17 6:23 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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Yep, imported from England!!


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Triumph 1968 T120
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#698887 - 06/18/17 8:28 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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I fitted a much more useful key switch in the ammeter hole
[Linked Image]


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#698934 - 06/18/17 5:17 pm Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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Fired up the PC just to post this...................... The "needle" is sationary, and simply a reference point. It's at +/- 13.5 - 14Volt from my checks. Don't know about a 6V version.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]



Last edited by KC in S.B.; 06/18/17 5:28 pm.

Down to 1 BSA, 2 Triumphs, 2 '56 Chevys
#698938 - 06/18/17 6:06 pm Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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Lots of good ideas here, thanks!

It's true that a combination voltmeter/ammeter gives you a complete picture of what's going on with your charge system and battery.

The little round voltmeter that fits in the same hole as the ammeter did is a tempting idea.

I may just take my old ammeter apart and see what's in there. It's probably time for a new one anyway even if I screw something up .... !

Lannis


"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."
Voltaire
#698980 - 06/19/17 2:38 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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Carefully break the glue joints around the back plate with an Exacto knife, then pull the working guts straight out. Take your time.

When you get ready to put it back together I highly suggest some high adhesion silicone rather than a permanent adhesive.


Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!

RF Whatley
Cornelia, GA

"Shop Boy" at Rodi British Bikes
#698997 - 06/19/17 6:53 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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Just a note. If your filling the ammeter with an oil/liquid, glycerin is conductive and will likely short out the contacts, silicon oil will be far superior as this isn't conductive.


beerchug
#699000 - 06/19/17 7:29 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Allan Gill]  
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Originally Posted by Allan Gill
Just a note. If your filling the ammeter with an oil/liquid, glycerin is conductive and will likely short out the contacts, silicon oil will be far superior as this isn't conductive.



Bet that aspect makes no difference, as copper is much more conductive than glycerin.

But some sort of oil would protect from corrosion. Your glycerin may already contain water and it absorbs waters from the atmosphere.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
#699002 - 06/19/17 7:59 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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All glycerin is conductive. Which is why I mentioned the silicon oil. Either way I have no intention of putting either in my ammeter.

Not knowing how the ammeter is wired (I know that ammeters are in series, voltmeters are parallel) the glycerin may make a short causing the needle to read incorrect.


beerchug
#699007 - 06/19/17 9:49 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Allan Gill]  
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It will be like a shunt resistor and change the scale slightly.

Rob C

#699147 - 06/20/17 3:46 pm Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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Geoff Offline
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Just as a curiosity, has anyone tried to convert an ammeter to a voltmeter? It seems rather easy for an electrically geared mind. If it is possible, why does no one do this - figure there has to be a small market for these things that a guy could crank some out of his garage and supply the world market for a few years..?..


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#699159 - 06/20/17 5:54 pm Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Allan Gill]  
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Originally Posted by Allan Gill
All glycerin is conductive.


How does it's conductivity compare with a thick copper coil?

Quote
Not knowing how the ammeter is wired (I know that ammeters are in series, voltmeters are parallel) the glycerin may make a short causing the needle to read incorrect.


Ammeter coils are of such low resistance that you can short them out with a wire and they still work, a bit. Production racers used to do that.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
#699188 - 06/20/17 8:40 pm Re: Ammeter Update [Re: triton thrasher]  
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#699243 - 06/21/17 6:28 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: triton thrasher]  
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Allan Gill Offline
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Originally Posted by triton thrasher
Originally Posted by Allan Gill
All glycerin is conductive.


How does it's conductivity compare with a thick copper coil?

Quote
Not knowing how the ammeter is wired (I know that ammeters are in series, voltmeters are parallel) the glycerin may make a short causing the needle to read incorrect.


Ammeter coils are of such low resistance that you can short them out with a wire and they still work, a bit. Production racers used to do that.


Last bit was the answer is was looking for.


beerchug
#699247 - 06/21/17 8:13 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Allan Gill]  
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Stuart Online content
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Hi,

Originally Posted by Allan Gill
Originally Posted by triton thrasher
Ammeter coils are of such low resistance that you can short them out with a wire and they still work, a bit. Production racers used to do that.

Last bit was the answer is was looking for.

Given the electrical knowledge of many readers, for clarity, strictly-speaking, this is a "shunt", not a "short":-

. "short" (circuit) is a connection between battery -ve and battery +ve not including a resistance (e.g. bulb, ignition coil, horn, etc.). As posted already, ammeters have virtually no resistance so, if connected between battery -ve and battery +ve, will briefly attempt to indicate 100-odd Amps before something melts, catches fire or simply goes pop. eek

. "shunt" is specifically not a connection between the battery terminals, it is a connection parallel to a component or group of components that maintains an electrical path if a parallel component fails:-

.. Ammeters are normally connected in-line between one battery terminal and one or more resistances (e.g. as standard on Britbikes, between battery -ve and all the resistances - bulbs, ignition coil(s), horn, etc.). However, if the ammeter fails, it cuts the circuit(s) through those resistance(s); facepalm however, if a "shunt" wire is connected between the ammeter terminals, the current between the battery and the resistance(s) has an alternative path if the ammeter fails. bigt When the ammeter is working, with a shunt wire, only some current (typically half) from the battery to the resistance(s) will pass through the ammeter.

.. A "shunt" wire is also regularly suggested when trouble-shooting electronic ignition problems - typically between battery -ve and the e,i, 'box' supply, bypassing ignition switch, kill switch and standard wiring.

Hth.

Regards,

#699313 - 06/22/17 1:32 am Re: Ammeter Update [Re: Lannis]  
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Most old ammeters are in fact a 'millivoltmeter' they are measuring the volt drop across a known value resistor or 'shunt'
Placing a link across the shunt will alter/reduce the volt drop so reduce the scale of the ammeter.

IE: 10A across 0.01 ohm = 100mv
10A across 0.005 ohm = 50mv

etc, etc




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