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gunner Offline OP
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My Norton Commando has suffered 2 battery failures in as many years and I've been busy today trying to find the cause. The failure symptoms are that despite being occasionally topped up with a charger, when left for a few weeks the battery looses voltage and today I found the volts at 9v.

I suspect the cause is the Wassel 3 phase regulator rectifier and I have been running some tests using a multimeter and following some YouTube guides which states diode voltage tests should result in 0.3 to 0.5v being recorded one way and zero the other.

When I use the multimeter in diode check mode, I first check the regulator/rectifier red lead. With black lead connected to regulator/rectifier red lead I get approx 0.170 in each of the 3 yellow input leads. Swapping the red multimeter to the regulator/rectifier red lead I get zero on each of the 3 yellow leads.

Next I check the regulator/rectifier black lead by connecting the red multimeter lead and repeating the above tests. This time with multimeter red to regulator/rectifier black I get 0.51 on each of the 3 regulator/rectifier yellow leads, swapped round I get zero.

So the first set of tests appear wrong since 0.17v is much less than expected, however I'm not sure if this is because of an actual fault or because of some transistorised voltage regulator controls.

The other issue I noted is when measuring resistance between the black and red wires. I would have expected no continuity but with the multimeter set to 200M I get a reading of 1.2 ohms which then slowly rises.

I'm not very experienced with testing electronics but do these results mean my regulator/rectifier is faulty?


1968 A65 Firebird
1967 B44 Shooting Star
1972 Norton Commando
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You have a regulator/rectifier, the only way to test that is to disconnect the output from the bike
and place a lamp or load across the the wires, run the bike and measure voltage. It should
be around 14.5 at a couple of thousand revs.
The output side of the unit will include the regulation and suppression circuits so measuring with
a dvm or ohmmeter will be misleading, you are not just measuring a bridge.

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OP, if the problem is that the battery goes flat when unused for a few weeks, what happens if you disconnect the battery from the bike and leave it for a few weeks?

Can you measure current draw? If so, measure current draw with the engine off but the battery connected.

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gunner Offline OP
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Thanks for the suggestions, the battery is presently on the bench after being charged, I'm checking that the battery isn't damaged and voltage is stable and at least 12.7v.

Next I will try for current draw and with the battery connected and if its OK will try running with engine running as NickL suggests.


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1972 Norton Commando
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I'd take a different tact.

I prefer to test the charging system as a whole. Testing one component (like works with a burned out bulb) rarely works with battery charging. There are 3 components to charging: voltage , current, and Time on charge. I prefer to test these separately with analog meters. The voltage should be in the 14.5V area at 3000+ RPM reading across the 2 battery terminals. The current is often what kills the deal, because it is wholly determined by what electrical accessorizes the owner has placed on his bike. Connecting a 0-10A DC ammeter in place of the main fuse should show something in the 4-5A range with the ALL accessories and lights OFF at 3000+ RPM. Second test with ALL accessories turned ON should also be in the positive range, but more reasonable 0.5 to 1A range.

By turning accessories OFF one by one, we often find that the charging current might pop into the acceptable (positive charge) zone. These systems are rather basic and I often find that owners install super bright headlamps, heated riding suits, fancy flashing rear lamps, bar-mounted GPS, phone chargers, etc and the electrical system simply can't handle it.

I know what you were promised when you bought the fancy charging system, but the meter doesn't lie. If the charging current is not in the POSITIVE charging arena, then the battery is being DISCHARGED because of too many electrical accessories. Remove those extra items from the bike !!

Other common sense thoughts:
• A home charger cannot charge a dead battery in 5 minutes. We all agree on that. But a surprising number of owners think that they can take a 5 minute ride down to the local pub and their battery should be charged. NO WAY ! If it takes 2 hours to get a battery recovered at home, then it will also take 2 hours of riding time at 3000+ RPM (without using the brake lamp, horn, or turn signals) to charge the battery on the road. If you live in-town and are constantly using the turn signals, brake lamps, and left idling at traffic stops, then YOU are the cause of the problem. You need to head out onto the open road at least once a week for extended times to charge the battery. TIME on charge is often the most over-looked piece of charging information.

• You should be taking the main fuse out of the bike during any and ALL times the bike is sitting in the garage. That will stop any battery drain while you are not riding.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Nortons also have an Achilles Heel that other Brit bikes don't have: the Lucas 2MC. After 40years the 2MC cap will not be behaving the same as it did when it was new. As they age the 2MC turns from an electrolytic cap into a resistor. As such, it can discharge the battery within hours. I highly advise you to disconnect the RED wire (only) from the 2MC. Don't get fancy, disconnect ONLY the RED wire and put heat shrink over it so that it can never be re-connected.


Hope this helps. thumbsup


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gunner Offline OP
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Thanks for the info, I should have mentioned that I made my own harness and it has no capacitor fitted, also I have no other electricals fitted apart from lights, ignition & horn.

I did some tests today and the battery is charging at around 14.65v so slightly higher than expected.

I also checked for current drain and found that there was a small drain of around 0.015a with all electrics disconnected apart from the regulator/rectifier. So it looks like the Wassel regulator/rectifier is at fault. As the battery is 9 amp hours this would have led it to being fully discharged after about 25 days which fits with what I have found.

Last edited by gunner; 08/21/20 1:08 pm.

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For all of my interesting vehicles, I disconnect the battery if the vehicle is going to be unused for more than a few days. For one vehicle, I disconnect the battery if it's going to be unused for more than a few hours (anti-theft and reduction in fire risk).

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gunner Offline OP
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Completely agree with disconnecting the battery for both reasons you mention especially the fire risk. My problem is that the batteries on my bikes are all hidden behind side panels so its a bit of a chore removing them and then removing the fuse.

There are battery isolator switches available so maybe I will look into using one of them.


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You could try another reg/rec box. They don’t cost a lot.

Cheap box on eBay


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Originally Posted by gunner
My Norton Commando has suffered 2 battery failures in as many years and I've been busy today trying to find the cause. The failure symptoms are that despite being occasionally topped up with a charger, when left for a few weeks the battery looses voltage and today I found the volts at 9v.

I suspect the cause is the Wassel 3 phase regulator rectifier and I have been running some tests using a multimeter and following some YouTube guides which states diode voltage tests should result in 0.3 to 0.5v being recorded one way and zero the other.

I did nothing as fancy, I turned my multimeter to amps and found with the ignition off a current flow of 60ma from the battery using the fuse holder as the test point, disconnected the Wassell rectifier and the amp leakage went to nil. Wassell rectifier then went in the bin and the replacement I bought shows no current flow when tested the same way.

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gunner Offline OP
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Thanks, guys, I have now bought a generic 5 wire regulator/rectifier 28 amp from eBay which was a lot cheaper than the Wassel type and should fix the problem.

Regarding disconnecting the battery, I just remember that I had already incorporated a switch into my homemade harness. What I did was to use an on/off ignition switch wired between the battery negative terminal and the subsequent fuse box and wiring.

With the ignition off, the battery is disconnected from any circuits and is safe. The regulator/rectifier was not included in this arrangement and was permanently connected to the battery, hence the battery could drain. I think I might wire the regulator/rectifier into the ignition switch so that it's only connected to the battery with the ignition on.

For info, I used an ignition switch similar to This One, to avoid any contact overload, I ensured that the rating was high enough to cope with the potential full load of headlights, ignition & horn etc. I'm probably going to add this type of switch to my A65 and B44 in the future.

Last edited by gunner; 08/22/20 6:03 pm.

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The leakage current of the rectifiers is very low, less than the internal leakage of a lead-acid battery.
If the regulator stays connected to the ignition when the switch is turned off the engine will keep running if there is enough output, which there usually is. That is why a capacitor battery-less ignition works.

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Originally Posted by gunner
I think I might wire the regulator/rectifier into the ignition switch so that it's only connected to the battery with the ignition on.

Indeed, that is the correct way to wire the reg/rect with built in capacitor as DMadigan explains and I believe it was Allan G who instructed me when my bike ran on with ign. off.


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Just use a 2 pole switch to isolate the reg/rec and the batt/ign instead of the single pole one you are using.

Last edited by NickL; 08/23/20 4:47 am.
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Originally Posted by DMadigan
If the regulator stays connected to the ignition when the switch is turned off the engine will keep running if there is enough output, which there usually is.

Mine is wired like that: a legacy of a time when Alton sold “leaky” reg/rec boxes along with their alternators and recommended that the switch isolated the battery.

I have a separate kill button.

It’s not really satisfactory and I must get round to changing it some day!


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Originally Posted by Nick H
Originally Posted by gunner
I think I might wire the regulator/rectifier into the ignition switch so that it's only connected to the battery with the ignition on.

Indeed, that is the correct way to wire the reg/rect with built in capacitor as DMadigan explains and I believe it was Allan G who instructed me when my bike ran on with ign. off.

Funnily enough I was going to point out the same thing again to Gunner. The battery is only really doing anything when the alternator isn’t producing enough output to produce a steady voltage to the electrics. You could just remove the battery and fit a capacitor, but either way if it’s wired wrong side of the switch you won’t be able to kill the motor without stalling it.... unless you fit a kill switch to the handle bar.... that would work if you wired the alternator the wrong side of the switch.


Now let’s all have a beer beerchug

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67’ D10 sportsman (undergoing restoration)
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Hi Gunner, something that might interest you.

You probably saw the thread the other week about capacitors, See link Kommando posted some examples and here is a Link to the one I bought off eBay. One great thing about it is that it easily accepts the spring mount off the original 2MC cap.

Like you I have a high output 3 phase alternator (a LAP Lucas one, before Toss’el bought them) and a Podtronics reg/rec. started the bike up today for the first time after fitting it, the bike will tick over fine with the battery fuse removed, even power the main beam and with the brake light on top, again at tick over without any splutter to the running. The main beam warning light was flickering a little at tick over but the bike ran fine.

Last edited by Allan G; 08/23/20 4:34 pm. Reason: Add link

Now let’s all have a beer beerchug

68’ A65 Lightning “clubman”
71’ A65 823 Thunderbolt (undergoing restoration)
67’ D10 sportsman (undergoing restoration)
68’ D14 trials (undergoing transformation)

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gunner Offline OP
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Thanks Allan, I hadn't thought about adding a capacitor so I will add it to my list of mods which need to be done. From the wiring diagram it looks like its simply wired directly to the battery possibly using the ignition switch to isolate it.

Today the new regulator/rectifier arrived, I ran some basic tests including the diodes which all read 0.4v one way and zero the other so thats good. The mountings are the same as the Wassel so it should just be a case of bolting it back on and adding terminals to connect to the existing wiring. It came with a 6 wire connector plug which I'm going to have to cut off as I've no idea where to get a corresponding connector.

Apparently this regulator/rectifier fits various Kawasaki's including KZ1000 and is rated at 28 amps, so should be up to the job.

See below for new regulator/rectifier on left and old on right.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


1968 A65 Firebird
1967 B44 Shooting Star
1972 Norton Commando

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