Cali 1100i not charging properly

My Cali wouldn’t start, RAC man said it is my Regulator but I’m not convinced.Why?Because it seems to charge better when revved a bit harder - which makes me wonder whether it is the alternator itself.Might it be relevant that the bike was used very rarely for 2 or 3 years before I bought it?Would standing idle affect the magnetism of the rotor or stator?Please bear in mind that I have the mechanical skills of an earthworm and am especially ignorant about electrickery! (1998 California 1100i Anniversary model, c. 26k miles in case it’s relevant.)

Hi Velton, I’m in the same remedial class with you on the maintenance front,
but the reason you give for your suspicions only reinforces what the RAC
man said, as I read it.

With a little Edit, it could appear:
My Cali wouldn’t start, RAC man said it is my Regulator. Why?
Because it seems to charge better when revved a bit harder
and then it sounds right.

Then, someone who knows better might put me straight, no problem.


Hi Phil,I’m glad I’m not the only numpty on here!My reasoning (?) is that presumably the alternator ought to knock out a decent charge at low revs if it’s working properly and that the regulator should not be affected by the number of revs.Whereas if the alternator is not charging properly then revving it harder might get the output up enough for the regulator to do its job and show over 12 volts on the multimeter.(The RAC man’s not mine!) Incidentally, he did seem favourably impressed by the design and build of the Cali - said he always fancied a proper bike. He was espcailly impressed with the big battery, car type starter and accessibility of the cylinder heads / valve gear.

Velton2014-08-03 23:36:20

I assume the RAC guy did the simple stuff like checking the battery terminals are tight so other things to do would be

  1. Stick a multimeter across the battery with the engine running and you should see 13.3v - 14.7v (IIRC)

More than 14.7 its over charging which is bad
Less than 13.3 and its low/not charging which is also bad

Try it with the lights on and off

If it stays between 13.3 & 14.7 at normal operating revs then your regulator is … well … regulating

At low revs it’ll likely to be 13v or less

  1. get a voltage drop test done to see if the battery is stuffed (Halfords can do it PDQ)

  2. Check all the terminals in the charging circuit are tight and clean

You can check the output from the Alternator - but do the easy stuff first

tris2014-08-04 07:42:31

The regulator governs the voltage applied to the rotor. The lower the revs the higher the voltage and hence the higher the magnetic field generated. If the regulator is not supplying sufficient voltage to the rotor via the brushes then the output of the alternator will be low and higher revs will be required to generate sufficient output from the alternator. It could be brushes so check these first cos it’s easy.

Thanks guys.Tris.Yes the output (lights off) was under 13 Volts below about half revs then it picked up a bit - not quite sure how much.Battery terminals look OK. PeteI will try to get a look at the brushes this weekend.What am I looking for?Obvious wear?Is there a minimum length?Or anything else idiot proof?

Is this a Bosch system or a Sapprisa? If Bosch, there is a ver handy guide to fault finding here

Callis are usually fitted with the Bosch system.
There are two types of charging system with the Bosch. One is a combined Regulator/Rectifier and the other has a separate regulator and a separate rectifier. Essentially they both work the same way. Your symptoms sound like it is more likely to be a rectifier problem.
If you have a combined unit then it will need to be replaced. If it is separate units then you will need to determine which one is faulty. If you are good with a proper meter and understand how to use it then it is easy to check out the rectifier. If you are not well used to using this instrument then I would suggest that the easiest way to check is by substitution of the units as fitted. This may sound expensive but if you consider that any non faulty unit left afterwards can be carried as a spare. The cost of taking the bike to someone who can isolate the fault could be quite high together with the consideration that many “professionals” are amateurs who make money out of people who know even less than they do you may find this the cheapest option.
Brushes should rest firmly under spring pressure against the rings.
Haynes do a very good manual about vehicle electrics if you are interested in learning about it. It’s not a black art. It’s logical.
Remote fault finding is virtually impossible but the help you can get from this forum is invaluable in pointing you in the right direction. Enjoy the faults, they are interesting!

Just found this again - might help if you’re still struggling

Maybe more relevant, does it do short journeys? Does it do short journeys with all the lights on? Is battery 100% healthy? Was it charged regular during those 2 - 3 years of idleness? Also batteries do sometimes just fail.   

Would standing idle affect the magnetism of the rotor or stator?

Magnetic field (of the rotor) is made electrically by the current through the field winding from the regulator. This current is varied to therefore vary the field and therefore the power output of the alternator.     Albeit that there is a very small permanent residual magnetism in the rotor, nevertheless a small trickle current is provided by the dash charge light bulb, this is enough to start-up the rotor field and hence get the alternator going. Difficult to appreciate maybe, but the alternator is a machine that literally "pulls itself up by its own boot laces."    

Please bear in mind that I have the mechanical skills of an earthworm and am especially ignorant about electrickery! (1998 California 1100i Anniversary model, c. 26k miles in case it’s relevant.)

      * If it's the old familiar Bosch set-up as per Tonti's etc., some interesting specs in the workshop manual re the alternator.        It doesn't do very much until spinning at about 3,000 rpm, which if memory serves gets you about 10 Amps. To get the full 280 Watts it needs to be going at 6,000. This will be why it seems to work better the faster it goes, because that is indeed how it is. Not necessarily broken then.         HTH

Thank you all for your comments.New Regulator ordered today from Guzzibits who were confident that the 75h Anniversary Edition is “old style Ducati” - words which strike fear into the heart - and will be delivered to work on MondayHoping to have time this weekend for a nose around the bike checking contacts etc. as well.Short journeys during the week 10 miles each way to work plus a little running around plus usually a minimum of 100 miles at weekends - often double if the weather is good.I have no idea of how the battery was treated while the bike was used so little but it seems to hold a charge OK.Does anyone on here have one of those almost £400 high output alternators?How much difference does it make?

Well I tried to fit the Regulator today and it is completely different from the one on the bike!The one supplied by Guzzibits is about 11.5 cm cx 6.5 cm with 3 single wire terminals and a double.The one on the bike is smaller, marked “Magneti Marelli” AEI 450 B and has 2 long terminal blocks each with about 5 wires in them; under the Right hand side panel.Please tell me this isn’t the flasher unit or something!I couldn’t see anything remotely resembling a Regulator under the Left panel.

Velton2014-08-17 19:51:02

The one from Gutsibits sounds like an old Bosch unit, normally lives under the left side panel, Does it have what looks like insulation tape wrapped around it?

No, Don, it says “Ducati” on it and no insulating tape, just a finned aluminium box - with wires sticking out about 6" long.

A quick search of Magneti Marelli" AEI 450 B on Google suggests that that part is the ignition module, not the voltage regulator. Sorry can’t help further, will think on it.

Does anyone KNOW where the Regulator is on an 1100cc California Injection?I can’t see anything else under the seat / side panels area.

in front of the engine below the headstock

Have a look at the parts list here Page 85 shows the regulator.It may also help, the Workshop Manual hereIt’a a zip file, section open section SEZ_P.P65

Don-Spada2014-08-17 22:08:28

Thank you Haydn and Don.I just took a quick look and found the Regulator under the headstock!It certainly looks similar to the one supplied by Gutsibits.Will try again tomorrow evening.As I said earlier"I have the mechanical skills of an earthworm and am especially ignorant about electrickery! "

OK my idea of "short journeys" was 1 - 2 miles     So that should be no problem then.