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Misc: Charging Systems Altons and Lithium


vibrac

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Like many I have been drawn to lithium batteries, Where apart from the cost their light weight and power for a given size made them seem the ideal choice for an electric start project in the restricted space of a Vincent. However I was talking to a very knowledgeable and competent engineer recently and he said he had decided not to fit one on his Vincent as he had suspicions (that he could not seem to get refuted) that the Alton was a single phase generator and that the cyclic rising and falling output so produced could have a detrimental effect on a lithium battery and that in turn that might precipitate a fire/explosion. He also pointed out that this pronounced sine wave effect was not present on a three phase alternator like a crankshaft Lucas type.
As my electrical knowledge stops just short of positive or negative earth I wonder if anyone here feels able to comment.
 

timetraveller

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VOC Member
First let me say that I have never worked on an Alton but this does not sound likely There has to be a rectifier in the system which will only allow current to flow in one direction. There is a difference between full wave rectification and a simpler system and it is possible that there is still some ripple on top of the DC current, say plus or minus a volt on top of a 13 volt output, produced by the device. Think about it. If half the time there was a (say) positive output and the other half of the time a negative output then the battery would be being discharged half the time. Anyone with an Alton and a simple oscilloscope could check this in moments. Over to those who know more than me.
 

b'knighted

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Thinking I needed to replace a battery I looked up the Shorai that Big Ed (?) recommended. Maximum charge rate was listed at 4 amps so I wondered if they would be safe with a Walkernator?
 

vibrac

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Lets hope there are some oscilloscope jockies out there who can measure an alton or who have used an alton with a Lithium for some time an exploding lithium battery is not a good idea..
 

Marcus Bowden

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VOC Member
I use a lithium-ion battery with an Alton and is OK so far but then not many miles this year and only bought the battery last year after getting the starter fitted.
 

timetraveller

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I do know that there are several riders who use a Walkernator with a Lion battery for starting. They are happy with that combination and have been for several years but I do not know which make or model of battery they are using.
 

Glenliman

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I had a Li battery and Alton combo for 7000 miles or so. The battery melted, destroying both Alton & Podtronics.
We were 1200 miles from home at the time.
Dropped a big lawn tractor battery in the top box, hooked it to the electrical feed and continued on. I checked the remaining voltage at every stop, charged with plug in AC charger at night. That method got us home.

Glen
 

ericg

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Alton, Podtronic regulator, Shorai Lithium Iron 14 amps, no problem so far in 8 years and 35000 miles.
Day light compulsory here in France.
 

Vincent Brake

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Me for over 25000 km
But its not nice to fully emptey a shorai.
Allthough i have the special charger. It never fully came back to life.
But it still spins the starter no problem.

I use the biggest one they have.
21 A? Or is it 18.


I will put that scoop on it to look what happens
 

vibrac

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
the podtronics part is interesting what is the regulator supplied with the Alton? (the modern one that you can leave without isolating Alton)
As I understand it the Ah of a Li is roughly equivalent to a normal battery 3 times bigger in Ah
 

BigEd

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VOC Member
VOC Forum Moderator
Thinking I needed to replace a battery I looked up the Shorai that Big Ed (?) recommended. Maximum charge rate was listed at 4 amps so I wondered if they would be safe with a Walkernator?
I use a Shorei Lithium battery on my electric starter equipped Rapide. I have a Walkernator charging system. They work together very well. The Miller ammeter goes all the way to full charge after I have used the electric start but this does not seem to have caused any battery problems. The needle soon returns back to a small positive charge once I'm underway.
I have had one major battery failure. The separate regulator unit has three wires. One of the wires (Earth) broke underneath the insulation at a connector. This put the alternator to an unregulated output that destroyed the battery and blew bulbs that were in the circuit at the time. I think the result would have been the same whatever alternator or battery was in use if it had a major regulating failure. I made up the connection that failed so the problem was self-inflicted, guilty as charged.
It is also worth checking for AC leakage on an alternator\rectifier system. Switch your multimeter to AC and put it across the DC output on the regulator. Any reading should be below 0.5 Volt. Poor quality rectifiers are likely to be one of the most likely causes of alternator and battery problems.
 

MartynG

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Alton, Podtronic Regulator and Shorei Battery. Been in use for 8 years and 50,000 miles and still going strong!

What Vincent (@#11) says about excessive draining of the Shorei is correct - if drained to far then they will not accept a charge and appear to be trashed BUT I found if you put such a battery on an old conventional battery charger for just TEN SECONDS and then immediately put it onto the correct Shorei charger then it can be restored to life.
 

vibrac

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Couple of points at this stage
The wakernator is not a single phase alternator what my question related to was the Alton which I believe is
Secondly relating to the podtronics regulator and the regulator supplied with an Alton kit are they the same thing? If not then it's the supplied regulator Alton and li battery that is the real subject of my question because I guess that's what any new buyers will encounter
 

Glenliman

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Alton supplies the Podtronics reg in their kit now. That wasn't always the case. Paul Hamon tried a few different regs before settling on the Podtronics.

Actual AH of a Li battery is about 1/3 of the PbEq rating, which is the number used to indicate battery model size.
For example, a Shorai LFX 18 has a Pb EQ rating of 18 . PbEq stands for " lead acid equivalent" .
Actual AH of the LFX18 is around 6 amphours.
So it can cold crank, once only, like an 18 amphour lead acid battery.
On the other hand, if the headlight is left on with engine off, the LFX18 will drain flat in roughly the same amount of time as a 6 amphour lead acid battery.


Glen
 

vibrac

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Thank you Glen the fog begins to clear now there is just the safety aspects of the single phase alternator and Li battery to make a judgment call on.
 

Normski

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
When you rectify A.C. to D.C. you end up with a sawtooth pattern of current ranging from zero to max, crudely speaking single phase would give you a rougher sawtooth than 3 phase but the quality of the rectifier regulator would also have an effect on the form of the sawtooth. I believe the current (no pun intended) Alton is single phase and the supplied regulator/rectifier a podtronics which is a good one, whether that is enough to guarantee safe use of a Litium battery I do not know.
 

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