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Old 03-23-2014, 03:25 PM   #1
Byron1 OP
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Where's my oil gone?! 1200 Sportster - help needed

Hi everyone, hoping someone with some knowledge of Harleys might be able to help me out.

I've got a XL1200R ('05 model). I've owned it for a few years, but took it off the road in 2011 as I was saving up for a trans Americas trip on a classic BMW Airhead (details in my signature strip below if anyone is interested).... anyway I'm now back home and working again, spring is approaching and I want to get the Hog back on the road. It hasn't been started in over three years now... I know, and yes I am embarrassed.

When I opened up the oil tank yesterday, all of the oil was missing, it was literally empty! It was serviced about 500 miles before I put it away and it was running absolutely fine. I know it was full before it went into storage. There was no puddle on the floor so I think its probably all drained into the crank cases??

Has this happened to anyone before, is this normal?

I've taken the spark plugs out and put some light oil through into the bores - I was planning on just spinning the engine over on the starter button and hoping it would pump it all back up into the tank... (?) But then I started thinking it might cause a load of pressure and blow one of the seals - so decided not to.

Has anyone got any advice on what has happened and on what I should do?

I have never serviced this bike myself - I always got it done at the Harley garage, but I'd like to fix it myself if it is a relatively easy job..

Any advice much appreciated!

Byron
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Old 03-23-2014, 03:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron1 View Post
Hi everyone, hoping someone with some knowledge of Harleys might be able to help me out.

I've got a XL1200R ('05 model). I've owned it for a few years, but took it off the road in 2011 as I was saving up for a trans Americas trip on a classic BMW Airhead (details in my signature strip below if anyone is interested).... anyway I'm now back home and working again, spring is approaching and I want to get the Hog back on the road. It hasn't been started in over three years now... I know, and yes I am embarrassed.

When I opened up the oil tank yesterday, all of the oil was missing, it was literally empty! It was serviced about 500 miles before I put it away and it was running absolutely fine. I know it was full before it went into storage. There was no puddle on the floor so I think its probably all drained into the crank cases??

Has this happened to anyone before, is this normal?

I've taken the spark plugs out and put some light oil through into the bores - I was planning on just spinning the engine over on the starter button and hoping it would pump it all back up into the tank... (?) But then I started thinking it might cause a load of pressure and blow one of the seals - so decided not to.

Has anyone got any advice on what has happened and on what I should do?

I have never serviced this bike myself - I always got it done at the Harley garage, but I'd like to fix it myself if it is a relatively easy job..

Any advice much appreciated!

Byron
It has gone down in the engine sump, do not add any but start it up and let it idle, the oil will then get back to the tank.
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Old 03-23-2014, 04:08 PM   #3
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Sportster

Just as he said ,start it,let it idle and warm up slowly. Take it for a short ride and change the fluids. Should be fine.
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Old 03-23-2014, 05:01 PM   #4
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What they said.

Just be glad is isn't all over your floor, marking the bikes territory. Hogs are famous for that.
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Old 03-23-2014, 06:24 PM   #5
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My brother parks his antique panhead over a baking pan but modern Harley Davidsons are no worse than any modern motorcycle at "marking their turf". Don't let anybody bullshit you.

As others have said your 05 just drained all the oil into the sump. There is a check valve that's supposed to prevent this, it's a simple ball check and there may be a piece of grit holding it open. It may then flush into the filter and you'll never have another problem with sumping. It could also be a scored seat or ball in that valve in which case it will need to be replaced. The valve used to be located in the oil pump body but I have no idea if that's true for the new rubber mounted engines. As mentioned you may start the engine, let it idle until the oil returns to the tank, do not rev the engine or anything. Let it warm up and then shut it down and recheck your level.

Edit: Strike that about the check valve, I'm told the Evo Sportster doesn't have one. Evo Big Twin does... weird but anyway, open your oil tank, start the motor and watch the magic happen...
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Old 03-23-2014, 06:45 PM   #6
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modern Harley Davidsons are no worse than any MODERN motorcycle
That's some funny shit right there.
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:25 PM   #7
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WTF is it with some of you? Do you have tourettes? Are you really that unable to control yourselves? How many times do you need to be banned before you figure out you aren't funny and your "contribution" is neither solicited or desired? The OP just asked for some help with his bike, not stupid and overused comments about whether or not all Harleys mark their territory or how modern/antique they are. If you aren't here to help him stop shitting on the thread and get the fuck out. Take your dumbass hatred to the Harley thread in JM where it belongs.

To the OP - because the oil tank is well above the crankcase, over three years gravity has done it's work. This occurred very slowly over time through the passages of the oil pump. It doesn't hurt a thing.

Because these are dry sump engines they aren't designed to run with a bunch of oil in the crankcase. As such it is possible that when you start the bike some of the oil may get sucked up into the breather system and come out of the air filter housing. This is more common on a big twin that has wet-sumped than on a Sportster, but it could still happen. If it does, don't worry about it. Just clean any oil out of the air cleaner, recheck the oil level with the engine warm, and take it for a ride.

1200R's are great bikes. It's getting harder to find them unmolested in good condition.
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:30 PM   #8
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I agree that the oil has drained into the bottom of the engine. Owning a Norton I am very familiar with wet sumping.

Is there a drain plug in the bottom of the crank case? If so I would highly suggest NOT starting the bike. Drain the oil from the sump and refill the oil tank.

If all the oil has drained into the sum and you just fire it up you may blow crank seals.

Marc
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Lomax View Post
I agree that the oil has drained into the bottom of the engine. Owning a Norton I am very familiar with wet sumping.

Is there a drain plug in the bottom of the crank case? If so I would highly suggest NOT starting the bike. Drain the oil from the sump and refill the oil tank.

If all the oil has drained into the sum and you just fire it up you may blow crank seals.

Marc
I know that can happen in some engine designs, but in nearly a decade running service depts for H-D dealers I never saw a Harley engine blow crank seals from wet sumping. In fact, we seldom saw crankcase seal failures for any reason.
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bueller View Post
WTF is it with some of you? Do you have tourettes? Are you really that unable to control yourselves? How many times do you need to be banned before you figure out you aren't funny and your "contribution" is neither solicited or desired? The OP just asked for some help with his bike, not stupid and overused comments about whether or not all Harleys mark their territory or how modern/antique they are. If you aren't here to help him stop shitting on the thread and get the fuck out. Take your dumbass hatred to the Harley thread in JM where it belongs.

To the OP - because the oil tank is well above the crankcase, over three years gravity has done it's work. This occurred very slowly over time through the passages of the oil pump. It doesn't hurt a thing.

Because these are dry sump engines they aren't designed to run with a bunch of oil in the crankcase. As such it is possible that when you start the bike some of the oil may get sucked up into the breather system and come out of the air filter housing. This is more common on a big twin that has wet-sumped than on a Sportster, but it could still happen. If it does, don't worry about it. Just clean any oil out of the air cleaner, recheck the oil level with the engine warm, and take it for a ride.

1200R's are great bikes. It's getting harder to find them unmolested in good condition.
Bueller, you're a continent of sense surrounded by an ocean of bullshit.

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Old 03-23-2014, 09:38 PM   #11
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I always like to read Bueller's comments. He knows his stuff and is very helpful.

Dry sump engines were popular with the old British motorcycles. There are still Japanese bikes with dry sump engines, by the way. The Honda XR650L big dual sport thumper, and the Suzuki DRZ400 series are dry sump engines, and both are still being produced. Owners of these two motorcycles seem to have a tough time about getting the oil level and amount of oil correct in those bikes. I never had a hard time with my own Sportsters, or my Royal Enfield Bullet (also a dry sump engine, though the oil tank on these, instead of being separate, are contained IN the engine).

The worst problem with a dry sump motor happens when the owner checks the level when the engine is cold. Because, IF the oil drained some from the oil tank into the sump, the dipstick WILL read low. Then the owners thinks, ah, my engine is low, and tops it off to the high mark. Then when he starts the engine, the oil collected in the sump gets pumped into the oil tank. This can overfill said tank and blow oil out the fill plug and make a big mess. That's why a dry sump engine needs to have the oil level checked when warmed up, or at least run for a while first.

You are lucky to own an "R" model Sportster. I think, along with the "S" model, these are my favorites.
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:44 PM   #12
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:41 AM   #13
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Hi everyone. Thanks for all the advice! I feel a lot better that this is "normal"!

I hadn't originally wanted to run the engine as the oil is old an I was concerned I might do some damage on two levels 1) the oil being old and shitty would not offer great protection on start up and 2) the excess pressure popping a seal.

I'm working on the principal that anything that can go wrong will go wrong :)

Is there any way of draining the sump? As someone mentioned above re the old Nortons..

Thanks again for your help!

Byron
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:42 AM   #14
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You're in a humid climate and the oil is 3 years old.

Change it, start the bike, ride it, voila.
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:58 AM   #15
Byron1 OP
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Cheers Kraven, problem I have at the moment is that I can't actually change the oil or drain it as it's not in the tank.... Is there another drain plug anywhere?
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