Help - 950 adv broken down in Fairbanks on vacation!

Discussion in 'Crazy-Awesome almost Dakar racers (950/990cc)' started by chrisepp, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. chrisepp

    chrisepp Adventurer

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    Yarrow, BC
    Hey All,

    My wife and I are on a trip from Vancouver to Alaska on our bikes. Coming up the Cassiar I got some bad gas and had a moment of white smoke for about 2 seconds. Did it once more but after that bike ran great to whitehorse (got good gas again). Rolling into whitehorse, temp started getting hot just as I rolled into the hotel it was getting hot so I shut it down. Coolant was low so I did my first oil change of the trip and saw a slightly wavy filter, but not mushy, and oil looked fine. A little dark sludge on rad cap. To be sure, new oil/filter and coolant and went for a couple kilometres. Ran great and then suddenly the coolant overflow tank was empty. Coolant all over my boot and it got hot so shut it down, loaded on pickup and took to Fairbanks, the only KTM dealer that would touch it was there. They said they would help me out so I left the bike with them and was camping in Kenai waiting for them. Just found out they did nothing really and said it needed weeks and a top wend rebuild (just a test ride so far as I know. Rebuild was just done. New pistons/rings/cam chains/ head work etc... I'm thinking blown head gasket.

    Back to Fairbanks on sat to get the bike. Anyone know decent mechanic that actually knows the 950 who could maybe help me out? I might try to retorted heads in the hotel parking lot but a shop would be preferable. I was to do inivik and don't want that to all fall through!

    Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated, so if you know a mechanic who can help me out and has time please let me know. My wife's KLR is being a champ of course! :)

    Cheers!
    Chris
    #1
  2. Head2Wind

    Head2Wind MotorcycleMayhem

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    I don't know anyone in the AK area, so unfortunately can't help you there... I don't know how much time you have or if the shop it is at has the skills, but you might see if they will try to retorque the heads. If they don't know how to do this or have the time, then I wouldn't have them do it.... the bummer deal is there is no easy fix if the head gasket/s failed, and I am sure you are aware of the cost/procedure if it was just done. Engine has to come out to get to the rear cylinder.

    The other potential is the water pump seal has given up, but usually this will not result in a overly pressurized radiator system, just lost coolant into the engine/oil... and then eventually it will start to overheat as a result of low coolant.
    #2
  3. chrisepp

    chrisepp Adventurer

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    Thanks for the feedback! I just put in a brand new cjdesigns water pump shaft and a new seal. Just preventative for this trip, so that should not be it. Even if it was the symptoms don't suggest it. It blew out coolant in less than 2 km all over my boot.

    I know how to retorque myself, I was just hoping to spend the time vacationing with my family instead of doing that in a parking lot and making them all wait for me... I will try that in case re-torquing will let me at least get to do my ride, but if there is someone who knows a mechanic that can help still that would be amazing... Murphy has it out for me on this trip!

    Day one, in whistler, 2 hours in to the trip my pickup blew an oil pump. (Wife's parents are driving my truck for the trip, wife and I are on bikes). Dodge only has sold 60 oil pumps for that pickup. Almost never happens, go figure... Low mileage truck... 5 day delay eating up much of the trip and very costly to repair.

    I've never had such rotten luck, something has gone wrong almost every day. I'm on the Murpy Extreme Adventure it seems like. Oh well, will make for some great stories later. :)

    Cheers All!
    Chris
    #3
  4. Schleprock

    Schleprock Let's Do This!

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    127
    Hey Chris,
    You can fill up the coolant again and run it with the radiator cap off. If its bubbling, it's probably a head gasket. Did you put the front wheel WAY up in the air to bleed the air out if the system? As you already may know, they are very temperamental to air locking in the coolant system. Hope you get it fixed. Inuvik was awesome...... the Dempster......crazy! D
    #4
  5. Head2Wind

    Head2Wind MotorcycleMayhem

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    If I was in your situation I would try retorquing the heads, reassemble and fill coolant system with distilled water (flush it before to get all the anti freeze out as much as possible). Its not necessary to lift the front as long as you fill slowly and work out most of the air by pressing on the lower and upper hoses, doing a little side to side shimy shake back and forth.

    The reason I suggest filling with distilled water is then it would prep for the next option to use diesel engine block sealer (or other silica based sealant), the coolant system needs to be clear of the antifreeze... add the sealant, and follow the instructions, heat cycle the engine, drain the water/sealant mix and let stand for 24 hrs. Not optimal, but if you are in a "need to do this, no other way out", I would not be afraid to do it and leave it that way.... provided it fixes the issue but I would only do this after a retorque and maybe as a safe guard to a failed/failing and healed up from retorque head gasket.
    #5
  6. KMC1

    KMC1 There is no spoon.

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    Damn. That sounds terrible!

    You're handling it a lot better than I think I would! :freaky
    #6
  7. chrisepp

    chrisepp Adventurer

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    Hey! Sorry we missed you for Dust 2 Dawson! I was trusting the shop to do the diagnostic for me but they are busy so never got to it. I'm sceptical when they said it needs a top end rebuild and several weeks when they have not opened it up. I am in anchorage and will be back at the bike in two days (accommodating everyone else's vacation as well or I would be back there already. I will pull it apart wherever I can find space and confirm if its the gasket. Only 2500 KM on the gasket so maybe it just loosened up... Crossing everything and hoping!

    Maybe you would share some pics of what I missed with me later? :)

    It was great meeting you btw!

    If your ever riding in the Vancouver area and want to ride around let me know!

    Cheers,
    Chris
    #7
  8. Schleprock

    Schleprock Let's Do This!

    Joined:
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    PM me your cell. I'll send you a couple of motivational photos. It is not uncommon to do a retorque after several heat cycles. Have you done that after your rebuild? D
    #8
  9. chrisepp

    chrisepp Adventurer

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    Thanks so much for the tip. Any long term negative effects of using a sealant like that in my bike? I'll definitely try that route if torquing the heads again doesn't work. I think I have all the tools I need along todo it, if not I'll buy them!

    Cheers,
    Chris
    #9
  10. chrisepp

    chrisepp Adventurer

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    We don't have this in Canada, but Walmart in anchorage has a big gun selection... I've been thinking of some Murphey ('s law) hunting!!! ;)

    Trying to make the best of it. :)
    #10
  11. hennessyktm

    hennessyktm Adventurer

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    I was stationed at Ft. Wainwright for 4 years and have a great friend who got out of the Army and opened a shop in Fairbanks. His shop is called Frozenmotorworks. Give hime a call. He is also an ADVrider inmate, but dont hold it against him, both him and his wife ride GSs.

    He is a BIG TIME ADV rider/traveler and can help you out. His name is Jon Mansker, here is his number:

    (907) 451-7600

    I'll give him a heads up that you're calling.
    #11
  12. chrisepp

    chrisepp Adventurer

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    Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely give him a call. I might be able to get the bike to him in time on sat to retorque the heads. I won't be able to wait until Tuesday if I miss that. Weather is going south soma parking lot retorque would be fun!

    Thanks for all the help!

    I still might end up having to try the block sealer. Anyone know the drawbacks?
    #12
  13. renogeorge

    renogeorge Long timer

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    Might be worth checking for water in the oil, even with WP rebuild. How about thermostat? Motor running, cap off, coolant flowing??

    I would add that the WP on my 950 went bad. The filter was just slightly wavy. Very little sign of oil in the coolant. But my oil pressure light was flickering on and off. I always check the last thing I worked on--WP snap rings in correctly, impeller bolt tight, seal right in WP housing???Gaskets??
    #13
  14. AJ990R

    AJ990R motorcycle guy

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    MKE,WI
    Don't forget about Adventure Cycleworks! Him & his son are up 24/7 for adventure bikers...
    typically doing maintenance & minor repairs though. Bet you could get him to do waterpump seal if you ask NICE! Sounds like your up a creek without a paddle, wouldn't hurt to ask him for help, very trustworthy father & son team. Hes very capable but BMW guy but loved wrenching on my 990.

    Remember to call CJ designs (of wisconsin) & he can "express" ship you parts faster than a dealer up there can prolly get you parts!! a fee may apply

    www.advcycleworks.com
    1(907)457-4259

    safe travels
    AJ
    #14
  15. Dustodust

    Dustodust Long timer

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    Hillsboro Oregon
    could be something as simple as a failed radiator cap (more common than blown head gasket)
    hard to tell without being there
    I would try the radiator cap
    and take out the thermostat put it in boiling water to be sure it is opening
    also be sure the cooling fan is working
    water pump is very common

    motorcycle mechanics are usually theives (not always)
    I feel sorry for anyone at their mercy
    #15
  16. AK1

    AK1 Adventurer

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    Nov 5, 2011
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    Fairbanks, AK
    Yo. It's Jon from frozen motor works. How are things? Not sure if you tried calling or not but I wanted to let you know that I could look at your bike but I'm leaving town on a trip Wednesday. Tomorrow I'm riding with my father in_law. Where are you and your bike now? My cell is 750 2573
    #16
  17. chrisepp

    chrisepp Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Yarrow, BC
    Thanks for all the feedback and tips! I just got into Fairbanks recently and finally got wireless/cell access again. I am picking up the bike first thing tomorrow and I have already spoken to Jon and he is trying hard to help me out ( you are a rock star Jon! )

    I'll probably need to do some initial diagnostic work on my own so will be using all of your input. I've never had this particular issue with an engine before so all your help is very welcome and appreciated.

    Regarding the radiator cap. How do I diagnose if that is the issue? I picked up some bar head gasket sealer in case I need that, and more engine ice.


    Having a place to work is helpful so dealing with Jon or Cycleworks is a great help. I'm new to adventure riding and I have to admit I'm impressed by the people thus far. You can be assured I'm trying to capitalize on all your experience and input!

    Current plan is to pull the right tank and fill up the Coolant and see if it's bubbling. Might be worth a look before getting down to tightening up the head. Jon is not convinced it's the head gasket itself after I spoke to him about what happened so getting the right tank off and access to diagnose is a definite first step. This is a first for me so I am leaning on all your experience on this one. Should I expect water out the pipes and white smoke if the head gasket is leaking or not necessarily? I think the radiator test with it full and open should make it clear?

    I'm sure the fan was running correctly, but I will check that and thermostat as well. I will flush the cooling system with water and run distilled so I can try sealing the leaking gasket if I need to. I don't have the time to replace head gaskets, so if it turns out its the head gasket then I will retorque and try sealing. Hopefully it's something else but the bit of dark residue on the radiator cap and the very quick loss of coolant makes me think that is what it is still.

    Cheers,
    Chris
    #17
  18. chrisepp

    chrisepp Adventurer

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    Unfortunately I had to do a lot on the last maintenance. New pistons and rings, valve job, timing chains, tensioners, oil bypass valve, water pump, gaskets... I may quickly pull the WP if the radiator doesn't show me it's the head gasket. Input on my previous post would still be greatly appreciated. :)
    #18
  19. Orangecicle

    Orangecicle On a "Quest"

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    Chris, your description of having coolant all over your boot seems odd to me. If your overflow hoses are run correctly, the overflow goes from the radiator to the bottom of the overflow tank, and then from the top of the overflow tank out in front of the radiator through the hose that points straight at the ground. I don't see how that could blow coolant on your boot. Maybe I'm wrong.

    I've had odd symptoms in the past where I pinched one of the overflow tubes when I put the tanks back on. The result was that the bike would build up pressure in the radiator, then it would build up pressure in the overflow. At some point, typically in the middle of the night, the pressurized system would blow and spew coolant all over the garage floor. Check to make sure that you don't have a pinched line. I kinda think that's not your problem, but it's a quick thing to check.

    I changed my water pump over the winter. The result of that was that a warp in my inner clutch cover developed that allowed the oil passages that run on top of the clutch to leak into the water jacket that is close by. At that point, the oil pressure is higher than the water pressure, so oil was forced into the water, ending up at the top of the radiator as oily sludge. The issue for me became painfully obvious after I did 250 miles at 70 mph, after which I had straight motor oil in my overflow tank.

    You mentioned you have sludge at your radiator cap, so think about something like that (clutch cover leak) going on as opposed to a head gasket issue. I thought my problem was head gaskets, and it wasn't. Although we did go ahead and rebuild the top end of my motor, we really fixed the problem just by taking the clutch cover to a machine shop that had a big surfacing table and just surfaced that part. Had I known that, I could have saved $1,500. :lol3 Oh well.

    All that said, if you find lots of bubbles coming into your radiator on your test, you'll know what your problem is.

    Don't worry, you'll get it. Every problem has a solution. :beer
    #19
  20. chrisepp

    chrisepp Adventurer

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    So... Things are not looking good at all.

    First, huge thanks to Jon at Frozen Motor Works. He was already booked up for today but he really tried to help me out and went above and beyond. Rock solid guy.

    I went to pick up my bike this morning, I found out that one of my touratech bags had been bashed on the front and the rear, and the touratech 'locked' console had been pried open instead of using the key on the key ring. Not happy at all about that. I had told them it didn't't have enough coolant in there and the oil was contaminated but tech made notes that he ran it for an hour and the oil was good but the low oil pressure light was on and it was making an awful racket and that it needs a top end rebuild because the piston slap he was hearing.

    Now, I told the it has brand new pistons and rings, cam chains, tensioners etc and what had happened but that was all ignored and a diagnostic was made based on listening to it run for an hour with no oil pressure. They had topped up coolant with glycol based coolant instead of the engine ice I use and had mentioned, and it gummed up all the oil so there was no pressure. He ran it for an hour and overcooked my engine. Then they wanted to keep it for several weeks and do a total rebuild which I already had said was not possible as I have to head home to Vancouver and go back to work shortly.

    Anyways, I went to do my own diagnostic. Checked that there was oil and topped up the rad with distilled water to check for bubbles. Start it, and it was blowing out terrible smoke and stench right away. Never did that while it was in my care, it was bad and very noisy. Killed it right away and drained the oil. Yup! Mayonnaise! That's when I knew what they had really done and that they ran it for an hour, I no longer know how bad the damage is and I am pretty sure they did abuse of my engine as well. It took about 45 minutes for all the sludge to drain out it was so bad (of course there is a lot left and needs to be flushed) I was running out of time. Getting frustrated with bad workmanship, my brand new touratech bag getting smashed as well as the accessory racks (front and back of pannier was smashed). I got the $100 diagnostic fee back for my troubles. I hope I don't find they fried my brand new top end too with that diagnostic session.

    I don't have enough supplies to flush everything properly, or really the time as I only have one more day so I don't see doing it myself in that timespan. Clearly I'm not as fast as you folk. I'm new to adventure bikes and came from street bikes so don't feel up to the task on my own in such short time, and I don't want to mess up my in-laws vacation as well. So I think it will have to be trucked back, and I'll have to miss the main riding I did this trip for. Oh we'll...

    So... For when I get back and pull this thing out. Would a head gasket allow that much coolant into the oil? Or is it too pressurized from the combustion chamber and would just blow it out the overflow? Water pump? That much? On a new shaft and gasket? Granted, the condition I got my bike back was far worse than what I gave it to them in so who knows how bad it as abused by them. I could be not that bad and they just let it overheat for an hour and made things really bad.

    Suggestions? I tried not to rant too much but I'm pretty exhaust at this point and pretty upset at the shop. (NOT Jon and Frozen Motor Works! He was awesome and tried no set me up with what I needed to take care of this. The big store that initially worked on my bike is who I'm upset with)

    The for a few drinks to cool off, then I'll see if I feel like trying anything further or if I am risking too much after what has been done to my bike. Any thoughts?

    PS (Jon, I will get in touch. I tucked something away for you. Thanks for all your help. I Wally didn't want to interfere with your existing plans, and it was extremely nice of you to do what you did for me.)

    Cheers,
    Chris
    #20