Questions for a mid-ride water-submerged wet-sump-bike restart process

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Mambo Dave, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. Mambo Dave

    Mambo Dave Backyard Adventurer

    Oct 7, 2011
    11 ft. AMSL
    After talking to some other riders about a crazy wet off-road ride I went on ... alone (and I'll never do that again without friends, extra tools and tow-straps), it hit me that I've seen quite a few videos on this site of guys who lost their dirt bikes into deep water.

    I'm wondering if I even would have any options after a running wet-sump bike (like my DR650) would go down into a water hole?

    Sure, pull the plug and get the water out of the cylinder... but as far as the crank-case, or even the carb... is there even an option if the rider(s) aren't carrying about two quarts of sealed-up motor oil to replace the fallen-bike's crankcase's oil?

    Start it and just hope? It doesn't seem plausible if there is water in the crankcase. Don't ride a dual-sport where serious water crossings exist?

    Thanks for any input. The J.W. Corbett Wildlife management area is calling me back, but holy hell is there water there... ( )
  2. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer

    Apr 6, 2007
    Annapolis, MD
    Two weeks into owning my brand new right off the show room floor XT350 I rode it into 6' of water. That was my only four stroke completely submerged bike :lol3

    I didn't sweat the oil for the ride home. It was a little milky by the time I got home. But not as bad as I had expected considering how long and how deep the bike was under. I was more worried that I had bent the rod than about water in the oil. But once at home I immediately changed it, ran the bike up to running temperature and changed it. Then I got it temperature and changed it again once more just to be sure. I had also to drain the carb float bowl to start it cold for the rest of that tank of gas.

    But otherwise the bike had no submarine realted issues for the next 17 years I had it. If you are riding alone I would be more worried about losing the bike in mud than water. I had a friend sink one to the tank in goo and have to walk out for help. The bike was in flowing water and had to be recovered with a 4x4. That was a mess. After it sat there buried in mud with silty water flowing around it for so long it took him a long time to get all the mud and silt out of the engine, wheel bearings, suspension, etc.
  3. the Pheasant

    the Pheasant Been here awhile

    Jan 14, 2008
    Wild west Wales
    I once dropped an XR6 in deep water and couldn't kill it before it sucked water through the airbox. Got the water out of the cylinder but no way would it start and when I got it home and pulled the clutch cover the crankcase was full of chalk-coloured water mixed with the oil. So I swapped it (with disclosure) for a KMX200. The new owner told me he just drained it, filled, drained and filled several times and then rode it...

    The one time I stalled my XL 185 S in a pond, it sucked water into the crankcase through the breather pipe (which had come loose) as the motor cooled. I rode it all day and, on later inspection, found that the new rattle was the cam running in a now-oversized bore in the head. No other damage. I got a local machinist to fit a phosphor bronze bushing to the head, fitted a new cam, emptied the centrifugal oil filter, fixed the breather pipe and the bike was better than before.

    I guess plain bearings are the biggest losers provided you don't bend the rod.
  4. Mambo Dave

    Mambo Dave Backyard Adventurer

    Oct 7, 2011
    11 ft. AMSL
    Thanks guys, this is good stuff if only even just to learn.

    Grreatdog, that became a very real possibility for me the other day... and I learned the lucky, and nearly hard, way that I should not ride those wet areas alone, nor without tow straps and extra tools. We just didn't have the same amount of water back up in PA when I used to ride dirt, so going out alone wasn't quite as risky as it seems to be here. (of course that is said with frost-bite damage to the hands 25 years after doing a solo-ride in PA that I screwed up on...)

    At one point, stuck between deep and deeper water holes, I was considering waiting a day to see if further lack of rain would make the waters lower (lol, desperation), or facing the very real possibility that I was going to leave the bike in a hole somewhere. Maybe you guys didn't see it, but this picture was the second-deepest one... the deepest one was much less of a distance across, but holy hell...

    But this thread and question was for even stuff like this hole as if I had slipped up and dropped the bike to a side... I imagine it would have been just about as bad as leaving the bike upright in that last water hole.

    Taken right after crossing it (I'm right over my exit tracks), I turned around and found a rock to temporarily prop up the kickstand from sinking as fast into the wet sand.
  5. Bucho

    Bucho Long timer

    Dec 10, 2006
    Like Greatdog said

    I drowned my DR650 once. Didn't seem to be that big of a deal.
  6. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer

    Apr 6, 2007
    Annapolis, MD
    That looks a lot like what I lost the XT350 into. It was a nice wet but hard packed sugar sand road in the SC Sea Islands with a big water hole across it. Unfortunately there was also a 6' deep ditch in the middle of the water hole. My buddy crossed the ditch over the flooded culvert pipe that I missed. Big surprise wheelying through water hazard and literally having to swim. :lol3

    BTW, that looks way too much like salt or brackish water for my tastes. I hated riding through salt water and mud.
  7. Rucksta

    Rucksta SS Blowhard

    Oct 26, 2008
    Gold Coast
    A bit of water in the sump doesn't hurt but a lot can cause problems.
    If in doubt crack the plug on the cool motor and drain the water.
    Replace the plug (quickly) when the oil starts coming out.

    Cool motor lets you hold the plug in your hand and gives the oil a chance to float on the water.
  8. Mambo Dave

    Mambo Dave Backyard Adventurer

    Oct 7, 2011
    11 ft. AMSL
    This is a great tip - I forgot that oil floats on water. :thumb

    Any recommendations on how long to let a bike sit to get the best oil/water separation? I guess just to totally cooled down sounds as good as anything.
  9. MADurstewitz

    MADurstewitz MADMark

    Jan 15, 2009
    Joisey, not far from NYC
    I once drowned an XR250 in a pond. Completely snuffed it out. Dragged it out (my friends stood on the band and laughed for encouragement), pulled the plug and flipped the bike over. No problems.

    When alone I do avoid really long crossings like the one in your picture. That said, if you hit something like that which is about 100 or so feet across at a really high rate of speed, you'll hydroplane across. It's a fun trick, but not for the faint of heart and not without trying it on a water hole with fewer consequences.
  10. Bill_Z

    Bill_Z Dude! chill,...

    Jun 24, 2009
    Crab Orchard, KY
    I did this on my new, less the 2K miles Wee Strom. Hydro-locked and wouldn't turn over. I didn't know why so I pushed it out of the creek and up the road to a neighbor's farm. I tried to bump start it on a hill, but the rear tire would just skid when I dumped the clutch.

    Called my wife, who came to pick me up in the truck. I drained the cylinders and crank case, as described above and towel dried the air box as well as anything else I could find wet. Let it stand over night after soaking the cylinders with WD40. Put it all back together and cranked it over. It took about 1 minute to fire and a few minutes to smooth out, but it worked. I changed the oil another two times after running it up to full heat.

    I now have almost 10K on this bike it's running great. My wife has made me promise not to take the "Turtle" swimming any more.
  11. XR650L_Dave

    XR650L_Dave Long timer

    Apr 3, 2006
    Near Cortland NY
    It was about 35 degrees and about
    4 pm. I had my full aerostitch on (its an old 2-piece zip-together,
    but still quite serviceable), so I was nice and toasty. It had been a
    good ride, which was good because the last time I wore the 'stitch I
    think I broke one or both feet. It was nice to know there wasn't any
    bad juju lingering in the gore-tex.
    I wandered through some adjoining woods, no trail but fairly open, and
    found a small valley, about 15 feet deep, with a little stream running
    through the bottom, where the valley was about 50' wide.
    There were qwaaad tracks, so I could tell things were fairly firm and
    rode in to try out the hill. Rode down, crossed the stream where the
    tracks were, turned around, went to go back up the hill. Got bounced a
    little in the stream and lost all my momentum, so I turned around and
    re-crossed the stream about 2 feet down from the tracks.
    Eased the front wheel in (the stream was about 6"-1' deep where I had
    crossed previously) and the front end went down. And down. And down.
    SONOFA<glub>! Needless to say, rule 1 is DON'T GET STUCK UNDER THE
    BIKE, so I bailed and didn't ride it all the way in to see how deep it
    was. Well, it was about 3-1/2 or 4 feet deep, I was standing there,
    bike completely submerged and invisible, its 30-fricken-something
    degrees, and its getting dark. The little oil-and-gas rainbows on the
    stream were pretty to watch, though.
    Muscled the bike out (much easier to lift in the water!), flipped it
    over several times to get it out of the hole and onto the bank, got it
    on the kickstand.
    Side panel off the airbox- cut to that scene in risky business when
    the door to the porsche is opened and all the water comes out. Ditto
    for removing the air filter. Try cranking it- yep, its water-locked.
    I got the air scoop off the left side of the tank, got the plug out,
    cranked the water out. Waited 30 secs. Cranked out more water.
    Repeated about 15 times until it seemed all the *excess* water was
    pumped out of the crancase and the exhaust system. Got the plug back
    in. Its getting dark. Turned the fuel on, drained the carb until
    something that smelled like gas came out. Cranked it over and waited
    for an encouraging sign. And cranked. And waited. Damn, I'm screwed.
    Thought for a minute, and whanged myself upside the head- forgot the
    plug cap. Dumbass!
    Lots more cranking, it started to spit, then it started to run, and
    the water was coming out the exhaust pipe like a hose, then like a
    steam pipe. Got it turned around in the mud, got across the stream for
    some runup, crossed again and got up the hill. Went back for the gear
    and tools, by this time it was 5:30, dark, and below freezing (trusty
    bank thermometers- at least some things don't change). On the way
    home, my feet and my hands were the only things cold- nothing quite as
    amazing as an aerostitch, but now I wonder even more- am I going to
    have a little adventure everytime I wear it?
    The rest of the stream was shallow, there must have been a little
    sand-pocket right in this spot that just got scrubbed away. There was
    even a little turbulence on the surface making it look like there were
    some rocks just below the surface.

    I changed the oil about 4 times until it didn't look like a mocha-ccino
    , and fired a fair amount
    of WD40 into the airbox (sans filter) while it was running to get rid
    of all the white goo. Hopefully anthing else that got wet can wait
    until the winter teardown-and-grease, and will tolerate a few more
    rides between now and then.

    That was 2003 with about 2-3000 miles on the bike, 8k or so on it now, no ill effects from the submergence or riding 8 miles with coffee for oil that I can tell.

    Dave, U-650 commander.
  12. Harvey Krumpet

    Harvey Krumpet Long timer

    Dec 26, 2011
    The Shaky Isles
    My experience recently on a 2t. Same procedure for a 4t, more or less. I dropped the vanilla milk shake out the gearbox when I got home.

    <table id="post18785541" class="dg-post" align="center" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr valign="top"><td class="dg-post-content" id="td_post_18785541"> In the interest's of fellow DT owners I fatefully tested my bikes ability on a variety of terrain on Sunday. It performed flawlessly in the bush, up & down steep hills, through deep mud & even got me home home in one piece through 50k's of very slick forest trails in the pouring rain after the sun had gone down. Admittedly I did not see much of the trail but plenty of trees & bush.
    The only area I found the bike wanting was it's inability to run under water. :D Within a few feet of landing a lovely Pastranaesque leap into a creek I found a hole which was exactly head stock deep or in the old money, up to the elastic on my underpants. The bike floats a bit too, clever.
    For your edification, here is how you get them running again.
    First, sit on the river bank in your socks & underpants for 30 minutes while you wait for somebody to get a screw driver so you can take the side panel off to get your tools. Once this is achieved take off the air filter cover, remove air filter, tad poles & small eels. Squeeze mud & twigs out of air filter, replace. Next, remove the little doofus between the air filter & carburetor. Once the cascade has stopped you can loosen the wee screw at the base of the carburetor to allow more of the creek to return home. While you wait for this, get your first aid kit out so you can put plasters on your hands once the spark plug has been removed. This done, kick the bike over 97 times, no more, no less.
    Not much more to do now. Penultimately, using a burly companion you need to get the bike vertical so that the 11 ltrs of water in the exhaust can be turned into air. One person holds the back brake on (me), the burly one then lifts the bike into a vertical position putting most of it's weight onto your shoulder (mine). It's worth it to see how much water comes out, I may be prosecuted for erosion...
    With this all done, check the spark. If, when you put the plug cap on, hold the plug against the motor & then kick it over you get the feeling of being viciously hoofed in the elbow by a pit pony then all is well. In hindsight I won't hold it next time, just leave it dangling against the cylinder & look for that little spark of life. Put the plug back into it's virginaly elusive hole, replace plug lead & put more plasters on. Now kick it until your leg falls off. The bike will hint that it wants to fire but don't be fooled.
    The feeling of shattered bone & numbness made the next & final step in resuscitating my girlfriends pride & joy harder than it needs to be. Deep mud & a track which weaves between trees is not ideal either.
    Attach a strop to the rear of the Toyota Hilux you always ride with & wrap the other end once around the handle bar cross brace, in the centre, this is important. Hold the loose end on the bar grip with your left hand, the one that hurts, so you can release it after you have fallen over. You will fall over because the strop you so carefully placed in the centre will immediately & unexpectedly slide up the mounting brace. After a number of unsuccessful tows to bump start the bike, each faster & scarier than the last, turn the petrol back on. It will happily fire into life immediately, as if nothing had happened.:clap

    Your welcome.
    P.S. Don't worry about the water in the headlight, it will drain of it's own accord.
    <!-- / message --> </td> <!-- #dg-post-content --> </tr> <tr> <td>
    </td> </tr></tbody></table>
  13. henrymartin

    henrymartin Mr. Tourguide

    Sep 11, 2010
    South of the Great North Woods
    Just drowned my G650GS (Dry sump) and rode the 40 miles home. It took 4 complete oil changes with filter to get the water out and turn what was coming out of the bike [​IMG] Into oil again:deal

    Anyway, I got lucky the engine did not hydrolock on me. Battery started bikes in situations like this make me worried. After the water seeped down to the crank enough that I could actually start it, I had water coming out of the exhaust as well. The worst part was having to cross the same spot on the way out of there - did not dump it that time, but had exhaust submerged. trailside options were virtually none, as I did not have 2.3 liters of oil, multiple tools, and a dry filter on hand. next time I go there, I'll take my KLR250.
  14. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer

    Apr 6, 2007
    Annapolis, MD
    I keep waiting for the inmate that dropped his Elefant in the creek on a Shenandoah 500 ride to post up. If an Italian motorcycle can go completely under and still be ridden back to camp then you know Japanese bikes can handle it.