Burned a hole in my piston.

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by Escape Artist GSA, Oct 7, 2019.

  1. Escape Artist GSA

    Escape Artist GSA n00b

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    2913 GSA oil cooled camhead. I'm on a ride from the US to Ushuaia with side trip through Brasil. Had service done in Sao Paulo and asked to check the valve shims etc ... they pulled a plug to rotate rear tire in gear to find TDC and check the shims etc as is SOP. I had replaced the plugs myself just a month ago and still have receipt. I ordered all four at the same time and was careful not to crossthread etc.

    Fastforward a week. Bike was pinging under load in 6th. Like gravel was in the motor. Finally it lost about 80 % power. I limped it to the nearest hotel (with a stop to drain gas and out and add new just in case that was it). Been stranded here at this hotel in the middle of nowhere on the Brasil and Argentina border ever since ...

    I decided to pull the plugs on one side and rotate the rear tire in gear to check for compression as I was thinking I cooked an exhaust valve. The damned plug was seized. I was kicking myself for not putting anti seize, or the mechanic not doing it. I got penetrating oil, let it sit overnight and came back in the morning thinking maybe it was cross threaded. I got the plug out and it's ... melted at the end and the electrodes are crushed in. Damned.

    The other three plugs came out easy ... but ... then I noticed the damaged plug was maybe five mm longer !! Different part number than the other three! It was contacting the Piston and I'm sure I burned a hole in the Piston which is why I lost compression ... the mechanic must have grabbed another plug and popped it in when checking valves, maybe there were a couple on his work bench and he grabbed the wrong one. Crap.

    It is 350 miles to Rosario Argentina where there is an official BMW dealer. Been a week and can't get a truck or a tow yet.

    Question is this: if I unplug the wires from the primary and secondary coils, keep the coils and plugs out ... can I ride it to Rosario on the good cylinder? I know it will run like shit, but will I do more damage than has already been done? Say if there is metal debris from the burned piston etc? I will need a new piston anyways I'm sure ... I hope valves are ok. Bike has 30K miles now. I think the cylinder walls are pretty strong but ... I don't want to worsen it ... I dunno. What do you guys think. In desperate situation here .
    #1
  2. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    Ah, man. This really sucks to read. My heart goes out to ya, seriously ... It's not my bike, but I would not try to ride it 3 mi. (or km) in this condition, much less 35 or 300+, except in a life-saving emergency situation.

    If there is anyway at all that you can find a tow, barge, whatever, then that's what I would try to do.
    #2
  3. Huzband

    Huzband Team Dirt

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    The question is are there any metal pieces floating around in the crank case. You can't know for sure, so that's where the real risk lies. Think about it.
    #3
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  4. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    Even if you don’t, by some miracle, have metal bits in the engine, running it without the plugs in the bad cylinder would very likely suck in debris. Lots of crud gets into the plug area even in “normal” riding conditions.

    I don’t suppose there’s any chance of a compression test or bore camera to see if you really holed the piston or maybe just lost power because you were only firing on one side?
    #4
  5. wellcraft

    wellcraft Been here awhile

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    Wow...That's really a bad situation to be in, I have no advice but I'll say a prayer that you get your bike to a place were it can be repaired and make it home safely.
    #5
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  6. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    If you do have a hole in your piston you will fairly quickly pump out out until you have none. Your best bet is to verify that you have a hole, and if so, replace the piston, cylinder and likely head.
    #6
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  7. lewisjr1

    lewisjr1 Long timer Supporter

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    Not helpful for OP, but I've just spotted a surprisingly inexpensive "bore scope" that attaches via USB to an Android device. For < $25, this wouldn't be a bad item to wrap up in a plastic box and tape inside of a pannier when going 'round the world. See...

    https://www.amazon.com/Seesi-Endosc...t=&hvlocphy=9061285&hvtargid=pla-781022053882

    And OP, as above, inspecting the piston with a bore scope sure could be illuminating.
    #7
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  8. slipperyeel

    slipperyeel Been here awhile

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    Feel for you on this. I'm usually alone in my trips too so I have an inkling of how it feels.

    Post #5 is a good suggestion. I'm wondering, in the absence of a borescope if a wire coat hanger, carefully bent, offered into the plug hole you might get a feel, at least to see if there's anything obvious. Perhaps find a pic of what a good piston looks like as a guide to what you should expect to feel.

    As JVB says, if the really is a hole, then it would have emptied itself. As mentioned above, it may be the loss if that plug that caused the power loss, meaning piston has some damage, but not catastrophic. Do you have a spare plug you could try with?
    #8
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  9. Motorius

    Motorius Road trippin' Supporter

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    I got a friend in Argentina who works for what would be their AAA type service. He speaks perfect English. I’ll just volunteer his services for you if you need someone to contact. Lives in BA. He’ll help you if your Spanish is lacking, etc.
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  10. Motorius

    Motorius Road trippin' Supporter

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    I contacted my BA buddy, and he’ll help if needed. Sent info via PM.
    #10
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  11. ROAD DAMAGE

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

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    That's a bummer to hear.
    I WOULD NOT ride it without verifying the type and extent of damage.

    So don't yet discount the fact that you may have had an exhaust valve failure of some sort.
    This might make some sense as you just had some top end work done.
    If their tech could reinsert the WRONG spark plug ...... then he very well might have bodged up something else with the valve adjustment?

    But I do understand your train of thought after finding that longer spark plug.
    Could you post up a picture of the damaged spark plug end?

    Another way to get that spark plug end banged up ............. is by having a piece of valve being banged into it by the piston.
    (BTW, was it the center spark plug?)

    You said that it was pinging under load ............ like there was gravel in it?
    That sorta seems strange for either potential issue?
    Did this come on all the sudden - or did it get progressively worse throughout your week of riding?
    Did the bike seem to run properly right after the service?

    Could you remove the valve cover on the side in question, remove a spark plug, put bike in 6th gear and turn rear wheel with your foot while you watch the valve train work? That might tell you something if one of the exhaust valves is not working/moving properly.

    [​IMG]

    It doesn't happen often ................... BUT IT HAPPENS !!!!!!!! :lol3 :lol3 :lol3

    Keep us posted and hope your luck gets better quickly.
    RD
    #11
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  12. Bill-66

    Bill-66 I don't even know... Supporter

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    If there were...and IF the pump picked them up...the filter would catch them..
    #12
  13. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    I'd be in the "Fix the obvious damage, change the oil and filter, inspect and ride it" camp myself. Horizontal twins have one BIG advantage over more conventional layouts, shit don't just fall straight down into the engine if something goes wrong in the top end. And even if some bits DID get moved down odds are it went under the crank, not directly into it.

    Still cause for concern yes but the odds are with you on minimal damage further down.
    #13
  14. burbansk

    burbansk Exit 202 Mio Mad Man

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    Why risk making things worse unless you plan on replacing the engine with a new one. The correct thing to do is tear down the engine and go from there. I agree with the comments above, unless you are in a life and death situation I would not even try to start it. Good luck, hope things work out and its repairable.
    #14
  15. Huzband

    Huzband Team Dirt

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    True, but that wouldn't be my concern. My concern was something getting into the crank bearings.
    #15
  16. bykemike

    bykemike "ready to navigate" Supporter

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    A thought, if the plug were contacting the piston I'd think it wouldn't make it through a start up crank much less a week of riding.

    A valve would be a guess,
    #16
  17. Coma

    Coma Long timer Supporter

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    There is is a supply system at work where you are stuck. Trucking or it’s analog. Hire one and have the bike shipped to the nearest dealer and sort this out.

    Sorry you are having troubles, brother.

    on edit: Let me elaborate. Start with the owner of the hotel, ask about someone with a pickup. We just had a visit with a friend who works in Bolivia. She has a pickup that would easily haul your bike, although she is in the US for extended home assignment. A couple hundred USD covering gas, food and lodging would likely find a truck. Next check on local missionaries, they will have transportation available for their own use and will likely help. Lastly get in the local eateries and pubs to see what you can drum up.

    You might check on the mechanic coming to you, also. Look at this as an opportunity to enjoy the local culture, food and drink.
    #17
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  18. slipperyeel

    slipperyeel Been here awhile

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    I was thinking the same. But unsure how much clearance there is when the pain is at TDC. Maybe there's enough space?

    As for the valve it looks like that might be a good possibility.
    #18
  19. Bill-66

    Bill-66 I don't even know... Supporter

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    How? It’s going through the filter first...
    #19
  20. GSA GIRL

    GSA GIRL Been here awhile Supporter

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    But it goes through the oil pump first. The oil pump only pumps unfiltered oil. Anything more than a coarse strainer on the inlet side of the pump would be so restrictive as to stop all oil flow. Same thing on our race care we run a 100 micron filter pre fuel pump and a 10 micron filter between the fuel injection or carburetion and the pump. That's for Fuel. Oil is even thicker.
    #20