emulsified tranny and FD oils, now what

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by Old Smokey, Jul 15, 2015.

  1. Old Smokey

    Old Smokey Been here awhile

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    I have an '86 r80, bought it in the winter and have put about 8,000km or so on it. Recently I just got back from a 2-up tour, two weeks and 4,500km, no major issues.

    When I bought the bike, the PO indicated that he had changed the tranny oil twice since owning it (he only had it a few years and barely drove it). The first time it was milky white, totally emulsified. The speedo boot was in tatters and subsequently replaced. It's been clear every since. The FD oil came out white and milky when I changed it after buying it as well. I believe water got in through the vented top plug.

    My question is, what, if anything, should I do about this now?

    Next summer I'd like to take on a longer tour and am wondering if it's a good idea to send the tranny to Bruno's for a rebuild (add the circlip at the same time) as preventative maintenance, or if that's just over the top.

    Bike odometer reads 27,500km. No idea if there is a '1' in front of that number or not.


    Any advice for testing the condition of the tranny and FD? Thanks!
    #1
  2. Big Bamboo

    Big Bamboo Aircooled & Sunbaked Supporter

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    I'd change the oil more than once if I found water in it. Not sure how water would get into the rear drive unless it was submerged it or a pressure washer used to clean it. Keep an eye on the levels to make sure you don't have any migration happening between the trans and rear drive. If it wasn't popping out of gear or making bad noises and no debris on the magnet, I'd just ride it and be glad I dodged the bullet.
    #2
  3. Disston

    Disston ShadeTreeExpert

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    I had water get into the final drive from a bad breather cap. The cap is two pieces tack welded together and holes drilled into the inner part. The top part keeps the water away from the holes. But mine was missing the top part and the water was easily able to enter the final drive. Doesn't seem like these little holes would be that big a problem but it was. I changed the oil many times, till it was clean. I would ride the bike around the block, go home change it again. It took more than two changes. It seemed there were places inside the final drive that fresh water was hiding.
    #3
  4. JZed

    JZed Have GS will travel.

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    Mark
    I have a 86 R80 with about 100 K miles. Very nice machine. I would change out the gear oil in the FD, swing arm and gearbox. Change the engine oil too. I usually change my engine oil at 3000 miles. Run the bike and change the out all of the fluids again. If the gear oil looks normal, you are ok, if it is milky you may still have a water entry point.

    Water can enter the gear box through the speedo cable. Put a new boot on there with some silicone grease around the speedo cable. Use a cable tie on the small end of the boot to help it seal. One of the tricks to evaluating the condition of the transmission is to look at the fuzz left around the magnet on the drain plug. It is normally grey, but not gritty. If you smear some between your fingers and see any shiny flakes, that is a good indicator that you may have a bearing problem. The balls and races in the bearings will throw off shiny pieces as they wear. If you see some shiny flakes, that would be a good time to pull the transmission and send it do Bruno. If you don't see anything shiny, then put 800cc out gear oil in the transmission and ride the bike through the summer season. It would not be a bad idea to pull the transmission after the riding season and send it to bruno this winter for doing the circlip. It is good to add the circlip before the front output shaft bearing moves (less damage to internal parts) but you should be fine until this winter.

    I have had an issue with finding milky oil in the final drive after a 8 hour ride through very heavy rain. Fortunately I checked the FD oil before leaving on a 1200 mile ride. I changed it out and all was OK.

    Dont forget to change the oil in the swing arm. Use new crush washers on all three drain plugs and fill plugs, (swing arm, final drive, transmission. thread the plugs in by hand so you don't cross thread them.

    gear oil capacity from memory is about 800 cc in transmission, 325 cc in final drive and about 125 cc in swing arm. I like to use 80w90 Castrol hyphoid gear lube.

    Again, the R80 is a great machine and will serve you well.

    Have fun, ride safe.

    JZed
    '86 R80, '92 R100GS, '84 R100RS, '06 KLR650
    #4
  5. Big Bamboo

    Big Bamboo Aircooled & Sunbaked Supporter

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    Just a heads up; I have heard nothing but good reviews of Brunos work, but he currently has an over 6 month turn around time. YMMV
    #5
  6. MR65

    MR65 Adventurer

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    1987 R65 same issue. Using Canadian Tires 4/5GL 80w90 gear oil $6.99 a litre to flush and flush again. My first flush was at 150 km since oil change, probably do the same again. Oil is cheep, parts not so much. Hoping to put some good Spectro 80w90 oil in soon ....

    Mike
    #6
  7. bmwrench

    bmwrench Long timer

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    If you don't find excessive metal on the drain plug, your bearings and gears are most likely fine. Your bike is probably one of the ones without the controversial circlip at he front of the output shaft, though...
    #7
  8. Old Smokey

    Old Smokey Been here awhile

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    Thanks everyone. I changed out the tranny oil three times since the milky oil was discovered. The last time I changed it there was no sign of any more water. I'll check the drive shaft and FD next week when I have a chance to pick up some new crush washers. I only did the FD once, should have thought to flush it a second time..

    Last time I did the tranny, there was a pasty grey metal substance clinging to the magnetic plug, but I couldn't feel any specific pieces, didn't get anything poking my skin, it was almost like tooth paste. It was also quite a small amount. If I have the same thing next week when I change the oil, I'll consider it good for now.

    However...I just got in from changing the engine oil, and found a few metal flakes. The flakes seem to have come from inside the oil filter housing. I ran a few small earth magnets through the collected oil from the pan and came up pretty much empty, but the attached photo is what I found in the collection pan I placed under the filter housing.

    I had mentioned before that I wondered if I have a worn timing chain. Would this type of metal be indicative of that?

    Oh, also, great to hear about Bruno's reputation. I contacted them a few months back out of curiosity. They indicated a 6 week turn around back then. To replace all the bearings, seals, and do the circlip mod was $750 CAD, plus shipping. I'll definitely be considering that after the summer.

    Attached Files:

    #8
  9. ccmickelson

    ccmickelson MonoMania Supporter

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    If that mileage is correct I'd doubt the metal is coming from the timing chain, unless there should be a 1 in front.
    #9
  10. ME 109

    ME 109 Long timer

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    That's happy gearbox cream.
    #10
  11. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

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    +1. The transmission oil is not expensive or hard to change, so keep an eye on the magnetic drain plug for coarse material and keep riding.
    --Bill
    #11
  12. ME 109

    ME 109 Long timer

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    Being able to see the metal pieces very close up can help determine where it has come from. Pieces of metal is not good and it won't get better.
    'Flakes' of metal also narrows down the possible contributors.
    #12
  13. Old Smokey

    Old Smokey Been here awhile

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    Based on the photo I posted then, do you have any ideas what those flakes might be from?
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  14. JZed

    JZed Have GS will travel.

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    You did well to cut the filter open to look at it. Judging from the flakes being attracted to the magnet, they are likely ferrous. I had a similar situation on my r80 at about 60 k miles. Had some flakes in the filter and got curious. The pushrod tube seals were leaking and I decided it was a good time to replace them. I pulled the heads and cylinders off the block. Then I pulled out the cam followers (sometimes called valve lifters or tappets). Two of the four cam followers were "spalling". that is the top of the cam follower was flaking off and produced a chip very similar to was is attracted to the magnet in your picture. It turned out, that one of the cam lobes was also wearing. I was able to find a used cam and lifters out of a 84 r100 for about $50 and swapped the pieces out and did a new timing chain at the same time. The bike was running fine when I found this issue. The problem is that the flakes coming off of the cam followers are very hard, and have to travel through the oil pump before they get capture d by the oil filter. Over time, that will damage the oil pump. The problem with flaking cam followers is not common on airheads, but does occur from time to time. (The problem can be caused by using an SM grade engine oil instead of a good 20W50 motorcycle oil.} I would check it out, it would be a good tech day project for you and some local airheads. If the cam followers are fine, then you can replace the pushrod tube seals and head gaskets put it back together. if you find some spalling, then you can replace bad followers and cam if needed and do the timing chain if you have to change out the cam. Kind of a drag to tear into the engine, but fixing it up will give lots of miles and smiles up the road. I am sure others can add their own take on the issue. Checking out the issue is very similar to looking over your climbing gear and ropes before using it.

    Good luck. Ride safe.

    JZed
    #14
  15. Old Smokey

    Old Smokey Been here awhile

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    Thanks so much for that, I suspect I may be in the same situation.

    I consulted the previous owner and learned something... the odometer on my bike is not the original. It was replaced before he owned it, even before the guy he bought it from. So, three owners prior to me. PO said the bike had 8,000km on it when he purchased it, meaning I only really know the history of the bike's last 19,000km. He said the guy who sold it to him mentioned the new odometer, and added that the original mileage was 'low', which could really mean any number of things.

    That means I can't really write off any unlikely 'low mileage' problems since this bike really could be at 100,000 or higher.

    Here's what i DO know:
    - when I purchased the bike, there were no shims being used with the white o-ring. PO indicated he never used shims, nor found any when he bought the bike. I measured the canister depth and it was 4mm. So the bike has quite likely not had adequate oil pressure. When I changed the oil yesterday, I re-measured and it seems like it's 4.15mm now. I used three shims and no gasket for a depth of 3.2mm
    - PO indicated he never found any metal shavings during regular oil changes, but also never put a magnet in his collected oil to see what was floating around. It was purely a visual comment. My oil pan doesn't have a magnetic plug, so it would be very easy to not notice shavings in old, black oil.


    I'm going on a weekend ride leaving tomorrow. After that, I'll park the bike and pull one of the cylinders off and see what condition the camshaft, lifters, and connecting rod journals are in. I had planned to do the timing chain/sprockets anyway, so it would be a good time to do it all. I feel pretty confident I have the abilities for the timing chain job, but how much more complicated is replacing the camshaft (if needed)?
    #15
  16. Big Bamboo

    Big Bamboo Aircooled & Sunbaked Supporter

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    If the bike doesn't need any top end work, it's far easier to drop the pan and check the condition of your followers and cam from there. Replacing the cam adds another magnitude of work. Unless you have the later cam with square drive, you will need to pull the flywheel off to get to the oil pump as well.
    #16
  17. ME 109

    ME 109 Long timer

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    I can't tell from the magnet picture, it's too small.

    Sometimes I will cut an oil filter open and closely inspect for junk.
    Engine oil can be 'gold panned' after being drained and allowed to settle. Tip the oil out slowly so as not to lose any junk that may have settled to the bottom of your container. When most of the oil has been tipped out, I add a little petrol to thin the remaining oil before tipping out and leaving just the particles.
    Other possibilities causing flakes might be the crank sprocket, crank bearing, big end bearings.
    You don't mention any engine noises?
    #17
  18. Old Smokey

    Old Smokey Been here awhile

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    The photo I posted should be pretty high resolution. On my machine I can zoom waaaay in.

    Your description of 'panning' for particles is how I first clued into the fact I had metal in the oil! Then I used the magnet to collect them all.

    I didn't mention engine noise because I don't really have any that is unusual. Yet anyway. I do have a slight whirring sound that seems to be coming from the timing chest when I use a mechanics stethoscope. It goes away before 2K rpm and fits the description of a worn timing chain pretty well. In another thread, a different user posted a 'before' video of his worn timing chain sound, it's identical to mine. Beyond that, the engine sounds quite great actually.

    The oil pan drop is a great idea. I'll try that next week and see if anything looks worn, will post photos here.
    #18
  19. JZed

    JZed Have GS will travel.

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    Big Bamboo is right, you can see some of the cam lobes and bottoms of the cam followers by pulling the pan. I would suggest that you look a not too distant thread on this Airheads forum from last spring. The title is "Yikes, what happened to this cam follower?" Lots of good information and pictures there. You will need a good mirror, light and will need to rotate the crank through a couple of revolutions to see the bottoms of all the lifters. Then if you see something that looks amiss, pull the jugs and look further.

    You did a good thing by using a magnet to pan for metal. Sounds like you have a good understanding of proper oil ring squish in the filter. I would change the oil and go for your ride, but be aware that if the lifters are flaking, the swarf (what a great word from our friends in the UK) goes through the oil pump before going to the filter. Also, do a google search on something like "Airhead spalled lifters in engine". Look at the images and do a little reading. You will get an appreciation for the importance of using a good motorcycle oil in our airheads ( and oil Chevy V8s etc)

    If you pull the jugs and pistons, you can easily pull the lifters and inspect them visually. You can see the cam lobes through the cylinder spicot bores on the side of crankcase, and you also can verify that the pin locking the front main bearing is still in place doing its job. Plus, renewing the pushrod seals. Again, you have a great bike there. Take good care of it, and it will serve you will.

    Good Luck. Ride safe.

    JZed
    #19
  20. Old Smokey

    Old Smokey Been here awhile

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    Ok! So I dropped the oil pan just now, after riding about 350km since the last change. The good news is that the oil pan had nothing suspect in it at all. It looked pretty much new. I peered up into the belly of the engine and I think what I saw is good... The cam and followers look in great shape to me, though it seemed odd that they don't line up? A Google search suggests this is normal. Is it? Why don't they line up? And would you all agree these look to be in good shape? They all were in the same condition.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


    So, if these are in good shape, what's next then. My suspicion is that the timing chain is causing this. What else should I look for while the pan is off?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #20