Horrible noise, overheating, and loss of power!

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Skippii, Aug 1, 2008.

  1. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

    Joined:
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    6,650
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    Richmond, Va
    2006 Ninja 250. 19,000 miles
    I was riding down the interstate, doing a steady 70 mph, no problems at all for the first 40 miles.
    Then I notice that the engine very slowly seems to be losing power. It's weird, but soon I've got the throttle pinned and I'm down to 3rd gear just struggling to maintain 55 mph trying to get to the next exit. I notice at this point the engine is getting really hot, too--much more than it should be for highway riding.

    I pull off the interstate and into the first gas station and pull the side fairings.
    First thing I notice is that the coolant reservoir under the seat is bubbling vigorously. It's also a funny brown color. I'm almost positive it was green or blue last time I checked it.

    Once the engine cools down a bit, I pop off the radiator cap. Engine is filled with coolant, although it's brown in there as well.

    Very strange. I put it all back together and start it up. Everything back to normal.
    A few minutes later, it starts getting hot again, and starts losing power.
    I pull off the next exit, and it stalls out on the ramp. I push it to the nearest parking lot.

    It will not start again. The starter relay clicks on, but the starter doesn't move. The battery is fine, lights and horn work, but the rear wheel will absolutely not budge in gear, even dropping the clutch down a steep hill as in bumpstarting.

    I keep trying, but only succeed in wearing down the battery.

    I wait about two hours while I eat something at a gas station, then try again. Now the engine will turn over, but the battery seems to be rather dead, no doubt from all the previous efforts. Bumpstarting will get it to turn over, but it doesn't stay catch, so finally a get a jumpstart from a passerby, and get it running--but it's a heck of a lot louder than before.

    I try to head home like this, but within a mile the sound gets worse and worse, to the point where it sounds like I'm shooting a machine gun into gravel. I pull to the side of the road and give up and a friend picks me up.

    A week later I got a chance to look at the bike. I pull off the clutch cover to take a look inside, and make sure I didn't do something silly like leave my watch in the engine when I'd last changed the clutch plates. Looks pretty good inside, though the oil is slightly murky.

    Started up again, the bike is still loud as hell when idling. It sounds like I took one of the mufflers off.
    I checked the exhaust for holes or leaks, but found none.
    The exhaust fumes from either cylinder (it's a twin) seemed to both be about the same level, and about the same temperature, though I didn't run it long at all.
    The noise is a very sharp, percussive sound, a bit like a small firecracker. It doesn't sound metallic, though. It happens in beat with the engine note. It seems to come from inside the engine.

    I had to leave before I could take off the tank and look at the top end.

    So, what's wrong?

    I'm guessing it's not something rattling around inside the engine.
    I'm guessing it's not piston slap or engine knock.
    I couldn't find any leaks on the headers, and it sounds like it's coming more from inside.
    Maybe a bad exhaust valve? Would that explain the heat, the noise, and the loss of power?
    Any other suggestions?
    When I pull off the top of the engine, for what am I looking?

    Last time I had a problem like this, it was simple to diagnose: the engine didn't run, the cam chain was snapped, and there were shards of valve rockers all throughout the top and bottom end. This time, I haven't yet found anything out of the ordinary (though I still haven't looked at the top side).
    #1
  2. GreaseMonkey

    GreaseMonkey Preshrunk & Cottony

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    Did you pull the spark plugs?

    Based on what you said, it sounds to me likely you developed a leaky cylinder head gasket:

    It overheated, and turned coolant brown, IMHO the reason why it refused to turn over is you had a hydraulic lock in one cylinder. The rattling noise was the same thing.

    My guess is if you pull the spark plugs you will find one of them moist or wet due to a gasket failure allowing coolant into the cylinder.
    #2
  3. gboezio

    gboezio Been here awhile

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    It overheated, the power going down and the engine lock is probably caused by a seizing piston, it expanded a whole lot and scruffed the cylinder, when cooled down, it could start again, as said before it could be an hydro-lock at some point, the headgasket may be either the cause or effect of the overheating.
    If the coolant is oily, the engine may have run out of oil, or it's just combustion gases that blew trough the cooling system.
    Either way, that sounds like a damaged engine, the only way I know to tell for sure is to tear, measure, inspect and rebuild the top of the engine, the bottom is probably fine tough.
    #3
  4. the_gr8t_waldo

    the_gr8t_waldo Long timer

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    it sounds like you'r short on time. so try this....sniff the coolent for traces of exhaust fumes. and or the exhaust for antifreeze fumes. either way it's a blown head gasket. unfortunatly after this developed you continued to ride, so i'd bet there's a lot more damage besides a blown gasket.
    #4
  5. Nialis

    Nialis Super Motarded

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    +1 on the blown headgasket!

    Bubbling is prolly exhaust gasses in the coolant, check the thoermostat, replace head gaket, check the head and cyl for warping. Make sure the oil has no water in it... At this point you have to decide if this much effort is worth it on a bike that was only 3k brand new... You could be lazy and just buy another engine for ~$300 and be done with it.

    CHECK THE THERMOSTAT!!!!!
    #5
  6. comes naturally

    comes naturally renewed hope

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    As said above it sounds like you blew a head gasket. You mentioned the oil was murky but you didn't say how much there was, I'm assuming the level was normal??

    Also as said above it sounds like you "soft seized" the motor. The only way to really check for damage to to remove the head, which you have to do anyway to check the head gasket.
    #6
  7. comes naturally

    comes naturally renewed hope

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    For got to ask...


    Any smoke from the exhaust???
    #7
  8. showkey

    showkey Long timer

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    How do you spell JUNK engine:cry :cry :cry :cry
    #8
  9. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

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    Shit!

    The oil level was normal. I checked it both before I went on that ride and when the problems started, and when I went back to check on it.

    I didn't notice any smoke in the exhaust.

    I will check the coolant for odd smells next time I'm there, but I certainly didn't notice anything the first time.


    I didn't pull the spark plugs, because on my bike that's a huge pain in the ass, involving removing all the fairings and the gas tank.

    As for replacing the engine...I've actually done that once before. It was about $500 to buy a used engine from a salvage bike. I said I wouldn't do it again, as I suspect the engine I bought wasn't broken in the propper way...or something. It just didn't seem to have quite the same power.

    What am I looking to do for a top end rebuild? I actually have a set of spare exhaust valves lying around... what else would I need? (besides the obvious head gasket) (I realize this is hard to answer without me looking at the top end).
    #9
  10. Inane Cathode

    Inane Cathode Cheated Anion

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    Bloooooock testerrrrrrrrr
    #10
  11. GreaseMonkey

    GreaseMonkey Preshrunk & Cottony

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    What will a block tester tell you that you do not already know? You have brown, bubbling coolant.

    Skippii,

    Well ya know you have to pull the head. Personally, I'd say there is a chance that if everything looks good visually you may get by with just a new head gasket.

    While you are waiting for time to pull the head, you could try wiping each exhaust with a clean paper towel and see if a side looks more oily or wet than the other.

    Another thing you can do when you get the cowling off is remove the plug on the bad side (provided they do not both leak) and start it up and see if the knocking noise goes away, which would hopefully rule out a bearing knock. Remember to short the plug wire out by putting the plug back in and having it touch the frame or engine.
    #11
  12. Inane Cathode

    Inane Cathode Cheated Anion

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    Its easier and more definitive then smelling things.
    Plus, just cause its brown and bubbly doesnt mean its a head gasket :p
    #12
  13. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

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    Maybe I should just buy a Triumph
    #13
  14. dillon

    dillon Low Speed, High Drag

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    is your engine oil light and frothy too. Usually the only way coolant gets brown is due to oil in it. If that is the case you could be looking at a cracked or warped head. If and when you start fixing things, replace your thermostat, check the temp sender for the fan and have the radiator flow tested. Things like this rarely just happen. Something else has to fail first...
    #14
  15. Solo Gato

    Solo Gato long in the tooth Supporter

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    Tigerrrr:wink:
    #15
  16. Trl Rdr

    Trl Rdr Big Red Bird

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    I bet that back road trip up the mountain did not help it any :huh
    #16
  17. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

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    Location:
    Richmond, Va
    I suspect it is not the fan or the thermostat that controls the fan, since the only time I can ever get the fan to come on is on long parking lot sessions, and very slow dirt roading. Doing 65 in the interstate, the engine is normally barely above warm.

    Also, the loss of power occured BEFORE the engine temp went up.
    #17