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Riding an LC 1200 Without Coolant

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by John F, Oct 15, 2020.

  1. John F

    John F Been here awhile

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    South Windsor, CT
    I saw a comment on Facebook, seemingly backed up by a few other people, that it was perfectly fine to keep riding a liquid cooled boxer after total loss of coolant through a punctured radiator. One guy even claimed he rode 500 miles at highway speeds and his engine was fine. (His engine temperature never got above something like 160F!)

    This doesn’t sound right to me. I picture the insides of this guy’s engine glowing red hot while the engine temperature pickup sits in an air pocket without engine coolant washing over it.

    What is the reality? What if you did lose all coolant 50 miles up a snowmobile trail in Quebec? Would you even be able to limp back to civilization in first gear barely off idle without doing damage to the engine?
    #1
  2. Not the Messiah

    Not the Messiah Old enough to know better, but slow learnin'

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    Hmmm, sounds pretty doubtful to me. But if the "total" loss of coolant is only up at the radiator level and the heads still have their waterways full then maybe just maybe there's enough heat conduction to stop stuff melting? The water cooling system only deals with something like 35% of the waste engine heat so maybe...?
    Looking forward to some real knowledgeable advice...

    Cheers
    Brian
    #2
  3. marc11

    marc11 Been here awhile

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    I've heard this before, I cannot remember the exact details but the theory was because the bike was mainly cooled by air and oil, so as long as you kept moving it would be okay.

    Not sure the truth behind that, nor do I think I'd try it myself.
    #3
  4. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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    oil temp on my ‘17 stabilizes around 180-190 at highway speeds, higher end during hot Florida summers. on a trip now headed west, and never gets over 180’s unless stopped by heavy traffic. at the least, I would think no coolant would shorten the life of your water pump, doubt those things are meant to run dry.
    #4
    Rick92040 likes this.
  5. marc11

    marc11 Been here awhile

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    That's your coolant temp if you are looking at the dash. You will see it cycle up and down as the thermostat opens and closes.
    #5
  6. bikermd

    bikermd Been here awhile

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    I will let someone else try it. An engine replacement is too much risk for me. Never had any luck trying it with commercial engines. It did not end well. I'd surmise that there was still some water in the system just not up to where you could see it.
    #6
  7. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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    You’re right, was thinking about the 1190. No coffee yet :lol3
    #7
    marc11 likes this.
  8. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    The water cooling is for the heads, around the hottest part of the motor, cooling the heads and valve seat area. I suppose you could run a few miles and get away with it, but not for long.
    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    Generally speaking, if you have NO coolant, the temp gauge is irrelevant.

    Your friend's temp sensor might say 160 but that's NOT the temp of the locations in the engine that the coolant is supposed to be cooling - that's only the temp where the sensor is - because there's no fluid moving past it.

    "The temperature gauge wasn't even reading high!?!" - common statement by people with no coolant in their cars right after they crack the head.
    #9
  10. Candubrain

    Candubrain Been here awhile

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    Not what is being asked, but similar

    In 2015, my 2014 HD Ultra Limited had a water pump failure while on an out of province trip, I rode it 325Kms to the nearest dealer that had a replacement in stock...no damage. For the HD, water cooling the heads is primarily for rider comfort, and HD acknowledges that. Talking with a HD mechanic, they confirm as long as you're not running hard you won't hurt the engine. That bike has been ridden 30,000 Kms since and still trouble free.

    On the BMW would the heads warp, or valves burn from lack of flow....I don't know. It would be great if a BMW certified mechanic could advise.

    brian
    #10
  11. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Long timer

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    I'll let someone else be the beta tester on that one, and tell us how expensive it was to replace most of the engine.... :deal
    This is why it is important to have some form of radiator protection on these bikes. Cheap insurance IMHO....
    #11
    John F likes this.
  12. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Long timer

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    Loss of coolant is different from loss of the pump. Coolant may not circulate but is still present and will keep things from melting IMHO.
    #12
    Candubrain likes this.
  13. Milechaser

    Milechaser Long timer

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    I cannot imagine more than a dozen miles before you noticed you were about to have coming out of your pocket.
    #13
    rg sw wa. likes this.
  14. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Been here awhile

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    A mechanic, not even a certified one, could give any sort of useful advice beyond, Pull to the side of the road, shut off the engine and call for help . they figure out why something isn't working the way that it should and then make repairs to make it work right. they aren't mechanical engineers that have taken the advanced math courses to give them the analytical skills to calculate what the effect would be to loosing all the coolant. They also have no access to design details of the engine. In all probability, the only people who know what would happen are the test engineers that ran the engines under load on dynos and drained the coolant to see what would happen. Modeling thermodynamic loads are not so straight forward and require actual design verification testing.
    #14
    rg sw wa. likes this.
  15. KPK

    KPK Been here awhile

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    If it sounds to good to be true it prob isnt....
    I would never try it and am very doubtful you wouldnt do some damage to the motor if not catastrophic.
    While riding at highway speed around 80 mph I picked up a plastic bag that covered just one radiator and while continuing on the highway to get to the next exit my temp on the gauge raised up to 210 degrees very quickly whithin just a couple miles before I freed up the bag.

    Just pick up an oil cooled and live worry free about loosing any coolant.:ricky
    #15
    rg sw wa. likes this.
  16. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid! Supporter

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    Just don't get a hole in the oil cooler, or you loose coolant and lubrication! :-)
    #16
    rg sw wa. and marc11 like this.
  17. bikermd

    bikermd Been here awhile

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    with the removal of the cooling fins on the LC, I can not see how we'd get away with no coolant. That heat must be transferred somehow. I believe the fins remain on the HD.
    #17
    rg sw wa. likes this.
  18. roookie1

    roookie1 Been here awhile

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    Not a Beemer, but on the subject. Years ago on a trip one of my friends Kawa klr 600, or 650? Dumped the coolant on the german autobahn, after going to slow for too long.. something causing the traffic to slow down... He rode more than 50 km after that without coolant, and the bike was fine.. not recommendable though ..
    #18
  19. ObiJohn

    ObiJohn Screaming Banshee Supporter

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    They don't run coolant in these engines because it doesn't do anything. As another poster mentioned, usually the coolant temp sensor protrudes into the coolant passage and measures the temperature of the coolant flowing past it. No coolant, then you're measuring the temperature of the bung metal, which is nowhere near as hot as the heads around the valves. I imagine if you run a 1200 LC engine long enough without coolant at anything above an idle you'll crack a head or see a valve seize and then either knock a hole in a piston or bend a rod. In short, I'd never ride my '17 GSA with no coolant unless it was a matter of life or death... then screw the engine.
    #19
  20. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

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    There was or maybe still.is a no coolant limp home mode on Cadillac.
    If coolant lost, a cylinder would fire once, then cycle 8? times with no fuel. Horse power was severely limited so throttle opening was large so a lot of air was moved thru the engine. Basically air cooling. The 300 horse engine made about 50? horsepower. As a demo they drove the car a long distance. These modes do pollute so after diesel gate I think it is gone. Kind of hard to do on a 2 cylinder engine

    Rod
    #20