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That Sweet White Smoke

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:31 pm
by Roady
(Kinda long, sorry. Grab a beverage and sit for a spell.)

The bike is running great. She's pissing herself just a bit though. I've got the water pump seal kit in hand and planned to do that and a few other things while I'm off.

I decided to start my 2 week vacation with a nice, long day ride yesterday (I have weird weekends: Tue/Wed). So I topped off the coolant in the bottle, did my pre-flight and headed out. I did a total of 280 miles, backroads, wandering, stopping, lunch, more wandering and stopping. Then, a 60 mile run at 65-80 MPH and stopped for gas in Hannibal, Missouri (home of Huck Finn, et al).

Started the bike to move away from the pump and there's a jie-normous cloud of sweet white smoke from the right pipe. There's no crossover. It went away in about 20 seconds so I checked things out, had a coFfee and a smoke and headed toward home. More, even better roads (Hwy. 79 is a beautiful and twisty route) encountered on the way.

It wasn't all worry ...

My new desktop.

I made a beeline for home with just a couple of stops. No more sweet white smoke.

Until ...

Pulled into the dark shop, shut here down and up onto the centerstand (easy 4 me) and proceeded to unpack. Then the right muffler started spewing sweet white smoke like Groucho Marx on a bender. [groan] What Now!?! [/groan]

So ... to make this long story even longer and get to my question ... here's the evidence from today's investigation.

    Plugs are normal. Dark elements with white porcelain. Not steamed off.

    Oil is black with no brown slick, yes, it needed a change anyway.

    Clean, green fluid under the radiator cap, no contamination evident.

    Icky, sticky, black, pukey stuff inside the coolant overflow bottle.


Finally ... my question(s) ...

Am I looking at contamination from the bad water pump seals (found that mentioned in several threads about sweet white smoke)?

Or, has my riding season been cut short?

If it's a head gasket then I'll need to keep her in the stable for some months before I can afford the goodies to fix her. The optimist in me says, "water pump seals," but that darn pessimist keeps tapping me on the ear.

What say you, oh, Wise Men and Women?

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:38 pm
by AZCycle73
Wish I could help you, Roady. I just wanted to compliment you on the photo... must've been a beautiful ride! I lived in Kansas City for 8 years and always thought those small country roads would be great for a moto trip.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:43 pm
by tachyon
If it were me, I'd go ahead and do the water pump seals.

While you're in there, look at the pump and see if there is a lot of play in the impeller shaft and/or you see strange wear on the impeller blades.

After you've changed the seals, check your hoses to see if they're starting to 'erode' on the inside. If you haven't changed the hoses since you've had the bike, you might consider changing them anyway.

When you get everything reassembled, put some cheap coolant in the bike to make sure you don't have any leaks. Run the bike for a couple of hours, then check to see if you have a film of oil on top of the coolant in the radiator (a white paper towel rolled up into a 'stick' will let you see the condition of the coolant and if you have any oil on top.)

If everything is okay, flush and replace with your regular coolant and you've got some peace of mind.

If you see oil in the coolant or you have a recurrance of the sweet white smoke, you'll have to go deeper into the engine to find the problem.


Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:55 pm
by Briang
Fundamentally, IMHO, if smoke is coming out of the exhaust then it has to have come from inside the cylinder(s) which would get it from the intake or valve seals or the head gasket or blow-by past the rings.

Do a pressure test on the cooling system. The gunge in the overflow tank is troubling. Oil floats on water and the overflow is the highest point in the system. It stands to reason that any oil contamination would rise and finish up there. You already suspect cooling issues and this would narrow it down some.

A compression test would offer evidence as well. I would say it is fortunate that what you are experiencing can be done with the engine in the frame. Still a PITA but not quite as big as it could be.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:49 pm
by rcmatt007
white smoke out the pipes.... sorry but that isn't from a bad water pump.... looks like a head gasket job in your future

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:18 pm
by mooseheadm5
I concur. Head gasket is my vote. It is actually pretty cheap and fast to do if you don't go mucking about with porting the heads or doing a 3 angle valve job or anything.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:35 pm
by Cookie
The good thing is that once you do head gaskets you have eliminated a potential weak point. The goop in the oil and the smoke out the tail pipe would be all the confirmation I needed.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:47 pm
by Roady
Seems the vote so far is for head gasket. Dayum Sayum.

mooseheadm5 wrote:Head gasket is my vote. It is actually pretty cheap , , .

I'm not sure what neighborhood you live in MH but from everything I've read here I'll need the full gasket set. Gotta take off the fuel pump, water pipes (don't think those o-rings are in the kit), intakes, etc. I might save a little if I just shop for the pieces I need but still a bit rich at this point.

I'd better get to making a list and pricing things out.


Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:17 pm
by Chefswing
So I just did this, Infact this weekend was the first road trip since I replaced my head gasket. Same symptoms... Foulness in the overflow tank, White crap billowing copiously out your right tail pipe, and I bet if you started the bike got it to average running temperature and stuck the over flow tube from your radiator into a clear bottle of water it would bubble.

The gasket will cost you around 60 bucks, I would do an oil change and obviously a radiator flush. OH and if you haven't done timing belts in a while Now is the time!.. You'll be in there anyway.

I am an amateur mechanic on this bike and the job took me about 4 hours with one nuckle busting moment and about a pack of smokes!

Look up the O-Ring size on the oil restrictor in the "head" and get one. Once your there off ya go. haynes manual does a real nice job getting you through it.

14 hours worth of riding and my baby ran BEAUTIFUL in the mountains of Colorado

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:54 pm
by mooseheadm5
Full gasket set comes with every gasket and o ring you need. I rebuilt my heads, lapped valves, 3 angle job on the seats all in a total of probably 8-12 hours of actual work. Give it 2 weekends and you will be fine, even less if you just do the one head. Gasket set is about $180.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:28 pm
by hmratbam
Moose! You're buying your gaskets from the wrong people!

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:30 pm
by mooseheadm5
Well, that was the price for the 81 1100 on Dennis Kirk, which was the first place I checked in the 30 seconds I had to do that post. The gasket set for my bike (full set) was only $140, and a similar price from Frenchy when taking shipping into account. I bought elsewhere because he was out and I needed them ASAP.

Posted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 11:37 pm
by hmratbam
Boy,do I understand all that! I bought the 117.95 set on fleabay and had no problems with it.

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:41 am
by TomE
That white smoke was my clue to change my head gaskets. Turned out that I had some pitting on the bottom of the heads and the top of the cylinders. Had the heads surfaced, but no valve work done. It's so easy to get to the heads, and I only had 35k miles on the bike at the time, that I didn't feel valve work was needed. I used Permatex on the cylinder heads, for the indentations, and it worked.

I did the timing belts at the same time, since I had to take the old ones off anyways. I had a real problem getting the water pipes to seal, those o-rings seemed to get messed up when reassembling the tubes. My advice is to not mess with the tubes any more than necessary. Permatex Right Stuff is my friend!

A head gasket is about $60 online. With care, cleaning, and Permatex, you might get away with nothing more than that gasket. It's not like most cars where it's so much trouble to get in there that you just do everything you can. And summer is short!

Good Luck!

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:45 am
by stuka151
Frickin' Dennis Kirk... they used to be one of the best local sources for vintage snowmobile/dirt bike parts, especially things like engine gasket sets. Every year they have less and less of the good stuff and more and more apparel and crap like that. Sellouts. Sorry, that name always makes me curse under my breath, if even if I still occasionally patronize their establishment.