Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage


Information and questions on GL1100 Goldwings (1980-1983)
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shiftgears
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Motorcycle: '82 GL1100

Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Tue Sep 01, 2015 8:29 pm



Hi, new to the forum. I picked up an '82 GL1100 earlier in the year, the previous owner did a VW single carb conversion, changed belts and brakes and the bike seemed to work fine, although there was hesitation/lag in the acceleration out of first gear. Mileage 69,000. I put @1000 miles on the bike and changed the plugs, oil, filter, and did SeaFoam treatment in both the gas tank and oil 2x to clean.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/GOLDWING-GL1000 ... 3ab0df4f87

The bike used to fire right up, but over time got progressively worse and worse. It dies at idle, and when it does idle it's very rough. Grayish/white smoke is now coming out of the left pipe, as well as puffs of the same smoke from the left cylinder section. The acceleration is extremely poor, and I had to lurch it home from work today. I'm getting less than 15 miles per gallon, yikes!! There is smell of gas based on how much my shirt smelled after returning home, but I can't visibly see any gas leaking.

It looks like the coolant in the reservoir has been draining down. I just noticed a few drips of coolant today and the low coolant. It had not been an issue in the past. Start-ups are difficult, and there is a slight hissing noise near the coolant cap when the bike is hot. The right pipe has significant blueing, the left pipe is clean. When I initially pulled the plugs a few months back, three of them were oily, one seemed like dried oil. I'm going to clean them and check again, as they are pretty new plugs. Any advice as to where to start, after filling the coolant? Thank you!


Last edited by shiftgears on Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:02 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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shiftgears
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:24 pm

Little help! Thanks.
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby 4wred » Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:52 am

Head gasket possibly,check the plugs on the left side.Do they look like they have been steam-cleaned?

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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby WingAdmin » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:05 am

The poor running at idle along with gas smell would seem to indicate cylinders not igniting, or not igniting all of the time, but the smoke and coolant symptoms now point to a head gasket. Does the smoke smell sweet, like coolant?

You definitely need to pull the plugs and check their condition. See How to "read" used spark plugs

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shiftgears
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:45 pm

Thanks 4wred and WingAdmin - I'll pull plugs and post photos as I am able. I realize this is somewhat of a common (or obvious) problem to the long time wingers out there. That said, I'm new to the bigger bikes and this is extremely helpful to pinpoint the root cause.
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shiftgears
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:39 pm

Just pulled the plugs...
LHS - 2 (front)
LHS - 2 (front)
LHS - 4 (back)
LHS - 4 (back)
RHS - 1 (front)
RHS - 1 (front)
RHS - 3 (back)
RHS - 3 (back)
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shiftgears
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:44 pm

And I definitely found coolant...not sure where this is coming from.
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shiftgears
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:52 pm

From a plug perspective, I would definitely say "oil deposits"...looks like worn valve guides or piston rings? Hard starting, misfiring and hesitation is exactly what the symptoms are.

Oil Deposits
Symptoms: Oily coating caused by poor oil control. Oil is leaking past worn valve guides or piston rings into the combustion chamber. Causes hard starting, misfiring and hesitation. Blue smoke will be seen coming from exhaust. Correct the mechanical problem causing the condition and install new plugs.

Read more: viewtopic.php?t=13929#ixzz3kjM74bdn
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shiftgears
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:55 pm

4wred wrote:Head gasket possibly,check the plugs on the left side.Do they look like they have been steam-cleaned?


short answer, 'no'.
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby 4wred » Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:17 am

How long was the bike sitting before you started using it?When mine sits on the sidestand for more than a day or two I will get smoke out of the left side but will clear up after a minute or two of running.Have you done a compression test? The right (1&2) plugs look like its running real rich?? The oil on the left plugs may be from oil past the valve seals or rings.Since you have a single carb you can't blame a particular carb (1,2,3,4) for the richness problem.Is your choke opening and closing properly? As far as the coolant,is your radiator cap functioning properly?No leaks in the lines going to the recovery bottle?

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shiftgears
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:43 am

Thanks 4wred. Very insightful questions on the choke. The auto choke was removed and replaced with a manual choke, and very recently the choke mechanism was failing. I need to replace this piece, or re-install the original auto-choke. My gut tells me there are multiple issues here. I haven't run a compression test, yet. Great idea.

Also, to answer your question, the bike was sitting on its side stand. Typically no longer than a day or two.
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'82 GL1100

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shiftgears
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Fri Sep 04, 2015 8:53 pm

This question is for anyone running the single carb setup..the auto choke on the single carb conversion (see link above) was removed by the previous owner because the bike would not idle at the time. It was replaced by a manual choke.

Does anyone recommend re-installing the auto choke? Should the bike work properly with the auto-choke, once the leak and coolant issues are addressed? Many thanks in advance.
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'82 GL1100

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shiftgears
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Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:30 pm

WingAdmin wrote:The poor running at idle along with gas smell would seem to indicate cylinders not igniting, or not igniting all of the time, but the smoke and coolant symptoms now point to a head gasket. Does the smoke smell sweet, like coolant?

You definitely need to pull the plugs and check their condition. See How to "read" used spark plugs


You were spot on with cylinders not igniting. I pulled the plugs and noticed they weren't torqued properly. I cleaned them and re-tightened to spec. The smoke thankfully did not smell like coolant. The coolant cap, however, was not sealing properly. I replaced with a new radiator cap and that seemed to fix the issue. Had a beautiful 50mi ride today - mileage jumped from 15mpg to 50+mpg. Thanks again.
Last edited by shiftgears on Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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'82 GL1100

User avatar
shiftgears
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2015 12:26 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Motorcycle: '82 GL1100

Re: Grayish smoke out left pipe, low gas mileage

Postby shiftgears » Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:55 pm

4wred wrote:How long was the bike sitting before you started using it?When mine sits on the sidestand for more than a day or two I will get smoke out of the left side but will clear up after a minute or two of running.Have you done a compression test? The right (1&2) plugs look like its running real rich?? The oil on the left plugs may be from oil past the valve seals or rings.Since you have a single carb you can't blame a particular carb (1,2,3,4) for the richness problem.Is your choke opening and closing properly? As far as the coolant,is your radiator cap functioning properly?No leaks in the lines going to the recovery bottle?


Bingo on the radiator cap. That was the source of my coolant leak. The gray smoke has vanished since using the center stand, thanks for the tip. I picked up the compression tool yesterday at Napa, will get some benchmark compression readings this week. Now I'm curious. Bike is running 100% better with plugs and coolant issue in check, but I still think she's running rich. I fixed the choke as well, it made a big difference. Cheers.


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