Might need a new motor...

Information and questions on GL1100 Goldwings (1980-1983)
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Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:27 pm
Location: Savannah Ga
Motorcycle: GL1100

Might need a new motor...

Post by Zaq » Fri Nov 10, 2017 5:50 pm

First post on this board but I have spent many hours researching and reading here. To begin I have come into ownership of an '81 GL1100 with some serious body modifications (if I keep it I may share pictures).

Bought it for 1k with the knowledge of a carb problem (backfiring through the carb) and a slight backfire through the exhaust (straight pipes). I figured no big deal, I've dealt with carbs before and I have been eyeing the dual Weber setup anyway. So a little carb cough for now no big deal.

Went to take care of the exhaust backfire (left side only) got under the bike and observed some oil coverage on the left head/block, figured it was from where I had recently removed the valve cover to adjusted timing. Then removed the header to check/replace gaskets to find that the #2 cyl exhaust is greasy looking, #4 looks dry and sooty.

Am I correct in assuming the #2 piston rings are going? The bike does smoke on startup for maybe 20 seconds but clears up by the time it's warmed, and doesn't smoke when running. And the spark plug bears the same wet black coating. I did borrow AutoZones compression tester so but I am having a hell of a time finding a 12mm adapter for it.

Can I assume the old school blow-by test to be accurate? when I remove the oil fill cap and turn the engine over, I do feel pressure coming from the fill hole, that has never been good sign on the diesel trucks I have worked on.

Worst case would be the rings going out, then in that case should I start hunting a donor motor? And in that event does it have to be an 1100?

I have been keeping an eye on the oil level, best I can tell it has stayed above the screw on the sight glass but man I hate that thing, dipsticks are easier to read.

Any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

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Motorcycle: 1972 CL-350 (1980-1988) sold
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1993 GL-1500A Aspencade (2017-)
1983 Trav-Lite Camper (2010-)

Re: Might need a new motor...

Post by DenverWinger » Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:42 am

Hi Zaq, and welcome!

The Goldwing is famous for smoking some on startup This is normal. And thru all the problems I've heard about on all models of Wings, worn-out rings are not one of them. Miles?

Methinks your oil on the left side under the head is probably from an almost 40 year old gearshift shaft seal. Nothing to worry about. $3.00 part and less than 30 mins if you want to replace it.

I really don't think you need to worry about replacing the engine.

I made a leakdown tester by smashing the porcelain guts out of an old sparkplug, welding a short piece of pipe to the sparkplug shell, then welding an air-hose chuck to the end of the piece of pipe. Most often any leakdown fails will be the head gasket, pushing coolant out of the radiator.

I'd concentrate on getting carburetors in good shape, you mentioned known carburetor problems so you need to get that straightened out. Your differences on the inside of the exhaust ports are most likely due to faulty carburetion. With straight pipes, you WILL get some backfiring thru the exhaust pipes even with the carburetors correct. Find some stock exhaust parts somewhere? It won't run right until the carburetors are right, and then with the exhaust back pressure gone due to straight pipes you have to mess with the otherwise good carburetors even more to get it to run right again.

A lot of people have had disappointing results with the dual or single carb setups. A lot of messing with jet sizes. I'd offer this advice: If you are set on the idea of manifolded carbs, solder some copper tubing to undersides of manifolds and figure out a way to get some of the coolant going thru the tubes from the heads to the thermostat flowing thru your added-on copper tubes to heat the manifolds.
They say 98% of all Hardleys ever made are still on the road..... The other 2% made it home. :lol:
(I stole this from somebody on another GW site...) :roll:

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Location: Savannah Ga
Motorcycle: GL1100

Re: Might need a new motor...

Post by Zaq » Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:54 am

Thanks for all the info! I makes sense the smoky nature of things on start up due to the horizontal cylinder construction and it does stand to reason that after 40 years things just aren't as tight.

I plan on running sevral tanks of SeaFoam through her after seeing how much carbon was hanging out on the back side of the exhaust valves. Hopefully that will dislodge any crud in the carb jets and float valves as well, when I first got the bike I ran a tank of SeaFoam and it ran like crap, smoked a decent bit, til I put straight gas in the next tank then back to normal.

When the engine has warmed (maybe 10 min of riding) it idles absolutely perfectly, smoothest hum I have ever heard, but mild acceleration causes the little bit of carb cough, heavy acceleration rips through just fine. I have been trying to find someone local to borrow a set of vac. gauges to check the synch but very few bike shops around here know what I am asking about.

I really like the manifolded carb idea because of how easily they can be jetted and synched. I drove a VW buggy for a while that had dual Weber 48s and it was cake to maintain.

When I bought it I got an extra rack of carbs (horrible rubbers, the metal is really all that's left), extra radiator, extra intake elbows, extra pair of wheels, rotors, spare diff., and parts of a wiring harness. According to the PO and supporting title documentation when he bought it in July 2015 it had 49,700 on it, all original bike, but had suffered a lot of body damage over time. Since then something has happened to the odometer, it has gone somewhere, as in it is no longer on the bike... This includes the speedometer... Like I said heavily modified body... I know I ride no more than 60mi. on a weekday (track miles with a GPS app on my phone), 3 days a week, so I change oil on the 10th every 3 months.

This bike is so far from stock cosmetically speaking that's why I would be okay with modding the intake/carbs, it's just never going to have collector value ever. I will see if I can upload some pictures shortly.

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Re: Might need a new motor...

Post by Zaq » Sat Nov 11, 2017 9:00 am

DenverWinger wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:42 am

I made a leakdown tester by smashing the porcelain guts out of an old sparkplug, welding a short piece of pipe to the sparkplug shell, then welding an air-hose chuck to the end of the piece of pipe.
That is pretty ingenious, currently all I have is an inverter stick machine but I have enough weld certs I should be able to pull it off, thanks!

I will certainly look into the effects of straight pipes vs. baffled, maybe weld in some baffles, from what I've seen stock exhaust isn't easy to find unless it's off a parts bike.

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Re: Might need a new motor...

Post by Zaq » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:53 pm

Okay, so eventually fabricated the compression tester adapter, and tested all 4.

1: 152
2: 150
3: 156
4: 158

So all are in impressively good shape as far as compression goes, I understand the 145-155 neighborhood is ideal.

This should indicate the wet stuff on the inside of cylinder #2 to be gas, which means some how it's not burning right, either too much fuel or not enough spark/air.

So I let it idle and pulled the plug wire for #2. No change in idle, revved some, no noticeable change with the #2 plug wire off.

Got curious and put it back on, then pulled the #4 wire next to it, almost instantly the engine stalled completely.

Restarted, pulled the #1 wire, no change in idle or rev. Replaced. Pulled #3 wire, engine stalls and dies.

From my research it would appear to be a coil issue? So I swapped coils between 1&2 and 3&4 coils. No change in symptoms. So coils are fine.

Checked spark ignitors, swapped them, no change, spark ignitors are fine.

Played musical spark plug wires for a half hour til both pairs were tested, no change.

Is this supposed to happen?..

And if spark isn't the problem, then either timing or carbs will be the culprit I assume?

(btw, made carb adjustments 2 days ago, #1 carb vacuum maxed out the vacuum gauges I borrowed and I couldn't get it to go down no matter how I adjusted, is that indicating a vacuum leak?)

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Re: Might need a new motor...

Post by Hoosier Jack » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:31 am

Are the carburetors in sync? Nice compression numbers.

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Re: Might need a new motor...

Post by Aussie81Interstate » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:10 am

I reckon you have plugged lines in your carbs - and maybe a vacuum leak - test for vacuum leaks first.. fix them and you are probably then able to sync a lot easier. With your sync gauge did you try another gauge in the #1 where you couldn't adjust - could just be a crappy gauge that is off. If so - them balance each gauge against one cylinder first.. then at least the gauges you know are accurate. then balance each side that is 1 and 3 - then 2 and 4 ,, then left bank with right bank.. might get you a bit closer..


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