Fork Oil seal question


Information and questions on GL1200 Goldwings (1984-1987)
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harkgold
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Motorcycle: 1984 GL1200 Interstate

Fork Oil seal question

Postby harkgold » Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:04 pm



When restoring my 84 GL1200 Interstate I replaced the oil seals, dust caps, and fork oil in the forks. I found the fork components to be in pristine condition. The chrome plating is perfect and glass smooth as well as the machined surfaces where the seals are seated.
I completed this restoration only a month and a half ago and have only put a couple of hundred miles on the bike.

This morning, I had been riding steady for about an hour and as I was riding along on two lane blacktop out in the country I could look down through the opening just above the tank and I could see the tops of the dust caps on each fork leg.
On the left leg I noticed one single solitary bead of some kind of liquid dancing and shimmering in the wind on the chrome surface of the fork an inch or two above the dust seal. My initial thought was "Now.....what the heck is that". At next opportunity, when I stopped I quickly swiped this area on the fork with my finger and found that I came up with a very light oily film on my finger. And found the that back side of the dust cap was just ever so slightly moist with an oily substance. The opposite fork was bone dry.
Do I have an actual fork leak, or could this be simply some residual fork oil that may have spilled around the seal that will just dissipate with a little time? Also, I'm not certain if this is the case or not but I thought I read somewhere that these seals are designed to expand and tighten up even more increasing their sealing abilities as the seals settle in.
The parts were pristine.........the seals fit tight as a drum........and I was meticulous in the assembly process. There is simply no way that fork can still be leaking.

Anyone had any experience like this?

Thanks!

Harkgold



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virgilmobile
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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby virgilmobile » Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:48 pm

Not me.however you might look at the air pressure.I run about 4 psi.Measured with the bike on the center stand.
Is there any question about the amount of fork oil used.
Lift both dust seals and wipe it clear of any oil and watch it.
Also,on mine,I used a open cell foam ring cut to fit between the seal and the dust cap as per the parts list.

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby harkgold » Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:32 am

virgilmobile wrote:Not me.however you might look at the air pressure.I run about 4 psi.Measured with the bike on the center stand.
Is there any question about the amount of fork oil used.
Lift both dust seals and wipe it clear of any oil and watch it.
Also,on mine,I used a open cell foam ring cut to fit between the seal and the dust cap as per the parts list.
foam seal.JPG


Thanks for your response Virgilmobile!
[color=#FF0080]Are you thinking this could be caused by having too much pressure in the front forks?
I will double check my fork pressure. I believe I read somewhere that running zero Psi up to I think it said 5 PSI was permissible. So as a result I have been running at zero air pressure so I could get a feel for the bike and then planned to adjust for feel later as I grew to know the bike. Should I at least put a minimal amount of air in the forks?

Also, I guess when I was rebuilding the forks I didn't see any required instructions for an open cell foam ring under the dust cap. However, I can see the logic by having them in place. I do have some open cell foam in my shop so I could easily make a pair.

Harkgold

[/color]

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virgilmobile
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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby virgilmobile » Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:27 pm

LoOk under the dust seal first.I guess a little oil there may be normal but overflowing is usually a bad seal or way too much air pressure.you can safely run with no air .

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby fixbikes » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:03 pm

Please don't get insulted by this, but is there a chance the seal went in upside down? Most of the instruction sheets that come with aftermarket seals tell you to put the spring garter down, but many of the seals for heavier bikes have 2 springs, in which case, you have to look at the wiper ridges on the seal to determine orintation.

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby harkgold » Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:49 pm

virgilmobile wrote:LoOk under the dust seal first.I guess a little oil there may be normal but overflowing is usually a bad seal or way too much air pressure.you can safely run with no air .


Hey Virgilmobile,
I have been running with no added air pressure in the forks. I also forgot to answer your question about the amount of fork oil used. I used a baby bottle and tried to be as exact as possible to shop manual specs. Are you thinking that if too much is used that the forks will expel the excess?

Also, in regards to the open cell foam ring.....I notice in my Clymer's shop manual there is a printed notice there stating to throw away the plastic spacer and foam ring that may come with a new seal kit. The notice states that
"Honda has determined that the foam ring can work its way down into the oil seal giving the appearance of a worn or leaking oil seal. Therefore do not replace the foam seal when replacing the oil seals".
Also, their were no instructions that came with my new oil seals as a result I just installed them like the old ones with the flat side of the seal facing up. Since there were no instructions with the new seals I had the same question come to mind....which side is up? Luckily I took photos before I disassembled the fork, plus the Clymers manual shows the fork seal installed with the flat side of the seal facing up.

Regarding the foam seals that I removed from the forks. These were completely deteriorated into just a mush consistency and soaked with oil.
I kind of wonder if Honda placed these in the forks in the first place for a reason. It only makes sense that when the forks are working up and down the slide is going to get oil on it. Sure the wiper is there to squeegee off the oil but still some oil is bound to get past the seal. Possibly this foam ring was in place to captivate that small amount of oil rather than blow it by the dust cap. I could see the up and down action of the fork could cause pressure to build behind the dust cap and blow out tiny amounts of oil around the dust cap. Possibly Honda placed this foam ring was there to eliminate that issue.


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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby dingdong » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:18 am

The last time I replaced the seals on my 1500 I had one of them that leaked. (the old weren't leaking I was just rebuilding the forks) Put the old one back and no leak. New doesn't mean good. Did you replace with OEM or aftermarket?
Tom

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby virgilmobile » Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:22 pm

I expect a very small ammount of oil to migrate past the seals sooner or later.It's the nature of the design.
Although the tubes look perfect,there will be microscopic pits and scratches that a touch of oil will live in for a while.It helps lubricate the seals.

If some oil never made it through,the lip on the seal would be rubbing "metel to metal" so to speak,and wear the rubber pretty quick.
I'm talking about just enough to see on your finger somewhat,kinda,just a smidgeon,yup there's some there almost.

Now,a lot of oil on one tube in short order would indicate a leak somewhere,and remember the seal not only seals to the fork tube but also to the slide it's mounted in.
Or way too much fluid.Not a ounce or two but way too much.

I have seen the outer shell not seal on the slide too.If it's that,I've used a sealer glue on the outside before I tapped the seal into place.

I do think the foam is there to collect the little oil that weeps through....just to prolong the cosmetics before a cleanup job.

And yes,the seal may have been installed upside down.You have to look at the wiper design to determine which way is up.

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Re: Fork Oil seal question update

Postby harkgold » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:01 pm

Thanks for everyone's responses regarding this issue.

To answer someone's question, yes I did use OEM seals.

Just an update and my conclusion:
I removed the dust caps and found no oil under the dust caps. WHEW!!
The only oil present was the ever so slight residual film that one would expect to see on the chrome shaft. Other than that it looked perfectly dry under the dust caps.

As far as having the seals in upside down. I've decided to not pursue that possibility until I need to replace seals again. As long as they are not severely leaking I'm not going to worry about it.

Someone presented a theory to me though that I thought interesting concerning that single drop of clear fluid I saw dancing in the wind on the chrome just above the dust cap while at speed. The morning I witnessed this it was a very humid and damp morning. My friends theory is.... chrome being a cool smooth surface..... it's theoretically possible that what I was witnessing was the same phenomenon that takes place on fighter plane wings when moisture is compressed out of the air and follows the leading edge of the wing and then trails off as a visual stream off the tips of the wings. Could this same affect take place with damp humid air blasting over a smooth rounded cool chrome surface of a motorcycle fork at 60 mph?
Aaaaaaaa. Just a thought.

Anyway. I put my dust caps back in place and I'm no longer going to worry about it.

Maybe my problem is that possibly I think too much.

Thanks again for your thoughts!

Harkgold
:D

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby virgilmobile » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:16 pm

With no pooling of oil under the dust caps,your home free.
And yes,your a bit gun shy,but that will wear off soon enough.It's replaced slowly every time you put it away for the day.
Just remember to turn off the fuel to avoid the dreaded hydrolock and the look on your face when the bike just goes uh.

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby harkgold » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:28 pm

virgilmobile wrote:With no pooling of oil under the dust caps,your home free.
And yes,your a bit gun shy,but that will wear off soon enough.It's replaced slowly every time you put it away for the day.
Just remember to turn off the fuel to avoid the dreaded hydrolock and the look on your face when the bike just goes uh.


Virgilmobile, I guess I'm not familiar with hydrolock.
Harkgold
:?:

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby virgilmobile » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:09 am

First time it happen to me,I spent 2 hours chasing a starter problem.
When you least expect it,you don't turn off the gas,leave the bike set for a few days and if the moon is just right one carb may leak a bit of gas past the float valve and end up in the cylinder.
You can't compress liquid and the engine will just roll over 1/2turn and lock up.
Pull the plugs and crank the engine to clear the gas and go again.

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby harkgold » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:00 pm

virgilmobile wrote:First time it happen to me,I spent 2 hours chasing a starter problem.
When you least expect it,you don't turn off the gas,leave the bike set for a few days and if the moon is just right one carb may leak a bit of gas past the float valve and end up in the cylinder.
You can't compress liquid and the engine will just roll over 1/2turn and lock up.
Pull the plugs and crank the engine to clear the gas and go again.


This is the first I've heard of hydorlock Virgilmobile. Is this a common occurance with Gold Wing's?
Harkgold

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby charliektm400exc » Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:44 pm

One trick for weeping/leaking fork seals that I've learnt from dirt bikes, is that inserting a feeler gauge (some people have said credit card but I think that's to thick) in between the seal and the fork, and then sliding it around the whole fork fixes the problem. It seems part of the lip can get stuck in the wrong direction, and this lets a small amount of oil through. Since learning this I haven't had to replace oil seals because they've leaked, only when I'm rebuilding the forks if I ever do.

Hope that helps somebody.

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby virgilmobile » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:47 pm

It can happen on any bike with the same type fuel system.that's the reason every bike has some type of fuel shutoff, including the automatic one.
Type in "hydrolock" in the search section at the top and read all about it.

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby virgilmobile » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:50 pm

Even though I've never read one...I think the owners manual on every gas engine piece of machinery says to turn off the fuel when not in use.

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby harkgold » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:46 pm

charliektm400exc wrote:One trick for weeping/leaking fork seals that I've learnt from dirt bikes, is that inserting a feeler gauge (some people have said credit card but I think that's to thick) in between the seal and the fork, and then sliding it around the whole fork fixes the problem. It seems part of the lip can get stuck in the wrong direction, and this lets a small amount of oil through. Since learning this I haven't had to replace oil seals because they've leaked, only when I'm rebuilding the forks if I ever do.

Hope that helps somebody.


Thanks for the tip!
Yes, it seems a credit card would be way too thick and might possibly cause some damage to the seal. Are you talking about using the thinnest flat feeler gauge in the set? The feeler gauge would have to be thick enough to be stiff enough to push between the seal and the shaft without bending.
Have you ever damaged a seal by doing this? I would be afraid of a possibly sharp edge of a feeler gauge might cut into the seal creating a nick for oil to pass by.
Harkgold

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby wrightwing » Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:03 pm

How to fix leaking fork seals with SEALMATE ; Youtube. Just found this again, saw it about a year ago.
''NEVER TIME TO DO IT RIGHT, BUT ALWAYS TIME TO DO IT OVER''

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby WingAdmin » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:58 pm

wrightwing wrote:How to fix leaking fork seals with SEALMATE ; Youtube. Just found this again, saw it about a year ago.


I thought it was funny (and kind of poignant) to read this message from you...and then see your signature quote at the bottom:

''NEVER TIME TO DO IT RIGHT, BUT ALWAYS TIME TO DO IT OVER''

:)

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby harkgold » Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:45 am

Thanks for the advice and suggesting I try the "Seal Mate" tool.
I went on line and Googled "Seal Mate" and quite a bit of information popped up regarding this tool. From what I have read, of those who have tried it, there was varying levels of success. However most claim that it worked as advertises.[b] I was wondering if any Goldwing Doc members have actually used the "Seal Mate" tool and what their experience was with this product.


There were even several that said the product is so extremely simple in design that it would be quite simple to make yourself. Some suggested using a credit card (although thought it to be actually too thick). Others have used old plastic film negatives with some success being very thin and flexible. I imagine if a person searched the house long enough they would find many plastics that would suffice in making a similar tool. One that immediately came to mind would be the smooth plastic (not the dimpled) from the side of a one gallon plastic milk jug. It appears to be much thinner than a credit card yet still thick enough to pick up contaminants and is very flexible. Another possibility might be the plastic from the bottom of a disposable plastic picnic dinner plate. Thin, firm, and flexible. And still thinner than a credit card.
Just some thoughts!
Harkgold :)
[/b]

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby wrightwing » Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:05 pm

Thanks for the shout-out WingAdim. That quote was in a wood mill I worked in as a kid. I had it hanging in my wood shop for years, and in my experience, it holds a lot of truth :lol: :lol: Now back to SealMate. harkgold, I would think the hook would be useful in pulling the seal back down, kind of like, an old can opener effect, not the one's you twist or turn, (depending on where your from ) the one you wiggle up and down, and I would imagine, there is a tapered edge, so it slides up under the seal, with little resistance, and may keep from tarring the edge of the seal ! Working with hydraulic cylinders for year's, ( v ) cups have a sharp edge, and nicking one, might cause it to leak ! Just my two cent's
''NEVER TIME TO DO IT RIGHT, BUT ALWAYS TIME TO DO IT OVER''

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby harkgold » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:51 pm

wrightwing wrote:Thanks for the shout-out WingAdim. That quote was in a wood mill I worked in as a kid. I had it hanging in my wood shop for years, and in my experience, it holds a lot of truth :lol: :lol: Now back to SealMate. harkgold, I would think the hook would be useful in pulling the seal back down, kind of like, an old can opener effect, not the one's you twist or turn, (depending on where your from ) the one you wiggle up and down, and I would imagine, there is a tapered edge, so it slides up under the seal, with little resistance, and may keep from tarring the edge of the seal ! Working with hydraulic cylinders for year's, ( v ) cups have a sharp edge, and nicking one, might cause it to leak ! Just my two cent's


Thanks Wrightwing for the advice! Yes, I understand what you are saying.
Would need to be very careful.
Harkgold

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby jdmvafi4 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:56 pm

I've looked at many threads on goldwing docs for some time now. I have found many useful things. I think this will be my first question starting with a little background. I have a 85 GL1200I. The forks were leaking badly. The dust covers were shot and there was little doubt in my mind the seals would be just as bad.

I put new seals and dust covers on the latter part of 2011. All was well, forks dry, leak stopped. From the end of 2011 to May of 2012 I might have put 1000 miles on the bike. Forks still dry in May 2012. The bike was parked from May 2012 until about two weeks ago; roughly 11 months.

Was cleaning the bike up to sell. Had to move it from the shed across the yard to the garage. Bike started and ran fine. Had to cross a few dips and ruts between the shed and garage. Guess what I found as I started cleaning the bike? Yep, two really oily forks and dust covers. Wiped the oil away, pump the forks a couple of times, more oil. Wiped that off, went on short ride, more oil. Any time the forks go up and down, more oil. There is zero air pressure on them.

While I am talking about oil, although not fork related, I have also found on the bottom of the engine just behind where the lower radiator hose connects to the block, it is now dripping oil there too. Does not appear to be fork oil but engine oil. A couple of drops a minute when the bike is running. It has never leaked there before.

Now the question; since it had no problems before and it hasn't been ran for almost 11 months, am I looking at dry fork seals and a dry gasket causing the leaks? Is it possible these will stop on their own as the bike is used? The fork leak is so bad the front brake pads are saturated. Is there anything I can put in the fork or engine oil to get the leaking to stop?

I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts.

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Re: Fork Oil seal question

Postby WingAdmin » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:45 pm

It's possible that the bushings are worn, allowing enough movement of the fork tubes when riding that it has enlarged/worn out the oil seals. In any case, the seals obviously need to be changed again. Bushings are cheap, might as well do them at the same time seeing as you have it apart anyway.




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