Clutch fluid gone


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Alan_Hepburn
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Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:38 pm



My bike ('94 GL1500SE with sidecar) has been sitting in the garage for about 6 weeks while I recover from hand surgery. Today I thought I'd go and do some minor maintenance, start her up, and go for a quick ride to test my hand, so I checked the oil, aired up the tires, and when I went to shift it into N to roll it around there was no resistance in the clutch lever. A quick glance in the reservoir shows it pretty much empty! There's no puddle on the floor so I'm wondering wherethe fluid went?

I guess I'll have to fill it up and bleed it so I'll be looking through the how-to section to figure that out. What should I look for to figure out where the fluid went?


Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
1994 GL1500SE with a California Sidecar

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virgilmobile
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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by virgilmobile » Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:30 pm

It has been said that clutch fluid can leak past a bad seal in the slave cylinder into the engine.
This would be very bad.
I cannot verify this claim.
My 88 also lost most of it's fluid due to a bad slave cylinder but the leaking fluid did exit the casing through a small drain that is formed into the casting.
As a precaution I would suggest locating where the clutch fluid went.
If the lower casting is not damp with fluid I would be interested in finding out where it went.
The clutch slave cylinder is on the rear of the engine.Not really hard to get to or rebuild.

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by virgilmobile » Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:37 pm

By the way..Here's the post I did on mine...viewtopic.php?t=28498

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Alan_Hepburn
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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:58 pm

So I got out my trusty vacuum bleeder and bought a bottle of DOT4 brake fluid (small bottle) and gave it a go. After going through the whole bottle of fluid I'm still seeing bubbles coming out of the bleeder valve - how much fluid does the system take? The master cylinder was indeed empty when I started. Should I just buy a larger bottle of fluid and keep it going through until the bubbles stop, or should I be looking into the slave cylinder at this point?
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
1994 GL1500SE with a California Sidecar

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bluthundr31
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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by bluthundr31 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:58 pm

My .02 cents, , , ,

1. Get Speed-bleeders for your clutch jobs and brake jobs.

2. Seems VERY unusual for the clutch to take the entire bottle of fluid and you STILL have bubbles? (speedbleeders keep air from getting back in the line) When I drained/replaced my clutch fluid after 10 yrs of wet storage, it took about HALF the bottle, not the FULL bottle.

3. I have a STRONG suspicion you'll need to repair/replace that slave cylinder, your bubbles could also be coming from a leaking cylinder. Refer to the DIY's on the site, , they're an invaluable resource to keep these beasts up and running. Virgil's info is rock solid.

4. Inspect the clutch line for cracks.

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by dingdong » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:00 am

Also make sure the bleed hose is tight around the bleeder nipple. If not, this can cause air bubbles.
Tom

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by MikeB » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:25 am

If the brake fluid is getting by the seal in the slave cylinder, it is going straight into the engine oil. The brake fluid is very detrimental to the engine. You really need to find out where the fluid is going. If I were you, I would remove the clutch slave cylinder and replace it or rebuild it. I'd vote for replacing it.
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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:10 pm

Thanks for all the tips - after pouring a full bottle through it during the flush/bleed process I put the lid back on the reservoir and tied the lever up against the grip overnight. The next day the lever had its "normal" resistance again, and the reservoir is still full. I did check the engineoil level and it was at the bottom mark on the dipstick, and it didn't look unusual so I don't think it's contaminated with fluid. Anyway, I'm going to be changing the oil once the garage warms up a bit so I'll be able to get a good look at the oil then. I'll keep my eye on the clutch fluid level for a while and see what happens. The peep-hole is almost impossible to see through so I'll get into the habit of popping the cover off once in a while!
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by virgilmobile » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:33 pm

Look under the bike near the back center of the engine.You'll see the clutch slave housing.See if it's wet on the bottom and peeling paint.A sure sign of leaking clutch fluid.

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by WingAdmin » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:42 am

Rather than just refilling it, you need to find out where it is going. It is a closed system, so if it's going away, that means it's leaking somewhere.

If you see a puddle or leak (or peeling paint, as Virgil mentioned) that's a pretty good indication of an external leak.

If not, you can assume it is an internal leak, from the slave cylinder into the engine. As mentioned, this is VERY bad. Don't run the engine and change the oil. This can destroy the main bearings in the engine, and your engine is pretty much scrap at that point.

If that is the case, you also need to fix (i.e. rebuild) the slave cylinder to fix the seal.

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:11 pm

Thanks, WingAdmin - I'm definitely going to investigate further before firing it up. So far it seems to be not losing any fluid, but I'm going to try and get down on my back and look underneath for evidence of leaks. With the sidecar, and not very much room in my garage, it's pretty difficult to lift the bike up to get a good look underneath but I'll figure it out!
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
1994 GL1500SE with a California Sidecar

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:43 pm

Sorry I haven't posted an update lately - life got in the way!

Anyway, the master cylinder is still full, and the lever feels good. I took a photo of what I think is the area of the slave cylinder, and it doesn't look like it's been wet lately.

I think the slave cylinder is up there somewhere?
I think the slave cylinder is up there somewhere?

There's not a lot of room to work under there without putting the bike on a lift, and I don't have a lift that will hold the bike and the sidecar - any ideas?
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
1994 GL1500SE with a California Sidecar

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Happytrails » Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:14 pm

Maybe thats not quite the right spot. With the bike up on its centerstand there is surprisingly a little bit of room in there to get the slave cylinder off. Since yours has a sidecar I dunno what to suggest. Possibly low ramp and not pull it all the way up but just enough to get you a little room to work then chock the rear tire and put it in gear maybe. I removed the alternator and then later discovered that I probably didn't have to. You can see the fluid stains on my clutch cover. There is a little weep hole that the fluid is designed to come out of when the slave is leaking so it doesn't go back into the engine. Apparently in some cases those people say they have had it go back into the engine anyways.


My slave was pretty much trashed.


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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Sun Feb 04, 2018 2:18 pm

WingAdmin wrote:
Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:42 am
If not, you can assume it is an internal leak, from the slave cylinder into the engine. As mentioned, this is VERY bad. Don't run the engine and change the oil. This can destroy the main bearings in the engine, and your engine is pretty much scrap at that point.
Can you elaborate on this issue? I'm nowhere near an expert, but in my mind brake fluid is basically a real thin fluid. Adding a few ounces of thin fluid to 4 quarts of oil shouldn't do much to the oil - unless there are chemicals in the brake fluid that will attack the bearings.

The engine has not been started since I found the master cylinder empty - if I drain the oil can I tell if it's contaminated by looking at it, or smelling it?

Thanks for trying to educate my old brain!
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by MikeB » Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:35 pm

Brake fluid absorbs moisture and is corrosive.

When brake fluid gets in the in the engine oil and it gets hot, it looses any lubricity it may have. Moving parts become dry and sticky. The first parts to seize are usually the plain bearings, like cam and rod bearings, and valves guides. Rubber seals are attacked by the brake fluid because they are spec'd for engine oil, not brake fluid.

By the same token, engine oil will damage seals in the brake system.

That clutch fluid had to go somewhere, I am certain it did not just evaporate. If fluid is not evident anywhere externally on the engine or fluid lines, logic tells me it found an outlet at the slave cylinder. With the slave cylinder inside the engine, the only place the clutch fluid could have gone is inside the engine to mix with the engine oil.

Drain and replace the oil in your engine. You can keep an eye on the fluid and see if it starts to go down in the reservoir. If it continues to go down, and you have the ability and inclination, remove the slave cylinder and either rebuild it or replace it. Or, take it to a friend or a shop to have it done.
MikeB
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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:08 pm

Thanks, Mike - I've ordered a replacement oil filter and when it arrives I'll be changing the oil. I have been checking the master cylinder almost daily since I refilled it and it is still full, but then it's just been sitting there, not pumping back and forth like it does when it's being driven.
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by terryt » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:33 pm

Tie a rubber bungee or band around the clutch lever and handle bar. and leave it under pressure for a day to see if it the fluid hold ups.

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:30 pm

Okay, I tied the lever back for 3 days - no sign of the fluid going down; it's still full. Today I went out and bought some oil in preparation of changing the oil. Got home and realized that my oil collection container doesn't fit under the engine :x so I need to lift the bike up about a foot or so to give me clearance to work. I've got one of those Harbor Freight lift things that has 2 arms that are supposed to contact the frame to lift bikes, ATVs, etc. Looking under the bike I don't see anything resembling a frame member that hangs lower than the various plastic, exhaust, and other stuff under there. I tried using the center stand but with the sidecar it's just too heavy for me to lift up (I'm an old, 165 lb weakling who's closer to 70 than 60!) so I'm stumped!

So, my next option is to run it up onto some car ramps I have - but I can't push it up the ramp! How much damage could I do if I start the engine and run it long enough to get it up onto the ramps, or alternately get it onto a trailer so I can take it to a professional to get it sorted out?
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
1994 GL1500SE with a California Sidecar

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by virgilmobile » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:37 pm

Too much trouble.Get a shorter oil bucket.There ain't but a gallon in there.

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Happytrails » Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:16 pm

Stores like walmart sell those oil catch pans for around $5 that could fit under the bike I think, easy peasy. Maybe tape measure it.
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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by bluthundr31 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:54 am

Alan, , I'm a little south of you and if you're in a bind, I can run up there tomorrow and let you use the one I have for my 1500. Fits right under without any problem. PM me if you need it.

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:58 am

Thanks, Bluthundr31 - I'm most likely going to buy one to add to my collection! I've got a friend from Hollister coming up this morning to help out as well so hopefully we'll figure SOMETHING out!
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
1994 GL1500SE with a California Sidecar

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:19 pm

My friend came over and we were able to push the bike up onto some 1" wood planks which gave me enough room to get my oil pan under the engine. As the oil was draining I pulled off 3 samples. One I simply set aside, one I added a few cc's of brake fluid; and one will be sent off for analysis. The sample that I added brake fluid to I shook it up and let it settle - the result was a bunch of tiny bubbles floating in it. Every time I agitated it and let it settle the bubbles would appear.

So I compared it to the first sample, straight out of the engine. The first sample did not have any bubbles in it at all - it was just somewhat darker than fresh oil. I let the engine drain for about 4 hours while I went and ran some errands with the wife. Returning home I pulled the oil filter off and replaced it with a fresh OEM filter, and replaced the drain plug, then filled the engine with 3.9 quarts of Rotella T6 5W40.

I've been exercising the clutch lever daily, and it has not lost any fluid since I bled it and refilled it. I was also able to get eyes on the slave cylinder and it looks clean. I'm pretty confident, based on my experiments with the oil, that there is no brake fluid in the engine so I took a chance and started the bike today. It runs fine, the clutch operates as expected, and there are no unusual noises coming from it.

I'm sending the final oil sample out for analysis just to be sure, but in the meantime I'm going to go riding!

Thanks for all the help, and I will be watching it more closely now - I'll probably get a rebuild kit for the master and slave cylinders some time this year, now that we got the huge raise to our social security checks! :roll: I'm also going to attempt to change the timing belts this year...
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
1994 GL1500SE with a California Sidecar

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by AZgl1800 » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:31 pm

I just received a report on an oil analysis that I had done on my car.

Due to a lot of reasons, I overlooked getting it changed on time, ran it to 15,150 miles :cry:

The report came back clean, gave me a great big sense of relief.... I talked to the tech on the phone and he told me that it was a good thing that it had Full Synthetic in it. He also said that the overall nationwide average for oil changes on full synthetic oils is 6,100 miles for my model car.

He told me that the last six lines in the reports reveals the Brand of oil used.... you can't hide anything from those oil techs. :)

Some will say it is not worth the expense, but for me, I really needed to know if any damage had been done.


Here is what it looked like:















~John

See you at NASR-11 July 10th, 11th, 12th 2018

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Re: Clutch fluid gone

Post by Alan_Hepburn » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:02 pm

Just wanted to update this issue and put it to bed: I changed the oil in the engine and pulled off some samples:

1. one sample was kept as it came out of the engine

2. one sample I added a few cc's of brake fluid and shook it up, then let it sit for a while

3. one sample got sent off to Blackstone Labs for analysis, with the note that I was specifically looking for any evidence of DOT4 brake fluid in the oil

I visually compared sample 1 and 2 and noted that the brake fluid did not mix with the oil - it left small bubbles in the oil. These bubbles were not present in sample 1 so I assumed that there was no brake fluid in the oil.

I just received the results from Blackstone on sample 3, and their report states:

"We're not seeing any signs of contamination here. Something like brake fluid would probably show
up as visible separation in the insolubles test, and we didn't see anything of the sort in this sample. The oil
additives don't appear diluted and the viscosity read in the 10W/30 range, which is probably not unusually
thin. Wear numbers all look okay relative to averages, which are based on about 4,000 miles on the oil. To
be sure, metals are a little higher than average overall, but nothing is out of balance enough or high enough
to suggest any serious issues.
"

Additionally, I have not seen any evidence of the fresh brake fluid disappearing so I am confident that I can continue to ride the bike, keeping an eye on the clutch reservoir.

Thanks to all who responded to this, I really appreciate all the knowledge present in this group!


Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
1994 GL1500SE with a California Sidecar

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