Timing belts


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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Drop a gear
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Motorcycle: 1995 GL1500A Aspencade
2003 Harley Road King
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Timing belts

Post by Drop a gear »



Ok so I’m a novice with the GW’s. So far, over the winter, I’ve swapped out the air filter, installed a voltmeter/battery tender, installed a 12v outlet in the cubby, sprayed all the the faded crap-brown vinyl a nice black, replaced the speakers, installed Ciro wireless charger for iPhone, (still can’t find where the darn cruise filter goes but I have it). I’m planning oil change next weekend.
I’ve done much more involved mods on my Harleys including full exhaust, big sucker air cleaner, trunk detach kit, wired in a new kick ass horn, added a ton of LEDs to light me up and I do my own 3-hole oil changes. BUT, I will never mess with the engines. I consider that out of my league.
Now we can all agree that the GL1500 clearly needs timing belts replaced as our Wing Father keeps warning us.
I found the only shop out of 5 that would even consider touching my ‘95 GW and they are quoting me 8-10hrs @ $65/hr for timing belts…no mention that they were including coolant or spark plugs either.
I’ve read the detailed DIY article here by the Wing King (the name I’ve bestowed) twice. Realistically, how long would it take a NOVICE GW guy to replace the belts….and I have the coolant, spark plugs too.
So wise men, how long for a **** like me, following the guide step by step on my iPad, to do the swap? I have the supplies and tools but not the confidence. So far, every job I’ve done has taken on twice as long as expected. Should I even attempt it or give up and arm and a leg to the shop guys? Thanks for any advice


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WingNoob
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Re: Timing belts

Post by WingNoob »

I hear ya about getting someone to work on the bike. My local Honda shop wouldn't even do a safety inspection on the 97 Wing that I bought from a private seller last spring. "We don't work on anything over 20 years old because you can't ever get any parts." Never mind the fact that in the past 2 years they've had every single part that I've needed either in stock or available next day...

8-10 hours for just the belts seems way high for a professional shop. Methinks they don't want to mess with all of the plastic bodywork.

My first time wrenching on a wing was last spring. I did the timing belts, coolant, plugs, oil, air filters, sub-air filters, final drive fluid change and tidied up some wiring. I took most of the day just slowly working my way through everything. My biggest concern was not snapping any of the multitude of plastic tabs on the bodywork, but Honda seems to have used quality plastic. I'd say the actual belt swap probably took about 3-4 hours, and that was my first time doing anything on the bike. About 90% of the job is just getting access to the belts. Just keep track of which bits go where and it'll be fine.

With the belts, my only little snaggle was in setting the tension. As I recall, the DIY article suggests using a luggage scale. I had a fish scale so I used that, but it was tricky getting access to test the tension at the proper locations on the belt. In the end I just got it til they had about the same deflection as the belts that I took off (I measured the deflection before taking the belts off). Must be fine, 10,000 miles and no issues.

Just give it a whirl. The guide is very thorough and easy to follow.

Oh and the cruise filter is shown in steps 52-55 here: viewtopic.php?t=11036
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Sassy
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Re: Timing belts

Post by Sassy »

Commit a day to it. Don't worry about time, get it right and take the 500$ you'd a paid the shop and physically put it in your pocket.
That'll make ya feel good!
Fred
I did it recently but unlike you I have an over abundance of confidence and a lack of tools and decent area to work.
Enjoying the 2xDarkside
Fred
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DenverWinger
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Re: Timing belts

Post by DenverWinger »

Sassy wrote: Fri Jul 02, 2021 8:40 pm Commit a day to it. Don't worry about time, get it right and take the 500$ you'd a paid the shop and physically put it in your pocket.
That'll make ya feel good!
Fred
I did it recently but unlike you I have an over abundance of confidence and a lack of tools and decent area to work.
I did timing belt change just shortly after I bought my '93, I do have a good place to work and sufficient tools. But what scared me the most was getting the plastic off this bike so I could get to the timing belts. Timing belts don't scare me, the plastic did, never had a bike with so much plastic, 'fraid of breaking it.

So I used the very good Timing Belt Replacement step-by-step on this site for removing the plastic ("Tupperware") parts. It was very helpful to have a computer in the garage to refer to the pictures in the step-by-step, but you can do that on your phone, too. After I could get to the belts, it was a breeze.

Since then I've removed the Tupperware a couple more times for various other maintenance or accessory work, easier each time after you figure out how the plastic goes together.

As to the timing belt tension, the step-by-step is the correct procedure, but I don't have a gauge. I use the "Goodenuff" method, turn the crankshaft with a wrench so that it is pulling the slack out of the side of the belt that doesn't have a tensioner so it is loosest against the tensioner, then push the tensioner tight against that belt with your fingers and lock it down with the bolts on the tensioner bracket. You want to see the belt being able to deflect about a half inch either way on the long side of the belt (opposite the tensioner) with moderate finger pressure. The idea is to get them tight, but not like a banjo string, you don't want the belts to be so tight they "sing" and wear out the idler pulley bearings, but you don't want them "floppy" either. Readjust if too tight or loose. Get them "Goodenuff". :)

If it isn't "banjo-string" tight, and isn't floppy either, then it is correct. :D

And again, don't be afraid of removing plastic parts either. Follow the Step-by Step. And if you do happen to damage a plastic part, there's "How-To's" here on repairing broken plastic, too.
♫ 99 Little Bugs in the Code, ♪
♪ 99 Bugs in the Code. ♫ :(
♫ Take one down, Patch it around, ♪
♫ 127 Little Bugs in the Code. ♫ ♪ :shock:

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Andy Cote
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Re: Timing belts

Post by Andy Cote »

I'll call out that "mechanic." Either he doesn't know what to do or didn't want the job but didn't want to say no. Either way, not someone I would trust to rotate the air in my tires.

Timing belts can seem intimidating but are really straight forward.

This is one of those jobs that you do NOT tackle after work, when you're tired or in a hurry. Plan a day. Get up early and have a positive attitude. Follow the instructions. More than likely you will be done in time to catch lunch at Dairy Queen.

"Issues" are listed in the how-to article. Marks off by half a tooth, weak adjuster springs, certain bolts that require sealant, etc. Knowing and expecting this things will give you confidence and eliminate frustration. If they don't pop up, you'll cruise right through the job.
2015 Goldwing, basic black

Previously: GL1200 standard, GL1200 Interstate, GL1500 Goldwing, GL1500 Valkyrie Standard, 2000 Valkyrie Interstate, many other Hondas
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DenverWinger
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1983 Trav-Lite Camper (2010-)
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1972 CL350 (1980-1988) sold
1978 Suzuki GS550 (1985-2005) sold
1977 GL1000 (2002-2006) sold

Re: Timing belts

Post by DenverWinger »

Andy Cote wrote: Sat Jul 03, 2021 6:03 am ... not someone I would trust to rotate the air in my tires.
I'll have to remember that one.... :lol: :lol:
♫ 99 Little Bugs in the Code, ♪
♪ 99 Bugs in the Code. ♫ :(
♫ Take one down, Patch it around, ♪
♫ 127 Little Bugs in the Code. ♫ ♪ :shock:

~Mark
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Re: Timing belts

Post by WingAdmin »

A competent professional mechanic should be able to do it in 3 hours, max. The 8-10 hours they quoted you is just a ripoff.
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Re: Timing belts

Post by Drop a gear »

Thank you all so very much for the responses. You have given me the boost I needed to tackle this job on my own. What a great group of people on this site. Happy 4th everyone.
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Re: Timing belts

Post by Solo So Long »

Nothing to be afraid of. I just did it, yesterday, on the GL1500 that I just bought. If you weren't all the way on the wrong side of the continent, I'd offer to have you come here, and watch over your shoulder as you do the job.

It is NOT a hard job to do. You will need to remind yourself to be patient now and then, and I like to have music playing while I do this.

You NEED a JIS screwdriver to pull the Tupperware, and a torque wrench for making sure you're good on the idler pulley bolts.

I advise using Loctite 242 (Blue) rather than the Red. The day is going to come that this job must be done again, and Loctite Red doesn't like to let go.

Doing just the timing belts, you want to have your belts, a gallon of coolant w/funnel, socket set, pliers (for hose clamps), and a print out of the DIY article, clip or staple it together. Have a pen. Keep the DIY article up in your browser, but as you do each step, mark the printout.

Since you're down there, this is also a good time to do an oil and filter change. I like the Wix oil filters, and the "claw" type filter wrench that attaches to a socket wrench.

A mechanic can do this job, front to back, in 3 hours, and you can save 2 of those hours by pulling and reinstalling the Tupperware yourself. YOU can do this in 4 hours, taking it slow and being patient. If you keep this bike long enough, or get another Goldwing with rubber-band drive, it will take you less time than that.
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Re: Timing belts

Post by CrystalPistol »

Last time I did them on the '97 was after supper and I still got to bed on time, even with TV going in the shop.
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mickster
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Re: Timing belts

Post by mickster »

OK, this is going to be completely the opposite advice you will get from everyone so take it how you will.
Also I won't bicker or keep adding to the thread, I will just add my 2 cents and move on.

My advice: Don't do it.

If you want to learn, or it will be fun for you to learn, or you just want to tinker with the bike, then great, go ahead.

The reason why I don't recommend it is that your chance of making a mistake is much higher than the chance that you will break a belt while you own the bike. I don't care how many videos you watch, or web tutorials. The odds are still higher of mistakes than belt failure. Not that your chances are high of making a mistake, its that the odds of belt failure are ridiculously lower than a mistake.

Timing belts while they are considered a wear item, will most likely outlast other problems or your desire to ride the bike. It's sorta like old men with prostate cancer. We will all get it eventually, (almost 100 percent), but most people will die from something else first.

Also, we live in times where most (if not all) parts are not made to the quality that original parts were made years ago. Even a high quality belt may not be as good as as your 25 year old belt. We in live in times where an original part can last decades and a replacement can last just a few years (especially items that contain rubber).

While yes your belt could break, but I imagine the chances of getting in a motorcycle accident are actually higher than the belt failing. So if you truly want to plan ahead and look at the odds, it would be better to not ride than change the belt.

apologies to all that disagree, I really don't mean any dis-respect.

later,
mickey
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Honda 350 (mid 1970s)
Kawasaki KZ900-PS (1977)
Honda Super Cubs (various years)
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BMW R1150RT-P (2001)
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Re: Timing belts

Post by Solo So Long »

Well, I would be one of those guys who disagrees.

But then, I've seen the results of timing belt breaks, not only on motorcycles.

When the timing belt on a car breaks, we call AAA.

When the timing belt on a motorcycle breaks, we call EMS.

It not like when you run out of gas, and cruise over to the side of the road to wait for a visit from the Fuel Fairy. A belt break on an interference engine is an EXTREMELY violent event, especially at highway speeds.

Imagine that you're heading down that long, lonesome highway, at a speed somewhere near the speed limit (we won't discuss which side of it you're on), and for simplicity's sake, we will say that it's clear, dry, warm, and your bike is perfectly upright and balanced.

The engine suddenly STOPS TURNING. The first question is whether the U-joint blows apart -- if so, there is a miniscule chance that it will do so in a way which allows the drive shaft (and thus the rear tire) to keep turning, at least for a couple of seconds. This is the BEST that you can hope for.

I've seen that happen exactly NEVER, but it is within the realm of physics, so maybe you are the lucky contestant.

Second best will be if the final drive shatters, again allowing the rear tire to keep turning. One thing in your favor is that the Goldwings with belts also have yoke/axle support, so at least the rear wheel assembly will stay on the bike. This isn't always true on bikes with wheels bolted to the drive hub.

More likely, the entire drive line will lock up, and half a ton or so of Goldwing and rider, doing 70 MPH, suddenly are doing so with a rear support consisting solely of 10 square inches of rubber, with pavement rapidly eroding the (at best) half inch of thickness.

At the same time, you are having to deal with the loss of control which comes with complete loss of rear traction, AND a massive G force toward the front of the bike. Your handlebars are no longer controls, they are the only thing keeping you in your saddle. The front forks compress to the stops, and the balance of the bike goes from 50-50 to 80-20, front winning. The rear tire then starts to bounce, which is the only thing that may keep it from being worn all the way through to China. The skid marks from this action are about a foot long and 18 inches apart.

You're still doing about 40 MPH or so when you lose the last vestige of control. You still have traction on the front, so the back of the bike begins to come around during one of the bounces . . .then the unmoving rear tire comes down on the pavement again, but this time the direction of deceleration is not down the weight axis of the bike. Generally, you are down to about 35 MPH when you highside.

If you have a passenger, she is ejected in whichever direction the bike aims her. If she's a believer in ATGATT, and has a clear deck for landing, she actually may come out ok. If there are obstacles, well . . .or if she's in those cute shorts and tank top that you like so much, with a 1/2 helmet and running shoes . . .

You're not ejected because you're still holding the handlebars, and have just reached the point in the reaction process where you clutching them with all of your strength, TWO SECONDS after the belt broke. Your body and the bike now are racing each other to decelerate -- with any luck, you're out from under. If you're ATGATT, this can be a moment for reflection, as your brain tries to process JUST WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED and what to do about it. If you're wearing your beach outfit, your brain starts to prepare itself for all of the screaming that the nerve endings are about to send it.

Eventually, everything comes to a stop. The pavement is as hot as hell. If you're ATGATT, you start taking assessment . . .still alive, bounced around, nothing's moving . . .can I sit up?

If there's any other traffic around, people are starting to stop. Phones are coming out, 911 being called. No traffic? It's all of a sudden VERY lonely, and as you wait for help, you realize just how long that highway really is.

PLENTY of time to wonder if maybe you shouldn't have taken the couple of hours and $45 to change out those 20-year-old timing belts when you bought that gorgeous barn find Wing with only 4000 miles on it . . .


Everything that I have described here, I have seen happen, either in person or on dashcam, and teardown of the wreckage showed broken belts to be the root cause. And a number of other times, I've been on the scene after it did. Goldwings aren't the only bikes this can happen to. A belt break is so violent that it can cause a car to roll over

So NO, Mickey, I DO NOT agree with you.
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Sassy
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Re: Timing belts

Post by Sassy »

Until the clutch is disengaged,,,,,
But I agree with changing belts and following Scotts tutorial will eliminate mistakes!
Enjoying the 2xDarkside
Fred
Solo So Long
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Motorcycle: 1999 GL1500 50th Anniversary SE
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A pack of Super Cubs
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Formerly (in order):
Honda Super Cub (bought 1968, sold ?)
Kawasaki Coyote (early 1970s)
Honda 350 (mid 1970s)
Kawasaki KZ900-PS (1977)
Honda Super Cubs (various years)
Kawasaki KZ1000C (1978)
Kawasaki KZ1000P (various years, 1980 - 2005)
Honda 360 (1983)
BMW R1150RT-P (2001)
BMW R1200RT-P (various years 2007 - 2018, NEVER AGAIN)

Re: Timing belts

Post by Solo So Long »

Sassy wrote: Tue Aug 03, 2021 3:52 pm Until the clutch is disengaged,,,,,
But I agree with changing belts and following Scotts tutorial will eliminate mistakes!
You can't disengage the clutch fast enough to prevent this. The engine goes from 3000 RPM to 0 RPM in about half a second, and the chain of events is at that point beyond rider correction. By the time you realize what happened, you're on the ground -- long before you have the slightest clue what to DO about it.

I saw a bike do this in the Real World. It makes a very interesting sound, clear and distinct from the rest of the event (much like the sound of a head-on), so you MIGHT be able to condition someone to go for the clutch when they hear it, but there really wasn't enough time to react before the clutch lever wasn't where the guy's hand was.

There's a REASON that I don't even start the engine on a used belt-timed engine until I get the new belts on!
mickster
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Re: Timing belts

Post by mickster »

How do you ride when there is no way to test the new belts to see if they are defective?

How do you ride a motorcycle when the only thing keeping you alive is a few o-rings in a brake system.

How do you ride without checking every bolt, every piece of rubber, every time you take off. (including all inner assemblies (and your timing belts).

How do you ride not knowing the mental state of every other driver around you and their abilities to see motorcycles.

How do you ride not knowing if any part in your motorcycle is about to give way due to manufacture defect.

How do you ride when your own health could give way at any point causing an accident.

How do you ride when there are so many deer (at least in the midwest) that it could kill you instantly (compared to totaling a car). Damn near lost a high school friend this way.

How do you ride knowing that you would be completely safe if you took a car instead of your motorcycle.

How do you ride when you most likely have loved ones that don't want to have deal with picking up the pieces because you had to ride a bike instead of taking a car.

So yes, if your timing belts break, the motor will seize. The motor can also seize if it drops a valve, breaks a cam, loses a connecting rod, and many other things. A timing belt is not going to 'bullet proof' your unsafe two wheeled machine (compared to pretty much every other vehicle on the road).

So you see, if you pull the safety rule when it comes to motorcycles ( and their maintenance), The only true safe thing is to NOT ride. All the safety gear and proper protocols are not going to save the fragile neck from being snapped (it doesn't take much). While I don't have figures, I am guessing more goldwings have gone down from low speed wobble than broken timing belts (and that was never addressed in the GL1500's by HONDA).

I do see your point though and please forgive me for responding (even though I said I won't). This time I promise to let it go.

later,
mickey
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Re: Timing belts

Post by WingAdmin »

It's not an "all or nothing" thing. Saying "no point in doing my belts, because you might hit a deer anyway" is a defeatist, and is a logical fallacy - the kind of argument that is invalidated when considered critically.

Yes, there is risk. It's in your best interest to sway those risks in your favor as much as possible.

Wear ATTGATT. Don't ride at dusk during deer rut season. Change your belts. Don't ride at 1 am on a Saturday night amongst the drunk drivers. Maintain your bike to keep it in the best condition possible.

Or...

Wear shorts and a T-shirt. Ride at dusk, deer be damned. Those 20-year old belts are probably fine. I ride when I want, I don't care about drunk idiots, I'll just stay out of their way. The bike was fine the last time I had it apart.

Which list of options leaves you more likely to have a poor outcome from a ride, and which list is more likely to get you home alive at the end of the day?

I choose to minimize my risks, while accepting that there ARE risks.
Solo So Long
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Honda Super Cub (bought 1968, sold ?)
Kawasaki Coyote (early 1970s)
Honda 350 (mid 1970s)
Kawasaki KZ900-PS (1977)
Honda Super Cubs (various years)
Kawasaki KZ1000C (1978)
Kawasaki KZ1000P (various years, 1980 - 2005)
Honda 360 (1983)
BMW R1150RT-P (2001)
BMW R1200RT-P (various years 2007 - 2018, NEVER AGAIN)

Re: Timing belts

Post by Solo So Long »

mickster wrote: Tue Aug 03, 2021 9:45 pm How do you ride when there is no way to test the new belts to see if they are defective?
Simple. I take calculated risks. There is less chance of a defective belt than one which has become weak or taken a set.
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Re: Timing belts

Post by WingAdmin »

Solo So Long wrote: Tue Aug 03, 2021 10:31 pm
mickster wrote: Tue Aug 03, 2021 9:45 pm How do you ride when there is no way to test the new belts to see if they are defective?
Simple. I take calculated risks. There is less chance of a defective belt than one which has become weak or taken a set.
Statistically, old belts, and ESPECIALLY old belts that have sat on a bike that has not run for a long time, fail far more often than newer belts, and belts on bikes that are run constantly. The number of belt failures we've seen members report on this web site over the last thirteen years bears this out - the overwhelming number of them are from bikes that have original belts, or on bikes that sat for a number of years without running. I can't recall EVER hearing of a timing belt failure on a bike that just had its belts replaced.

In fact, I can't recall ever hearing of a timing belt failure from a newly replaced, defective belt - on any vehicle, ever.
Solo So Long
Posts: 425
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2020 4:07 pm
Location: Northern Nevada
Motorcycle: 1999 GL1500 50th Anniversary SE
1989 GL1500 FOR SALE
A pack of Super Cubs
Z50A (pre-headlight)
Formerly (in order):
Honda Super Cub (bought 1968, sold ?)
Kawasaki Coyote (early 1970s)
Honda 350 (mid 1970s)
Kawasaki KZ900-PS (1977)
Honda Super Cubs (various years)
Kawasaki KZ1000C (1978)
Kawasaki KZ1000P (various years, 1980 - 2005)
Honda 360 (1983)
BMW R1150RT-P (2001)
BMW R1200RT-P (various years 2007 - 2018, NEVER AGAIN)

Re: Timing belts

Post by Solo So Long »

WingAdmin wrote: Tue Aug 03, 2021 10:35 pm In fact, I can't recall ever hearing of a timing belt failure from a newly replaced, defective belt - on any vehicle, ever.
Same here.

I'm sure that there have been some, considering the millions upon millions that have been made, but they pretty much have the manufacturing process figured out.
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DenverWinger
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1983 Trav-Lite Camper (2010-)
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1972 CL350 (1980-1988) sold
1978 Suzuki GS550 (1985-2005) sold
1977 GL1000 (2002-2006) sold

Re: Timing belts

Post by DenverWinger »

About 20 yrs ago, after only 2 yrs, 20,000 miles or so since replacing an old belt with a new Gates belt, timing belt tore the inner reinforcing cords on one edge of the belt causing it to not track straight in my Toyota. The belt didn't break but the belt jumped time (about 5 cogs) ending up with crank being about 90 degrees out with the cam.

At that time I didn't know if the Toyota engine was an interference engine or not. I put the crank and cam back in correct time with the bad belt since it wasn't broken and hit the starter to see if it sounded like there was any compression or I had destroyed the engine. To my surprise it immediately started and ran to perfection. So I shut it right off and went to get another new belt. Evidently this Toyota is not interference engine.

Mind you, this wasn't a motorcycle belt, but it is the same thing, same width, same cogs, just a little longer and drives two more pulleys, oil pump and water pump.

So Infant mortality can happen, even on a Gates belt.


♫ 99 Little Bugs in the Code, ♪
♪ 99 Bugs in the Code. ♫ :(
♫ Take one down, Patch it around, ♪
♫ 127 Little Bugs in the Code. ♫ ♪ :shock:

~Mark
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