Rebuilding GL1500 Engine


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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Rednaxs60
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Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by Rednaxs60 »



Have been keeping this thread over on the Classic forum as it is time consuming to keep two threads going. I think it will be a worthwhile endeavour over here as well. It's going to be a lot of work, but I think with what I have done to the bike mechanically and cosmetically, it's the only way to proceed. Enjoy.

Been thinking about my fascination with older Goldwings. These bikes give me a lot of pleasure, and do exactly what I want. I have moments where I just want to turn the key, start the bike and go without having worked on it or work to do, but then I look at the reality of my situation and it’s not that bad – projects keep the proverbial juices flowing. I know there will come a time when I will hang up the tools and just want a bike to ride. Have put my thoughts to paper so to speak on this infatuation, but now I’m thinking about why I would rebuild an engine on one of these older bikes.

There are many restoration projects being done and have been done to varying degrees. Full restorations that include an engine rebuild are not that common. There is a sentiment that if it ain’t broken don’t fix it, but that implies that there are economical alternatives.

I am presently rebuilding the engine for my ’85 Limited Edition. I took on this project ahead of my estimated schedule primarily due to the C-19 issue. Had to keep busy since travel was off the table. Living in Canada was a serious consideration regarding my decision to rebuild the engine instead of replacing it with another, the cost to import an engine from the US is cost prohibitive, not many here in Canada, and I would be dealing with a 36 year old used engine of an unknown quantity.

The ’85 fuel injected engine has some differences from the carb models, not a lot but enough to make it an unnecessary way forward.

The primary wild card for a rebuild of the Goldwing flat four engines are the crank journal and connecting rod bearings. Availability is quickly going the way of the dodo bird. Honda did an excellent job of designing these engines so that the engine was a balanced entity that contributed to the signature smoothness of the ride. Another aspect of this balancing is that the connecting rods are specifically chosen for a particular engine and are weighted for each application.

Where am I going with this issue you might ask? I have a ’95 GL1500 with 176,000 Kms on it. It smokes on start up when on the side stand too long. Otherwise it operates very well for a 25 year old bike with minimal maintenance. This smoking on start is a bit annoying, there is a smell as well – think the carbs need to be overhauled, but this is the lot in life of a flat six.

I could easily get rid of this smoking by selling the bike, and buying newer. The 1800s, have owned one, may succumb to the same fate, but not too much has been mentioned regarding this and the 1800 engine. Buying a newer 1800, not new, is buying a used bike with all the buyer beware issues of a used bike. You also start a new slate complete with maintenance and upgrades that you want in order to make the bike your own even though you have already done this on the bike you have or are going to sell.

The issue of a carbureted engine comes up continuously. I admit I am partial to fuel injection, one of the reasons I have an ’85 Limited Edition, but carbureted models well maintained and cared for give good service and enjoyment.

Parts will always come to the fore when discussing older used bikes, but the 1800 model is now some 20 years old. With the unveiling of the new 1800, parts may become an issue as well.

Complexity of these newer bikes is mind boggling. I notice this change between the 1200/1500/1800 and as such, shudder at times when I realize that bikes are not getting any easier to work on and the days of the DIY shade tree mechanic may quickly become an endangered specie.

I would be remiss if I left out the 1000/1100 Goldwings. I’m thinking that these Goldwings are more sought after to do a restoration of because of the lack of complexity compared to its later cousins, weight issues and the ability to customize these to what you want.

The rebuild of the engine for my ’85 Limited Edition is a no brainer. This bike is my retirement long term project, and I’ve never rebuilt an engine such as the 1200. Once the engine is done, not much else to do on the old girl.

The 1500 is a different story. Have read quite a few forum threads that question the sanity of rebuilding a 1500 engine when there are suitable engines available as an exchange; however, living in Canada is a different story.

We live in a throw away society where the issue at hand is better taken care of by selling the problem child to another unsuspecting consumer, and buying another or buying up. As I mentioned earlier, you now have a new to you used older bike that needs attention to make it your own. I submit that no one buys a used bike, newer or older, without spending a few sheckles on upgrades, maintenance, and so the wheel of owning a motorcycle continues on.

Keeping the 1500 will entail future maintenance such as suspension replacement. Stiffer springs than OEM, air shocks for the rear – Progressive 416 air shocks for the 1500 are no longer manufactured so an alternative has to be found. Probably other items will test our sleuthing expertise.

Having mentioned the above longish discussion on these older Goldwings, my real question from the above is whether to rebuild the 1500 engine including the carbs, or sell and move on. The 1500 will never be a canyon carver, neither will its newer cousins; however, the 1800s with the right upgrades can be very sporty. The 1500 with all the maintenance done, bearings, brakes and the likes is more than capable of performing well into the future. The key to this in my opinion is a predetermined maintenance schedule, and a realistic ride profile and timeline.

I have done some thinking about what it would cost to do a 1500 engine rebuild, and have concluded that it will be less expensive than replacing the bike, and I will have a known commodity. This is premised on my doing the work. I’m thinking that if rebuilding the engine is not time critical, in that I need the bike to tour and ride, this may be the way to go. The 1500 engine has to be a level of complexity greater than the 1200, but if time is not an issue, it could be a viable alternative to replacing the bike.

My 1500 has been the benefactor of the C-19 issue in that it received a complete repaint. The bike is mechanically sound with a maintenance schedule that will keep it performing well into the foreseeable future. The possible obsolescence issues are being considered and researched.

Do I keep the bike and enjoy the fruit of my labour, or let someone else enjoy what I have done? All too often this is exactly what we do, spend money to make what we own better, then sell it.

I’m a realistic person and try to keep myself in check when it comes to theorizing about my motorcycling way ahead. Would like to have an older vintage car, but have no room for one in the suburbs that we live in, so my motorcycles take up the slack. Easy to strip down, move it out of the way and test my expertise at bringing a tired bike back to life. I do enjoy the challenge.

Having put you, the reader to sleep, comments are greatly appreciated. Yes, I do need to get a life! :music: :music:

Cheers


Last edited by Rednaxs60 on Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

Ernest

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Rednaxs60
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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by Rednaxs60 »

Have made the decision to rebuild the 1500 engine and to do this hopefully before next summer, but more realistically fall of 2021. C-19 could help with moving this project up to this fall/winter.

Not a lot of information on the various forums regarding 1500 engine rebuilds. Found one YouTube video, and lots of threads on the ancillary items, and why would you want to.

Have considered a used engine, but the availability in Canada is quite a bit less than in the US. Importing an engine from the US is cost prohibitive. I mentioned above that selling and buying a depreciating asset such as a motorcycle is an exercise in spending money. Better to invest a smaller amount into a known entity than to start new that comes with work/maintenance that you have already taken care of with the bike you presently have.

I notice what seems to be a gearing noise when the engine is at idle. This could be a bearing issue. Have perused the various forum threads and have found information that indicates gearing noises in the 1500 engine are a result of worn bearing(s).

Have been gathering information regarding costs. Parts availability is better for the 1500 than the 1200. Unfortunately have to rely on ordering from the US and Europe. Estimate the cost of the engine rebuild will be $2000.00 to $2500.00 CDN with the labour being done by me. If I'm going to spend money on this bike after having done the paint job, want to do it sooner than later so I get to enjoy it - don't want to do work later for someone else to enjoy. Should have at least another good 10 years of trouble free riding, and as this is not a long time it will go quickly, no reason the bike won't make it - jury is out on the owner.

The only external work will be the machine shop if needed. Won't be able to determine this until the engine is taken apart and the exhaust valve seats are inspected, and what shape the cylinders are in. I'm hopeful that the engine will be in a similar condition to that of my 1200, cylinders were good and only a hone was required.

The rebuild will have new crank journal and con rod bearings, set of piston rings, valves lapped or have machine shop do work. If I use the machine shop will have heads and cylinders done there with a requirement to make sure the heads and block are true and flat.

New clutch to be installed, engine is apart, don't want to revisit. I towed a trailer last year, and it's realistic to think a PO did as well because the bike came with a trailer hitch. My 1200 had a hitch installed and I was told that a trailer was pulled. I pulled the engine for stator work and at the same time inspected the clutch. All steel plates were blue in colour indicating an overheated condition - 115,000 Kms on the clock at the time.

New water pump may be installed, along with other items.

Carbs will be rebuilt as well. 25 years and 176,000 Kms can take a toll on any mechanical part.

Good time to renew all vacuum hoses, and possibly install SS brake and clutch lines.

Will be looking at the various OEM connectors, inspect, take apart, clean and put back together. The 1000/1100 fraternity restore/refurbish on a regular basis, why not the 1500 crowd.

There are special tools required for this build, specifically when putting the case back together. There are two jigs needed to support the pistons and piston ring compressors. May be able to use hose clamps for the 1200, but I think the 1500 will not be as forgiving. The ring compressor(s) are the expensive part. The parts needed are:

Piston Ring Compressor(s) – qty 3 – P/N 07JMG-MN5000A
Piston Base A – qty 1 – 07JMG-MN5012A
Piston Base B – qty 1 – 07JMG-50111
Crankcase support blocks – wood – 1 ½ X 1 ½ X 3 3/8 inch (40 X 40 X 86 mm)

Will be checking the hydraulic valve clearance. The shim tool for the 1200 is used on the 1500 as well.

Have been perusing the OEM service manual, mine is for a '99, but should be the same. The level of complexity is more than the 1200, but manuals can make the simplest task appear to be more daunting than the task is.

My readings indicate that the crankcase assembly will be the most demanding part of the rebuild. Need special tools, and a second set of hands is recommended. Applying the crankcase sealant will be a challenge as there are two hard to reach surfaces that need to be coated.
Last edited by Rednaxs60 on Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

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Rednaxs60
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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by Rednaxs60 »

Have been looking at the parts fiche to get a sense of what may be required for the engine rebuild. Have a listing of bearings, o-rings, collars, dowel pins and oil seals. Have checked and most of the bearings are commercially available. Oil seals will require a bit more research.

Have thought about the piston rings. The pistons have a service limit of 70.85 mm with a cylinder diameter max of 71.1 mm. Not a lot of wiggle room. These are very expensive from Honda, probably some $300.00 CDN. Have read where others have used rings from early model Chev Trackers for a 1200. Will be looking at this alternative.

Looked into what parts would be need to rebuild the carbs. Randakk's carb kit(s) are highly recommended, and are to have everything needed for a rebuild. New vacuum pistons would probably be a good idea. These vacuum pistons are very expensive from Honda - looking like approximately $180.00 CDN plus shipping out of the US. Will ask the local dealer here as well. Can get aftermarket ones for $50.00 shipped. The carburetor insulators, piece between intake manifold and carb, should be replaced.

Shopping for parts is an eye opener.
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

Ernest

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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by Rednaxs60 »

Continuing with sourcing parts and prices for the rebuild that includes the carbs. Oil seals and carb boots (carb to intake manifold) are reasonably priced and will order local. Have a list of dowels and collars that I will get as just in case spares.

The vacuum piston for the carbs are another story. Honda list was $202.00 CDN each, a little poking around and good customer discount to $170.00 CDN. The parts fellow was going to talk to his parts manager to determine if more could be done, but not a lot of wiggle room for these dealers - will ask if they can get the cost down to the $100.00 mark, if so may be the better way to go. Can get an aftermarket offshore vacuum piston for $50.00 CDN delivered to my door.

Have ordered a new water pump, not a lot of these available. Over the winter it did drip some coolant, enough to be noticeable. Better to have one on hand during the rebuild - old becomes spare. Found a u-joint as well, not making anymore of these either - old becomes spare as well. New brake rotors coming - knew these would need to be done when I bought the bike 2 years ago.

Keeping a spread sheet of costs, be interesting when the rebuild is done.
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by dingdong »

I hope all goes well with your rebuild. I'm afraid you have bitten off more than "I" could chew. Lol. Good luck.

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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by Rednaxs60 »

Thanks for the comment. Interesting you mention this. There are a lot of restoration threads, and restorations being done on the earlier 1000/1100/1200 GWs, but not on the 1500 - 1800 is still too young. There is one thread, https://www.ngwclub.com/forum/viewtopic ... 30&t=51412 by Pedrotq, and he strips a 1500 down to the frame, cleans it up and puts it back together - does this to a Valk as well. Think it's the only forum thread I've come across that shows this. Carb overhauls and vacuum tube renewal removes a lot of items to get the engine out, and a clutch replacement needs the engine out. I mention there is a gearing noise at idle. I did find a thread on this and it was mentioned that a bearing was bad.

Read a lot of threads that mention it is the authors first time owning a GW and doing the wrenching. At the end of the thread there is a roadworthy GW.

I am half way through the process of rebuilding the engine on my '85 1200 Limited Edition, and the most intimidating aspect is when you first start. Once you get going on removing the external bits and pieces, making sure to bag and tag - zip loc baggies are your friend - you may start to wonder what the angst was that kept you from doing this in the first place. Of course there is the issue of separating the cases and finding bearings, but this is not impossible yet.

Working on the 4 cylinder is good preparation and learning for the step up to the 1500. Been perusing the OEM service manual and parts fiche to get a good understanding of what is needed to be done and purchased. I mentioned "just in time spares", but what I wanted to mention was contingency spares. It's the little bits and pieces that generally hold up a project such as this.

Biting off more than you can chew, if you had to you would take it on - just can't let any minor setback discourage you. Taking an older car, changing drum brakes to disc, standard transmission from automatic, and a host of other items that are done by the layman like you and I.

We're all very capable of doing this type of work, it just has to fit your requirement(s). It's like scuba diving - plan your dive, dive your plan.

The key element in doing this is you need a second bike to ride. Need to clear the mind and enjoy riding while doing this type of project, could go stir crazy if not.

Cheers
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

Ernest

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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by dingdong »

Not exactly sure what you mean by gear noise at idle. My 1500 and every one I have heard has a slight rumble noise at idle with the clutch disengaged. ???
And that was a joke when I referred to my chewing ability. I separated the engine and rebuilt my 76 gl1000 13 years ago with just the Honda manual for reference. Just not sure I would have the patience any more to attempt a 6 cylinder wing. Will be watching. Luck.

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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by Rednaxs60 »

No worries. This forum is also about having fun. Did you do a thread on your engine rebuild? Would like to read it if you did, always learn something from others.

I've listened to a few 1500s and have not heard the same noise. Could be something else, won't know until I get into the engine. Hadn't done a four cylinder GW until now. Will be progressing the build over after next week, have to finish the 1500 paint project. Haven't rebuilt a 6 cylinder GW, like a challenge, like the bike too. There are aspects of my 1500 that lead me to think the PO did not disclose everything that happened to it - always find out after the fact. Never know when something has been rode hard and put out wet so to speak.

Cheers
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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by dingdong »

Sorry I didn't do a rebuild thread. I wasn't a member of a group back then. That's what I meant by having only the manual as reference.

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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by Rednaxs60 »

Perusing the parts fiche to list what I might need for the rebuild. Have to weigh the cost benefit of each item regarding package deals such as gasket set. The gasket set(s) I've found come from the UK about $250.00 CDN plus $50.00 Shipping. Will be taking a list to my local dealer and ask for prices. This will also indicate what is and is not available. There will be items sourced through Honda such as dowel pins, collars, and such.

The exhaust header bolts are quite unique. Took the left exhaust header down yesterday to do an RXR of the exhaust protector and found that the exhaust stud is a specific shape and can only be removed/installed with the exhaust header removed. You cannot remove the stud and replace with the exhaust header in place.

I've put together a spreadsheet with the parts/pieces from the parts fiche that I may need or would be a contingency spare. Not too concerned about the journal and shaft bearings after my experience with the 1200.

How do I insert a spreadsheet in a post?

Cheers
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

Ernest

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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by tsandvik »

Gear noise at idle....on the early 1500 engines there was the noted 3-4 gear problem. It would seem to always start as noise at idle and get progressively worse. Running would pop out of 3rd gear try to get into 4th. Problem was fixed in older bikes with better parts in the forks and gear selectors. If you have the engine cracked redo this area of the bike. The only way to fix it is to crack the engine.

I have a 90 that I rebuilt frame up replacing the original engine with a "great, in shape" replacement. Long story short, the great engine lasted 300 miles before the tranny went down. 3-4 problem. Upgrade the shift forks otherwise you will possibly be facing a real let down like I did after I finished up my rebuild.

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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by Rednaxs60 »

tsandvik wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:45 am
Gear noise at idle....on the early 1500 engines there was the noted 3-4 gear problem. It would seem to always start as noise at idle and get progressively worse. Running would pop out of 3rd gear try to get into 4th. Problem was fixed in older bikes with better parts in the forks and gear selectors. If you have the engine cracked redo this area of the bike. The only way to fix it is to crack the engine.

I have a 90 that I rebuilt frame up replacing the original engine with a "great, in shape" replacement. Long story short, the great engine lasted 300 miles before the tranny went down. 3-4 problem. Upgrade the shift forks otherwise you will possibly be facing a real let down like I did after I finished up my rebuild.
Thought of an upgrade but as I have mentioned in previous posts, an old engine is and old engine, and you don't know what the history is.

I've read that my '95 should be part of the upgrade group, never know. When you mention to upgrade the shift forks do you mean replace with later model shift forks? Checked the parts fiche. Centre shift fork P/N 24212-MN5-000 and gearshift swing arm fork P/N 24213-MN5-000 are available. Front fork P/N 24211-MN5-000 is not. Don't think there is going to be a rash buy of these items, will definitely be looking once engine is apart.
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

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tsandvik
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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by tsandvik »

I have also heard that '95 and later are part of the upgrade. I now have a '97 and it runs like a gem.

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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by Happytrails »

If you can get a hold of the upgraded parts that would be a bonus. Watched a video a long while ago of someone rebuilding a 1500 engine. Was fascinating to watch. So many things happening inside. Good luck with your project.
1991 GL1500 SE Anniversary Edition
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Re: Rebuilding GL1500 Engine

Post by Rednaxs60 »

Thanks for the comments, actually looking forward to tackling the 1500 engine, but first, it's finish the '85 Limited Edition engine rebuild and painting. Had to finish the last bit of painting on the 1500. If I work at a good pace, and take time out to ride and such, could be getting to this engine early fall.

Have to learn how to post an excel spreadsheet. Have been scouring the parts fiche for parts that are or may be needed. Have started to order.


"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

Ernest

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