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Suzuki Head Plug Leak Fix

January 20, 2012

Now that Old Faithful ('68 CB350) is back on the road, it is time to turn my attention to my '86 Suzuki Savage (LS650, now called S-40), also known as the "Virgin Whore" and more lately, "Old Smokey."These Savages have a bad habit of leaking oil from the cam case. Apparently no one told the Suzuki assemblers to use sealant when they installed one particular plug and that is whence the problem stems. Here's a picture of Old Smokey's cylinder with the head cover removed. I was able to do this without removing the engine, but my manual says that is not always the case. After removing the bolts, it took a kind of tilting and twisting motion forward and to the right, while cussing and holding my tongue just so, while saying three Hail Marys to pull mine away and out of the frame. You can see in the pictures some of the oil-staining along the edge of the top fin.

 

Here is the motor from the other side. The troublesome leaking plug is circled.

 

 

The plug is there because directly below the hole it fills is one of the cylinder bolt heads. To torque this thing a socket has to go through the hole, then it gets plugged before they install the head cover. The problem with this one leaking in particular is that it drips directly onto the header, creating a nice smoke screen when you stop. Often the leak looks much worse than it is and causes all sorts of panic among riders thinking the head or worse is leaking. The hole is so well hidden, and when you ride the oil tends to blow all over the cylinders and back, usually more so on the left side, as the oil obeys gravity and finds its way to that side when the bike is on its stand.

Here's the location of the plug with the bolt head below it from the outside. There, back in that cavern next to the pipe.


You must be careful keeping track of all the bolts. They are all different and must go back whence they came. (Note: I am not putting on the head cover trim, so four bolts are not needed for my install, but if you are reinstalling the covers on yours, a couple of the bolts go in from the bottom of the cover, so don't forget them or you will be grumbling and disassembling the head cover again to do it right!) I learned a neat trick from a forum dedicated exclusively to the Savage. Print out the microfiche cover diagram at approximately full size and tape it to a box. Poke holes where the bolts go with a screwdriver, then stick the bolts in their place as you remove them. Some of the bolts require special gaskets, that are a kind of metal/rubber composition. Of course, mine had none. Luckily the local dealer had them in stock.

 

(The bolts I am not using because I am not attaching the trim are L65, C20, and the two C25s. The bolts I am missing are the two L25s in the valve cover openings.)

 

Now, whoever had installed this before on my bike was, well, probably riding the short bus. If you look carefully at the bolts in the picture above you might notice that two are missing (other than those trim cover bolts) that go just inside the valve covers. I guess the previous mechanic didn't think they were necessary. I went out to my local Suzuki dealer today and have those two bolts on their way. I guess the same yahoo didn't have the proper rubber teardrop-shaped gasket either or was to cheap to buy one. He filled the area with silicone instead. New proper gasket is on the way, too. Here's the silicone "gasket" I pulled out.

 

Also, the head cover was installed with what looks like household silicone caulk, which oozed out everywhere. Here's some of the stringy mess I scrubbed off the area.

 

I took the cover and stuck it in some diesel for cleaning. Here is the top side.

 

And here is the bottom. Circled is the area where the teardrop-shaped gasket goes.

 

I'll report back when I start the reassembly.


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