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1986 Aspencade SEi
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I now have the right side cylinder head off my '83 Interstate for the third time and I'm going to do every thing I can to make it my last.
First, the mistakes. The first time I installed the new head gaskets I accidentally folded up the bottom tab on the right side and it started pouring out oil when I started it. In checking the bolt tightness I cracked the bottom tab on the head (around the small 10mm bolt on the bottom). So I bought a replacement cylinder head on Fleabay. I figured that I could straighten out and re-use the head gasket, using a thin smear of gasket sealant around the rough part.

I got it back together today and filled up the radiator. As soon as the radiator got full, coolant started streaming out of the right side head in the front. I pulled it apart (again) and see that coolant is in the cylinders.

Question: Could the repaired gasket be so bad (I was pretty confident that it would seal) that it would leak that much that suddenly, or should I be looking for some kind of flaw in the new head?

And this is my first time doing head gaskets on a bike, so am I missing something really important?
 

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If it's pouring out that fast I'd take a look at the threaded in plugs under the cam shaft.
 

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You can't reuse headgaskets.
Clean all surfaces SPOTLESS.
Lubricate the head bolts and washers for proper torque.
Use a "known good" torque wrench.
Tightening sequence in the manual.
 

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1986 Aspencade SEi
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Biker John, I can't locate the threaded plugs you're referring to. Understand that I'm not a mechanic by trade, just handy and cheap. Any better description on where these are?

GLHonda, seems I've heard that before about head gaskets, and I am in the process of ordering a new one. I did the rest of the things in your post, but I did try to get by with the repaired gasket. I'm just wondering of someone out there with more experience than I have might know if an insufficiently sealed head gasket could cause the problem described.

In looking for the threaded plugs, I noticed something else. the locating pins in the head are different heights from the surface of the head. I measured and found that one had about .420" showing and the other had about .560" showing. When I torqed the bolts I looked all around and didn't see any gaps, and I think I would have noticed a gap of .140". Anyone else ever run into this?
 

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The head could be warped. Take it to a machine shop and have them check it for flatness. If it's off even .005 it can leak. Also was your locating pin all the way in when you checked it. At .140's you would diffidently see it even with a new head gasket.
 

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The cam shaft has to be removed to get to the plugs I'm talking about.
There are two of them in each head.
 

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Even with the used gasket I wouldn't think it would pour out, maybe a small leak. It would take a seriously warped head to leak like that and I have never seen one warped that bad. The usual warpage is in the center between the cylinders. The plugs Biker John referred to are inside the head under the cam so they wouldn't leak externally.
 

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1986 Aspencade SEi
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the description Biker John, I found the plugs you were talking about. They're tight, and there was no coolant around the cam shaft at all. The coolant came from the joint between the head and the block, plus coolant in the cylinder.

RKB53 we have the tools where I work to determine flatness of the head so I'll take it in tomorrow to check that. I had to move one locating pin from my old broken head to the new one. I just tapped it in and didn't think about comparing it to the one that came with the replacement head. The more I think about it the more I think that might be the problem. Because there is a .140" difference in the exposed part of the pins doesn't mean that there was a .140" gap. There might have been enough clearance in the holes in the block to take up most of that difference, leaing a much smaller gap. I might not have noticed a .020" gap, but I'm sure that is enough to cause a pretty big problem.

I'm going to have the head checked, pull both pins and if they're different sizes, cut one down to the size of the other one, and re-install with a new head gasket. I think that will fix it, but if anybody else has a suggestion I'll certainly listen to it.

Thanks for all the replies and the suggestions.
 

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Because there is a .140" difference in the exposed part of the pins doesn't mean that there was a .140" gap.

I'm going to have the head checked, pull both pins and if they're different sizes, cut one down to the size of the other one, and re-install with a new head gasket. I think that will fix it, but if anybody else has a suggestion I'll certainly listen to it.

Thanks for all the replies and the suggestions.
Don't pull the pins. You'll probably distort them and have to replace them.
Instead, since they fit into the head, measure the cavity that the pin sets in. I think you'll find you have more than enough room.
 

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CoachK64, When tightening your head start from the middle and work out. Don't torque to full spec. Before you go through all the the trouble of filling fluids get a 0.002" feeler gauge leaf and see if you can find an open space anywhere around the sealing surface. I would also recomend a light coating of Permatex 2 on your head gasket, both sides, but very light. After the initial tightening I described above use the feeler gauge leaf. Then get your torque wrench out. Start from the middle studs and work out. Coolant "pouring out" has to be an open gap between the head and the casing. Good luck, be patient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks again for all your input.

Tecotim, the way you're describing tightening the heads (middle first and work out) is just the way I did, but I torqed them down and just did a visual inspection. I have another gasket on the way (not til Wednesday) and I'll certainly take your suggestion about a feeler gauge before the final torque. I've heard other opinions that you should never use any sealant with a head gasket, anybody else out there want to chime in on this?

GLHonda, I fabricated a punch with a proper sized bolt and nut and washer and carefully tapped both of the locating pins and they are now both sticking out exactly .355". I measured the recess in the block and see from .415" to .425". I had probably slightly distorted the pin that I moved and didn't get it seated properly. I placed the head against the block and both locating pins seems to go in the recess properly. When I get the new gasket this next week I'll get it together and I'm sure I'll get it sealed properly this time.

I was really hoping to get it running this weekend, but this is just another lesson in patience and not trying shortcuts, something I always try to teach my boys, but fall short myself sometimes. Maybe I'll learn this time.
 

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If you're still worried about the pins, you could put a light "blob" of grease on the surface and put the head on to see if it makes contact. No bolts, no torque, just head to block.
And NO. My Honda tech of 35 years says "Do NOT use sealer on the gasket".
 

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Absolutely, no sealer on a head gasket.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks again for all the replies and input.

Tecotim, I think I'll have to go with the majority on the sealant issue. While I don't understand how a really thin layer of sealant could hurt the seal, I think I'm finally getting wise enough to understand that people with more experience should always be listened to.
 

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I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again, I yield to the others advice. But try to find that gap with a feeler gauge. Torque in a criss cross pattern from middle out. Use a straight edge to check for warpage on the head and check the casing too. Shining a flashlight behind the straight edge will illuminate the gap. Hey, and the used head, examine closely for imperfections. I had to take the carbs in and out of my Gl1100 3 times before I got them right.....I can't remember who said it, but "If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, you're probably doing it wrong. Hope its starting to warm up for you in Wisc., folks here riding in T-shirts.
 
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