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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I get a coolant smell upon startup, yet there is no loss in coolant level in the expansion tank. In fact the level does not go down over 600 km of mixed operation. What I do see when I start is white smoke from the left side pipe lasting only for a few seconds and the most important issue for me is a very lazy startup after the engine has warmed up to operating temperature, shut down for a few minutes and then restarted. I am wondering whether a drop of coolant may be entering the combustion chamber when the engine is shut down, causing a "hydro lock" partially when starting up the warm engine. Under cold startup the starter motor turns the engine over with gusto. I can also report that the forward left side spark plug porcelain is white, while the other plugs are tan in colour. All replies are appreciated.:)
 

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remove the radiator cap and see how much coolant is in the radiator, it may not be pulling coolant in from the overflow due to a bad cap. a clean plug is an indication of coolant leaking into a cylinder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
remove the radiator cap and see how much coolant is in the radiator, it may not be pulling coolant in from the overflow due to a bad cap. a clean plug is an indication of coolant leaking into a cylinder.
When I have checked the rad, it is always full. Iam thinking there is just a small weep getting into the cylinder after shutting down when the engine is warmed up but not enough to notice over many hours of operation as far as level is concerned. My real concern is two fold. A bent rod or the situation getting worse were I do see the level dropping. The engine pulls like a train and the oil on the dipstick is always clear.
 

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all i can suggest right now is to pull the valve cover and try re torquing the head bolts. hopefully someone who knows more about the 1200's will be along shortly to help.
 

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1987 GL1200 Interstate
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You are describing head gasket symptoms. Do you know the history of the bike?
The fact that you don't see the level drop in 360 miles means nothing.
Do you have the tools and knowledge to deal with a gasket change?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You are describing head gasket symptoms. Do you know the history of the bike?
The fact that you don't see the level drop in 360 miles means nothing.
Do you have the tools and knowledge to deal with a gasket change?
Yes, I changed the gasket on the right bank last year due to coolant loss and heavy white smoke at idle and operating temperature. At that time the engine would run hot, but now the only niggling issue is a lazy startup when hot after a 5 minute shutdown, coolant smell and a fear that if coolant is getting in the forward left cylinder, I might be inviting a conn rod break. The engine runs like a dream otherwise.
 

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It aint rocket science
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A starter which cranks slow when hot likely needs a refresh or engine is overheated.
 

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I would check the water pump when you replace the head gasket. Mine had the weep holes plugged up but the shaft with the impellers wobbled (you can rebuild or replace the water pump OEM is recommended). I think this caused the water not to pump well enough to keep from blowing the head gasket even though the temperature gauge never to my knowledge got in to the red (interstate 1200 86).

I replaced both of my head gaskets at the same time both were going. I found pieces of the gaskets in the coolant while trying to figure out why the bike was running hotter than normal. I also had a small air leak in the hose between the radiator and the over flow but you said the radiator is staying full so you may be ok there.

I may be wrong but I think the only reason the head gasket will blow out (besides improper installation) is because of excess engine heat caused by one or more of the following:
1) plugged radiator
2) dry radiator or trapped air
3) water pump bad

In my opinion the blowing head gasket is a symptom of a cooling problem.

Just .02 good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, I have now replaced the left side head gasket and now no coolant smell. I still have a lazy starter at normal operating temperature but it turns the engine over with gusto when the engine is cool. I guess after i get more riding time, I will pull the starter off and clean it up. Thanks for all the comments given.
 

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The starter on my Vulcan 750 got so bad it wouldn't turn the engine over fast enough to make a good enough spark to start it. IMO this is partly a design flaw, the starter simply does not have enough power to crank the engine properly. These bikes are known for hard starting, especially when hot. I pulled the starter off, took it apart, and it was just packed with black stuff. What a mess. I made a big mess while cleaning it up. I don't know what the black stuff way. Not really oily. I replaced the brushes in it while I had it apart. It has worked a lot better since, but it still seems to me it should turn the engine over faster. Slow cranking and a weak ignition system equal hard starting.
 
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