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So there I was, speeding down I-5 at 75 mph, and I smell the sweet, cloying smell of anit-freeze. Wondered if the car in front of me was having trouble. Then, a guy pulls up beside me and gestures wildly at my bike, and I look around at the saddle bags, and can't figure out what he is pointing at. He shrugs his shoulders and drives on, and the next guy does the same thing! I then look in the mirror and see a big trail of white smoke behind me, and say Oh xmxmxm. Between the anti-freeze smell and white smoke, figured I blew a head gasket, and was sucking anti-freeze into a cylinder. Am I correct? Also, much anti-freeze in the exhaust and dripping underneath the bike from the left side. So, the bike still starts, and I got it transported home. What am I in for? Thanks. Marty



Oh, it is a 1987 Gl1200 Interstate.
 

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10hrs worth of work if its your 1st time. At least for me and im slow. Take your time clean every thing then clean it again.
 

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I would not classify myself as a Goldwing expert by any means. But I've got a fair amount of mechanical experience and I've recently done two heads on my GL1000.

First, I would definitely verify that it is a blown head gasket with a leak-down check. A white trail of smoke could be explained by simply a bad coolant leak onto the hot engine. If you witnessed the white smoke coming out of the tailpipe, chances are nearly 100% that you have a blown head gasket or worse (not very likely). A leak-down check is where you use an air hose with a spark plug hole adapter on the end and pump about 20-30-40 psi of compressed air into each cylinder one at a time. Remove the radiator cap and listen for air and look for bubbles. If present, blown head gasket or cracked head is confirmed. A standard compression check may or may not show low compression on a cylinder with a blown head gasket.

Head gaskets and top end gasket sets for my GL1000 were kind of expensive. The head job is not that difficult if you can either read the manual or have small engine experience. Hope this helps.

PS. What Goldwinger says is right on. Buy some gasket remover to clean up the block and head surfaces. It works great on removing carbon from the tops of the pistons too. You will feel like a pro when everything is nice and clean for reassembly.
 

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Okay, does the engine have to come off the bike? It was blowing white smoke and anti-freeze out the left tail pipe, so am pretty sure it is a head gasket.
 

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No. The timing belt covers, belts, exhaust, and intake tubes all come off. Drain coolant and oil. Removing valve covers will show the head bolts. Read the manual instead of relying on my memory.......

It sounds pretty convincing that there is a blown head gasket on the left head. I would definitely do a leak-down test on all cylinders to verify. You never know.....

If this better answers your question, yes, the heads can be changed with the engine in the bike and the bike flat-footed on the ground. Not that hard except you have to sit on the floor to do the work unless you have a lift.
 

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Just so happens I have a lift!!! Thanks, I feel better already. I think I see a wintertime project ahead of me, as I have a spare MotoGuzzi which is itching for some riding time anyway.
 

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Once you start on this - it kinda goes quickly.

Getting "psyched" and getting that first screw/bolt removed is the hardest part.

And - bikebandit.com is your friend IMHO.
 

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Question:

Should I do anything to protect the cylinder before I can get to the job?
 

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Good question. I would pull the spark plugs, crank the starter to blow any coolant out, then spray in your lube of choice, pb blaster, atf, wd40, etc. Hand screw in spark plugs and remember not to crank engine. I would disconnect the battery and tape a note over the ignition key.
 

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I would drain my radiator start the bike let run for about 3 min to gets tuff out of the cylinders and heat up a little.Let cool. Then take plugs out spray cylinders. Go to a good auto part store who does machine work. Ask for what the use to fog or spray on there cranks and stuff after machine work is done. Spay each cyliner when its at the bottom of the stroke. turn motor over a couple times should be good till fall. Again take your time. Might check water pump while your in there. Good luck up date us on how it turns out.
 

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empty radiator and drain block of antifreeze and water. remove all plugs. liberal use of MMO or the like in all cyls and bump staarter a few times. should be fine so long as no water in cyl when you set it up.
 

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Had the same thing happen on my 1200. I was doing about 70 mph on the highway when the head gasket let go. Do yourself a favour and use the Honda headgasket. It's a little more expensive, but I know more than one person who used aftermarket head gaskets and were doing it again a short time later. Check the head closely. My was badly pitted from the steam eating at the aluminum head and I had to replace my head as the steamcut right into one of the valve seats.
 
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