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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I bought a cheap, beat up 86 gl1200 last summer to learn to work on and make into a rat bike (I call it The Heap), and I've been having issues with the left fork leaking since I got it. I've had it apart several times, replaced seals, replaced the back up ring (which the previous owner had replaced with a half thickness piece of bent up aluminum apparently), checked stuff out, but I'm still getting a leak. Weird thing is it doesn't happen under a certain speed. I live in an area with a lot of sharp turns, steep hills, and bumpy roads. Riding around here gives the suspension a workout, but it never leaks a drop. But if I take the bike outside my neighborhood and get it up above 45 or 50 on a straight, level, good condition road, I can watch the fork oil crawling up the tube.

Seals are fresh, bushings are worn but not horrible, tube looks to be in good shape. While the rag I've tied around the fork to keep the oil from getting into the brakes fits my post-apocalypse aesthetic and problems like this lend to that authentic ratbike feel, I'd really like to get this sorted out. Any ideas?

Also, the guy at the bike shop told me I can use ATF in the forks and so I have been, but would using actual fork oil help? The other side has ATF as well and it seems to work fine.
 

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It probably has a bad spot on the tube that positions itself in the seal when the wind lifts the front end at speed.
Yes ATF is fine, fork oil would be no help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was afraid of that. Can something like that be repaired or am I going to be buying a tube? and if I do need to buy a tube, where should I look for one?
 

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1987 GL1200 Interstate
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Are you sure the fork isn't bent, or maybe out of round, down inside?
I'd replace the bushings and mic the tube for dents.
A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a kid with a true rat bike. The forks were so rust pitted, and had been sanded with no specific direction. It was ghastly, but they didn't leak. The kid had filled the the pits with JB Weld.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Good calls, guys. There was one lone nick in the tube, right between the dust cap and the oil seal (with the bike on the side stand). one speck of JB Weld and copious super fine grain sanding later, the problem appears to be solved. Thanks a bunch.
 

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One little pit will do it. I bought a crapped out '85, and the lower shock tubes were badly rusted. badly pitted from one end to the other. They leaked fluid, and of course would not hold air. $300 later I had some Progressive 416s on there, and have had no problems with them. Wish I could say that about the rest of the bike, whoever trashed it should be hung from the nearest tree.
 
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