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I'm having issues with starting the bike (91 GL1500I w/42k miles). It will start with the choke and even then the engine idle speed goes up and down. It won't run at all without the choke unless I stay on the throttle. Won't start at all without the choke. I checked the coolant level and noticed that it's almost empty despite changing the coolant and topping off about 4 weeks ago. I checked my oil and noticed that on the dipstick there appears to be a light colored creamy substance. From my experience with my boat this looks like water getting into the oil. The bike was sitting for about 1.5 years and I've been restoring it for the past couple of months. New timing belts, rebuilt carbs, new plugs, etc. Also I notice that the cylinder head covers are unusually hot. Any ideas what can be wrong? Could it be a head gasket? How can they go bad just sitting? If I have to replace the head gasket how hard of a job is it and how much time am I looking at? Also noticed black fluid dripping from exhausts (both sides). Thanks.



:baffled:
 

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this is what I've found so far. I drained the oil however it was not milky however when I run the engine and check the oil on the dipstick there is a milky substance on the upper part of the stick only. The bottom part the oil looks normal. I wanted to see how much coolant was left in the system and drained it at the pump. Still quite a bit left however none visible on the measuring stick at the reserve tank and none visible at the radiator cap. I topped this off a few weeks ago. I pulled the plugs and they all look the same. They are also new and the ends are a little dark but nothing I would be concerned with. I don't want to pull the heads if it isn't the problem but don't know what else to look for. Lastly when I originally saw the white smoke I figured it was the SeaFoam I put in the tank. Most of that fuel is gone however it still smokes and there is black fluid dripping from both exausts (very little). What should I check next?

:(
 

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A couple of checks you could make would be to look at the spark plugs, if you find one or two that look exceptionally clean that would indicate a head gasket leak. Hold a rag over the end of the exhaust and run the engine for a bit, if the rag gets damp that's another indication. White smoke also is a strong indicator of a leaking head gasket. The disappearing coolant also points to a head gasket. The stuff you're finding in the oil sounds like emulsified coolant to me. Try filling your radiator and watching the coolant in the neck of the radiator, any bubbles coming up when the engine is running would indicate a leaking gasket too. In other words, it looks like a leaking head gasket to me.
 

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thanks exavid. I pulled the plugs and all look the same. Black on the ends but none are clean. I'll try and fill the coolant and take a look. I'm thinking of just using distilled water and no coolant. Is tha okay? Would the leaking gasket cause the idle to go up and down (700-1500rpm) and only start/run with choke?
 

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I filled the radiator with distilled water. I can see some bubbles. time between bubles is about 5 secs. Does this mean that the head gasket is leaking however it may be small at this time? Still the same issue. Won't start without choke. Smoke does smell sweet. Like cake batter? Your thoughts?
 

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do I need any special tools to replace the head gaskets? approx how long of a job is it? I already have the tupperware off.
 

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No special tools other than a 3/8" drive torque wrench and the necessary sockets. A good flexible putty knife and some gasket remover can help clean things up in preparation for the new gasket. You'll need the gasket, probably should get new rocker gaskets and any other seals you see in the parts manuals. The job will require removing the timing belts so be sure to review the process in Rudy's pictorial and read the appropriate section of the service manual. If you don't have a service manual I'd recommend ordering one from Helm Inc. or get a Clymer manual. Most of these manuals will pretty well spell out the process step by step with pictorials. The job can be done in a day if you're experienced, for the first time I'd recommend planning on a weekend to complete it. You don't have to remove the engine for the job either.
Oh, I almost forgot; the manual calls for moly paste to lube the threads on the head bolts and under the heads of the bolts. This is important to get adequate clamping pressure on the gasket. Also if you don't have a torque wrench you can get one quite reasonably from Harbor Freight. These aren't Snap On quality but I've got a couple of them and they checked out with reasonable accuracy and repeatability when I tested them.
 

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would this also be the cause of the bike only starting with the choke engaged?
 

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can the metal exhaust gaskets be reused? they are only a few weeks old or should they be replaced when I remove the exhaust manifolds?
 

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The metal crush gaskets for the exhaust aren'tnormally reused but since they've only been in use a short time I'd try it. If they leak you'll hear it and can replace them later. My 1500 only starts with some choke even in warm weather unless it's been run to full operating temperature very recently. In fact most Goldwings want some choke to start unless they are already warmed up. These are pretty cold blooded engines. On my bike I usually apply about 3/4 choke, once it starts I reduce the choke as necessary to keep the idling rpms below 2000. When the engine will run around 1000-1500 as I reduce the choke I ride off leaving some choke on until the temperature gauge needle comes up off it's mark. Weather conditions will vary this a bit but not much.

The rpms will tend to vary a bit while running on the choke, that's fairly normal until the engine warms enough to steady down around 750rpm. A leaking head gasket, and your symptoms sure sound like that's what's going on here will also make the engine run somewhat poorly especially at idle and low rpms. If coolant is getting into a cylinder it will for sure upset the balance of power of the six cylinders. For smooth operation all six jugs must be adding the same power impulses, water and steam in one or two will effect operation almost as much as miss caused by an ignition problem.

First things first, get the gasket taken care of and then see how things are, that may be all that needs done.
 

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while I have the heads off what else should I replace? I'm also getting new valvle seals, oil seal. What about valvle guides? Thanks.
 

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I have the Clymer manual. Any tips? Do I have to remove the cam shafts or can the heads be removed as a complet assembly? Any tips to make this go easier and less to disassemble would be appriciated.
 

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No need to bother the cams, they'll come off with the heads.A new pair ofcam end cover seals on the rear ofthe heads might be worth doing. I wouldn't bother the valves or guides, they usually last for a couple hundred thousand miles or more. I wouldn't even replace the stem seals unless you had some suspicion that they were bad. They normally last near forever on the 1500s.
 
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