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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Background:
I suspect I have a blown head gasket on my 1100. I get a bit of smoke/steam on startup and a bit of smoke/steam wafting from the right-side pipe at shutdown. (HD take-off mufflers with no cross-over) I don't see any smoke while riding. The exhaust smells sweet and disipates quickly.

Question:
Would it be detrimental to take one more 100-mile ride this weekend before repairs? It's for a good cause (veteran's day) so maybe karma will negate any ill effects??
 

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I rode about 75 miles with a blown head gasket before I realized I had a blown head gasket. After finding it out, I still rode it another 25 miles to get home. I just kept a close eye on the temp gauge. Not something I really wanted to do, but it was mid March, so the temps weren't too high and the temp gauge on the bike never got above 1/3 of the gauge. Would I do it again? Only if I had to do it to get home. Too many chances for serious damage to occur.
 

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I rode mine for months with the symptoms you described... as long as it's not billowing clouds of white smoke and it holds temp, I'd say go ahead an do your ride, then fix it.
 

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As long as it is only slightly smoking, I would get another ride before you tear it down for the winter project.
 

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Hard to call. A blowing head gasket can last for a while, or go south without warning. Lets face it, whenever that happens will be at the worst time, out on a ride.
 

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OS...
Change your oil, before the run. You don`t need to change filter, but change the oil.
You don`t want oil in your coolant system, and you don`t want too much coolant in your oil, right?
Change the oil, look at level in cooling system... AND ENJOY THE TRIP ;-)
 

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Having experienced a blown head gasket fairly recently, it came all of a sudden. I suspect that you will likely all of a sudden smell antifreeze and have people pointing out the trail of smoke for you, like they did for me. If it were me, I would volunteer to help at the end of the ride, and skip the ride itself.
 

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I agree, help out at the start and finish. No sense making more work for the ride organizers than they already have, especially when you know it is a liability.
 

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If you take your 100-mile ride this weekend, I guarantee it won't bother me in the least.

If your head gasket finally blows, at about the furthest-from-home point of the ride, your towing bill home will be substantial, unless you find a friend with a pickup or something. If you find a friend with a pickup, then you risk being on YouTube under "Goldwing Load Fail" from whatever 17yo was witnessing your load, with his smartphone firmly in-hand.

Why not skip the ride and tear into the heads?

Or - do the ride and perhaps give us some entertainment.

Either way's a win in my book.
 

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In a word, no way in hell. Ok that was more than one but you get the point. A head gasket is nothing to take risks with. Sure it COULD make it another 100 maybe even 300 miles. Or it could have a catastrophic failure in another ten.

Save yourself the embarrassment, headache and expense of a break down.

Here's something else to think about. How would you feel if the guy riding behind you when that thing let's go all together and you blanket him in white smoke drifts over the center line and ends up a hood ornament?

Now sure that's a pretty extreme outcome, and most people scoff at extremes. But as extreme as it is, it's STILL a possibility.

To take a bit from the Share The Road class I used to teach. We don't own the road, we share it, and that means we all share the consequences of the risk just one person takes.
 

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Old school would not be cool if the Guy riding behind went down on spewed out antifreeze on the road.

Then if he or some fancy lawyer saw this question from before the ride, hope you got good insurance not to mention the thoughts of what happened to the others involved.

I had a head gasket going at the beginning of a group ride headed to Borrego Springs that I wanted to go on for the twisties, but while in the parking lot, it started harder than normal, the beginning of hydrolock, then once started and headed out on the ride it was blowing more steam than earlier and wasn't clearing out, so I put my arm up and pulled off to head to the barn in disappointment. I didn't like the thought nor did I want to get stuck in the twisties broke down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks all for your advice and opinions. This isn't a 100-mile road rally, rather, a 40 mile solo ride to the national cemetery, a group ride thru the cemetery on queue as part of the Veteran's Day ceremony, then a 40 mile solo ride home.

Just the same, I think I'll "Transfer the Flag" to the 750.
 

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Good move. If we had of known you had another bike, the polling data would have been even more skewed to the right...
 

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Thanks all for your advice and opinions. This isn't a 100-mile road rally, rather, a 40 mile solo ride to the national cemetery, a group ride thru the cemetery on queue as part of the Veteran's Day ceremony, then a 40 mile solo ride home.

Just the same, I think I'll "Transfer the Flag" to the 750.

it dosen't matter what you ride in that parade as long as you show up and do what you do safely, that is whats important, anyone who volunteers on the behalf of our veterans is ok in my book so ride safe and honor those who gave all so we can have the right to ride free.
 

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Glad to hear you made the right choice. A leaking head gasket can cause coolant in the oil and that's not bearing friendly to the rods and crank. It generally does a nice job cleaning the valves and spark plugs though.
 

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It depends on where it's leaking. Coolant into a cylinder is no big deal.
My 1100 had one go bad. I rode it a while, just keeping an eye on the coolant level. After a time, I pulled the valve cover and re-torqued the head bolts. Then I rode it a while longer. I didn't finally change it till it got to the point where I had to add water before every ride.

That trail of steam, along with the fact that I'd rather ride than wash it...is where I got the nickname Pigpen!
 

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The '82 I had in '84 didn't give me all little symptoms you've got, it just squirted coolant from the top, between cylinders 1 & 3 in a 3-4 ft high arc landing directly onto my right thigh, there was no shall I do it, shall I not, so I did it, with very limited tools and equipment, took about 2 to 3 hours if I remember rightly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks again all. It was a beautiful day for riding here in Souther Michigan. The 750 performed well despite cyl #4 only occasionally participating.



And to all the Vetrans of all the world, on this the 11th day of the 11th month, I thank you for your service!
 
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