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  #1  
Old 18 Dec 2010
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Burning oil after a complete engine rebuild in Medellin

I'm currently in San Bartolo, Peru, 40 miles south of Lima. I have been traveling for 14 months and have put over 18,000 miles on this trip thus far. I am on a 2000 KLR with about 30,000 miles on it.

Prior to the rebuild, the bike was consuming (normal) about 1 quart to every 2000 miles. Gradually, on this trip, the bike started consuming more and more. By the time I reached Colombia, I noticed that I was burning roughly at a rate of 1 quart to every 500 miles. In Medellin, where there are plenty of motorcycles big and small with suitable mechanics, I decided this was the best place to address the issue before I continued south.

After taking the bike apart, we discovered that part of the piston broke off between the rings or ring grooves (see attached), and determined this was the root cause of the problem; where the oil was leaking through. After further inspection, the reason for the piston to fail (supposedly) turned out to be overheating due to a factory defective (clogged - also attached) radiator reserve tank and malfunctioning water pump. Although, the bike never really ran excessively hot nor did the temperature gauge ever read very high.

The cylinder was then bored/honed out to accommodate a slightly larger piston and everything was replaced with genuine OEM Kawasaki parts e.g. piston, rings, valve seals, all gaskets. I decided to go with OEM instead of Schnitz's 685 kit due to time constraints, available resources, my bad experience with shipping parts abroad, and the possibility that something might happen again on the road and having to be solely dependent on Schnitz for replacement parts. Furthermore, the OEM parts were all for a 2008 model KLR, which I was assured several times over would work fine for my 2000.

To break in the engine, I did an overnight trip to El Peñol de Guatape, about 200 miles roundtrip. I didn't do anything extravagant or ride the bike too hard, because there was a lot of city driving before I could get onto the highways. The bike performed well and I could sense a slight increase in power initially.

Everything was fine after I left Medellin, until I reached the border of Ecuador, some 1000 miles after the rebuild. Especially at high altitudes, the bike once more began to consume an incredible amount of oil. At 3000-4000 meters (~12k ft), not only did I have a significant drop in power, but I started to notice that my exhaust was staining my saddle bags and rear fairings black. In Quito, I decided not to re-jet the carbs just yet as I was going back to sea level soon, and would be riding along to coast through Peru. I wanted to eliminate the presumption that it was just the higher altitudes that was causing the bike to consume more oil.

Now in San Bartolo, roughly 2500 miles after the engine rebuild, I am worse off than before. I am painfully burning oil at a rate of 1 quart to every 200 miles (it's worst than riding a two stroke and gas is so expensive as is let along having to put in 1/2 a quart of oil every time I fill up.) Unfortunately, I am even more pressed for time as my brother is visiting for Christmas: I've secured a bike for him to ride alongside me for 3 weeks as he did last year with me through Mexico, and this will be my last opportunity to make it to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego for 'summer' before it gets too cold.

There are even fewer bikes in Peru than in Ecuador and next to none in comparison to Colombia. I am running out of options as I make my way further south. I was hoping that the bike would make it at least through the next 3 weeks and beyond to Santiago, Chile, where I could address the issue with more patients. However, after my recent stint in the desert with sand storms/tornados, ginormous dung beetles, etc., where I was stranded for 3 days in Northern Peru with limited food and water along with a stomach bug - not engine related breakdown mind you, but a completely different story; I'd rather not take my chances with something happening in the even more barren landscapes of Bolivia and Chile.

So, tomorrow I am taking the bike to a 'reputable' mechanic in Lima to preform a compression and leak-down test. And then go from there...

Questions:

1) The bike isn't leaking oil from any of the gaskets and the only noticeable difference after the rebuild is the exhaust being black (I can't tell if it's blue while I'm riding), what are some other causes for the discoloration of the exhaust?
2) Could the mechanics in Medellin have messed up the rebuild?
3) Did I mess up the rebuild by not 'breaking-in' the engine correctly?
4) Could the rings or valves seals wear this quickly?
5) Are the 2008 KLR parts really not suitable for a 2000 model?
6) Any other suggestions, comments, advice?...

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this thread.
Attached Thumbnails
Burning oil after a complete engine rebuild in Medellin-img_6127.jpg  

Burning oil after a complete engine rebuild in Medellin-img_6123.jpg  

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  #2  
Old 18 Dec 2010
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Sorry to see all that, it's pretty mysterious, and I think you need the results of the compression test to make further progress.

I don't know anything about 2000 and 2008 parts, I'll just say what springs to mind - it might trigger more useful suggestions from others.

Firstly, the bottom line is you'll have to remove the head and barrel again, to see what it's like in there now.

What's the history of the bike? Have you owned it from new?
Has it had a major rebuild or repair in the past?
Has it had a hard life? By that I mean all servicing done properly and on time, with decent oil and components, but ridden hard regularly, maybe over-revved on occasions with an excess of enthusiasm?

I can't help but wonder if the conrod has been damaged at some time. Ever-so-slightly bent. And once bent, over the mileage you've done on this trip, it doesn't get straighter again, but ever-so-slightly more bent. And maybe the piston can no longer follow the line of the bore as easily as it should.
What was the other side of the piston like? Reasonably unmarked, or showing signs of a hard life, particularly at the bottom of the skirt?

Photos are a bit limiting, but it doesn't look as though this piston has suffered from over-heating. For heat to have caused this, I think all your water would have boiled away and there'd be evidence on the piston.

If the carb is set up as standard, at the sort of altitudes you've been reaching the engine will have been running rich. But certainly nothing to cause this sort of problem. You would probably have noticed reduced power and the exhaust will certainly be more sooty. So that probably explains that.
Also burning that amount of oil will blacken the exhaust a lot as well.

You need the compression test result (which will almost certainly show low compression, maybe a lot of blow back as well if it can test that), leading to another dismantling.

Which triggers another thought. Did you look inside the air box? What was it like in there? (I assume engine breathers terminate in there).
Was there lots of oil and mess in there? That'll be another indication of another piston or rings failure.

Hope that helps. Good luck.
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  #3  
Old 20 Dec 2010
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Compression test results and more

First off, thank you for your feedback and comments!

---

Compression test results consistently gave 100+ psi while the manual states 77-124 is normal. A leak-down tester was not available, so no leak-down test could be performed.

I ended up bringing the bike to the Kawasaki/Bajaj dealership in Lima, Crosland Grupo. Unfortunately, there were absolutely no parts available for the KLR (any model), so I was reluctant to open up the engine. Also, my brother is arriving tomorrow, thus there is no time to order parts from North America and have him bring them here.

After further review, the mechanics didn't believe there was a problem with the engine. Although, the exhaust was clearly black there was no blue, which are definite signs of oil burning. So we addressed the exhaust issue by taking apart the carburetor and looking at the air filter, which were all cleaned during the rebuild.

The carburetor was dirty, but nothing drastic. The air filter was dirty/oily and the air box had sand, souvenirs from the desert; but again nothing completely out of the ordinary as I am used to seeing the air filter pretty black from this trip. What we did find peculiar, however, was that the pilot mixture screw was completely screwed in, effectively not permitting any air to pass. The mixture screw was also behind a metal plug that we had to drill out, therefore I am pretty certain the mechanics in Medellin did not tamper or adjust the screw during the rebuild.

The bike immediately felt more responsive with a little bit more gusto after we put her back together and I took her out for a spin. The exhaust is also significantly less black. On the highway, the bike seemed to perform a little better obtaining a higher top speed than normal, although I rode into the city unloaded without saddle bags.

Now, 50 miles later, the bike doesn't seem to have consumed a significant amount of oil. I rode her pretty hard back to San Bartolo and normally I would see a greater loss of about 1/4 quart for 50 miles. Although, this is all good news, I am trying not to get my hopes up too much. I am still a little skeptical, as I was when leaving the mechanics, that all the oil consumption that I was having was due solely to the mixture screw. If so, then why didn't I experience a problem before.

The only explanation I can think of is that after all this heavy riding through deserts, up volcanoes, along beaches, through rivers, into the jungle, city traffic, high in the mountains, the bike could only take so much. For example, similarly to what happened to its clogged radiator reserve tank, which like the fuel mixture screw, was never altered or tampered with; the bike was never running at its full potential. This says a lot about the quality of the KLR, however, at the same time, how is it that these defected parts every left the factory to begin with.

In any case, if I've learned anything from this trip thus far... mistakes do happen, shit hits the fan and when it does, it never stops. And nothing or no body is perfect. Hopefully, others will be able to make use of all this valuable information.

-

Tomorrow, it's back to Lima to pick up my brother from the airport and show him around Miraflores and historical district. Then we also have to pick up a new chain and sprockets and break pads for his Tornado. I am going to ride the bike pretty hard into the city once more, it's also kind of impossible not to within the city limits - they are the worst drivers in Latin America IMHO. If I can keep the burning down to a minimum, we will probably continue on later in the week to Ica, Nazca and Cusco. As long as all goes to plan, hopefully, the time with my bro will be as memorable as last year's ride.


Questions:

1) I am not that familiar with carburetors, but could loosening the fuel mixture screw really be the answer to all my problems?
2) Is it still safe to ride with bad rings or will it cause a lot more damage?
3) Can I change the rings without having to change the piston and bore out the cylinder again?
4) Is my problem still with the rings if the compression results were 'ok'? (Truth is the tester was pretty junky and didn't have the best seal.)

Notes

Bike history: I am second owner, purchased 5 years ago with 4,000 original miles.

Rebuild done at Kawa/Bajaj dealership in Medellin. First ever rebuild done to my knowledge. No major repairs in the past. I've only changed the doohickey and valve shims.

Prior to this trip, the bike was my daily rider/only transportation. We went on a few big trip, but nothing ever on the same scale as this current one I am on. All the servicing was done on time with the best possible oil and components I could afford (it has a stainless steel oil-filter.) I love to ride and ride with much enthusiasm.

Regarding the conrod, wouldn't the mechanics of Medellin have noticed if the piston didn't move in and out of the cylinder smoothly. Attached is picture of the other side of the piston.

Carb is setup standard with a main jet of 148 and pilot of 40 recommended for <1200m. I am still trying to get my hands on a 145 and 38 respectively advised for >1200m.

I probably should of clarified that the replacements parts were for a 2008 model and beyond e.g. 2009, 2010. Not necessarily for a 2008 model in particular, as I was familiar with its particular oil burning issues before performing the rebuild. I didn't think it was an issue for the later models.
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Burning oil after a complete engine rebuild in Medellin-img_6093.jpg  

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  #4  
Old 20 Dec 2010
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Hi Victor,
Well, that's a conundrum!

Firstly, I don't think the exhaust gives any clues.
You were at high altitudes for a while which will make it more sooty, and you were burning oil.

The pilot screw is a mystery, but really has no bearing on the engine's current problems.
It only affects the speed and reliabiity of the tickover and maybe a little more. Nothing to do with oil consumption or overall engine performance or failure of that sort.

The other side of the old piston is significant. Last time I wrote this: "What was the other side of the piston like? Reasonably unmarked, or showing signs of a hard life, particularly at the bottom of the skirt?"
Well, what a photo!
That piston has had some seriously difficult times. To be in pretty good nick on one side, nice and matt, no wear or seizure marks (except of course it had broken between the rings), but be so scored, almost seized, on the other, indicates something significant is not right.

That could of course be a faulty piston so maybe you've fixed it by fitting a new one, but it seems unlikely.

So now here's another significant question, which side of the piston is the inlet, and which the exhaust side?

If the scored side is the inlet, how confident are you about the effectiveness of the air filtering?
(Or even if it isn't the inlet side, still worth checking).
Is the airfilter in good condition, not damaged at all, fitting properly, not allowing air to bypass it? No holes or leaks anywhere allowing air to be sucked in downstream of the filter?
Where was the sand in the airbox, only upstream of the filter? Any downstream towards the carburetor?

If you're completely confident that the airfilting is effective, then something else has cause the scoring on the piston, which leads me back to a problem with the conrod.
The sort of bend I'm thinking of is pretty slight, certainly not visible by a cursory look, only by a very careful inspection or check with appropriate gauges.

Did you look at the bore after the rebore. Did it look an even surface all over? Or were there still score marks showing through anywhere? That might point to an airfilter failure, but difficult to say.

You ask "Is it still safe to ride with bad rings or will it cause a lot more damage?" But in your 1st post you said new rings were fitted.
If you're still on the old rings, that's not good, it would have been best to change them. But whatever rings are in there you're stuck with them for now.
Normally you can just buy a set of new rings on their own. But the barrel has been rebored so you need rings to fit the oversize bore.

You seem doubtful about the accuracy of the compression testing.
Try this if the spark plug hole is easy to reach (this'll be impossible on some bikes).
Remove sparkplug.
Switch on.
Put a finger or thumb firmly over the spark plug hole with as much pressure as you can muster.
Press the starter button.
If you can keep your finger on the hole without air being pumped past it, the compression is pretty useless.
If your finger gets blown off the hole however hard you push and hold it there, the compression is good enough (doesn't mean that all is OK though).

If you find the compression is poor, and you've still got the old rings in, then the two will be linked.

Now you say the bike and oil consumption seem ok (for now). Well, maybe things have bedded in a bit after the rebuild.
So, reading what you said about the terrain you've been riding through, overall I would say it looks like an airfilter failure allowing some serious dirt into the engine. That gave the piston the hard time, and the rings, eventually leading to the breakage, and oil consumption.
You say you should be able to get better mechanic's service in Santiago.
So, if it's going OK now, don't touch anything, continue as you are with plenty of care. No riding hard, keep below, say, 60% throttle and well below the red line. But don't let the engine labour at low revs either. Keep the oil topped up. My experience in 'third world' places is that oil consumption varies depending on what local oil you've put in.

You don't mentioned anything about noises, so if it all sounds OK I think that's the best thing to do. Then check further when you find a garage that gives you confidence. If at Santiago all is OK, including oil consumption and noise, maybe leave well alone.
Lastly, confession time, I've never owned a Kawasaki, but have had a few big single cylinder 4 strokes. That's a cue to say I'm puzzled no Kawasaki owners have joined in. Any out there?
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  #5  
Old 25 Dec 2010
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Oil blow by is from oil ring issues (eg failure) usually, or all rings not seating. Compression can be good while burning oil because the compression ring is OK and seated well, but oil is bypassing oil rings thus still burning oil. These oil rings are 3 rings - two very thin rings with a sort of zigzag ring between them. Check they did not have the oil ring ends all lined up! they should usually be all about 45 degrees from each-other. They may not have seated properly and replacing them would fix oil burning issues IF the compression ring has seated OK, otherwise you also need to re-hone the bore so they seat OK.

You can ride while burning oil, it just clags up the piston head and rings with carbon and over time the bike will loose power. Shouldnt really do any serious damage, unless you seize it from not enough oil!
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  #6  
Old 25 Dec 2010
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  #7  
Old 6 Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viktar View Post
I'm currently in San Bartolo, Peru, 40 miles south of Lima. I have been traveling for 14 months and have put over 18,000 miles on this trip thus far. I am on a 2000 KLR with about 30,000 miles on it.

Prior to the rebuild, the bike was consuming (normal) about 1 quart to every 2000 miles. Gradually, on this trip, the bike started consuming more and more. By the time I reached Colombia, I noticed that I was burning roughly at a rate of 1 quart to every 500 miles. In Medellin, where there are plenty of motorcycles big and small with suitable mechanics, I decided this was the best place to address the issue before I continued south.

After taking the bike apart, we discovered that part of the piston broke off between the rings or ring grooves (see attached), and determined this was the root cause of the problem; where the oil was leaking through. After further inspection, the reason for the piston to fail (supposedly) turned out to be overheating due to a factory defective (clogged - also attached) radiator reserve tank and malfunctioning water pump. Although, the bike never really ran excessively hot nor did the temperature gauge ever read very high.

The cylinder was then bored/honed out to accommodate a slightly larger piston and everything was replaced with genuine OEM Kawasaki parts e.g. piston, rings, valve seals, all gaskets. I decided to go with OEM instead of Schnitz's 685 kit due to time constraints, available resources, my bad experience with shipping parts abroad, and the possibility that something might happen again on the road and having to be solely dependent on Schnitz for replacement parts. Furthermore, the OEM parts were all for a 2008 model KLR, which I was assured several times over would work fine for my 2000.

To break in the engine, I did an overnight trip to El Peñol de Guatape, about 200 miles roundtrip. I didn't do anything extravagant or ride the bike too hard, because there was a lot of city driving before I could get onto the highways. The bike performed well and I could sense a slight increase in power initially.

Everything was fine after I left Medellin, until I reached the border of Ecuador, some 1000 miles after the rebuild. Especially at high altitudes, the bike once more began to consume an incredible amount of oil. At 3000-4000 meters (~12k ft), not only did I have a significant drop in power, but I started to notice that my exhaust was staining my saddle bags and rear fairings black. In Quito, I decided not to re-jet the carbs just yet as I was going back to sea level soon, and would be riding along to coast through Peru. I wanted to eliminate the presumption that it was just the higher altitudes that was causing the bike to consume more oil.

Now in San Bartolo, roughly 2500 miles after the engine rebuild, I am worse off than before. I am painfully burning oil at a rate of 1 quart to every 200 miles (it's worst than riding a two stroke and gas is so expensive as is let along having to put in 1/2 a quart of oil every time I fill up.) Unfortunately, I am even more pressed for time as my brother is visiting for Christmas: I've secured a bike for him to ride alongside me for 3 weeks as he did last year with me through Mexico, and this will be my last opportunity to make it to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego for 'summer' before it gets too cold.

There are even fewer bikes in Peru than in Ecuador and next to none in comparison to Colombia. I am running out of options as I make my way further south. I was hoping that the bike would make it at least through the next 3 weeks and beyond to Santiago, Chile, where I could address the issue with more patients. However, after my recent stint in the desert with sand storms/tornados, ginormous dung beetles, etc., where I was stranded for 3 days in Northern Peru with limited food and water along with a stomach bug - not engine related breakdown mind you, but a completely different story; I'd rather not take my chances with something happening in the even more barren landscapes of Bolivia and Chile.

So, tomorrow I am taking the bike to a 'reputable' mechanic in Lima to preform a compression and leak-down test. And then go from there...

Questions:

1) The bike isn't leaking oil from any of the gaskets and the only noticeable difference after the rebuild is the exhaust being black (I can't tell if it's blue while I'm riding), what are some other causes for the discoloration of the exhaust?
2) Could the mechanics in Medellin have messed up the rebuild?
3) Did I mess up the rebuild by not 'breaking-in' the engine correctly?
4) Could the rings or valves seals wear this quickly?
5) Are the 2008 KLR parts really not suitable for a 2000 model?
6) Any other suggestions, comments, advice?...

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this thread.
Hi Viktar

Sorry to hear about your predicament but is unlikely that a compression test will yield a useful result with your oil burning issue. If your valves are sealing well you can have good compression with rings that are not sealing well ie allowing your engine to use oil.

I see 2 potential areas where problems could exist:
1. rings are the same type used in the 2008 KLRs which had an oil consumption issue. While they are for the 2008 and above, the specs may be the same as those used in the early model (2008) of new design bike.
2. another area to examine is the valve stem seals and whether they are the right type and/or were installed properly. A lot of oil can be introduced into the combustion chamber through the valve stems.

Hope this helps. ATB.
Kevin
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  #8  
Old 24 Mar 2011
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Update

¡Hola a todos!

Thanks to all that contributed to this thread. I thought it'd be a good idea to update all of you on my progress and share the information that I've acquired from these experiences; so that others can learn for my mistakes.

I've posted some technical stuff on the KLR and the 2 additional rebuilds after Medellin that I ended up performing in Bolivia, here:

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...lete-his-55562

¡Gracias de nuevo por toda su ayuda y apoyo!
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  #9  
Old 24 Mar 2011
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Like said, your carb has ZERO effect on your engine burning/losing oil...

The oil can only dissapear from four places really.

1. Burning because it's seeping through the oil rings on the piston. This gives high compression readings becaus the oil is actually "sealing" the gap.

( The test for worn rings when one gets a low reading is to pour oil into the cylinder to see if the compression goes up so you can see why you would get high comp.)

This is probably most likely if your cylinder was "bored and honed" in a backstreet workshop.. It's a specialized job for a machine. Not a man with a diamond honer in a power drill.

Tell us about this ???????

Was the cyclinder accurately measured before and after and were appropiate oversized rings used ??? I'm assuming not !!


2. Oil weaping though the valve seals and burning off.

3. Oil burning internally through the headgasket although you would probably have milky oil due to this if it's watercooled. (but you might not see this as it's all being burnt)

4. An external oil leak around the engine. Rocker cover, gaskets, o-rings etc etc. Although, I think you would of noticed this with the amount lost.
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Old 24 Mar 2011
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Oh.. You fixed it..

I should of read the thread properly ! lol

Well, it seems I was right about the bad honing and piston fitment


Glad to see you're moving again !!
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Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




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