Stuck Valve

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Stuck Valve

Post  mikeymco on Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:24 pm

Hi all! Grab a cold one and listen to my tale... cheers

The story: (Skip this if you just want the technical details.)

The plan was to drive from Upstate NY to Northern KY to visit a friend, head south to the Tail of the Dragon, hit up a 3 day conference in Greenville SC, and then take my sweet time traveling up the East coast visiting friends and wasting time on the beach.

I made it ~900 miles in 2 and a half days. Then, as I was riding through some mountains in TN, about 120 miles outside of Knoxville, as I gave her some gas to pass a semi, the bike lost power for what seemed a single stroke. pale  I very quickly pulled over, left the engine running, and did a visual inspection of everything.

All seemed well except for what seemed like a slightly clicky-er top end. I killed the engine, checked around some more, and couldn't find anything else. It seemed like perhaps the clicking was simply the result of sudden-onset paranoia, and since everything still ran acceptably, I decided to keep riding. Honestly, there weren't really any alternatives. I'm 900 miles from home, what am I gonna do, tow a running bike back?

I made it 50 more miles, and it seemed like I was getting less and less power for more and more throttle. I got off the highway, checked everything again, and finally knew (accepted, actually) that whatever it was, it wasn't something road-side fixable. There was a Honda motorsports dealer in Knoxville, so I hoped I could make it there and potentially get some advice. Only 50 miles to go, right?

My fate finally sunk in when at about 30 miles left, I tried to pass a mini-van going 50mph. I moved to the left lane, gave what little throttle I had left, hit WOT... and nothing. I kept going 50. And then 48, 45, 30... until, at the top of the next hill, the engine quit. I tried to push start it with my downhill momentum a few times, but there was no life left.

So here I am, in the TN mountains, on the side of the expressway with a dead bike... and somehow I'm still in good spirits! The weather was great, the scenery was great, and I wasn't stuck at home. After a brief phone call to one of my mates, (thankfully I had cell service) I decided my next step was to push the bike a half mile to the next exit and try to debug things there.

It must have been a forlorn sight to see me push my way up the exit ramp, across the street, a parking lot, and finally (uphill) to the nearest gas station, as at least three local guys asked me if I needed tools. I had brought my own toolkit, so that wasn't necessary, but I appreciated it anyway. (Thanks dudes!) I still couldn't get compression, so I checked around again, and even disconnected the manual decomp lever. No luck. By now, it was about 7pm, and so I caved and called AAA for a tow to Knoxville.

I finally arrived in Knoxville at around 8:30pm. At this point I took a break from problem solving, and went out with my Airbnb hosts for food (and drinks). It was my first time to Knoxville, so they took me to Market Square. We had delicious sushi (and ample saki), outside, while a jazz band played 20 years away on the stage there. The food, people, and atmosphere was fantastic.

I had called the local Honda dealer in Knoxville earlier, and they needed at least a week to even take a look at the bike, which wasn't going to work for me. So that night, I got someone on u-ship to bring the bike back to NY, took the bus to Greenville (3 hours away) to make my last stop, and cancelled the rest of my trip. It was an anticlimactic end, but still a fantastic trip.

Trip photos.

Next up!

The teardown:

I didn't have time until this past month to dig into the engine. (Also exacerbated by the fact that I had a friend's Duc 696 to ride for the rest of the summer.  naughty )

Concisely...

  1. My left exhaust valve got stuck at about the halfway position.
  2. This prevented the rocker from fully opening, which in-turn put massive pressure on the cam/rocker pressure plate any time the stroke tried to close the exhaust valves.
  3. After 100 miles of this pressure, the cam broke the rocker pressure plate off, allowing the rocker to shift so far on an intake stroke it actually PUNCHED A HOLE in the valve cover and I finally lost compression. Shocked 

Photos here.

The plan:



Questions:


  • The metal dust in the oil filter area has me VERY concerned (see photos). Is it even worth rebuilding the top end since this stuff has passed through the bottom? Should I be doing a full rebuild or scrapping the engine?
  • If it's worth rebuilding, should I replace the connecting rod? I've read some mixed things about this. I'm extremely reluctant to split the case. A top end rebuild is within my ability, but a full rebuild might be difficult.


If there are any questions I should be asking, and aren't, please let me know. Thanks for reading!
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  Mauser on Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:01 pm

Metal dust looks to me like the material of the piston, I would wash down the engine with parafine and flush it all out ?.

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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  mikeymco on Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:09 pm

Yup, good thinking. If I'm going to re-use the bottom end without rebuilding everything, I'll have to wash it (and the frame) out.

I'm not sure how difficult a full rebuild is, but I'm starting to think maybe buying a summer bike and making this my long term project might be the best bet.
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  Mad Frosty on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:12 pm

Give it a good flush , rebuild the top end and if you lucky all will be good , btw how often do you change the oil ? What miles have the bike done , what speed have you been running it and what gearing / sprockets are you using ?
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  Mad Frosty on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:15 pm

I have seen people using Diesel to flush engines , but i am not sure if its a good idea , perhaps someone else knows  scratch 
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  mikeymco on Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:28 am

I was running 15/48 (+1 front over stock.) Think gearing could have contributed to the issue? I generally kept my RPMs pretty low, and almost never go over 80mph.

Changed the oil every 1000 miles or so, which had only happened twice before this. It's dark/cold/wet up here most of the year, usually only get the bike out for short Sunday rides.

Flushing the bottom end is definitely necessary if I want to avoid splitting the crankcase. Good call. (Sucks that the sump tray is only accessible when the case is split.) I'll try to dig up some info on what the best washing solution would be. Diesel sounds like a good bet, and I've heard of washing things with kerosine or paraffin as well.

I'll report back when I find some more info. Wink
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  AURORA on Sun Jan 05, 2014 4:39 am

Maybe lost oil pressure.

Blocked oil passage or line. Did you find any RTV in the motor?

Inspect the two oil screens and tell us what you find.

How much oil was in the bike at disassembly? Was the oil in the frame or the engine?

With the piston removed how much play is there if you try to move the connecting rod?

What shape was the cam and chain tensioner? Did you try pulling up on the cam chain while it was in the motor cam chain tensioner installed?

Did the engine boil over? How much coolant was in the bike when you disassembled it?

What is the condition of your thermostat?


I will withhold judgement until I get more information.

15/47 or 15/45 would of been better for Interstate speeds.

680 Kit is fun!


Last edited by AURORA on Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:22 pm; edited 2 times in total
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filter screen

Post  temporary kiwi on Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:42 am

mikeymco wrote:I was running 15/48 (+1 front over stock.) Think gearing could have contributed to the issue? I generally kept my RPMs pretty low, and almost never go over 80mph.

Changed the oil every 1000 miles or so, which had only happened twice before this. It's dark/cold/wet up here most of the year, usually only get the bike out for short Sunday rides.

Flushing the bottom end is definitely necessary if I want to avoid splitting the crankcase. Good call. (Sucks that the sump tray is only accessible when the case is split.) I'll try to dig up some info on what the best washing solution would be. Diesel sounds like a good bet, and I've heard of washing things with kerosine or paraffin as
well.  [  The main crankcase screen is accessible by  just removing the clutch sidecover]

I'll report back when I find some more info. Wink

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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  Mad Frosty on Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:48 pm

15/48 too short for highway cruising in my opinion , 15/45 helps to keep the revs down .
Going by what you have said and the pictures it looks like a oil starvation damage , either not enough oil or blockage somewhere stopped the oil from flowing properly , you need to check both ( two ) screen filters to make sure that they are not blocked , your rockers , valves , and piston are completely focked , the barrel can be saved , not sure about the bearings and other top end bits they need to be checked , and one more thing you are having huge carbon deposit all over the piston and valves - sign of running it too rich .
Good luck with the repair i hope it will not cost you arm and leg .
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  AURORA on Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:36 am

What did the oil filter look like, any copper?

Looks like your motor had a partial seize.

Major damage.
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  mikeymco on Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:39 am

Mad Frosty, you're spot on about it running too rich. I'm wondering if that's the root of my problems.

Good questions Aurora, here's what I've found so far...

Nope, I didn't find any RTV.

No boil over, coolant was in-between min/max in the overflow tank.

Oil level was definitely in the normal range. When I drained it, the frame and motor both had what seemed to be normal amounts. I had changed it/checked levels right before this trip.

Cam chain seemed to be in decent shape, not a lot of free play. Tensioner seems to be OK as well. The chain guide opposite the tensioner is shredded. I had to pull pieces of it out. Not sure what to think about this...

Connecting rod side-to-side free play is tiny. (See picture.) I haven't checked the up/down freeplay (the important axis) so I'll do that at the next available opportunity.

The frame oil screen had a bit of gunk, but seemed mostly clear.

Will check the clutch case screen ASAP.

Cam is thrashed.

Thermostat is totally stuck! Gross negligence on my part not checking this before now, since I know they fail frequently.  

Oil filter seemed reasonably clear, but had slight silver colored (not copper) metal dust. (See photos)

I had a few minutes to grab photos of the thermostat, frame oil screen, cam chain tensioner, cam chain guides, cam chain, connecting rod, and cam. (Those cam photos make me cringe.) Photos here.
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  mikeymco on Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:48 am

Seriously appreciate you guys looking into this with me.  nice 

I'll post photos of the case oil screen tomorrow night. (Plus the connecting rod up/down free play.)

Think all this could have been caused by the carbon deposits on my stuck valve, or am I still looking for the source of an (as of now) undiagnosed oil flow problem?

Edit: Could I have had clear oil flow + enough oil, and still had a loss of pressure?


Last edited by mikeymco on Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  AURORA on Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:48 am

Where is a picture of the oil filter? Take the paper element out and inspect the paper for contaminants.

How many mile/hours on the bike?

Oil flow issue doesn't look like much of any oil flow.
Though there are probably multiple issues.


Honda recommends changing the oil every 500 miles. Use good oil!

Running 15/48 gear on the Interstate for long distances…bad. What speeds were you crusing at?

Exhaust valve hit the piston. Why? Did the engine partially seize due to the shredded cam chain guide which allowed the un timed valve overlap resulting in the exhaust valve hitting the piston which after continued riding of the bike, the slightly bent exhaust valve shredded the top end of the motor?

Did the cam chain guide break apart and blocking or reducing oil flow starving the entire engine of oil?

You can run these engines for awhile (hours) with no coolant but, oil flow is a must!

Was the oil filter installed backwards?


Last edited by AURORA on Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  AURORA on Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:24 pm

I added a little more to my previous post. Frustrated 
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  Mad Frosty on Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:15 pm

mikeymco wrote:Seriously appreciate you guys looking into this with me.  nice 

I'll post photos of the case oil screen tomorrow night. (Plus the connecting rod up/down free play.)

Think all this could have been caused by the carbon deposits on my stuck valve, or am I still looking for the source of an (as of now) undiagnosed oil flow problem?

Edit: Could I have had clear oil flow + enough oil, and still had a loss of pressure?

Yes , if the oil pump failed , but that would be the first time for the xr from what i have seen  scratch 
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  Mauser on Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:10 pm

Me thinks low oil was the problem due to in-correct measuring  BRP smile confession time ?

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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  mikeymco on Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:53 am

New photos.

Question answers: No idea on miles/hours, I'm the third owner. Oil filter was installed correctly (good question though.)

I finally got the clutch sidecover off. Wow. Take a look at the photos.

Found a massive pile of shredded (and/or melted) plastic at the base of the cam chain. It looked like a disaster in there. A huge melted piece was blocking a good portion of the oil flow gap/path down through the cases. There's probably more bits inside the main case as well.

Looks like I've also got copper in my oil filter. That means my clutch bushing is/was beginning to get ground up, right?

Also, the connecting rod has about 1.5-2mm of free up/down play. That's WAY too much isn't it?
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  mikeymco on Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:55 am

I wish I could confess that the oil level was wrong or the filter was in backwards.  Very Happy 

Do cam chain guides typically fall apart like this after a certain number of miles?  Suspect
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  AURORA on Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:58 am

mikeymco wrote:New photos.

Question answers: No idea on miles/hours, I'm the third owner. Oil filter was installed correctly (good question though.)

I finally got the clutch sidecover off. Wow. Take a look at the photos.

Found a massive pile of shredded (and/or melted) plastic at the base of the cam chain. It looked like a disaster in there. A huge melted piece was blocking a good portion of the oil flow gap/path down through the cases. There's probably more bits inside the main case as well.

Looks like I've also got copper in my oil filter. That means my clutch bushing is/was beginning to get ground up, right?

Also, the connecting rod has about 1.5-2mm of free up/down play. That's WAY too much isn't it?

Sorry, the motor is toast. A full rebuild is required.

What does the down tube oil screen look like?

Copper/bronze is from clutch bushing, the big end of the crankshaft thrust washer, lower rod bearings.

Motor must of had a lot of time on it or run hard.

How fast and for how long were you riding on the Interstate?


Last edited by AURORA on Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:21 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  AURORA on Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:19 am

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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  mikeymco on Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:36 am

70-80ish mph, 13 hours or so over 3 days. D'oh!

Downtube screen wasn't too bad off. Pic here.

You're a champ for investigating this with me.  2 thumbs 

Not a bad asking price for that parts bike. Good thinking. Maybe I'll give him a call...

Gonna have to start a new thread for the rebuild (motor & bike!)
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  AURORA on Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:56 am

mikeymco wrote:70-80ish mph, 13 hours or so over 3 days. D'oh!

Downtube screen wasn't too bad off. Pic here.

You're a champ for investigating this with me.  2 thumbs 

Not a bad asking price for that parts bike. Good thinking. Maybe I'll give him a call...

Gonna have to start a new thread for the rebuild (motor & bike!)

Why why too much Interstate riding for 15/48 gearing.

You could build a full new motor 680 kit, Falicon Rod, stage 2 cam, new cylinder head, blah, blah....guessing $3000. Take $500 for stock connecting rod.

The question is the any damage to the cases via crank bearings?

If the bike is decent especially the motor it would be a good deal. Maybe you could buy it for $1500. Then just freshen up the top end with a 680 kit from Luke for cheap insurance, if you want more torque but a little slower revs.

Heck, a used rear wheel goes for $300. Front wheel $200. Tank $100. You get the idea.

O'Yeah, HDLParts.com is your friend. If you have a big order call them for a discount or wait till there is a holiday. They usually offer 10-15% off. Heck the have a 10% off sale right now until midnight tomorrow.


Last edited by AURORA on Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  AURORA on Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:00 am

Added to above post.

Would you do the engine work or ship it off to someone?
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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  Mauser on Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:15 am

If the cases are toast specially left side then your knackered as you won't find a second hand or new 1 anywhere....!!!
I would do as suggested and drop a complete engine in and get yourself up and running; sell what you don't need then when you get bored over the winter months pull your engine apart and see what exactly has happened.....
Looking online some have reported the melted guide happened due to over tightened chain, does your engine have the automatic system still installed or have you fitted a manual tensioner ?

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Re: Stuck Valve

Post  AURORA on Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:44 pm

Mauser wrote:If the cases are toast specially left side then your knackered as you won't find a second hand or new 1 anywhere....!!!
I would do as suggested and drop a complete engine in and get yourself up and running; sell what you don't need then when you get bored over the winter months pull your engine apart and see what exactly has happened.....
Looking online some have reported the melted guide happened due to over tightened chain, does your engine have the automatic system still installed or have you fitted a manual tensioner ?

Left engine case.

99.9 % of dealer do not want the hassle and will not order you a new left side engine case.

Service Honda (servicehonda.com) out of Hammond, Indiana does go thought the process and sells left engine cases.

They ship to International destinations.

You must call the guy at the Service Honda parts counter. You cannot do this via the internet. You must call the guy at their actual parts counter. I don't think the internet sale people deal with special ordering a left engine case.

You need to send or email them a copy of your driver license, VIN and Engine Number off of the Left Engine Case.

The case comes wih all of the new bearing already installed.
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