Strange Oil Leak... - ZX Forums
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post #1 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Strange Oil Leak...

I recently purchased a 1997 ZX11 (D-model) from my friend, who was the original owner. While this motorcycle was well maintained and garaged it's entire life, my friend owns six motorcycles and this one just sat in the garage for about five years. When I purchased it, he'd been riding it again and he gave it a full overhaul before I took ownership. It had only 14,000 miles and in six months I'd added four thousand miles. It ran great and I had no problems.

But recently I rode over a metal track for a gate to a parking lot and I bottomed out and dented the exhaust tubes on the bottom pretty good. The mechanic, who's serviced this bike since it was new, found out he could get a replacement exhaust (Vance & Hines S2) for only $300. So I scheduled a time for him to replace my exhaust. We did an oil change, too (Motul 300V) and when I picked it up, the bike ran better than ever.

However, while cleaning the bike afterwards one day, I noticed a lot of oily "gunk" all around where the shift lever enters the motor. Underneath there was significant evidence of dripping oil. So, I took the bike back to my mechanic.

He's had it three times now, replaced every seal (except one that he says would require removing the motor), but it still leaks, as shown in the attached pictures, after just a few hundred miles of riding.

Does anyone know what's happening here? Where this leak is coming from? My mechanic said he tried to buff out some pitting on the shift lever. He said he pushed the seal in as far as he could, to avoid the pitting. Could this all just be coming from the pitting? I have pictures, but they all seem to be too large to upload here.

Thanks for any advice anyone has. My mechanic appears to be stumped.
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post #2 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 07:35 PM
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Are you sure it's not chain lube being flung off at the front (counter shaft) sprocket and running down to the shift shaft seal?
I once made that assumption and when disassembling and cleaning the area to replace the seal I realized it was chain lube.
I would clean the area with de-greaser and run it a while until I was sure it was a leak.
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post #3 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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You know, I thought about that, and you may well be right. I think I tend to over-lube my chain.

But if I could show you those pictures, you might see what looks like seepage from two particular spots. Any suggestions on how to upload those? I've got them below the maximum size, but it still says I'm over.

Anyway, the chain lube spatter could well be the culprit. When you suggest using a degreaser, you mean on the chain, of course, right?

Hey, thanks, man!
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post #4 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Ninja View Post
When you suggest using a degreaser, you mean on the chain, of course, right?
No don't degrease the chain. I would just wipe the excess lube off the chain with an old clean rag after lubing it. Try cleaning all the grunge that has run off the chain with degreaser.

As for the pictures....use a photo hosting site like PHOTOBUCKET and then just post .gif files in your post.

Last edited by taildragger1197; 11-12-2012 at 08:59 PM.
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post #5 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taildragger1197 View Post
No don't degrease the chain. I would just wipe the excess lube off the chain with an old clean rag after lubing it. Try cleaning all the grunge that has run off the chain with degreaser.

As for the pictures....use a photo hosting site like PHOTOBUCKET and then just post .gif files in your post.
Got it. Thanks.

And here's the pics...



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post #6 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 11:59 PM
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Keep an eye on it and give it time to dry up if it is just chain lube. It's not a major job replacing those seals on the transmission cover but no need in doing it if it's not needed. Like I said, I also thought mine were bad as did the service manager at my local dealership. That was 19 years ago and I am still leak free. If it doesn't stop and you start seeing oil dripping on the floor then you can order the parts and replace them.





One other note.....read the threads on ZX11 rod bearing failure and educate yourself on how to avoid it. One way is to fill up the crankcase to near the top of the sight glass with your favorite oil. Just to where you can just see the top of the level in the sight glass with the bike upright. Play it safe and check your level before every ride.

Welcome to the forum and congrats on the sweet looking ride.
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post #7 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 03:31 AM
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That doesn't look like chain lube. Take off the front sprocket cover and clean everything really well.
Also clean the excess off your chain as suggested.

Ride it a little while and re-inspect it.


Btw there's tons of non-fling lube these days and it works great. I've been using the Honda brand one and I love it. You can really douse the chain in it and no fling.

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Last edited by pvc_zx11; 11-13-2012 at 11:20 AM. Reason: Effen autocorrect.
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post #8 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 08:34 AM
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if after you make sure its not excess oil from chain......i think

all these leaks/drips are oil coming from either output shaft seal,or clutch push rod seal.....or one of the bolts is loose on insde cover.....shift seal would only be below shift....maybe....all three seals are around 15 bucks....

but as pvc zx11,said...take off the cover and clean good...then put back on and go for a ride,then take it off and inspect it again

also...you could spray baby powder on engine with cover off,...then start up,dont push clutch in....its not attached....just warm up on stand then see if you see a leak.....it is possible it wont show....only when cruisin down road at higher rpm.....rev up alittle on stand after warmed up....you could before you start it up,to help see where leak is coming from

Last edited by moko; 11-13-2012 at 10:06 AM.
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post #9 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 08:41 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone. These are great suggestions. I've cleaned/degreased the area and I'll keep an eye on it. I'll try the other tips and see if I can see something.

Thanks, everyone. This is why these forums are great. Even though I might think my mechanic is great. You guys have the experience of maintaining our particular bike.

Thanks all!

P.S. I'll post if anything shows up.
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post #10 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 02:00 PM
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Couple of thoughts. I use Chain Wax on my chain. Great non-flingable chain protection

Add a lil bit of Transmission stop leak in your engine oil.... This stuff is great for reconditioning tired/worn seals. I added some to my mill at the 45,000 mark. Cant see how you have leaks with such low miles, unless the bike had been power shifted a few times. My 93 ZX11 has almost 59,000 on her, and the under belly is dry as a bone....

Oh yeah..... welcome aboard....

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They go from one sin to another;
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post #11 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 07:58 PM
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pull the sprocket cover and degrease completly. you can change all the seals with the engine in the bike. im sure mechanic was talking about the output shaft seal, tell mechanis you can pry it out and install new one without removing engine. good luck.
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post #12 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 12:13 AM
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Check whether sprocket cover and clutch actuator screws are supposed to have sealant applied, prior to instalation. It may be that the threaded holes go all the way through the transmision cover into the oil.
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post #13 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 08:40 AM
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any chance the oil was overfilled? Had a trans leak in a car once due to an overfilled trans.

When in doubt, whip it out.
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post #14 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 09:37 AM Thread Starter
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Just a follow up comment to this discussion…

I've been reading up on the rod bearing failure issue that crops up on some of our motors. I guess I have no way of knowing if my motor was manufactured within spec or not, but I totally get that some motors might not be as efficient with oil flow.

However, one of the early factors in this recent mechanical merry-go-round with my bike is that after my first oil change, when they replaced the exhaust, when I got home I thought the oil level looked a little low (yeah, that level seems to change every time you look at it), so I topped it up a bit. After that (not immediately), the bike began to idle badly. My mechanic took a look and found oil in the spark plugs and valves! After a complete valve job ($800), it's been running great.

A lot of the advice here to prevent rod bearing failure is to keep the oil way above minimum. I know that not enough oil is always bad, but doesn't too much oil cause it's own problems? Like oil getting in places it shouldn't and parts being bathed in oil and having to "fight" through it? With my recent experience I'm leery to overfill the oil.

Just my uninformed thoughts…
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post #15 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 10:09 AM
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when tge engineb s running....its throwing oil everywhere......alittle extra will not hurt anything....now if you just put all it would take...it would just hurt power with the extra windage it would cause
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post #16 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Guys! I've taken the sprocket cover off and degreased everywhere. Rode it all day today and when I took the sprocket cover off it was still dry as a bone. I think I completely overreacted to lube splatter :( Spent a few bucks at the mechanic and had everyone scratching their heads because I'm an idiot. Man, sometimes the simplest things can spin you around in circles. I remember, when I was 17 years-old, I blew a Triumph TR3 engine I was rebuilding simply because the thermostat had rusted shut and that was the last thing I thought to check.

I envy those of you who are fluent with mechanical systems...
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post #17 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Ninja View Post
Just a follow up comment to this discussion…
.........However, one of the early factors in this recent mechanical merry-go-round with my bike is that after my first oil change, when they replaced the exhaust, when I got home I thought the oil level looked a little low (yeah, that level seems to change every time you look at it), so I topped it up a bit. After that (not immediately), the bike began to idle badly. My mechanic took a look and found oil in the spark plugs and valves! After a complete valve job ($800), it's been running great.
You need to find another mechanic or start doing your own work. It is impossible for oil to get "in the spark plug" so I assume you mean you had oil in the spark plug "well". This is a commonly misdiagnosed problem with this series of Kawasaki engines. You simply had a oil leak at the valve cover "O" ring gaskets. This is caused by a poorly designed fastener. The shoulder bolt bottoms out before putting sufficient pressure on the gasket. It can be remedied by adding a 10mm flat washer under the fastener head to allow enough pressure to seal the gasket. Cost less than $2.00. As for the $800 valve job......well all I can say is just wow! I can rebuild this whole engine for less than that. You should get 50K+ miles before needing a valve job. The valves are supposed to run in oil, just NOT on the combustion chamber end.

I assume the bad idle was caused by the plug wire being shorted through the oil in the spark plug well.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Ninja View Post
A lot of the advice here to prevent rod bearing failure is to keep the oil way above minimum. I know that not enough oil is always bad, but doesn't too much oil cause it's own problems? Like oil getting in places it shouldn't and parts being bathed in oil and having to "fight" through it? With my recent experience I'm leery to overfill the oil. Just my uninformed thoughts…
Yes too much oil can be bad for your engine but the extra amount suggested is not a problem. Just be very careful to not fill past the top of the sight glass. As soon as you start the engine, about half of the oil is suspended in the engine and the level in the sight glass will drop to the bottom. Your engine will not be "fighting" any extra oil if you follow these instructions. Lots of ZX-11 owners add extra oil and I have never experienced problems or heard of anyone else having a problem doing this. I highly recommend doing this. Also.....NO WHEELIES unless you want to starve the engine of oil.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Ninja View Post
Hey Guys! I've taken the sprocket cover off and degreased everywhere. Rode it all day today and when I took the sprocket cover off it was still dry as a bone. I think I completely overreacted to lube splatter :( Spent a few bucks at the mechanic and had everyone scratching their heads because I'm an idiot. Man, sometimes the simplest things can spin you around in circles. I envy those of you who are fluent with mechanical systems...
I never doubted it was chain lube but some folks just need to learn for themselves.
Lots of FREE info here for the asking. We may not get it right the first time but we will NEVER overcharge for our assistance.

Last edited by taildragger1197; 11-14-2012 at 04:08 PM.
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post #18 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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No, I don't plan to go back to this guy. He has a good reputation, but it's hard to know if it's always deserved. Yes, the oil was in the spark plug wells, he said the valves were sticking badly, too, and you know how it is, when you're uninformed, like me, he kind of has you by the you-know-whats when your bike is half apart and he's telling what needs to be done. And I live in Los Angeles, so they always gouge us on price. I justified it by convincing myself that it was necessary because it sat unused for five years. And that's the story I'm sticking to... :)

Understood on the oil level. Do you think I should insert those washers in the between the bolt and the valve cover? Might be a "fun" learning project for me if it's possible without inadvertently screwing something else up. Those bolts aren't torqued, are they? Used to own a torque wrench, but it's been awhile. Do those bolts on the sprocket cover need to be torqued?

Thanks, Jim!
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post #19 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taildragger1197 View Post
Also.....NO WHEELIES unless you want to starve the engine of oil.
NO WHEELIES! Are you kidding me! I'm still half-scared of all that power at my fingertips!

I promised myself no wheelies because "I'm too mature for that" (I'm 54 years-old), but then I was leaving a popular motorcycle destination one day when I watched this guy who had to be in his 70's wheelie out of the parking lot on his vintage racer. That was the moment I said, well, maybe...

But after reading about rod bearing failure, I have my excuse to remain a coward :)

One other story; I asked my mechanic how my tires were looking and he looked down at them and said, "Huh, you only ride straight, eh?" Smart alec...
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post #20 of 58 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taildragger1197 View Post
You need to find another mechanic or start doing your own work.



Quote:
Originally Posted by taildragger1197 View Post
I never doubted it was chain lube but some folks just need to learn for themselves.
Lots of FREE info here for the asking. We may not get it right the first time but we will NEVER overcharge for our assistance.
Just didn't look like fling I'm used to seeing. At least all the gunk is cleaned out from under the front sprocket cover

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