Thursday, April 20, 2006

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - II

My Harley has been spattering oil down the right side of the engine, so I took it to the shop today for a look-see. Apparently, this is not an unusual situation. Here's my understanding, based on an hour of Google searches.

Many large v-twin engines lubricate valves via oil blow-by, which allows small quantities of oil into the cylinder heads. In the good old days, this oil was diverted through breather tubes that discharged harmlessly to the ground.

Harmlessly, that is, until the Imperial Federal Government caught wind of the situation. Since discharging small mists of oil is an environmental no-no, the motorcycle manufacturers devised a system by which the blow-by oil is diverted by a breather kit to the carburetor, where it is injected back into the motor and burned. Unfortunately, this system doesn't always work very well.

The result is that some blow-by oil collects in the air cleaner and eventually drips out the bottom, to be sprayed in the wind across the pipes, crankcase, and in my case, saddle bag. If not for the forward foot controls, I imagine my pants and boots would be casualties by now.

I am taking it back for service in case the integral flapper valve can be replaced. One "solution" I have seen is to adhere a maxi pad to the bottom of the air cleaner cover and replace it once a week. If my late wife knows that I am now willing to buy maxi pads for my motorcycle, she is cursing me for sure; I always balked at buying them for her!

I am not by any stretch of the imagination a mechanic. Any reader additions, clarifications, or corrections to the above analysis would be much appreciated.


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