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timing chain/valve trouble

Old 10-05-2011, 02:11 PM
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timing chain/valve trouble

My beautiful '98 SH with only 13000 miles did me a great disservice today. I never thrash this thing. Today, while enjoying the relief from the ATL heat, I had a sudden loud knocking noise coming from my front cylinder. It ran fine but the noise was obvious. I shut it down immediately. I'm really pissed and am ready to declare that I will never own another Honda V-twin. Do these things have a valve train issue I'm not aware of? Have I possibly stuffed a piston into an extended valve? Can it be saved? I'm a mechanical engineer with many years of wrench turning on high performance vehicles and don't trust the Honda dealer. Should I try it myself?

Thanks for any advice you can provide to the old guy.
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:14 PM
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Sounds like the usual front CCT failure - presumably you had imploding OEM tensioners rather than manuals?

See the workshop knowledge base on replacing them. If you bent a valve or two prepare to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.

PS. Do NOT on any account start the bike till you've inspected and fixed the damage. Once fixed along with replacing unfinned R/R you'll be back to reliably enjoying your beastie

Last edited by Wicky; 10-05-2011 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:22 PM
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Thanks for the response. It is virgin so the CCT is stock. I find it hard to understand why one would change an automatic tensioner to manual. Did Honda make a mistake on the auto tensioner? Sorry to be so dense but I had no idea about the tensioner and my dealer never mentioned it.
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by oldguy123 View Post
Did Honda make a mistake on the auto tensioner? Sorry to be so dense but I had no idea about the tensioner and my dealer never mentioned it.
Yes, and they never officially acknowledged the problem so the dealers don't "know" about it. (some of the mechanics in back do, but not the sales people up front)

It will probably be cheaper to find a used head on ebay than to fix the valves, but there isn't always one available. eg: 98 Honda VTR 1000 Front Cylinder Head Assembly | eBay

edit: when you get it fixed, be sure to swap to manual CCTs to prevent a repeat. (we had one member here go through two in a row in very short order)
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:30 PM
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99% sure it's a CCT failure. This and a tendency for the R/R to burn out are the two common issues with this bike. You likely have bent valves and maybe a damaged piston head.

It's resurrect able, although in many cases a motor swap is more feasible.

Bummer to hear that you've found the weakness. It sucks when you don't have a bike to ride, but it really isn't that the whole v-twin is bologna, just a 13 year old bike with a part that wears out
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by oldguy123 View Post
Did Honda make a mistake on the auto tensioner?
Well, not entirely. It's the auto tensioner that they use on a lot of their bikes. But for various unknown reasons, it has a tendency to fail especially in the front cylinder of this motor (it is speculated that it doesn't get enough splash back oil from the motor, but no one really has pin pointed that down). The biggest problems is that on their other bikes, a CCT failure is just loud and annoying and you have to replace it. On the Superhawk, parts inside hit and damage is unavoidable.

Manual CCT's can't fail, but have to be adjusted correctly when installing.
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Old 10-05-2011, 04:58 PM
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Same design goes bad on the CBRs too. And adjustment isn't too hard to achieve.
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Old 10-05-2011, 05:14 PM
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Once again, it is a lack of maintenance that causes the problem....
Hell the tensioner was only 14 yrs old.......

They are wear items people and do need to be changed once in a while.

The choice of manual or auto is up to the user, as both work fine.

But if you run the autos then change them at 32K miles or if you buy a bike that you don't know the history of......
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Old 10-05-2011, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by 8541Hawk View Post
Once again, it is a lack of maintenance that causes the problem....
Hell the tensioner was only 14 yrs old.......

They are wear items people and do need to be changed once in a while.

The choice of manual or auto is up to the user, as both work fine.

But if you run the autos then change them at 32K miles or if you buy a bike that you don't know the history of......
In 98 when his bike was made it wasn't listed as a wear item by Honda, and it only had 13k on the bike.. (though they have gone in as few as 8k)

It is a flawed design, initially meant to be a non replaced part, that later became a "replace" part after engines started dieing.

But yes, had he known to replace it then the OEM ccts can be used and replaced periodically. Or buy / make some manual ones and never worry about it again.
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Old 10-05-2011, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by lazn View Post
In 98 when his bike was made it wasn't listed as a wear item by Honda, and it only had 13k on the bike.. (though they have gone in as few as 8k)

It is a flawed design, initially meant to be a non replaced part, that later became a "replace" part after engines started dieing.

But yes, had he known to replace it then the OEM ccts can be used and replaced periodically. Or buy / make some manual ones and never worry about it again.
Well it's not 1998 anymore....... and the info really isn't that hard to find...

and for a "flawed" design I've run them for almost 90K miles now with no issues, so I still say run whichever one make you feel better....
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Old 10-05-2011, 07:22 PM
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PM and email sent. For some reason PMs don't seem to be working for me.

I have an extra set of heads if you're interested oldguy123 and I live in Atlanta. Call me at four oh four three one five one eight two oh.

Last edited by killer5280; 10-05-2011 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 10-06-2011, 05:29 AM
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Thank you all for your input. I am **** about scheduled maintenance with my vehicles. However, in my older years I have begun to rely on "experts" to those things for me. I still say that my Honda dealer should have long ago informed me about the issue and should have insisted it be done.

I had a local member make a nice offer of assistance and I will communicate with him. I'm also considering selling it for salvage.

I'd like to make a statement and beg that you not take it as a solicitation for pitty. My wife and I are free market capitalists and FORMER small business owners. We are poster children of victims of Hope and Change. I had to give up my home which included my fantasy shop, tools and machines (not to mention my CR500 and the track and woods trails with my ranch). I managed to keep my SH, 5.0 LX Convertible and my second ammendment items. That means that I am back to the days of doing maintence in places and ways I have not experienced since I was a teenager. Thanks, again, for your comments.
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Old 10-16-2011, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by 8541Hawk View Post
Once again, it is a lack of maintenance that causes the problem....
Hell the tensioner was only 14 yrs old.......

They are wear items people and do need to be changed once in a while.

The choice of manual or auto is up to the user, as both work fine.

But if you run the autos then change them at 32K miles or if you buy a bike that you don't know the history of......
I find that funny as heck... an "automatic" tensioner that needs replaced every 30,000 miles or so (or so is when it fails). Reminds me of the Concours riders who think it is "normal" to have to pull out their cam chain tensioners to clean and reset them on intervals. Why? I thought they were "automatic" and should last at least as long as the top end. Then there is the one KLX rider who thought it was normal to replace HyVo cam chains at 11,000 miles. I currently have over 30,000 on mine and my manual tensioner.

Seems to me there are so many failures on the automatic set ups on so many bikes, that you are right, you have to replace the part that is supposed to make the cam drive adjustment automatic and an "out of sight, out of mind" thing. Seems the old school manual tensioner actually works better in the long run. The bike is supposed to have the valves checked every so often, what is so challenging about having a manual cam drive adjuster checked every so often - I mean it's simply listening for noise (using a mechanic's stethoscope if hearing is an issue). Adjustment will be less often than valves per my experience and that of others who have posted in some forums. One Concours rider finally did an adjustment after 22,000 miles. I almost feel guilty since the Zephyr hasn't needed an adjustment yet. I am going to have to reshim a couple of loose valves though.

With four adjustments (loosen locking nut and turn adjuster bolt until ticking is gone - 5 minutes) on my KLX (yes, it is out in the open, the VTR isn't on the front) - then tighten the locking nut over the past 30,000 miles on the KLX... it sounds like a bargain spending $60 on a pair of manual adjusters versus over $70 per unit for the automatic ones.

You hear some light ticking when the engine is hot it means you need to adjust the drive slack within the next thousand or so miles. It isn't catastrophic. It is usually a few thousandths of play. Failed adjusters on most bikes have up to .250" or more in play - enough to possibly jump time and definitely enough to wear out cam drive components. Many engines actually buzz or clatter as the tensioner quits working. Unfortunately the VTR can quite literally break.

The best part is - there is no 3,000 miles or so. You do minimal maintenance whenever needed, no cost if you do the adjustment yourself, with no parts replacement after the initial cost. And with M8-1.25 grade 8.8 hardware you know it isn't going anywhere once set properly. No cam drive snap from decel is going to be able to crush or break that bolt under direct compression.

Last edited by klx678; 10-16-2011 at 07:42 AM.
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Old 10-16-2011, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by oldguy123 View Post
I'd like to make a statement and beg that you not take it as a solicitation for pitty. My wife and I are free market capitalists and FORMER small business owners. We are poster children of victims of Hope and Change. I had to give up my home which included my fantasy shop, tools and machines (not to mention my CR500 and the track and woods trails with my ranch). I managed to keep my SH, 5.0 LX Convertible and my second ammendment items. That means that I am back to the days of doing maintence in places and ways I have not experienced since I was a teenager. Thanks, again, for your comments.
I am sorry to hear of your business woes.

Must have taken the free market longer to get to you. I lost one job in 2001 due to the free market, the second in 2006 due to lack of support of the education system, by the something for nothing crowd. I lost nearly half the value of my house in 2008-2009 and half my retirement value in that same time period. Pre-Hope and Change. Fortunately we got a renter to cover the house since I had to move 100 miles away for a job, and my retirement fund has pulled back a bit of its value over the past three years.

I tend to blame it where the blame belongs, lack of regulation of investments and responsibility for any of the market and financial collapse culminating in the deep recession starting in 2008-2009. If you think it happened anywhere else, you are quite mistaken. It was lack of regulation, people making money with money through deceptive means ((can you say "deriviatives" and "toxic assets"). I have to ask why no one is held responsible for the billions lost? If a corperation is "an individual" as it seems to be legally, why can they NOT be held responsible and their management as well. And why are those same people able to pull huge bonuses again?

I didn't get any help with my jobs, house, or investments from any program, why do they? With all the cuts in taxes since 2000, where are the jobs? With the lowest real tax cost in a decade, where are the jobs? I think I know... it's in the cash reserves built by the corperate and financial world. Until something causes demand to increase no one is going to make jobs. I make parts, but I'm not making more than I can sell, it wouldn't make sense, even if someone threw money at me to do so. More demand, regardless of where it comes from, will get me to make more parts. I'm thinking the industrial world functions in a similar fashion, based on what I saw from the time I spend working in industry.

Sorry for the commentary, but even with my limited economic background from micro and macro econ in college, I can see the light. No politician from either party can snow me on that.

Last edited by klx678; 10-16-2011 at 08:06 AM.
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Old 10-16-2011, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by klx678 View Post
I am sorry to hear of your business woes.

Must have taken the free market longer to get to you. I lost one job in 2001 due to the free market, the second in 2006 due to lack of support of the education system, by the something for nothing crowd. I lost nearly half the value of my house in 2008-2009 and half my retirement value in that same time period. Pre-Hope and Change. Fortunately we got a renter to cover the house since I had to move 100 miles away for a job, and my retirement fund has pulled back a bit of its value over the past three years.

I tend to blame it where the blame belongs, lack of regulation of investments and responsibility for any of the market and financial collapse culminating in the deep recession starting in 2008-2009. If you think it happened anywhere else, you are quite mistaken. It was lack of regulation, people making money with money through deceptive means ((can you say "deriviatives" and "toxic assets"). I have to ask why no one is held responsible for the billions lost? If a corperation is "an individual" as it seems to be legally, why can they NOT be held responsible and their management as well. And why are those same people able to pull huge bonuses again?

I didn't get any help with my jobs, house, or investments from any program, why do they? With all the cuts in taxes since 2000, where are the jobs? With the lowest real tax cost in a decade, where are the jobs? I think I know... it's in the cash reserves built by the corperate and financial world. Until something causes demand to increase no one is going to make jobs. I make parts, but I'm not making more than I can sell, it wouldn't make sense, even if someone threw money at me to do so. More demand, regardless of where it comes from, will get me to make more parts. I'm thinking the industrial world functions in a similar fashion, based on what I saw from the time I spend working in industry.

Sorry for the commentary, but even with my limited economic background from micro and macro econ in college, I can see the light. No politician from either party can snow me on that.
+1, jobs come and go as market demand fluctuates, not when "the job creators" decide we need more or less widgets.
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