Author Topic: Anybody Remember Fork Drain Plugs???  (Read 1716 times)

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Jack Straw

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on: January 16, 2021, 04:02:51 pm
As I was changing the fork oil yesterday I fondly recalled the days when, rather than remove wheel, fender, caliper, ABS doo-dads, maybe the headlight brackets, and Gawd knows what else to enable us to pour the fork oil out the top we merely removed a drain plug from each slider, grabbed the brake lever and pumped the stuff out the bottom.   

A fork oil swap used to be a 20 to 30 minute job if you were taking your time.

Is there some reason, other than saving 97 cents per bike that the plugs have gone away?   

I know from threads here that some use a siphon pump to pull out the old fluid but they seem to get scolded for such an infraction. 

How did I drain my forks?  I'm not telling. ;)
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9fingers

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Reply #1 on: January 16, 2021, 04:09:45 pm
3 of my old Honda trails bikes have them, but they are 70s and 80s bikes. Maybe you took off your gas tank and turned your bike upside down over a drain pan...........would work!
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wachuko

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Reply #2 on: January 16, 2021, 04:15:05 pm
I miss those too... very easy to replace the fluid.
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ceekay

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Reply #3 on: January 16, 2021, 05:05:11 pm
I recall those, kickstarts too.
I became friends with someone just because they rode motorcycles from no-place to no-where

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Jack Straw

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Reply #4 on: January 16, 2021, 05:07:20 pm
9fingers suggestion to turn the scooter upside down is good but that's why I have  sky hook.
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NVDucati

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Reply #5 on: January 16, 2021, 05:43:52 pm
Quote from: Jack Straw link=topic=30006.msg352572#msg352572 date=1610812971
I know from threads here that some use a siphon pump to pull out the old fluid but they [b
seem to get scolded [/b]for such an infraction. 

Chances are that those doing the scolding don't change their fork oil as often as people who use suction. They claim one can't get all the old oil out, which is true.
But if after you get as much as possible out ... add some fresh oil to the residue and suck again.
If an internet scolding hurts ... Just don't tell anyone how you do it ;)
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RalphG

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Reply #6 on: January 16, 2021, 06:07:37 pm
Yes, I certainly remember fork drain plugs, with only fond memories.  Bikes from the 50s and 60s frequently had them, although my 1948 Velocette 350 had girder forks and used no oil at all!  It has an exposed spring and friction washers to afford damping.  The rider actually could reach down and forward to adjust them on the fly. 

At least fork oil does not need to be changed no more more than about once a year. 

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zimmemr

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Reply #7 on: January 16, 2021, 06:33:33 pm
When I was still working in the MC industry, I was seated with several Yamaha engineers at dinner when this very topic came up. Their reply was that rather than simply drain and replace the fork oil, which essentially left 90% of the dirt and grit in the fork tube to be re-distributed by the fresh oil, leaving the drain bolt out forced the mechanic to strip the fork, clean and inspect everything and then refill it. It's sound reasoning, but presumes that the majority of owners would have the job done properly by a qualified dealership. Emphasis on qualified.

 They also had the attitude that as delivered the fork oil  level and viscosity was perfect, and that the average owner wasn't qualified to make any changes. Anyone that's followed GP racing know how intractable some of those guys could be. Even Kenny Roberts had to fight with them to make suspension changes. 

Once the big four got away with it, I think other manufactures adopted the practice because it probably saves two or three bucks a bike, which multiplied over a thousands of bikes production run saves real money.

As a side comment I have a shop owner friend that served a formal 4 year apprenticeship in Germany to become a licensed motorcycle mechanic. Over there when they changed the fork oil they inspected and cleaned everything the way the Yamaha engineers had envisioned. When he came to the US he was appalled at how lax the standards were in most dealerships, and at how many corners were cut by owners and mechanics alike.


Jack Straw

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Reply #8 on: January 16, 2021, 07:09:19 pm
Ah, engineers, ya gotta love 'em.

In the early seventies when BMW automobiles were getting a solid foothold in the US a German engineer was asked why they didn't install oil pressure gauges in their cars.  His reply was "a properly maintained engine will never lose oil pressure under any circumstances." 

At the time I was driving a BMW 2002 sedan.   On my way home from Hollywood Honda one afternoon I heard a loud pop and a fizzing sound, pulled over, had a look.  The oil filter had blown off the side of the motor.  A visit to the BMW dealer revealed a service bulletin about oil pressure relief valve failures leading to sudden loss of oil pressure.  It wasn't all bad as my car expired within a few yards of Barneys' Beanery, the chili Mecca of West Hollywood.

I really admire engineers but I've known more than a few who had totally rigid, fossilized thought processes.
Following the logic of those Yamaha engineers makes me wonder if they would advocate a full engine teardown rather than a simple oil and filter change.
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dcolak

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Reply #9 on: January 16, 2021, 07:23:27 pm
As I was changing the fork oil yesterday I fondly recalled the days when, rather than remove wheel, fender, caliper, ABS doo-dads, maybe the headlight brackets, and Gawd knows what else to enable us to pour the fork oil out the top we merely removed a drain plug from each slider, grabbed the brake lever and pumped the stuff out the bottom.   

A fork oil swap used to be a 20 to 30 minute job if you were taking your time.

Is there some reason, other than saving 97 cents per bike that the plugs have gone away?   

I know from threads here that some use a siphon pump to pull out the old fluid but they seem to get scolded for such an infraction. 

How did I drain my forks?  I'm not telling. ;)

I use vacuum pump to drain my forks, without having to do anything more than just unscrewing the caps on top.

Like many others here, I notced I had 310ml in each fork, from factory.
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zimmemr

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Reply #10 on: January 16, 2021, 07:35:26 pm
Ah, engineers, ya gotta love 'em.

In the early seventies when BMW automobiles were getting a solid foothold in the US a German engineer was asked why they didn't install oil pressure gauges in their cars.  His reply was "a properly maintained engine will never lose oil pressure under any circumstances." 

At the time I was driving a BMW 2002 sedan.   On my way home from Hollywood Honda one afternoon I heard a loud pop and a fizzing sound, pulled over, had a look.  The oil filter had blown off the side of the motor.  A visit to the BMW dealer revealed a service bulletin about oil pressure relief valve failures leading to sudden loss of oil pressure.  It wasn't all bad as my car expired within a few yards of Barneys' Beanery, the chili Mecca of West Hollywood.

I really admire engineers but I've known more than a few who had totally rigid, fossilized thought processes.
Following the logic of those Yamaha engineers makes me wonder if they would advocate a full engine teardown rather than a simple oil and filter change.

Totally agree here. Some of the ones I've worked with had brains like steel traps: Nothing got out. I've had many "discussions" with guys that went to all the right schools and could give you a hell of a technical discussion, but didn't know shit in a practical sense. Half of them couldn't fix a sandwich, let alone a piece of machinery. Good ones are a pleasure to work with, but they're few and far between. Many of them can't even explain a simple concept without resorting to complex, technical and confusing jargon.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2021, 07:37:47 pm by zimmemr »


Adrian II

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Reply #11 on: January 16, 2021, 09:24:01 pm
I don't know if the internal construction of the new RE twin forks will even permit the following, or if anyone would dare try this out, but the B5 and C5 forks on the UCE/EFI singles brought this madness to the export market after it appeared on later home market 350 AVL Thunderbirds.

On my pre-ABS C5 and B5 forks bought for some very non-EFI REs, I drilled, tapped and plugged the fork top plugs to allow filling and also drilled and tapped the bottoms of the fork sliders for a 2BA drain screw on each side, M5 would do. File a flat for a washer to sit over the top of the threaded hole, a good smear of sealant on the screw threads and boom, job done. Any use for you guys,at all? It would be worth investigating casting thickness and the cost of replacement fork parts if you get it wrong! All modifications are entirely at your own risk.

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Keef Sparrow

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Reply #12 on: January 16, 2021, 11:49:22 pm
His reply was "a properly maintained engine will never lose oil pressure under any circumstances."
::) He's obviously never owned a Jaguar with the XK 6 cylinder or the V12 engine!
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Starpeve

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Reply #13 on: January 17, 2021, 05:50:27 am
::) He's obviously never owned a Jaguar with the XK 6 cylinder or the V12 engine!
Indeed a very stupid statement, eh? So many ways an engine can lose oil.
For the better part, I find it amazing that any engine can keep it all in!
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gizzo

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Reply #14 on: January 17, 2021, 09:04:23 am

For the better part, I find it amazing that any engine can keep it all in!

Plus 1 😅. Especially having grown up with air cooled vw, Holden 6 and Detroit diesel. Oil leaks for days...
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Keef Sparrow

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Reply #15 on: January 17, 2021, 12:35:36 pm
So many ways an engine can lose oil.
For the better part, I find it amazing that any engine can keep it all in!
British motorcycles were famous for not being able to keep it all in. Or very much of it at all!
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Breezin

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Reply #16 on: January 17, 2021, 01:59:26 pm
British motorcycles were famous for not being able to keep it all in. Or very much of it at all!
As in Royal Oilfield  ;D.

I have to admit that, as a former Bulleteer, I kept a close eye on the ground beneath my parked Interceptor for the first few months.


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Reply #17 on: January 17, 2021, 05:58:52 pm
Q: why do British bikes leak oil?

A: so you can tell they still have some  ;D
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George 350

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Reply #18 on: January 17, 2021, 08:39:52 pm
As Land Rover owners say, 'it isn't leaking oil, it is marking its territory!'
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zimmemr

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Reply #19 on: January 17, 2021, 09:08:58 pm
Plus 1 😅. Especially having grown up with air cooled vw, Holden 6 and Detroit diesel. Oil leaks for days...

When a Detroit stops leaking it's out of oil, but no diesel in the world sounds better than a "buzzin dozen."


Keef Sparrow

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Reply #20 on: January 17, 2021, 09:10:40 pm
As in Royal Oilfield  ;D.

I have to admit that, as a former Bulleteer, I kept a close eye on the ground beneath my parked Interceptor for the first few months.
I said were famous for it. My two recent Triumph triples didn't, and my 2020 Bullet Trials hasn't leaked a drop in 1,300 miles.

However, they used to say if you bought a new Bonneville in the Meriden days the first thing you should do when you got it home was to strip the engine down, and then put it back together properly.
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NVDucati

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Reply #21 on: January 17, 2021, 10:22:57 pm
Lets not forget the terse memo from BMW to their American dealers that read:
"While they may weep or seep, BMW motorcycles do not leak..."
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zimmemr

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Reply #22 on: January 17, 2021, 10:28:40 pm
Lets not forget the terse memo from BMW to their American dealers that read:
"While they may weep or seep, BMW motorcycles do not leak..."

Not until the rear main seal let go. In 1978 I think our shop did something like 30 rear mains, and we only sold 36 new BMW's.  ;)


Haggisman

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Reply #23 on: January 17, 2021, 10:46:32 pm
Early engines worked on total oil loss system,  the Brits took a while to catch on that in later engines they had to be oil tight.
All Brit engines leaked, cars, trucks and bikes, not really a problem in a place it rains so much and the oil washes off the roads. It helped keep the engine oil fresh with all that topping up.
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gizzo

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Reply #24 on: January 18, 2021, 12:21:13 am
Early engines worked on total oil loss system,  the Brits took a while to catch on that in later engines they had to be oil tight.
All Brit engines leaked, cars, trucks and bikes, not really a problem in a place it rains so much and the oil washes off the roads. It helped keep the engine oil fresh with all that topping up.

I was up in the hills on a ride yesterday and bumped into the vintage and veteran club on their run. All exposed valves and primary drives, oil dribbling about. Love it.
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Jack Straw

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Reply #25 on: January 18, 2021, 01:01:25 am
The way this thread has morphed (nothing new here) has got me thinking about the "conventional wisdom" that says these machines leak, these have electrical problems, these are reliable but those aren't. 

My family had a bunch of British cars and none of them ever had a single electrical failure, or left any of us stranded, or had problems with leaks.

As a young adult and into my early sixties i owned several "reliable German cars" of the so called prestige makes and five of them left me stranded multiple times.  I've never seen the inside of so many tow trucks as my well maintained German cars introduced me to.  The single most dependable automobile I ever owned was French, a Renault 5.  Go figure, eh?

We've owned some Italian cars including Fiats, three Alfa Romeos, and a Lancia. They were all dependable and long lasting.

Motorbikes; my only Yamaha couldn't go 2000 miles without wearing out it's piston rings.  I've never considered another. My Hondas were all near perfect, no surprise there.  Nortons? no leaks or electric troubles oddly enough but catastrophic engine and gearbox failures.  My only Kawasaki couldn't go 300 miles without most of a quart of oil.

Ya pays yer money, ya take yer chances.......


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eddiesgirl

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Reply #26 on: January 18, 2021, 06:25:10 pm
Dammit - someone said I have to change fork oil. That's ok - I'm working up to doing some things myself.

Growing up, I don't think we had a car that didn't leak until the Mazda truck my dad got one year. It was normal, and reading all this makes me yearn for that simpler time when you just checked under the car to see if "too much" had come out and needed a refresh. If I really squint in my mind, I do believe my dad and gramps both had the tin basins under the car in the garage, always. Maybe that was the "classy" way of checking oil loss.

It's right up there with leaded gas - I was young when it went away, but I'll never forget that glorious smell a the gas station. I'm not much into addiction, but if I were to be a druggie, I'm pretty sure I would've been a gas huffer.
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Jack Straw

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Reply #27 on: January 18, 2021, 06:30:36 pm
Hah!  Yeah, drip pans were a regular item for decades.  They're still available in auto parts stores.
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zimmemr

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Reply #28 on: January 18, 2021, 06:31:26 pm

It's right up there with leaded gas - I was young when it went away, but I'll never forget that glorious smell a the gas station. I'm not much into addiction, but if I were to be a druggie, I'm pretty sure I would've been a gas huffer.
[/quote]

You should try a whiff of race gas sometime. you'll remember it the rest of your life. ;)


Jack Straw

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Reply #29 on: January 18, 2021, 06:43:30 pm
Olfactory nostalgia!!!!!!

How 'bout Castrol R???? Bean oil of the Gods.
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eddiesgirl

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Reply #30 on: January 18, 2021, 06:44:45 pm



You should try a whiff of race gas sometime. you'll remember it the rest of your life. ;)

When are things going to open up again so I can be that idiot at a race begging to stick my face near a gas tank? "We've got a code 3 down here, lady in a Royal Enfield shirt trying to sniff gas tanks."
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zimmemr

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Reply #31 on: January 18, 2021, 08:48:45 pm
When are things going to open up again so I can be that idiot at a race begging to stick my face near a gas tank? "We've got a code 3 down here, lady in a Royal Enfield shirt trying to sniff gas tanks."

Don't worry, you won't have to leave your seat in the stands to smell it. It'll waft over you like a cloud of pure sensory overload.  ;)


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Reply #32 on: January 19, 2021, 01:23:59 am
There are 2 smells that were even more enticing than one of grandma's freshly baked pies; Castrol bean oil, and jet fuel. The smell of either meant I was about to have a lot of fun.
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Starpeve

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Reply #33 on: January 19, 2021, 09:05:15 am
Plus 1 😅. Especially having grown up with air cooled vw, Holden 6 and Detroit diesel. Oil leaks for days...
I had a vwee that I loved . Great car, so much fun. It took me years to get my head around the oil issue on a boxer motor! And how the hell does a rear main seal actually work? Most of my cars have leaked oil from the TOP of the engine, let alone horizontal barrels and heads. And WW1 radial engines!!! Yeesus!
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Reply #34 on: January 21, 2021, 05:27:55 pm
I had a vwee that I loved . Great car, so much fun. It took me years to get my head around the oil issue on a boxer motor! And how the hell does a rear main seal actually work? Most of my cars have leaked oil from the TOP of the engine, let alone horizontal barrels and heads. And WW1 radial engines!!! Yeesus!
In WWI most radial engines were "rotary" in  the sense that the crankshaft was bolted to the airframe and the prop was bolted to the case. The engine spun which caused some gyroscopic issues ??? By the end of WWII the greatest radial of engine of all time had been built. The mighty Pratt & Whitney 4360. You should google that!


20MarkIII

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Reply #35 on: January 24, 2021, 12:06:12 am
When are things going to open up again so I can be that idiot at a race begging to stick my face near a gas tank? "We've got a code 3 down here, lady in a Royal Enfield shirt trying to sniff gas tanks."
Love your sense of humor ;D Thanks for the chuckle!


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Reply #36 on: January 24, 2021, 12:33:11 am
I like the smell of burning nitro-methane.   Model airplanes use both caster oil and nitro methane...yum!

When I was about 8 years old, my Grandparents too me to the "stock car" races...not NASCAR type..but old jalopy type, and midget race cars.  The smell of burning alcohol , I'll never forget...I think I may have gotten a bit drunk?

Somebody mentioned the open cockpit WWI airplanes with rotary engines...they used castor oil, and had a "total loss" oil system..so the engine threw out a constant mist of caster oil.

The pilots always had the "shits'..




Cookie



There are 2 smells that were even more enticing than one of grandma's freshly baked pies; Castrol bean oil, and jet fuel. The smell of either meant I was about to have a lot of fun.


RecoilRob

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Reply #37 on: June 20, 2021, 03:15:58 pm
I just replaced the springs on my Interceptor and seeing as it has less than 400 miles on it figured the stock fluid will suffice until it's time to change it this winter.   But being that there are no drain plugs and here in PA the inspection mechanics love to stick the inspection sticker on the fork tube up between the triples....pulling the forks to drain the oil becomes a bit of a problem.

So I just ordered a used fork from Ebay to disassemble, measure then drill and tap a drain hole so I can then do the same safely on the bike.  Fork maintenance is important but with the hassle of disassembly it gets overlooked by many owners for far too long.   And if you are one that likes to tinker with the suspension tuning by changing fork oil viscosity it will be much easier with a drain plug.

Some have opined that just changing the fluid doesn't get out all the dirt like upending the strut will....but unless you flush with kerosene just upending and draining doesn't get all the dirt out either.   I just serviced the forks on my SV1K and the kerosene flush was nasty looking!   I'm planning to do the same with the Interceptor....pull plug, drain and pump until empty, add 3-4 oz kerosene, pump and drain until it comes out looking clean...then fill with the 'fluid de jour'. :)

Once I get a good measurement of the plug location I'll start another post with the info for the collective data trove.


Karl Fenn

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Reply #38 on: June 20, 2021, 03:25:59 pm
Well we all remember the days of drain plugs, what a rediculous idea stripping the forks to drain oil, l guess the bean counters got the urge to increase company profits in their service departments.


Jack Straw

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Reply #39 on: June 20, 2021, 03:28:12 pm
I'd advise changing the fork oil right away.  Some members have found some awful crud in there including one leg dry and the other filled with weird slush.  A drain and proper re-fill will give you a baseline.  Without that you're sort of flying blind.

A suction pump eliminates removal of the forks. True, it leaves some residue but any method short of total dis-assembly does. 

I believe at least one member has installed drain plugs.  If he doesn't respond a search may help find his posts on the subject.
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Bilgemaster

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Reply #40 on: June 20, 2021, 06:30:33 pm
My Iron Belly Bullet still has drain plugs.
So badass my Enfield's actually illegal  in India.

(Legal enough to pass muster if they don't look too closely in Woodbridge, Virginia, where the buses don't run at night, holidays or weekends and I'm a contender for 'Village Idiot')