Author Topic: Checking for oil flow  (Read 430 times)

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mtrue77

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on: July 18, 2021, 05:10:02 pm
I'm getting close to leaving the shed, and heading out for a test ride, but I'm so anxious about the oil.  This morning, I checked the level on a cold engine.  Started it up, and let it run for 3-4 minutes.  Shut it down, and immediately checked the level.  Then, I let it sit for 4-5 minutes, and checked it again.  I thought I'd be collecting data points for a little chart.  What I found was ... no difference.  That doesn't give me a good feeling.  Is there a simple way to check that oil is flowing to the right places while the engine is idling.  Maybe a bolt I could loosen to see a few drops being forced out? 
Michael T
Pittsburgh, PA
2009 AVL


AzCal Retred

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Reply #1 on: July 18, 2021, 06:07:53 pm
Oil to the rockers can be inferred by loosening the banjo bolts a bit whilst at idle. There should be seepage. The alloy gaskets may or may not reseal.
Oil to the crank can be inferred by pulling the quill bolt and kicking over a few times with the decompressor engaged. You'll see oil flow to the quill annulus through the feed port in the casting. Be advised if you find that the quill seal comes out skewered on the quill bolt, you already know what the afternoon's maintenance task will be.
None of these need be done unless you have changed something, i.e. timing side repairs or oil/filter change. Check flow at that time & leave it alone. I prefer to pull the fuel tank, pop the rocker covers, kick over a few times and see the oil squeezing out around the rocker shafts. The crank oiling can be seen at the quill at the same time, and the quill seal condition assessed, but that tells you little to nothing about the actual condition of the con rod bearing, just that the oil pumps are functioning at some level. In my experience it takes about 40 kicks to develop enough oil in the crankcase to see the scavenge pump work, so check the rockers, then the quill. However, if the main pump didn't work, you wouldn't see oil to the scavenge pump, then rockers.
Install some 20 PSI gauges if you must, they will produce some oil pressure info on cold start-up at least.
The good news here is that your machine doesn't appear to be wet sumping, as the oil levels aren't changing perceptibly. There is a certain amount of trust necessary to enjoy your machine. Unless you see, hear or feel a change in operation, it's likely that it's OK.
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mtrue77

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Reply #2 on: July 18, 2021, 06:24:38 pm
Thank you, AzCal.  I feel better.  The fact is, I haven't changed anything.  It's just that a few years ago, the first change in operation that I felt was the engine seizing.

My remaining question is ... why is the procedure to let the engine warm for a few minutes before checking the oil level if there was no discernable difference from the oil level in a cold engine?
« Last Edit: July 18, 2021, 06:45:55 pm by mtrue77 »
Michael T
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2009 AVL


mtrue77

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Reply #3 on: July 18, 2021, 06:33:14 pm
Here's the relevant diagram.  I'm also not quite clear what "the crank case periodically remians dry the engine operation" is meant to tell me.   Scratch that last one ... The return pump having greater capacity than the feed pump ensures that there is always a supply of oil in the tank for the feed pump to draw on.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2021, 06:46:17 pm by mtrue77 »
Michael T
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2009 AVL


Bilgemaster

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Reply #4 on: July 18, 2021, 08:39:08 pm
[...Snip!]

My remaining question is ... why is the procedure to let the engine warm for a few minutes before checking the oil level if there was no discernable difference from the oil level in a cold engine?

With the later UCE models or 650s having those oil level sight glass windows instead of dipsticks, I gather that running the engine a bit kicks enough oil up there to be seen through the little window for a vagueish idea of the oil level, so idling the bike and getting it nice and level are all part of the whole oil level checking procedure. Perhaps you'd heard of that pre-check idling in that context? But I expect this would have no real bearing on an AVL.

In the predecessor Iron Barrel engine model, some bikes can be prone to something called "wet sumping", which is when the crankcase, normally scavenged and almost empty of oil save a few ounces, has oil leak down while it's at rest from the oil tank. Some are especially prone to this if the piston's left low in the bore because of how the oilways in the crankcase are arranged. I cannot say if this might be the case with AVL engines, but it explains why most Iron Barrel ones are parked by knowledgeable owners with the piston up just past top dead center. I suppose if some oil had seeped down onto the crankcase it would affect the oil tank level (and smoke a fair bit and/or cause hard starting). Speaking of which, with Iron Barrels it's generally advisable to only fill the oil tank up to between half and two-thirds of the way to the full line on the dipstick. This seems to keep the excess from sploodging out of the crankcase breather. Again, I cannot say if this is a known issue with the AVLs, but I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than I of your sub-species will be along shortly to confirm or refute this.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2021, 08:41:24 pm by Bilgemaster »
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mtrue77

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Reply #5 on: July 18, 2021, 09:12:45 pm
Perhaps you'd heard of that pre-check idling in that context?

Actually, the instructions I was given when I bought this were "Start it.  Let it run for a few minutes.  Shut it off.  Let it sit for a few minutes.  Then check the oil."  The manual also says to run it "for few minutes," though it doesn't including the next waiting period.  See attached photo.
Michael T
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mtrue77

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Reply #6 on: July 18, 2021, 09:31:25 pm
it explains why most Iron Barrel ones are parked by knowledgeable owners with the piston up just past top dead center.

That's why I'm here.  To become a knowledgeable owner (of the AVL).  I can get the CG250 on my Janus to top dead center, but I need a socket wrench and an open inspection port.  I'm going to review your previous answers to see if you explained how to get the AVL to TDC, but I don't see any procedure in the manual.  I'd do that if it can be done without tools and without taking things apart.

I just read something about being in 2nd gear after shutting down, and backing up until resistance is felt. 
« Last Edit: July 18, 2021, 10:15:38 pm by mtrue77 »
Michael T
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AzCal Retred

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Reply #7 on: July 19, 2021, 06:20:15 am
Wet sumping. The crankpin needs to be left above the level of the oil in the timing chest when the engine shuts down, otherwise it's possible to siphon oil from the timing chest into the sump around the quill seal or thru main oil pump. IF the crankshaft seal is shot, it'll just equalize levels between the timing chest & engine sump anyway, regardless of crank position. The resulting white cloud when you next start up can be impressive. If you live in mosquito country, maybe wet sumping is desirable. Wet sumping can lead to fouled plugs and profanity. I kick my Bullet around to TDC Compression stroke routinely when I shut down and haven't had a problem. If all your oil seals & pumps are proper, maybe it never would be a problem. Just put your boot on the kick lever until you come up to compression resistance, then the crankpin is likely within 45 degrees of TDC which should be close enough.
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Reply #8 on: July 19, 2021, 12:05:05 pm
  I'm going to review your previous answers to see if you explained how to get the AVL to TDC, but I don't see any procedure in the manual.  I'd do that if it can be done without tools and without taking things apart.
 

           I use a piece of small dia. wooden dowel stuck in the plug hole.

           Just coax the engine around with your foot on the rear tire (or have a helper crank it over with the kicker while you watch the dowel) and watch the dowel go up and then pause and start down. You can hit a point where just barely rotating the engine doesn't move the dowel. That's TDC. Then just make a mark on the dowel. Done.

           Just be sure it's on compression with your thumb over the plug hole. 
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Reply #9 on: July 19, 2021, 12:41:12 pm
Wet sumping. The crankpin needs to be left above the level of the oil in the timing chest when the engine shuts down, otherwise it's possible to siphon oil from the timing chest into the sump around the quill seal or thru main oil pump. IF the crankshaft seal is shot, it'll just equalize levels between the timing chest & engine sump anyway, regardless of crank position. The resulting white cloud when you next start up can be impressive. If you live in mosquito country, maybe wet sumping is desirable. Wet sumping can lead to fouled plugs and profanity. I kick my Bullet around to TDC Compression stroke routinely when I shut down and haven't had a problem. If all your oil seals & pumps are proper, maybe it never would be a problem. Just put your boot on the kick lever until you come up to compression resistance, then the crankpin is likely within 45 degrees of TDC which should be close enough.

The AVL models were built WITHOUT oil seals behind the crankshaft timing pinion. :o The DO come with a modern type oil seal over the end of the timing-side crankshaft spigot. So what should be happening is that while any oil in the crank feed can drain into the sump, the volume of oil involved is minimal, while the oil seal in the timing cover prevents timing chest oil escaping into the sump via the big-end. What WILL happen however is that the oil in the timing chest will seep out past the timing side mainshaft and the main bearing instead!

My old Electra-X would have won medals for wet sumping, but was it a problem? No, because the high-capacity gear-type scavenge oil pump made a very good job of clearing the sump immediately on start up, before the engine had time to start chucking out the classic wet-sumping white smoke.

A.
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mtrue77

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Reply #10 on: July 19, 2021, 12:46:42 pm

My old Electra-X would have won medals for wet sumping, but was it a problem? No, because the high-capacity gear-type scavenge oil pump made a very good job of clearing the sump immediately on start up, before the engine had time to start chucking out the classic wet-sumping white smoke.

A.

Thank you.  I'm so glad all you guys are here and sharing your knowledge and experience.  You've increased my confidence in my AVL.
Michael T
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2009 AVL


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Reply #11 on: July 19, 2021, 10:59:50 pm
The model's shortcomings (as well as the fixes for them) have been discussed at great length. But get a good one, get it to breath in and out properly, and it's an absolute blast.

A.
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Bilgemaster

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Reply #12 on: July 20, 2021, 12:42:31 pm
Actually, the instructions I was given when I bought this were "Start it.  Let it run for a few minutes.  Shut it off.  Let it sit for a few minutes.  Then check the oil."  The manual also says to run it "for few minutes," though it doesn't including the next waiting period.  See attached photo.

Those instructions appear to be for checking the oil level after an oil and filter change. So, it'll need to run a couple-few minutes just to fill up all the engine's nooks and crannies and that fresh oil filter and its housing before you could get an accurate read of the level at the oil tank. Normally at other times idling should not be necessary to get a good oil level reading unless she's been "wet sumping", perhaps having sat for a really long time, particularly with that piston low in the bore.

As for finding the piston's sweet spot for parking the bike, it's the same as for starting: kick it through with the kickstarter until resistance is felt, then engage the decompressor, kick it through just a smidgeon more (say 10 to 20 degrees of arc or a couple of inches), release decompressor, and you're good. You might also hear a little "wheeze" or "huff" as the exhaust valve opens. This resting position also leaves you all ready to restart, especially if the engine's still warm. However, if it's cold, I recommend the whole "degronching" thing to free up the by then cool sticky clutch plates and make that first gear change a less jarring and clunky one: just engage the clutch and kick it through a couple-few times and you should feel the plates freeing up. Then reposition the piston properly, which may well have budged a bit, and start as normal.

Which brings us to a couple of other decompressor tricks, especially for those with those ultra-wonky electric starters. Because the starter sprag clutch reacts poorly to backfiring or even mild engine rollbacks, it is always a good idea not only to stop the engine with the decompressor, and only THEN turn off the ignition. And if you DO use that electric leg for any reason (Pro Tip: Don't...Just Don't), engage the decompressor for long enough to let it spin a couple of turns and build up a bit of momentum before releasing the decompressor. This will greatly, if not completely, reduce the risk of sprag-killing kickback.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2021, 01:18:06 pm by Bilgemaster »
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mtrue77

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Reply #13 on: July 23, 2021, 12:08:55 pm
Boy, that engine gets hot.  I don't know if this will result in meaningful data, but I bought a candy thermometer with a 9" probe that I plan on lowering into the oil fill port after a ride around the block.  Has to be more effective than a rectal thermometer up the tailpipe.  I'm wondering if there's a defined normal temperature range for normal riding on a nice day. 
Michael T
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Reply #14 on: July 23, 2021, 01:25:23 pm
Boy, that engine gets hot.  I don't know if this will result in meaningful data, but I bought a candy thermometer with a 9" probe that I plan on lowering into the oil fill port after a ride around the block.  Has to be more effective than a rectal thermometer up the tailpipe.  I'm wondering if there's a defined normal temperature range for normal riding on a nice day.

           You're going to find that overheating your engine oil is the LEAST of the problems you'll ever have with the AVL engine (especially with just a "ride around the block"). The oil won't even be body temperature yet with just a ride around the block. It's a very well cooled air & oil cooled engine.

            These engines do quite well in India (Thousands of them) with horrendous hot weather, with horrendous traffic, with horrendous loads (dad, mom, two kids, a goat, a bale of hay and a baboon* hanging off the back end), horrendous maintenance and they run all day and all night with godknows what crappy or dirty oil in the crankcase and very few of them have ever even heard of an oil cooler.

             I've run mine 30 miles to change the oil and could still hold my hand in the draining oil.

           * Yes, it's on YooToob.

            PS: Oil's supposed to hot. It boils off all kinds of bad stuff.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2021, 01:27:38 pm by tooseevee »
'08 Black AVL Classic.ACEhead 9.8:1/manifold/canister. TM32/Open short bottle/hot tube removed. Pertronix Coil. Fed mandates removed. Gr.TCI. Bobber seat. Battery in right side case. Decomp&all doodads removed. '30s Lucas taillight/7" visored headlight. Much blackout & wire/electrical upgrades