Author Topic: Need Mechanic  (Read 250 times)

Offline EH389

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Need Mechanic
« on: September 29, 2020, 12:40:12 pm »
Hello, I have a couple of problems I was hoping someone could give some advice on:

1.  Five years ago I was on my way from Colorado to Florida via Vegas and my black bike starting acting up.  It was the typical Henderson failure - dying at stop signs at first and then not holding idle and then almost impossible to start.  I roll started it for 1000 miles until it couldn't go any further in Houston.  I shipped it to Atlantic EH and flew to Florida.  Here it is 5 years almost to the month later and they haven't even started working on the bike.  Is there anyone that works on these things anymore?  I have had it and would like to ship it anywhere to get it done.  Any leads would be welcome.

2.  Six years ago I shipped my blue bike to the same place with the same symptoms.  In fact I had to roll start that bike from Los Angeles all the way to Aspen and it was pretty much seized when I finally arrived.  Last year I received it back and within 1000 miles it started dying at stop signs.  At 2000 miles the engine started to sound different and there was a hint of pinging.  At 2500 miles it started backfiring a bit when down shifting in pretty much all gears.  At 3000 miles it won't hold idle.  It will not begin the starting sequence until I  have it throttle at 2000 rpms for a minute or two.  If I get close to 1000 rpm it stutters down to 800 and dies.  Now at 3600 miles or so it seems there is seepage above the case which indicates a cracked head (I could be wrong though).  My question is - is there any type of warranty with this work or am I pretty much screwed?  I paid $10k for the overhaul and for it to go 4000 miles is a real kick in the teeth.  Any advice would be appreciated.

I used to be a real fan of these bikes.  Now I am just regretting that I bought not only one but two.  Thanks for the time.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2020, 04:10:52 pm by EH389 »

Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2020, 04:40:01 pm »
I have no good answers for you. I don't know what Jamie and Marty's backlog looks like or the circumstances around your bikes. I also don't know specifics around what happened to your bikes. Lots of things could have gone wrong. They're internal combustion engines and I'd be guessing at this point. I'll toss out some thoughts, in no particular order.

If the leak is at the base gasket, that doesn't indicate a cracked head. It could be a stud pulling loose. Sand castings are soft. The fix involves pulling the engine, drilling and installing inserts in the case, then using Atlantic's stud kit. You'd need someone with a machine shop or a manual milling machine to do that job. If the inserts are off-axis even a little, the cylinders won't go over the studs.

How mechanical are you? A compression test of both front and rear cylinders is where I'd start. If you don't have the tools or aren't comfortable with that, a local independent shop should be at least do the compression test and tell you if something is awry. That couldn't be more than an hour of labor and at least tell you if the pumping portion of the engine is working properly.

I know that some bikes had issues with cracked heads. I'm no expert but, I had one. Luckily it happened back at a time when there was still a handful of heads available. I don't know what the fix is today.

It's not clear where you're located since you mentioned places on both coasts but, there is another service resource listed on the tech page in Minnesota:

http://www.excelsiorhenderson.com/pages/tech/partsservice.html

Some owners will take on jobs like that as part of a side-hobby. They can chime in if they feel like they have the space and time right now.

So where are you and the bikes? One is at Atlantic and one with you where?

Greg
1525 since 2000 (Molly) 1989 since 2012 (Jennie) 0333 since 2015 (Beulah)
1663 since 2017 (Deadwood) 0738 since 2018 (Babe) 1940 since 2019 (Sinclair)

Offline EH389

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2020, 04:44:37 pm »
Thanks Greg.  The black bike as you said is at Atlantic and will be shipped down to Venice Fl.  The blue bike is in Aspen Co area.  thanks

Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2020, 05:06:16 pm »
Dang, so both bikes are in the wrong direction from all the people who could work on them.

Is the blue bike a solid blue 2000 or two-tone 1999?
Greg
1525 since 2000 (Molly) 1989 since 2012 (Jennie) 0333 since 2015 (Beulah)
1663 since 2017 (Deadwood) 0738 since 2018 (Babe) 1940 since 2019 (Sinclair)

Offline EH389

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2020, 05:39:19 pm »
At this point I will ship the black bike anywhere.  I know for a fact that bike is not going to be easy.  It has had the updates but that is it.  The blue bike is a 99 two tone and has had two cracked heads already and I am sure Jamey took care of the head bolts last time he rebuilt it.  That is why I don't think it is just the bolts pulling out.  I will try and get a compression check done tomorrow.  I think I still have a gauge laying around somewhere.  I forget what it is suppose to read.  Do you remember off the top of your head?

Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2020, 06:13:32 pm »
If you're doing the test in Aspen, you'll have less air to deal with. The altitude pressure calculator says you only have 11 PSI atmospheric pressure to work with. The static compression ratio of the engine is 11.2:1. That's 123 PSI maximum theoretical that you could see. Knock off some for the cam timing and the volume of the gauge. 100-110 PSI is probably a good reading in Aspen.

I'd be more concerned about being below 100 PSI or one cylinder being drastically different than the other.

So you had one head crack twice or you had both heads crack at the same time?
This was mine. It cracked in October 2000 and that bike sat in pieces for almost 15 years (my own procrastination).
Greg
1525 since 2000 (Molly) 1989 since 2012 (Jennie) 0333 since 2015 (Beulah)
1663 since 2017 (Deadwood) 0738 since 2018 (Babe) 1940 since 2019 (Sinclair)

Offline EH389

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2020, 06:44:34 pm »
First time it was rebuilt by Bobby and the front head was cracked.  I think at that time there were parts available.  The second time both heads were cracked and they just welded those.  This was in 2017.  It is showing the same characteristics as a burnt valve or two leading to the head cracking again.  Not sure what I could do different to stop this from happening.  I will check the pressure tomorrow.  On the verge of scrapping both bikes and calling it a bad investment.

Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2020, 07:34:23 pm »
The weld repairs may be suspect. I don't know what the success rate is for welding cast cylinder heads. It may have been a very sincere attempt to repair the head and it didn't work. I realize that doesn't make us feel any better but, that's the likely success rate of doing that kind of work.

Sand castings are mush to begin with. The distance between the valves isn't much, making that web thin. Welding requires heating the entire casting up and welding it while the rest of the casting is hot. After that, everything is remachined, new seats, etc, before putting it together. It's a really heroic thing to attempt.

The reason for welding it hot is the thermal expansion of aluminum. It grows so much that if you welded an area in a cold section, when the weld cools, it will try to shrink away from what you welded. This builds up stress in the casting. That will make it prone to crack in the future. Not saying it will but, it could.

Aluminum expands about 0.000024" per degree F. If the surrounding casting is only 100 degrees below the melting temperature where you're welding, the weld will be 0.0024" smaller than the surroundings when it cools.

The reality is it's probably a few hundred degrees cooler and that amount is maybe 0.005-0.008". That's no longer a small amount. That's part of the cause of things warping when welded. That stress could cause it to crack again.

I'm trying to keep the bikes straight for sake of the story:

Blue bike: repaired at Atlantic and you got it back. Now in Aspen. It had cracked heads in the past and you're now concerned that damage has returned.

Black bike: sitting at Atlantic and we don't know what's wrong with it yet because work hasn't started. You suspect it has the same problem because of the symptoms.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2020, 07:36:55 pm by Donkey Hotey »
Greg
1525 since 2000 (Molly) 1989 since 2012 (Jennie) 0333 since 2015 (Beulah)
1663 since 2017 (Deadwood) 0738 since 2018 (Babe) 1940 since 2019 (Sinclair)

Offline EH389

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2020, 12:45:10 pm »
If weld repairs are suspect I have to wonder why I would be fixing my black bike and more than likely they will weld the heads.  Seems like another $10,000 bill for 4000 miles of riding.

I thought I had a pressure gage but it turns out I don't have the right size.  I will be going to town to pick up one.  In the meantime I pulled the plugs and this is what I found.  Not sure if it matters of not.  Let me know if the pictures are not attached.

I am guessing the plug that has the square electrode is the proper size gap.  The front spark plug was at .035 while the rear spark plug was at .072  As you can see the rear plug electrode is pulled up and bent to the side.  As I said, I don't know if this is intended or not.  Doubt if this affects anything (maybe the backfiring though or gas mileage) but what do I know. 
« Last Edit: September 30, 2020, 12:56:41 pm by EH389 »

Offline EH389

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2020, 12:47:14 pm »
This pic did not go through.  Plus what you gathered about the bikes and their locations and condition is accurate.

Offline EH389

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2020, 02:55:22 pm »
After seeing the spark plugs I was hoping the pressures would be good.  Not the case.  Granted, I did it cold so it will go up a bit when warm.  Front cylinder 55psi,  Rear cylinder 190 psi.  It appears I am a little bit above the 10% variance.  Seems to me something is going on with the front valves and head.  Was going to put plugs in and see if it runs but am afraid the 190psi in the rear cylinder is dangerous.  So from what I can figure I spend $10k for a front cylinder that has leaking valves and the head is probably cracked and the rear cylinder exhaust valves are not opening properly.  Am I totally off base?  Suggestions?>
« Last Edit: September 30, 2020, 03:17:29 pm by EH389 »

Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2020, 04:47:45 pm »
I'd be suspicious of the gauge. 11.2 compression ratio is all you've got. Using 14.7 PSI atmospheric pressure, the compression ratio would have to be 13:1 to get 190 PSI.

The rear is probably fine. I'm assuming you did this multiple times to ensure the gauge had a good seal and you did it with the throttle wide open?

I have one tester with a rubber tip that takes some effort to hold in place while holding the throttle and pushing the starter button. The screw-in one obviously gives more consistent results.

Regardless of the actual numbers, the front cylinder seems much lower than the rear and that's what you wanted to know.
Do you have an air compressor and a rubber-tipped blow gun? If you're careful to get the front cylinder up to top dead center on the firing stroke, you could blow air in the spark plug hole and hear whether it's coming out of the intake or exhaust side.

It would help to lower the compressor's regulator down to something like 30-40 PSI while doing this. You won't need much to hear the hissing either out of the throttle body or the exhaust.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2020, 04:50:11 pm by Donkey Hotey »
Greg
1525 since 2000 (Molly) 1989 since 2012 (Jennie) 0333 since 2015 (Beulah)
1663 since 2017 (Deadwood) 0738 since 2018 (Babe) 1940 since 2019 (Sinclair)

Offline EH389

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2020, 05:09:04 pm »
Yep.  Did the front cylinder - 55.  Did the rear cylinder 190.  Unthreaded the gage and threaded it back in again, 190.  Throttle wide open.  Was suspicious of the front so I did it again, 55.  Put new plugs in and started it.  It picked up starting sequence only after a few seconds which is an improvement.  When it is running properly it goes up to 2000 or 2300 and then works its way down.  This time it only went up to 1500 and came down to 1000 and idled for a minute then died.

I will see what kind of attachments I have for the air compressor.  From the sound of the front cylinder it sounds like too much air and it seems to chug like a tractor.  My 107 sounds like that but this bike never has. 

Offline EH389

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2020, 07:11:04 pm »
I think I am back right where I started.  I knew something was wrong with the front cylinder and I confirmed it.  This is my fourth time with these bikes going to hell and I am getting pretty good at identifying it.  Back in July I emailed Marty four times about the symptoms I was seeing - no response at all.  I get the feeling that if they put out the bike and it runs that is good enough for them.  With paying $10 grand I expect it to go 40,000 miles minimum, not 4000.  The other problem is they have my other bike and they will be happy just to get it out the door.  Nevermind another $10k for minimum results.  Pretty close into talking myself to part them out and scrap what I can't sell.

Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Need Mechanic
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2020, 08:00:25 pm »
I feel your pain. Not to defend Jamie and Marty but, to simply state the obvious: the repair of any cast aluminum cylinder head is partly witchcraft. If it were my own personal bike and I were personally doing the work, I can't say I'd expect any better odds than you might have seen here. The process is hit or miss and there's no real way to know until after it's done and run for awhile if it's going to hold or not. Ours is an air cooled engine so the expansion rates they see are higher than what cars experience.

If you decide you want out, it wouldn't hurt to first see what you'd want for each bike, as-is, where-is. There are owners who tinker with them and will wait out until a wrecked bike yields a set of heads. It could save you the labor, listing, packing and shipping hassles and the net cash might not be much different.
Greg
1525 since 2000 (Molly) 1989 since 2012 (Jennie) 0333 since 2015 (Beulah)
1663 since 2017 (Deadwood) 0738 since 2018 (Babe) 1940 since 2019 (Sinclair)