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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello. I am about to unload all the details I can muster about my bike and our cursed relationship with one another, because I believe there is no such thing as "too much information." Especially when seeking to solve a complex, mysterious and occult problem.

WARNING: This is a wild tale about a bike that might be cursed. It involves a suicide, a fake bar fight, and a garage collapse. Not for the weak of heart.

My Bike
Lookie lookie, I found my bike's build thread on here! Unfortunatly the builder (sbaugz) no longer appears active on here. I bought it off ebay June 3rd, 2018 from a nice fella out of state (not sbaugz). It's my first bike. I got it to ride around town and learn about motors with my son by wrenching on it with him as he grows up. It ran a dream when I got it.

My issues (in a nutshell)
  • Sometimes the battery drains and dies while the bike is doing its thing.
    • It's an ignitech system
    • It has an acewell head unit (10R-022811 15031)
    • No turn signals or brake lights
    • I wired in a horn to pass inspection using a free 12v purple wire I found in the head lamp housing. Purple wire goes to horn, then a black wire goes from the horn to the button I put on the handlebar. Pressing the button grounds it to complete the circuit. Beep!
    • The battery (Shorai Lithium Iron eXtreme LFX14A2-BS12 - 12v 14ah 210CCA 14A max charge) only seems to drain when I have the headlamp on. (with12v 35/35 watt bulb) switched on. This thread from the bike's builder seems relevant.
  • The right exhaust shoots out whitish grayish smoke and has heavy carbon blackness in its baffles.
    • The exhaust system is not 2 in one. It has 2-into 2 pipes without crossover H pipe. Harley slip-ons.
    • I've replaced the head gasket (using copper sealant) on OEM headgasket. No dice.
    • Had a guy inspect the valves and replace the valve seals and, once again, replace the head gasket. No dice.
    • I've noticed that it smokes less when the radiator is full of water, instead of coolant. Coincidence?
  • The radiator doesn't seem to be moving coolant around.
    • I've tested the thermostat. It works.
    • The sensor is working, because it's sending the correct temp to my acewell head unit
    • The metal coolant pipe that goes to the water pump heats up.
    • I've flushed the system with vinegar a few times.
    • I don't believe there's a 7v regulator (if there is, I can't find it).
    • I have not checked the impellor
    • I have not checked the head gasket.
    • I have not checked the radiator for blockage (I'm not sure how to, but I'm very suspect of this).
[Rough] Timeline of issues

  • 2017, the original builder (sbaugz) posted this issue on here (my comments are in blue italics, all-caps):
    • First time start after rebuild - Tore bike apart and made into a cafe/ bobber style this winter. Now I have the bike back together and the right side is smoking quit a bit (NOTE: THIS IS THE SAME SIDE I'M CURRENTLY HAVING THE SMOKING ISSUE WITH). I only let it run for a minute or two before shutting down. It started smoking immediately after starting. Here's what I did to motor. Since I had it out, I decided to do the triple bypass. New stator from custom rewind. Ignitech ignition. New CAM chain and tensioner/guide setup. Unfortunately, because I had broken off two bolts in the case where the metal coolant tube returns the coolant to bottom of radiator, I also decided to remove both cylinder heads. Therefore, new gaskets were applied (genuine OEM honda), valves adjusted cylinders looked good from top. Buttoned the bike back up and here I am today with a smokey right side. Should I just let it run for a while and see if it burns off? I don't want something catastrophic to happen, so I shut it down until I sought the advice here. It otherwise idles good, sounds decent, and revs nicely. I cannot drive it yet because it doesn't have wheels on it.
    • I took about an hour and removed the head on the right side (the smokey side). It was a brand new OEM gasket that I had literally just put on there. When I removed head, the gasket de-laminated somewhat but didn't seem to look grossly abnormal. I had a cheap NE brand head gasket laying around, so I threw that one on there. Put the bike back together and crossed my fingers. Started bike and the same thing happened. Immediately the right side was very smokey with thick white smoke. This time I let it run for about 5-7 minutes and it never really changed. Of note, is that the coolant level really didn't go down much either. I tapped the radiator to get air bubbles out.
      One new thing i noticed, at the muffler tip of the smokey side, there was alot of water and condensation forming at the exhaust tip. None of this was present on the left side. (THE SAME SYMPTOMS ARE GOING ON RIGHT NOW)
    • Mix of 50% distilled water and 50% ethylene glycol. maybe my nose isn't sensitive or something but i doesn't really smell sweet to me. It just smells like exhaust. (DITTO ON THE SMELL)
    • One thing I noticed last fall when I had engine apart- the rockers were different. The left and right sides had different numbers stamped into them. I posted on this forum. People speculated that one side came from a different year bike. Check here.
    • MURRAY COMMENT: i have had oil flooded ring lands and exhaust that has taken 20-30 mins to cook out then when i started to get on it harder even more cooked out till it was all gone in total almost a hour to get it all burnt up and gone (YUP, SMOKE TENDS TO CLEAR OUT AFTER THE ENGINE'S BEEN GOING 15-30 MIN)
  • JUNE 2018: I buy the bike off ebay. It rides a dream.
  • JUNE 2018: Not knowing when the oil or radiator fluid were last changed, I change both.
  • JULY 2018: Take it to get inspected. No horn! No problemo. I order one and wire it in. There's a free purple wire coming off the headlamp. It's 12v. I use that. It's the bottom wire in the picture below.
  • 203786
  • I drive it to work 3 to 5 times a week the rest of the summer. Everything seems okay. At one point the bike backfires on my in stop-and-go traffic and scares the ghost out of me. Doesn't happen again.
  • FALL 2018 creeps in. Still commuting here and there on the bike. The battery dies on me on the way home in the dark. So I buy a trickle charger and start leaving the bike on it overnight.
  • FALL 2018 I go to the zoo to meet up with my family. Bike doesn't start when I go to leave (daytime). I jump it and ride home. Battery drains and dies on me on the way home, after about 15 minutes. I get another jump and get home, watching the volts dwindle on my Acewell the whole way.
  • FALL 2018 I buy a portable jumper to take with me when I ride while I try to figure things out. Take the tank off and see some of the wire connections are a bit suspect. I redo a few of them.
  • FALL 2018 I ride the bike about an hour to see a flat track race. Everything's fine. After the race, (night) the battery drains and dies after about 15 minutes of riding. I jump it and it gets me the rest of the way home, holding charge the entire way.
  • WINTER 2018 I take the bike to a local vintage motorcycle mechanic to look over the wiring job I did. He says I over crimped a bunch of the connections. He redoes my connections.
  • WINTER 2018 Business and weather largely keep me off the road. I still get a chance to ride now and again. At one point the battery dies at night while I'm riding. I get a jump off a friend at it's a-okay after that. The starter button starts acting up. Sometimes I have to mash over and over to get it to do anything. It's a sign. Time to revisit the electric gremlin.
  • SPRING 2019 I try to take the bike back to the mechanic to look at the wiring again, but they've gone out of business.
  • SPRING 2019 Right side starts smoking when I start the bike. Clears after 15 - 30 minutes of riding. I replace the head gasket with the OEM gasket and use the copper spray. Ohhhh yeah! Still smokes. Damn!
  • LATE SPRING 2019 My boss invites me to ride the twisted sisters with him. Sweet. I find a shop that only works on vintage Japanese bikes. Nice. They fix my starter switch for me. The rest of the wiring looks good they say. They couldn't get the battery to drain on them. They also clean the carbs and adjust the valves and floats to take care of the smoke. It still smokes. They tell me to give it about 200 miles for all that shit to burn out. One of my fork seals needs to be replaced they point out. Of course the bike dies on me on the way home at a red light. It starts right back up though.
  • LATE SPRING 2019 I replace the fork seal and give it a new oil change in prep for my three sisters ride. Order Murray carbs to replace the stock ones. The throttle has a little too much play. I order a new throttle tube. It helps a little. I wind up on the phone at some point with Murray to troubleshoot a human error in installing the carbs. The saint sets me straight, and tells me the "200 miles to clear out the smoke" is a bit suspect. I also install new plug sockets.
  • LATE SPRING 2019 Bike's battery dies on me a few more times while riding. I decide I can't take it to the sisters. Ultra lame.
  • SUMMER 2019 I'm about to be out of the country for a couple of weeks. Perfect time to take my bike back to the shop to have them revisit the smoke issue, and also to tighten up the play in the throttle that I can't seem to tame.
  • SUMMER 2019 I get back in town. The shop is no longer answering their phone. I have a 2 week long business trip. They continue to not answer the phone while I'm gone.
  • LATE SUMMER 2019 I drive the 45 minutes to the shop to see what's happening. There's a note on the door saying they're past due on rent and there's going to be property auction that weekend. WTF
  • LATE SUMMER 2019 - FALL 2019 Turns out the owner killed himself. The shop's in crazy debt. Shady things are going on with employees. Craziness abounds. I finally get them to release my bike. I need a trailer to pick it up. I come across my original mechanic's cell number (the dude at the place that went out of business) going through my contacts. I call him up to see if he can help me pick it up. He can't, he's moved away. He refers me to "the dude that taught him everything he knows."
  • FALL 2019 The garage doors open. My bike is there. In one piece (they hadn't got to it yet). New mechanic tows it to his house. It's behind a few project, but I'm super slammed at work so no biggie.
  • LATE FALL 2019 He's done with the bike. I go with my boss to pick it up (my finger's broken from an elaborate fake bar fight - long story, but I can't ride. Boss agrees to ride it home for me). The new mechanic's replaced the valve seals, installed a fresh head gasket and taken the slack in a bit on the throttle. It still smokes. "It'll clear up by the time you get home, if it doesn't just bring it back." He also doesn't see anything weird with the wiring or connections. On the way home (after about 40 minutes) the bike's battery dies on the highway and my boss almost dies. The smoke doesn't clear up either. We get it towed back to my place. Not sure I trust this new guy, and he posts weird shit to facebook. I decide to cut my loss with this guy and do the job myself.
  • WINTER 2020 It mainly sits in the garage will I endeavor on a business venture that eats all my time.
  • SPRING 2020 My first ride of spring sees my license plate bracket break off and fly away into a crowded playground. I retrieve it and return home. Time to tame this beast! I even find my bike on this very forum with the owner troubleshooting various things (always without resolution). I'm inspired! BUT My garage ceiling collapses. My bike is now covered with drywall dust and I have another job to do before I can get to it.
  • FALL 2020 I've fixed the roof and ceiling and have refinished the garage. I did the job myself so it took forever. Bike starts but doesn't run. Probably full of drywall dust.
    • I replace the gas and clean the carbs. Now the bike runs! But is overheating.
    • Install a new license plate bracket
    • I drain the radiator. Fill with vinegar. Run to temp. Let it sit overnight.
    • Next day, I rinse out with distilled water and refill with 50/50 distilled water and dexcool. Still overheats.
    • Doesn't look like the fluids are flowing so I take out and test the thermostat. It works. Put it back together. Do the vinegar thing again. Do the water rinse again. It looks like the liquid's flowing when I bring it to temp. Side pipe that goes to the water pump is hot. Sweet.
    • Refill it with 50/50 distilled water and dexcool. No liquid movement in radiator. (See below). It overheats. Pipe going to water pump is hot though.
    • I suspect the smoke in the right pipe is somehow related to the coolant, as it seems to change thickness based on what's in the radiator. In fact, when it was full of just distilled water it started smoking out of an all new place:
NEXT STEPS
Not sure if this is the right order in which to do these things, but....

  • SMOKE: See if y'all have thoughts on the smoke issue and try to fix that first. I ordered a compression tester. I should have that Friday. Here's a pic of the spark plug on that side, and its hole:
  • 203787
    203788
  • COOLING: Considering a ceiling collapsed on my bike and covered it in drywall dust, it seems like a radiator blockage is a likely culprit. Is there a way to test for this, outside of pulling the radiator and bringing it to a radiator shop of some kind?
  • ELECTRIC: I pulled the horn I installed. Maybe that's the culprit? Once the smoke and cooling issues are fixed, I'll ride it around my house with the light on for an hour and see if it dies on me? If it's still causing issues, I think my next step is to chunk the harness and make a new one from scratch. Maybe the m-unit isn't a bad idea?
GRATITUDE SECTION
I'm a long time lurker. This forum is amazing, and the people here are unbelievably amazing. I actually have had some help here in the past (though I can no longer access that account, I think I made the mistake of registering with a work email from a job I no longer have haha). Thank you so much those of you who were able & willing to read this far in. I hope I'm able to get this bike to achieve its inner greatness that I know it has. I'll be sure to pass on everything I learn here to my son to keep the love of bikes alive!
 

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Maybe I missed it but have you checked the voltage output from the stator? I ended up changing my stator out due to similar problems with the battery. Leaving the headlight on while idling, the output voltage from the stator would gradually drop to well below what it should be. Also check the regulator? The smoke? Not sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Maybe I missed it but have you checked the voltage output from the stator? I ended up changing my stator out due to similar problems with the battery. Leaving the headlight on while idling, the output voltage from the stator would gradually drop to well below what it should be. Also check the regulator? The smoke? Not sure.
Have NOT checked the stator or regulator. I'll look up how to do that after work and see what's going on. I hope it's not the stator.
 

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Unless the radiator was sitting open, there's no way it would be clogged internally by a cloud of drywall dust. If it's clogged externally, that's easily corrected using compressed air.
Have you determined whether the PO wired the headlight off the Ignitech, as he was proposing? That would be high on my suspect list.
If you resolve to scrap the current wiring, you might consider looking for a clean stock harness. That could eliminate a lot of errors.
 

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What they said ^^^

Also, neither of these will have anything to do with the smoke but
1) There are no purple wires in Honda wiring harnesses. That wire is brown, not purple. Believe it or not, it is connected to the tail light circuit and is there to power a parking light (small bulb in the headlight in places like the UK where parking lights are required).
According to the wiring drawing for your bike the horn is supposed to be connected to a black wire (in Honda wiring, black wires are switched power = live only when the key is on and protected only by the main fuse).
2) Why would you use Dexcool? The correct coolant for these engines is ordinary inexpensive glycol based coolant.

Re the smoke: Is it smoke or steam?
You can find out by holding a piece of white paper close to the end of the muffler: If the paper becomes wet it is steam, if it becomes oily it is oil vapour and if it becomes sooty it is smoke.
If it isn't wet and the coolant level in the coolant recovery tank behind the engine doesn't drop over time the problem is not a leak between the combustion chamber and the cooling jacket.
If it is oily it could be a leak between the combustion chamber and an oil passage or gallery.
If it is smoke the problem may be somewhere other than the head, such as a carburetion or ignition problem (others with more experience will hopefully clarify this).

BTW: Welcome to the forum. Please add your location to your profile and your bike's model and model year to your signature so that you don't have to remember to tell us every time and we don't have to keep asking when you forget (see Forum Settings link in my signature).

And welcome to the world of antique vehicle ownership (they own us, not the other way around). Your bike is about 4 decades old and the Previous Owners may or may not have done the maintenance necessary to keep it safe & reliable so it is highly recommended to download the Factory Shop Manual for your model (available through the CX Wiki - link in my signature) and go through all of the service procedures, regardless of whether your bike has reached the specified mileage.
I also recommend looking on all rubber parts with suspicion because rubber does not age gracefully. Check the date codes on your tires and replace them if they are over 5 years old no matter how good they look & feel (old rubber simply cannot flow around the irregularities in the asphalt well enough to grip, especially if it is cool or wet). If your bike still has the original rubber brake line(s) (should be replaced every 2 or 3 fluid changes = 5 or 6 years) I recommend shopping for modern stainless braided ones (they last practically forever and double the life of the fluid). And don't forget things like the rad hoses and the boot between the engine and swingarm (they can crack on the bottom where you don't see it).
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
What they said ^^^

1) There are no purple wires in Honda wiring harnesses. That wire is brown, not purple. Believe it or not, it is connected to the tail light circuit and is there to power a parking light (small bulb in the headlight in places like the UK where parking lights are required).
According to the wiring drawing for your bike the horn is supposed to be connected to a black wire (in Honda wiring, black wires are switched power = live only when the key is on and protected only by the main fuse).
2) Why would you use Dexcool? The correct coolant for these engines is ordinary inexpensive glycol based coolant.

Re the smoke: Is it smoke or steam?
You can find out by holding a piece of white paper close to the end of the muffler: If the paper becomes wet it is steam, if it becomes oily it is oil vapour and if it becomes sooty it is smoke.
If it isn't wet and the coolant level in the coolant recovery tank behind the engine doesn't drop over time the problem is not a leak between the combustion chamber and the cooling jacket.
If it is oily it could be a leak between the combustion chamber and an oil passage or gallery.
If it is smoke the problem may be somewhere other than the head, such as a carburetion or ignition problem (others with more experience will hopefully clarify this).

BTW: Welcome to the forum. Please add your location to your profile and your bike's model and model year to your signature so that you don't have to remember to tell us every time and we don't have to keep asking when you forget (see Forum Settings link in my signature).

And welcome to the world of antique vehicle ownership (they own us, not the other way around). Your bike is about 4 decades old and the Previous Owners may or may not have done the maintenance necessary to keep it safe & reliable so it is highly recommended to download the Factory Shop Manual for your model (available through the CX Wiki - link in my signature) and go through all of the service procedures, regardless of whether your bike has reached the specified mileage.
I also recommend looking on all rubber parts with suspicion because rubber does not age gracefully. Check the date codes on your tires and replace them if they are over 5 years old no matter how good they look & feel (old rubber simply cannot flow around the irregularities in the asphalt well enough to grip, especially if it is cool or wet). If your bike still has the original rubber brake line(s) (should be replaced every 2 or 3 fluid changes = 5 or 6 years) I recommend shopping for modern stainless braided ones (they last practically forever and double the life of the fluid). And don't forget things like the rad hoses and the boot between the engine and swingarm (they can crack on the bottom where you don't see it).
Ahhhh, the infamous Sidecar Bob! Thank you so much. I feel like I already know you from lurking on here. A pleasure to connect!

1. On second look, it's totally a brown wire! Grime and weird garage lighting can really play tricks on the color.
2. I actually had dexcool on hand and had seen it recommended by a few people. Easy swap though, if that'll be a problem. I just drained it and filled it with distilled water anyways (to see if there's be a change in the stuff coming out of the pipe) .

Re the smoke:
I can't tell. It smells like exhaust and gets my eyes watering when it builds up in the garage for sure. I tried the paper trick (while the radiator was full of water) and the paper didn't get wet or oily or sooty. It didn't smoke for long with water at all, and the smoke seemed lighter when it was there. I'm going to try it again tomorrow with some regular glycol-based coolant and repeat the paper test.

I snagged a video of the radiator (filled with distilled water) while the engine was at 190 degrees F:
I can't tell, is that water moving like it should be, or is that movement simply due to engine vibration? The pipe going to the water pump was hot, but the engine temp kept climbing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Unless the radiator was sitting open, there's no way it would be clogged internally by a cloud of drywall dust. If it's clogged externally, that's easily corrected using compressed air.
Have you determined whether the PO wired the headlight off the Ignitech, as he was proposing? That would be high on my suspect list.
If you resolve to scrap the current wiring, you might consider looking for a clean stock harness. That could eliminate a lot of errors.
I haven't figured that out yet but I'll check it out in the morning. Where should it be wired to when an ignitech is installed?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Maybe I missed it but have you checked the voltage output from the stator? I ended up changing my stator out due to similar problems with the battery. Leaving the headlight on while idling, the output voltage from the stator would gradually drop to well below what it should be. Also check the regulator? The smoke? Not sure.
I just tried doing this following the motofaction instructions. Everything looks good.

The numbers I got off the 7 prong harness where:

1/5: 115.5 - Correct
2/5: 93.2 - Correct
3/5 0.L - Faulty, but not needed with ignitech
4/5 113.2 - Correct
6/5 95.4 - Correct
7/5 42.4 - Faulty, but not needed with ignitech

I couldn't find a wire connector with three yellow wires or a wire connector with a blue and a white, so I stopped there. Still need to check the regulator rectifier. Will do tomorrow. Gotta look up that process.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Smoke issue
Did a compression check on both sides and got 150 psi on each side. Noticed both spark plugs were oily when I pulled them.

I wonder if I just need to retorque the head mounts? I heard if oil gets in the threads, they can give a false number when tightening them up. I'll check that out tomorrow when I remove everything to check the water pump (regarding the overheating issue).

Cooling Issue
What are some tell-tale signs of a broken water pump? Would the impeller just be loose? It doesn't look like the fluids are moving around like they should, so I suppose this is what I should look at next? Below's a video of it running at 190ish F. Should I be worried about those specs of whatever floating around in there?

 

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Discussion Starter #10
What they said ^^^

And welcome to the world of antique vehicle ownership (they own us, not the other way around). Your bike is about 4 decades old and the Previous Owners may or may not have done the maintenance necessary to keep it safe & reliable so it is highly recommended to download the Factory Shop Manual for your model (available through the CX Wiki - link in my signature) and go through all of the service procedures, regardless of whether your bike has reached the specified mileage.
I also recommend looking on all rubber parts with suspicion because rubber does not age gracefully. Check the date codes on your tires and replace them if they are over 5 years old no matter how good they look & feel (old rubber simply cannot flow around the irregularities in the asphalt well enough to grip, especially if it is cool or wet). If your bike still has the original rubber brake line(s) (should be replaced every 2 or 3 fluid changes = 5 or 6 years) I recommend shopping for modern stainless braided ones (they last practically forever and double the life of the fluid). And don't forget things like the rad hoses and the boot between the engine and swingarm (they can crack on the bottom where you don't see it).
Such stellar advice. I just swapped the brake lines on my 4runner for stainless and it was a breeze. Once I get my other's issue fixed, that'll be at the top of my list along with checking all the other rubber parts.
 

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It's just that you are a new member and some of your posts have links or attachments that upset the forums security settings for spam.

Your posts go into an approval queue and I approve them when I see them so there is a delay depending on whether I am near the computer or not.

I would have thought this would have stopped by now but should soon.
 

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re #12 though cumbersome....might be something good in being cautious as other CX forums were "killed by spam"🗿

no offence to the OP
 

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We nearly were before verticalscope took over. Literally hundreds a day.

A few still turn up in the approval queue but they don't get in.

Forum software catches most first.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
It's just that you are a new member and some of your posts have links or attachments that upset the forums security settings for spam.

Your posts go into an approval queue and I approve them when I see them so there is a delay depending on whether I am near the computer or not.

I would have thought this would have stopped by now but should soon.
Ahhh, gotcha!
 

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I'm glad to see you working your way through all the bugs. We'll get ya sorted sooner or later. Keep at it, man.
 

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Cooling Issue
What are some tell-tale signs of a broken water pump? Would the impeller just be loose? It doesn't look like the fluids are moving around like they should, so I suppose this is what I should look at next? Below's a video of it running at 190ish F. Should I be worried about those specs of whatever floating around in there?
I wouldn't be unduly concerned about those specks (coolant passages tend to be pretty wide) but they aren't doing any good either so if you haven't already done so this would be a good time to service the cooling system
'

The easiest way to tell if the water pump is working is to feel the radiator. The top of it will get hot when the thermostat has opened and if the pump is working the bottom of the rad will become warm quickly after that (you can also tell by feeling the water pipe on the engine's left side but it won't get hot until hot coolant is flowing out of the bottom of the rad).


The water pump consists of an impeller attached to the rear end of the camshaft running inside a shaped cover bolted onto the rear engine cover. If the impeller is loose it generally means that the nut that holds it on was not done up to the specified torque and has loosened or that one of the washers was left out when it was last assembled. In either case I would expect to see coolant escaping through the weep hole and running down the side of the engine near your left foot.
It is possible for the weep hole to become blocked, whether by a PO who thought he was "fixing" a leak (these guys never read the FSM) or by an insect looking for a home, in which case the coolant would accumulate in the space between the camshaft oil seal and the water pump mechanical seal and could get past the oil seal and into the crankcase (this is why the weep hole is there)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Okay, I've got (once the engine hits about 170):
  • Nothing coming out of the water pump's weep hole.
  • Hot pipe on the engine's left side that leads to the waterpump
  • What appears to be no visible flow of liquid in the radiator (aside from it jostling around from the vibration of the motor) - am I wrong here? Is the liquid in the video moving as it should?
  • White smoke coming out the right exhaust (may not be related).
  • Engine overheats and the radiator liquid boils if left going for about 20-30 minutes
So my best bet is to:
  • Check for weephole blockage (seems like the smoking pipe could be from that causing the coolant to get into the oil, but wouldn't that cause both sides to smoke?)
  • If weep hole was blocked, clear it and retest the system
  • If weep hole isn't blocked, get the radiator serviced for possible blockage or replace the radiator (which is the better solution there)?
Questions
  • Is the above a good order of operations? Anything I'm missing?
  • Am I good to just use distilled water in the radiator while I'm testing all this stuff?
  • Should I be checking the hose that goes from the waterpump to the thermostat for blockage? Is that a possibility?
  • For the smoking pipe, I'm going to pull everything apart to retorque the head mount bolts. Anything I should give an eye to while everything's apart?
    • If that doesn't fix the smoke issue, would the next logical thing to do be to resurface the head?
    • It looks like one side has a rocker assembly from a 650, could that be an issue?
 

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I've never seen coolant flowing in a rad by looking into the filler with the engine running either.

As I said before, a leak between the combustion chamber and the cooling jacket will result in steam in the exhaust, not smoke. White smoke could be oil burning, possibly from the head gasket but after the gasket has been changed that many times I'd be looking for something like a bad valve guide seal.

I would expect the engine to overheat if left idling for half an hour (especially if the rad cap was off so the cooling system couldn't achieve the designed operating pressure). It was not designed to sit still that long. The fan can only pull so much air through the radiator and it really needs the bike to be moving most of the time to get enough air movement through the rad to cool the engine properly.

Checking that the weep hole is clear is never a bad idea but the main reason I mentioned it was to help you understand the water pump. I don't think a blocked weep hole could cause smoke from only one exhaust. It might be possible under extreme conditions for coolant that was forced past the oil seal into the crankcase to be expelled by the breather system, which is connected to the airbox so maybe if there was enough of it to be drawn into the carbs and thus into the engine it might possibly cause some steam but that's not terribly likely and it would be on both sides, not just one.

Water is OK for testing, just make sure you replace it with proper coolant before the temperature drops below freezing (don't just drain it because any water that remains can freeze, expand and damage something)(run the engine for a while to circulate the coolant and mix it with any remaining water too).

What I would do next is fill the rad all the way, put the cap on and ride it for a while. After a couple of short rides with time to fully cool after each the level in the coolant recovery tank should drop a bit as any air in the system is expelled to the tank and fluid is drawn back from the tank to replace it. After that keep an eye on the level in the tank and if it stays the same coolant is not getting into the combustion chamber (note that big bubbles in the tank are a sign that a head gasket is leaking).

If it is not related to the cooling system and is indeed smoke from burning oil that you are seeing, oil can enter the combustion chamber from a head gasket leak, a leaking valve guide, piston rings that aren't sealing well and probably a bunch of other sources I can't think of but I'm sure others will add to the list.
 
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