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Trouble Removing Fork Tubes - 81 Custom

2131 Views 15 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  midgtmn
Hey all,

I have done fork seals a couple times on my 78 CX, but am running into some issues with my '81. I followed the manual and it says something akin to "tap the fork lowers off of the tubes by moving back and forth". I have tried doing this multiple times, and keep finding a solid metal to metal slam when i try to separate them. The "move it back and forth to tap it out" step follows immediately after removing the circ clip (#19 in pic below) and washer (#20), which I have done. Additionally, the top caps are removed (#4) , as are the two bottom bolts (#25) . I have not removed the drain bolt (#27) from either leg, as those are just that - drain bolts, as far as i know anyways. Is there some step I am missing to getting these to separate? I can see the seals... i'm so close haha.

Attached is a photo from the manual of how my forks go together, I dunno if it will help one of you, but I can't make out what is stopping me - unless one of those bushings is real stuck or something. The whole tube slides up and down quite easily otherwise.

Also, I pulled out two springs (to be expected) and the upper is the normal 6" spring, the lower appears to be a two stage (half of it is tight wound, the other half is more open). That is aftermarket of some sort, correct?

Thanks in advance! I hate to bug with a relatively simple problem, but search didn't find me quite what i was looking for.

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i think when i did mine 80 cx when i removed the bottom allen screw the upper and lower seperated is that what you refer to as the drain bolt i was confused about mine till i removed that allen screw hope that helps.
Yes, #25 needs to be removed, #27 is the drain screw.
I think you may have a pair of 'bushed' forks.

The bush must come out with the fork tube but is itself a tight fit in the alloy slider.

I have about 8 - 10 pairs of forks here, all on or from CXs and there seems to be a number of variations but some of these are bushed and some not.

The number 25 you refer to is an allen bolt up under the fork?
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I have since pulled the drain bolt (#27) on the side of the forks, no difference as they are only a 1/4" long. I have removed #25 the socket head cap screw (allen screws) from the bottoms of each fork. I can actually see all the way through the forks right now!

I think CXPHREAK is correct, mine are bushed forks, and those bushings are not wanting to give up at all. The manual says to tap the bushing off of the alloy slider, but I have even gone so far as to try to dead blow hammer the things off, and they aren't budging a bit. I protected the tops of the fork tubes by putting the blow through a piece of wood, but I am hitting hard enough to split the wood without seeing any movement!

The stackup seems to go Bushing, then washer, then fork seal, but I see no way to get the fork seal and washer out to allow direct access to the bushing. All parts of the forks are clean and corrosion free, including the springs and washers inside the forks, so I can't figure out why this would be so stuck!

Frustrating. Thanks for the tips so far guys.
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I'm a little confused as to what you are tapping on. I thought the way to remove the upper slider was to put either part in a vice with a cloth/leather wrap to protect it, and then use the other end as a slide hammer to pop the slider out. Sometimes it takes more "wham" than others to get them separated, but if the clip and washer are out, the slider should also be free.
I had been trying the "use the fork lower as a slide hammer" method for a while with no luck, and was trying to drive them apart with a mallet and chunk of wood while the fork tube was still tightened in the triple tree. I finally gave up and took the fork tubes out of the triple tree and pulled one of them apart in my hands using the fork lower as a slide hammer. One of them is still stuck hard enough to not come apart, but i'm just waiting on my buddy to get home from work. Hopefully with our combined effort we can pop the two parts apart. I guess these things are just real stuck...
Have the seals and seal retaining circlips been removed?
I did the fork seals on my GL500 recently and was surprised at how much force was required to separate the uppers and lowers. after draining and removing everything, i had to graps one end in each hand and pull apart like it was a christmas present. Just a little brute force and it will come apart fine. So long as all screws, slides and springs are removed this method won't hurt anything.
The nightmare continues, I have literally removed every part I can from the fork assembly, and my buddy and i got on each end of it and pulled apart as hard as we could (impacting the bushing with each pull), and even after going until both our hands were sore and our arms hurting, it still would not budge. Today I tried penetrating oil, attempting to get it around the bushing within the tube, but so far I still haven't had any luck.

Has anyone tried driving the tube out from the allen screw's hole in the base of the tube? I doubt it would be do-able without damaging the threads on the tube that the allen screw mates with.

Wish I could be riding this thing haha, It was supposed to be an hour long fork job!
Has anyone tried driving the tube out from the allen screw's hole in the base of the tube? I doubt it would be do-able without damaging the threads on the tube that the allen screw mates with.
I really wouldn't reccomend this. Have you tried clamping the fork in a vice [with protection] and trying the slide hammer trick?

Corrosion/filth around the bush is a likely culprit so the penetrating oil is a good idea, keep spraying it in there at intervals while you're pondering your next plan of attack. Maybe even spray it up the fork leg through the hole the allen bolt came out of and then stand the fork leg upside down to give the penetrant the chance to attack from the back.
Also, I pulled out two springs (to be expected) and the upper is the normal 6" spring, the lower appears to be a two stage (half of it is tight wound, the other half is more open). That is aftermarket of some sort, correct?

Normal on my 81 gl's.

Short spring is pre-load spring, relatively loose coils, 2nd spring is progressive.
I suspect that someone used gasket sealer on your fork seals and they are fighting comming out. I just did this on my GL 500. Clamp the slider into a vise with softwood blocks. Grab the fork tube (chrome) and slide it until it seats so you'll have the range and then slide hammer it out. On mine, it took several hits before anything moved but it came out. Do not contemplate doing anything through the allen bolt hole in the base. A dangerous waste of time. I would not even think about using compressed air either. No control and someone is sure to get hurt. In an extreme case (like yours from what I read) use a hair dryer or heat gun on the slider area where the seal is seated. Heat it up well and than slide hammer it apart.

Good Luck, Capt. Frank
Thanks for the tips with the vice. I finally brought it into the shop at work and managed to pop it out far enough to expose the oil drain hole in the bottom. Careful prying using that hole allowed me to pop it the rest of the way out. As it turns out, the bushings weren't the problem - it was the fork seal itself. I didn't notice any special sealant or glue, but man was it stuck, I hacked at it for a while with a little hand pick, then finnally just grabbed it with vice grips and cranked it out. With much forgetting the proper order of reassembly.. I managed to put it all back together, looks like it all worked out in the end... though it was a major bother. Pictures below for those interested.

Fork Seal of Doom

Real dirty, cleaned up before reassembly.


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How did you get the lower bolt re-tightened? I got my new seals on, and the fork innards are spinning with the bolt.
I tightened that bolt after putting the forks back in the triple tree (not sure where you have them currently). I'm trying to think back to how it's all set up, but that was my method for 3 different fork seal jobs, and it always worked for me. Besides this job, I always did fork work with the tubes still in the triple tree - never saw much point to taking them all the way out unless you really want to check for runout and circularity of the tubes.
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