1994 XV1100 Blown Head Gasket? (Connecticut) (CLOSED)

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gigem2
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Joined: Sun May 02, 2021 1:39 pm
Location: Connecticut
What Virago you Own: 94 XV1100

1994 XV1100 Blown Head Gasket? (Connecticut) (CLOSED)

Post by gigem2 » Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:48 pm

The bike was running fairly well when I picked it up. In fact, I drove it 70 miles from where I bought it back to my place. I then started having various issues.
They started simple. The drain hose from the main tank into the reserve tank had a loose hose clamp. I fixed that. Then another tank of fuel later, the feed line to the carbs came loose and was pouring fuel onto the front cylinder. I thought it was from the bowl gasket until I removed the carbs. I took the carbs apart, realizing they had been apart fairly recently, but the jets were swapped front to rear. For some reason the rear cylinder is #1, which seems backwards to me. So, carbs went back in, a new fuel pump as well as new coils and plugs, because they all caused issues when I put the carbs back in, and I finally got it running again on Monday. I've put 60 miles on it since then.

It has a small stutter just coming off of cruise as you try to accelerate, but on the way home from work today, it started getting worse. Fast. With less than 2 miles to go, I noticed the low oil pressure light come on. It has a tendency to come on at idle on the side stand, which I remember being a good indicator that the oil level is a little low. That was my initial thought riding it back, so I continued to my place.

I let it cool off and wanted to check the oil level, and add as necessary. There was nothing visible in the sight glass, so I added a quart of oil.

I started the bike, with visible level, and the bike was still not running smoothly, and after a couple of minutes, the oil pressure light came back on. I shut the bike back off, and the oil level was no longer visible. All of this is on the center stand.

I pulled both spark plugs, and the front plug looks the same as it did yesterday, really rich. Yesterday, the rear plug was looking great, just a little lean if not ideal. Today, it's black and there's oil on the threads. I'm going to try to do a compression check tomorrow.

Did I blow a head gasket to an oil drain gallery? During the intake stroke, is the rear cylinder pulling oil in and trying to burn it?

Sorry for the wall of text, but I wanted all of the steps I've already taken out there. Any help, ideas, or advice is greatly appreciated.

Josh

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ViragoJoe
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What Virago you Own: 1996 Virago Special XV1100SH

Re: 1994 XV1100 Blown Head Gasket? (Connecticut)

Post by ViragoJoe » Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:31 am

gigem2 wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:48 pm
The bike was running fairly well when I picked it up. In fact, I drove it 70 miles from where I bought it back to my place. I then started having various issues.
They started simple. The drain hose from the main tank into the reserve tank had a loose hose clamp. I fixed that. Then another tank of fuel later, the feed line to the carbs came loose and was pouring fuel onto the front cylinder. I thought it was from the bowl gasket until I removed the carbs. I took the carbs apart, realizing they had been apart fairly recently, but the jets were swapped front to rear. For some reason the rear cylinder is #1, which seems backwards to me. So, carbs went back in, a new fuel pump as well as new coils and plugs, because they all caused issues when I put the carbs back in, and I finally got it running again on Monday. I've put 60 miles on it since then.

It has a small stutter just coming off of cruise as you try to accelerate, but on the way home from work today, it started getting worse. Fast. With less than 2 miles to go, I noticed the low oil pressure light come on. It has a tendency to come on at idle on the side stand, which I remember being a good indicator that the oil level is a little low. That was my initial thought riding it back, so I continued to my place.

I let it cool off and wanted to check the oil level, and add as necessary. There was nothing visible in the sight glass, so I added a quart of oil.

I started the bike, with visible level, and the bike was still not running smoothly, and after a couple of minutes, the oil pressure light came back on. I shut the bike back off, and the oil level was no longer visible. All of this is on the center stand.

I pulled both spark plugs, and the front plug looks the same as it did yesterday, really rich. Yesterday, the rear plug was looking great, just a little lean if not ideal. Today, it's black and there's oil on the threads. I'm going to try to do a compression check tomorrow.

Did I blow a head gasket to an oil drain gallery? During the intake stroke, is the rear cylinder pulling oil in and trying to burn it?

Sorry for the wall of text, but I wanted all of the steps I've already taken out there. Any help, ideas, or advice is greatly appreciated.

Josh
Josh,

This your first motorcycle?

What year Virago? We think it is an XV1100. However, no clue on the year. Caburetors are different depending on the year. Just saw your previous post.

Assuming this bike is new to you, based upon your intro. If indeed a head gasket is blown. you may have caused this yourself. Always get familiar with a new toy prior to doing anything to it.

Research prior to doing anything. Oil Pressure Light isn't an oil pressure light. It's an oil level light. A really useless device Yamaha uses. I'll explain why in a minute.

Okay, the sensor that turns this useless light on resides on the bottom of the engine oil sump. Right side and towards the front of the engine. Use a mirror placed under that side of the engine and you'll see it.

While riding it'll turn on because of a few things. Most folks and yourself assume it is an oil pressure loss indicator, not so!
First time mine came on was when twisting hard on the throttle to get into the flow of highway traffic that was traveling at around 85 MPH. That freaking light lite up like a Xmas tree. Scared the beejeebers out of me thinking I had no oil pressure. So I pulled on to the shoulder. Light went out. Hmmm!

Lets make this sweet and short. Under high accelerations the oil in the front of the engine tends to go to the rear of the engine. That sensor mentioned earlier drains to the point it turns that idiot light on.

Wait there's more. Go up a steep incline. Yup, sensor drains again, hello red light, back on.

Now comes the part that caused you to make a big mistake. You let it idle on the side stand. Remember where the sensor lives, front right side of engine oil sump. Yep, you guest it, oil slides to the left side of the sump away from the oil sensor. Bingo! Red light comes on. I think you are understanding now, right?

Here comes the problem when you added the oil thinking it was low.

Of course, you looked at the oil sight glass. It was empty, right? Especially, if the engine was running. Big reason for that. The oil pump is pumping oil to the upper parts of the engine to lubricate cams and other things. Causing the sight glass to look empty when the right amount of oil was in the bikes engine all the time. You assumed it was empty, bad call.

What made it even worse. You turn off the engine and maybe not quite, as being immediately, but looked at the sight glass again. Low and behold, sight glass was empty still. Although there was still sufficient oil in the sump. You just didn't wait for the oil in the upper areas of the engine to find its way back down to the sump to show up in the oil sight glass. That takes some time for it all to get down there.

So, now you over filled the sump with 1quart (32 ounces) of non required oil. Impatient creators we are. we can't wait instant gratification is a must. You now look at the sight glass, its full! However, it shouldn't be. You should be able to see the surface of the oil in the sight glass and that can only be seen when the bike is vertical and/or on the Center Stand. So, if you started the bike with a quart of unneeded oil you may have blown the head gasket and/or other seals. Time will tell and a compression test should be done. Not to forget, drain off the excess oil first.
For some reason the rear cylinder is #1, which seems backwards to me.
Yup, Rear cylinder is #1 and always will be on a Virago. Which way does the engine rotate Clockwise or counterclockwise when standing and looking at the engine from the left side of the bike. Clockwise! but, isn't that also backwards. Not really, Yamaha decided that was the way they were going to do it without consulting us. So, when working on your Virago you have to follow what they did to make it run properly. Whether we agree with them or not.

Same for that idiot oil level light. It really has no useful function. I think it was put there to balance out the dash board. Do we really need a high beam light. If not sure what beam you're using look at the switch or flip it back and forth, easy enough in my book.

Okay, now I'll bet you are thinking. How to correct this annoying troublesome flickering no sense idiot light. Easy, remove the bulb or just learn to ignore it. Look at the money Yamaha could have saved. No bulb, no sensor, and/or wiring to worry about for a useless device. The only way it will really measure oil level correctly is when it is on the Center Stand idling and that Josh is the only time it will give you a true indication you have oil in the engine. But, you still have no idea how much until you can see the oil surface in the sight glass to know for sure.

Reason I do not start and warm up my bike to drain the oil. Unless, I let it drain over night. Just easier to do an oil change on a cold engine. I know I'm getting all the dirty oil out. Then replacing with new oil I can watch how much is going in by monitoring the sight glass window. And not have to worry that it will show overfilled when the remained of oil has to flow down from the heads etc. if I warmed it up first.


Another way your oil amount can increase in volume usually over winter storage months:

DIY FUEL SHUT OFF VALVE - 1000 / 1100's

https://viragohelp.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=337
ViragoJoe 🇺🇸
1996 XV1100SH Virago Special
"Never ride faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!!"
;)


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gigem2
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun May 02, 2021 1:39 pm
Location: Connecticut
What Virago you Own: 94 XV1100

Re: 1994 XV1100 Blown Head Gasket? (Connecticut)

Post by gigem2 » Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:37 pm

The bike had been sitting for two hours before I checked the oil level in the sight glass. Additionally, the bike was on the center stand while running not the side stand. I was just mentioning that the light would come on previously on the side stand. I put 30,000 miles on my 750, in three years, so I'd say I'm somewhat familiar even though that was 12 years ago. I'm also no stranger to doing my own mechanical work.

To summarize, the bike had been sitting for at least two hours when I checked the level the first time. That's why I added a quart. The light should not have come on when idling on the center stand. I will admit I was a bit hasty checking the level right after shutting it off that time. Aside from the compression check I did 5 hours ago, the bike has been sitting on the center stand since yesterday, and I just looked at it. No oil in the sight glass.

Compression check: Front 85, Rear, 120
After a small amount of Marvel Mystery Oil Front 90, Rear 130 psi.
I did have both spark plugs removed before I spun the engine.

So, front cylinder...
It does have a wrist pin knock, on the front cylinder, once she warms up on.

I'm considering finding a used engine, and rebuilding this one with a little machining work to punch her out a bit. :D

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ViragoJoe
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Re: 1994 XV1100 Blown Head Gasket? (Connecticut)

Post by ViragoJoe » Fri Jun 11, 2021 5:15 am

gigem2 wrote:
Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:37 pm
The bike had been sitting for two hours before I checked the oil level in the sight glass. Additionally, the bike was on the center stand while running not the side stand. I was just mentioning that the light would come on previously on the side stand. I put 30,000 miles on my 750, in three years, so I'd say I'm somewhat familiar even though that was 12 years ago. I'm also no stranger to doing my own mechanical work.

To summarize, the bike had been sitting for at least two hours when I checked the level the first time. That's why I added a quart. The light should not have come on when idling on the center stand. I will admit I was a bit hasty checking the level right after shutting it off that time. Aside from the compression check I did 5 hours ago, the bike has been sitting on the center stand since yesterday, and I just looked at it. No oil in the sight glass.

Compression check: Front 85, Rear, 120
After a small amount of Marvel Mystery Oil Front 90, Rear 130 psi.
I did have both spark plugs removed before I spun the engine.

So, front cylinder...
It does have a wrist pin knock, on the front cylinder, once she warms up on.

I'm considering finding a used engine, and rebuilding this one with a little machining work to punch her out a bit. :D
Hi Josh,
During the intake stroke, is the rear cylinder pulling oil in and trying to burn it?
There is a good possibility, due to the low compression numbers. Oil may be getting sucked passed the rings on that intake stroke.

Sounds to be a reverse scenario. You rode the bike home 70 miles from where you purchased it with insufficient oil.

With the quart you placed in and the Oil Level Light illuminating while on the center stand. There may not be enough oil to turn the light off or the sensor needs replacing. Hard to say we don't know how much oil is really in the engine.

My suggestion is drain all the oil to see what is really in the engine to know for sure. You can always pour it back in when you know.

Engine compression is low compared to normal. Sounds like you have it under control to do some machining to get things back to normal and/or find another engine.

Would you like us to close this topic?
ViragoJoe 🇺🇸
1996 XV1100SH Virago Special
"Never ride faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!!"
;)


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gigem2
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun May 02, 2021 1:39 pm
Location: Connecticut
What Virago you Own: 94 XV1100

Re: 1994 XV1100 Blown Head Gasket? (Connecticut)

Post by gigem2 » Fri Jun 11, 2021 4:45 pm

ViragoJoe wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2021 5:15 am
Would you like us to close this topic?
Definitely. I did an oil and filter change. 3 plus quarts in after a cold drain. Low oil light back on in two minutes and white smoke coming out the exhaust for the front cylinder.
I'm probably going to strip it down and push it to an 1155cc while I'm at it.

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Re: 1994 XV1100 Blown Head Gasket? (Connecticut)

Post by ViragoJoe » Fri Jun 11, 2021 4:53 pm

gigem2 wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2021 4:45 pm
ViragoJoe wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2021 5:15 am
Would you like us to close this topic?
Definitely. I did an oil and filter change. 3 plus quarts in after a cold drain. Low oil light back on in two minutes and white smoke coming out the exhaust for the front cylinder.
I'm probably going to strip it down and push it to an 1155cc while I'm at it.
How much oil came out during the cold oil drain? Your one quart or more?

If the Oil Level Light came on with 3 quarts of oil in the sump while on the center stand. Sounds like the sensor is bad or clogged in some way.
Virago Oil Level Sensor Switch 2.jpg
You can always pull the bulb. You're suppose to check the oil at the sight glass anyway. I do prior to every ride. Better safe than sorry when it comes to oil.
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ViragoJoe 🇺🇸
1996 XV1100SH Virago Special
"Never ride faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!!"
;)


NOTE TO ALL:
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It will aid us in assisting you!

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ViragoJoe
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What Virago you Own: 1996 Virago Special XV1100SH

Re: 1994 XV1100 Blown Head Gasket? (Connecticut)

Post by ViragoJoe » Sat Jun 12, 2021 10:47 am

gigem2 wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2021 4:45 pm
ViragoJoe wrote:
Fri Jun 11, 2021 5:15 am
Would you like us to close this topic?
Definitely. I did an oil and filter change. 3 plus quarts in after a cold drain. Low oil light back on in two minutes and white smoke coming out the exhaust for the front cylinder.
I'm probably going to strip it down and push it to an 1155cc while I'm at it.

Fastest Virago (If You're Interested):
http://www.vsoc.org.uk/vsoc_articles/choppa-holic.htm
ViragoJoe 🇺🇸
1996 XV1100SH Virago Special
"Never ride faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!!"
;)


NOTE TO ALL:
:arrow: Please edit your profile to include your location.
It will aid us in assisting you!

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