In one night, my '09 became an "oil burner." - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 03-01-2014, 02:54 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Bend, Oregon
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In one night, my '09 became an "oil burner."

I never lost oil during the first 4k miles on my '09 and changed the oil & filter frequently. Then one warm April night I road off into the mountains to get comfortable with my headlight at speed. When I got back into town at 2:am the bike would stall at stoplights if I didn't roll on the throttle. I chalked it up to a dirty air filter and put the bike away. When I started it up at daylight I KNEW I had a problem; the bike white-smoked the whole alleyway! I expected a blown head gasket which would introduce water into the combustion chamber but no such luck, oil was dripping out the tailpipe.

The three weeks I had scheduled off from work to attend local rallies in May were in vain. I took the top end apart and upon confirming this was an ring issue which starved the top end of oil, parked the bike in the garage until I felt good and ready to repair it. That was last April. Six weeks ago I got tired of seeing buddy's ride pics and decided to get off my ass and back on the big black pig. The first step was addressing the piston and cylinder. Although they looked to be in excellent condition, I didn't trust them. For less than $300 the 83gram lighter Schnitz 685 piston would give me less vibration and peace of mind with all new gaskets, seals and most important of all, oil rings. It was another $95 to have Matt at M-Tech in Bend Oregon bore and hone the cylinder. The next big challenge was to locate a good cylinder head but NOT break the bank with a new $900 one.

None were to be found and every "used" one had some degree of galling. After a little research I found Mike at Engine Dynamics down in Petaluma California. This guy is an expert on repairing cylinders and heads and he was highly recomended by someone at Schnitz Racing. Mike is one of those rare machinists that will take the time to talk to you on the phone if his wife Jenny can't answer your questions. I explained to Mike how all four of my KLR's aluminum cam journals were completely destroyed, both exhaust AND intake and that even my cams were galled. Mike said he was confident that he could repair my head so I shipped it down with two "new" cams I had located on eBay.

In less than a month I received the repaired head, complete with new shims installed for the valve backlash adjustment for less than $450 shipped! I couldn't wait to see what kind of magic Mike had performed! I was concerned that he would weld up the aluminum journals and do a line-bore. This would create havok on a KLR head because welding is extremely hot and aluminum transfers heat very quickly and distorts all adjacent machined surfaces. This includes the valve guides, head cover surface and the mating surface for the cylinder. That's not what Mike does. What he DOES do is machine the four journal surfaces with their matching caps to a larger diameter. This doesn't create enough heat to warp anything. THEN he machines bronze bearings with the new, larger outside diameter and the exact same inside diameter as the original cams. This is much like the two halves of a bearing cars use for the piston connecting rod at the crank. What you end up with is a bronze bearing surface wich is much stronger than the original aluminum!

I am so pleased with Mike's work and I now have a KLR head that's better than original. Now that I've solved the oil burning problem I'm looking forward to seeing some of you at this year's Pacific Northwest rallies and maybe some farther away! I'm just starting to read up on what's scheduled.

P.S. I chose not to do anything more than what was necessary to restore my KLR to a reliable adventure bike; No bigger valves. No hot cams. No polish and porting the head. I only had to jet about one size bigger.

Last edited by PNWcrazymike; 03-01-2014 at 03:01 AM.
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post #2 of 5 Old 03-01-2014, 09:32 AM
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Great story and outcome. Always good to hear about someone with talent that will go the extra mile. I take it you are back on the road again??

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"It's a friggen motorcycle, it's not supposed to be comfortable, quiet or safe. The wind noise is supposed to hurt your ears, the seat should be hard and riding it should make you shit your pants every now and then. "

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post #3 of 5 Old 03-01-2014, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by klr4evr View Post
Great story and outcome. Always good to hear about someone with talent that will go the extra mile. I take it you are back on the road again??
With a vengeance! I'm getting the initial 150 mile "break-in" period out of the way. We've had icy streets and trails this week so I've put my second set of wheels on which have MT21's with DOT legal studs. Those tires work well in slush and great on ice. I've just got to take it easy when there's hard-packed snow where studs become useless.
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post #4 of 5 Old 03-05-2014, 12:38 AM
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keep an eagle eye on that oil.

Never ride faster than your angels can fly
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post #5 of 5 Old 03-07-2014, 01:32 AM Thread Starter
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I will! Between the new piston, rings and the cylinder machined, I feel pretty confident that the oil issue is solved.
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