Suspected blown head gasket - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 09-14-2012, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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Suspected blown head gasket

Hi
I have 96 klr650, and it's drink about 1/2 a liter f water a day, I checked all the cooling system components and they are all okay, no leaks, but still water are missing. I'm suspecting that the head gasket is blown, how can I be sure before I remove the head?, I don't see white steam in the back, but the motor won't start when it's hot.
Is there a tutrial to how to change the head gasket ?

Tnx
Ilan
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post #2 of 7 Old 09-14-2012, 12:45 PM
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You need to buy a manual for starters and that alone will answer all your questions and strongly suggested anyway.
I would also worry about why it happened and when it first started to show signs of issues. What were the riding conditions like, was it a hot day, too much trail riding, too much highway running? What? There is a reason it blew if it did. Is there any milky stuff in the oil? Is there any oil in the water? It doesn't have any leaks around the head gasket itself? No white smoke coming out of the exhaust at all? There has to be some sign of water going somewhere or it is leaking from somewhere it can't evaporate. So to speak. Have you checked the thermostat to see if it is working corrctly? There are many smaller tests to check to see before opening it up and finding a cracked or warped head. That will basically cost you hundreds to buy new or used and or repair. It won't be as simple as just take the gasket out and slap a new one in....there is a reason it blew there always is.
Sorry to say. Buy a clymer or kawi shop manual...fist and read and search for clues.

Willys
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post #3 of 7 Old 09-14-2012, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
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Tnx Willys
yes the bike worked hard in the hot summer of Israel.
The bike bought after it was standing for about two years, when I started it, one of the cooling pipes blown, the thermostate was stuck so I removed it, latter on the bike got heated so I washed the radiator, then water entered the oil so I had to replace the water pump gasket, and now water are leaking somewhere. I pressured up the cooling system and found no leaks, so the only way is that the waters are entering the head, right? No water in the oil now.
Another clue is that the motor won't start when it's hot, guess it's because of the water in the cylinder???
I don't see white smoke in the back, but not every day the water are missing so I guess the head gasket leak is very small and not all the time open.
I pressured up the cylinder and don't see any leaks, but again maybe the crack in the head gasket is not always open.
Is there any tricks to test if the head gasket has very small leak?
I don't have the time to buy the service books, as I wants to work on it tomorrow, I will look on the Internet for some instructions on how to replace the head gasket.
Tnx
Ilan
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post #4 of 7 Old 09-14-2012, 02:56 PM
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Don't bother taking the head off unless you are going to FIX it.....it's just a waste of your time etc.
What are the valve shim clearances like? That will be a better reason it won't start when hot. The valves are being slightly held open because metal expands when hot closing the shim gaps and not allowing the piston to develop compression.
The cost fo the head gasket will pay for a manual, seriously....you are wasting your time touching the head without first going through everything first.
Yes a small crack could be the problem, in that case you better start looking for a new head, simple. Anything that requires you to take the head off in this direction of thinking requires machining or repair costs or buying new. So, for you to rip the head off is totally wrong.....but it's your call feel free.....I'm just suggesting ways to deal with the problem without costing you large $$$ or whatever it is where you are at.

I'll wait for some good pics of the head off and what the condition is of the valves, shims, shim gaps, piston cam bearings.....etc etc...then offer up more suggestions......

We need much more information about this bike and how it was used to make better judgement calls without actually seeing it for ourselves.

Willys
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post #5 of 7 Old 09-14-2012, 03:33 PM
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Ilan –

I think you’ve done a pretty good job of evaluation. If coolant is not leaking on the floor, not getting into the oil, then it likely is going out the tailpipe. That indicates a leaking head gasket. After all, the bike is old and has sat for some time before you started using it again.

I will say that a head gasket failure on the KLR is fairly rare; it's a robust design. Given the bikes age and history, though, it's not impossible.

The general process for evaluating a head is to remove it, use a good straight edge and some feeler gauges to see how much, if any, warp there is, then to have the head skim-milled to make it flat. Any competent machine shop can do all this for you, and can also tell you if the head is salvageable. They can also check for cracks in the head itself. It shouldn’t cost much for the evaluation or the machining.

On the practical side of things, the bike is 15 years old. That means that it’s not worth very much and spending a lot of money isn’t wise. I think you definitely want to go the inexpensive route here. If you remove the head and find it is badly warped, look for a different bike and part this one out.

I do think it is worth the effort to figure out what’s going on and if it is salvageable. If you have decent mechanical skills it is not a really difficult job. If it requires no more than a small skim cut to make the gasket surface flat, go ahead and do that and put it back together.

One thing, though, do not be tempted to pull the head, place a gasket in there, put it all back together and hope it works. A warped head will not allow the gasket to seal for long and doing so is a waste of time and money.

By now you’ve probably scoured the web and found plenty on head gasket replacement, so I won’t dwell on that. You might be interested in going to this post and looking at the fourth video, starting at about 2minutes in to it, to see what’s involved in installing a head and gasket. You won’t see the teardown, but I think you can figure out what the reverse process would be. The video skips some tedious steps, as it was not intended to cover head installation.

Follow Willy's advice, though. Once you've got the valve cover off, check the valve clearances. If they are tight then that's very likely the reason it won't start. You may find that you can refresh the valve clearance and run it for a bit to see if the water problem is really real. Be cheap!

Regards,

Tom

Tom [email protected]

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Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 09-14-2012 at 03:39 PM.
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post #6 of 7 Old 09-14-2012, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Tnx Tom
I didn't understand one thing, what you ment by "do not be tempted to pull the head", did you ment not to pull the cylinder of the piston?

Tnx
Ilan
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post #7 of 7 Old 09-14-2012, 05:48 PM
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Sorry Ilan, too much American English.

Restated:

"One thing, though, do not be tempted to only remove the head, replace the gasket and replace the head without doing the inspection and necessary machining and hope it works. A warped head will not allow the gasket to seal for long and doing so is a waste of time and money."

Tom [email protected]

I lit a cigarette and dragged a smoking stand beside the chair. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. -Philip Marlowe

'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used. -Napoleon Bonaparte


Sting like a butterfly.
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