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  #1  
Old 29th January 2014
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Arrow Why is there oil down the side of my bike?

There are so many questions each week about:

Why is my bike dripping oil from the air cleaner?

Why do I have so much blow-by (or as HD calls it, oil carryover)?

Why does the side of my bike get covered with oil mist?



To start with, it is important to understand that all internal combustion engines have a certain amount of blow-by. This is because, by design, they build crankcase pressure, and that that pressure has to have a place to vent.

On modern Harley's, this happens at the head breather bolts.

Prior to the hot oily air exiting via the head breather bolts, HD has what is called an umbrella valve. Its' job is to filter out the majority of the oil and have mostly hot air vent out the breather bolts. They do a pretty good job, and when everything is right, it is mostly air and a small amount of oil that vents out the head breather bolts.

Umbrella valves can go bad, however, the majority of time that there is excess oil venting out the breather bolts it is NOT from bad umbrella valves, it is usually something else.

Below is a list of the most common reasons for excessive blow-by, and what can be done about it.

1. The single most common reason is incorrect oil level. Every owners manual has instructions on what the correct level is. There is an entire thread with all the pertinent info at this link-
http://www.hdforums.com/forum/oil-re...oil-level.html

However, here is the bottom line, straight from the HD owners manual-

"The correct oil level should register midway between the FULL and ADD marks on the dipstick.

If oil level is at or below the ADD mark, add only enough oil to bring the level to the middle of the two marks on the dipstick."

Of course, this is confusing because HD refers to the top mark as "Full" when in reality, they say in the same sentence that midway between the two marks is full. Typical. lol

Read more on this subject at the link above.


2.
Old oil is losing it's viscosity, or Incorrect viscosity for temperatures you are riding in.

In the HD Owners Manual the following chart appears-



If you are riding in temps of 60* or higher, the best viscosity, which will result in the least amount of blow-by, is straight 50 weight. 20-50 may have just as good of lubrication qualities as straight 50 weight, but IT WILL produce more blow-by at temps of 60 degrees and higher.

If you are riding in temps of 80* or higher, the best viscosity is straight 60 weight. IT WILL produce LESS blow-by.

3. The bike is running too hot. The hotter the oil, the more blow-by. Modern synthetic oil starts breaking down around 300 degrees, and dino oil around 250 degrees. However, LONG before reaching those temps it gets thinner and by-passes the umbrella valves and results in more blow-by. Most will agree that the ideal oil temp is between 180-210 degrees.

4. It may not be the blow-by that is dripping oil or putting it across the side of your bike. If you have a re-useable filter, it may be over-oiled. Sometimes they come from the MFG. over-oiled, and sometimes they are over-oiled after they are cleaned.

5. Excessive lugging of the engine will produce more blow-by.



The above are all things you can address fairly easily.


Below are more serious reasons, that can require more effort to fix-

1. Engine worn creating excessive blow-by. (rings, valve seals, etc.)

2. Umbrella valves not functioning correctly.

3. Crank out of round (creating excessive crankcase pressure).



What you can do if getting excessive blow-by


Once you have made sure all the easy things are right, then if the bike is running fine and you don't want to delve into the more serious issues, there are a couple of things to do if you are still getting excessive blow-by.


1. If you have an EPA approved air cleaner that feeds the hot oily air into the air cleaner there are two choices.

A. Route it out to the atmosphere so it does not collect at the bottom of your air filter and then drip. This is also better for your engine performance and engine longevity. Gas engines run best on gasoline and cool dry air, not on gas, oil and hot air.

B. If you want to keep the EPA happy and keep routing into the air cleaner, then make sure the tubes feeding that hot oily air are well down the throat of the carb or throttle body so that it gets into the engine and not onto the air filter.


2. If you are using a traditional external breather system, then put the filter above the air cleaner, like shown in the pic below. This is so the majority of oil will drain back into the engine instead of pooling in the filter.

Alternatively you can use the Discrete Breather System to route the hose down to a filter toward the bottom of the bike... or to a "catch can" which will hold the oil and need periodic emptying.



Two examples of the many possibilities with the Discrete Breather System-





To learn more about the traditional hose/filter style breather go to this link-
http://www.dkcustomproducts.com/Comp...-ACI-EV-BR.htm

To learn more about the Discrete Breather System, go to this link-
http://www.dkcustomproducts.com/91-U...IN-EVO_c75.htm

3. If you are using Outlaw Breather Bolts, they came with extra filters. You can put those extra filters into the bolts and they will help filter out excessive oil.

To learn more about Outlaw Breather Bolts, go to this link-
http://www.dkcustomproducts.com/Poli...K-ACI-ALBB.htm


A small amount of blow-by is normal. It is NOT normal to have so much that oil is dripping or spraying the side of your bike. Even if you ride really hard for long periods at 100 degrees, the most there should be is a very light film, not enough to run or drip.

A related thread with additional information can be found at this link-

http://xlforum.net/forums/s...ight=viscosity
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  #2  
Old 29th January 2014
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Overfilling the oil bag has the same results, best to keep oil on lower half of stick
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Old 29th January 2014
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This is a GREAT resource, and I'm going to make a sticky of it.

My own experience has also shown that lots of high rev operation can cause blow-by, as well.

Most users would be well informed to know that there IS a level of oil that will minimize blow-by....that level is below the highest mark on the dipstick, to be sure....
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  #4  
Old 29th January 2014
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"Blow by" is the combustion gasses that 'blow by' between the compression rings and the cyl wall. A healthy engine should have very very little of this going on.
Second of all the Umbrellas do not control blow by. They are merely one way check valves to allow crank case pressure to escape, yet not allow air to be drawn back in on the up stroke of the piston. If they fail to close you will be sucking as much air in as it pushes out and all that extra air picking up the atomized oil in the crankcase is what then ends up in the breather. An engine with proper sump oil scavenging, GOOD rings and properly operating umbrella valves will not puke oil if the tank is filled. Take the time to understand how it all works and all those questions like " Why is my bike puking oil into the breather?" will be obvious. If filling to the full line was the cause then all bikes would do it. My 4 never have never done it. Dry sump engines won't do it..Regardless of tank capacity as the scavenging side of the oil pump maintains a certain amount of leftover oil in the crank case.. It is designed to scavenge at least at the same rate of feed. Otherwise the engine would eventually fill up with oil and blow all the seals. Over fill your average wet sump Honda 4 cyl and yes it will puke it out till the crank isn't swimming in oil anymore.
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Old 30th January 2014
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To be clear, I do NOT doubt DK's experience with running straight weights in higher temps and I DO think people who are having problems with excessive blowby might be smart to try it under similar circumstances as it might solve their problem.

I only object to his presentation of the factory specs as he and I have discussed before. No one should believe that they HAVE TO run a straight weight in those temps or that the factory PREFERS you to, as that is in error.

The primary factory recommendation for that temperature IS and REMAINS 20-50.

HOWEVER, IF you find that when temps consistently above 60ºF or 80ºF that YOU are getting what you feel is excessive blowby, then you might wish to TRY a straight weight.

For the record, here's the thread where we discussed it and the definitive answer to what Harley's PRIMARY recommendation is for oil weight:

http://xlforum.net/forums/s...primary&page=2

Quote:
20/50 IS THE PRIMARY RECOMMENDED FLUID!

When checking some of my tech literature I noted that the set-up manuals specify that all bikes are shipped with 20/50 from the factory (Syn3 for CVO models) which seems to further support that 20/50 is the primary recommendation:

Example:


Quote:
Quote:
All touring models except CVO models are shipped with
Genuine Harley-Davidson SAE 20W50 Motorcycle oil. CVO
models ship with Screamin' Eagle SYN3 Synthetic Motorcycle
Lubricant in the engine, primary chaincase and transmission.
OOOOH, wait - found it on the Harley website! Along with that traditional style chart I was talking about:

Go here:

http://www.harley-davidson.com/gma/g...bmLocale=en_US

and follow the link labelled "Important Information Regarding Genuine Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Oil)":

Emphasis mine:


Quote:
Quote:
The recommended viscosity grade for all temperature conditions is SAE 20W50 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Oil.

SAE 10W40 H-D Motorcycle Oil is also available and appropriate for low temperature climates. The SAE 50 H-D Motorcycle Oil is satisfactory in ambient temperatures of 60-80ºF, and the SAE 60 H-D Motorcycle Oil in ambient temperatures above 80ºF. SAE 20W50 covers the broadest range of operating temperatures.
Let me see if I can link to the chart:



There you go. 20/50 IS THE primary recommendation, the chart in the service and owner's manuals does a poor job at attempting to convey that the other 3 oils are allowed but ONLY for more limited temperature ranges. And though the straight weights are "allowed" they are not ideal or the first/primary recommendations, even at higher temps.
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Old 30th January 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bone View Post
To be clear, I do NOT doubt DK's experience with running straight weights in higher temps and I DO think people who are having problems with excessive blowby might be smart to try it under similar circumstances as it might solve their problem.

I only object to his presentation of the factory specs as he and I have discussed before. No one should believe that they HAVE TO run a straight weight in those temps or that the factory PREFERS you to, as that is in error.

The primary factory recommendation for that temperature IS and REMAINS 20-50.

HOWEVER, IF you find that when temps consistently above 60ºF or 80ºF that YOU are getting what you feel is excessive blowby, then you might wish to TRY a straight weight.

For the record, here's the thread where we discussed it and the definitive answer to what Harley's PRIMARY recommendation is for oil weight:

http://xlforum.net/forums/s...primary&page=2
You realize that at operating temperature both are 50 wt oils. Right? The 20/50 is only the lighter weight when cold. Once warmed up it acts as a 50 wt oil... The Mo Co recommends multi viscosity so as to get oil moving quickly at startup.
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Old 30th January 2014
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I know that's the theory behind it, but I've had oil engineers explain it's not that simple.

And all oils lose viscosity with wear and with increased temperatures. I believe multi-viscosity oils do so at different rates depending on the formulation and the spread between the rating and temperature ratings.

Not to mention one of the debated points here is between a multi-50 and straight 60.
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Old 31st January 2014
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A couple of notes on this subject-

This subject has been beat to death.

What is really being referred to is "oil-carryover" in HD speak for the oil that gets past the umbrella valves. It is commonly (and incorrectly in most cases) referred to as blow-by.

In an attempt to get a definitive answer, I just called the tech department at HD Corporate, twice. Wanted to see if I would get the same answer both times.

I asked the following questions:

1. All of my manuals give a recommended oil weight of SAE 50 for temps over 60* and recommended oil weight of SAE 60 for temps over 80*.

However, there is a place on the HD website that says the recommended viscosity grade for all temperature conditions is SAE 20W50 Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Oil. And further says that SAE 50 and SAE 60 are only satisfactory.

Which is accurate?

Both answered to follow the recommendations in the manual for the temperatures you ride in. However, 20-50 has the ability to be fine in most of those temperatures.


2. I told them I was still confused...which is the preferred.

One answered that the preferred is what is in the manual.

The other answered that neither is preferred, but that the either the 60 or the 20-50 would be fine.


3. I then told them that there could be weeks at a time where the temps where I live don't drop below 90*.

They both said that in those kind of extreme temperatures the straight 60 would be better...but then qualified it by saying I would still be ok with the 20-50.



Based on my experience with my personal bikes, and reports from thousands of Customer bikes, Plus the answers above from Tech Support at HD Corporate, the info in the manual is Not a legacy leftover, but in warmer temps Most bikes will run better (quieter and less oil carryover) with the heavier viscosity oil as recommended in the manual.

As stated by myself previously, and the HD Tech Support, they will run fine with the 20-50 also.

The link previously posted by Bone (which is no longer a live link) where the 20-50 SYN3 is preferred shows that the Motor Company is putting out multiple instructions on what should be run. (the very same information may be in a different link, but I could not find it today).

Bottom line for me is that Bone and I will hopefully disagree amicably on our understanding of what the Motor Company says is preferred. btw, if all that was available to me was 20W50 in 90*+ temps, I would not be the least bit worried about running it and having any engine troubles.

Every bike is different, each owner should be aware of all the info being put out by the Motor Company, then find what works best for their set-up on their bike.

Myself, I will continue running 20w50 in the winter, and when it's warmer, will run the 50 or 60 weight, because that is what runs best in my bikes in my weather.
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Old 31st January 2014
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Amicable disagreement over a pedantic point for sure.

I am certain that straight weights are fine in hot climates.

They may even be "better" in some ways, as you say your experience shows with oil carryover.

That said, on the pedantic point of "preferred recommended" spec, I'll believe:

1. Harley's specific printed word that says 20-50.

and

2. My reading of the viscosity chart based on twenty + years of writing service manuals and working with the tech info from every major player.

Over Harley "tech support customer service reps" who by your own admission contradicted themselves AND each other.

Though I'd still consider running a straight weight in "extreme temps" if I ever had an excessive carryover problem.




PS I very much appreciate your professional and intelligent discourse on the subject.
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Old 12th February 2014
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Allow me to add to this discussion, with an Idea....

How about one of us creates an return line from the head breathers
to the Oil Tank and let that oil dribble back into the tank?

Slick...
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