Author Topic: Spark plug well leaks  (Read 339 times)

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Offline The Dude

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Spark plug well leaks
« on: September 30, 2017, 06:34:55 am »
Back in March, I replaced the valve cover gasket and spark plug well o-rings.  All of which had annoying, but not significant leaks.  While I had it open, I did a valve adjustment, which was a first for me.  Per the instructions in the Clymer manual and information gleaned from this site, I put RTV only where it was required, which was the half moons of the cover gasket.  That was 2500 miles ago, including a long trip from San Antonio to Eastern Arizona and back. I was pleased that the bike was running well after the valve adjust, and had no apparent leaks.

Today I had the tank off to install a longer enricher cable (7/8" bar conversion happened at time of valve cover) and noticed oil residue around a couple of the spark plug boots.  ("Dammit!")  I pulled the coils/wires/boots and found that three of the wells had more oil in them then I've ever found before. (see pic for worst one - only half of the plug bolt is visible due to the pooled oil). 

Here's my question: Since I've already got her stripped down and coils/plugs off, should I go ahead and remove the valve cover again to address those spark plug well gaskets?  Or do I just take the tank off and clean up the wells every couple of months until the next valve adjustment comes around?  I have to ask, because that valve cover was a PITA to get back into place.  But the second time has GOT to be easier than the first, right?

When I did the valve adjustment in March, I bought the block-off plates at the same time as the gaskets, thinking that I wouldn't have to deal with those useless reed valves ever again.  But when it came time to put it all back together, I realized that I was NOT going to get the valve cover back in place without removing the block-off plates I'd just installed!  Am I wrong in thinking this is why one installs the block-off plates?!?!  Should I have tried harder?  Is the job even possible with those B-O plates installed?  If not, what is the point of those block-off plates?

BTW, if I DO remove the valve cover again, should I just add some sealant to those well gaskets? I am on a mission to to make this bike leak free!


Past: '84 KZ700, '91 VFR750
Current: '02 CONCOURS (Smooooth Project #3)
Torque cams, 7th gear, SiSF carb treatment, 2MM, free power upgrade, 17" wheels, Sonic 1.1kg with GVEs, Spiegler brake lines.

Offline Mcfly

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2017, 10:08:40 am »
Ahhh the leaky plug well gasket...  If it were me, I'd open it up and replace all the gaskets to prevent further 'additional maintenance.  Also, if you're on the road and have a plug issue, that gritty nasty oil may seep into areas the doesn't like gritty anything.

Install the block off plates...  They will make the valve cover much easier to wriggle in, as those PAIR valves will be gone.  There's a faring bracket on the upper left side that if you loosen, can add a liitle more room when putting the cover back on.  Slow and easy with that cover...  it's frustrating, but if you go easy, the gaskets don't get mauled.

I'm gonna say no to the extra sealant....  It might not fix the leak, and it will make a bigger mess the next time... DAMHIK.  Very light coat to hold the gaskets in place don't forget the half moons on the main gasket., let it set, then find your zen and wiggle real easy into place.

« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 10:25:37 am by Mcfly »
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Offline Bob_C_CT

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2017, 10:37:43 am »
Having them all being leakers after new ones installed in my opinion must be the installation or they are defective.
Did you torque the valve cover to specification?

How much RTV did you put on the half moons, I normally just put a dab in the corners where the half moon meets the flat part.

Did you clean the spark plug well gasket mating surfaces both on the cover and the top of the engine?
I usually put some oil on my fingers and coat these clean surfaces with a thin coat of oil.

Could the gaskets been moved while installing, probably not all 4 at the same time though.

Are these the correct gaskets and they are new ones?, mixed up with the old ones?

If there any leakage on the valve cover gasket?

I can't comment on the block off plates upon disassembly but I put the block off plates on during my last valve adjustment with button head screws and don't remember having to remove them during the cover install.

Good luck and if it were me I would fix it.
97 C10,ZRX Front, Meanie Rear

Offline m in sc

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2017, 01:24:43 pm »
my guess is you put the plug well seals in 'upside down' with the rounded bump towards the valve cover and the 'squarer' lip towards the motor and they failed.

Offline RWulf

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2017, 01:54:28 pm »
Remove the left side fairing mount bolt ( the one with the rubber grommet) and
reinstale it to hold the fairing away from the mount bracket by an inch or so.
Insure the gaskets are installed correctly, see "m in c post". You may use a
light coating of gasket sealer on these gaskets. The half moons also just a light
coating around the radius and an inch or so each side. I hope your using a non-harding
gasket sealer.
When replacing the cover you will notice it contacts the coolant hose running to the
thermostat. If the hose clamp is in the way loosen it and rotated it out of the way.
Re tighten it. The hose being a bit flexable allows you just enough clearance to get
the cover to slide into place. Torque it cover bolts per the manual. Your now
good to go. If leaks persist you may need replace the rubber under the the cover bolts.

Offline The Dude

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2017, 07:16:31 pm »
Well, I removed the valve cover, which was made easier by moving the fairing bracket as suggested. But I still had to remove the screws for the block-off plates. Fortunately, they're sealed in place, so if they stay that way on the reinstall, all I'm out is a couple of minutes to remove and reinstall the screws.

What I found is what you see in the attached picture. The well gaskets were installed correctly, and it appears that I did clean the grooves for them in the cover.  The valve cover gasket, however, was pinched along a two inch long section behind cylinder 2.  I am very surprised that it didn't leak there!  And I'm wondering if this caused the well seals to leak, since the valve cover gasket, while torqued down to spec, wasn't perfectly flush because of the pinch.

I'll be ordering a new valve cover gasket shortly.  The well seals, however, look like new.  So unless the COG collective believes I should change them out also, I'm going to leave them.  And yes, I am using a non-hardening sealant: Permatex Ultra Black

I am interested in hearing if anyone else agrees with my theory of the pinched cover gasket preventing a sure seal at the wells.
Past: '84 KZ700, '91 VFR750
Current: '02 CONCOURS (Smooooth Project #3)
Torque cams, 7th gear, SiSF carb treatment, 2MM, free power upgrade, 17" wheels, Sonic 1.1kg with GVEs, Spiegler brake lines.

Offline Bob_C_CT

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2017, 08:25:00 pm »
I believe you found the culprit
97 C10,ZRX Front, Meanie Rear

Offline m in sc

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2017, 10:42:51 pm »
yup. i stand corrected. must have lifted it up enough to allow well plugs to seep. glad you found it.  :great:

Offline cra-z1000

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2017, 10:51:19 pm »
As far as the block off plates goes , there is one screw that needs to be removed still , it sucks but it's necessary. I would have never bought them if I had known this ahead of time .
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Offline The Dude

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2017, 12:02:36 am »
As far as the block off plates goes , there is one screw that needs to be removed still , it sucks but it's necessary. I would have never bought them if I had known this ahead of time .

I removed the first two (from left to right) after it became obvious that the first one was getting in the way.  Then I had to remove the third one to get the cover all the way out.  If they stay in place without breaking the seal, then they're still saving me time and grief.  But I agree with you.
Past: '84 KZ700, '91 VFR750
Current: '02 CONCOURS (Smooooth Project #3)
Torque cams, 7th gear, SiSF carb treatment, 2MM, free power upgrade, 17" wheels, Sonic 1.1kg with GVEs, Spiegler brake lines.

Offline m in sc

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2017, 01:30:15 am »
i dont have these nor plan on getting any, but cant you countersink the screws and make them flush?

Offline The Dude

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2017, 04:00:52 am »
i dont have these nor plan on getting any, but cant you countersink the screws and make them flush?

The plate is pretty thin where the holes are.  They could probably be chamfered a bit, and a flat head screw used instead. But it's not a project I'd take on for such a minor inconvenience. Apparently, some people can get the Valve cover out without removing those block off plate screws.
Past: '84 KZ700, '91 VFR750
Current: '02 CONCOURS (Smooooth Project #3)
Torque cams, 7th gear, SiSF carb treatment, 2MM, free power upgrade, 17" wheels, Sonic 1.1kg with GVEs, Spiegler brake lines.

Offline beaucephus

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2017, 02:32:42 pm »
i dont have these nor plan on getting any, but cant you countersink the screws and make them flush?

The plate is pretty thin where the holes are.  They could probably be chamfered a bit, and a flat head screw used instead. But it's not a project I'd take on for such a minor inconvenience. Apparently, some people can get the Valve cover out without removing those block off plate screws.
Some threads reference moving the cover forward or back when removing from the left (can't remember which).  It sure doesn't like coming straight out.  I removed the plates. 

Offline RWulf

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Re: Spark plug well leaks
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2017, 02:52:49 pm »
As you noticed the cam cover bolts are shoulder bolts, they bottom on the cylinder
head. The only pressure applied the the cover is from the compressed rubber of
the bolt gaskets. If these are old and hard they don't do much.
It's all too commend to pinch the gasket where you did. Lots of us have done it.
The block off plates don't need to be sealed in place, just torque them to spec.