Help 57: Engine Break-ins

An engine is at itís most vulnerable just after a rebuild. New parts are settling in and minute high spots are wearing off mating components. Oil becomes polluted with debris and soon needs to be changed. Gaskets gradually compress as the hot engine expands, and unless fasteners are retightened, joints may leak.

Frequent check-overs during the running-in period will prevent disaster. Short trips should be accomplished to satisfy this need, followed by a through going over of the bike. Bring several tools with you on these rides. An adjustable wrench, screw drivers, extra oil, and electrical tape can save you from pushing the bike home, especially on the first time out! Listen closely to the bike during the ride and do not hesitate to look at the engine during the ride! Excessive valve clattering, popping of the exhaust, and/or extensive engine noise will indicate the extent that your check-over should encompass. You should be answering the following question during the ride: Does the bike accelerate smoothly (advance working?)? Start easily? Do I hear any unusual noises? What are they? Is the clutch grabbing correctly? Is the bike handling well? Is the bike pulling to one side?

After the ride take a look at the engine, does it appear to be running hot or have oil leaks, these all indicate immediate repairs. Are the exhaust pipes blue? Blueing of the exhaust pipes, a hot running engine and/or a hard starting engine indicate that the timing may have been set wrong or the points loosened up during the ride.

A thorough going over should include checking the timing, or at least the point gap. Checking the valves. Never assume you tightened all the nuts and bolts on the bike. Carefully check every fastener. Do not forget to check all the lights and cables. Make sure all the brake switches are adjusted correctly and lock nuts tightened. Are all the fluid levels correct? Do you see any gas leaks (check the gas pepcocks, carbs, and tubes)? Oil leaks (check every oil line clamp, are they tight?)?

Place newspaper under the bike when you park the bike for the night. A clean surface under your bike can aid in finding slow leaks. If you plan on another ride the next day, give yourself extra prep time just in case slow leaks are apparent. If you take your time and carefully go over the bike during break-in you will assure the investment you made in the bike was well spend!

Safe Motoring,


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