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No oil after oil change

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' started by Fa1c0n, May 15, 2014.

  1. #1 Fa1c0n, May 15, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2014
    Hi guys,

    Changed the oil in my mates 2012 1200 Sportster. Seemed to take a lot of oil, seemed like it wanted more than the book recommended, even after checking with the dipstick when hot. Got it to about halfway up the dip stick. Probably about 3L of oil? Anyway, that is besides the point but thought it might help.

    He left my place, all good. Rode his bike a few times then went to America for a month.

    Upon returning from the states - he checked his oil and there is NONE on the dip stick.
    He checked the oil drain plug, still there, no leak.
    He checked the oil filter, nothing leaking here.
    Apparently there is oil sprayed on the rear wheel/fender.

    Any idea what the hell is going on here?

    Also - where is the oil pressure relief valve?

    A guy on a HD forum suggested "Wet Sumping". This seems to match this description.

    Anyone got any ideas?
  2. On the other side of the coin - you could say he has a very well oiled machine ;)
  3. sound normal to me
  4. More helpful words have never been spoken.
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    • Funny Funny x 1
  5. #7 GreyBM, May 15, 2014
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
    So how much oil should it take? 3l doesn't sound much too me. But if you overfilled it may force it's way out.
  6. Not that I know anything about HD, but google search does seem to point to possible pressure relief valve stuck open (in the oil pump?).
  7. sounds like it wet sumped to me, did he start it?
  8. There was too much freedom.
    • Like Like x 3
  9. Tony Abbott should knight this man.
  10. I would like to see him try it , I would shove the sword strait up his arse
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  11. #13 jstava, May 16, 2014
    Last edited: May 16, 2014
    Ah " Wet Sumping", and a lack of sympathy for Harley. Lots of bikes have the potential (and actually HAVE the malady) At least they are not blaming a flat battery. My XT and CB750 of old and Present SRX will do it too.

    Caused when oil drains back into the sump of the engine from the remote tank in dry sump engines, through the relief valve, worn oil pump, oil pump with the rotors in the "wrong" position. The specific cause is specific bike related, and irrelevant if the owner is afflicted. It does happen.

    It can be related to oil on rear of bike where the owner sees the oil level low when cold and tops it up, unrecognizant of the fact the missing oil is in the sump. After a few cycles of this, when the bike is started, the oil which is returned to the remote tank is excess to its capacity (and often well beyond the amount of oil the motorcycle should hold) and it overflows.

    Is it harmful? Can be. There are at least two issues - 1. All this oil can find its way onto the rear tyre when the tank overflows. That's fine if all you want to do is spectacular burnouts, but no good for riding. 2. When you start a bike with NO oil in the remote tank, lubrication to the engine, which is drawn from this tank, is delayed. This can result in high wear on starting. 3. (a potential only) if there is a blockage of the vent tube (from the top of the remote tank to the top of the sump on more modern engines), or a blockage of the vented cap, there can be a buildup of pressure in the tank as the oil pumps up, which can damage it. I had this happen once when a careless mechanic had plugged the vent tube temporarily with a roller bearing while doing some work on the engine and forgot to remove this plug during reassembly. The effect on oil level was mystifying and interesting to say the least.

    Solution? Accurately measure the oil when doing oil changes. Run until warm and recheck. You know what the true level is. Thereafter, only check the oil immediately after stopping the engine (or even when running) This will give you a true indication of the level of oil in the bike. Do not be alarmed if you see oil quite low on the dipstick if you've checked it cold, run the engine until warm, and recheck, rather than just add a half a litre of oil - this will guarantee you will reach an overfull situation in a hurry and should be avoided. Use your bike often. If there is NO oil apparent on the dipstick after sitting for a while, add a couple of tablespoons only. If it makes you feel good, you could drain all your oil into a container and refill your remote tank with it or just consider it a part of a continuous oil change program, sans filter on the occasions when you do this. (old school approach). It's also worth identifying the location of the pipes carrying oil to and from the tank. Also, if a bike is parked on the side stand, ALL of the oil in the tank may not drain out. Determine this by using a long straw to test the depth of the oil left after sitting with the bike vertical - it may well be beyond the reach of the dipstick but plenty deep enough to provide a source of oil on starting. i.e. if the delivery pipe is immersed in oil, then there is little potential for a "dry"start. Knowing whether your remote oil tank actually drains dry during "wet sumping" can provide peace of mind. NB. the oil pick-up is usually not in the very bottom of the reservoir. There is often a fitting with a screen. Here is a job for one of those nifty little inspection cameras, if it will fit in the filler hole, otherwise the parts diagram can give you an idea.

    Who would own up to owning a Harley in here? Now how many of you guys own utes? :)

    I hope you find this helpful, Fa1cOn
  12. "Here is a job for one of those nifty little inspection cameras, if it will fit in the filler hole,"
    As it happens, Aldi are selling these on special next week :)
  13. Awesome - Thanks for the detailed response.... One thing though - your solution, didn't seem to have a solution to prevent this happening and get the oil back up into the oil tank?

    Any troubleshooting tips to find out what is causing the oil not to return?
    Step by step would help this poor soul.
  14. Pop quiz
    Is it a Sportster with an Evolution motor in it?
    That runs a tank with a dry sump?
  15. So you have run the engine and the oil doesn't return?
  16. If it didn't, It would indicate a non-functional oil pump. - your engine wouldn't last long. - minutes. If this were the case, it probably wouldn't have run long enough to turn it off last time it was used.

    To get the best indication of the true oil level, from a cold start, run the engine for a few minutes. Most oil tanks will achieve their normal operating level quite quickly as the feed (to the engine) rate is not as fast as the scavenge (return to tank) rate, then check the oil level.

    If you notice the level is down before you start the bike (possibly due to the leak-down effect, referred to as "wet sumping") Watch the level (through the open oil tank filler hole) as the bike is run those first few minutes. If it has a tendency to "wet sump" and it is not genuinely low on oil, you will notice the level rise and stabilise at its normal operating level, which should be between the marks on the dipstick.

    There is your solution Fa1cOn
  17. we have run the engine, and there is none in the oil tank under the seat. My mate said he never saw any oil on the ground but there is some "under the rear tyre guard".
  18. Doesn't sound good. Possible blockage, scavenger pump problem.
    The oil under the rear guard was probably blown out of the crankcase breather.
    The XR has a plug underneath the engine, maybe the XL has aswell? Its hard to get too and needs a allen key that has been cut off because the frame is in the way, you can drain the oil in the crankcase out their.
    Check all the oil lines are ok, none pinched or damaged, blockages.
    Next is the oil pump, I believe the XL oil pump and scavenger pump have a common drive, so its basically one unit, 2 pumps, I can't tell (with the pictures I have) what holds the oil pump rotors to the drive shaft, maybe its stripped? rotors could be worn.
    I think a stuffed pump would be rare for such a new bike.
    Anyway, do you guys have a workshop manual? You're going to need it if you plan on trying to diagnose this yourselves.
    Give me a email address to send a link to for a manual download, the manual is for a XL and XR 2010 model but this should cover his bike aswell.
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