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I am the proud owner of a 1997 HD Classic. 80 cubic inch carb engine with 15000 miles. I change the oil religiously at the beginning of warn weather here in SC regaurdless of miles and use synthetic HD 20W-50 oil and HD filter. As I drove to town yesterday I can't let my pants leg become heavy on the right hand side. Looking down I noticed it was engine oil pouring from the carb air cleaner. If I remove the air filter and start the engine it will squirt streams of oil for about a foot and a half from the head breathers. Engine is factory. No mods. Any ideas?

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It pumped all buy maybe a quart out and I'm pretty sure it would've continued pumping until it was dry

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When I say pumped out streams I mean almost continuous not just a little puke at start up

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On my 2009 XR1200 I used to check the oil level when it was cold before starting, twice I have replaced the breather lines on the cylinder heads because they were "leaking". I since talked to a Harley service tech that said if you fill the oil tank when cold it is overfilled and the excess oil has to go somewhere. Are you checking the oil level after it "pukes"? My manual says to get the engine up to operating temperature and check the level on the sidestand while hot.
 

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Ahh...coffee!


It's squirting that forcibly out both breather hoses?

Another thing to check would be the breather and breather gear located in the cam chest.

Also, the oil pump is another place to check. If it's a Heritage Classic Softail you can open up the oil bag, start it, and look inside and see if you see oil circulating. If not, then your oil pump is definitely suspect. Don't let it run for more then a few seconds though. It's kind of hard to see if you have an Ultra Classic. (Touring frame.)
 

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Ahh...coffee!


It's squirting that forcibly out both breather hoses?

Another thing to check would be the breather and breather gear located in the cam chest.

Also, the oil pump is another place to check. If it's a Heritage Classic Softail you can open up the oil bag, start it, and look inside and see if you see oil circulating. If not, then your oil pump is definitely suspect. Don't let it run for more then a few seconds though. It's kind of hard to see if you have an Ultra Classic. (Touring frame.)
Yes it's squirting steady streams after about ten seconds of running. I'm at my wits end. I'm sure there isn't supposed to be pressurized oil right there. Everything I've read says that the head breathers are to let the "air" and oily mist escape that's created by the downward movement of the pistons. I pulled the oil return hoses off and they aren't clogged and oil is flowing from undervthe jugs back to the sump even a few seconds aftervthe engine is shut down.

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Yes it's squirting steady streams after about ten seconds of running. I'm at my wits end. I'm sure there isn't supposed to be pressurized oil right there. Everything I've read says that the head breathers are to let the "air" and oily mist escape that's created by the downward movement of the pistons. I pulled the oil return hoses off and they aren't clogged and oil is flowing from undervthe jugs back to the sump even a few seconds aftervthe engine is shut down.

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This happened all at once. I changed the oil about 800 miles ago and I haven't added any since the oil change except for whatbi added after it pumped itself out

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Possibly sumping.



Sumping would still imply the bike was sitting for a period of time and only puked out the oil that crept its way past the bypass valve and spring correct? It is doing this squirting all the time now that the engine is running.

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On my 2009 XR1200 I used to check the oil level when it was cold before starting, twice I have replaced the breather lines on the cylinder heads because they were "leaking". I since talked to a Harley service tech that said if you fill the oil tank when cold it is overfilled and the excess oil has to go somewhere. Are you checking the oil level after it "pukes"? My manual says to get the engine up to operating temperature and check the level on the sidestand while hot.
Thanks for the info. I'm my bike there are no breather lines except for the two that connect the head breathers to the air filter. I had not added any oil to the engine until after I rode it for about four miles and noticed it pumped out alot of oil. It isn't touchingvthe stick at all right now and if I fire her up it will pump until dry I'm sure.

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If it's squirting out under pressure as you described, and it keeps pumping it out, that sounds more like an oil pressure or return issue then wet sumping. Since you've already checked your oil lines for clogs and your oil pump is returning oil, you're one step ahead of the game. Here's a couple of things you can check next:

1) The first thing I'd do is a cylinder pressure test and a cylinder leak down test. This should let you know if your rings are allowing too much pressure to blow by them and increase your crank case pressure. If so, cause excessive pressure in your rocker boxes and blow oil past the umbrella valve.

2) Next I'd remove the rocker box covers and look for oil pooling in the top end. That would tell me that an oil return gallery is clogged and the oil is building up in the top end faster then it can get out, and it's then getting pumped out the breathers.

3) While you have the rocker covers off carefully inspect the gaskets. It's possible there's a failed gasket that's letting excess crankcase pressure get into the breather side of the cover, and that's siphoning oil out as the excess pressure goes out.

4) Also, inspect the umbrella valves and make sure they're not warped or otherwise damaged. If so, they could be letting pressurized oil squirt up through.

5) If you don't find the problem in the top end, then take off the cam chest cover and inspect the crankcase breather gear and breather. I think your year is one that used a delrin or nylon gear, and if if it's jumped out of time or a few teeth are worn off it could be letting too much pressure into the cam chest, and at the wrong time.

Other then then the piston rings all of the above are relatively easy fixes, so hopefully one of those will be whats causing your problem.
 

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If it's squirting out under pressure as you described, and it keeps pumping it out, that sounds more like an oil pressure or return issue then wet sumping. Since you've already checked your oil lines for clogs and your oil pump is returning oil, you're one step ahead of the game. Here's a couple of things you can check next:

1) The first thing I'd do is a cylinder pressure test and a cylinder leak down test. This should let you know if your rings are allowing too much pressure to blow by them and increase your crank case pressure. If so, cause excessive pressure in your rocker boxes and blow oil past the umbrella valve.

2) Next I'd remove the rocker box covers and look for oil pooling in the top end. That would tell me that an oil return gallery is clogged and the oil is building up in the top end faster then it can get out, and it's then getting pumped out the breathers.

3) While you have the rocker covers off carefully inspect the gaskets. It's possible there's a failed gasket that's letting excess crankcase pressure get into the breather side of the cover, and that's siphoning oil out as the excess pressure goes out.

4) Also, inspect the umbrella valves and make sure they're not warped or otherwise damaged. If so, they could be letting pressurized oil squirt up through.

5) If you don't find the problem in the top end, then take off the cam chest cover and inspect the crankcase breather gear and breather. I think your year is one that used a delrin or nylon gear, and if if it's jumped out of time or a few teeth are worn off it could be letting too much pressure into the cam chest, and at the wrong time.

Other then then the piston rings all of the above are relatively easy fixes, so hopefully one of those will be whats causing your problem.
Thanks my friend. Even us A.S.E. Certified Master Diesel Technicians who have shed more blood under the hoods of Freightliners for the past 24 years then most gunshot victims still get stumped on these beautiful V-twin pieces of plunder. I will keep you posted.

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