Oil, Brake Fluid, And More Oil

First, let me start by saying that the Redneck Rope Trick has its limits, and I’ve reached them.  The oil leak on the Honda CB650 is now too much to hold back with some twine.  I’m afraid she’ll have to sit in the garage until some time next year when I can get an expert to take a look at her.

Regarding my Yamaha XS650, things are looking quite a bit better.  I mentioned a gas leak in my last post… well, I fixed it using a very cost-effective Fel-Pro radiator seal: https://www.autozone.com/cooling-he…mostat-gasket/fel-pro-thermostat-gasket/68354 which I learned about on the XS650 forum.  Sorry I don’t have a link to the original post.

So on August 15th I set out to change the oil in the XS.  When I got the bike a month earlier, the previous owner told me it had been changed recently, and the oil does indeed look, well, not fresh but pretty recent. But, considering the many sins of the PO I’ve already uncovered, it seemed smart to go ahead and change it now.

I could not budge the oil plugs, neither of them. I didn’t realize just exactly how BIG they were until I tried to find a socket to fit… nothing in my metric selection is nearly that big. I do have a high-quality crescent wrench (yes, there is such a thing) that I carry on my TW to deal with the rear axle, and I tried that, but I couldn’t move them.

The forum came to the rescue again, revealing that they were 27mm monsters.  I ordered a very reasonable 27mm impact socket, 6 point, half inch drive, from Amazon:


I learned that the original crush washers were most likely, well, crushed.  Turns out they are $7.50 or more each from Yamaha. Some digging around the forums led me to alternative sources, and eventually to this item:


Now the Amazon page doesn’t tell you much, but I looked the part number up online and found a better page here:


In short, they looked perfect, and when I had them in hand I verified that they were, in fact, perfect.

MEANWHILE, back on the forum I was told that I’d be dropping the sump plate.  Why, I asked, and the answer is that there is another oil filter in there.  In true XS650 fashion, the sump filter would almost certainly be damaged, and fixing it would be more effective than replacing it.


While waiting on the items mentioned above, I decided to see what I could do about the squishy front brake on my bike. I started a separate thread, to discuss what might be wrong:


Got just what I needed there too. According to the suggestions, either it’s the rubber brake lines (which surely need replacing anyway) or there’s a bubble stuck at the top of the brake line. So I did a bunch more parts research and ordered these items:

Brake line: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B073Z8GZSC/

Banjo bolt with bleeder: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DSH5N9F/

The brake line has pretty nice reviews; the bolt I’m taking a chance on, but for under $5.00 it seems like a good bet. It showed up in the mail the other day, and looks good as far as I can see.  Still waiting on the brake line.

It was the 29th of August before I found a good time to actually do the oil change.  I put a big breaker bar on the socket and the socket on an oil plug, then used a hydraulic car jack and a wood block to press the socket firmly onto the front oil plug.  I put some tension on the breaker bar with my leg, then whacked it a few times with my maul (the breaker bar, not my leg, thank goodness) and it broke loose.

Did the same on the rear plug, then drained the oil.  Pulled the upper filter and cleaned it, then reinstalled; then I pulled the sump plate.

Here’s what I found:

Got a few bits of the crud in the picture above out in the oil at this point, but the big bit had to wait until I pulled the sump plate.  The old gasket was not stuck too firmly to the engine cases (good news) but came off of the sump plate in pieces (bad news).  I ended up using liquid hand soap and a plastic pot scrubber, and quite a lot of elbow grease, to remove the last of the gasket.

The sump filter was blown out, too, but so neatly that I didn’t immediately realize it was blown out. It had a T-shaped split, vertical up to the top of the filter and then about 10mm left and right, with a little bit missing at the top.

Given that I was looking at more involved repairs, I oiled up the new gasket and reassembled everything gently, knowing I’d be taking it all apart after I figured out whether to repair or replace that sump filter.

I was seriously thinking I was going to have to do a top-end job, given the bits of the cam chain guide I found in the sump, but in reviewing the forum I discovered that it’s apparently acceptable to ignore the little bits as long as the engine doesn’t make undue metal-on-metal racket.  With hope in my heart I decided to move on with the oil change.

Incidentally, the computer-cut sump plate gasket I got from eBay is just a bit large, but not large enough that it wouldn’t seal. Scaling is something that’s always tricky when computer cutting.


Repairing the torn filter became my focus.  Here it is, after degreasing but before any repair:


Definitely needed a patch. I should mention that I removed the loose bits after this picture was taken, but before patching.

Most guys either apply the slow-setting JB Weld to the filter fabric directly, if there’s enough to glue back together, or if not, they glue a metal piece over it bent to carefully fit.

I had a different idea… denim.  Natural fibers won’t melt in the hot oil, and with JB Weld applied to inner and outer surfaces, no fibers should be able to escape.  The resulting composite should, I expect, be able to handle quite a bit of abuse.

So here it is:


I cut a patch out of a worn-out pair of shorts, using some of the relatively unworn material inside a pocket. I buttered it up nicely with the slow-setting regular JB Weld and applied it, holding it in place with rubber bands as shown. I removed the yellow rubber band after taking the picture, and wiped off some JB Weld that was on the lower mating surface.

After the inner layer of JB Weld was set up, I took off the rubber bands and used a shop brush to paint more JB Weld on the outside, thinly, but thick enough to secure all loose fibers in place:


And here it is tonight, with the JB Weld completely set up:


I felt around the edges and used sidecutters to trim off a few overly sharp bits, places where a thread coated with JB Weld stiffened into a point. Not so much that I think they will be a problem, but just for the sake of neatness.

Notice the area of filter fabric between the patch and the magnet (the flat metal part).  This area is subject to tearing out, now that the more vulnerable area is closed off.  I applied a coating of JB Weld to it as well, as suggested on the forum by member 5twins.

September 7th, i.e. today, I put it all together.  I had to trim a bit of the denim/JB Weld composite from the upper corner of the filter to get it in (though I think it would have gone “as is” if I hadn’t had to work around the kickstand). The gasket I got off of eBay is, as mentioned above, just a hair big but not so much that it doesn’t fit; I think it will be okay, anyway. We’ll find out soon enough.

Reviewing the various threads on oil changes AND the inventory of my local stores, I ended up with 15W-40 Shell Rotella. Filled it up, pulled the choke and started the XS for the first time in about two weeks. Raining, so no test ride today… I hate riding in rain.

Walked off to put stuff away while the bike warmed up; heard it revving, indicating the choke was no longer needed, so I looked over and saw the XS MOVING BACKWARD!!!


Ran over and realized the vibrations of the engine as it revved were causing the bike to “walk” backward on the centerstand, kind of like those football player figures in the old games. Pushed in the choke and it settled down.


I listened to the bike for a while, even revved it a little (with my hands on the bars so it wouldn’t wander away), and I’m just not hearing any metal-on-metal racket to indicate that the cam chain guide has gotten naked. So I’m hoping the bits I found in the sump are all there are, and that the guide is in fact good for a few thousand more miles; I’d like to make it to 2020 before I rebuild it (or have it rebuilt) given that I expect expenses from the Honda next year.

If I haven’t screwed anything up, my XS is fresh and ready to run. Still needs the squishy front brake fixed, but until the brake line arrives from China or Mars or wherever I can’t work on that.