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Brand new head gasket leaking?

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The signs point to a leaking head gasket. I’m just not sure why a new head gasket would be doing that. It was recently installed, 7.7 hours ago to be exact, with my new Cylinder Works big bore kit. I’ll describe the problem in hopes that some one can point out something I’ve missed, either a different problem, or why the head gasket might be leaking.

 

Bike is a 2005 S Model
CW Big Bore kit w/ single layer base gasket
Hot Cams, not new to the bike
E model FCR, not new to the bike
   Stock pilot, adjustable fuel screw, James Dean needle on 4th clip, 170 main
Yoshimura Ti exhaust, not new to the bike either
K&N air filter, 3x3, all the standard stuff
Engine Ice in the cooling system

 

I took my bike to my friend’s shop for the big bore install. Bike was running just fine, but I wanted the extra power. My spare time is limited and he gives me a break on parts/labor. So why not? Install seemed to be fine and the bike ran great. I installed an hour meter and after 2.6 hours of easy break in, I changed out the break in oil and filter.

 

After the oil change I took it out for a 1.5-2 hour ride to see what the bike could do. Ran great, with seemingly no issues. When I got home and put the bike away I noticed the coolant reservoir was nearly full. The next day I drained it and topped off the radiator. I dismissed it as a fluke.

 

Next day, I ride it to work. It was an easy commute in 45-degree temps. We can split lanes here in California, so I was always moving. I get to work and look down; the coolant tank is half full again. At lunch I decided to take it to my friend’s shop. It’s within walking distance. His mechanic gave it a visual and suggested I try a new cap. They gave me a loaner to try. It doesn’t say, but I believe it’s a 1.3 bar and it’s from CV4. When I pop off my stock cap it pukes warm pressurized coolant. Not too odd considering I rode it over there.

 

The ride home seems fine. No additional coolant in the reservoir when I park it. Problem solved, so I thought. Two days later I pop off the cap to check the fluid levels, and it pukes cold pressurized coolant out. Now I’m bothered. The cap was just a band-aid for something else. My friend with a GSX-R says his radiator stays pressurized and not to worry too much about it. But a head gasket leak was looming in the back of my mind.

 

I researched possible causes and decide the mechanic probably torqued the head to 34 lb ft. That weekend I decide to retorque my head to the TT suggested 43 lb ft. I loosened the head bolts (possibly a mistake, but what did I have to lose?) so that I could retorque them starting at 18, 34, then 43 lb ft in the recommended pattern. I also adjusted my valve clearances; they were in spec but right on the tight limit since install of the Hot Cams. I also raised my needle one notch, to the 4th clip because it seemed a little lean and a richer mixture would run cooler.

 

I ride it to work again, no additional coolant in the reservoir. Ride it home and once again no coolant in the reservoir. Two days later I pop off the cap to check coolant levels. Good news, no big pressure release and coolant spill. Bad news, the coolant level is low. I think to myself “Darn. Only one other place for it to go, into the engine.”

 

I don’t see any external coolant leaks, I don’t have white smoke coming out of the exhaust, the bike doesn’t seem hot. There isn’t any sign of coolant in the oil (on dipstick), or oil in the coolant. It really has me bothered.

 

I don’t believe the mechanic used the copper spray on the head gasket. So that’s a possibility for the leak. So is a defective gasket, a cracked/warped head, or a defective cylinder. But could it be other cooling related issues instead? Water pump or thermostat failing? Huge pocket of air in the system?

 

I just want to try to cover my bases before pulling the head and replacing the gasket. Sorry for the novel. I appreciate your help.

 

Thanks!

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if youre positive theres not coolant in your oil, top off your coolant and see what happens. i know when i flushed my radiators in my cbr when i filled up the rads i ran the bike with the cap off and rev it a little to get rid of the air

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The DRZ head is not known for warping..... even when severely over heated.

There have been a few reports of the welch plug leaking (manufacturing plug installed at the manufacture after casting, sits under the cams)

Gasket, if it leaked due to mis tq at initial install, re torquing will not fix,, once coolant has moved across the  gasket, it's going to need replacement.

Gasket may have been damaged on handling / install.

Head  or cylinder surface may not have been prepped correctly on install.

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Thanks guys. I realize I'm going to end up replacing the head gasket. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't forgetting something else. Thanks again.

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Clean, clean, clean the gasket surfaces.

 

Check the welch plugs for signs of leakage

 

Check the gasket surfaces for damage

use only known quality gaskets,, OEM, Cometic being two.

 

if your so inclined spray the head gasket with two light coats of Copper Coat .. Should not be needed for a 94mm bore and under 13:1 CR.. But it wont hurt.

 

TQ the head bolts to 43 ftlb with a calibrated or otherwise known good TQ wrench.. 43 ftlb on the tq wrench scale should not bee in the top or bottom 10% of the scale range.. If it is, get a smaller( larger) tq wrench.

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Any preferred method for cleaning the gasket surfaces? I would typically use a gasket scraper, as needed, and some carb cleaner. Do you clean the gasket itself with anything before spraying the copper coat?

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Use nothing metal to clean the surface of head and cylinder.. I use a 3M plastic scrubber.. plastic scraper, rough rag, cleaner, pressure/

 

I do a final wipe down with brake clean or acetone on a clean lint free cloth (I use Micro Fiber)

 

Nothing on the gasket.. remove from package, spray lightly, wait to tack, light spray again... let dry

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OP...Another sign of a blown HG is that the rad expansion tank overfills.....Was it doing this.?

Yep, as stated in my original post. It filled the expansion tank on my first real ride after the initial break in.

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if youre positive theres not coolant in your oil, top off your coolant and see what happens. i know when i flushed my radiators in my cbr when i filled up the rads i ran the bike with the cap off and rev it a little to get rid of the air

  

Would also check for air trapped in the coolant system.

Yeah, can't really get rid of trapped air when it continues to bubble with the cap off and engine running. Forgot to include this detail in my original post. Sorry.

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Use nothing metal to clean the surface of head and cylinder.. I use a 3M plastic scrubber.. plastic scraper, rough rag, cleaner, pressure/

 

I do a final wipe down with brake clean or acetone on a clean lint free cloth (I use Micro Fiber)

 

Nothing on the gasket.. remove from package, spray lightly, wait to tack, light spray again... let dry

  

If you Follow the above advice .. You will never Fail :smirk:

New gasket set has been ordered. Will definitely follow this advice. Hoping it CAN'T fail. ;-)

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Before you do anything drastic replace your radiator cap I thought I had a headgasket leak also and after I bought a whole new piston kit to refresh the top end it was just the cap all along I use a 1.6 bar now instead of the oem 1.1 and no more coolant escape attempts (it was filling the overflow and not returning when cool - symptoms of a blown Hgasket)

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Before you do anything drastic replace your radiator cap I thought I had a headgasket leak also and after I bought a whole new piston kit to refresh the top end it was just the cap all along I use a 1.6 bar now instead of the oem 1.1 and no more coolant escape attempts (it was filling the overflow and not returning when cool - symptoms of a blown Hgasket)

I did replace the cap with a 1.3 bar cap. No more puking coolant into reservoir. Now the coolant is disappearing into the engine. Gotta be the head gasket.

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