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How difficult can fork seals be?

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Howdy y'all as with all finely tuned race machines my forks are spewing oil all over my mom's basement. Time for new seals and fluid. Shops seem to charge about 150 to do them which is more than I'd ever want to spend on anything. My question is, how hard is it to replace fork seals? Not how to replace fork seals I have YouTube for that, but they all make it look so easy so why am I FORKING (hehe) over 150 to have it done? Is it worth doing myself is basically what I'm asking. Thanks in advance.

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For sure do it yourself. It is easy if you get the tools for your specific bike. I'd definitely recommend a proper seal driver. Like any job, having the right tools makes a difference.

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Yes do it yourself, get a seal driver, and you will need a special tool to get to the inner cartridge, depending on what year yz you have

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fork cap wrench

cartridge cap hex tool

rod H-tool

fork seal driver

seal protective 'bullet' (optional)

graduated cylinder to measure the oil

various wrenches, ratchet / sockets

bench vise with soft jaws

 

2 quarts of fork oil

fork seal kit

plenty of clean lint free rags

2 spray cans of parts cleaner

a bit of grease for the seals

clean pan or container to wash & rince the parts in

 

and lots of patience as the first time you tend to make a bit of a mess, expect some oil spills and splashes!

 

Watch the TBT Racing how-to videos on YouTube over and over until you've memorized the procedure,

but like most you'll likely have to stop in the middle of the job to watch the videos again.

Edited by mlatour
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I do my own as well as valving and I think its fun..but to be the devils advocate here....

By the time you buy the seal driver, seals, bushings, oil, the inner and outer cartridge tools and spend the time rebuilding it...it kinda doesnt appeal to those non mechanical types. Its pretty easy to just drop em off and pick em up and be done with it.

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The difficulty and the tools required varies some depending on the type of fork you have, but none are real hard.  I did mine this weekend and made a valving adjustment as well. 

 

A piece of plastic bag makes a good protector for sliding the seal/wiper over the grooves in the fork tube if you are careful.

 

After buying the tools you probably won't save much, if any money over having it done the first time.  It's being able to do it yourself in the future where the savings are.

 

It is a messy and oily job so do it in a place where that will not be a problem.

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You'll probably break even the 1st time after the tool purchases so you'll be parting with close to $150 anyways. Dividends come each time thereafter [emoji106]

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You'll probably break even the 1st time after the tool purchases so you'll be parting with close to $150 anyways. Dividends come each time thereafter [emoji106]

yep, my thoughts exactly.  If riding dirt bikes is something you are going to do, learn to do fork seals. If this is just a passing fancy, drop 'em off.

 

Two other thoughts:

1. regular cleaning under the dust caps, especially after a sand/mud ride, will dramatically increase seal life.

2. I would say at least 6/10 times, the "business card" (I actually use State Farm insurance cards) trick of cleaning out whatever is caught in the seal lips will fix the leak.  Motion Pro sells a seal cleaning tool (seal saver???) if you want to spend money.

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Been doing my own fork seals for years.  Very simple.  Was always hesitant to mess with the inner cartridge until this year.  Push rod did not rebound when compressed.  Finally got man balls and took it apart.  Found that both free pistons had broken.  Replaced with nice CNC machined ones and we are back in business.  Use those TBT videos as mentioned above.  That guy is great.  

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Thanks guys. I'm definitely going to be riding this bike and other YZ's for a long time so I guess it's safe to go ahead and buy the proper tools. Maybe I'll start doing it for friends too as practice. [emoji106]

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They are easy once you do them like the above said, and fun IMO. Watch some videos on YouTube. Replace the bushings since this is the first time. Get OEM seals, the pivot works seals that I put in my bike failed quickly. The aftermarket seals felg harder than the OEM under further examination.

One tip to make things easier is to lightly heat the outside of the tube where the seal sits with a torch or even a hairdryer would work, just enough to make it warm. This makes the tubes separate much easier. Takes one or two swift pulss

They are easy once you do them like the above said, and fun IMO. Watch some videos on YouTube. Replace the bushings since this is the first time. Get OEM seals, the pivot works seals that I put in my bike failed quickly. The aftermarket seals felg harder than the OEM under further examination.

One tip to make things easier is to lightly heat the outside of the tube where the seal sits with a torch or even a hairdryer would work, just enough to make it warm to the touch. This makes the tubes separate much easier. Takes one or two swift pulss

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When your bike is on the stand, place something under the back wheel to keep the bike from falling back when you slide the forks out. Just my 2 cents. Good luck and enjoy the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

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Also lots of "tricks" out there to do without a seal driver. I just use an old seal as my driver and no issues, others use pvc, etc. "It's worth a google"

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Also lots of "tricks" out there to do without a seal driver. I just use an old seal as my driver and no issues, others use pvc, etc. "It's worth a google"

I used pvc, I used an old seal and a block of wood before, much harder. You can also make a damper rod holder out of pvc or 12mm open end wrench will work, can't remember if that is the right size.

I used 2" pvc, I used an old seal and a block of wood before, much harder. You can also make a damper rod holder out of pvc or 12mm open end wrench will work, can't remember if that is the right size.

I used 2" pvc. I used an old seal and a block of wood before, much more difficult, but can be done. You can also make a damper rod holder out of pvc or 12mm open end wrench will work, can't remember if that is the right size.

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Dang...I keep quoting myself in my edits:lol:.

My bad.

Edited by EatMaRoost

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I used pvc, I used an old seal and a block of wood before, much harder. You can also make a damper rod holder out of pvc or 12mm open end wrench will work, can't remember if that is the right size.

I used a crescent wrench for mine. works ok.

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The biggest benefit is you will see how easy it is to modify your valving. Unless your bike is perfect for you right now. In which case I like to replace midvalve shims often as they fatigue. And they are cheap.

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