Did Silkolene kill my '99 XR600????

Here's one for all you motorheads...

Ever since I bought my new '99 XR600 3+ years ago, I have been religous about changing the oil at least every 4th ride (approx. 15-20 hours) with nothing but Silkolene semi-synthetic 10w-30 or 20w-50 depending on the time of year without incident... until now. I went to Moab 2 weekends ago. The day before I left, I put in a fresh batch of 20w-50 and a new Fram filter.

By the end of the 1st days riding (6 hours or so), I noticed at least one of my valves was clicking. I didn't think too much of it because I adjusted the valves in January and maybe a locknut was coming loose. I pulled all 4 valve caps that night and sure enough my left exhaust valve was a little sloppy (however the locknut was still tight). I snugged it back down and took a quick sunset jaunt around Slickrock that evening. By the time I got back, it was clicking all over again so I had a beer, went to bed and dreamed of Poison Spider/Golden Spike/Rusty Nail on tap for the next day. First thing in the morning I pulled my valve caps again. Sure enough, the same valve was sloppy (the lock nut was still tight). So I snugged it down again and prepared to ride.

In the 10 minutes it took to get to the trailhead it was right back to it's chattering little self. Ignoring my better judgement I proceeded to ride for the next 4-5 hours. While it performed essentially the same as always, the clicking never got any better... or worse.

After returning home to Denver I took it to the shop. Of course their first question was "Have you been changing the oil?" After taking my valve cover of, they learned the engine was either not pumping enough oil to my top end or none at all which caused my cylinder head to melt and ruin all associated rockers, cams, etc. resulting in a $1,400 rebuilt top end estimate.

He kept indirectly accusing me of running it out of oil, not changing the oil and/or using cheap oil because they could not explain why it stopped pumping oil to the top end. After repeatedly denying their finger-pointing, he mumbled something about "maybe it's the oil."

Knowing I've been changing the oil regulary, I'm left with one burning question: is Silkolene to blame?

For those of you that suffered through this long drawn out drama, any thoughts???

Not the oil. Maybe your oil pump went hay-wire? Did they check to see what kinda shape it was in?

The mechanic never mentioned/entertained the idea to me so I would imagine he ruled it out... maybe... hopefully...

Did you check the the oil supply galley that delivers oil to your top end for blockage?Also check for a cracked oil pump drive...Sometimes a top end can appear "cooked" from lack of oil when the problem was actually severe overheating..I think you would have noticed lack of oil up top when you did your valve adjustments (just by smell alone)and the obvious dry look to all your valvetrain....Also I know nothing about the oil your using but I would think if it was to blame it would not have taken three years to to show it's effects...Good luck...

Maybe this is too obvious but alot of top ends get ruined by lack of oil from installing oil filter in backwards.Can easily be done. My bud with his 97' xr600r was changing his oil and showing his other bud with xr400 the right way and wrong to put in filter. ( Guess what??) Somehow it got in backwards!!! When you think about it, it is amazing the topend survives as long as it does with little or no oil! Luckily the bike was new enough to get alittle warrenty help.(dealer could have said "sorry")

e z-e,

Did you have the clutch cover off in any recent times before the disaster? If you did you have to be very critical in getting the aluminum graft that mates the oil pump to the filter cavity lined up. If this short tube is displaced then oil is not pumped to the top end! (I Learned the hard way!)

Also good point on the simple mishap of putting in the oil filter wrong! Something else to be alert of is not installing the oil filter cap wrong. The case and the cap have a elongated slot and whole that need to be lined up or else disaster!

Also check the external tube from the lower case to the top end, are there any kinks/dents? If the motor is still together, start it up and make sure there is oil in it, then crack open the nut that connects the external oil tube at the head itself. Then you should be able to judge if the problem lies below depending on the amount of oil that squirts out. If nothing there then work your way down to the oil pump. The odds are definately against you on the oil pump!! Also don't forget to check the out-flowing and in-flowing tube off the down tube of the frame for kinks!

Check out (servicehonda.com) You can get the entire top end ( valves, springs, seals, rockers, subrockers and complete oil pump) and including the HRC cam for a lot less than that quote. Then get yourself a (climber manual) and do it yourself. It is not near as bad as you think it will be!!

Good luck!! Any questions drop me an e-mail!

[ May 06, 2002: Message edited by: mr660 ]

For your oil problem check to see if you put your oil filter in backwards it cuts off the oil to the head, I know it happened to me. As for synthetic oil ive been running it for two years with synthetic and its the best investment you could make, the bike will last longer and shift smoother even with out the clutch.

I have never liked fram filters. They filter really well, but actually filter so much that they cut down the oil pressure. Add that with a bit of sludge and shavings and I can see where you could starve the top end for oil.

The other thing is how much oil did you use? after you change the oil and filter, you add one quart. Run the bike for a minute and then check the oil level and add. Be sure to start the bike after adding the oil so it can be pumped through th engine. It is different checking the oil level on a dry sump vs a wet sump motor.

There is also an oil screen on the frame by the drain plug. If that is pluged you can loose oil to the engine too.

I rode mine 14 miles and the engine blew. Next day after purchasieng it I took it to the dealer. Guess What? Filter on backwards from the factory. Never got any oil and 15 miles, that impressed me! Top end and the Crank got hot so they split the cases. Do it yourself, You will not mess up! It is definitey not your oil. You can use just strait car oil, and with the amount of changes you do will never run into problems. They rest of the guys are correct. Check lines, but check filter. If it is in backwards your screen under the down tube will be clogged with filter fir. It will surprise you.

Thanks for all of the input so far. The mechanic did check the filter and after a few nervous seconds while he was pulling the cover I did put it in right (whew!). Having never been inside my motor, how do I get to the oil pump and any associated screens to to see if there clogged? I suppose the shop manual should answer most of these questions.

I'm also going to tackle it myself thanks to mr660 and Brian Heath. I checked the pricing on the parts list the mechanic gave me on www.servicehonda.com and I've already saved $270 on parts alone.

Once it's done, how can I be sure:

1: that it's pumping oil where it needs to?

2: that it's pumping enough oil?

3: could it have heated up enough to cause any damage to the lower end and how would I know?

So many questions...

Hey eze, I live in Lafayette just north of Denver. I'll come help you if you want when you strip it down. You will see a chrome line going up to your head on the right side. Just undo the top lead when your motor is running and it should be spewing out. The screen is directaly under the down tube, I think it is a 14 mm nut or 17 can't remember. Sounds like your head was getting a little oil though or it would of went bad on you a lot sooner. Try to find out the problem before stripping it all down. I know it is riding season now, and this snow will be melted off by Thursday so you will be anxious. I'll talk to some more of my friends up here and I'll see what I can come up with.

And you probably didn't hurt your lower end cause it was getting all of the oil it needed from below. However I would put a new set of piston and rings and the needle bearings. Check to see if there is any discoloration to the top of the crank arm. When you see that there is not, wipe your forehead and exhale gladly cause you don't have to split the cases. You will be running in no time, it really is not that big of a deal. After you finish wrenchin and breakin it in and ridin a year you will be glad you did it yourself. It will be just another repair under your belt, and it is always better to do things yourself that way you know they are done right. Have fun eze. And if you need any help my email is brianheathdean.hotmail.com I'd be glad to help wrench on the 600. Just let me know.

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