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Bikes a submarine! Now what?

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So I was out riding my KTM 300 XC-W yesterday, went through several water crossings, some as high as the top of the motor. No problem, until of course the inevitable happens and down it goes, completely submerged. Pulled it out - kick starter won't move - Hydrolocked - (cylinder bore is full of water - piston cannot compress!)

Just as an aside - water was clear - but cold. I still have 3 adams apples today - can't quite figure out why!

Anyway, i had read about how to deal with it, thanks you thumpertalk and KTM talk, figuring it would eventually be something I would have to deal with. And I admit, I was more than skeptical that it would work - but here I go!

So I pull off the tank and seat, pull out the spark plug, flip the bike over - so the wheels are skyward, push the kickstarter through 50 or 60 cycles - get 2 or 3 cups of water out of the cylinder.

Put it back together, kick it 6 or 8 times - Damned if it doesn't fire up, it's a bit boggy, but nursing it along to higher RPM, and about 2 minutes of riding, and it is like nothing ever happened. So, I ride it 10 miles back to my truck, take it home, change the oil - no sign of water in there! use WD40 in all of the connections bearings etc - drive out any residual water, and here it sits, ready to ride another day.

But it got me to thinking - how would you 4 stroke guys deal with that? my brother has a 400 XC-W, and it's only a matter of time before he buries it - he did it once already, but he hit the kill switch before it went under - and it started just fine. But what happens if a 4 stroke sucks H2O? how do you fix that on the trail?

Carl Johansson

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We have a local water cross event where plenty of sleds go under water....as did you, dump the fuel and water, dump the pipes and light it off. 4 strokes can be a nightmare engines are only a little tougher to clear, but bent valves, water logged oil resivors and complex crabs.....well it sure makes for more work and more risk.

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But it got me to thinking - how would you 4 stroke guys deal with that?

They buy a 2 stroke. :smirk:

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Great story!! Wish I was there to witness it!

Glad you and your kid were not there to witness me floundering like a beached whale trying to get upright and out of the creek!

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Knowing my kid he wouldve jumped in there just to swim with you!!

I kind of wish he was there to witness the fiasco. Over time the story would grow to legendary proportions, I would become a legend in his own mind!

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But it got me to thinking - how would you 4 stroke guys deal with that? my brother has a 400 XC-W, and it's only a matter of time before he buries it - he did it once already, but he hit the kill switch before it went under - and it started just fine. But what happens if a 4 stroke sucks H2O? how do you fix that on the trail?

Carl Johansson

A guy on a 4 stroke would do the exact same thing that you did. You get the water out and fire it up. I've drowned mine... more than once! I started it back up with a little patience. Then I finished my ride and changed the oil when I got home. I saw no water in oil I drained, which was good.

Is that so different than a 2 stroke?

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We have a local water cross event where plenty of sleds go under water....as did you, dump the fuel and water, dump the pipes and light it off. 4 strokes can be a nightmare engines are only a little tougher to clear, but bent valves, water logged oil resivors and complex crabs.....well it sure makes for more work and more risk.

Water doesn't bend valves. No detectable water in the oil when I drowned mine. Carb is not an issue. I've been underwater more than once.

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in some ways be glad its a 4 stroke, if it was 2 stroke the water would just find its self a nice happy place in the bottom of your crank case :smirk: and that would be bad, atleast a 4 stroke the exhaust and everything is all seperet from each other, and the oil stays alot cleaner.... hahd a guy decide to try and hydro plane on his 2 stroke, he went in the not so deep water bike went in, guy had his side pannel cut out for grabbing the bike for tricks in the air, bike wouldnt start after that, i figure hes got a whole bunch of water in his crank case, i bet hes having fun with that....

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But it got me to thinking - how would you 4 stroke guys deal with that?

Carl Johansson

Pull the spark plug, kick until no more water comes out, dry off plug and reinstall, dry off air filter, look at oil for water contamination, fire her off. I'd change the oil at the first opportunity, just to be sure.

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fwiw, when our xr200 drowned, it got water in the oil. Even two oil changes produced some cloudy oil. A friend recomended a quart of oil and about a pint of kerosene. slosh it around, kick it a few times but don't run it. Let it sit a while and when it drains it will be clean as can be.

Drain it well...

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A guy on a 4 stroke would do the exact same thing that you did. You get the water out and fire it up. I've drowned mine... more than once! I started it back up with a little patience. Then I finished my ride and changed the oil when I got home. I saw no water in oil I drained, which was good.

Is that so different than a 2 stroke?

The only time i drowned a 4-stroke, I got water in the oil. Not a huge problem if you are not in the boonies. After draining the intake and cylinder and getting the bike restsarted, I rode back to the truck, changed the oil and rode the rest of the day, which cooked any traces of water out of the new oil.

It did take a little longer to resuscitate the 4stroke. We can do a 2stroke in 10 mins or less. Heck, I've even un-drowned my 200 by myself in under 15 mins.

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Water doesn't bend valves. No detectable water in the oil when I drowned mine. Carb is not an issue. I've been underwater more than once.

So if you hydrolocked the motor - essentially filled the cylinder with water, the valves would not bend?

I don't know, thats why I am asking?

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So if you hydrolocked the motor - seesentially filled the cylinder with water, the valves would not bend?

I don't know, thats why I am asking?

the valves are closed when a motor hydrolocks, so they are bottomed out on the valve seats.

normally the rod bends or breaks in a catastrophic hydro-lock, like when a running motor ingests water. it helps to hit the kill switch before that happens.

valves bend when the piston hits them (like when they float at ueber-high-rpm, or when the cam chain breaks).

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So if you hydrolocked the motor - essentially filled the cylinder with water, the valves would not bend?

I don't know, thats why I am asking?

Exactly want llama said above me. No way it can bend valves. If the valves are open water would be forced up thru the valves into the exhaust or intake. If the valves are closed it will just press the valve into the seat and put the pressure down on the piston and rod and the rod being the weak link it would bend

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But it got me to thinking - how would you 4 stroke guys deal with that?

Done it. Resolved the same way, and in some ways it is easier to resolve. Since your bottom end is soaked in water on a two stroke, you have to worry about crank bearings. 4-strokes usually don't get much water in the bottom end, and even if they do, it becomes a water/oil emulsion, which isn't too bad at lubricating. The most important thing is to get it started right away. It you let a motor sit even for a day after being drowned, you're in trouble.

All the hydro-lock stuff doesn't really apply for a single-cylinder motor. The damage occurs when one cylinder fires into the other hydro-locked cylinder. Drown an Aprila twin, and you might be looking at a big buck repair.

JayC

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So hey Carl, did you get it all cleaned out when you got home? Good thing you didn't put the new engine yet!

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