Buell - sporty had tough time across the country
I recently completed a 8,400 mile road trip and my bike is in bad shape. First I'll give you a quick rundown of my bike and how it went on the trip:
-2003 XL 883, 4,000 miles on it when I purchased it
-Hammer 1250 kit installed at around 5,000 miles. Upped the jets to 44 and 180 and retarded the ignition. Never had any problems with pinging except for bad gas one time.
-I took off from Philadelphia with about 11,000 miles and fresh Amsoil 20W50 in the engine and Mobil 1 75w90 Synthetic gear oil in the primary. The bike ran fine but I did notice a leak at the base of the one of the push rods.
-The bike crapped out on me in Oregon. The whole charging system went. I took it to a Harley dealer and the tech was concerned about a "noticeable" bottom end knock in addition to the charging system. He expressed "little faith" in my engine and said the 75W90 gear oil was far too thick and might have caused poor lubrication and overheating. He put HD 20w50 in the primary and said it sounded better.
-By the time I got to San Francisco the bike sounded awful. Very noisy top end. Lots of metallic ticking sounds that hadn't been there before. It was leaking oil from the cylinder base gaskets and somewhere on the heads.
-Las Vegas... I was really doubting if I was going to make it home. I was losing tons of oil. Starting the bike up cold was painful. There was loud metal on metal clanking but it would go away when the bike got hot. I was going to stop in at the Vegas HD dealer but I figured if they were to recommend tearing down the engine the cost of labor plus staying in a hotel for however long would not be worth it so I decided to ride the bike as far as it would go.
Obviously I made it back. I just tore down the top end. I was expecting free play in one of the connecting rods but they seem to be fine. There's a little bit of horizontal play in the front rod, but after some research I learned that it's normal. I feel that there is excessive carbon buildup, I'll post a link to some pictures and let you decide. I was thinking that I'm hearing piston slap and possibly bad lifters. I noticed wear marks behind each valve on the inside of the heads. There is also some scratches on the skirts of the pistons as well as the cylinder walls. I cannot feel the scratches with my fingernail. There is also strange discoloration on the cylinder walls which I've never seen before.
I appreciate any feedback on this matter. Is there anywhere else in the lower end besides the connecting rods where knock can be heard? The rods seem fine. Also, why would a 1250 kit with about 10,000 miles start exhibiting piston slap(it that's what's happening). And the oil leaks. I'd never seen anything like it. It was like a oil fondue fountain by the time I got home. Everything was tight when I took it apart.
Here's the cylinders, pistons and heads: