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Discussion Starter #1
Looking for some insight from some experienced 954rr owners...Reading old threads, this wasn't a very common issue circa '08-10...but by '14 the various cracked block issues were more commonly seen here.

I'm looking at buying an '03 954 (most prone to failure year) currently has this issue, though educated opinions are useful regardless.

According to the seller, the water jackets cracked and the bike was welded/fixed at a dealer in the past (have yet to verify)...but the heat from the weld damaged the headgasket, where coolant now apparently leaks from. Bike will start up and "run" but needs the hg done of course.

I don't buy the story, if the hg was damaged from a dealer weld, one would think that they would be responsible for that.
Aside from this, how incompetent would a welder have to be to do this and more importantly, how likely is it that the block needing the "typical" welding repair is still the issue, rather than the hg..as evidenced by the hg leak.?

What's my worst/best case scenario?

Worst, apocalyptic possibilities aside, is a replacement engine required.
Best- Would "just" a hg be a relative "win," that's still quite an extensive tear-down needed isn't it...
 

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Most likely, the weld caused warpage on the deck and that is why it is leaking. The deck should have been ground/leveled so the head gasket would seal properly. Just my two cents.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Ian. That doesn't seem to be a common byproduct of the welding with these engines, that I've read of. Does that sound like poor prep or confinement of the weld..?

So you think the solution may be a teardown to the hg, get the head decked/measured and install new a new hg.. or would it be better to replace the head altogether..
 

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Take of the head and measure the warpage of the head and the mating surface on the cylinder casing to see where the warpage is. The defective casing started to leak normally very soon so it can just be a case of a failed head gasket and it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the weld. The block needs to be stripped bare for the welding or at least the head is normally taken of when it is done so if there has been some error when the engine was put back together. When was it welded and how much it has been ridden after?
 

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Thanks Ian. That doesn't seem to be a common byproduct of the welding with these engines, that I've read of. Does that sound like poor prep or confinement of the weld..?

So you think the solution may be a teardown to the hg, get the head decked/measured and install new a new hg.. or would it be better to replace the head altogether..
Without measurements or the engine torn down to look at what everything looks like, it is all just a guess. Where the crack occurs is near the head gasket, so if it warped a little, that could cause a leak.
 

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Personally, I don't see a "dealer" welding on an engine at least not out here, But I could be wrong. Warp-age can indeed be an issue when welding aluminum, especially if the weld is anywhere near the deck surface, or if too much heat was used. We used to take our cylinder blocks and heads to a guy who would heat them in a huge oven to heat them up uniformly, take them out and weld them. I remember dropping parts off and seeing aluminum blocks with names like Unser, Fittipaldi, Amato and Ormsby sharpied on them, all lined up. It was like a who's who of Indy and Top-Fuel racing. If it was a large weld it would go back in the oven to be re-heated prior to continuing. I GUARANTEE that the Japanese aluminum is no where near the quality or thickness of ours. You're going to have the engine out and the head off anyway, check them for war-page, unless you don't mind doing the job twice....
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Take of the head and measure the warpage of the head and the mating surface on the cylinder casing to see where the warpage is. The defective casing started to leak normally very soon so it can just be a case of a failed head gasket and it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the weld. The block needs to be stripped bare for the welding or at least the head is normally taken of when it is done so if there has been some error when the engine was put back together. When was it welded and how much it has been ridden after?
Thanks Mika, makes sense. Was ridden after the weld until the leak started, then was put away, so no miles of consequence since then. The block could be stripped while in the frame if you remove the subframe, I'm reading. Don't have a manual or the bike yet tho. Not sure what the cost of decking the head would be if that's needed, wonder if replacing the head altogether would be a better solution.

Without measurements or the engine torn down to look at what everything looks like, it is all just a guess. Where the crack occurs is near the head gasket, so if it warped a little, that could cause a leak.
Of course. Looks like it would be a lot of work, but may still be worthwhile. The engine itself runs with no issues according to seller besides the leak. A new head might be a better solution than a possibly borderline clearance compliant "fixed" head. another option.

Personally, I don't see a "dealer" welding on an engine at least not out here, But I could be wrong. Warp-age can indeed be an issue when welding aluminum, especially if the weld is anywhere near the deck surface, or if too much heat was used. You're going to have the engine out and the head off anyway, check them for war-page, unless you don't mind doing the job twice....
Yea can neither confirm or deny on the dealer yet. Aluminum definitely requires much finesse and skill to weld. You think the whole engine has to come out to do the head, that's more than what's needed to do the job, from what I've seen. May be easier then monkeying around with the head w/engine in frame though, I haven't done it on this model before.
 

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The head wouldn't be warped, the block would since that is what was welded. Where it cracks is near the head, so the block would need to be checked. It could also be something as simple as someone not cleaning the area before putting it back together, reusing a head gasket, etc.

Until you take it apart, no one is going to be able to tell you what it is or what someone did.
 

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Yea can neither confirm or deny on the dealer yet. Aluminum definitely requires much finesse and skill to weld. You think the whole engine has to come out to do the head, that's more than what's needed to do the job, from what I've seen. May be easier then monkeying around with the head w/engine in frame though, I haven't done it on this model before.
I was weighing the pain of working around everything with the engine installed Vs. dropping it, which doesn't sound too bad. I have not had the need to pull the engine on mine so I'm not speaking from experience here. That would of course have to be your call. Like Lan said, if the repair was made on the block no reason to suspect the head. I definitely wouldn't run out and buy a head, or anything, until you figure out where the source of the leak is. Hopefully it's nothing more than the head gasket.
 
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