Jim's $400.00 1986 VF500F

Discussion in '1st & 2nd Generation 1983-1989' started by Jim McCulloch, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    Me doing my favorite thing in the whole world....pulling VF500F engines!

    The leakdown test was going great until I tested the LAST cylinder. It was dead as a hammer. Something really went wrong asn I am hearing air escape from the exhaust side. No idea what it will be until I tear the top end down.

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    At least I got this down to a one man operation.

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    I pulled the cam cover off the rear bank and everything looks great actually. Oil was flowing well and the cams looked great. The dead hole had a really tight exhaust valve, could barely get a .002" feeler in there. I am sure I set them at .005" originally.

    IMG_9868.JPG
    One thing I did learn is that even though I only got to ride it 70 miles this time, I really loved the way it handled and how easy it is to throw around. I can't wait to get it back running again!
     
  2. straycat

    straycat Member

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    I admire your tenacity Jim. You'll get her sorted Im sure of it
     
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  3. jeremyr62

    jeremyr62 New Member

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    It is easy to get the valve clearances wrong. Hopefully that is your problem.
     
  4. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    So I got up early and pulled the rear head off. Here is what I found. Pistons were wet but the cylinder walls look fine. Does not look like any damage.

    IMG_9871.JPG

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    I am going to remove all the gasket material and check for a warped block. The heads were skimmed so it can 't be them. I am also wondering if these aftermarket gaskets are just a plain POS. Matt, another famous VF500F builder is sending me a set of Vesrah head gaskets to try. I hope they are better quality. I am also considering spraying Copper Coat on the gaskets. We used to do that on automotive engines back in the day and it seemed to help with oil and coolant leaks. Can't see why it would hurt?????
     
  5. Captain 80s

    Captain 80s Member

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    The Vesrah stuff is decent. I've never used Copper Coat, but as long as it doesn't block anything, I don't see why not. Except for the fact that most car engines don't have nearly the compression ratio.
     
  6. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    Yeah, good point, this engine has 11:1 I think?
     
  7. Paul Myers

    Paul Myers New Member

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    That doesn't really look like you had a head gasket leak.
    Normally if there was a head gasket leaking coolant into the cylinder you would find a very clean piston top. The vapourizing water steam cleans the top of the piston. I would guess the moisture got into the cylinder when you lifted the head off or it was condensation after shutting it down.

    I've taken apart a number of engines with head gasket leaks into the cylinder and in all cases you find a pretty clean piston.

    The valve adjustment definitely sounds suspect. Check the spark plug washer and sealing surface in the head as well while you have it out.

    Great determination to stick with it and make everything right. It can take a lot of work and be frustrating but is worth it in the end, even if sometimes it proves it wasn't the problem you thought it was. That's worth a lot in itself.

    Keep at it and you will end up with a reliable steed that is your own work. Very Gratifying.
     
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  8. lsc86

    lsc86 New Member

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    Very infrequent visitor over the years, but knee surgery last week has left me with even more time on my hands and found myself going back down VF nostalgia lane and found this thread. Kudos for the extraordinary efforts on an otherwise unremarkable subject! You're way past 4th and long and I woulda punted long ago. Somehow I have no patience for my own projects anymore, but oddly, will stick it out for a buddy's project any time.

    As was well noted, tank cleaning methods are wide and varied. I can honestly say that for me, https://www.metalrescue.com/products/metal-rescue/ has been a life saver over the years for gas tank restorations and metal cleanup in general, plus the fact you're not dealing with potentially hazards materials is especially appealing. I also really like the RedKote system for sealing tanks as well. Best 1-2 combo in my experience.

    For those that ask "why" about the lowly Interceptor 500, for me, it was the first bike I ever owned and regret the day I sold it (to fund my GSXR racing career, which never evolved anyway). Bought her brand new in the late spring of 1987. The miles and memories shared not forgotten. I was the proverbial bike shop kid, stopped by the local Honda shop on my bicycle almost daily it seemed during the 1980s, reading every issue of Cycle & Cycle World. Drooling over Nighthawks, Magnas, Sabres, and of course Interceptors. The '84-85 version never did much for me, but the 1986 VF500 color scheme that so closely resembled the mighty VF1000R, I just had to have it. And even though the Hurricane 600 was released that same year, the local Honda shop had pre-sold every unit and I couldn't afford one anyway- and truthfully as a new rider probably didn't need to be on anything more than the 500! Eventually she got a full Vance & Hines exhaust system and a Metzler rear tire, just like all the fast guys had on their GSXRs & Ninjas. I've been looking on & off over the years hoping my old bike would pop back up for sale, I still have the original owners manual and serial number, just in case I come across her again. (very low VIN, early 1986 run).

    Oddly, I never recall having any cooling issues with it, but also don't recall a ton of idle time in traffic with it either. Didn't have much money for mods like all my riding friends did, s0 mostly DIY stuff. Made my own rear fender eliminator kit to clean up the back end without hacking the stock fender. Painted the windscreen solid black. Shortened the rear turn stalks by removing the rubber portion and just using the plastic housings. Had to go with the "foamie" hand grips, everyone ran them back then. Also splurged on an Emgo 100w headlight bulb, made a huge difference on hi-beam. Otherwise, only real money I invested was on the V&H full exhaust, man did that sound great for a little 500, and the Metzler 130 rear tire.

    Again, great thread, thanks for sharing your experiences. Hopefully it all gets sorted out soon.
     
  9. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    That is a great story! I worked in a Honda dealer 83-88 and remember all that you said. The 600 Hurricane was unobtainium even for employees as they were all pre-sold. During this time I had an 84 CB700SC Nighhawk and loved it but I wanted a VF500F more as it was a much better bike all around. I was completely broke as a college student and the only bikes I could afford were insurance totaled bikes. No way I could afford a new bike even at dealer invoice. Cut way too deep into the party money!
     
  10. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    You are correct. Normal blown head gasket will have steam cleaned the piston and combustion chambers. This is pretty mysterious. My day job involves failure analysis of industrial rotating equipment. After reading your response I took a closer look at this debacle. Pretty crazy what has happened.
     
  11. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    FAILURE ANALYSIS....

    As @Paul Myers replied to it did not look like a head gasket failure. What I found were (2) separate failures that may or may not be related.

    The reason the combustion chambers were "wet" was because of the fuel I had in the gas tank. I had previously treated the gas tank with a product called RED KOTE. It apparently did not dry completely and dissolved in the fuel. I drained the tank and the fuel was blood red in color. If you look at the inlet of the head you can see it is tinted RED. The shaft of the intake valve is also very wet. This stuff is kind of sticky so I know it is not oil from a leaky valve seal. The seals were new anyway.
     
  12. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    Continued....

    Here is the intake runner...Kind of hard to see the red, but the entire runner is coated in the sticky mess of the RED KOTE.

    IMG_9883.JPG

    So this stuff goes into the engine, gets compressed, and when it fires does not completely burn. This left a really nasty build up on the piston and chamber.
    This was the wet residue mentioned...

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    IMG_9872.JPG

    I have to scrape this off with a rag and plastic scraper. I am afraid the rings are covered with this crap also. May just have to tear the engine down and clean them AGAIN. Anyway, I did some further investigation of the head gasket and I believe I found the leak path. I had to enlarge the water passage holes in the head gasket as they did not exactly line up with the head. In doing so I left too little sealing area (I think) for the metal ring to properly seal off the combustion chamber. You can see where it leaked.

    IMG_9881.JPG IMG_9876.JPG
    I still need to clean the deck of the block and see if it is warped or not. Most likely is. I really think the head gaskets I used are SHIT and will not use them again. I am hoping the Vesrah gaskets are much better. I also going to use the head bolts off the spare engine I have as I think The current ones may have gone past the yield point already. Don't want to take a chance.
     
  13. straycat

    straycat Member

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    Again Jim, I tip my at to you for sticking with it.

    Im the kind if gut that would have thrown a match on it out of frustration. Indeed it will have taken me a year and a half to get back to my other VF1000R which needs a new M2/3 trans gear. Id put so much time and effort into the resto that when I found out I lost 2nd gear, I just had to walk away for a while. I know myself well enough that Id have rushed the fix and F'd something else up even more.

    Thanks for keeping us all informed, I'm enjoying your work and cheering you on !!!
     
  14. Paul Myers

    Paul Myers New Member

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    Interesting. My day job is Engineering Manager for a group that looks after a large 4 unit thermal power plant (2200MW about 2,800,000 HP :wheelie:and about 60 small hydro electric units.) My personal specialty is steam turbines....

    Always good to see 200 tons spinning at 3600 rpm.....especially when it stays there.


    I use Laquer thinner to clean up gasket surfaces. It works well but eats rubber gloves.
    I've uses 50/50 ATF and acetone to clean up combustion chambers. Works well on rusty parts to free them up too.
    Either of those might cut into the residue.

    Keep at it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
  15. Paul Myers

    Paul Myers New Member

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    PS. My part time job is breaking race cars (generally my own but I've broken others too). Turns out I'm pretty good at that. Who knew ?
     
  16. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    Nice, surprised I never met you! Yes sir, been around a lot of power plants, including Nuclear. Cut my teeth out of college on turbo compressors and steam turbines with Ingersol Rand and Dresser Rand. Always amazing to see the complexity of any steam plant. A little change in the steam turbine discharge condenser vacuum and all hell breaks loose. Lots of stories!

    Anyway good advice on the clean up. I have just made the decision over a good ale to tear the entire engine down and machine the block deck. I am pretty sure it is not flat anymore (or ever was flat). The piston rings are surely gummed up also.

    Thanks again for the info!
     
  17. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    Thank you for the encouragement. This whole forum has been incredibly encouraging on my completely insane quest.
     
  18. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    LOL, my motocross career consisted of blowing up a lot of engines! Expensive hobby not to mention the chiropractor bills after a good bail!
     
  19. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    Man I felt bad for you when you posted about that transmission disaster a while back. Your bike looked awesome! Thanks for the encouragement and you keep after it also!
     
  20. Jim McCulloch

    Jim McCulloch New Member

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    HEAD GASKET REVIEW....So I received the Vesrah 86 VF500 head gaskets from the greatest guy ever Colddevil Matt! Tip of the hat to him!

    The head gaskets I had been using were from a company out of Japan called "Cruzin Image" from Japan Link below..

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1983-1985-...743952?hash=item2168b6fe90:g:fdIAAOSwKrxUaaaw

    For $55.00 + shipping it seem alike a complete steal....and it may be worth it for just the orings and seals and cover gaskets. However, the head gaskets turned out to have some issues which I will outline below.

    Cruzin VS Vesrah showdown!

    IMG_9892.JPG
    Gaskets on the top are the Cruzin gaskets that I just removed from the engine after the failure. They were leaking coolant out of jacket to the outside of the block. The bike ran fine as the inner cylinder "Ring" had not blown. It finally blew after about 70 miles as I was idling in the driveway and left a puddle of water on the ground that leaked from the exhaust weep holes. For the sake of this discussion I am going to rule out assembly error as I followed the Honda OEM start to finish assembling the engine. The block is not warped and the heads were skimmed. I have probably built 20-30 engines in my lifetime so I think I am OK at this point. Not perfect, but OK.

    Notice right off that the Vesrah gasket is made from a material which looks like "Graffoil" . This is a metal core high end quality material we use in the chemical industry for flanges and pump heads. The Cruzin' gasket was a metal core "dry" gasket like I would see in a "Fel Pro" low end automotive head gasket set. The material was made in the USA at least.

    Also notice the the Cruzin gasket was stamped out with a pretty dull cutting die. The holes were not evenly cut at all. Also they used the same gasket for the front and rear, as you can see above. The Vesrah uses a different stamping for front and rear as the from cylinder gasket does not have the small loop for the crankcase vent on the lower left hand side of the gasket. Another quality Vesrah touch.

    IMG_9886.JPG
    This is the Vesrah gasket mounted on the crankcase. Though it does not look great, the holes around the water jacket were much larger and line up WAY better than the Cruzin' gasket. In fact, I had to modify the Cruzin' gasket with a Dremel tool bit to get the gasket to even come close to lining up. The hole for the cylinder head mounting dowel on the Cruzin' was WAY wrong and way too small. This modification of the gasket contributed to the failure I am sure. I had to modify the ports or the water ports would have been at least 40% blocked. Also note that the cylinder metal ring for cylinder sealing is round on the Vesrah gasket. See below for the Cruzin' gasket.

    IMG_9887.JPG
    This is the Cruzin' gasket mounted. Note that the water holes line up, ONLY because I modified them. Also note there are "cut outs" in the cylinder ring I guess for clearance for the valves????

    I checked the thickness of the gaskets (before crush) and the Vesrah were about 0.070" and the Cruzin was about 0.055".

    All in all, the Vesrah looks like a very good copy of the Honda OEM gasket and I believe this is the real shit.

    I was disappointed with the Cruzin' head gaskets. Seemed like low end "Rock Auto Daily Driver" quality. I will not recommend them. As I said before "BUY BEWARE"

    The other item I wanted to add, is it seems like the 84-5 and the 86 head gaskets are interchangeable. I have not yet installed them but feel confident the 86 Vesrah gasket I have will fit the 85 engine I am rebuilding. Questions/Comments let me know...
     
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