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Old Jul 23rd, 2008, 1:36 pm   #1 (permalink)
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Head gasket........

Was out for a ride today, bike running fine but when I got home I see this;



Not looking good, I assume it is the head gasket that's leaking as the coolant appears to run down from there (doubt it's running up from cylinder base gasket). I can't see it leaking when I run it so presumably it only does it under pressure/heat and the coolant level doesn't seem to have dropped so it's not run dry or anything.

So I'm guessing just the gasket so I need to replace that, never had the heads off before so don't have any special tools that I would need (to get at head bolts) so probably going to be a shop job, any idea what sort of labour is involved, also parts needed. If it was winter time I'd be tempted to strip down further for some 'preventative maintenance' (or maybe some blueprinting etc) but for now I just want to get back to being able to ride.

Oh and whilst I was looking I found a fuel leak, looks like the fuel hose is leaking at from the crimped end at front of the (rear) cylinder - two problems for the price of one! but at least I can fix this one easily though, I suppose 10 year old fuel hoses owe me nothing.

Back to the gasket, If I do the job myself, I presume I can get the head off without removing the engine?
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Old Jul 24th, 2008, 7:06 am   #2 (permalink)
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you can get the head off without pulling the motor. Theres an relatively cheap (42 bucks) tool from desmotimes to help you get the cylinder head nuts off...

http://www.desmotimes.com/
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Old Jul 24th, 2008, 10:11 am   #3 (permalink)
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I'm a bit skeptical on it being JUST a bad head gasket. I've used pretty shitty-ass gaskets before and done multiple track days before without any leaking. If you've truly got a gasket leak, it could be a much more serious problem and I highly doubt the bike would run properly if at all. This is why I'm thinking its something else.

I'd start by pulling the tank, airbox and breather box off, and really carefully following the "line of destruction" from the top (I see dots on the valve cover) all the way down to the block. See if you can find a logical pattern of where the leak is coming from. For all you know, it could be a fuel leak and its not drying until it hits the bottom 1/2 of you heads, causing the corrosion you see.

Also, if its leaking outside the head, its leaking inside the piston area too. When you start the bike, put a white T shirt over the exhaust and see what you catch. If your getting something different in the vertical cylinder then, you know its the problem. Also, dump your coolant and oil to see if there is any water in the oil and any oil in the coolant.

Pulling the head off is straight forward, but its a lot of work. You'll need the proper tools, a decent torq wrench and LOTS of time. New gaskets arn't cheap either and getting the proper size is a whole other ball-game. Doing it half-assed is easy... doing it right the first time, its almost impossible.
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Old Jul 24th, 2008, 10:52 am   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tye1138 View Post
I'm a bit skeptical on it being JUST a bad head gasket. I've used pretty shitty-ass gaskets before and done multiple track days before without any leaking. If you've truly got a gasket leak, it could be a much more serious problem and I highly doubt the bike would run properly if at all. This is why I'm thinking its something else.

I'd start by pulling the tank, airbox and breather box off, and really carefully following the "line of destruction" from the top (I see dots on the valve cover) all the way down to the block. See if you can find a logical pattern of where the leak is coming from. For all you know, it could be a fuel leak and its not drying until it hits the bottom 1/2 of you heads, causing the corrosion you see.

Also, if its leaking outside the head, its leaking inside the piston area too. When you start the bike, put a white T shirt over the exhaust and see what you catch. If your getting something different in the vertical cylinder then, you know its the problem. Also, dump your coolant and oil to see if there is any water in the oil and any oil in the coolant.

Pulling the head off is straight forward, but its a lot of work. You'll need the proper tools, a decent torq wrench and LOTS of time. New gaskets arn't cheap either and getting the proper size is a whole other ball-game. Doing it half-assed is easy... doing it right the first time, its almost impossible.
great advice (as usual) from tye.
The spots you mention, arent they coming from the exhaust gasket not the valve cover ??
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Old Jul 24th, 2008, 11:28 am   #5 (permalink)
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probably want to get the head skimmed as well.

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Old Jul 24th, 2008, 3:58 pm   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for cheering me up Tye I'm hoping it's just the gasket but there's usually something else.

It is definitely leaking at the gasket though, the dots on the valve cover are just splashes, in fact the shock, hugger, swingarm etc are all stained and it is coolant not fuel. The coolant and the oil are both still clean and I've not lost enough coolant to show a drop in level so I'm hoping that I'll be lucky, plus there is no coolant higher up and the hoses etc are fine.

Also the bike runs fine, steady temperature, as smooth and powerful as before (as far as I can feel).

I've picked up a head gasket set, that includes head & base gaskets, valve seals, O-rings, inlet manifold gaskets etc as it was 'only' twice the price of a head gasket on it's own and apparently the new design metallic head gaskets are of a different thickness to the old composite ones on my bike (thinner head & thicker base gaskets) so I need to swap the base gasket and the head gasket to keep the same cylinder height.

I've stripped the bike and will get the heads off tomorrow (once I've sorted a head nut tool), then I need to see what else might need replacing? probably the belts (have done around 3k miles in 12 months) but I'll evaluate that when they're off. I'm hoping to be back up & running sometime next week but I'll probably be asking for more advice soon.........

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Old Jul 24th, 2008, 4:00 pm   #7 (permalink)
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great advice (as usual) from tye.
The spots you mention, arent they coming from the exhaust gasket not the valve cover ??

The exhaust is clean, well as clean as an exhaust should be and the coolant stains end around the manifold, not inside/under it.

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Last edited by DukeDesmo; Jul 24th, 2008 at 4:30 pm.
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Old Jul 24th, 2008, 6:45 pm   #8 (permalink)
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You can take the head off without the proper tool, in fact I hate the stupid aftermarket tool, its a piece of junk. I'm pretty sure the nuts are 15mm, so just get a wrench and take those suckers off.

Once your in there, you need to measure the cylinder barrel's mating surface with the head and visa versa. Take a piece of glass and put the head on it and do the same with the cylinder barrel. This way you can make sure nothing's warped. Then, check the studs themselves. If they are black all the way down, then you're probably kool. If the studs change color from top to bottom, you've got some bad studs. They are designed to stretch and if they were over-torqued by somebody in the past, they change color and can fail. If they look good, make sure they are tight before re-assembly, but be careful to meet Ducati torq spec's on them. You've gotta take the pistons off the rods to put on new base gaskets, so that adds another challenge. The pistons have to be re seated in the cylinder barrels, which takes some patience and some assembly lube or motor oil. Then you've gotta re-assemble the entire thing to check squish. Its SUPER important to check squish and make sure its correct. I had to remove my base gaskets because my squish was 1.09mm with the new gaskets, which is WAY too much. Also, don't forget to throw grease on the head stud threads when you re-assemble. Thats one step a lot of people forget about and it can easily cause a rod to break due to bolt sticktion.

If you don't have a desmoquattro service manual, I'd pick one up. It would take me a month of writing to detail the process step by step.
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Old Jul 25th, 2008, 6:52 am   #9 (permalink)
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Just my cents worth.

Looks like it is coming from under the cyclinder, under pressure hitting the engine block then splashing back and running down, otherwise why would it splash to the outside of the exhaust manifold? would be interrested to know. great tips tye.

Either case its a head removal and poss cylinder too.
Best of luck

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Old Jul 25th, 2008, 7:27 am   #10 (permalink)
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it's not uncommon for them to leak under the vertical exhaust port. i'd try retensioning it first - it may help stop it for a while at least.

the old composite head gaskets stick to the heads and cylinders like super ruper duper sticky shit - you might not have a chance in hell of getting them apart on the bike. and thats not even considering the corroded in dowels on two of the studs. it can be a really crap job - you'll end up with a thin sharp blade trying to hammer it in between the two and only damage the gasket. it's not fun.

most likely the cylinder will pull off with the head. remove the plug to make it easier. you'll need to at least reseal or replace the base gasket as well. the old head gasket as yours has now is 78610055A - you might still be able to get it. you can run them without base gaskets and have squish around 1.00mm.
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