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Discussion Starter #1
I have a '94 SS/SP. I had the "major" service performed by our local Ducati dealer in 2010. At that time they noted that the valve guides were somewhat worn/leaky. They didn't seem to imply that this required immediate attention.
Now, a couple thousand more miles behind the bike I notice that the outside of the vertical cylinder is oily. It does use some oil, not a frightening amount.
So if this motor has bad valve guides can I continue to run it for a while? Will I do more damage?
I asked the dealer service guy about the valve guide replacement and no good news from him. (My Haynes manual says the first step to remove the vertical cylinder head is to "remove the engine")
Anyway, Mr. Dealer Service Guy says this is an 11 hour job, looking at $1000 plus parts.
I can do some easier maintenance work but pulling the engine is not in my skill level.
I'm thinking like, ride less frequently, don't crank it too hard, get my credit card in shape to get this work done before next season.
 

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removing the heads can be done with the engine in, rotating the engine forward via the rear mount. Once the heads are off it's all easy peasy to take it to a shop and have them fit some new guides.

If the oil consumption is not too bad I wouldn't worry about it. The danger is burning oil effectively diminishing the octane rating of the gas and you'll get pinging and eventually piston damage.

Keep an eye on it... Id say more than a quart every 3k is excessive...

The head bolts can be a little difficult, I had to grind down a flat socket to fit it in there. I'll try to grab a pic of the tool.

heres a new one
http://www.ducati.ms/forums/11-ducati-motorcycle-chat/50479-head-bolt-tool.html
 

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Now, a couple thousand more miles behind the bike I notice that the outside of the vertical cylinder is oily. It does use some oil, not a frightening amount.
So if this motor has bad valve guides can I continue to run it for a while? Will I do more damage?
Oil on the outside of the cylinder is not caused by bad valve guides. A bad valve guide means that the oil is leaking from the head area (with the rockers and shims in it) along the valve and into the combustion chamber. There will be some smoke and oil consumption and lots of soot and gross buildup inside the combustion area to painfully scrape off later.

Sounds more like a valve cover leak, a bad oring somewhere between your cylinder and the case, between the cylinder and the head or between the case/cylinder and the external oil distribution lines. Could also be (hope not) a broken head stud. No matter what - all are fixable.

I would clean the engine well (I like simplegreen water and a few brushes), then run the motor and try to track down where your oil leak really is before worrying about next steps. Post pictures and we'll help out.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, It's good to be reminded that I have been focused on the valve guide. I guess because it's the problem I dread the most. Before starting on a job like removing the heads I would, of course. want to be sure that is really going to solve my problem.
I'll take some pics after work tonight and see if I can tell where the oil is really coming from.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)

OK, I studied the oily fins and I can say with confidence that the only oil on the head is a small amount that seems to be coming from the very small screw near the spark plug (circled).
There's more oil on the outside of the jug. Seems to be coming from the joint between the jug and head, mostly from the rear. Front of the jug is dry.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Here's a better look at the back of the cylinder. Not really too much oil but it wasn't like this last year
 

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Here's a better look at the back of the cylinder. Not really too much oil but it wasn't like this last year
looks like mine, i have a leaky cam pulley seal on the other side of the engine and that's where it leaks to. Take the belt cover off and see if it's traveling down that way.
 

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clean it

You will chase your tail around trying to spot leaks until you scrub that thing super clean, rinse it really well, dry it off (without running it), wait for all of the water to be gone (so you don't mix up oil and water recognition on the engine surfaces), then do a test run just sitting in the garage, belt covers off with a couple of super bright lights. That's how you can track down all of your leaks.

My hopes are with you that it's a few little orings on the outside of the case and maybe a valve cover. If your leak is coming from between the case and the cylinder you should try loosening then retorquing your cylinder head nuts before pulling it all apart.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for your help. I'm not as worried now.
I did clean the engine yesterday, I'll have a look before/after my next ride. Maybe it'll be more obvious what's going on.
 

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Thanks for your help. I'm not as worried now.
I did clean the engine yesterday, I'll have a look before/after my next ride. Maybe it'll be more obvious what's going on.
Harder to see what's what after a ride since the airflow blows the oil all over everything. I suggest a good clean, get it dry, then let it idle and warm up without driving anywhere.
 

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I had a problem with a leak in the same location. I took the plug out and applied some high temp thread sealant I had and put in back in. I don't have a leak any more...from that location:rolleyes:
 

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Looks like it's just by the o-rings in the head to me. It's at the wipe and ride phase so no worries.

If it were the guides, you would notice a puff of blue smoke at startup as oil leaked by the guides into the combustion chamber over night and also on deceleration as vacuum in the cylinder drew in oil from the head around the valve stem. You will probably notice strange valve clearance behaviour and be able to noticeably wiggle the valve in its guide around the same time as the oil consumption.
 
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