Starting a Honda GL1000 after a Long Lay-up

I’m often asked how to go about the process of returning an engine to service after a long lay-up. The starting point would be an engine which hasn’t been started in several years. Hopefully, the crankshaft will turn freely without heroic measures. You should always check this before buying an old bike that’s been sitting. I “pass” on most opportunities to buy bikes with frozen engines. Bikes with frozen engines usually have a myriad of other problems that make them poor candidates for serious restoration efforts.

Barn Fresh GL1000

Here’s the method I use to resurrect GL1000 engines safely. This procedure is very effective in safely cleaning engine internals and removing varnish from the starter clutch rollers.

  1. Verify that the crankshaft will turn with the kickstarter…don’t use the starter yet! (just make sure the engine will turn a bit).
  2. Remove dirt and debris from spark plug recesses with compressed air.
  3. Soak the area around the spark plugs with penetrating oil ((like PB Blaster) and leave overnight.
  4. Remove spark plugs (very carefully!).
  5. Squirt about 2 tablespoons of penetrating oil into each cylinder… (this will help free up your rings and lube the cylinder walls).
  6. Replace plugs.
  7. Check fuses, main fuse, battery cables, starter cable and wiring to/from starter relay for integrity.
  8. Install fresh, fully charged battery.
  9. Address coolant status. Drain and re-fill as necessary for initial startup
  10. With kill switch “off,” spin the engine on the starter (or kickstarter) for a few seconds…this will distribute the oil in each cylinder.
  11. Let the bike sit overnight.
  12. Drain the old oil.
  13. Replace oil filter and replace oil with the cheapest 30W you can buy.
  14. Clean / replace air filter.
  15. Rectify ALL problems with fuel tank. There should be no rust whatsoever in tank!
  16. Install new fuel filter.
  17. Do whatever carb, ignition work, etc. is required to start the engine and verify that it will run correctly. Now would be a good time to try the “In Situ” carb cleaning method detailed here.
  18. Start the engine, allow the engine to warm up, but DO NOT RIDE!
  19. While the engine is warm, drain the oil.
  20. Replace oil filter (again).
  21. Fill crankcase with a 50/50 mix of cheap 30W and Dextron auto transmission fluid.
  22. Start engine and run for 20 minutes at 3500 – 4000 rpms on the center stand…DO NOT RIDE with this mixture in crankcase…any loading might damage your engine. This will clean your engine internals and free-up rings. Don’t be alarmed…your engine may SMOKE quite a bit with this mixture!
  23. While the engine is warm, drain this oil mixture.
  24. Replace oil filter (again).
  25. Refill crankcase with high quality, motorcycle-spec 10W-40 oil.
  26. Address roadworthiness issues like coolant, fork oil, etc.
  27. Address safety issues: brakes, tires, lights, etc.
  28. Road test and evaluate deficiencies. Obviously, do this first ride with GREAT CARE for your own personal safety.
  29. Address deficiencies as required.
  30. Adjust valves.
  31. Re-visit tune-up issues as required for smooth running and full power.
  32. Do a benchmark compression test.
  33. After you put 100+ miles on the bike, do another compression test (the values often rise as the rings free-up).
  34. Change out fluids again at 100 mile mark.

I learned this method from an “old school” mechanic many years ago. This technique has never failed me. You may be tempted to skip a few steps in your rush to “see if it will run.” My advice: don’t take any shortcuts! Take your time and you’ll be rewarded with a sweet running engine.

Comments

  1. Ed Malfroid says:

    Randakk,
    #21 on the list , does “Fill the crankcase” mean just that or with correct amount per manual?

  2. Terry Jenner says:

    I used this procedure on my “barn find” right across the alley. Randakk has not steered me wrong yet. I would post a pic if I knew how.

  3. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say
    that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your feed and
    I hope you write again soon!

  4. Just did this with an ’83 GL1100I that has had the heads off for “who knows” how long, and she sounds like a brand new engine! (The official Randakk’s carburetor rebuild kit probably didn’t hurt either!)

    Thanks for the great advice and great parts! I wish every vintage bike had such a huge following as these goldies…

Trackbacks

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