Starting a Honda GL1000 after a Long Lay-up

I’m often asked how to return 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. The process works well for most internal combustion engines.

  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 a fresh, fully charged battery.
  9. Address coolant status. Drain and re-fill as necessary for initial startup. Tap water is fine for now.
  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 the oil filter and replace oil with the cheapest 30W you can buy.
  14. Clean / replace air filter.
  15. Rectify ALL problems with the fuel tank. There should be no rust whatsoever in tank! Suspended rust in fuel will KILL any subsequent carb rehab efforts!
  16. Install a 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 the oil filter (again).
  21. Fill crankcase with a 50/50 mix of cheap 30W and Dextron auto transmission fluid. Really!
  22. Start the 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 piston rings. Don’t be alarmed …your engine will SMOKE quite a bit with this mixture. Your neighbors will be very impressed with your pageantry!
  23. While the engine is warm, drain this oil/Dextron mixture.
  24. Replace the oil filter (again).
  25. Refill crankcase with high quality, motorcycle-spec 10W-40 oil.
  26. Address roadworthiness issues like fresh coolant, fork oil, etc.
  27. Address safety issues: brakes, tires, lights, loose fasteners, etc.
  28. Address legal issues: registration, licensing, insurance, taxes, updated will, etc.
  29. Road test and evaluate deficiencies. Obviously, do this first ride with GREAT CARE for your own personal safety.
  30. Address deficiencies as required.
  31. Adjust valves.
  32. Re-visit tune-up issues as required for smooth running and full power.
  33. Do a benchmark compression test.
  34. After you put 100+ miles on the bike, do another compression test (the values often rise as the rings free-up).
  35. Change out fluids again at the 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.

If you want to find the best selection online for motorcycle parts, visit our stores below: | | |

22 thoughts on “Starting a Honda GL1000 after a Long Lay-up

Add yours

  1. I went through the entire checklist and there’s no mention of checking/rerplacing the timing belt. Why not?

  2. Step 5. I would not replace spark plugs until the engine has been turned over with the starter and with fresh oil until there is stable oil pressure. (See page 7-6 in the Shop Manual). This will also allow oil to impinge on the cylinder walls and wrist pins. Also the camshaft, rocker arms and springs will get some oil as well. (I do this with all engines I build or rebuild BTW).

  3. thanks for the info. My winter project happens to be a ’75 gl1000. I bought a ’75, ’76, &’77 gl 1000 all with running engines though it has been a couple of years since they were run.

    1. thanks for info and advice I will definitely follow it. I am planning to remove heads and replace valve seals and lap valves and of course clean combustion chambers and piston crowns. Engine that I am using has 28k.

  4. hi Randall.
    might i add to your proceedure regarding “Starting a GL1000 after a long lay”. I would add it is of Critical importance to remove the fuel pump prior to your first attempt to turn the engine over. The fuel pump diaphram can harden with lack of fuel over time to the point where the actuating lever can not be moved. As happened with my GL1000 to the point where the initial crank caused the fuel pump lever to bend and damage the camshaft.

  5. any reason for specifying dexron in the 50/50 mix of oil and tranny fluid ?
    i ask because i have a couple of half-full bottles of synthetic atf and some mercon laying around that i would love to make use of.

    1. Thee may be some issues using the synthetic concerning clutch plates. This is mixer is used for temp purposes only. It should be drained and correct oil added directly.
      Thank you

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Copyright 2024 Randakks Cycle Shakk

Top ↑