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Thread: VL primary oil

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Virginia Beach VA
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    Default VL primary oil

    Okay so all of a sudden I have what seems to be massive over oiling to the primary. IMG_1799.jpg The only thing I've changed is the oil IMG_1101 (1).jpg. So before I tear into the "oil pump" (which is in effect an oil metering device) I'd like to get some thoughts from you guys.
    I don't mean to brag but; I put together a puzzle in only a week when the box clearly said "2-4 years".

  2. #2
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    Jul 2017
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    You can adjust the amount of oil directed to the primary by removing, (for less) or adding, (for more) the washers behind the adjustment screw located at the bottom (near center, left to right)of the pump body. Additional things can also be done but try this first. I ended up with 0 washers on mine. At least that's the procedure for on my 36. Earlier pump designs may have a different way to do it, Check Steve Slocombe's book, 1930-1936 Harley Davidson Big Twins - Buying Restoring and Riding a VL. A wealth of valuable information from THE expert on these bikes. You can also check the Riders Handbook. Also, in looking at your pictures , possibly this is a leak from the transmission seals? Just a thought since it seemed a little to far to the rear, and they are known and prone to leak. (Mine do) Harley straight 50w or 60w is the recommended lubricant for both engine and transmission and I'm not familiar with the oil your picture shows, No I'm NOT starting an oil thread here!!!! Good Luck. Hope this helps. Smitty P.S. Remember, VL stands for Very Leaky!
    Last edited by HDSmitty; 07-05-2018 at 11:37 AM.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2012
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    Canyon Lake, Tx
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    ^^^ What Smitty said, check tranny oil level. I went with a sealed bearing in my transmission and that took care of almost all the oil on the garage floor. I have run 50W Valvoline racing oil in my '35 VLD for the past 15 years with no problems.
    Rich Inmate #7084

  4. #4
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    Nov 2014
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    Virginia Beach VA
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    Quote Originally Posted by HDSmitty View Post
    You can adjust the amount of oil directed to the primary by removing, (for less) or adding, (for more) the washers behind the adjustment screw located at the bottom (near center, left to right)of the pump body. Additional things can also be done but try this first. I ended up with 0 washers on mine. At least that's the procedure for on my 36. Earlier pump designs may have a different way to do it, Check Steve Slocombe's book, 1930-1936 Harley Davidson Big Twins - Buying Restoring and Riding a VL. A wealth of valuable information from THE expert on these bikes. You can also check the Riders Handbook. Also, in looking at your pictures , possibly this is a leak from the transmission seals? Just a thought since it seemed a little to far to the rear, and they are known and prone to leak. (Mine do) Harley straight 50w or 60w is the recommended lubricant for both engine and transmission and I'm not familiar with the oil your picture shows, No I'm NOT starting an oil thread here!!!! Good Luck. Hope this helps. Smitty P.S. Remember, VL stands for Very Leaky!
    Lmao As my dear departed Dad used to say "If all else fails, read the directions". I have the Slocombe Bible and of course the handbook and will be going adjusting as necessary. But an "adjustment" is compared to previous findings and this bike has always operated fine. It never left a trail of oil before with one exception; when the engine case oil drain valve cork washer failed, since replaced and is clearly not the case.

    So here's some additional information; it's been on the bench over the last year so while I've been going through the front end, wheels and brakes. I'm suspecting oil getting past the tank check valve, collecting in the crankcase and blowing out the breather to the primary. Not sure that's even possible, but what do you think?
    I don't mean to brag but; I put together a puzzle in only a week when the box clearly said "2-4 years".

  5. #5
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    Nov 2014
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    Virginia Beach VA
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    Quote Originally Posted by frichie68 View Post
    ^^^ What Smitty said, check tranny oil level. I went with a sealed bearing in my transmission and that took care of almost all the oil on the garage floor. I have run 50W Valvoline racing oil in my '35 VLD for the past 15 years with no problems.
    I'll check but this isn't a static leak, but I've been running a "stand in" tranny and when I go through the original I'll go with some modern upgrades. The picture was after it was just taken off the bench and run up the street and parked. I'm pretty sure this was coming from the engine not the tranny.
    I don't mean to brag but; I put together a puzzle in only a week when the box clearly said "2-4 years".

  6. #6
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    Nov 2014
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    So I think my next course of action is to drain the crank case, put in the instructed amount and take it from there. I shall report my findings my brothas but if I get another oil trail, (however useful it might be for finding my way home) I'm leaning toward the check valve. Once I verify that's good, there can't be anything else but adjusting the pump. I think I've identified all the variables. Am I off base here? Insane for not just dialing the pump down in the first place? I gotta admit that would be way easier.
    I don't mean to brag but; I put together a puzzle in only a week when the box clearly said "2-4 years".

  7. #7
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    Nov 2014
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    Virginia Beach VA
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    Drained the crank case: IMG_1800.jpgIMG_1802.jpg and it's way more than the "a pumpful of oil into the motor with hand pump" as indicated by the book. Could be over oiling by the pump of course but I think I've found the issue. After sitting for a year the oil leaked past the check valve and here I am. I shall report further.
    I don't mean to brag but; I put together a puzzle in only a week when the box clearly said "2-4 years".

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Canyon Lake, Tx
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    Mine wet-sumps occasionally, easy to notice when it belches smoke and oil squirts from the header pipes..... Quite likely a check valve. There are 2, one in the mechanical pump, 1 in the hand pump. Mine doesn't do it often so I haven't attempted to fix it.
    Rich Inmate #7084

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    England
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    Yes, it's good to consider separately the hand oil pump and mechanical oil pump when chasing down VL oiling problems. The bikes run with around 150-200 ml, say 6 or 7 ounces of oil in the cases, and any more comes out of the breather, valve covers or generator. The usual problem with bikes not used regularly is oil passing the hand pump check valve into the cases, then being blown out when the bike is first started. Disconnect the hand oil line to check, then lap in hand pump seat, replace spring and ball etc to fix. On the mechanical pump, this is meant to pump in about 3-5 ml per mile to make up losses and hold the crankcase oil quantity. Today most VL engines are freshly rebuilt, with oil rings on the pistons and the chain oiler turned down low or off, so the bikes will overoil at the factory marked pump settings. First check the oil pumps are set correctly, just wide open with throttle wide open, then trim back the mechanical oil pump a bit at a time as you gain experience going for a ride then draining the crankcases on return. I find the pumps OK at 4-6 mm, say just under a quarter inch on the low side of the factory settings, but these will be well used components so you need to figure out the settings yourself. Of course oil is cheap compared to engine rebuilds, so I don't mind cases slowly filling over a day.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by frichie68 View Post
    There are 2, one in the mechanical pump, 1 in the hand pump. Mine doesn't do it often so I haven't attempted to fix it.
    Rich, I forgot about the one in the mechanical pump or "oiler" as the book calls it, another variable I forgot. thanks man!
    I don't mean to brag but; I put together a puzzle in only a week when the box clearly said "2-4 years".

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