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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2004 Honda vtx1300s with 22,700 miles that i just bought a couple weeks ago. It was a rebuilder and i had to have the forks repaired. Well, long story short, the engine ended up having a blown head gasket. My mechanic is going to replace them. He had to pull the engine( i understand that you have to pull the engine to replace them) and he has it torn apart. Here is a list of questions i have:

1. Should i have him replace the piston rings while the motor is out? (he said it wasn't smoking and that the cylinders and piston look fine)

2. Should i have him replace anything else inside the motor?
Will any of this require much more labor costs with the heads already off?

3. He told me that the labor for pulling the engine, replacing the gaskets and putting it back in was going to be about $500 to $800(he charges $30.00 a hour). Does this sound like he is charging me too much? How many hours should it take to do this job?
4. I am going to have in the range of 4000.00 to 4300.00 total(buying the bike and paying for the work) in this bike when the work is done according to his approximate prices on labor and parts. This bike has a salvage title(i do plan to keep it for a long time though). Add-ons, it has a mustang seat(I think it is the touring type, has the passenger seat included but doesn't have the attached backrest, but has a raised up area on the seat that your lower back sits against) passenger backrest, saddlebags(leather with quick release straps), Cobra drag pipes, and has the quick release mounts for the Memphis shades windshield. Will i have too much in this bike in any of your guys opinions?
Any suggestions and comments would be appreciated....thanks
 

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You are going to have as much in the bike as you could have bought a ncie one for or very close to it. How many miles are on the engine? If you have a lot of miles then you should look at the clutch too. Lots of variables here.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It has 22,700 miles. So, I could have bought one for 4000 to 4300 with that many add ons that would have been in better shape? I have seen some for around 4500 with basically no add ons, but all i have seen in the Kansas city area with those kind of add ons were costing around 5500 to 6000. Do you still think i have to much in this bike?

anyone have any answers/comments for my other questions?
 

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If you plan on riding it for a long time I wouldn't worry about what you will have in it.

you also might see if you can get a rebuilt title not sure if they offer in your state.

The only real worry would being able ti insure for replacement if something were to happen.
 

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Sorta late to ask those questions now. Why not give yourself a little piece of mind by just believing you've gotten a good deal and leave it at that. I'll start . :mosh: Wow , awesome deal.:mosh: Now as for as things that you might want to change, I'll let someone else with more knowledge of the x answer that. Ride safe.:):choppersm
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It has a rebuilt title(prior salvage title), so i will be able to tag it. Insurance, that i will have to ask about.

I do hope that i got a ok deal. Seems these bikes go for 4500 to 7000 around here. Usually the ones below 5500 don't have much for any add-ons and this bike has at least 1500 worth of add-ons.

Anyone else have some input to the four questions?
 

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1. Should i have him replace the piston rings while the motor is out? (he said it wasn't smoking and that the cylinders and piston look fine)
To replace the rings should not cost that much more in labour, just parts cost for the rings and base gasket. But at 22,000 miles I would not bother myself.

2. Should i have him replace anything else inside the motor?
Will any of this require much more labor costs with the heads already off?
If you mean things like rod and main bearings, shifter forks and so on again I would not bother, the bike is barely broken in. Because if you do decide to replace internal items like those then the casings would have to come apart which would definately increase the labour costs.

3. He told me that the labor for pulling the engine, replacing the gaskets and putting it back in was going to be about $500 to $800(he charges $30.00 a hour). Does this sound like he is charging me too much? How many hours should it take to do this job?
That is an awesome price. The local shop hear charges $80.00 an hour for those unfortunate souls that don't do their own maintenance. Also doesn't sound like he's trying to rip you off by telling you you need this and that...

4. I am going to have in the range of 4000.00 to 4300.00 total(buying the bike and paying for the work) in this bike when the work is done according to his approximate prices on labor and parts. This bike has a salvage title(i do plan to keep it for a long time though). Add-ons, it has a mustang seat(I think it is the touring type, has the passenger seat included but doesn't have the attached backrest, but has a raised up area on the seat that your lower back sits against) passenger backrest, saddlebags(leather with quick release straps), Cobra drag pipes, and has the quick release mounts for the Memphis shades windshield. Will i have too much in this bike in any of your guys opinions?
Any suggestions and comments would be appreciated....thanks
We won't talk about add-ons :D


cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the input. I was looking for someone to break my questions down like that. I still wonder how many hours it should take him to do this job. He basically removed the motor and will be putting the head gaskets in and putting the motor back. I do know it requires removing the radiator, gas tank, carbs, etc. etc. but should it take in the range of 15 to 26.5 hours labor? Anyone know how long this job should take? :hmm2:
 

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I'd have your mechanic replace the head gaskets and run a compression check. Chances are it will be fine. Blown head gasket usually is related to overheating? Obviously, he should check the cooling system for problems. Otherwise, 22000 miles shouldn't need rings or lower end work. What you are up against is you can often find a complete 1300 engine on ebay for under $1000. I have seen them for $300. with low miles!
 

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You should determine why the the gasgets were leaking, they seldom just blow. If the engine was over heated, or the heads were previously removed and not properly torqued you may have other damage like a warpage.
Call a reputable dealer and ask what te flat rate hours are for the job. The hourly rate you are getting is good. When I started in the service industry in 1978 we were at $45 an hour.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well, in the accident i guess the radiator got a small hole in the radiator. I didn't know this as there was coolant in the overflow jug on the bottom of the bike. I only rode it myself maybe 2 miles to his shop. I know that the guy that had it before me didn't ride it much as it had only about 12 more miles on it than when he bought it. He bought it for his dad and he didn't want it, and wanted to keep his smaller bike. So, i am not certain how many miles it was ridden at any one time with this problem. The mechanic said that he did discover that the thermostat had a pin in it holding it open, so it likely had a overheating problem due to the thermostat at some point.

He advised me to have the heads surfaced and valves cleaned. So, i said to do it. Should the surface of the jugs be surfaced too?

I am not sure if he did a compression check or not, but he felt the cylinder walls, pistons and rings were fine. He just said that it wasn't burning any oil........:hmm2:
 

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I am not sure if he did a compression check or not, but he felt the cylinder walls, pistons and rings were fine. He just said that it wasn't burning any oil........:hmm2:
No point in doing a compression check with blown head gaskets.


cheers
 

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Well, in the accident i guess the radiator got a small hole in the radiator. I didn't know this as there was coolant in the overflow jug on the bottom of the bike. I only rode it myself maybe 2 miles to his shop. I know that the guy that had it before me didn't ride it much as it had only about 12 more miles on it than when he bought it. He bought it for his dad and he didn't want it, and wanted to keep his smaller bike. So, i am not certain how many miles it was ridden at any one time with this problem. The mechanic said that he did discover that the thermostat had a pin in it holding it open, so it likely had a overheating problem due to the thermostat at some point.

He advised me to have the heads surfaced and valves cleaned. So, i said to do it. Should the surface of the jugs be surfaced too?

I am not sure if he did a compression check or not, but he felt the cylinder walls, pistons and rings were fine. He just said that it wasn't burning any oil........:hmm2:
You took a hell of a chance buying this bike in the first place. That being said - $800 for a head gasket replacement is not bad at all. That is at least a 30 hr job given the engine pull. the OH cam mess, etc, etc.

I would surface the heads, the jugs are probably OK. The rings are probably OK if there is no scuffing in the cylinder.

Seems like you are stuck unless you decide to basket it.

I sure would check closely on the registration/insurance issue before I went much further. Shame to get it all done and then not be able to ride it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So, that is a 30 hr job? I really hope not....he told me in the area of 500 to 800 bucks for the labor, so i hope it isn't 30hrs then it would be 900 or more.

Yeah, i did take a chance on this bike. I guess though, you always do on anything used. Just a little more risk on one that has been wrecked.

True on the compression check, i guess it wouldn't have proved to much with head gaskets blown....duh. I didn't even think about that.

I am pretty sure tagging it will be no problem. Is insurance hard to get on a rebuilt titled motorcycle?


Not saying "the old fool" is wrong on the 30hrs labor time, but i just wondered if anyone has a shop manual that tells the time? Or did you get that info from actual experience or a shop manual, "old fool"? Just wondering.
 

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So, that is a 30 hr job? I really hope not....he told me in the area of 500 to 800 bucks for the labor, so i hope it isn't 30hrs then it would be 900 or more.

Yeah, i did take a chance on this bike. I guess though, you always do on anything used. Just a little more risk on one that has been wrecked.

True on the compression check, i guess it wouldn't have proved to much with head gaskets blown....duh. I didn't even think about that.

I am pretty sure tagging it will be no problem. Is insurance hard to get on a rebuilt titled motorcycle?


Not saying "the old fool" is wrong on the 30hrs labor time, but i just wondered if anyone has a shop manual that tells the time? Or did you get that info from actual experience or a shop manual, "old fool"? Just wondering.
I was suggesting the compression check AFTER the new head gasket install. Yeah... kinda pointless otherwise. It sounds like you have a good honest mechanic not out to rip you. Go for it and get to ridin. :choppersm
 

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Many, many years ago I made a few bucks wrenching on these stupid things - but it is a guess. Why don't you drop a PM to Madness_MC and ask him to come by the thread and comment. He has a motorcycle repair shop.
 

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Rich -

I was reading this post and just got to your suggestion when your PM arrived. Warped minds think alike, I guess.


basssnake -

To R&R the engine w/o doing any other work is a straight-up, flat-out 8 hour job.

With the engine out of teh frame, pulling & replacing the heads to replace the head gaskets on one of these 1300s requires around 8-12 hours, depending on the availability, or lack of any special tools that make the job less time consuming.

Now if the heads need to be cleaned, checked, decked and the valves serviced, you can add 4-6 hours to the service time.

So now you're close to 20-26 hours, depending. So your mechanic is right in the ball-park.

I might be inclined to replace the cylinder base gaskets and Mic the cylinder bores for being "true". While there, I'd run a quick hone down the cylinder walls. It's a few dollars to replace the rings. Remember, if the engine has been overheated either from a faulty cooling system, or a cooling system problem that caused the head gaskets to blow, you don't know how overheated the engine had gotten previously. It's possible to warp a cylinder wall on water-cooled engine that's overheated. It never hurts to err on the side of caution. You've got it down that far, and even though the cylinder walls look good, I'd rather make the investment this time, than to pay another 20 hours of labor within the next year or two for another tear-down.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Rich -

I was reading this post and just got to your suggestion when your PM arrived. Warped minds think alike, I guess.


basssnake -

To R&R the engine w/o doing any other work is a straight-up, flat-out 8 hour job.

With the engine out of teh frame, pulling & replacing the heads to replace the head gaskets on one of these 1300s requires around 8-12 hours, depending on the availability, or lack of any special tools that make the job less time consuming.

Now if the heads need to be cleaned, checked, decked and the valves serviced, you can add 4-6 hours to the service time.

So now you're close to 20-26 hours, depending. So your mechanic is right in the ball-park.

I might be inclined to replace the cylinder base gaskets and Mic the cylinder bores for being "true". While there, I'd run a quick hone down the cylinder walls. It's a few dollars to replace the rings. Remember, if the engine has been overheated either from a faulty cooling system, or a cooling system problem that caused the head gaskets to blow, you don't know how overheated the engine had gotten previously. It's possible to warp a cylinder wall on water-cooled engine that's overheated. It never hurts to err on the side of caution. You've got it down that far, and even though the cylinder walls look good, I'd rather make the investment this time, than to pay another 20 hours of labor within the next year or two for another tear-down.
Well, that is kinda what i was thinking on the cylinders. I thought maybe that honing them and replacing the piston rings would maybe be worth the investment. How much more trouble would that be in time wise? How do i go about telling him i think this should be done without insulting him? He told me he thought everything else was fine. I pointed at the pistons when we were talking and asked him if he thought it needed anything done in there. He said he didn't think it needed anything done in the cylinder area. Please let me know what you think. thanks
 

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Well, that is kinda what i was thinking on the cylinders. I thought maybe that honing them and replacing the piston rings would maybe be worth the investment. How much more trouble would that be in time wise? How do i go about telling him i think this should be done without insulting him? He told me he thought everything else was fine. I pointed at the pistons when we were talking and asked him if he thought it needed anything done in there. He said he didn't think it needed anything done in the cylinder area. Please let me know what you think. thanks
basssnake -

He sounds like a competent mechanic who wants to do his best to save his customers from spending money needlessly. You don't have to be a "brand or model specialist" to tear down a bike's engine. I get into all brands, makes, models and years of bikes. I trust my basic talents and experience, and the shop manuals, to get me through any job, as each bike is slightly different. However, since this is your bike, you can ask him to do it and what can he say???

Any mechanic who's been around long enough, be it cars/trucks or motorcycles should know that when you pull the head off of an engine where the cylinders are held to the crankcase by cylinder/head bolts the cylinder base gaskets can be easily destroyed if the cylinder happens to lift even the tiniest bit. So that's reason enough in my book to pull the jugs and replace the cylinder base gaskets alone.

However, since your engine has suffered "something" that caused the head gaskets to warrant replacement (usually excessive heat, in the case of the water-cooled VTX1300/1800 motors), then there is always the possibility of heat having warped (even slightly) a cylinder jug. That's why I recommended pulling the jugs and Mic'ing the cylinders for "true" dimensions.

This will also give him the opportunity to check the jugs for cracks in the cylinder walls, as these have water jackets around them to aid in cooling the engine. With only 22,000 miles on the engine I would doubt that the rings are in anything but very good condition. HOWEVER, since the cylinders are out for base gasket replacement and checking, might as well run a ball-type cylinder hone thru the jugs and install a new set of rings.

Like I stated in my post, better to do it all this round than to get it all together and within a year or two have to tear it down again for a leaking cylinder base gasket - at your expense. Also, what happens if he gets it all together and the cylinder base gaskets leak or you a break ring due to cylinder warpage within the first 30 days after he delivers the bike back to you??? He'll have to tear it all down again at his expense!!!

I kicked your topic around with a long-time friend whose been into working on bikes for nearly 50 years (so he has about 5 years more experience than me) and he was in complete agreement with my assessments and recommendations. It's not like a car engine where you can "pop" the cylinder head off and back on without disturbing something else in the cylinders (base gasket), particularly on a V-Twin engine.

Many mechanics don't like someone telling them how to do their job. But when both his time (and money) and your money are involved, I'd prefer to err on the side of caution. I'd recommend to my customers what I've recommended to you, but I would have told you from the start that was just part of the job, and not try to "save" you the few dollars on the base gaskets, rings, cylinder checks and honing.

Best of luck with your decision. Let me know what you decide, or if you need more info or encouragement.
 
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