2003 883 oil leak/ seepage between barrel and head

Discussion in 'Sportster Models' started by Delmar, Oct 3, 2007.

  1. Delmar

    Delmar Active Member

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    Recently bought myself a nice 2003 Anniversary Sportster 883. It has developed a minor oil leak/ seepage between the front barrel and head. It does not use much oil or even drip on the driveway, but is a pain to keep the engine clean. I noticed a few other Sportsters of the same era and some have the same issue.

    Will a simple retorque of the headbolts help the problem, or is a top end gasket replacement necessary?
     
  2. CTrian

    CTrian Member

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    Personally I would purchase a service manual .Im sure the answer is there. Or look thru Gliders many tech tips. He seems to have very informative knowledge RE: all aspects of repair and maintenance.
     
  3. pahunter

    pahunter Active Member

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    had an issue with my 04. the bolts kept coming loose. had to put more loctite on them have not had a problem since. Ride Safe Doug
     
  4. glider

    glider Veteran Member

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    Try cleaning it down and make sure it is the rocker box first which is usually where they leak from. The oil leak problems with the older motors came from the base gaskets that were basically paper gaskets, they would need replacement and retorque but the upper end is an easier fix. Check to see if the bolts are loose before tearing into it and as CTrain said, If you don't have the manual, it's a great investment..

    I would clean it good and go for a short ride untill it shows signs of a leak, then you'll know where it's coming from. If you find it is the rocker box seals, replace them all on that box, even the lower one that is a PITA to do. No sense opening it up again. Make sure to torque them properly so you don't warp the box.

    PS. Thanks CTrain :s
     
  5. Delmar

    Delmar Active Member

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    The leak is much lower than the rocker boxes, please view the attached pic. The engine has not been cleaned for a long while.

    I will get a set of rocker box gaskets and retorque the front head bolts. Hopefully it will not be too much of a PITA to remove the front box.

    Thanks for the advice on the service manual. I found a bunch of factory CD’s on EBay.
     

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  6. glider

    glider Veteran Member

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    OUCH! It's time to pull the head and change the head gasket, check the head to see if there is any warpage when it's apart. There's also signs of the base "O" ring leaking too. You may not have the right torque on the head bolts and this would cause this also.

    One thing for sure, it's not the rocker boxes leaking!
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2007
  7. Delmar

    Delmar Active Member

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    Here is a much more detailed and representative pic of the problem. The earlier pic was taken after about 500+ miles of riding since washing the engine, and the flash & filth made the leak appear ten-times worse than it actually was.

    I washed the engine and took the bike on a 50-mile ride. The amount of seepage will be much more evident. Interestingly the mess was on the top fin and the third fin down. Seepage appears to be minimal on the second fin.

    I now have my factory manual on CD and will attempt to remove one headbolt at a time, reapply loctite and torque to factory specs. Will post back with the results.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Delmar

    Delmar Active Member

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    Been there, done that, the site will not allow it. Even attempted to add two gratuitous postings that were removed by the moderator. Gotta play by the rules.

    Oddly you can attach images (like this) but not link or imbed images. Go figure.
     

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  9. glider

    glider Veteran Member

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    Looking at the "de oiled" pic, is there a possibility that it is coming from the exhaust port as in bad valve guide? It seems to be heaviest in that area.

    Is there any signs of oil in the pipe or in the muffler or maybe smoking from that cylinders pipe.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2007
  10. Delmar

    Delmar Active Member

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    Hobbit – thanks for your assistance in circumventing the posting limitation.

    Glider – The inside of the exhaust is dry, no soot, never any smoke. If the valve guide was bad I would think tremendously more oil would get blown through the muffler than leak down the barrel. It probably appears heaviest by the port because it is more difficult to reach for cleaning. I don’t have a bike lift (yet) and crawling around on your hands & knees on a wet driveway is not my idea of fun.