Well Oiled

Well, my ‘80 Midnight Special, which I am slowly resurrecting from the previous owner’s incompetence taught me something new (again) today.

Southbound on US 75 at 5:30am this morning (at some unmentionable speed . . . it was beautiful this morning), headed to downtown Dallas for work, I blew an oil cooler line.

Went something like this:

(Blink, Blink) “Why is my vision getting fuzzy?” as a very light spray of oil coated my helmet visor.

(soft pop) “AwwwwwwwwwwwwwSh*ttttOwwwwwwwwwwwwwGhhhhaaaaaYuckkk!” as a solid stream of hot oil squirts all over me. Elapsed time? I dunno . . . the speed of thought . . . maybe ¼ second.

Used the engine one more time to get out of the traffic pack (yeah, traffic even sucks at 5:30am here) and hit the kill switch while I was headed for the shoulder. Elapsed time now . . . 3 seconds or so. Coasted to a stop (uh . . . no brakes left . . . every square inch of the bike, as well as every square inch of me, is covered in oil). Frankly I am praying that the ignition temperature of the oil is substantially higher than the temperature of my pipes. Pushed the bike off the highway into a parking lot. Wife came and brought more tools (my tool kit is woefully inadequate). Looped the line and bypassed the cooler circuit. Added oil and drove it home.

Sad thing is, I had the bike apart for fuel and electrical system repairs/upgrades last weekend . . . which was right after the steering bearing replacement . . . see earlier posts. Anyway, I had eyeballed the oil cooler lines and thought “Don’t look bad, but I think I’ll replace ‘em”. Went to the local hydraulic/parts shop and was going to have them make the stainless braided, Teflon-lined lines. They were out of the correct size line and said “next weekend”. I said “Great, no problem.” Sigh. That would be tomorrow.


The revolutionary new “Automatic, in-flight oil change method” is not highly recommended.

Hot Castroil 15W-40 tastes terrible (and I was wearing a full-face helmet!). Difficult to describe, but it tastes exactly like it smells when you dump a large amount of it on hot pipes. Blech. I can still taste it. I can still smell it for that matter.

An XS oil pump with the engine at 5000+ RPM will pump 3 quarts of oil out a 3/8” id line in about 3 seconds.

There is no point on my XS that is not thoroughly and completely lubricated.

There is no point on me that is not thoroughly and completely lubricated.

Actually have a good sized burn on my left inside thigh.

The ignition point of Castroil 15W-40 is somewhat higher than the temperature of a fast moving XS’s pipes. By how much I do not know. Do not try this at home folks.

When the little voice in your head says “Change the lines”, do it right then.

Don’t buy used bikes. Yeah I know. I can’t follow that one either. But at least keep the former owner’s name so when you discover that he used FUEL/EMMISSION HOSE (AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!) on your high pressure/high temperature oil lines, you can go back and heap abuse on him. I would suggest a lobotomy, but it must be too late. I really feel this was incompetence, bordering on negligence. If you’re fixing a bike up to sell, fix it right or leave it alone and sell it broken. Nuff said.

Daniel Meyer

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