03 K1200GT Clutch Slippage - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 53 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2010, 8:29 am Thread Starter
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Location: Grass Valley, CA, USA
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03 K1200GT Clutch Slippage

I have owned and enjoyed this magnificent machine for 3 years and 53,000 miles. I purchased it used (7,000 miles) from A&S in Sacramento (#1 in my book...good folks and my dealer from here on out) and have performed all the maintenance myself. I commute 80 miles/day and carve the twisties of Northern Cal at a moderate rate. I do not launch hard, and do not hold the clutch in at stops. I have noticed oil residue and weeping at the case joints (intermmediate/trans joint) and have developed friction plate slippage upon hard acceleration, particularly in 6th. I can reproduce the slippage in virtually any gear, but its more evident as gear ratio drops. I know the friction plate is getting saturated with motor oil due to a seeping rear main (customary failure on this model series). Now what I ask? Arrange service at the dealership at about $2,200 or do it myself (thus burning LOTS of time in the garage). I have MUCH better uses for my time and money, especially in the times we now live in.

There is a third option I thought of that just might work. Years ago while on the farm back east, the tractor developed the same malady. Economics in money and time being paramount, gramps would simply remove the access plate at the the bottom of the clutch housing and would thoroughly cleanse the friction plate, pressure plate and related parts with a degreaser and high pressure air. This process was messy indeed, but was COMPLETELY effective. The clutch resumed absolutely normal operations until it became very slowly oiled again much later. He cared not that the main output seal was seeping, this tractor was known for this problem. He did not have the time or money to try to mitigate a design flaw, and refused to throw bucket loads of farm cash at the damn thing every 3 years or so.

Up on the centerstand the K went. The lower cowl was removed and a small hole has been drilled into the bottom rear (about 1 " from the trans joint) of the intermmediate housing. As expected, black oil seeped out. I let that drain thoroughly by giving it time. Then I bent the plastic stinger from a can of brake cleaner (NON residue) so that the spray would be directed in the general location of the friction plate & pressure plate assembly inside. I placed the trans in first, clamped the clutch lever (master cylinder) to full activation, inserted the stinger and sprayed while turning the rear wheel (thus turning ONLY the fritcion plate inside). I then inserted an air nozzle stinger (similar to the stinger used to fill basketballs only open at the tip) and purged the cavity with compressed air thoroughly. I then started the engine and allowed the clutch housing, pressure plate etc to spin and repeated the whole process over again until I was getting nothing but fresh clean fluid from the housing hole. Dit it work? Hell yes it worked!!!!!

The test ride was absolutely marvelous! Full throttle roll ons in 6th gear at highway speeds, low gear roll ons up hills and NO slippage whatsoever! Perhaps I'll tap the hole and install a small stainless hex bolt w/copper sealing washer to prevent incursion of water etc. but I do not believe this would be a problem because the hole is so small and is at the very bottom of the housing. I now have over 600 miles since the procedure and NO slippage of any kind, any gear, any speed.

Of course, friction plate, pressure plate (do you launch hard and punish your clutch system?) and seal conditions (current leak rate) may vary your individual results, but what the heck do you have to lose? This took about 3 hours, 3 cans of brake cleaner and some initiative. I know this procedure may insult the purists out there, but it was completely effective at mitigating the symptom, saving me a boatload of cash and about 16 hours of labor. I'm also NOT wild on the idea that this leaking seal bullshit may recur NATURALLY on this model every 40-60K.

Now I will save for the teardown and parts that may be necessary when the clutch system physically wear down, as opposed to dealing with oil saturation in a closed environment.

For what it's worth fella's...hope this helps someone besides me.

Best Regards
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post #2 of 53 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2010, 9:38 am
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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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I have a weeping joint at the trans/engine junction... I assume the clutch will be slipping shortly? Any pics of the weeping joint, the hole drilled etc?

Thanks for the headsup!
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post #3 of 53 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2010, 12:02 pm
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It's not just the engine seal that could be the culprit. There are also frequent reports of weeping clutch slave cyliniders which puke brake fluid all over the clutch. There is a very real possibility that this is your issue rather than engine oil. The fluid dripped on your clutch and thrown off will blacken from heat and friction plate particles so it may appear as oil. Contrary to common belief oil contamination will not make friction devices like clutches and brakes slip. Oil will make them slip only initially but very quickly they will grab and sieze. Especially when they get warm with use. Brake fluid on the other hand will always slip until it gets worn off and then the device will function normally again. If you take your bike out in the spring after it has been sitting for a few months and you think you can feel the clutch slip but then a day or two later it's gone, then you don't have an oil issue, you have a brake fluid issue. Check and monitor your clutch master cylinder fluid level.
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post #4 of 53 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2010, 3:01 pm
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Keep in mind, though, that brake fluid is destructive to the oil seals on the rear of the engine and on the input shaft to the transmission. If you find the clutch engaging on its own, you probably have a slave cylinder leak and when repairing that, replace both engine seals and the transmission seal. Extra $40 for parts, maybe an hour labor, but it beats tearing it all down again when the oil seal starts to fail later on.

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post #5 of 53 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2010, 4:11 pm Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback in regards to brake fluid and the like. I have no drop in Master Cylinder level (yet) and highly suspect motor oil as the contaminant. It has no burnt aroma whatsoever, and has the viscous feel of oil. I have just completed a fast loop up Hwy 49 to Downieville and experienced no abnormal clutch activity...not a hint of slippage. I'm engaged in some maintenance this afternoon and will forward some pictures of the hole's location, the stinger shape etc. when done.

The info sharing on this site is particularly helpful, informative and I thank you ALL for the feedback. I will contirbute financially to K-Bikes soon.

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post #6 of 53 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2010, 4:35 pm
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I have to woner if brake fluid might not be hard on any oil seals it might come in contact with. Anybody know about reactions with rubber, neoprene and the like with brake cleaner?
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post #7 of 53 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2010, 8:22 pm
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Your gramps must have had some Kiwi blood in him, as that definitely sounds like something a farmer in New Zealand would do. I devised a similar plan to remove my starter motor in less than an hour as apposed to the full teardown required in the manual...

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post #8 of 53 (permalink) Old Aug 28th, 2010, 9:21 pm Thread Starter
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OK so far.

I read the can and considered the risks before doing this, but figured a good long purge of compressed air (about 70 psi) immediately after flush, would not allow damage to any seals cause they are not being bathed in it. Quick wash, then air purge. I should mention I did this with the machine hot, about 15 minutes after a ride. The hole (9/64) was enough to allow for fluid and hot air exit.

Gramps was a Tarheel (NC) and lived his way, creative and frugal as possible. Like a Kiwi, he was what I call "good people".

Best to you all!
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post #9 of 53 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2010, 1:56 am
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Red face Clutch Slippage K1200GT

Hello all.
As I have a '04 GT and about 42K miles this sounds like something that I may also be expereancing soon. No symtoms as of yet however....I've had good luck with this beamer so far. Now if I can just find a good used right side switch gear. (broke my kill switch under my starter button while working on it one day) Looking forward to the pics and info. Thanks to all who contribute to this great site.

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post #10 of 53 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2010, 6:58 am
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Perhaps you need 2 holes in the casing, one near the top to take the nozzle of an air fed paraffin gun filled with cleaner, and one at the bottom to drain it out!

I can't remember now how well sealed the clutch bell housing is, but one wonders if you can just fill up the cavity from the top, release the clutch to get cleaner into it and drain out from the bottom just like an oil change.

In fact gas stations could offer this clutch revival service along the highway. Pull in, fill up, drain, and ride off.

I'm staying a bit tongue in cheek over this as I can see a short term temporary fix, but not something I'd want to keep doing.

Now I have big concerns about brake cleaner getting into the clutch slave bearing. That's always running 24/7 so won't last that long after purging out its grease.

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