Valve guide wear, valve guide wear, valve guide wear.
I just posted something on Tridents on the Commando part of this forum . I will repost if it is of interest
It can be rather difficult to tell where oil is leaking from. Don’t jump to conclusions. Time spent cleaning and inspecting leaks is well spent!
No need to lift the head providing it is not leaking between the head and barrel where the oil returns . A smear of sealant is important around the dowels.
As I said, as a kid I was plagued with leaking rocker box gaskets. It is a terrible design that could have easily been fixed in the factory by doweling the box to the head and having a larger sealing surface and better still, an O-ring seal machined into one of the mating surfaces as the Japanese often do.
As it is you have very narrow sealing surface with the full load of the head bolts crushing down on a narrow ‘greasy‘ wire reinforced gasket. Cycles of thermal expansion tend to ‘walk’ the gaskets out of position.
Being an ignorant kid (as opposed to an ageing dote), everything I did only served to make the problem worse. That is applying silicon which only served to further lubricate the gasket and applying excessive torque to the head bolts (very bad idea).
Then I had my Epiphany. Why not cut the chappel gaskets out of sheet copper. With a thin smear of Triple bond (I think that’s the name) I had an instant fix.
To my disappointment I then discovered I wasn’t the brilliant inventor of a new product as similar copper gaskets are available commercially. The only difference is that whereas I tediously made 6 individual gaskets, the commercial ones are joined together like the fibre ones.
Then a second Epiphany! Do we even need gaskets in that situation. I tried using no gasket at all, again with a high quality sealant and it worked just as well.
The important factor hear would be to determine the rocker to valve geometry to try and reduce valve guide wear which is the bane of triples.
On the subject of guide wear, I largely solved this problem by replacing the ‘half ball’ adjusters with the Norman Hyde ‘elephant foot’ adjusters. Why these work better, I cannot tell. The half ball type look like they should be perfect but are problematic.
I also run the best synthetic oil. I think that forums like this are full of passionate arguments about whether synthetics are superior. My view is this, in normal, well engineered situations where pressures and temperatures between bearing surfaces are kept with the limits of the oils, then conventional oils are just as good as synthetics (and a lot better at scavenging contaminants) but in very marginal areas of lubrication like the valve/ valve guide interface on a trident where there is less than ideal geometry combined with high temperatures, synthetic oils really come into their own.
For years I was convinced that the push rod tube seals were leaking however with the correct crush (adjusted with fibre washers if necessary) I believe they rarely give trouble.
The cylinder head oil supply lines were also a source of leaking oil. It turned out that the banjo fitting was incorrectly machined, easily fixed by rubbing with wet and dry on a flat surface.
So, in summary. Replace the horrible fibre gaskets with the copper variety (or use none depending on valve geometry) and adjust if required. Use a high quality sealant. Carefully retention the head several times after a rebuild. Use synthetic oil. Replace the half ball adjusters.
All in all Tridents were a brilliant cobble up of a design but unfortunately we’re never truly sorted out at the factory. Most of the issues we battle with could have easily been fixed in the design stage. once correctly fettled they are very reliable. With so many experts making better parts for them a Trident is a brilliant bike, infinitely better than when new.
unfortunately, while Tridents made race records, Honda Fours made sales records.
Hope this helps