Water in primary cases...

Discussion in 'Norton Commando Classic Motorcycles' started by Bob Z., Nov 1, 2017.

  1. Bob Z.

    Bob Z.

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    This is new for me:
    I wanted to do some clutch maintenance as the bike was sticking and stalling the engine on first shift of the day.
    So I opened the oil-tight (no leak) primary case and found water condensation and milky pink ATF oil.
    This is at the end of the summer riding season.
    The clutch plates were sticking as expected, so cleaned them up.
    Re-tightened the clutch fixing nut as it had slightly backed off from the Loctite sealant.
    I will use new ATF and expect all to be good again.
    Can the primary cases be too air-tight and cause this condensation?
    [​IMG]
     
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    yves norton seeley likes this.
  2. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Milky condensate typically points to insufficient ride duration (short jaunts or quick start-ups and shutdowns), infrequent maintenance, infrequent riding, or any combination of those.

    If you don't let the engine heat soak and run long enough to boil off small quantities of condensate EVERY TIME YOU RIDE, the vicious cycle begins.
     
  3. Bob Z.

    Bob Z.

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Short rides pretty much describes my Norton trips this past summer. My back-roads fun ride loop was about 20 miles.
     
  4. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    20 miles is ALMOST enough to heat-soak the engine. Depending on how much moisture you've got trapped in the system, it could take ANOTHER 20 miles to boil off, maybe more...

    A climate-controlled garage helps, but you still have to be conscientious about maintenance. At least dribble a tablespoon out of the sump every once in a while and know what things are looking like.
     
  5. Torontonian

    Torontonian

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    Maybe the felt seal is shot for the inner primary case that goes over the mainshaft , letting rain droplets in. Just an idea , it has to enter from somewhere.
     
  6. Danno

    Danno

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Without much heat generated on their own, the primary and gear cases tend to run cold if not 'heat soaked' tend to suck moisture. One has only to pour the grey munge out of a fork tube in need of maintenance to know how cold and oil get along.
     
  7. Bob Z.

    Bob Z.

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    I actually had a similar issue with the gearbox oil many years ago in college when a Norton was my commuter back and forth to school. Short trips.
    One day, really cold outside, the kick start lever would not work. Felt mushy.
    On inspection, the gear oil looked like a tan smoothie. So much condensation water had mixed with the oil that it was nearly a frozen gel. I had to put an electric light bulb under the gearbox to help it thaw out enough to drain and replace.
     
  8. rvich

    rvich VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    I put an electric transmission heater on my oil tank under the seat to warm the oil in it and drive out condensation for this same reason. I periodically put a heat gun on low and warm the gearbox and primary in my shop. I ride a lot in 50 degree moist weather. The engine seems to breath real well in this climate but we don't have enough road to really warm everything up!
     
  9. Danno

    Danno

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    [​IMG]

    This is another example of a dry-stored machine having more rust than the Titanic, from whose cases I poured Mississippi floodwater.
     
  10. eskasteve

    eskasteve VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    I lived in Washington State for 64 years and have been riding Nortons there since 1970. I just moved to Arizona in June. I too experienced the moisture in the primary because of Wa. wet climate. Your primary seal may be oil tight but the felt seal behind the clutch basket does breath a bit. As your case heats up the air inside expands and poofs out past the seal. As it cools a vacuum is created and outside air enters. I had more rust issues when running ATF. I have run Harley primary case oil for years as it seems to stick to the metal parts better than the ATF. I don't expect anymore moisture related problems now that I'm in AZ. Time will tell.
     
  11. Joe Schlaberdowski

    Joe Schlaberdowski

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    I remember reading about this when I had my first Norton (Matchless/Norton) in the '60's. Wss called "oleate of rust" and was exactly in the primary chain case. Like I'd poured a light brown milkshake into the chain case. The source of all that water contamination was always a mystery to me. Can't remember where I read that term, "oleate of rust", but it might have been in the writings of Phil Irving. Never saw used elsewhere. Just curious .
     
  12. Danno

    Danno

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    "Oleate" sounds like olio (oil) and condensate (water).
     
  13. Biscuit

    Biscuit

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2012
    This is something I'd expect to see if you garaged your bike in a coolish or even AC'd environment. Then out onto a hot humid day for a short ride, then back to cool storage. KC. MO. has hot and humid, no?
     
  14. olympus

    olympus

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2017
    where can I buy one...sound awsome:)
     

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