Technical Q and A for classic motorcycle maintenance and repair.
Editor’s note: If you’re having trouble with that old Suzuki, BSA or BMW, Keith Fellenstein is your guy. From motorcycle tuning tips to detailed motorcycle engine repair, he can draw from a wealth of experience to help guide you to success. Send questions to: Keith’s Garage, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an e-mail with “Keith’s Garage” as your subject.
1985 Honda VF700F Interceptor Back from the Dead
Q: I just picked up a 1985 Honda VF700F Interceptor with only 4,900 miles on it. I got it from the original owner. It looks almost new but it has been sitting for many years. I went to check the oil and when I took the oil cap off liquid came pouring out. It was more runny than regular oil and it smells a bit like gas. I’m guessing that the fuel petcock failed and gas leaked through the carbs and into the cylinders, where over time it leaked on into the oil pan. What kinds of problems should I expect? Can I just drain it, fill it with oil, run it for a bit, then change the oil again? - Eric/via email
A: This condition is pretty common with bikes that were stored with a full tank of gas. As you’ve guessed, fuel has made its way past the petcock and past the carburetor float valves. Once it floods the carburetor, the fuel travels through the intake port, past any valves that are open. It pools in the cylinders and seeps past the rings into the sump. The good news is that you went about your old bike revival the correct way and drained the oil first. I don’t think you’ll have any major problems resulting from this. I’d continue with the work of reviving a long dormant engine. Pull the plugs and squirt a teaspoon or so of oil into each cylinder. Turn the engine over by hand to distribute the oil on the cylinder walls. It’s always a good idea to remove and thoroughly clean the carburetors of a bike that has been sitting. Be sure to pay particular attention to the floats and the float needles. I’d replace the float needles for sure and be certain the floats aren’t leaky. Obviously the oil filter will need changing too. After that, your plan to fill it with oil, run it a bit and change the oil is perfect. MC