Oh This Ticking is Driving Me Crazy! - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 05:50 AM Thread Starter
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Oh This Ticking is Driving Me Crazy!

Been hearing some ticking since I got the bike. Sometimes its loud and sometimes it's quiet. Posted up here about it and everybody said these are noisy engines and the lifters tick and that its typical. Well typical or not, even if its not dangerous it is driving me insane!

My wife and I went on a 300 mile trip yesterday to see my folks and I don't remember hearing the tick at all. Not once. Crank it up this morning and it is super loud through most of the rev range all the way to work about an 10 minute drive. We got off of it around 8:00pm last night and I was back on it at 6:00 this morning so it's not like it was sitting for a long time.

Even if it's not dangerous, how do i make it stop. I can't take it much longer...

I've put down many hard miles carving corners, but now it's time to just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 09:54 AM
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1. How many miles on the bike?
2. How long have you owned?
3. What oil are you using?
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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Bike now has 24k.
I have only owned it for about 1.5 months.
Previous owner claimed he had just changed the oil. I checked oil level looks good. Oil looks new and clean.

Even still I am about to change it anyways just to make sure it is running proper oil. I don't recall him telling me what brand. I plan to run Rotella T6 oil and a K&N KN204 filter. Based on what I have researched so far this seems to be a good combo. Unless someone can suggest something better. I try to research stuff and find an answer before asking up here with no knowledge of the subject matter.

Other then this occasional tick the bike seems to be running top notch.

I have heard that they tick for a little while if you have let it sit for the winter or something but mine pretty much does it even after only sitting for the night. Also I have noticed it happens if I run 80 on the highway for a distance so I typically go much slower so it doesn't happen. I won't do more then 75 on the speedo which i know is really around 67-68 mph. So i get passed like crazy.

I've put down many hard miles carving corners, but now it's time to just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery!
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 10:32 AM
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Change the oil ASAP and see what happens.
A persistent/loud tick must be addressed as valve train damage could result.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 10:32 AM
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As an add, be sure and not go over recommended viscosity.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 10:41 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah that was my plans either way. My filter should be here tomorrow and they have that oil at my local walmart so I should be good to change in this week some time. I have heard a lot of good things about that rotella T6 so I wanted to give it a try and see if it helps a little. Thanks for the tips.

I've put down many hard miles carving corners, but now it's time to just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery!
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 11:55 AM
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I've been studying the factory service manual almost every night since getting the Fat Bastard, and have the following to offer based on what I see and my experiences:

1. The hydraulic lash adjuster (HLA) is designed to take up play in the valvetrain. Properly functioning, the top end of the motor should be nearly silent at all speeds. If you hear ticking - it's not functioning properly. I disagree with the "It's ticking, and that's normal" comment and here's why:

2. A collapsed lifter typically has about double the lash one would find acceptable on a solid lifter motor - sometimes triple. Solid lifter cams have a "ramp" built into the lobe profile to gradually take up the lash in the valvetrain, while hyd lifter cams do not. A collapsed lHLA will allow the valvetrain to "hammer" itself to failure - eventually. I had a friend with a consistent tick in his motor; he opted not to address it, as he felt it to be normal. The engine did eventually fail, but it took about 15K miles from the onset of the tick.

3. I don't know if this would work in the Vulcan motor, but first generation hydraulic lifters (GM was one of the pioneers in the use of hyd lifters in the late 40's/early 50's) were prone to collapse due to deposits forming in the assembly. The solution was to use a detergent, marketed as Lifter Medic, if I recall. Other mechanics swore by automatic transmission fluid. You'd drain out some oil, add in the medic (or ATF) then let the motor idle for about a half hour (no load) in the driveway. Typically the lifter noise disappears after about ten minutes. I've resurrected several engines over the years by using this technique - saves stripping down the engine. Please note I have no idea what sort of impact this would have on clutch plates - but since the materials used are similar to those in automatic transmissions, I doubt it would be significant.

4. The problem I see with additive cleaning is it would not address what I believe to be the root cause - clogged HLA filters. The design conditions for engine oil (design conditions = highest heat in this case) occur at the exhaust valve stem. Above a certain temp, oil breaks down, or "cokes". The HLA filters are fairly close to the exhaust valve stems - while not likely, it's possible coked oil is either forming in the HLA or contaminating the HLA filter. In reading threads about HLA's, the oil coming out of bled HLA's is often black - a sign of coking.

5. Without starting an oil thread, it's been my experience synthetics have two advantages in this case. First, their viscosity curve is flatter - meaning the oil is thinner cold which reduces cold start clatter. Second (and this is the important one) they have a higher breakdown, or coking, temperature. I started using synth on turbocharged applications back in the mid 80's and was always impressed with how clean a motor was after teardown.

6. I'm fortunate to have all the service records on the Fat Bastard, as the first owner kept meticulous records, and the second kept all receipts. It's had synth the entire time, and with 29,000 miles on the clock it starts and runs without sign of any valvetrain noise. 1500's and 1600's are essentially the same internally, BTW.

If it were my bike, I'd attempt the additive route first, following the manufacturer's instructions. If that didn't work - then yes. I'd pull the motor and manually clean the HLA's while replacing the filters.

Hope this helps.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for this extensive info. Honestly I am not a mechanic and my skills are fairly limited to basic oil changes and installing cold air kits on cars lol. The easy stuff. I'm going to change the oil and filter before I ride it again and let it idle in the drive for a while. If that doesn't help clear it up its off to the Kawi dealer/service center and I'll let them take a look at it. If they say it's "normal" then I'll probably just trade it in on a voyager which will be my next bike whether sooner or later. We do a lot of touring and the 5 speed just doesn't cut it on the highway for me. I'd stick with my current bike to save a little more towards the voyager but if it's time it might just be time. We will see. Thanks again!

I've put down many hard miles carving corners, but now it's time to just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery!
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel DiMaggio View Post
Thanks for this extensive info. Honestly I am not a mechanic and my skills are fairly limited to basic oil changes and installing cold air kits on cars lol. The easy stuff. I'm going to change the oil and filter before I ride it again and let it idle in the drive for a while. If that doesn't help clear it up its off to the Kawi dealer/service center and I'll let them take a look at it. If they say it's "normal" then I'll probably just trade it in on a voyager which will be my next bike whether sooner or later. We do a lot of touring and the 5 speed just doesn't cut it on the highway for me. I'd stick with my current bike to save a little more towards the voyager but if it's time it might just be time. We will see. Thanks again!
Can you narrow down where the tick is coming from?
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-25-2016, 06:32 PM
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Before your oil change, add Seafoam to the oil, run it at highway speeds for 30-45 minutes, this should help clear carbon deposits. Drain the old oil and replace it with Rotella T6. I use a Purolator 14610 available at most auto parts stores.
You could always check out Gadgets Fix It page, dedicated to all things Vulcan.

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