Water boiling away? - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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Water boiling away?

Readers, I have an '03 1600 classic with 50,000 miles on her. I have been having coolant issues for about three years now, and have replaced (earliest-to-most-recent) the fan switch, the temp switch, lower main hose, thermostat (twice), O-ring, radiator cap, and fluid....several times.

My problem is that after a ride, when I park it in the garage, I can hear water boiling. So I took the cover off and found the water boiling/bubbling back into the overflow reservoir, or running out the overflow hose. I have used the bike for commuting about 65 miles, one way, and after a couple of days, the bike shows over-temp, or I'm out of coolant.

I have no idea where it's going, or what is causing it to over heat. I have not done a pressure test, neither have I had the cooling system flushed.

I really hope I don't have to buy a new engine.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Ivan

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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 12:33 PM
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Hi, Ivan. Three years is a long time to suffer with this -- sorry you've gone through that.

Couple of basic things ....with, to my mind, the most likely candidate at the end of the list.

1) You have confirmed the fan is running when, for instance, you are parking in the garage? It's obviously overheated at that point, so fan should be blasting away.

2) You've obviously grown more familiar with the coolant condition than you ever wanted -- any signs of oil in the coolant when you've drained it? (I realize it's vanishing at such an alarming rate it may not even have time to collect oil, even if the water pump oil seal or the head gasket are blown...)

3) Conversely, any sign of coolant in the oil? (The dreaded "mocha milkshake" look when you change oil.)

4) When you look at the front of the radiator, do you see a lot of bent fins or are most of them straight?

5) I don't see "rebuilt water pump" on your list. ???

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 12:39 PM
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I agree with trainermb that the water pump is likely bad since you have done about everything else. After three years I would take it to a trusted mechanic and let him have at it!
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 12:53 PM
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Water pumps leak or make noise when they fail, otherwise if the impeller is turning, it is pumping.
Run engine until it is hot and then squeeze a radiator hose (should be hard) to be sure it is building/holding pressure.
Also, any modifications...pipes, etc?

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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OK, Fan runs when the bike is hot, removed water pump housing to check fins, etc., pump is tight, no wiggles, all fins in place, turn when engine turns, new water pump housing seal, no noise or leaks, no oil in water, looking in oil sight glass I see no water in oil (foam, milk shake, etc.), no bent fins on radiator, did not rebuild water pump as it seemed ok, and I have checked hose firmness after running. Ran the bike in the garage until the fan came on one night, checked it the next evening, still tight and firm.
Only mods are straight pipes and baffles from Bub's that I put on it at around 20,000 miles, the first year I had her. (2004)
I do all the wrenching on her including tire changes, tranny bearing replace, clutch plates replace, brakes, rotors, fluid changes, bearing packing, minor service, etc. I can do an overhaul, but I'm ready to buy a new engine if it needs overhaul.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 01:45 PM
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checked it the next evening, still tight and firm.

l.
That makes no sense. Are you sure we are talking about the hoses?
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 02:46 PM
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Have the cylinder heads ever been off of this engine?
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 03:23 PM
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On a car engine I'd suggest that exhaust is getting into the coolant and pushing it out the overflow tank.
Had it happen on two cars. The problem - head gasket.
Dont know if its a thing on bikes though.


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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 08:32 AM
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Blown head gaskets are a thing on bikes, but at the rate this thing is dropping coolant, a blown head gasket would most likely leave some pretty obvious contamination in the coolant and a trail of white smoke that would look like a stunt plane's. Or at the very least a giant white puff of smoke on startup. I mean, this thing's blowing through most of the coolant in the bike in 250 miles. Maybe it is going out the tailpipe, but from what he reports, it seems it is boiling over and ending up on the ground or in the overflow tank so I think it's fair to say we can at least hope for "not a blown head gasket." However, if it was boiling over like that while he was riding it, it seems he would have noticed some pretty powerful Eau de Coolant smell any time he stopped.

I got nothin'. Ivan's replaced or at least verified the function of just about everything in the cooling system, it seems. I don't quite get what he "checked the next evening" that was "tight and firm", but he said he has tested the hoses while the bike was hot and they were as they should be. Well, let's make a list for easy reference:

- Water pump verified working
- Radiator cap replaced
- Thermostat replaced
- Radiator fins inspected, ok
- Hoses probably ok (Little shaky on that one ....)
- Fan checked, ok
- Thermostat replaced
- Temp switch replaced
- No oil in coolant, no coolant in oil

Logically, all that seems to me to be left is; one or more of his tests was incorrect, one or more of the replacement parts isn't functioning properly, "something" (?) is impeding the coolant flow, the radiator itself is toast, or the cooling system is functioning just fine but the engine is somehow magically producing more heat than the system can dissipate without ANY other symptoms. Sadly, my "diagnosis", such as it is, is about as useful to Ivan as mudflaps on a turtle, as I'm sure he has chased this same logic around and around many times, and he spent more money doing it. I hope somebody can come up with something better.

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 08:38 AM
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something" (?) is impeding the coolant flow

This is why I asked if the heads have ever been removed, to which I have not received an answer. If so, head gaskets may have been incorrectly installed, blocking flow ports.
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