Thursday, June 06, 2013

Uraling back to Colorado - Day 58: Valencia's Engine is Kaput

Woke up early and started heading back towards Salem, OR....back to Raceway Services for them to diagnose the annoyingly loud and nerve-wracking noises coming from my engine.  I checked the oil before I left the motel 6, and two more times until the worst possible thing happened.

About 75.25 miles from Raceway's location, Valencia's engine suddenly lost power and I heard a loud bang!  I immediately pulled in the clutch lever and coasted over to the side of the road.  I looked at her engine, found no holes in the engine case, and I'd been fully expecting to see a piston sized hole based on the noise I heard.

No evident damage but the engine was not usable.  Pushed her further off the road, as the truckers apparently like to see how close they can get to a vehicle parked on the side of the road without actually hitting it.  Stupid bastards.

Called for a tow truck, it failed its ETA and then failed to show at all.  This proved to be a good thing as they wanted $270 to tow me to Salem!  The second outfit only wanted $150 and they actually showed up pretty much on time.

As the tow truck approached, I elected to push Valencia a 1/4 mile further to the west so that he wouldn't have to go past exit 25 so he could then turn around and get on the westbound side of I-84.  Good exercise that, pushing a fully loaded sidecar rig on flat ground while trucks and cars whiz closely by at high speed.

 I look so happy.....not!

We got Valencia back to Raceway just before Noon.  Jim was kind enough to arrange food for me.  I ate lunch with Jim and we chatted for a bit while Robert started tearing into Valencia's engine once he returned from lunch.  I'd alerted Jim beforehand as to my troubles and he advised he had the guys standing by for my arrival.

Robert found massive metal particle contamination inside the engine.  He also found a partially frozen control rod on the right side piston.  It is believed that the races belonging to the bearing used by the right side control ride had disintegrated.  The resulting metal flakes/particles floated about, contaminated the needle bearings and caused the bearing to fail.

Once the bearing failed, the control rod no longer rotated as designed, which meant the piston it controlled was no longer on its designed path/stroke within its bore/cylinder.  The piston attached to the control rod went further than expected,and impacted the right side head.  I believe this is the load bang I heard.

This "disintegration" of the control rod bearing races is rare but the guys at Raceways have seen it before apparently.  The theory is, I think, is that when the crankshaft parts are pressed together into the complete assembly at the factory, some of the assemblies are pressed too hard and damage the races slight.  Use and wear and tear do the rest.  Again, it's a theory, no one is really certain.

All of Valencia's damaged parts will be going back to URAL for analysis, hopefully they'll figure out what happened so that it doesn't happen to some other Uralista again.

View of the right side head

Red arrow above shows where the piston hit the head, not good

Both pistons' sides were scored. both pistons will be replaced as
well as the crankshaft.

Its out of focus, yes, but you can see the massive amount of 
metal flakes/shavings from the disintegrated bearing races

 Above is Valencia's oil sump, lots and lots of metal particles

The ruined crankshaft, which will be replaced.  On the right side control
rod, one is able to pull it in/out slightly.  There's not supposed to be ANY lateral movement!

In sum, crankshaft assembly, right head, both pistons, all engine bearings (old ones are contaminated with metal particles), related seals and gaskets are to be replaced.  As I left for the day, Robert was finishing cleaning out the engine case and parts that are still usable; the left head for example.

The parts were ordered and were shipped overnight by URAL (they're covering the whole repair job under warranty) and will be here tomorrow.  Robert will hopefully then be able to put all the new components in, reassemble Valencia and turn her over to me for me to break the engine in over the weekend.

The plan is, do the engine break-in procedure (600 km) over the weekend, do a break-in oil change and examine the oil filter and oil thoroughly.  If all goes well, I take Valencia back to Raceway on Monday to have them do an inspection/re-torque things and just check things out.  So I'll be spending some more time in Oregon.  

I will be staying with fellow moto-blogger Bluekat at their home in nearby Lebanon, OR.  No room at the inn but I am quite happy to have a spot on their lawn to camp!  :)

Quite the day, full of lows and highs, but in the end, it's all good.  Raceway and URAL are once again providing the outstanding customer service/support I've come to expect.  So glad I listened to Martha, who "counseled" me to head for Salem instead of trying to push onto Boise and the new URAL dealer there.


RichardM said...

Since your post last night, I was really wondering what happened. Fortunately, Ural is coming through again. It's sort of a mixed bag, it's nice that they are coming through with the repairs through the extended warrantee but then again, it probably shouldn't happen in the first place given the modes age and miles on the rig. Do they have an option to extend the warranty again? It wouldn't hurt to ask given the repair history over the last couple of months.

Did Raceway say anymore about the coil not being the problem with their air cleaner hypothesis? Does the extended warranty cover any of your additional travel costs?

It's nice that you can stay with Ron and Kari again.

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, I've not asked re their warranty covering the additional travel costs...I highly doubt it.

As to modest age and miles on the rig....a somewhat surprising statement from Robert of Raceway, my rig's 36K kms on her odometer is the highest they've seen at the shop....and they see a lot of rigs. The owner's manual schedule of services stops at the 30K km service....I am assuming I just start from the beginning again but it is a bit curious don't you think?

I bought a one year extension, to the normal two year warranty when I bought the rig. I am good to go till march of 2015 I believe. I am still on the default two year warranty given to all URAL owners.

As to the air cleaner hypothesis vice coil final judgements. However, Jim mentioned to me another URAL rider with same symptoms.....he had him swap out the air filter (which was sopping wet) during a rainy fixed things....fifty miles later (still in heavy rain), same thing happened again, again the air filter was sopping wet and acting as a choke. The airbox design on the URALs has undergone several revisions trying to fix this water ingestion/dust ingestion issue....its still a known issue. No rain since I got the new ignition parts(which I've returned except for the coil which I swapped).

Erik R said...

Sorry to read of your troubles. I hope they can get things rebuilt and that you can make it home OK. This trip has been quite an adventure!

I didn't know that the Ural crank shaft was pressed together with the connecting rods permanently installed as an assembly. That makes service of individual parts an issue. I thought they would have bolted onto the crankshaft and would have used an automotive style bearing... Interesting.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Erik

yep, the crankshaft assembly is not field serviceable. I would have liked to have been able to see the remains of the bearings.

These last two days have been costly to me in terms of time and lodging but not too bad. The end result will be pretty much a new engine/clutch. All warranty covered, readily, by URAL.

My having the time to absorb these unforeseen delays allows me this way of thinking, same issues would have probably ruined the vacation plans of other riders. I would like to think though, that URAL would have done what they could to help in those cases.

Looking back, I also managed to "break down" in the right places didn't I?

RichardM said...

Still, I'm assuming that you've ridden in heavy rain numerous times in the past couple of years and never experienced the same symptoms. Oh well, at least they're letting you keep the new coil.

I still think that 36K km is modest, especially with the Ural projecting a dream of 'round the world adventures and reliability based on simplicity.

Since you are in the area, you should ride to Saturday morning coffee in Corvallis. I've stopped there numerous times and met a lot of interesting people.

Bob and Sharon said...

I cannot believe that 36K is high milage for a Ural ???
and your the only one putting that kind of milage on. What does everybody else do just use them for picture opportunities
Maybe the world does need more Ural Shops that do full service repairs.

I hope raceway gets everything going for you and you make it home without any more problems

Andrew Thomson said...

Damn! You're having a bit of a nightmare with the Ural. It's good to see that the warranty is still being honoured though. Back on the road soon eh...

GlennandSun said...

Dom we are glad you are being taken care of by Ural and Raceway. As bad as this has been, your breaks have come at the right place and time compared to where it could have happened. Mileage does seems low (22,000 miles) for this kind of bearing failure. We are hoping for higher mileage reliability on our '13 Gear Up, and are paying close attention to Ural's customer service. Very pleased at the way they have responded to your needs so far.
You experiences and sharing is very valuable to us, especially since a quality shop manual is not available. May you ride trouble free for many thousands of miles for here on. Ride safe...GlennandSun

Chiller said...

I've been following your ride which looks really interesting. However I also have been feeling for you at the constant troubles you've been having. If that was me I reckon I'd be straight down to the local Yamaha/Honda dealer buying something reliable. Your machine seems to make a Harley look reliable.

Hope all goes well for you.

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, I've ridden in rains before but in CO, they're usually few and far between and the rig always had some rough running then as well. In Colorado it usually was dust clogging our air filters. We shall see, next big rainstorm.

As to 36K being a low mileage thing, I think the same way, but you and I both come from BMW bikes where such miles are truly low miles. I was just saying that Raceway hadn't seen one with such miles.

re Cornwallis, might do that....I've got to stay withing towing range anyways while I do the engine break-in process tomorrow.

redlegsrides said...

Bob and Sharon.

Like I told RichardM, 36K is nothing to a bmw, talking a different animal here with URAL. URAL is making mighty efforts, IMHO, to improve their offerings, BMW didn't have the "benefit" of Soviet planning and oversight skills in the last few decades.

I'd still be arguing with BMW about the failed rear main seal Valencia experienced. URAL just said: It's covered, here's the parts....can't beat that.

Having said all that, one piece of advice I'd give any prospective URAL owner, get the extended warranty! :)

Andrew Thomson, yep quite the love/hate thing going lately. Still, it's the rig I ride when given a choice between the three motorcycles I have. All that man has wrought, will break. I am actually ambivalent about the rumor that fuel injection is coming to the new URALs in a year or so....

redlegsrides said...

GlennandSun, one of the theories bandied about is that perhaps the bearings were damaged when the crankshaft was pressed together at the factory but you'd think the failure would have happened sooner? Could be a batch of inferior metal used on the manufacture of the races? Maybe water got into the engine and "hydrolocked" things enough to start the races down the destruction path? Who knows. It's a known thing to happen, but its not that common per Jim at Raceway. Still, checking your oil for excessive swarf remains the key check during maintenance. I am thinking also of starting regular sampling of oil by labs and seeing what they report.

Sure,I've had some bad luck, but mostly good luck in terms of breakdown location/supportive folks and great support from URAL and the dealers I've gone to so far.

You'll come to love your rig, I can almost guarantee it. :)

redlegsrides said...

Chiller Tek, I hear where you're coming from....but no marque is inmune...the japanese bikes have their share of issues too. Thanks for commenting though.

Unknown said...


You're in good hands now, both Mechanically and being with friends in Lebanon. One day I hope to attend one of those Saturday morning coffee meetings.

If Ron has the weekend free, he could show you around some backroads. He took us somewhere and we ended up at a Dam. Lots of nice slow roads to break in your new engine

Riding the Wet Coast

BeemerGirl said...

Incredible! I'm so glad you returned to Raceway. Since they have really been so kind, and efficient, and everything. You know them, they know you...makes it easier.

Good luck with the repairs. I'm also happy warranty is covering ALL of this.

SonjaM said...

Lot's of politically incorrect words in my head. Dang, I am so sorry to hear the at the engine blew up, and glad as well that it happened in the right place.
Ural is certainly losing money on your rig with all the failures. I am impressed that they stand by their product and exchange the parts on warranty. However your travel schedule was impacted quite a bit, which leaves it a bit on a low note.
I hope you'll be on the road again soon.

Anonymous said...

I only know you through reading your Blog. In the photo I seen an unhappy man. In your words I hear a man who is positive by nature.
You have had some major set backs and your still positive about URAL. It would be all to easy to bag them out given the circumstances.
I hope this is the last of your problems as you have had your share.


redlegsrides said...

Bobskoot, thanks for the link for the coffee meet. I might just go and perhaps Trobaritz and Troubadour will be there.

BeemerGirl, the folks at Raceway Services are tops! You can imagine the happiness I feel that all this is warrantied!

SonjaM, yeah, there's been time/money impact due to the repairs required but luckily, my schedule was flexible enough. It is what it is, all part of the adventure right?

Farrider245, thanks for the comments...yeah, there's been some tough times but URAL has come through each time. I still love my Patrol....but as with most motorcycles, it's a love/hate thing sometimes. I am not anywhere near to abandoning the marque. I am keeping my fingers crossed this is the last required repair for a long, long, time.