Expert Level: 2002 Engine Rebuild - Kawasaki Forum ::
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post #1 of 93 Old 06-04-2018, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Expert Level: 2002 Engine Rebuild

Hello fellas,

You may remember my Phoenix project from last year, in which I overhauled everything but the engine. Well, as irony loves an opportunity, during my first 800-mile tour of 2018, I *probably* dropped a valve. I haven't had the engine taken out or torn down yet. I know some of you have gotten into the engine plenty of times (lookin' at you, cmg). These are my options:
1. Buy donor bike and swap in a working engine
2. Buy a freestanding engine and swap it in
3. Send it to RC Performance in NC to sort out the failure, then their overbore and porting job
4. Tear down and replace as needed, by myself

Here are the challenges with each:
1. Paying for more than I need for a donor, and buying someone else's problems
2. Very hard to find a freestanding engine (unless I'm not looking in the right places)
3. $4600 for the overbore/porting, plus additional labor and parts for other needed bits
4. Free labor, but I can't weld and remachine anything, or fab any parts. Everything that needs replaced must be identified and purchased, new or used.
Also, a DIY will take me a long time. I've never done an engine. Not too fearful, but I *could* make mistakes.

Right now, I'm leaning toward the DIY, because of the problems for 1-3. So what I need is advice for the following:

1. No one (Facebook groups) has stated clearly how to cradle the engine and pull it out from under the chassis. Some say put wood blocks under it. Others say use a floor jack. I don't want it to fall over. The perfect advice here would include an explicit statement, hopefully with pics.

2. I have most of the basic tools -- wrenches, allens, screwdrivers. I do NOT have any engine specific specialty tool, such as a valve removal tool.

3. Since I am pulling the engine, maybe I should replace parts that could be troublesome later, even if not failed right now.
a. Timing chain (pretty certain on this one, my tensioner was close to the last click when I did valve clearances last year)
b. Oil sump pump (?)
c. Any starter parts (?)
d. Any bearings
e. New clutch wear items (a definite)
f. Clutch basket (? Mine's a B, most failures were A's, correct?)
g. What else...?

The failure was like this. Rattled the day before, hadn't heard it before, thought it might be knocking from high heat (it was 90 deg + that day) and regular unleaded 87 octane. Probably terrible judgement on my part. The bike ran fine for the first 150 miles the next day. I ran it up to 140mph, but it seemed a bit down on power...maybe. Rolled into the next town, then out of town a few miles. Then the rattle became serious, it felt like the clutch slipped just a second, my buddy said a puff of black smoke came out the pipe. I pulled the clutch and rolled onto a stranger's property. Can't remember if it died or I shut it off. Thought I could limp up further onto the property, so I started it again. Still very noisy, but it started and ran. Put it in 1st gear, and it died when I released the clutch. Before you say failed clutch, I can rotate the rear wheel in 1st gear (bike off, raised on rear wheel stand).

So, I'm wondering what I'll find. Tonight I'm going to pull the clutch cover and inspect; then pull the oil pan and inspect (never had it off before). If it's a valve, what are the odds the piston is damaged? The cylinder wall is damaged? The valve head is damaged?

Sorry for the long post, this is going to be a multi-page thread until it's finished. While I will be grateful for any sympathetic posts from my brothers here, I want to be efficient. I'm looking for solid advice and direction. I can't bear the thought of losing this riding season. I've had a running bike for 22 years, (with problems here and there), and we all know it sucks to be rideless in high season.

Thanks guys!
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post #2 of 93 Old 06-04-2018, 12:47 PM
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To take out the engine your best bet is to use one of these, they are far more stable than a floor jack and much easier to control.

Since the oil pan is pointed it'll need some support, ie wooden blocks, to stand upright.

What you could do is make a wooden square frame, remove the oil pan, and let the edges rest on that when you lower it out of the frame.

Another way is to use straps trough the left and right airbox opening and attach that to the engine to keep it from leaning sideways when you lower it out of the frame without removing the oil pan.

I'd replace most rubber o-rings, seals, bearings if you can. I replaced my oil pump as well as the seal of the cool system pump too. I had a bad experience with aftermarket gaskets and would go with OEM next time.

Timing chain is worth replacing since unless you modified the engine block you can't simply change it without splitting the engine first.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 93 Old 06-04-2018, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you rmk,
I had confirmed I'd have to split the case or cut out a cast web to extract the timing chain.
Fun! Good hints on the engine support, I hadn't thought of removing the oil pan first.
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post #4 of 93 Old 06-04-2018, 04:46 PM
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By responding to your request for direction in no way implies that I consider myself "expert level". LOL!!!!! I just don't mind taking my stuff apart and assembling it with rank imposter skill set....
The real experts will be along shortly.
Also I have found that everyone who responds in this forum is knowledgeable and can and do bring value to the table.

With that said, sorry to here about your catastrophe.

Its hard to say what is the best course of action until you know the extent of the damage.

Finding a good running used engine is not impossible. A little diligence on your part will surely net a capable replacement. Not everybody in the parts business is a crook.

Once you pull the engine and break it down to the point of determining the issue/issues
And post pics. Then we will be in a better position to assist.

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post #5 of 93 Old 06-04-2018, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks CMG. You've done more than take a few things apart! I relied on some of your past work to do my radial fork conversion last year, and the Brembo MC.

I took off the clutch cover tonight, and it looks fine, no broken pieces. I'm torn down to just before removing my velocity stacks.

I need one of those scissor jacks RMK recommended. If only it had wheels, it'd be perfect. I have heard folks say you can lift the chassis up and over a stationary
engine using the forks, so perhaps that's what I will do. Would be nice to get the engine up to chest height on a stand, from off the floor, but baby steps.
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post #6 of 93 Old 06-04-2018, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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Cam Chain

Oh hey, I want to check to see if I had a cam chain break or loosen because of
a broken tensioner. Can I feel for looseness behind the cam timing cover??
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post #7 of 93 Old 06-04-2018, 07:07 PM
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Might be able to or else through the valve cover.

I donít like wheels under my jacks because with the weight of the engine I donít want to risk it suddenly moving away. Which Iíve had almost happen with another engine once. When youíre doing it on your own you have a limited set of arms.

Rising the frame up from the engine is possible too.
Itís fun to do, had to do that twice to get a Ď78 cb750 engine out and in again through its impossible frame.
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post #8 of 93 Old 06-04-2018, 09:49 PM
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My 10 cents is once you have worked out what went wrong, supposing you get the engine out yourself, is get a professional to do the rebuild with any improvements you may like or be able to afford. I say this as someone who has done it this way - professional build, plus with a ton of help and advice from those on this site (CMG/KZScott/Warp12 etc.)

Obviously you are limited to how much you can afford, but I know my limits with engine work and am thankful I let the professional do it! Another point to this is that it MAY actually be more economical to have a builder do the work rather than finding you have to buy specialised tools etc (though that is fun!). As you say, this site has a wealth of knowledge on tap.

Good luck with whatever way you do it and I'll keep looking on this thread with interest.

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post #9 of 93 Old 06-05-2018, 02:01 AM
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Hi Quinocampa bad luck with your problems, it won't be a broken cam chain but I don't know what it could be until you crack that pandora's box open, I use a hoist similar to this around the shed for many reasons even today I used it to help reinstall my sons celica door.
a donor bike may be the easiest way to go to get the bike back on the road and then part out the rest Craig
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if anything goes wrong check the battery
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post #10 of 93 Old 06-05-2018, 05:15 AM
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I have my spare bottom end on a wood furniture dolly; that might be an option for pulling as well if you can raise the frame up a bit after unbolting the engine.
Still needs a small spacer to sit level and strapped down for safety.

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post #11 of 93 Old 06-05-2018, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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I am mechanically capable, but simply inexperienced below the valve clearances. I have the money, but I just put on a new roof and siding is coming this month too.
So it wouldn't be wise to dig even more deeply into my nest egg. Besides, the 12 engine is my final frontier. I have done everything else, more or less.
I WANT to know it. I even NEED to know it, I think. But...I am not a machinist or performance tech. That extra bit of skills, plus welding too, would be the
be-all, end-all. I am a mechanical engineer by degree though, so not scared. Just some things I haven't done.

I ordered a simpler lift like what RMK recommended. I see his point about not wanting the motor to topple. I am assuming once the bolts are out, that I can
lower the engine with the lift's ballscrew, but then it'll be in a fixed position on the floor. I'll have to get the bike up and out of the way. Then I can raise it
up again to a more comfortable height. Also, some things don't make sense if it was the cam chain. For example, I was able to start the engine. It made
plenty of thrashing noise, but enough timing was correct for it to run until I shut it off for fear of breaking anything else.


Yes, while I will have it on a lift table, I will need to make sure I can get it stable. I have to look over the oil pan bottom closely, and probably fab something
with wood.

Hopefully the problem is obvious and not too difficult to fix. My biggest concern is damage to the cylinder or valve heads, because they are
expensive to fix.
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post #12 of 93 Old 06-05-2018, 11:28 AM
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No need. Once you lowered the engine itís low enough to move it sideways away from the frame. No need to raise the bike at all. If you have some carpet tiles you can place the jack on that so itíll be a bit easier to slide it away under the frame.
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post #13 of 93 Old 06-05-2018, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by quinocampa View Post sucks to be rideless in high season.
It's terrible just reading this
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post #14 of 93 Old 06-05-2018, 05:23 PM
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quinocampa, fair enough, I certainly understand the money side of things! I took a huge leap (for me) in committing a large amount of money toward the engine build, plus I had to send the bike interstate to the builder. It's not something I would have tried to do myself as I wouldn't have been confident of getting things to spec. There's a reason the specialists are in business - to stop blokes like me thinking I can go beyond my capabililties!!

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post #15 of 93 Old 06-05-2018, 07:38 PM
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i have a wooden box thats made to fit a stock pan so i can use a jack on that. i prefer the flat oil pans that are typically used in drag bikes.
sometimes it is easier to support the motor and then slowly lift the frame away from it.

best to get it out yourself and at least get the valve cover off for a look. that alone will save a lot of money even if you get a shop to do the rebuild. labor in and out isnt cheap.

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