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Water pump replacement.
Approx. how long should it take to change a waterpump on a 1200 LTD? I've got good tools, a Clymer manual and decent mechanical skills and just wonder what kind of job this will be. Any tips or things to watch out for?
#1 06-11-2009, 08:12 AM,
Plan on a couple hours for the first time doing it... Gets much faster with practice...
Couple big items... First, when installing the new pump into the front cover use the three bolts to draw it in evenly... This will help prevent damage to the outer O-ring... Do inspect the water pump bore for any burrs or sharp edges before installing into the cover... If you nick the water pumps O-ring, you'll gain more experience at changing water pumps (you'll get to do it again)...

Have a care when putting the front cover back on the bike as to line up the neutral indicator switch... Just put a couple screws in the cover and then check for the neutral light... It's pretty easy to get this misaligned... If you only have a couple of the screws in, then it's no big deal to remove the cover and try again...

Replace all the seals/o-rings (usually they come in the water pump gasket/seal kit)... Use grease to hold them in place while putting the cover back on... Double check your work before buttoning up everything... While you are in the area, you might consider replacing the thermostat (use OEM) and fan switch if they are the original ones... Do take note that the thermostat has a small hole drilled in it.. This hole should be on the top side when installed (allows trapped air to escape)...
Ed Zogg
#2 06-11-2009, 08:50 AM,
Truenorth2005 Wrote:Approx. how long should it take to change a waterpump on a 1200 LTD? I've got good tools, a Clymer manual and decent mechanical skills and just wonder what kind of job this will be. Any tips or things to watch out for?

Plan on spending a full day if it's your first time. Place the bike in neutral. Remove the seat and the false tank, remove the rad cap, raise the bike onto the centerstand and get a good comfy mat you can you can lie on comfortably for hours. Drain the coolant and unbolt the goosneck attached to the lower rad hose and remove the lower rad hose from the radiator. Drain the engine oil and remove the oil filter. Now you can begin to scrape away the crud, dirt and grease that usually collects at the top of the front cover and find the bolts there. Make sure you get all of the bolts out of the cover because you don't want to damage the cover when you try to break the seal with a plastic hammer. There will be 2 metal bushings that will most often fall out and you should remove any o-rings that have stuck to the block and oil pump. A fair amount of oil will drip out the front cover so have a catch pan ready. Unscrew the switch, first mark the pin's orientation inside the cover. Now you can bring the front cover to the workbench for cleaning and now you can start the tedious job of scraping the gasket off the block but make sure the you don't gouge the aluminum surface of the block. Make sure that it's spotless clean so you don't end up with a leak upon reassembly.

Now to the workbench and the front cover. Remove the cover over the water pump and remove the bolts that hold the waterpump in place. Some folks use long bolts to press the waterpump out but I have always been able to get them out with a plastic hammer with no problems. Now clean the front cover and scrape the gasket material off. The gasket can be a real bear to get off without damaging the aluminum. You should also clean the typical corrosion from the o-ring sealing surfaces. Once everyting is clean you can install the water pump with oil or grease on the o-rings so they can slide in without getting cut. Torque the water pump bolts and now the cover is ready to install.

Expand the metal bushings with a utility knife to help them fit tight and put them in place. Grease all of the o-rings to help them stick in place, install the switch back into the front cover in the exact same position that it came out then carefully slide the cover back into place and screw in a couple of bolts then go up and turn the key on to light the neutral light, shift up and shift down and make sure the neutral light comes on where it is supposed to, if not, put the trans in neutral, go down and adjust the neutral switch to its correct orientation as shown in the manual. If the switch is adjusted correctly put all the bolts in and crisscross torque them in sequence, bolt torque 8 ft./lb. Install the lower rad hose. Install the oil filter and fill the engine with oil to the correct level. Fill the engine with silicate free and phosphate free 50/50 mix of anti freeze, I use Peak, and start the engine and let it warm up and you keep the coolant level up as the engine warms until it reaches full operating temperature, then install the rad cap to full lock and fill the reservoir to the lower line. Reinstall the false tank and the seat and you are ready to ride if you don't see any oil or coolant leaks. Monitor the oil and coolant for the first 100 miles to determine if either is cross contaminating the other. If there is cross contamination you will need to pull it all down again for leak inspection but hopefully everything will be fine.

A realistic time to do this job is from 4 to 6 hours very start to very finish but if you are cautious and careful it might take longer especially if you have problems getting the old gasket off or have difficulties the neutral switch
Ed (Vic) Belanger - 1954-2015
Founder of

#3 06-11-2009, 10:01 AM,
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Mine only took 4 months from tear-down to reassembly. Got the parts, had nasty weather, got the cover off, had nasty weather, went on a couple of trips, came back to get it done, had nasty weather, started reassembly, discovered all the gaskets weren't in the kit. Ordered new stuff, more nasty weather, more trips. Stripped the threads on one bolt in the pump cover, fixed that, more nasty weather. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Rode the sucker yesterday. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
More nasty weather today. :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry:
Oh well................. :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:
The actual work only took 3-4 hours. Good thing I don't drink. Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin
#4 06-11-2009, 10:27 AM,
Vic is probably right in the 4-6 hours for the first time through... When I did mine the front cover wasn't very dirty, and the gasket came right off (in one piece)... I leave the lower rad hose on the rad (just remove the other end from the bike - only 2 bolts)... I also have the spin-on type oil filter (saves time and mess)... The locator bushings remained in the block, so no fuss there either... Having converted all the Phillips head screws over to button head Allen wrench ones, I save time with the tupperware removal as well (even being an 87 Aspy)... An impact wrench made quick work of the front cover screws also... And I got lucky with the gear indicator switch positioning during reassembly... So all in all, my experience was a bit out of the expected ordinary (time wise anyways)...
I would add, take the time to read through the entire process in the manual prior to beginning the task... Make a list of all the O-rings you need (like the lower rad hose cover) and get all the items before hand... I make this a practice on all the repairs I under take (especially if it's the first time doing it)... More often than not, the whole experience is a lot less frustrating and completed to a higher degree of perfection going about it in this manner
Ed Zogg
#5 06-11-2009, 10:28 AM,
You were lucky Ed, I've done several of these waterpump jobs and I've had some gaskets stick so bad that you would have sworn that they were fused to the aluminum requiring the careful use of an air chisel to get them off. If someone was into the bike before and they overtorqued the bolts and then severely overheated the engine it dramatically changes the dynamics of the job.

When I quote a time it comprises the start time from the bike coming in off the road until the bike is all wiped clean and is back on the road again not just the part where the component comes off and goes back on again. Heck, it takes almost a half hour to bring the bike to full operating temperature and get all the coolant in and perform a leak test but I don't think that portion of the job is even considered by some folks. And sometimes you end up with the wrong parts syndrome and that can really change the amount of time involved with the job. Twice I ended up with the wrong part (o-rings) in the correct packaging and that could spell disaster for a beginner who would trust the parts. I learned long ago to never rush when working on a motorcycle because it just leads to problems down the road. Just work at your own pace and never compare your time to completion with others because you don't know what steps they may have missed.

P.S. I did the same as you converting the phillips screws to allen and it is so much better, no more slipping and spinning on the screw heads plus they give a performance look that the phillips screws did not have. On an old bike like my 84 those phillips screws have quite a few miles on them and they were worn so the allen heads now make working on my bike that much easier.
Ed (Vic) Belanger - 1954-2015
Founder of

#6 06-11-2009, 11:03 AM,
I concur with you... Quality of work over speed EVERY TIME... I guess it's just that I don't work on to many other folks 1200's like you do... Every time I do something on my bike I'm thinking about the next guy that may be visiting the area I'm working on... Most often that guy turns out to be me... So when it comes to removing screws and bolts I almost never have issues, because the last guy put assembly lube on em and torqued em correctly...
Having worked on others bike (usually after they have tried and failed) I find there is a whole different world out there... I find screw heads nearly stripped out and rusty to boot as well as way over torqued... If it were not for an impact driver I would not even attempt to proceed with "their" repair attempts...
Where we have our club Garage Meetings, there is a sign on the wall... It states (jokingly) the rates for repairs...

$20 per hour for repairs
$30 per hour if you watch
$40 per hour if you attempted the repair yourself (really messed things up)
Ed Zogg
#7 06-11-2009, 11:24 AM,
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: I like that sign. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Ed (Vic) Belanger - 1954-2015
Founder of

#8 06-11-2009, 11:27 AM,
My pump changing experience was like Bills, took several months. Everything else decided to break down so my '84 Aspy took last place. My pump was so bad that it forced water into the oil sump, what a freakin mess.... sludge everywhere. Anyway, the most time spent was on cleaning the old gaskets off. I used a sharp wood chisel and a light touch to get the big parts of the gasket off, taking care to not gouge into the soft aluminum. Then a little sandpaper to get the rest of the gasket adhesive off. Everything went back really well using grease to hold O rings in place. No leaks on re-assembly. I ran the bike with the lowers off for a couple of days to be sure nothing was leaking before buttoning it up. Before the pump change 7 bars was the norm. Now it's 4/5 most times, 5/6 only under heavy load at 80mph, I am a really happy camper now. A very satifying feeling to get this done.
#9 06-11-2009, 05:25 PM,
In fact getting the old gaskets off can be a real time consumer. I still am running a little hotter than I'd like. My fan comes on at 6 bars. I think it's always been that way, but I'd like for it to run cooler.
However, I remember the only time my old fan failed to come on and it went to 8 bars and it didn't boil or burp so it just may be that the gauge is off a bit.

I have a similar sign in my office. It reads:

Design: $50 per hour
If you watch: $75 per hour
If you help: $150 per hour

I have another one you might like.

You can have it Good, Cheap, or Fast. Pick any Two.
#10 06-11-2009, 05:58 PM,
Hi Bill, talk to Tricky about his hot running Wing, very similar to yours. After he installed an aftermarket temp gauge the bike never runs hot anymore.
Ed (Vic) Belanger - 1954-2015
Founder of

#11 06-11-2009, 07:16 PM,
I wonder if changing out the temp sensor would help in getting more accurate readings.?? I got to believe they go out of calibration at some point in their lifecycle...
After 20 something years of use and likely a bit of calcium deposit buildup, it would be of no surprise to me... Fortunately, mine appears to be right on the money (3 bars) during normal riding... Even in heavy traffic on a hot day it only even gets to 4 bars (since having changed out the T-stat and fan switch)... I have been trying different things to see if I can make it go above 4 bars, but to this point no success... Prior to the fan switch and T-stat change, it was quite easy to reach 7 or 8 bars... I did find that the PO must have been in the T-stat area as it was not positioned correctly (weep hole was on the bottom vise the top and it was not in the locator slots either)... So, possibly I had an air lock (or at least a partial one) all these years... In any case, all is real good now...
Ed Zogg
#12 06-12-2009, 04:26 AM,
Hey Guys
Thanks for the replies. Only one thing to do now. Get er done!! Sure hope it doesn't turn into a four month job but it wouldn't be the first time.
#13 06-12-2009, 06:34 AM,
Thanks Vic and Ed.
I'm pretty sure the bike isn't actually running hot because even at the highest reading on the temp gauge it never boiled, bubbled or burped. I'm thinking I'm pretty safe in suspecting the temp sensor. Now the fan kicks on at 6 bars so there's headroom. I guess I'd just like to see it running cooler. Perhaps I'll go to the parts house and purchase a classy looking temp gauge to mount in the cockpit. That might let me know if there's a problem.... (and it would look cool too) *-Smile
#14 06-12-2009, 01:34 PM,
i just started this job and you really want to compare all new parts to old parts. I'm on round 5 trying to get everything to seal up. Oil leaking at weep this time. :evil:
#15 09-27-2009, 11:48 AM,

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