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Now it's my turn to be frustrated,running hot and knocking.. least I think it's a knock. Actually, might be top end. Hopefully, experts might help me pinpoint it. This thing really has me spooked now. I hope someone will look over my shoulder while I think out loud. I'm pretty bummed.

But first, the hot part. After completing my Poorboy conversion a couple of weeks ago and having installed an Odyssey battery last week, and with temperatures headed for low 80's, I figured I was good to go. So, go I did. Up the hill to (actually toward) Payson, Arizona. A beautiful, rocky run to about 6000 feet.

Except that I didn't make it to Payson. Running solo just for fun, I watched my temperature gauge climb steadily as I climbed in elevation. When it hit 8 bars, I was fortunate enough to be at a stopping point and found shade and let the bike cool. It did not boil over and still seemed to be running OK ... except for a disturbing rap on the right bank if I blipped the throttle. But, I'll get to that in a minute. The bike has always INDICATED more heat than I'd prefer - not leaving much room for error. Even on cold mornings, it'll run 5 bars after warmed up on the freeway. I consistently run 6 bars in normal conditions and 7 are not at all uncommon. The fan cycles and I've never noticed a performance degradation. And before today, I had never noticed an increase in the clatter. After I turned around and headed back down the hill and loafed all the way home, the gauge hit 7 bars a couple of times, but no more 8's.

So, about that clatter. It is not left, not center, but really only audible on that right side. So, I'm really hoping it's just valve clatter. I believe that's the case, since a similar sounding clatter is also evident during low speed trudges through my neighborhood. But, I'd never heard it on a throttle blip like that, and it was definitely more pronounced when the engine got hot.

With what might be two problems, I first need to address the critical hot part. I am assuming this behavior is not normal, so please either correct me if I'm wrong, add anything I might have left out or embellish and/or add detail if and where needed:

1) Determine if the system is pressurizing fully. I have smelled a bit of antifreeze ever since the Poorboy job last month. Did I crack the overflow reservoir? Loose clamp? I have not seen actual leakage. Just smelt it.

2) Pull and test the thermostat operation.

3) Check water pump operation. (It should not spin freely and should spin over with the motor).

4) Upper radiator hose routing. Make sure I didn't faux paux the re-installation and kink it.

Now, assuming I sort out the cooling issues, that still leaves the clatter.

What is the easiest way on a Goldwing to determine the source of such noises. I'm not familiar enough with the motor to distinguish between top or bottom end. I have heard lots of folks complain about top end noise on these things. I hope that's my sound. I really don't think its a rod, but sure would like to know for sure...

Anyway, I'm not asking for anyone to respond with a book. But, an idea or two on any one or more of the above items would be appreciated.


'84 Aspencade, '94 Vmax
#1 03-04-2012, 09:55 PM,
The fact that you mention clatter rather than KNOCKING leads me to think top end. Check the oil level and review it's condition... As far as the overheat goes to me head gasket is suspect.
#2 03-04-2012, 10:04 PM,
I use a wood stick to locate noises.
#3 03-04-2012, 10:06 PM,
Did you reconnect the fan plug behind the radiator correctly?

Most common quote from a cager after killing a motorcyclist.

"I never saw him" instead of "I never looked for him".
#4 03-04-2012, 10:22 PM,
Mine is now in bits for suspected head gasket, the right side has had a piston washed by coolant, it was running well but when it got slightly too hot the right side clattered so I shut it off, it had been overheating due to cooling system problem so I presume that caused the gasket failure.I tried a couple of tests with no result but when I taped a bag over the overflow pipe and went for a ride after a while and fast speed it would blow up like a balloon ,that was just my idea but the gas must have been coming out of the cylinder.I don't know if this is a bogus test or if a perfect running bike would blow a bag up but it only really pressurised at over 4000rpm while riding which garage tests dont account for?
The lady walking ahead of me sped up so I did too, she began running so I ran too, she screamed so I screamed as well. I never even saw what we were running from.
#5 03-05-2012, 01:27 AM,
Your list looks good. You may want to add:
Any white puff of ‘smoke’ at either hot or cold startup?
Any chocolate milk under the radiator or auxiliary coolant tank caps?
Oil in the auxiliary coolant tank?
Check the return hose and elbow on the auxiliary coolant tank to make sure they are not broken or cracked. If it is, when the bike cools, the radiator will be sucking air instead of coolant and may be running low of coolant in the radiator.
Check condition of oil. Chocolate milk on the oil cap or dipstick? Smell burnt? Thicker than you would expect?
I have a long, slot screw driver with a large handle I use as a stethoscope to help me ‘hear’ my engine talk.
The handle goes in my ear, not the slot! [-X
Document your findings so you can review your findings while away from the bike, at work, after dark, while sleeping (I’m a sick person :d ) and maybe come up with a course of action.

Good Luck and keep us posted.

-Ride On
enjoying the view from the saddle....... due mainly to the people and information found within this site
#6 03-05-2012, 10:00 AM,
Crikey! It hadn't occurred to me that I could suffer from a head gasket issue.

(BTW, thanks for all the input). I rode the bike to work this morning (as usual) with no issues. Temperature was around 50F (10C). Never got above 5 bars on the freeway for the 20 mile commute.

Anyway, I am a stickler for always knowing what's going on with fluids. The oil has less than 500 miles on it and is clear, smooth and light brown (no obvious evidence of water intrusion). Similarly, the overflow tank has water only in it. However, the level had dropped when I looked during yesterday's "event". It hadn't dropped before which leads me to believe something got whacked during the Poorboy conversion.

But, while low, there was still fluid in the overflow. I do not know the radiator level - and still don't. Guess I'll pull the shelter and look tonight.

And now that I am thoroughly spooked (head gasket), I'll be pulling the plugs in the hopes that all will be nice and tan. Am I correct in assuming that the "washing" effect on the combustion chambers might also be detectable on the plugs?

Thanks again, guys. I'll update as more details become available.
'84 Aspencade, '94 Vmax
#7 03-05-2012, 12:57 PM,
Yes, it will show as a ‘steam cleaned’ plug.
BTW, the shelter does not HAVE TO come off to get the radiator cap off – although it is quite a bit easier to get it off and on with the shelter off.

It is my honor to assist anyone with a question.

Knowledge is like fertilizer, it doesn’t do much good if it’s not spread around.

Keep us posted.

-Ride On
enjoying the view from the saddle....... due mainly to the people and information found within this site
#8 03-05-2012, 01:52 PM,
Don't want to make you paranoid about head gasket, hopefully it isn't. The main sign on mine was with the rad cap off and warmed up it would blow a large bubble out with every big rev and occasionally show a bit of white steam from the exhaust but not very much. The plug and piston on the right rear cyl were black but when I wiped with a rag it was clean as new in seconds. When I got the bike I found a duff thermostat and broken pipe to the expantion tank and half empty radiator, the PO had been riding all the time so overheating will have done the gasket. Saying all that I hope it is all fine when it goes back together!
The lady walking ahead of me sped up so I did too, she began running so I ran too, she screamed so I screamed as well. I never even saw what we were running from.
#9 03-05-2012, 02:01 PM,
I never pull the shelter to remove the radiator cap.

Instead turn the handlebars full left lock, now stand on the right side of the bike facing to the back of the bike, reach down beside the right side of the steering column with your right hand and you can easily remove the cap (you cannot do this if you are facing forwards).
You can see the fill neck when checking/burping the radiator, and I use a funnel with 14" of garden hose attached to it to fill the radiator.
I can still install the cap in the same manner OK, however my wife's smaller hands can do so even easier than I can.

Most common quote from a cager after killing a motorcyclist.

"I never saw him" instead of "I never looked for him".
#10 03-05-2012, 02:16 PM,
hopefully the problem is not a head gasket,sometimes a long uphill climb in a higher gear than the mc would like can create an overheated condition,
cant remember if high elevations result in a rich condition or a lean one,seems either one could result in problems,would hope that others who ride in higher elevations would relay their findings or problems encountered
a motor that is carboned up comes to mind too
1987 Aspencade 129K
1986 SEI 93K
2014 Tri-Glide HD 17K

#11 03-05-2012, 03:21 PM,
Ok, guys. Here's the story so far. First of all, thanks to UJ (unionjack) for the tip on getting to the rad cap. Worked like a charm. Radiator full. I pulled the plugs and, while they're obviously new (PO was really good about maintenance) they are "tanning" up as you would expect. So then, there's the antifreeze smell I didn't have before the poorboy job. Either I cracked something or a clamp is loose. Not enough to leak visibly, but enough to vent pressure. Is that enough to make it run hotter?

Also, I used the ole screwdriver-o-scope on the motor in the driveway after getting home from the commute. Motor was at 6 bars. I had forgotten about this trick although I have used it many times! While the clatter was not pronounced at all, it is definitely in the head. What's more is that, with the scope, I can hear the same clatter on the left side too! Whew!

So, I will be looking closer at thermostat, water pump, hose connections et al. Maybe add some Water Wetter.

Also looks like a valve adjustment is in my future. That's a drag since I just had the covers off replacing a leaky gasket (did both of 'em).

Thanks again guys. A wealth of 'Wing lore here.
'84 Aspencade, '94 Vmax
#12 03-05-2012, 06:50 PM,
It is good that the investigation is leading you away from a head gasket because it is a fair amount of work - but it can be done
This is what my head gasket job looked like: <!-- l --><a class="postlink-local" href="">gallery/pic.php?mode=large&pic_id=428</a><!-- l -->, its been 5K miles since this picture had been taken.
It IS nice to know the individual heads use the same volume when they chat, that is the way I felt when I realized my heads are talking as loud as others. I even searched you tube to get acquainted with what other GL1200 engines sounded like.
There has to be a reason why your engine is sounding different and it would be nice to find out why.

Also, these GL1200's have automatic valve lash adjustment, but higher miles may require an adjustment.
If you have engine guards, removing the valve covers is more involved than without.

Your thread has peeked my curiosity.
Keep us updated.

-Ride On ~O)
enjoying the view from the saddle....... due mainly to the people and information found within this site
#13 03-05-2012, 09:21 PM,
Sometimes the anti freeze smell occurs because the small hose from the rad overflow ends up getting cracked when the hose is removed and reinstalled. The leak is very minimal but enough to let a few drops fall on the hot radiator and burn off causing the smell. Seen it happen several times on the GL1200 and all you have to do is cut off the first inch of the hose nearest the rad and slide it in place or replace the entire hose with new.
Ed (Vic) Belanger - 1954-2015
Founder of

#14 03-05-2012, 11:42 PM,
Another possibility is pre-ignition...the engine in our wing will pre-ignite (aka "ping" - it sure doesn't sound like a "ping" to me! I prefer the other term for it - "detonate") if I use 87 octane "regular" in steep grade country at higher altitudes (3500-8000ft) in warm weather. It is an ugly muffled rattling sound that I've only heard for a few seconds because I immediately back out of the throttle when it happens. Using premium gasoline stops it.

#15 03-06-2012, 05:28 AM,

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