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Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube

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Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
Started at 03:08pm on the 19th July, 2018 by Mattthumper
Mattthumper Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
Long post, details necessary. Sorry ; - ) My 2006 Electra X has just under 18,000 miles on it. It is shooting oil out of the crankcase breather. There is enough oil spat out to cover the rear wheel after a 5 mile ride at 50 mph and under. Please note that the motorcycle performs as it always has – strongly and without notable exhaust emission. ………………………………………………… Long, long ago I modified the motorcycle and its stock systems as follows: - Exhaust: Hitchcock’s Goldy-style muffler - Carburetor: Amal MK-1 - Primary breather tube: simply ‘breathes’ over the drive chain - Crankcase breather tube: simply ‘breathes’ over the drive chain ………………………………………………… I have followed all of the Google and Web forum advice that I could find and since November, 2017 I have performed the following checks without finding ANYTHING wrong or out of specification: + Verified that the primary breather tube is neither kinked nor blocked + Verified that the crankcase breather tube is neither kinked nor blocked + Verified that the oil level is correct. 1st by simply using the dipstick. Several weeks later I did a complete oil change (including oil filter). As I have each and every 3000 kms, for the routine maintenance, I used 1.75 quarts. I performed these procedures as I have each routine maintenance for the last 11 years and 17,000 miles. + I put in a new crankcase breather tube that goes straight up in the air for 1 foot (oil shoots out). + I checked the oil flow at/to the valve head via the banjo fittings (I loosened each of them one-at-a-time while the engine was running and oil came out) + Checked engine compression ………………………………………………… At this point the last possible cause that I could find via my friend Google was the piston rings (even though the engine compression was fine). Well, a top-end rebuild sure wouldn't hurt sooooo… I purchased the COMPLETE valve head assembly and the COMPLETE cylinder head assembly from Hitchcock’s and rebuilt the top-end. With that top-end job complete Nothing has changed. It is shooting oil out of the crankcase breather. There is enough oil spitting out to cover the rear wheel after a 5 mile ride at 50 mph and under. ………………………………………………… Any ideas? Anyone want to buy a 2006 Electra-X with a brand new top-end?
Posted: 03:08pm 19th July, 2018
stinkwheel Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
The breather stub in the top of the oil tank? It's just a hole in the top of the casting with a hose tail screwed into it. For oil to come out of that it must either be sitting at a high level in the oil tank or being blown/splashed up in there.

Given you've checked the resting oil level (overfilling would be the number 1 cause of oil coming out of the breather), could something dynamic be raising the oil level when the engine is running? Is the feed pump working effectively? Could the timing side be becoming pressurised (valve stem blowpast?)? I presume you've blanked off the return stub into the timing chest, maybe try leaving this open?. Maybe try running with the oil filler cap loose just to see what happens?

I presume the engine isn't smoking, especially at startup?
Posted: 04:36pm 19th July, 2018
Adrian Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
I can only think of piston ring blow-by.

The Electra-X oil-tank cap can't really be left loose, it has to be screwed down. You could fit our hosts' breather tower intended for the earlier classic Bullets with the bayonet filler cap, this would give you a couple of extra tank vents.

Posted: 06:42pm 19th July, 2018
Chris Tindal Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
Just a thought, are you sure it's coming from the breather? Do you have 00 grease or oil in the gearbox? If the gearbox main shaft oil seal goes then it blathers the gearbox sprocket and chain whilst riding, over oiling the chain and spraying the rear wheel.
Posted: 07:54pm 19th July, 2018
Mattthumper Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
Chris, this helps thanks. I put in a breather hose like the old thumpers. It’s routed straight up to the seat and all the way back to the back of the bike. This helped a lot. Unfortunately, there’s still too much oil spraying my wheel, tire, folded center-stand, folded side stand and etc. I believe the crankcase seal or the primary seal at the drive sprocket might have blown. Will monitor for awhile. If it needs to be repaired at the bottom end it’ll probably go into a shop. I know my limits!
Posted: 09:35pm 19th July, 2018
Adrian Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
5 speed box on the Electra-X Chris, gear oil only. Matt has said that the oil is actually shooting out of the breather hose fitted onto the top of the gearbox.

Matt, there was an odd problem like this that came up with an Electra-X over here, it had the remains of a weird after-market breather system used by the UK importers. Can you confirm that all you have screwed into the top of the oil tank is THIS, nothing protruding into the tank?


Posted: 09:42pm 19th July, 2018
Mattthumper Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
Adrian, That’s it.
Posted: 10:55pm 19th July, 2018
Tim NZ Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
It is possible that you have a partially obstructed oil pick up point?
Check that the Sump drain plug (not the oil tank drain) and its washer are correctly seated?

Disassemble the return side of the oil pump, check for any signs of scoring on the cover and the gear seats...
Blow Down the oil line port that comes up from the sump; there may be a partial blockage there?
Posted: 05:54am 20th July, 2018
AndyM Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
I bought my ElectraX new in 2006. At the time there were many reports of heavy oil loss from the breather and my bike suffered from this very badly. On several occasions almost all of the oil in the tank was blown out and inevitably, on the last occasion, the whole lot went, resulting in total engine failure. I have since completely rebuilt the engine. Whilst it was in bits I drilled out the original external crankcase breather, tapped it and fitted a pipe tail and blanked off the other holes. I got the hole between the oil tank and crankcase welded up to complete the job and the new breather system incorporates Hitchcock's "tower" modification to feed any excess oil back into the tank. The engine now incorporates a modified crank and other Hitchcock's parts and runs nicely. I've never had the oil breather problem again. I never discovered the cause of the problem but at the time my engine was standard and brand new. I think it was probably caused by pressurisation of the oil tank from the crankcase, which is now no longer an issue.
Posted: 01:09pm 24th July, 2018
Adrian Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
Post 2004 I believe all classic and Electra-X engines breathe out through the oil tank, with the occasional one such as Andy's venting excess oil from new.

Somebody did try enlarging the breather hole through the crankcase wall into the oil tank on a bike which had been OK and ended up with the same problem, which they had not previously suffered.

I agree with Andy's solution, my Electra-oid project also has the internal breather hole stopped-up, and a ¼" BSP union fitted into (almost) the classic breather location, plumbed into another of Mr H's breather tower filler neck extensions via a non-return valve. I'm keeping the original oil tank top vent, however.

Matt, assuming you have investigated Tim's point about scavenge-side blockage or oil pump damage (failing big ends make a mess of the scavenge side) and since your Electra-X never used to do this, is it possible that there has been some internal crankcase damage which has either enlarged the hole or made an extra one? Casting flaw giving way?

Posted: 02:09pm 24th July, 2018
ric Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
Unfortunately it doesn’t even take 100 miles to damage the rings so they’ll no longer seal properly and end up with excess crankcase pressure resulting in excess oil loss via the breather if the bore has been petrol washed.
Perhaps something’s amiss without in the jet assembly in the carb to have caused this.

Have you still got the old rings? If this is the reason behind your problem the damage on the rings will be quite evident, they’ll have a sharp burr all the way around their circumference. The amount of extra fuel involved to cause damage is not always sufficient to realise the bike has a problem.
Posted: 03:36pm 24th July, 2018
jackdog Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
I am having just this problem with my 1950 J2. It was alright one day and the next day it started blowing oil out of the breather behind the primary chain case. Oil level doesn't seem too high, apart from which once started and run for a couple of minutes you would expect the oil to stop being blown out. Anyway I have now stripped the chain case off to get at the back end and found the clutch plates and shock rubbers ready for replacement. So I'll be checking out the things suggested in your post replies. Like you the performance of the bike didn't lack power so as yet the reason for the leak, at the moment, is a mystery, unless someone can suggest what it can be. I'll post any thing I can find.
Posted: 06:54pm 25th July, 2018
kister Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
I had this a few years ago. It sounds like it is not the same problem as I had as you have already checked this. But for the benefit of anyone else searching this topic; I thought I was running the correct oil level when looking at my sight glass oil level, but when I turned the engine over a couple of times with the kick start, the oil level went up over the full line.. consequently the engine was a bit constipated and vented. I now do a combination dance of oil top up and kick over. Chris Electra efi trials v5 2011 21k
Posted: 08:39pm 27th July, 2018
Adrian Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
The Electra-X is a pre-UCE/EFI engine which has more in common with the classic models. There is no oil level sight glass...


...unless you fit one, which needs a very well vented oil tank.

Posted: 08:53pm 27th July, 2018
sofiaspin Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
Happened to my 08. Emulsified oil blocking breather pipe at the exit leading to oil spray onto the rear frame. A clearout of the pipe sorted it.
Posted: 05:24am 28th July, 2018
stinkwheel Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
When I look at that picture of Adrians, I'm reminded just how close to the top of the oil tank the upper timing chest return hole is on these engines. In fact, it's about an inch and a half from the breather stub.

Just thinking out loud here. If oil was returning through the top hole, either because the bottom one was blocked or the scavenge pump was pumping more than could be returned through the bottom hole (or if it was covered over due to an excessively high oil level), a good blast of gas could easily drive the returning (hot and runny) oil straight out through the breather. I know the electra pumps are different to the classic engine ones, perhaps more efficient? I also know the return holes aren't any different.

Anyway, here's a picture of those holes from the inside, also showing the position of the breather stub (this is a 2003 classic engine).

For interest sake, here's a picture of the "breather hole" that the crankcase breathes into the oil tank through. Has a distinct look of being done at the end of the production line by a hand-drill Wallah.

Posted: 10:07am 28th July, 2018
steveW Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
Hi Matthumper, Ive just looked back to my post (5.18ish)on this same problem (2007 Electra, 24,000 miles) to confirm that Adrian kindly responded that for the electra the oil capacity was too great. Amongst other things I am now running with oil just to the tip of the dipstick and havent had any blow off since. I also moved the catch can to sit off the rear tank bolt for 3 main reasons...1 for easier access, 2 for shorter pipe run and finally in the hope that being in the zone of engine heat the mayonaise wont form. Not sure which one of these is the winner but very happy with it now!Obviously I gave the can a really good clean, so I can monitor things. PS l did try running a long loopy pipe from the tank breather straight into the timing chest, with the result that the pressure forced oil past the timing chest gasket and out everywhere! Interstingly I have fitted transparent pipes but have never seen oil in them, even when it was playing Tory canyon! ,
Posted: 04:43pm 2nd August, 2018
NEV Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
I have a 2004 Sixty-5 with the exact same arrangement, bin the catch tank, block up the timing case pipe fitting, run a big pipe up out of the oil tank top pipe fitting & run it along the rear of the gearbox casing(to keep it hot) with a one-way flap valve on it. You will even be able to increase the oil level again. Hope it works for you as well as it has for me.
Posted: 09:23pm 2nd August, 2018
Adrian Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube

I tried a similar arrangement on my Electra-X, it worked as long as I didn't over-fill the tank or ride the bike with any enthusiasm. :o(

The trouble was that as I enjoy enthusiastic riding, the usual result was that the back of the bike ended up splattered with oil. Replacing the short duck bill with a non-return valve and a longer length of hose along to the back of the rear chainguard seemed to be the most successful move.

Posted: 02:02pm 3rd August, 2018
NEV Subject: Oil Shooting Out of Breather Tube
Hi Adrian, I used a clear straight pipe that goes up vertically 3 inches before it bends so most of the oil will run back down.
Posted: 09:09pm 3rd August, 2018

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