Changing the fork oil.... - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Changing the fork oil....

I've been dreading this job, mainly because, when I read the manual and see the pictures showing various "special" tools, I get the urge to make my own, but wonder IF I'll be able to get them right. Also, I've never worked on USD forks, so it's ALL new.

I started by getting a 10mm x 1.0 nut, and 2 pieces of 1/2" copper tube at the hardware store, and soldered (that's RIGHT - with lead!) the 10mm nut to the end of one to, I hoped, make the damper-tube holding tool I'd need. I then lifted both ends of 'Big Red' and got the windshield, both side fairings and the fender off. Next I removed the brake caliper bolts and bungeed the calipers up and out of the way, then removed the wheel.

The right fork was the first to work on as I figured it would be the more complex one, and off it came. Following the manual I loosened off the top cap, then measured the width of the damper tube (.394") followed by measuring to find the nearest sized bit ABOVE that number - 13/32". I then took a piece of 1/8" aluminum which had about a 30 degree bend lengthwise for strength, and drilled a 13/32 hole about 3/4" in from one side, making my "fork spring compressor" tool. Then I marked a SLIGHTLY WIDENING set of lines to connect the hole to the side and cut it out, de-burring as I went along. With my wife's help, I pulled down on the spacer till she had room to push my new tool in and under the nut holding the top aluminum plug. Now I had an idea of what I'd need to make to make for a "fork spring stopper", as I could then see that the damper rod is "waisted" just below the nut. By luck () my aluminum compressor fit HIGHER than the waist so I measured that as being .340" and found that an 11/32 bit was just slightly wider.

I then took a piece of 1/16" stainless steel and drilled the 11/32 hole, joined it by PARALLEL lines to the edge which I cut out, making my "stopper". Again my wife stepped in, and while I held the spring down further by inserting a small screwdriver thru holes in the spacer and pushing (HARD!) till there was space above the compressor tool so she could insert my NEW tool. EUREKA - IT WORKED!!!

Now it was easy to remove the cap with damping-rod attached, attach my copper-and-nut tool to the damper-tube threaded part, push down on the screwdriver till I released BOTH the "compressor" and "stopper", and release the spring.

Draining the fork oil surprised me - it looked pretty good - without an odour, considering there are 31,000 miles on it, so I continued as per the manual, measured in the correct amount, 'burped' the air out (be careful if you make a damper tube holder like I did, as oil comes UP thru it when you push it down for burping), then basically reversed all the above steps with aid of my wife, and re-installed that fork leg. TOTAL time from start to that point, INCLUDING making the 2 tools, was THREE hours!

The left leg with no damping rod, took only 35 minutes from on-the-bike to on-the-bike, torqued and ready. The re-installation of wheel, calipers, plastic bits took a while longer, but I would say it's NOT a job the average guy can't do, especially if you make your tools before you start (check my pictures).

Now for picture explanations:
#1 is a diagram of what the fork damper-tube looks like, and its measurements;
#2 is a picture of the 3 tools I made, with a tape for scale (the "stopper" can be as small as 1 1/2" wide, rather than long as mine);
#3 is a close-up of the damper-tube and nut held by the compressor and stopper - NOTE the waist;
#4 is with damper-tube holder attached;
#5 is after the oil was added, and the cap and damper rod are being attached (note the screwdriver I used for pushing down on the springs); and
#6 is a shot of Big Red just before I started re-installing the right leg.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg diagram.jpg (34.2 KB, 799 views)
File Type: jpg fork tools.jpg (54.9 KB, 852 views)
File Type: jpg fork1.jpg (47.6 KB, 855 views)
File Type: jpg fork2.jpg (66.2 KB, 892 views)
File Type: jpg fork3.jpg (61.9 KB, 941 views)
File Type: jpg Big Red.jpg (77.4 KB, 859 views)

Ed
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post #2 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 01:15 AM
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Nice job. I got the tools at a good price, and can do it all without any help or a vise... You meaured the distance between oil level and compressed fork tube edge? What type of fork oil did you use?
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post #3 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 04:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
1/2"
(.394")
13/32"
1/8"
13/32
3/4"
.340"
11/32
1/16"
11/32
31,000 miles
1 1/2"

Bloody hell.

I'll be doing this in a week or two.
Thanks for the pictures.
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post #4 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 10:05 AM
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Nicely done. I don't dread it quite so much now that it's more understandable for me.

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post #5 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by invader View Post
Nice job. I got the tools at a good price, and can do it all without any help or a vise... You meaured the distance between oil level and compressed fork tube edge? What type of fork oil did you use?
Invader - Yes I did. I marked the tube on a pre-mix measuring "hypodermic" at 3" right side, and 2.6" left, filled them up and then held it with the mark level with the tube top and withdrew till air started.

Same stuff I've used in every set of forks I've had since I raced enduros in the '70s - ATF. (I'm NOT recommending it, just trying it out. IF it is satisfactory, THEN I'll recommend it!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan V View Post
Bloody hell.

I'll be doing this in a week or two.
Thanks for the pictures.
Ivan - the reason I took photos and then posted this is to help others to decide it's not beyond their capabilities!

Quote:
Originally Posted by El Tig View Post
Nicely done. I don't dread it quite so much now that it's more understandable for me.
El Tig - same reply I gave to Ivan.

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post #6 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-17-2012, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by invader View Post
Nice job. I got the tools at a good price, and can do it all without any help or a vise....
Invader - could you EITHER take a picture of the Kawi tool that screws to the damping tube to hold it, and "burp" out the air, or tell me specifically if it's hollow and open at the top (so fork oil comes out the top when "burped"), and its length?

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post #7 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-17-2012, 01:10 PM
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Eddie,
Which oil did you use and how much of it?
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post #8 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-17-2012, 11:26 PM
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It is hollow and 25cm long. I think it's also used to pick up the fork rod upon reassembly.
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post #9 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 12:04 AM
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Fork Oil Amount:
Right Fork Leg Approx. 410 mL (13.9 US oz.) (when changing oil)
478 2.5 mL (16.2 0.084 US oz.) (after disassembly and completely dry)
Left Fork Leg Approx. 415 mL (14.0 US oz.) (when changing oil)
487 2.5 mL (16.5 0.084 US oz.) (after disassembly and completely dry)
Fork Oil Level:
Right Fork Leg 75 2 mm (3.0 0.08 in.) (fully compressed, without fork spring, below from the top of the outer tube)
Left Fork Leg 65 2 mm (2.6 0.08 in.) (fully compressed, without fork spring, below from the top of the outer tube)

I let mine drain completely, sitting upside down in a pan and leaning up against a floorboard heater for a couple days. I also wiped the spring clean and cleaned out inner fork tube with a clean lint-free towel taped to the end of a stick (giant Q-tip). It then needed about 478ml rignt and 487ml left for correct level.

15W mixed half and half with 10W for a 12.5W mix. Stock is 10W, but 12.5W provides the extra rebound damping needed to handle near maximum preload setting, and also increases compression damping for reduced dive under hard braking.

http://www.maximausa.com/shopping/in...products_id=44

I also capped my forks after they were cooled to 22F, to have about 5 psi more air pressure than normal atmospheric pressure in 72F riding ambient temperature for extra support. Every 10F temperature difference changes air pressure in fork by about 1 psi.

Last edited by invader; 01-18-2012 at 12:37 PM.
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post #10 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 02:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan V View Post
Eddie,
Which oil did you use and how much of it?
Eddie used some leftover ATF (~10W Automatic Transmission Fluid).

From the Netherlands, Putoline synthetic HPX:

http://www.putoline.com/en/products/...n-oils/hpx-10/

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Putoline-H...item2c5b491c08

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Putoline-H...item2c5b491c28

Last edited by invader; 01-19-2012 at 04:09 AM.
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post #11 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 05:04 AM
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Cheers Invader.
I don't know how you do it ...

I'm still "on the fence" regarding after-market springs.
Logistic of getting them is a bit complicated.

I'll probably go with the Motul fork oil as that is only I can find locally.
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post #12 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 05:40 AM
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Motul's is good too, although they don't have a 15W in their synthetic Factory Line, but only in the synthesis (thechnosynthese) semi-synthetic Expert.

http://www.motul.com/ca/en-us/fluids...ch%5Bq%5D=fork
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post #13 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 06:23 PM
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It's not necessary to take the springs apart to change the oil. Just unscrew the cap and slide the fork tube down a bit and the oil can be poured out. Very quick and easy. I'm sure some oil is still trapped inside the fork leg but not a lot. I went with 7.5 weight oil, hoping to relieve some of the harshness. We'll see what it's like in the spring.
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post #14 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 07:23 PM
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Versuvius,

The non valving leg would likely drain pretty well if left upside down for awhile as the cartrigde is not sealed. The oil should leak out around the top pretty quickly. On the other leg (right) the cartridge would likely not give up the oil inside. So you would have a 20mm cartridge's worth of oil left. The down side is that the right side is the side you need the fresh oil on. The oil tends to not circulate very much either so you would likely only blend the lower levels of the old and new oil. And the insides of those cartridges is very dirty after 10K.

On another note. If you got 10k or more miles on the bike it would be well worth it to change the fork oil and dust seals. You will need to separate the two halves of the forks to do this. I say this just because most of us risk our lives propping up the front end of the bike with what ever is laying around And I don't want to do that again to change the oil seals 100miles later.
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post #15 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 07:35 PM
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You also need to remove the spring to measure your resulting oil level... Did you simply replace what came out with EXACTLY the same amount? Still, you can't know if the oil level was correct before you drained it.
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post #16 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 08:21 PM
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Invader,
Yes, I replaced with exactly the same amount. There is no leaking from the seals and damping is working properly, so I feel pretty confident that the levels are okay. The oil out of the right tube was noticeably dirtier than from the left tube.

Phoneman,
I estimate I got about 30 ml less oil out of the right fork leg than the left leg, which is about right for what the cartridge displaces. Once the right tube is drained, bouncing up and down on the fork a few times helps evacuate a bit more oil.
I don't get why oil in a fork tube would not mix or circulate well. I'm not saying that what you've said isn't true, just that it doesn't make sense to me. Can you say more?
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post #17 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 09:24 PM
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It is possible to drain them pretty well without dissasembly, especially if you leave them upside down for a few days after pumping them out as much as possible, and even better if you warm them up with a small heater or something while they drain... It is better than not changing the oil at all, although they can be cleaned much more thoroughly, and new oil level can be properly verified if dissasembled.

Last edited by invader; 01-18-2012 at 09:48 PM.
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post #18 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Eddie,
Which oil did you use and how much of it?
As 'invader' posted - I used ATF -automatic transmission fluid (amounts as per the manual, and invader's OTHER post), and I'm VERY pleased with the results. The fork seems more "plush" now. Where it before reacted somewhat harshly to sharp-edged bumps, now it seems more smooth, now being more in tune with my rear shock, a Yamaha R1 with 13.8kg/mm spring. (Feels like I might've gained a bit of compression damping...?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by invader View Post
It is hollow and 25cm long. I think it's also used to pick up the fork rod upon reassembly.
Guess I lucked in! The one I made is 12" long (30cm) and hollow too, and - yes - it IS used to pick up the fork rod upon reassembly.

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Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 01-18-2012 at 11:00 PM.
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post #19 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-19-2012, 01:53 AM
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You could upgrade to a synthetic ATF with a higher viscosity index for better viscosity stability in temperature variations... Also, viscosity can vary depending on which brand and type of ATF.

Forks typically operate at about 26C (78F) in 21C (70C) ambient temperature.

Automatic Tranny Fluids (except for Redline D4 dual-use) -

Viscosity Index / Viscosity [email protected] /Viscosity [email protected]

163 38.8 7.5 = Amsoil PAO-Synthetic Multi-Vehicle ATF
173 28.18 6.11 = Valvoline MaxLife DEX/MERC ATF
171 35 7.1 = Mobil Multi-Vehicle ATF
145 29.5 5.83 = Mobil Super DEXRON-VI ATF
176 36.3 7.6 = Mobil 1 PAO-Synthetic ATF
198 34 7.5 = Redline Ester-Synthetic D4 ATF Dexron III / Mercon / API GL-4
213 32.3 7.5 = Redline Ester-Synthetic C+ ATF
............ 5.5~6.0 = Ford Mercon SP ATF
............ 8.3 = Honda CVT Fluid

Last edited by invader; 03-07-2017 at 01:28 AM.
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post #20 of 61 (permalink) Old 01-19-2012, 05:04 AM
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I just realized that your average Dexron III / Mercon V ATF with a viscosity of 7.5 cSt @ 100C is about equivalent to an SAE viscosity 10 Weight fork oil...
Maxima 10W fork oil has a viscosity of 7.72 cSt @ 100C, and Amsoil 10W is 7.3 cSt @ 100C.

http://www.maximausa.com/shopping/in...products_id=44

http://www.maximausa.com/shopping/in...products_id=45

http://www.amsoil.com/storefront/stm.aspx

Original Showa SS8 10W fork fluid in the Versys does look and smell like ATF, but is actually of a slightly lighter viscosity of 36.47 cSt @ 40C, 7.24 cSt @ 100C which ultimately explains this, Eddie:
(Feels like I might've gained a bit of compression damping...?)

Which brand and type of ATF did you use?

Last edited by invader; 01-12-2015 at 10:20 PM.
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