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I have one of these goodies installed on my 06 Strat. Was pointed out to me by mechanic (with the help of a flashlight
shone under the tank) He mentioned that it was leaking oil-had to run and didnt have time to go into it further.What is the purpose of this gadget and why would a PO have installed it ?
 

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Yeah... you dont want that

the top of one of the cylinder heads, usually in the area by the valve tappets, has a breather tube that goes to the air filter box.

sometimes the air pulls in, sometimes its pushed out with a bit of oil vapor - you want that going to your air box where the bike will burn off the oil vapors, not dripping down the side of your bike.

Usually the air box is sucking the little bit of blow-by past the rings and burning that off in the compression stroke.
 

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Did previous owner install pods? Looks to be the breather that is installed with positive kit. Here's picture a pod kit for your bike. See the smaller filters at bottom of picture? Is this what you are seeing?

 

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What is the purpose of this gadget and why would a PO have installed it ?
I agree with lesblank. I am willing to bet that PO removed the factory air box where the breather should be vented to. The pod kits come with that filter that I guess would stop something like a mud wasp from building a home in the line. I uninstalled my pods and went back to the factory airbox because oil was blowing back under the saddle and coating everything under there.
 

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