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2013 Stratoliner S. Low on the right side of the crankcase. I can't see exactly where it is coming from, but in the last three weeks it has dropped enough to get below the dipstick. I am hoping for decent weather tomorrow to get it to a shop. On the plus side, it is due for service anyway, so draining and refilling the oil was going to happen no matter what.
 

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motor oil has incredible surface tension on aluminum, which gives it the ability to seep across the outside of the case for several inches.

get a bucket of very hot tap water, and some laundry soap and a tooth brush if you need to, and wash all the oil off the bike, and let it dry. Then start the bike up and see if you can tell where its coming from.

On my 650 I thought my drive shaft output seal was leaking - it was the valve tappet cover all the way up on the top of the head!
 

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I probably should have crossed my toes too.

It is one of the right side oil pipes going into the crankcase. It looks like the entire engine will need removed to get to it. Just to change an o-ring. There is not enough clearance between the line and the frame rail to even get a tool on it. It is nice that the creators believe their product to be reliable, but....


I have often thought that designers and engineers should actually have to work on what they create, and this just reinforces that belief.
 

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I have often thought that designers and engineers should actually have to work on what they create, and this just reinforces that belief.
Abso-flippin-lutely.

I can't think of a single bike that doesn't have some area of "what were you thinking?" if it needs work.

Good example: Try getting at the battery terminals (inside the swingarm) of a Suzuki Intruder 1400, much less replacing it. I don't care how "confident" engineers are in their design, a battery is a maintenance item. A lot of other tasks on that Intruder are pretty easy, but that battery... ugh.

I got a whole list of "I hate task X on bike Y" in my head, but won't bore you with the whole roster.

I will say Honda Magna's are particularly nasty. It's not so much 'task X' but 'anything' on those.

I'll give an 'honorable mention' to certain vstars where you have to pull the pipes to change the oil filter... Not really a big deal, but definitely some 'did you think this through?' on that one. OFRK is the first thing I'd do (did) upon owning one.
 

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I have often thought that designers and engineers should actually have to work on what they create, and this just reinforces that belief.
it's only a matter of time before bikes become like new cars where they don't want the customers to mess with the engine so they block access to everything
 

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The factories assemble the engines then drop them in the frame. Just like cars. Engines and transmissions are assembled in one unit then installed in the vehicle.
 

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Update:

The bike is home, resting comfortably in the garage. The estimate was off by close to a full thousand dollars, but luckily, the shop overestimated, so, that was good.

I picked her up two weekends back, and put thirty miles on her just as a shakedown, and there is still no sign of leaking in the garage.

Just out of curiosity, if anyone else has had this problem, was a cause ever suggested?
 

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I don't have a Stratoliner, I have a VS 650. I'm pretty sure there are no oil pipes or lines coming out of my crankcase, so I'd be interested in learning exactly what it was that leaked. I'm assuming the bike has an external oil cooler or oil filter?

Also on what other Vstar bikes is this engine used?

I can address some of the questions about the engineers that designed the bike. Every part and component on a system has a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) rating in hours, which gives a very good projection of how long that part will last before it fails. Things that are going to be difficult to replace are required to have a very high MTBF. But its still an average over all the bikes that are made. Its possible to get a few parts that were not made correctly, like an O ring with a defect. When a part fails way before it should they even have a name for that: Infant mortality. Usually those things fail within the first 10 to 100 hours the bike is run, so after you have put 4000 miles on a bike, you have gotten past all those, and the bike is broken in, and should be good for 80 to 100k miles.

There are reliability engineers who track all the failures and repairs of all the bikes sold, and keep a running track record of the MTBF of the entire bike for every model sold. That information is used for the next generation designs, so they know what parts are causing problems. Some companies like Yamaha and Honda do this like a religion, others... not so much.

Also in many companies the engineers that designed a system actually do go into the factory and build the first 10 to 100 systems, to make sure they have not missed anything, or designed a system that is difficult or error prone to build and test. Its called the pilot line assembly. Then they document the assembly procedure, fixing any issues they found, and "throw the project over the wall" to the industrial engineers and production department.

After that if something goes wrong with that product things get really exciting for the design engineers. If there is a problem and the production line goes down, its almost like an alarm goes off: LINE DOWN! LINE DOWN! LINE DOWN! and all the engineers have to drop what they are doing and work 24/7 to find the problem and find a way to resolve it. A production line that is down is like shoveling money into a furnace.

EDIT: when I refer to the system the engineers have designed, I'm referring to the entire thing, the motorcycle, computer, aircraft, car... in this case we are talking about motorcycles.
 

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I have often thought that designers and engineers should actually have to work on what they create, and this just reinforces that belief.
it's only a matter of time before bikes become like new cars where they don't want the customers to mess with the engine so they block access to everything
Like on a newer car having to remove a front wheel, taking out the inner wheel liner, reaching up in the front bumper area just to replace a battery.
 
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