and the latest bike to blow a F HG is......... - KTM Duke 390 Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 05-23-2017, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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and the latest bike to blow a F HG is.........

Mine last night at 6036 miles

Yesterday was probably the warmest day of the year so far here in the UK ( a massive 21 degrees C / 70 F ) have spent alot of time riding in much colder temps, maybe I should have stuck to riding in winter. About 25 miles into my ride I noticed there was some vapour / smoke coming off the bike but I wrongly assumed it was a bit of cleaner still burning off the exhaust (as I had wiped it over before setting off and yeah that doesn't look too logical now, it probably all burned off in the first two miles).

Not long after, I'm heading down a long downhill stretch and on a fully closed throttle for part of it I drop to under 60mph (due to the designated speed trap location at the bottom of the hill) and with plenty of time to take in what was happening there really was no sign that anything was amiss (the motor would have been cooling off a little at this point of course).

Speed trap site well and truly passed and I start to wind it on again, still nothing that obvious but at the bottom of another big hill I think I first noticed the fan running, didn't think too much about it as I've had the fan run on cold days when in town. Gas it away from the junction then stopped at some lights a couple of miles later I notice some more smoke, look down and see coolant all down the side of the bike and a high coolant temp warning on the dash. Temperature gauge only went as far as the H point (there are still 2 or 3 bars above it) so I'm guessing the motor will be fine.

Once it had cooled a little I restarted it (yes I know not advisable) it blew white smoke out of the exhaust for maybe 3 seconds then it cleared and looked and sounded fine, so I'm thinking it's only a partial breach that happens when the motor is hot (although suppose it could be that there was not enoigh coolant left in the system for the motor to still ingest.

The header tank level has risen from min to max and I think the coolant down the side of the bike has come out of the radiator cap - all pointing to the engine pressurising the system.

Bike is 2 months out of the KTM warranty but still 30 miles inside when the second service was due (because first service was done at 1407 miles.......)

Have just come off the phone to my dealer - I admitted the bike is not 100% stock, as would have been too much effort trying to put it back, not least due to the 60 odd holes I drilled into the back of my 2015 fan shroud.

Dealer reckoned that if KTM know there was a problem with that production batch they will just sort it and 2015 models appear to be particularly prone I think.

If they wont cover it, well I've already had the cams out to do the valve clearances, would not have thought it would be much more work to get the head off.........








Less is more - You can only use 150hp .001% of the time, but you can use 150kg 100% of the time ...........


2015 390 Duke / 2001 KTM 640 Duke2 / 1994 DR350 (in bits)

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post #2 of 37 Old 05-23-2017, 01:48 PM
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Bummer 640. I'm waiting to hear back about mine as we speak.

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post #3 of 37 Old 05-23-2017, 02:05 PM
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Is it just me or are the senior members cursed :P


Hope everything turns out well! If not, I'll take all of your aftermarket parts

'16 KTM 390 Duke (WHITE)
Mods - Competition Werkes exhaust, Bazzaz, MNNTHBX intake cover w/ K&N, Evotech Performance tail tidy, ergo seat, pillion seat cover, touring windscreen, adjustable levers and KTM covers
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post #4 of 37 Old 05-23-2017, 02:23 PM
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Fark . GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
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post #5 of 37 Old 05-23-2017, 03:16 PM
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One of the service advisers at dealership tried to tell me fluctuating coolant levels "are normal". Didn't bother to waste my breath.
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post #6 of 37 Old 05-23-2017, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 640 View Post
The header tank level has risen from min to max and I think the coolant down the side of the bike has come out of the radiator cap - all pointing to the engine pressurising the system.
Are you running stock radiator cap?

Keep us updated...

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post #7 of 37 Old 05-23-2017, 04:27 PM
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I'm really sorry to hear this unwelcome news, Alan. (Combined with the recent tragic news from Manchester, yesterday was not a good day for upcountry England. My sympathies and solidarity.) I suppose I should be preparing for something similar with my motor, as my bike is fast headed for 8K miles.

It is more than evident that the OEM head gasket is an under-designed part, not up to the task over the long haul in an increasingly disconcerting percentage of cases. Hopefully, KTM/Bajaj will take corrective action, if they have not done so already with the much-revised 2017 model. Meanwhile, those of us with Gen1 390's are left to cope with this design flaw as best we can. One factor that complicates both the remedy and prevention for a blown HG is the engine design: Namely, the simple act of torquing head bolts is made into a major operation by the fact that two of the head bolts are buried beneath the cams, which must be taken out in order to access the bolts. Perhaps it would make sense to combine head bolt torquing with the valve check/shim procedure which already exposes the cams. Head bolts not torqued to spec can unquestionably be a contributing factor to head gasket problems.

Another issue obviously is the quality of the OEM paper head gasket - insufficient. One remedy already discussed - and now recommended by 390 tuning guru Chad Wells - is to spray the paper gasket liberally with Permatex copper coating prior to installation. This treatment is known to improve both sealing ability and heat resistance/durability of gaskets. Possibly an even better solution might be to fit a solid copper gasket, although to my knowledge none is currently on the market that fits a 390 motor. I think it would be possible to use an OEM head gasket as a template to trace the gasket outline on a solid sheet of gasket copper, then carefully cut out a gasket to fit. (Thoughts?) Some enterprising moto parts vendor should jump on this opportunity (MNNTHBX? Chad? X?)

The head gasket fragility is an aggravating, but not fatal, design flaw of the Gen1 390 that the factory, not the owners, should resolve. Perhaps this has been done for the 2017 model - we shall see. Meanwhile, as more Gen1 owners find themselves facing this problem, the company, IMO, owes them an engineered and tested fix. Making a durable and effective head gasket is not exactly groundbreaking technology or rocket science. But this is one QC corner too many cut in the name of cost - cutting.

Meanwhile, I am going to read up on removal of the cylinder head in the repair manual. (Everyone should have a copy of this document in their bookmarks - see Luc Lopes' compendium of manuals). It looks so easy and sanitary when the KTM techs have the engine out of the bike and on a stand. In the real world, however, I suspect most of us would want to do it without having to fully extract the motor from the frame. I think it should be possible, but until someone tries it we will not know (Brett?).

Bottom line: Since this proliferating failure is clearly the result of a design inadequacy, the manufacturer should be providing the remedy - a revised gasket and authorization for dealers to fit it free of charge, not just another OEM gasket equally as prone to failure. In the interim, however, owners whose bikes are out of warranty should be preparing to take on this onerous task. #$%^&*@!
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Cheers, Will

"If you don't know where you're going, you might wind up somewhere else."
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post #8 of 37 Old 05-23-2017, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mejetski2000 View Post
One of the service advisers at dealership tried to tell me fluctuating coolant levels "are normal". Didn't bother to waste my breath.
Same thing happened to me after the head gasket was "repaired". I stopped by the dealer to show them coolant puking and they said it was just overfilled. A couple hundred miles later and another tow at my expense yielded a defective water pump. Having coolant mix with my oil twice is what led me to begging KTM to replace my motor while it was under warranty. They didn't and look how well that turned out.
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post #9 of 37 Old 05-23-2017, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 640 View Post
Mine last night at 6036 miles

Yesterday was probably the warmest day of the year so far here in the UK ( a massive 21 degrees C / 70 F ) have spent alot of time riding in much colder temps, maybe I should have stuck to riding in winter. About 25 miles into my ride I noticed there was some vapour / smoke coming off the bike but I wrongly assumed it was a bit of cleaner still burning off the exhaust (as I had wiped it over before setting off and yeah that doesn't look too logical now, it probably all burned off in the first two miles).

Not long after, I'm heading down a long downhill stretch and on a fully closed throttle for part of it I drop to under 60mph (due to the designated speed trap location at the bottom of the hill) and with plenty of time to take in what was happening there really was no sign that anything was amiss (the motor would have been cooling off a little at this point of course).

Speed trap site well and truly passed and I start to wind it on again, still nothing that obvious but at the bottom of another big hill I think I first noticed the fan running, didn't think too much about it as I've had the fan run on cold days when in town. Gas it away from the junction then stopped at some lights a couple of miles later I notice some more smoke, look down and see coolant all down the side of the bike and a high coolant temp warning on the dash. Temperature gauge only went as far as the H point (there are still 2 or 3 bars above it) so I'm guessing the motor will be fine.

Once it had cooled a little I restarted it (yes I know not advisable) it blew white smoke out of the exhaust for maybe 3 seconds then it cleared and looked and sounded fine, so I'm thinking it's only a partial breach that happens when the motor is hot (although suppose it could be that there was not enoigh coolant left in the system for the motor to still ingest.

The header tank level has risen from min to max and I think the coolant down the side of the bike has come out of the radiator cap - all pointing to the engine pressurising the system.

Bike is 2 months out of the KTM warranty but still 30 miles inside when the second service was due (because first service was done at 1407 miles.......)

Have just come off the phone to my dealer - I admitted the bike is not 100% stock, as would have been too much effort trying to put it back, not least due to the 60 odd holes I drilled into the back of my 2015 fan shroud.

Dealer reckoned that if KTM know there was a problem with that production batch they will just sort it and 2015 models appear to be particularly prone I think.

If they wont cover it, well I've already had the cams out to do the valve clearances, would not have thought it would be much more work to get the head off.........







This sucks and I'm really sorry that it happened to another one of us : (
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post #10 of 37 Old 05-23-2017, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Diploman View Post
I'm really sorry to hear this unwelcome news, Alan. (Combined with the recent tragic news from Manchester, yesterday was not a good day for upcountry England. My sympathies and solidarity.) I suppose I should be preparing for something similar with my motor, as my bike is fast headed for 8K miles.

It is more than evident that the OEM head gasket is an under-designed part, not up to the task over the long haul in an increasingly disconcerting percentage of cases. Hopefully, KTM/Bajaj will take corrective action, if they have not done so already with the much-revised 2017 model. Meanwhile, those of us with Gen1 390's are left to cope with this design flaw as best we can. One factor that complicates both the remedy and prevention for a blown HG is the engine design: Namely, the simple act of torquing head bolts is made into a major operation by the fact that two of the head bolts are buried beneath the cams, which must be taken out in order to access the bolts. Perhaps it would make sense to combine head bolt torquing with the valve check/shim procedure which already exposes the cams. Head bolts not torqued to spec can unquestionably be a contributing factor to head gasket problems.

Another issue obviously is the quality of the OEM paper head gasket - insufficient. One remedy already discussed - and now recommended by 390 tuning guru Chad Wells - is to spray the paper gasket liberally with Permatex copper coating prior to installation. This treatment is known to improve both sealing ability and heat resistance/durability of gaskets. Possibly an even better solution might be to fit a solid copper gasket, although to my knowledge none is currently on the market that fits a 390 motor. I think it would be possible to use an OEM head gasket as a template to trace the gasket outline on a solid sheet of gasket copper, then carefully cut out a gasket to fit. (Thoughts?) Some enterprising moto parts vendor should jump on this opportunity (MNNTHBX? Chad? X?)

The head gasket fragility is an aggravating, but not fatal, design flaw of the Gen1 390 that the factory, not the owners, should resolve. Perhaps this has been done for the 2017 model - we shall see. Meanwhile, as more Gen1 owners find themselves facing this problem, the company, IMO, owes them an engineered and tested fix. Making a durable and effective head gasket is not exactly groundbreaking technology or rocket science. But this is one QC corner too many cut in the name of cost - cutting.

Meanwhile, I am going to read up on removal of the cylinder head in the repair manual. (Everyone should have a copy of this document in their bookmarks - see Luc Lopes' compendium of manuals). It looks so easy and sanitary when the KTM techs have the engine out of the bike and on a stand. In the real world, however, I suspect most of us would want to do it without having to fully extract the motor from the frame. I think it should be possible, but until someone tries it we will not know (Brett?).

Bottom line: Since this proliferating failure is clearly the result of a design inadequacy, the manufacturer should be providing the remedy - a revised gasket and authorization for dealers to fit it free of charge, not just another OEM gasket equally as prone to failure. In the interim, however, owners whose bikes are out of warranty should be preparing to take on this onerous task. #$%^&*@!
Adjusting valves with the motor in is very tight so I don't see how you could remove the head & cylinder to check for flatness/deck the surfaces while in the bike.

I also called Cometic who makes copper gaskets in addition to the MLS gasket when going through my new motor. I told them I didn't want to do this again and asked if copper would last longer than an MLS gasket on our bikes. They said MLS contracts & expands with less leaks than copper and didn't recommend using Permatex's copper spray. They also suggested that I contact a company like ARP to see if they could provide stronger head bolts that might stretch less but I didn't give that a try since we don't know if that's what's causing the problem. Chad at Welcome to KTM Performance said his rep at Cometic told him it was OK to use a light coating of Permatex's copper spray with their gaskets so that's what I did with the stock thickness gasket (Not using Chad's high compression gasket since it caused detonation). We'll see what happens...
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