Really...how much moisture can accumulate due to condensation?
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Thread: Really...how much moisture can accumulate due to condensation?

  1. #1
    Senior Member GCFishguy's Avatar
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    Really...how much moisture can accumulate due to condensation?

    Answer - A LOT

    I no longer have my TW, but still read this forum pretty much every day...just because it's the best forum out there.

    So...there are all sorts of opinions on when you should change your oil when you're storing your bike for the winter.

    This is not a wive's tale, or it happened to a friend of a friend of my 3rd cousin.... This is 100% fact, and happened to me last night.

    Rewind to November. I took the ....non-TW200 out for a full day's ride, pulled into the driveway, grabbed a drain pan, dropped the oil...hot hot hot. After a full drain, I installed my new magnetic drain plug, and poured in 2L of fresh oil. As I was pouring I remembered that over the winter I had to do a little project that involved removing the clutch and clutch cover....crap...just poured in brand new oil...Dummy! So, my brain said, "just finish adding the required amount of oil, don't start the engine, then you should be able to drain the oil and it won't have circulated, blah blah....whatever"

    So, that's what I did, then rolled the bike into the shed..unstarted, after a HOT drain. Fast forward to last night...I drained the new oil, then pulled the clutch cover and clutch and found a scary amount of water. Large drops hanging on stuff, and little pools of water at the bottom of the housing.

    The bike is in great shape, nobody snuck it out of the shed during the winter and drowned it in a lake, the shed is weather-tight but unheated. In my mind, after a full day's ride and a HOT drain as soon as I pulled in the driveway, there would not be any condensation hanging around in there. So...ALL of the offending water that I found in my ...non-TW200 was the product of condensation due to temperature swings in the shed. SO....if your bike lives in an unheated shed over a cold winter, and you change your oil in the fall so it's ready to turn the key and go riding in the spring...you may want to reconsider. Also worth noting, this was a weird winter for temperature swings....several times we'd go from -20c one day to +10c the next, then back to -20c again....to that might have been the 'prefect storm' sort of winter for making condensation...

    I don't know what the best answer is...change it in the fall, and again in the spring? Change it in the fall, start it and run it to pick up and carry away the large drops so then it will separate and collect in the bottom of the crankcase rather than laying on bearings, creating rust in places that should NEVER have rust..... Not sure what the answer is....but, I can now say that without a doubt, you CAN have a scary amount of water build up over the winter even after a HOT HOT drain, and the engine not even being started with the new oil.

    I never even thought to take a pic as I was disassembling things, but I snapped one when my buddy texted me and asked me what I was up to. Even after things had been wiped down you can see large drops of water here and there, plus pools of water under the oil in the low spots at the bottom of the housing. It may look a bit sludgey, but it's not...it's just the cell phone flash. The oil is clean and clear, the water is clean and clear....no sludge or guck.

    So....warm-cold temperature changes over a cold winter WILL cause a LOT of condensation inside the engine of a motorcycle....even one that was drained HOT after a full day's ride, then had fresh oil added and not even started.
    Hope this might help someone not spend a nice spring day riding around, blissfully unaware that their fresh-in-the-fall oil actually had a couple ounces of water mixed in with it over the winter.

    Please click the attachment and then zoom in.
    8Obtw1D.jpg
    Last edited by GCFishguy; 02-27-2018 at 09:25 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dryden-Tdub's Avatar
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    I have always reserved my oil change to before my first ride in the spring. I warm the old oil by running the bike for 5 minutes or so then drain and fill. I store my bike under the same conditions as you do.


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  3. #3
    Super Moderator littletommy's Avatar
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    It is the days with the wide temperature swings that cause this. I also store mine in a non heated garage and have noticed certain days that there will be moisture on the lower part of the crankcase, almost so much it would be dripping off. I knew there would be some condensation in the engine, but always thought it would all burn off the first time I took it out and it got all the way warmed up. This is one reason I do not go out to the garage and start up the engines a few times during winter. I wait until I can ride it and it can be totally brought up to operating temperatures.
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  5. #4
    Senior Member SportsterDoc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by littletommy View Post
    It is the days with the wide temperature swings that cause this...
    We have two travel trailers (which never travel) at our Arizona ranch.
    The small one is our guest "house".
    The larger one our residence about once a month.
    When heated, with moisture in the air from simply breathing and probably from the kettle on, it is amazing how much condensation forms on the windows.
    It takes more than one towel, wrung out several times, to collect all the condensation.
    When it is quite cold out, such as less than 20 F, the condensation freezes overnight, with impressive icicles on the INSIDE of the glass.

    In one storage area, I put a pan under a spare gallon of coolant for our truck, a gallon of Windex, 4 gallons of RV anti-freeze (for sink drains).
    Before I installed the pan, I thought something had leaked, as there was so much liquid on the floor due to condensation of warm moist air on the colder liquid containers.

    The issue is when warm moist air contacts a colder surface. If the bike is run long enough to heat saturate the engine, there should be little to no moisture in the crankcase.
    Last edited by SportsterDoc; 02-27-2018 at 01:59 PM.
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  6. #5
    Senior Member SportsterDoc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by littletommy View Post
    This is one reason I do not go out to the garage and start up the engines a few times during winter. I wait until I can ride it and it can be totally brought up to operating temperatures.
    +1
    Ditto
    Definitely!

    I avoid riding unless I can go far enough to fully warm the motor.

    My wife teaches a ladies Bible class at an assisted living home less than 1 mile from us and we meet there for Bible study on Wednesday nights.
    The 4.0 V6 in her truck needs several miles to fully warm, so there is a considerable volume of moisture dripping from the exhaust system when it returns to the garage.
    It looks like a trail of water from the air conditioner operating in Georgia in the summer...and we live in a very dry climate in southern Nevada!

    Not only does the condensation in the crankcase not evaporate, but it will shorten the life of the exhaust system.

    So, there is a price to pay for such short trips, which is why I encourage her to include other errands on the same outing.
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  7. #6
    Senior Member mrlmd's Avatar
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    It's understandable how you get condensation and water inside a partially filled gas tank, but inside the engine? That should be sealed up from the atmosphere but it still occurs. And you may never know how much and where the liquid water is inside your engine when you drain the oil unless you open it up like you did.

  8. #7
    Senior Member SportsterDoc's Avatar
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    Fuel tank is vented to avoid drawing a vacuum.
    Crankcase is vented to allow for expansion.
    Relative humidity is a significant factor.
    2014 Honda CB1100
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    2017 Yamaha TW200
    2012 Triumph Bonneville
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    1976 Honda CB750F
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    1970 Yamaha CT1
    1972 Yamaha CT2
    1972 Yamaha AT2/CT2
    1970 Honda SL350
    1970 Honda CL350
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  9. #8
    Senior Member phelonius's Avatar
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    Enough to drown a frog.
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  10. #9
    Senior Member grewen's Avatar
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    just leave the fill plug off so it can breath
    Greg

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  11. #10
    Senior Member GCFishguy's Avatar
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    I think if it was left open to vent well, it would just make it easier for more humid air to get in the crankcase and condense again. Well, it's vented enough already that it likely wouldn't make a difference.
    I think, anyway. But we all know what Thought did.

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