Oil filter backwards
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Thread: Oil filter backwards

  1. #1
    Member LoneRanger's Avatar
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    May 2018

    Oil filter backwards

    So, I'm a licensed mechanic, but in an absent minded moment I installed my oil filter backwards. Ran the bike on a couple short rides, then drove it to work - 23km @ 90-100km/hr. Coming home after work it started losing power and suddenly died..... Like fuel cut out, no other symptoms, no squeal, nothing..... Thought I needed reserve fuel tbh, but tank was over 1/2.... Immediately restarted OK, but kinda rattled (thought it was lean misfire) for first 1/2 a second then ran fine. Drove the last 5km to home - not enough power to hold 5th gear - but
    I was driving into a strong headwind. (If I'd known what the issue was I never would've even restarted it)

    Well I was curious as to why - pulled plug - looked hot and very lean. Compression test showed 130psi, so that's good. So I jetted the carb, and hadn't adjusted valves yet, so I did that, they were out a little bit (exh. 008",intake .005") ran much better but thought I heard a little valve rattle......

    Pulled the top end bolt to check for oil supply, oil came out, and I had noticed oil droplets on the rockers and tappets when setting valves. - seemed to be getting oil

    Then it dawned on me to check filter - found the mistake, turned it around and reinstalled.

    Runs like a top, no real noticeable top end noise now, no metal on the filter, plenty of power now, 15km road test at 100km/h - recheck and plug is nice and tan now..... Seems all good.

    Do I have crazy luck and somehow escaped siezing my top end? Or am I driving a time bomb? ..... It literally runs great, if there's any top end noise at all it's not really noticeable. (I work on car engines all the time, I know a rattle when I hear one..... Still can't believe I made this mistake - so stupid)

    So basically do I keep driving it, or tear into it? Is there any other explanation as to why it would've lost power other than the dreaded cam sieze? (knowing it had lack of oil)

    Also, can anyone explain how there was oil in the top end even with the filter backwards????

    2015 tw200, just shy of 8000km, all highway at 80-100km, running 15/47 sprockets, and shinko street tires. Lizard oil cooler. Has had oil changes every 1000km, air filter changed and spark plug changed.

  2. #2
    Senior Member SportsterDoc's Avatar
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    Jan 2017
    Southern Nevada
    Out of curiousity, did you have to push harder than normal to install the oil filter cover?

    You may want to remove the cam and expect to replace the cam bearing...sounds as though it almost seized.

    At this point you may want to stay within pushing distance of base (home, trailer, truck)

    This video shows a damaged bearing. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qcMmleRDxLc

    OTOH in the mid seventies, wife and I were climbing the back side of Government Peak near Randsburg, CA after being at Jawbone Canyon with a temp of 113 F. Her 175cc Yamaha enduro had no issues, but my 125cc started to lose power. We stopped for the engine to cool and went on with no problems. The 125cc ran for many miles thereafter.
    Last edited by SportsterDoc; 07-21-2019 at 08:59 AM.
    grewen likes this.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member TW-Brian's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    Pleasanton, CA
    I just posted this picture earlier today on this other thread:


    Oil filter - Inside.jpg

    Given the construction of the internals of the oil filter and the fact that there are different size openings on either end of the filter, I suppose that it is possible that a reversed oil filter could still allow oil flow to the head. There may be some other part of the engine that you need to worry about. It is too late at night for me to try and figure this one out.
    Purple likes this.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member stagewex's Avatar
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    It took me a couple minutes of brain-drain to understand what you meant about "backwards"... it's early in the morning on the east-coast.
    I mean there is only one open side of the filter so how is it possible. Yeah, anything is possible.

    I get it now. Yeah I guess crazy luck. You'd think nothing could be circulating with the closed back end of the filter pressing hard. But either you had just enough oil in the engine that didn't drain out or some got thru circulating despite. Must have built up some pressure in there?
    I just passed 3000 miles so have only changed the oil a few times but with the filter and that spring thingy I'm surprised you were able to get it all in there at all.

    Do nothing if she's running good except pay some sort of homage to the motorcycle Gods, do a good deed, something like that.
    grewen likes this.
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  6. #5
    Senior Member TeeDoubleUTwoHundred's Avatar
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    GaryL likes this.
    2017 TW200 -> Hand Guards-Chain-Foot Pegs-Skid Plate-Shifter-Grips-Mirrors-Fuel Filter-Fender-Levers

  7. #6
    Senior Member GaryL's Avatar
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    Forestburgh, NY
    I have to wonder is it possible with the filter reversed that the oil still flowed as designed but just not through the filter at all? Seems to me with the filter reversed it just might shut off any oil going into the filter but not necessarily close off the oils flow.

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  8. #7
    Member LoneRanger's Avatar
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    May 2018
    Okay lol, so I probably just got lucky. The filter installs backwards really easily actually, I'm surprised, no extra effort required. And it was getting some oil, cause pulling that bolt out a bit let out a fairly steady flow of oil.

    I may ride it for a day or two and change oil and check filter for debris - if I screwed the cam or bearings metal should show up in the filter fairly quickly correct?..... Cause there wasn't anything there yesterday.

    I was planning on putting a cam in it..... Didn't want to do it right now tho

  9. #8
    Super Moderator Purple's Avatar
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    Mar 2015
    Ynys Môn
    Yeah – you’d get some “paste” showing on the filter screen

    The cams don’t need a lot of oil to survive, and it sounds like you may have caught it in time. The trouble with this sort of situation is that you never know exactly what damage “has” been done – it may not even show up on a micrometre – but that nagging doubt, the paranoia – every little “ticking sound” …..

    My 200 is making that same gentle ticking at the moment, and I’m sitting here thinking “is the end of the exhaust valve mushroomed” …

    At the end of the day, ride it like you stole it until you know for sure that you need to go in after it – these are tough little bikes, and they don’t give up that easy …..
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  10. #9
    Senior Member elime's Avatar
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    The oil filter has openings at both ends. The four little holes go up to the head. The one big hole at the other end goes to the crankshaft / rod bearing / splash to the small end of the rod.

    You put the filter in backwards. Apparently enough oil got through the large opening up to the top of the head as demonstrated by you loosening the bolt to check the flow. As Purple said it doesn't take much oil to keep things happy up there.

    The problem as I see it is how much oil was pumped to the crank? That is how much oil was pumped out the four little holes at the other end of the filter and how much of that oil made it to the crankshaft and was splashed up to the small end of the rod? The ball bearings are probably OK. The small end of the rod isn't a roller type bearing. Also I wonder about the cylinder walls / piston.

    A fellow forum member lost the filler cap and hence all his oil. The problem he had was with the small end of the rod and the piston / cylinder. The head was OK. People that put the filters in without the 4 holes report riding about 25 miles before they have trouble. He had his trouble after about 5 miles.

    Your loss of power -- perhaps an overheated piston? I am just guessing. Ride it and see what happens. It will either get very bad real soon or be OK for a long time. Good luck. Tony

    Fred likes this.
    Long live the internal combustion engine!

  11. #10
    Member LoneRanger's Avatar
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    May 2018
    Okay cool, thanks guys..... I'll ride it and see how it goes..... Currently seems fine, hopefully it stays that way
    Purple likes this.

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