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 Water on spark plugs inside the engine

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codge
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PostSubject: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:39 am

Discovered water on the tips of my spark plugs today.
Bike obviously very difficult to start, only runs for a few seconds (if Im lucky) and then cuts out. Ive checked the FPR and its good, the plugs have been replaced with new. After pulling the plugs each time there is water on the ends.
Two things come to mind, either water in the fuel, or my head gasket is shot. Ive started draining the fuel, so far no water showing in the container. Ive got about a litre to go, and Im praying its in the bottom of the tank. Is there a fuel additive that I can put in the tank to help disperse water and allow it to be burned normally through the engine.
Im not looking forward to taking the head off, but if thats whats needed then thats what I'll do. The bike has 16,500 miles on the clock.
Any-one else with similar experience who can throw their ideas in would be appreciated.
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Hondafreak
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:18 am

Pull spark plugs crank it a couple times and see what "pumps" out of the spark plug hole. If there is moisture smell it and see if there is a hint of coolant smell. How long did it sit before this happened? Check coolant and see what it looks like.
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codge
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:53 am

Hi Hondafreak
The bike was in use at the time it broke down, and is used every day.
I have seen vapour of some sort blasting out of the empty plug holes.
I really dont fancy smelling it, but I could let it come out onto a paper tissue and have a careful smell of that.
The new plugs were really wet with beads of water around the central contacts.
I tried to ignite the moisture on the plugs to see if it flares up, but it didn't. I shook the plugs out and wet came out and it didn't light so I am convinced its water.
I suppose the coolant would be contaminated and discoloured if there's a problem with the head. Ive got most of the fuel out of the tank but not found any water in it yet. From memory does water sink in petrol.
Thanks for your kind reply.
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The Bern
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:59 am

Yes, water is heavier than petrol.  Out of curiosity, had you added fuel shortly before the engine failed ?
Have you looked for water in the engine oil ? Look at dipstick & crankcase breather pipe for creamy coloured gunge.
It is possible for water to get into the cylinder without it showing in the oil, in which case you need to check the expansion vessel with a 'sniffer' kit (requires engine running)
A check with a good quality compression tester should show a leaking head gasket.
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Cosmic_Jumper
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:04 pm

Could very possibly be a head gasket leak...or worse.

Next step would be to drain the oil into some sort of clear container and check for water/coolant in the oil.

Or, if you have access to a spark plug pressure fitting, you could pressure test the cylinder and check the radiator for bubbles in the coolant.

One way or another this isn't a good thing.
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Old Limey
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:50 pm

There was a Petrol station near where I live that was found to be putting water into the fuel. I usually fill up at Asda  or Morrisons. a couple of weeks ago I filled up at an Esso garage, I then had trouble with starting, I realised that it was with the Esso fuel. I've gone back to Asda  and no more starting problems, I would do as The Bern suggests if you can trust the fuel.
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codge
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Thu Nov 23, 2017 4:22 pm

Hi The Bern
I dont know at this stage when fuel was put into the tank as my son was using the bike at the time. He tends to let the tank get down to the last bar or two before he refuels. On this occasion the tank was one bar over half full, so I guess the fuel had been in there for a few days.
I have removed about 7 litres of fuel so far and there is a little bit left. So far there is no water in the clear containers.
Ive checked the dipstick today and it looks very good, just newish oil on the dipstick and threads, no sign of the creamy foam. Not checked the crankcase breather yet, but will do that tomorrow. I would like to check the expansion vessle, but cant get the motor to run to do it. How would water get in there.
Thank you.

Cosmic Jumper
The bike is due an oil change, so it would be another way to check things out. I think my son has a compression tester so I will stick that in and see what happens. If I am thinking correctly, dont I need a hot engine to see bubbles in the rad, because the thermostat needs to be open.
My engine will just not fire up, maybe just for 5 seconds on one cylinder after nearly flattening the battery. Ive looked at the overflow coolant tank from below, and the level is where I left it back in the summer and still looks clean.
Thank you.

Old Limey
It seems that buying fuel from a garage is a lottery. From what you say, you just cant trust them. You pay for petrol and get some water thrown in for good measure. I heard today the Holts (amongst others) sell something which is a fuel additive which helps to disperse water and allow it to be burned through the engine. I have to check that one out.
Obviously I will get as much out of the tank as I can and replace with fresh fuel.
Thank you.
Much appreciated guys for you advice.
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exavid
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:43 pm

Sounds like condensation more than anything else to me. A short run or cranking a lot before starting in cool or cold damp weather will do the job. The air in the cylinder heats immediately with compression heating while the metal parts including the plugs are at ambient temp. The difference in these temperatures will cause the water in the intake air to condense out on the metal parts. I used to have a problem with that in -40F weather with my Super Cub. Those airplanes have a very small battery so you don't crank it with the starter very long. If you start the Lycoming 0-320 and than shut it down before ti comes up to operating temperature there will be a lot of water in the cylinders. While it's not as large a problem with the scooter it's the same basic situation.
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The Bern
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:49 am

codge wrote:
How would water get in there.

Head gasket breach between the cylinder & internal waterway, hence why you can potentially get combustion gases which, as Comic Jumper says, can show as bubbles in the expansion vessel, a very small leak is easier to find with a 'sniffer' as it detects the gas
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exavid
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:47 am

Often a head gasket leak can be found by looking into the top of the radiator neck with the engine running. Look for bubbles as you rev up the engine. Also look for steam (actually water vapor) coming out of the exhaust while revving up the engine then shutting the throttle. Repeat a few times. The sudden shutting the throttle while the revs are up will cause a momentary vacuum in the cylinder which may help suck in water through a head leak.
When the engine is up to normal temperature hold you hand behind the muffler in the exhaust and see if you feel any moisture in the exhaust for another check.
Unless the plugs are full of water I'd still bet on condensation.
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The Bern
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Sat Nov 25, 2017 5:24 am

exavid wrote:
Unless the plugs are full of water I'd still bet on condensation.

Sorry bud, but I can't see how it can be condensation given ....

codge wrote:
Hi Hondafreak
The bike was in use at the time it broke down, and is used every day.

.... it would take a lot of condensate to stop a running engine, simply checking for water vapour at the exhaust is pretty much a waste of time as internal combustion of fossil fuel produces water.
Either way it's not testable until the engine is running again.

Codge, have you tried putting a bit of clean fuel into a cheap atomiser bottle (wilko/B&M/etc) & squiting a little into the injector bodies as the engine is being cranked ?
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Jolly Bodger
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:58 am

Everything you have described would point me to a failed head gasket. It is possible that you might have a crack in the cylinder head allowing water into the inlet side but i think that very unlikely. In any case it looks like you will have to remove the cylinder head. Not the easiest of tasks but that would be my next step.

OR Siataukreg has a motor for sale... just a thought!!!

JB
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codge
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Sat Nov 25, 2017 5:04 pm

Fellow bikers, I have solved the problem. It was simply water in the fuel tank which found its way into the fuel rail, through the injectors and onto the spark plugs preventing them from sparking.
I syphoned out all the fuel and water (disgusting job) so the tank was practically dry. There was probably a half pint of clear water with about
8 litres of petrol syphoned out.

I bought some Wynns dry fuel, put about an eggcup full of it into the tank with about 1 litre of fresh fuel. The bike fired up second try and ran sweetly for about 15 minutes until the engine temperature reached normal (3 bars), then I reved up a few times and then switched off.
The engine never missed a beat. As soon as I found water in the petrol, I knew I was on the right track.

Now Ive started to replace all the plastic covers that Ive removed looking for defective parts. I am convinced the water came from a garage when the bike was being refuelled. The sluggish petrol pump with the odd sounding pitch changed to the normal high pitch just as the engine fired up. It obviously did not like water running through it.
So there it is, I hope this helps anyone else with similar problems, and thank you all very much for your generous comments and suggestions.
Happy days
Codge.
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oldwingguy
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Sat Nov 25, 2017 5:56 pm

thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thanks for the follow up.
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Jolly Bodger
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:58 pm

Great news.

JB
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Dale N.
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:27 pm

That's great news.
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The Bern
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:35 am

applause Well done bud applause Might be an idea to call in where your son fueled up & tell them they have water in their tank/s, could save some others having the same problem
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codge
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:05 pm

Yes The Bern, I think thats a good idea. I'll speak to my Son.
Thanks
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Old Limey
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:14 am

Fantastic news, very pleased you found the problem, sometimes when things happen you fear the worst possible event (I know I always do), but when you reason it out and do things methodically it usually works out. I wonder if water in the fuel is a UK problem?
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Meldrew
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PostSubject: Re: Water on spark plugs inside the engine   Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:16 am

I don't think it is a big problem, it rarely happens and it's usually more regional than nationwide. The problem generally is where tankers have taken contaminated fuel from the same depot to various filling stations they supply. Then local radio and news pick up on it and publicise where the contaminated fuel is being sold and everything is back to normal within a couple of weeks.

Then of course there's this practice of avoiding filling up stations when a tanker is unloading it's fuel to the underground storage tanks where any water and sediment in them could be stirred up.
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