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Discussion Starter #1
2001 VL800 with 24,000 miles. I bought a basket case, literally. The previous owner started to take it apart so I never heard the noise.

Back story is the guy (friend of a nephew, I trust him) bought it and rode around town a couple months with no problem. Then on his way to Sturgis (from Sioux Falls) it started making a tick noise while going 85mph. He shut it down and had it hauled back home where it sat for a year. He is not a mechanic and quickly realized he was in over his head. I came along 2 weeks ago and bought it as a gamble, with gamble worthy price (free).

After doing some reading I had the idea the chains were stretched so I pulled the engine and popped the rocker housings off. Yes, the valves were a bit on the tight side but not bad. Out came the chains and I measured them against specs, damn near perfect. Crap! Now what. Then I got to digging deeper and really looking at stuff. I found the rear cylinder had a clean ring around outer edge and so did the rear piston. Then I saw the rear rod big end looks like it was overheated severely. In essence the heat made the rod grow enough to smack piston against head.

Why would it just effect the rear rod and not the front? Of course the guy can't remember if the oil was low. Yes, the rear rod is further away from crank oil feed hole but does it really make that much difference?

My plan now is to pop heads off cylinders and put them back on to check deck height. Then split the case and remove rods for further inspection.
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Before you start, you need to get online and begin pricing the components for the repair. Replacement parts are not cheap and there are few aftermarket options. If the rear connecting rod is damaged, then there is a good bet that the bike was run low on oil (common on these engines) and the combination of the low oil and the high rpm operation s to blame for the damage. At the very least, you are looking at two new pistons (yes, new pistons and rings because the oil is making it past the wipe ring and into the combustion chamber), two new connecting rods wrist pins, a crank (Or having he crank machined), crank journals, miscellaneous gaskets and seals. That is just to refresh the internals. If the rear piston was making contact with the head, then you have an additional concern of having to also replace the rear head, valves, valve seats, tappets and springs. In addition, the machine work to resurface the cylinder walls will remove the nickasil coating and leave you with bare metal and this will force you to go with aftermarket pistons, as the bore will be over tolerance when you are finished.

Most owners bail when they add up just the parts cost for this repair..... The most common "fix" is to buy a whole motor from a salvaged bike and throw it in the frame. 2001-2004 engines are identical and plug and play. 2005- engines use the same lower components and internals but are fuel injected and require an engine management computer. The entire upper cylinder needs to be swapped over from your old engine to the new, which would still require a new cylinder head for the rear. And no, there is no way to convert the 2001-2004 Volusia to fuel injection either.
 

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It may be premature since I haven't split the case yet to inspect the crank, but I bought a rod for $20. I should have waited but didn't want to miss out on a screaming deal. So far I'm into this bike for $30, that includes the title transfer.

I'm confident the piston and head are fine. The guy has good ears and shut it down as soon a soon as the noise started. I might be looking at this with rose colored glasses, that's fine with me. I won't buy any more parts until I know the crank is ok.

The concept of a used engine has crossed my mind and it may end up happening.

Thank you for confirming my suspicion about it being low on oil. I have lots of auto experience and near zero when it comes to bikes
 

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It went low on oil, because the cylinders are worn and oil is making past the wipe ring. It is a common issue with these bikes and simply changing the connecting rod won't solve the issue. Once you have the case apart, you'll be able to see where the piston has scored into the cylinder wall and in some cases, you can feel it with your fingernail. You're not the first to go down this path.
 

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Ill take a closer look at the skirts and cylinders. If they are smooth and clean do you think a set of rings will dial it in?
 

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Unlikely. You really need to mic the cylinders and the pistons as well. Based on experience, my guess is your cylinder walls are no longer uniform and you are going to have excessive wear on one side of the piston, where it was riding along the wall and causing additional wear.
 
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