Friday, December 3, 2021

Here's an easy way to change oil in a Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield Bullet next to two oil jugs.
Why two big jugs of oil? One is empty so I can premeasure the oil to be added.

 It was time to change the oil in the motor of my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet.

 I specify that it was time to change the oil in the motor because my old Royal Enfield also has oil in the gearbox and another kind of oil in the primary drive. Those would have to wait for next time; changing the oil in the motor is enough for one day.

 The motor alone has two drain plugs, not one, as you might expect. The oil filter is not a handy spin-off cartridge, but an oil soaked felt tube that must be inserted, dripping oil, into the motor.

But first the old oil and the old dripping filter must be removed. The first step in doing that is to round up every spare rag in the house, because I knew I was going to need them.

New oil filter gets a dunk in clean oil.
New oil filter gets a bath in clean oil before insertion.

The manual says the motor wants 2.25 liters of oil. I only understand "liters" as a measure of Coca-Cola. As in "one liter bottle of Coca-Cola will have lost all its fizz before I finish half of it."

So it was also time to renew my acquaintance with how many quarts there are in a liter, how many quarts there are in a gallon, how many cups there are in a half-gallon and how many cups there are in a quarter of a quart.

Luckily I have a system for this: I just ask my wife. She does all our cooking, so she is familiar with liquid measures.

The good news, for me, is that 2.25 liters turns out to be just a short distance from 2.25 quarts. Call it even. Easy!

And, as usual, I had a strategy in mind to make changing the oil even easier.

I always have a strategy for changing my Royal Enfield's oil, every time I do it. Just never the same strategy as, so far, no strategy has worked out very well.

Pouring oil from one jug into another.
I premeasured the oil by pouring it into the empty jug.

This time the great innovation would be that I would first measure out the amount of clean oil to be added to the motor once the old goo had vacated. This would avoid having to rely on the Royal Enfield dipstick, which I've discovered is wildly unreliable.

Why this should be so probably has to do with all the places oil has to find its way around to inside the Royal Enfield motor. If you fill an old Royal Enfield's oil tank to the "Full" mark on the dipstick, and go for a ride, you will find little or no oil showing on the dipstick next time you check.

More oil has to be added to the tank to account for the oil that gets distributed. More, but how much? There's no way to know.

Ah hah! You see, this time, with my 2.25 quarts of oil premeasured I would be able to fill the oil tank, to the Full mark on the dipstick, conserving whatever was left over in my container, and then, after the first ride, add the left overs to achieve the perfection of exactly 2.25 quarts circulating inside the motorcycle.

Oil jug marked for 2.25 quarts.
Oil jug includes a handy "window" to measure quantity.
Quarts on the left, liters on the right. Notice how close they are.

Minus whatever leaked out or got spilled, of course.

It didn't really work out. In my struggle with liquid measure I mistakenly marked my jug at the 2.5-quart mark instead of 2.25. I had pre-measured too much oil! Adding the remaining amount after the first ride would be a quarter of a quart too much. I would have to adjust.

I'll do it right next time.

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