Monday, January 14, 2013

Wet sumping solution didn't work for my Royal Enfield

A coffee container seemed ideal for catching oil drained from my Royal Enfield.
My iron barrel Royal Enfield Bullet "wet sumps" if left unridden for a few days, a common problem. To avoid a cloud of white smoke on start up I have been draining the sump (through the farthest forward drain plug).

Just before starting I pour the oil I've collected back into the oil tank. Naturally, I want this oil to stay as clean as possible, so I can't use the filthy oil pan I keep for oil changes. Generally, this means I use some discarded but clean plastic food container.

Trouble is, those last few drops of oil from the sump don't tend to drop straight down into the yogurt cup or whatever other small container I've pressed into service: instead, they tend to run along the bottom of the motor, collect and then drop at will onto the garage floor.

I need a larger container to catch those drips, ideally one with a lid to keep it clean between uses.

You might recall that I once followed an on-line tip suggesting cutting down a plastic milk jug for this use. I tried it. No good. Aside from not having a lid (once cut open to make it wide enough to collect oil), it turns out that today's milk jugs are so flimsy that, when cut in half, they go all willowy and are hard to pour.

But aha! Taking out the recycling the other day I noticed the heavy duty construction of the wide-mouthed Folger's plastic coffee container. Here, it seemed, was the perfect container.

So clever did I feel that I cut a V-shaped slot into the can lip to facilitate pouring the oil back into the motorcycle.

Last few drops of oil run from hole along bottom of motor and miss the can!
But not so fast. The first problem was getting the plug out. The Folger's can fit beneath the motor, but left little room for me to turn the wrench and extract the plug. Once done, the last few drips still managed to migrate just beyond the width of the Folger's container and again hit the garage floor.

Only on attempting to return the oil to the oil tank did I realize the Folger's can was too wide to reach the oil filler opening. It banged into the motor and air filter housing. Only with a funnel was I able to catch the oil safely as I poured.
This isn't working! The can is too wide to get over the oil filler without a funnel.
Back to the drawing board!


  1. So, did draining the wet sump work anyway?

    1. Yes, draining the sump in advance of starting prevents me from being enveloped in clouds of white smoke. Recommended. Wish there was an easier way to accomplish this, though, and, of course, someday I would like to have this nuisance addressed with proper assembly of the motor.

  2. Bob Slovey1/15/2013

    On those occasions when I find myself being too cheap, I pause, then laugh at myself, then look as the issue differently.
    Your proceedure seems OK to a point. That point is where you try to reuse the oil you drained from the engine. I don't care how good that oil looks, take an educated guess regarding the amount of oil drained and refill with clean fresh oil.
    Pitch that drained oil in your recycling container.

    1. Alright. But let me tell you, I now have lots of experience with making that "educated guess" and it's harder than you might think. I suppose the thing to do would be to have two identical clean cups on hand, one to collect the old oil and one to measure out the exact same level of clean oil to be poured into the motor. Bother! The simple solution is to ride every day and let regular use keep the oil where it belongs.


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