So the leaking Rocket III Cam Cover gasket is not a myth…
First things first… I love my Roadster, just coming up to 20,000 miles on this one (my 2nd) so around 50k on Rocket IIIs. I’ve owned around 30 bikes over the years, the 3 favourites feature on this site at least once: Rocket III Roadster, GPz 1100i (A2) and Thunderbird 1600 – these are the bikes I’ll remember in my old(er) age (also, for different reasons, my purple CB250N Superdream and hammerite blue CX500).
The Roadster is a joy to ride , filters through traffic with surprising agility and is just so damned awesome with surprisingly good fuel consumption (45mpg).
But it is not perfect.. seating position was awful until the FC17 forward controls and handlebar risers went on, she’s not very forgiving in corners (shocker), the electrics are shoddy and my first thoughts when I looked under the tank could only be described in detail on an ‘adults only’ website – and not because it’s sexy. The cabling doesn’t look ‘designed’ as such – more like it grew into place organically. Having said that, I haven’t suffered too badly: total loss of electrics once (corroded/flimsy main feed connection under right side panel), failing front brake switch and now a blown cam cover gasket.
Gasket blew at front right of engine – must have dumped 250ml over right hand side before I noticed the smell. Now I like the smell of a hot engine as much as anybody else with a pulse, but even I thought ‘hmmm… better check that out’. Fortunately had some Gorilla Tape to hand which did an admirable job as a field dressing and got me home.
Having worked on all of my bikes I thought a cam cover gasket would be a nice, easy replacement job. Couple of hours tops. I have a good selection of tools and plenty of experience. Just call me Mr Naive – turned out to be a major pain and finished up taking a full day – admittedly with 2 ‘better have a beer and relax’ breaks.
Having got the tank up and bear claw off, had to remove plenum, intake duct, right hand coil/bracket and for a little extra room the right hand head-stock plastic. Sounds straight forward but the 5 clamp screws holding intake and plenum were fiddly as hell (particularly the 2 behind the frame). The plenum and intake duct were like a Chinese puzzle – not too bad to remove but required Zen Master skills to refit and a few of the 9 cam cover bolts were ‘awkward’ to get to.
With everything removed and all bolts out, gentle persuasion was required to break to seal and loosen the cover (big hammer, soft wood drift) and then the fun really started – manipulating that cam cover out from under the frame without using damage inducing brute force took some time… but finally it slipped out like it was supposed to – still not 100% sure how.
After peeling the old seal out, it was easy to see why so much oil had been haemorrhaging.
Lovely split. I’m guessing the cam cover bolts had not retained their torque and come a little loose, allowing the seal to tear, but that’s a guess.
Popped the new seal into place – also a little fiddly, with a little silicone sealant on the edges of the 4 ‘D’s and began reassembly. Putting back together was much smoother than the reverse – couple of the bolts were difficult to get torque wrench to and the plenum was not easy (I’m actually ordering the Ramair filter kit so I never have to do that again).
Have put a few hundred miles on her since and all is still looking good – but going to check the bolts stayed torqued down on occasion.
Still love it… how could you not..? Not even I’m perfect.