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I posted this question elsewhere, but it was kind of off topic and buried in a thread. I'm starting to see some fork oil leaking from one of my seals. Is it really common to blow them? Seems most folks are just replacing at the first sign of leakage. What are the signs of damage? Stretching? Tear? I'm going to order a seal mate and try to clean them first. Just wondering what I'm looking for before I tear it apart. Thanks.
 

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I posted this question elsewhere, but it was kind of off topic and buried in a thread. I'm starting to see some fork oil leaking from one of my seals. Is it really common to blow them? Seems most folks are just replacing at the first sign of leakage. What are the signs of damage? Stretching? Tear? I'm going to order a seal mate and try to clean them first. Just wondering what I'm looking for before I tear it apart. Thanks.

No forks seals don't blow out.

Typically some sort of grit gets in between the seal and the tube causing them to weep some fluid. Seals can get old and dry out. When that happens there will be a puddle of fluid usually.

Most any material thin enough to get underneath the seal works to clean them out. Used to be people would recommend 35 mm film negative, kind of hard to come by now. I've used a feeler gauge carefully. Either way spray something like brake cleaner as your working around the seal to flush debris.
 

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So far, 100% of my leaking fork issues were solved by removing the dust seal and using a thin piece of plastic and jamming it into the fork seal, running it around the seal a few times , removing the piece of plastic, cleaning the dirt off the plastic and repeating the entire process until no more dirt comes out. Slap the dust seal back on, cycle the forks a few times and your golden.
 

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mine were leaking so bad I finally rebuilt the forks. Seals and springs.
I also bought some fork covers / wraps. keeps dirt off and cleans at same time.
 

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Google "Sealmate". They have made tool (which is very similar to the 35mm film idea) and also show a video as to actually go about doing it.

I suspect the vast majority of leaking seals can be fixed by simply cleaning out debris.

..Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone. I do in fact have a Seal Mate in the mail to me already. Hoping that clears things up, otherwise I'll get some new seals on the way.
 

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I'm with Andreas. Once the seal blows and is no longer effective it's time to replace it and the dust seal too.
When the Seal Mate trick no longer works its' dirty hands time. Not difficult but a bother.
 

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Time to replace the seals dust cap and alas, the fork bushes.

Most forget the metal bushes but those are very important and do wear, so beyond about 40,000k's, do them as well. (And it's a PITA job getting the new upper bush in).
 

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No forks seals don't blow out.

Typically some sort of grit gets in between the seal and the tube causing them to weep some fluid. Seals can get old and dry out. When that happens there will be a puddle of fluid usually.

Most any material thin enough to get underneath the seal works to clean them out. Used to be people would recommend 35 mm film negative, kind of hard to come by now. I've used a feeler gauge carefully. Either way spray something like brake cleaner as your working around the seal to flush debris.
In my experience, if you have a hard enough hit, they definitely can blow out. Two years ago in spring, I hit a pothole so large that both seals started immediately leaking profusely - different from normal behavior of a slight leak with gradual increase.

+1 on the suggestion of Seal-mate or a piece of 35mm film, they may get them to reseal temporarily. You might get another 10k out of them before they begin leaking again, but they will. The seal will never be as good, and now there's probably crap past the seal.

Every few days, wipe the bugs and shit off of your fork tubes. The seals can't cope with the calcified chitinous material and it'll get past and damage them. I keep a rag in my topcase for this purpose. Fork boots are a good idea as well.
 
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