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2011 650 V-Strom with ABS
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am about ready to check the valves, replace the coolant, etc.

I have rounded up spark plugs, air filter and coolant, but do I need to order valve cover gaskets? Or are they pretty robust and can be reused?

Also, in my various searches, I ran across some references to using anti-seize on the spark plug threads. One said with the new magic trivalent plating process on the name brand iridium spark plugs, anti-seize is neither necessary nor desirable. I am a confirmed believer in anti-seize and would be very reluctant to not use it.

thanks
 

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If they're not leaking, then they can almost always be re-used. Follow the instructions in the manual for using just a tiny whisper of sealer at the sharp corners of the "half-moon" plug part of the gasket.

Still, on higher-mileage bikes it's not a bad idea to have replacements on hand. Like any rubber gasket, they can harden with heat and time, and then crack upon removal. Unless your bike has 80,000 - 100,000 miles or more, you should be fine.
 

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12 year old bike with how many miles? Those gaskets last a long time but not forever. I did the valve cover gaskets on my K7 Wee at 80K miles at ~7yrs. They had never been done and were noticeably stiff with age which can cause leaks. If you have anywhere near 40-50K miles I'd just do them to be sure. Once done you'd be good for another 10 years. It sucks to do a valve job then have a leak after service especially on the front cover. Also, one, two years from now the gaskets will probably be >$100 each due to inflation, or may not even be available due to supply chain issues or if the war mongering continues and spreads to SE Asia.
 

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Its like a parachute: Far better to have it and not need it than to not have it and need it. As for gaskets.. I always ask myself, "Just how much work will it be if I put it together and it leaks?". I am one of those people who believe its best to just "do it right the first time" and not have to take it all apart and do it over. How much does the gasket cost? Is it worth it if you have to take it all back apart due to a leak? The original gasket is, after all, already old. A new gasket won't hurt anything and doesn't cost that much. This type of thing is a easy decision for me.....
 

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I'm one who has noted that NGK spark plugs feature trivalent plating to "provide corrosion resistance".
Do I still apply coppercote? Yes, but just a little smear to the threads.
 

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Copper isn't suppose to be used with plugs going in to aluminum. Sorry, I can't remember where I found that. If interested, you'll have to investigate on your own. Apologies.
 

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Great advice on the gasket replacement. For reference, my 2009 is still on the original gaskets at 106K miles. My last valve check was 2 years ago at 94K miles, the gaskets looked fine and were working well before the check. They're still are working pretty well, but I will probably replace at next check.
 
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2016 650 V-Strom
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I use a fine smear of Duralac Aviation jointing compound between the steel plugs and the alloy threads of the head ....

 

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I bought a set of rubber gaskets 'in case' but on ispection of the old ones I saw the engineers were front running the issue. The gasket is of a high quality rubber much like o ring material. It does not deform in this application because There are shoulders on the studs that limit the cover from crushing the gasket. Wipe any oil film off the surfaces before assembly and it / they will likely last the life of the bike.
 

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I found this,
Using copper anti-seize on spark plug threads
I use a small amount of nickel anti-seize, despite what NGK recommends, have for decades.
Interesting read on the thread paste. Electrolysis is a weird animal, especially in the marine envirenment. Galvanic corrosion does not need salt water to rev it up. Nobility of metals is your issue.


Rectangle Slope Font Parallel Pattern
 

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I agree on not using copper on spark plug threads. One is electrolysis, the second is that copper will migrate into aluminum and make it very brittle and you risk the threads pulling out. Heat and the small thickness of al in threads makes that worst possible use case.

Nickel is safe with respect to both those but wear gloves.

I can't use nickel pastes because my hands break out in a mass of festering wounds if I get it on my skin. It's not normally that bad for most people, but take care.
 

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Marketing 101: Convince your customer they need your product and that it will benefit them to spend their money buying it from you. Remember, your job is to take your customer's money out of their back pocket and put it in yours.

Food for thought: How is it that so many manufacturers build so many millions of engines and such without putting any special sealers on many of their OEM gaskets yet the product (usually) doesn't leak? Here is a little secret: They often put the sealer in the gasket material and when you torque down the fasteners the sealer is pushed out to bind to the parts. OEM's spend a lot of money to develop and perfect gaskets and sealers to save them millions of dollars in warranty costs fixing leaks. They often work with specialty companies to help develop and perfect these. I can not count how many Japanese vehicles I have removed the fasteners on a head, oil pan, etc. and needed a LOT of force to be removed due to the super sealers in the OEM gaskets that just glued everything together. How do you think Toyota, Honda and others do so well at not leaking oil?

One of the things we found in the field was that putting extra sealer on good parts would often cause leaks as the aftermarket sealers prevented the OEM sealers from binding on the metal parts. I am sure there will be many who swear their favorite sealers are so wonderful but field data shows its not always so.
There are many gaskets that don't have sealer impregnated in them. On these gaskets proper sealers can help. OEM's will often recommend certain sealers for these. When I worked at GM and Chrysler we had our own branded sealers for this. (Often made by Loctite or other specialty company) Normally leaks occur due to improperly machined parts, improper assembly such as parts not properly cleaned, not torqued properly or unevenly), overheating resulting in warpage or even breaking of the original seal due to excessive movement of the joined parts. (we had years of issues with aluminum heads on cast iron blocks due to this).

Clean your parts completely. Remove any trace of old gasket, sealer, oil, etc. from them. Carefully inspect them and if everything is OK then assemble them using the OEM recommended procedures and parts. There may be times when parts are less than perfect and in those cases a special sealer "might" help. I know this well as I work on antique EMD diesels that are 80 years old and there are no good parts available period. We have to find the right sealers to make up for all the imperfections. I can attest to the fact that regardless of what the marketing people tell you there are no magic sealers out there. You still have to do your best to make things as perfect as possible and then find what product works best.

As for spark plugs: If you are using the big name brands they will nomally have special coatings on the threads to make them perform (and release) well. Just make sure the threaded holes are clean and that the plugs are properly torqued. I personally have changed many thousands of plugs over the past five decades and can attest to this working. Again, do you think OEM manufacturers put special sealers on all those spark plugs? Most OEM's even put special coatings on fasteners, especially on aluminum engines and transmissions, to prevent them from galvanic actions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Excellent! All kinds of nuggets and tidbits came out in this thread.

15-18% of people in N. America are allergic to nickel. It is a very common cause of contact dermatitis. Some sources claim that it's 5x more common in women than among men. This is not true, it's just drastically underdiagnosed in men.

Nickel is a common alloy in inexpensive jewelry, especially ear rings. More women than men wear inexpensive jewelry and ear rings and are more likely to be diagnosed. Allergies to chromium are also fairly common.

As an optometrist, I deal with spectacles every day for decades. Men and women have similar or equal need for spectacles, and nickel allergy is a 50/50 deal with respect to gender. Nickel is a very common part of the alloy for most metal frames because it's cheap, pretty strong, plates well, easily formed, alloys with almost any metal, etc. If your glasses make you break out along your temples or ears, it's contact dermatitis from the nickel in the frame. Switching to titanium or plastic frames solves that.


Trivalent zinc chromate turned out to be an interesting rabbit hole. The plating industry (especially automotive) switched to this to reduce or eliminate the use of hexavalent chromium, which is some seriously bad shit. Ask Pacific Gas and Electric about that.

The Jaguar people think about this problem a lot and recommend not using anti-seize compound on spark plugs (in aluminum heads) that have anticorrosion plating already. They say it's because it easily leads to overtightening, which leads to stripping and breaking and other bad things. They further claim that the plugs with trivalent plating prevent problems on removal because the plating fractures off the plug before the threads strip, or the spark plug breaks. I am dubious that that's the real explanation. It does prevent rust, which can weld a spark plug right into the head. And the zinc probably acts as the sacrificial component of all the metals in the system.

 

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I have pulled many s/plugs out of Honda 6 cylinders while doing a major service. Often times I have to use so much force during removal, it feels like I'm pulling threads. But it's never happened.
Modern s/plugs are in there for 100 K miles +. I'll continue to use it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I have pulled many s/plugs out of Honda 6 cylinders while doing a major service. Often times I have to use so much force during removal, it feels like I'm pulling threads. But it's never happened.
Modern s/plugs are in there for 100 K miles +. I'll continue to use it.
"It" = anti-seize goop?
 

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I have pulled many s/plugs out of Honda 6 cylinders while doing a major service. Often times I have to use so much force during removal, it feels like I'm pulling threads. But it's never happened.
Modern s/plugs are in there for 100 K miles +. I'll continue to use it.
I use anti-sieze on spark plugs. I take care to keep it away from the tip and first thread of the spark plug. I reduce torque setting on my torque wrench by 20% to account for the lubricant properties.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I use anti-sieze on spark plugs. I take care to keep it away from the tip and first thread of the spark plug. I reduce torque setting on my torque wrench by 20% to account for the lubricant properties.
That's how I am leaning. I have never had a catastrophic failure using the anti-seize. I cannot say the same for a dry spark plug in the dry socket.
 
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