Well, the forward progress looked promising until a 50+mph test ride; then the whole thing kind of unraveled… With new starter clutch roller springs in hand, the rotor was removed, reloaded and replaced and suddenly the bike had full electric starting again. For some reason, the electric starter only operates when the ignition switch is in the LIGHTS ON position, instead of the normal ON position. So, yet one more mystery to be solved, once the rest of the major problems are repaired.
On another around the block test, hard braking (as much as you can with this model) revealed a distinct clunking in the front end, mimicking loose steering head bearings. The steering damper top nut was not fully tightened and that allowed some unwanted play in the front end. The steering head bearing adjustment nut was checked for being loose, but found to be normally torqued. Lifting the front end up by the front fender tip yielded another source of noise and play, which seems to be in the upper end of the front shock mounts.
Despite the repositioning of the front brake arm for greater leverage, the amount of travel the arm had to move, in order to engage the brake shoes to the drum, was excessive. This indicates the probability of very worn brake shoe linings. A quick look on eBay turned up a set of a/m Vesrah shoes for $55 shipped from the Midwest. When the shoes arrive, the front wheel and front suspension can be more fully checked for the source of the extra movement.
A three-mile road test, down to the local post office, proved to be the downfall for the domestic Dream right after it had been refreshed with premium fuel from the local 7-11 store. The downhill portion of ride was uneventful and the bike showed no signs of distress when parked at the post office lot. The same distance runs mostly uphill on the way home and the grade is a good test of the engine’s pulling power and clutch strength under load. As soon as the bike was pulled up into the driveway and parked on the centerstand, oil was found to be streaming off all four sides of the engine.
Closer inspection revealed a lack of the usual breather hose connected to the top cover fitting. Oil appeared to have been pouring out of the breather tube fitting, spreading across the top cylinder head cover and down the engine fins in petroleum rivulets. After a quick mop-up of the oil streams, the spark plugs were pulled and inspected for oil. Before the test ride, no signs of oil smoke were coming from the mufflers that would be indicators of failed piston rings. The plugs came out dry, confirming that the oil pumping was not directly related to piston sealing issues. A compression test showed 85 psi in the right cylinder and 150 on the left. Valve clearance checks on the right side showed a lack of clearance on the intake valve side. When the valve tappet clearance was reestablished to specs, the compression zoomed up to 170 psi! Clearly the impressive compression readings were steering the oil pumping symptom diagnosis in another direction.
In most cases, such as this one, the probable cause is that the engine baffle plate was installed backwards, which causes trapped oil to pool in the cover where it is blown out by crankcase pressure. The drain holes in the plate must be facing forward/downwards for proper oil evacuation and drain-back to the crankcase. On a 250-305 Dream, the engine can be partially lowered at the front with sufficient clearance to allow removal of the top cover for checking of the baffle plate/gasket positioning. This is obviously distressing news for the new Dream owner, who purchased the bike with some assurances that the restoration/repair work had been done correctly. As is often the case, the devil is in the details and more repair and inspection work is in store for this devilish domestic Dream.
On a sunny winter’s day in San Diego, work commenced upon the domestic Dream to determine the cause of the oil pumping problem. To allow the engine to tip down for cylinder head cover access, it is necessary to remove both exhaust pipes, the carburetor, both footpegs; then removal of the kickstarter cover to access the countershaft sprocket retainer bolts and the stator assembly to complete the task. Placing a small floor jack beneath the starter motor helps to steady the engine as the upper motor mount bolts are removed from the top cover and rear crankcase. Leaving the rear lower bolts loosely attached, allows for the engine to pivot forward as the jack is slowly lowered downwards.
The top eight cap nuts were loosened and removed along with the sealing washers. The top cover was gently pried upwards and lifted away from the cylinder head. This revealed the breather plate and gasket drain holes which were found to be properly oriented in the forward position. What was definitely contributing to the oil drainage problem was the use of a non-OEM gasket for the top of the breather plate. This gasket absorbed oil and moisture from the engine and began to swell up filling the drainage recesses of the top cover’s breather labyrinth system. The whole gooey mess atop the breather plate was removed as a unit and discarded; replaced with a good used plate and two new gaskets. The cylinder head cover was reattached with the eight nuts and washers and then retorqued to specifications.
The engine was jacked back up in place, bolts reinserted into their respective holes and the rest of the hardware gradually reattached and installed as it was in the beginning. The engine started up quickly and settled down to a smooth idle, as the oil warmed up and the bike prepared for a repeat test of five miles, with the last portion the long uphill run. Keeping track of the gears is a major distraction due to the rotary gearbox shifting pattern, but this time the neutral light was working because the switch was replaced when the kickstarter cover was removed for service.
The bike mostly coasted downhill for the first section of the test drive, then turned around for the run back up the long one-mile climb. A slightly disconcerting situation arose when the bike was placed in 4th gear and the clutch began to slip a little bit. Back-shifting to 3rd gear allowed the engine to get more up on the power band and the clutch held on for the whole ride back up the hill. Rolling back to the driveway, the newly-installed breather tube end showed no signs of oil pumping this time, so the two-plus hours of labor were not performed in vain.
All that is left (with time and funds running out) is the installation of the front brake shoes, which will take about a half-hour to perform. This nightmarish Domestic Dream is about to return home to Sarah once again with numerous upgrades and hopes for a fresh title and registration to come soon… or not! With newly-installed front brake shoes the Dream was ready to head home, but as soon as the petcock was turned to the OFF position, it began to leak out of the lever arm. So, we are not done, just yet.