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Discussion Starter #1
There was some discussion a few weeks ago where another forum member had a seal leak that caused oil to collect in the bottom of his clutch housing, ultimately ruining the clutch. The dealer drilled a hole in his clutch housing.

There was some discussion about whether this was really necessary, but I decided to drill mine. I don't really think it will hurt anything. It was also discussed if it should be drilled big enough to allow an inspection with a bore scope or fiber optic scope. Since I don't have an inspection scope, I decided to drill a 3/32" hole... just big enough that I would know if there was a problem.

It just takes a few minutes... remove the skid plate... drill the hole...re-install the skid plate. I used a right angle air power drill because there isn't much ground clearance. If you use a traditional drill, you might have to raise the bike a few inches to gain enough clearance to get the drill motor in there.

The good news... no oil ran out of my houisng after I made the hole!

I know you guy's like pics.. so here's you a pic... :)

 

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I don't think that will do much good, I think you have to get the hole into the slave cylinder but I'll let other's weigh in.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
atrovarious said:
I don't think that will do much good, I think you have to get the hole into the slave cylinder but I'll let other's weigh in.
I have a hole in my slave cylinder housing also. This is a different issue entirely. I am not sure how necessary it is, or if it is even a real issue. I just didn't think it would hurt anything, so I drilled it for my peace of mind. I can see if the seal between the clutch housing and the gear box is tight, you could have an oil leak in either seal that would collect in the bottom, so I decided to drill it.
 

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I can confirm. That is where the dealer drilled my weep hole after replacing the rear main seal. He did not drill the slave cylinder even though I asked. I do not know how effective it will be, but only time will tell.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
mtrevelino said:
I can confirm. That is where the dealer drilled my weep hole after replacing the rear main seal. He did not drill the slave cylinder even though I asked. I do not know how effective it will be, but only time will tell.
Is it possible that the dealer just misunderstood what you wanted and drilled the hole in the clutch housing instead of the slave cylinder housing? If your experience with oil in the bottom of the clutch housing occurs only occasionally, I can see a value in having a hole down there just to make sure the oil runs out and that you are aware of the oil leak. Your better off with the hole in the clutch housing than you are without it. At the very least, you might become aware of oil leaks that are contaminating the clutch area sooner.
 

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Dean_BMW said:
Is it possible that the dealer just misunderstood what you wanted and drilled the hole in the clutch housing instead of the slave cylinder housing?
I specifically asked for the weep hole for the slave cylinder. The service manager gave me some "bull shit" line refusing to drill the slave cylinder housing and said that in "his" experience he will drill the hole for the bell housing. At the time, since this was a new service manager, I do not think that he was aware of all the slave cylinders failing. I could say though that in my case, the slave cylinder was not leaking, but the rear main seal was. So the weep hole in the slave cylinder housing would not have shown anything.
 

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May I Question Something????

It is my hypothesis (after repairing two contaminated clutches) that this hole will make little difference in actually PROTECTING the clutch. Now..I certainly could be wrong but let me put forth this argument:

Any leak into this area, whether coming from the Slave Cylinder, Input Shaft Seal or Main seal will enter the clutch area from the CENTER of the clutch plate and then be SPUN/THROWN outward by the centrifugal force of the rotating clutch where it contaminates the plate and would then and only then collect in the bottom of the clutch housing. My thinking is that by the time it comes out of the drain hole you have drilled, your clutch will already be ruined. You have saved nothing.

The Slave Cylinder Drain Hole works only because it drains the fluid BEFORE it ever gets into this area. If the fluid ever makes it this far....as Emeril says, "BAM!" The clutch is fried!

Chime in anyone????
 

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cccpastorjack said:
It is my hypothesis (after repairing two contaminated clutches) that this hole will make little difference in actually PROTECTING the clutch....
My thinking is that by the time it comes out of the drain hole you have drilled, your clutch will already be ruined. You have saved nothing.
Chime in anyone????
Sorry, but I have to disagree with your thinking. When my rear main seal went out at 64k, it was starting to leak oil drops from the front part of the bell housing. It was probably leaking for at least three weeks. I thought that it was the oil (filter access plate) gasket leaking. If the hole was there I may have noticed it sooner (or not). Anyway, the clutch was in good shape, but since it was torn down, they went ahead and changed the clutch and slave cylinder.
 

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cccpastorjack said:
It is my hypothesis (after repairing two contaminated clutches) that this hole will make little difference in actually PROTECTING the clutch. Now..I certainly could be wrong but let me put forth this argument:

Any leak into this area, whether coming from the Slave Cylinder, Input Shaft Seal or Main seal will enter the clutch area from the CENTER of the clutch plate and then be SPUN/THROWN outward by the centrifugal force of the rotating clutch where it contaminates the plate and would then and only then collect in the bottom of the clutch housing. My thinking is that by the time it comes out of the drain hole you have drilled, your clutch will already be ruined. You have saved nothing.

The Slave Cylinder Drain Hole works only because it drains the fluid BEFORE it ever gets into this area. If the fluid ever makes it this far....as Emeril says, "BAM!" The clutch is fried!

Chime in anyone????
Hey Jack,

Not sure if you saw the results of my visit to the dealer, but I too had a faint seep shadow at the front of the bellhousing, very faint. In fact the rear main seal was leaking and no clutch contamination. It appears that in the case of the rear main seal the oil trickles down the back of the engine case at the start and then either fills the bottom of the bellhousing or with a heavier leak it probably travels along the engine output shaft into the center of the clutch as you mentioned.

Not sure if a drain hole is any quicker notification than just looking at the seam periodically, but it can't hurt.

BTW, I had the slave drilled also and it was dry.
 

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Interesting.... I was wondering if a leak from the main seal could do that.

After looking at the attached photos, I realize that the O-ring would stop the oil from getting through the engine main shaft to the center of the Plate and I suppose it would just leak downward and build up until it came in contact with the clutch plate and contaminated it. From the clearances, (bottom of the clutch plate to the "bell-housing") it would have to build up quite a bit. SO I stand corrected.

If you drill that hole...be REAL careful with a pressure washer or even washing the bike. Not sure what water would do in there...but probably not good!

For your edification...the attached photos show an LT clutch housing with an assembled AND disassembled clutch...then one photo of engine main shaft with all clutch parts removed. Interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
cccpastorjack said:
If you drill that hole...be REAL careful with a pressure washer or even washing the bike. Not sure what water would do in there...but probably not good!
Remember that the skid plate should stop water from splashing in. I am not sure how big of a deal water would be, but I would think a little wouldn't hurt much as it would just drain back out.

If you plan on using some low water crossings, you might want to tap the hole and put a small plug in it or just drill in the right size for a rubber plug.

I drilled mine because I am driving from OK to FL and back (leaving tomorrow) and I wanted to know if there was any oil in the bottom.
 

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My Experience

cccpastorjack said:
Interesting.... I was wondering if a leak from the main seal could do that.

After looking at the attached photos, I realize that the O-ring would stop the oil from getting through the engine main shaft to the center of the Plate and I suppose it would just leak downward and build up until it came in contact with the clutch plate and contaminated it. From the clearances, (bottom of the clutch plate to the "bell-housing") it would have to build up quite a bit. SO I stand corrected.

If you drill that hole...be REAL careful with a pressure washer or even washing the bike. Not sure what water would do in there...but probably not good!

For your edification...the attached photos show an LT clutch housing with an assembled AND disassembled clutch...then one photo of engine main shaft with all clutch parts removed. Interesting.
Two weeks ago I had my complete clutch assembly, rear main seal & O ring plus all trannie seals replaced. When they opened it up, out came about 1/2 quart of oil. My rear seal had been leaking I am guessing for about 1500+ miles. It was one of the worse leaks they have seen at Ironhorse in Tucson. Per their description, BIG MESS. They drilled a weep hole in the center of the clutch housing, Looks like the same size for the clutch slave cylinder. After a nice discount for parts and labor total was $1674.24. So I would recommend the hole because even if you do not save the clutch itself, you might save the rest of the clutch assembly.
 

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It would be interesting to hear what Dave Shealey has to say about this, whether it would be a good idea or not, if so then maybe we all should drill the hole as a preventative measure along with the weep hole in the slave..
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
robasay said:
Two weeks ago I had my complete clutch assembly, rear main seal & O ring plus all trannie seals replaced. When they opened it up, out came about 1/2 quart of oil. My rear seal had been leaking I am guessing for about 1500+ miles. It was one of the worse leaks they have seen at Ironhorse in Tucson. Per their description, BIG MESS. They drilled a weep hole in the center of the clutch housing, Looks like the same size for the clutch slave cylinder. After a nice discount for parts and labor total was $1674.24. So I would recommend the hole because even if you do not save the clutch itself, you might save the rest of the clutch assembly.
Your the third person that has told a similar story in the last few weeks. While the actual failure rate may be very low, I am glad I drilled the hole. At least I have the peace of mind of knowing there isn't a half a quart of oil laying in the bottom of the clutch housing waiting to attack my clutch. There hasn't been too many reports of loosing a clutch because oil was building up in the bottom of the clutch housing, but if we do start hearing of others, I am sure a lot of people will drill them a hole.

Another thing. Ironhorse is one of the most respected dealers in the country. If they drilled a hole in the bottom of your clutch housing, I would say it's not a bad idea. I have a feeling before long, drilling the slave cylinder housing and the clutch housing at the same time will become the rule of the day.

Edit Reason: My edit was only to fix a typo. No content change.
 

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One would think BMW would actually look into this and create an action item, rather than let all of us muddle around with half-fixes and educated guesswork. What a let down.
I hope my LT never fails again and ruins another vacation, or causes some unforeseen problem like an accident from jumping out into an intersection or whatnot. What a let down the LT, and BMW in general has been for me. Prior to this I have always owned American cars and Japanese bikes. I've never seen such abhorrent treatment of customers as I have with the LT, and in light of it being the "flagship", a stark warning about future purchases. :(
 

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Dean_BMW said:
There was some discussion a few weeks ago where another forum member had a seal leak that caused oil to collect in the bottom of his clutch housing, ultimately ruining the clutch. The dealer drilled a hole in his clutch housing.

There was some discussion about whether this was really necessary, but I decided to drill mine. I don't really think it will hurt anything. It was also discussed if it should be drilled big enough to allow an inspection with a bore scope or fiber optic scope. Since I don't have an inspection scope, I decided to drill a 3/32" hole... just big enough that I would know if there was a problem.

It just takes a few minutes... remove the skid plate... drill the hole...re-install the skid plate. I used a right angle air power drill because there isn't much ground clearance. If you use a traditional drill, you might have to raise the bike a few inches to gain enough clearance to get the drill motor in there.

The good news... no oil ran out of my houisng after I made the hole!

I know you guy's like pics.. so here's you a pic... :)

Good effort dean. Unfortunately the damage will already have been done by the time oil drips.
The intermediate case will weep and tell the story just as quickly
 

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My experience is that you do not always ruin a clutch from a leak. My transmission input shaft bearing failed, followed of course by the seal. Copious amounts of transmission grease came out, but did not foul the clutch. BTW, brake cleaner will clean a clutch plate just fine. I only change something like that if it is worn enough to warrant it. My $.02
 

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Discussion Starter #19
murray said:
Good effort dean. Unfortunately the damage will already have been done by the time oil drips.
The intermediate case will weep and tell the story just as quickly
This modification has no way to help you with a salve cylinder leak... because the path that the clutch fluid takes when the slave cylinder leaks will contaminate the clutch before it ever gets to the bottom of the clutch housing.

We have had reports where the case seal didn't leak all that much, and the leak was not detected. I am sure it is quite possible for there to be many different scenarios. If you have a rear main seal leak, the evidence is that you might be able to save ruining the clutch because the oil simply runs down the back of the motor into the lower clutch housing. If it leaks long enough, oil can actually build up in the lower clutch housing and then it will ruin the clutch. Nothing here keeps you from having to tear the bike down to fix the leak, but it might keep you from being stranded out on the highway. Actually, if the rear seal only leaks down the back of the motor and then runs out of the weep hole that has been added, you could probably go a long time with a rear main seal leak (but I wouldn't push my luck).
 

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cccpastorjack said:
After looking at the attached photos, I realize that the O-ring would stop the oil from getting through the engine main shaft to the center of the Plate and I suppose it would just leak downward and build up until it came in contact with the clutch plate and contaminated it.
Hi Jack!

Herein lies yet another problem. Said O-ring becomes very brittle and completely useless after a time. Fragmentization when removed.



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