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Discussion Starter #1
I'm in the process of stripping down my newly acquired 2003 600RR and after pulling the spark plugs and coils, I found that all of the 4 coils and plugs were coated in engine oil. Is this normal? The oil stopped at the last thread on each of the plugs and the plugs themselves don't look to be in bad shape where they spark so I don't think any has really gotten into the cylinders themselves here, but this is new to me. I've never seen any oil on my coils and plugs on my Ninja 250R before when conducting engine head work so this has me a little concerned.

My guess is that the head gasket is damaged, but on all 4 plugs? That seems unlikely.
 

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It's more than likely the valve cover gasket.

Someone likely checked the valves or adjusted them and mucked up the install of the cover.
 

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That's a somewhat comforting thought, I'll order a new gasket and throw it in there to see what happens. The bike has 22,000 miles ish on it, and it was pretty neglected so I'm honestly not thinking the previous owners ever had the valves checked. I would guess that the head has been sealed all the same since it was manufactured. They didn't even take it in to get the rear brake recall fix!

I checked out other threads but none really mentioned the oil on the coils, just the oil on the plugs. I'll conduct a compression test once I get it put back together some just to make sure the internals are okay, it seems that people commonly confuse carbon on the plug threads as oil which I'm hoping is all I did, so I'll double check those when I get home today. I really don't want to have to do valve seat or piston ring work. I'll post some pictures of everything for reference after work.
 

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Don't buy anything before you have a look.


Just pull the cover and check it out. Sounds like you're far enough in there already.


Oil on your coils isn't going to indicate ring problems. Don't get ahead of yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It was a cheap deal, with the price even if I have to do a full on engine swap it still comes out to about equal with the same bike in good condition, so I went with the gamble. So far it's been alright, it made the 150 mile trip back home!

I was trying to get the cover off last night but discovered that it really can't be taken off without removing the throttle body. It was late at night and I didn't want to tackle removing but I'll get that off tonight and take a peek at the gasket. Pictures to follow!

Thanks for the help by the way, wibbly, I wasn't expecting anyone to really get back to me even today on this one with their opinions.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The engine head gasket looks just fine to me, I see no abnormalities. I'm admittedly a self taught amateur so you all might spot something that my untrained eyes don't. I see nothing that would indicate that oil would be making its way onto all of the coils.







The spark plugs do look bad to me as well, the black substance on the threads really does seem like oil to me, it wipes off and is pretty sticky. Is this what a carbon/fuel mixture would look like too though? I'm assuming it would be suggested to get a new set of plugs, right? For some background info, the few times I've ridden this CBR, it's started fine, idled fine, ran fine under load, and had no smoke so this to me is a little confusing after seeing these plugs. Why aren't I seeing any immediate symptoms?






So thoughts? Is it possible that the oil substance something that happened a while ago before I acquired the bike since it's been running fine with me? I'm planning on running compression tests when I get it buttoned back up to see if there are maybe any problems there. The valve clearances mostly checked out, just had to swap places on 2 shims but that should do it. Just wanna see what you guys think before I start reassembling to get it into a compression testable configuration.
 

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yeah that gasket looks mint.



are the crush washers on those plugs flattened? they look like maybe they aren't. were they easy to remove? the oil on that coil definitely came from the bottom, not the top.



if it were me i'd clean everything up and put it back together, then just keep an eye on it.


there should be weep holes in the front of the head that drain the plug cavities. is there signs of weeping from there?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'll have to double check just HOW crushed the washers on the plugs are, but they didn't seem abnormally loose. They all broke loose with a satisfying jolt.

I'll drop a camera down each of the plug cavities to check out those weep holes you mentioned when I get home. I don't see them on any of the engine diagrams in the service manual, are they just right above where the threading for the plugs are?

I'll start putting things back together and prep for a compression test. From the other threads I read the general idea seemed to be that if the compression is good, then oil is entering from the valves is that correct? I can drop a camera in to check out the tops of each of the valves.
 

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The weep holes are on the cylinder head below the exhaust headers. They are there to drain anything out of the spark plug holes.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If they leak out to the exterior of the engine casing then there was nothing there before. There was no oil dripping from the front of the engine down the side of the case. I'll still take some pictures from the inside of the plug wells though to see if maybe there are obstructions. If they are straight holes, I imagine I could probably stick something straight through them to clean them out, right? I'll wiggle a needle or something in them if I can find something thin enough to fit.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
A little delayed, I ran into problems with the valves reassembling after the valve inspection, but here are the spark plug wells:









It's hard to tell, in some of the pictures I think I can see the weep holes you mentioned of, but unfortunately the resolution on this camera isn't all that great. The oil in the first picture wasn't all my doing, that's from the one where the coil was pretty covered. The other 3 have a little oil in them from the valve inspection.

Compression test results to follow, it'll probably be a couple of days before I get it assembled enough, I didn't realize the engine needed to be warm for the compression test and it's still torn to bits in my garage at the moment.
 
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