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#672574 - 10/27/16 2:50 pm oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help  
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georam Offline
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Greece
Hello there,
i own a BSA M20 1942 and i have an oil leak between gearbox final drive and chain sprocket.I removed the clutch and the sprocket and i didnt find any seal. Only saw a bronze pipe ring(sleeve).
Does anyone knows how can i stop the oil leak? Thank you very much in advance.


George
georamk@gmail.com

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#672579 - 10/27/16 3:31 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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MattL Offline
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Hi George,

There is no seal here, replacing the main bearing with a sealed bearing will slow the leak but also check for excessive wear in the sleeve gear bush.

#672621 - 10/27/16 10:02 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: MattL]  
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It might be just the angle of the photo but that gap between the sleeve gear bus & the main shaft looks huge.
The oil is retained by a spiral cut into the sprocket which directs the oil back into the gearbox.
For this to work a close fit between the sprocket & the hole in the gearbox is essential and I am yet to find one that is not decidley oval.
The copper tube you have pinched closed is the engine breather and unless you have the latter model breather in the timing cover this will cause the crankcase to vent through the primary as there is no oil seal on the crankshaft either.
The excess oil will pool in the primary and leak out usually around the clutch sliding plate.
The box was not oil tight in 1942 when it was new and the passage of 70 years will not have made it any better.

The militayr M20 crowd have a habit of fitting a sealed bearing on the top gear then a tiny AND I MEAN TINY amount of silicone on the very internal end of th spline to slow down oik wicking along the spline.
I use generous amounts of very high temperature bentonite grease on the spline.
This goes a long way to preventing oil escapling and water penetrating plus it keeps the splines in good nick as well.

When the box comes out you can then either machine it to take the B series oil seal and use late model sprockets or machine out the gearbox mouth and fit a bush to return it to the original clearances which from memory was around 0.002" to 0.005" but check the wear on both the bearings first.
THe bush will be thin so it has to be steel or you can get the box built up and machined back to original.


Bike Beesa
Trevor
#672681 - 10/28/16 11:14 am Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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John Alexander Offline
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Use semi fluid gearbox grease, it cured my BSA M20 1942 gearbox oil leak.
Goldie John.

#672689 - 10/28/16 1:16 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: BSA_WM20]  
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georam Offline
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Greece
Thanks a lot for your advice.

Georam

#672696 - 10/28/16 1:59 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: BSA_WM20]  
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georam Offline
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Greece
The gap between the sleeve and mainshaft is not too big, but more than normal .
The copper tube that you see on the picture may have excesive wear !!! and need to be replaced if can find this as sparepart.Can man replace that without dismantling the gearbox ? or put in place one special o-ring in front of copper tube using also high viscosity gearoil ?
Thanks a lot for your help.I have to find the proper solution and all the spareparts .

George Ramantanis
Kavala Greece

#672699 - 10/28/16 2:51 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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leon bee Offline
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Welcome to the BSA forum, George!

#672752 - 10/29/16 6:28 am Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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John Alexander Offline
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I had exactly the same leak on my BSA 1942 WD M20 and cured it with Castrol Spheerol Semi FluidGrease/Gear Oil-L/Lepo. It is a self levelling grease for veteran and vintage cars and motorcycle gearboxes.
Goldie John.

#672805 - 10/29/16 6:47 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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cas.vanderwoude Offline
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Originally this bearing was an open bearing fitted with a large shim and seal in the casing. It leaked when new. The trick is to replace the original open bearing with a sealed version. These are easy to source - from memory a 6207 RS or RS2. BTW It would be best to run straight 50 weight oil in the gearbox - that's what is meant to be in there. Unfortunately, this means removing the gearbox from the bike (not a big deal). check out the instructions in the technical section of the WM20 website - http://www.wdbsa.nl/technical_section.htm

The crankcase vent should run further back so excess oil is directed onto the chain. They are not expensive - https://www.draganfly.co.uk/index.php/accessories-a-misc/product/13342-

Last edited by cas.vanderwoude; 10/29/16 6:59 pm.
#672821 - 10/30/16 5:34 am Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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John Alexander Offline
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I would suggest that dismantling the gearbox to fit a sealed bearing could just be a little overkill when the simple option would be to try castrol Spheerol grease. If it doesn't work, then take the advice of other members. My BSA M20 has been in the family since 1967 and only had 2,000 miles on the clock when it was bought from the war department and the gear box always leaked. I put her back on the road in 2006 and have done 6,000 miles with no leaks. This is just my experience, why not try it.
Goldie John.

#672822 - 10/30/16 6:27 am Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: John Alexander]  
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And I am of course going to counter the previous post about using grease in a WM20 gearbox.
You might be well served to go to the Military Motorcycle forum ( Formaly the WM20 forum) as advised in a previous post and poll the members there about gearbox lubrication.
I have had my Wm20 since around 1996 It was ridden at least once every week , every month on our club runs most of which went around 300-500 km and to a lot of rallyies where could run up over 1000 km on a weekend it so I use mine a lot .
I was told by some who I respected to put "Liquid Grease " in my gearbox and it destroyed it beyond economic repair.
Now it might be a difference in useage patterns as I tend to do a lot of longish rides ( 400+ km) but it was a disaster.
When I pulled the box apart it was blaitently apparent almost no lubrication had gotten to the layshaft bush.
This cause the layshaft to run skewed to the mainshaft and selector shaft which caused the layshaft selector fork to rub against the slidding dogs wearing both the dog & the fork.
Result was layshaft worn beyound use layshaft bush worn beyond use one selector fork and selector fork shaft worn beyond use cracks in the gearbox casting and softening of both forks & gears due I would imaging overhaeting as the grease has less than 1/2 the cooling capacity of oil, There was blueing apparent in a lot of places in the box.
If you live where it is very cool and your bike is for looking at rather than riding then try grease if you you find the few dribbles of oil unacceptable .


Bike Beesa
Trevor
#672847 - 10/30/16 12:09 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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John Alexander Offline
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Hi BSA WM20, if you go back to page 3 in these posts, you will see a question posted by Norton Neil about semi fluid grease and especially a person called Ally and apart from him, they are all in your ball park. All i can say is that the grease you used was not for some reason the right grease for your gearbox. Look up Castrol Spheerol Semi Fluid Grease, it was designed for veteran and vintage car and motorcycle gearboxes of that period, and it works. I appreciate the experience you have had but it was the grease you chose that did not work.
Goldie John.

#672893 - 10/30/16 3:36 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: John Alexander]  
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cas.vanderwoude Offline
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Using semi fluid grease or even 90 weight oil gets a lot of discussion on the WM20 forum. The overwhelming opinion from people who really know this model is "do not do it". Some earlier Brit gearboxes (pre 1939)used grease instead of oil. They were designed to be lubricated by thixotropic grease. BSA and most other manufacturers made a deliberate change to oil-lubricated gearboxes and here are many design differences.

I have been known to run 75 grade oil, but I live in a place where the temperatures are always warn, day or night. Even here, I would not run on anything heavier.

Removing a gearbox is not that hard - the most painful part of the process is unscrewing the seemingly 1000 screws that hold the primary case on. The whole show can then be taken onto the bench and dismantling is actually quite easy. If you intend to ride one of these warhorses on a regular basis, it will not be the last time you will do this. The beauty of these wheezers is their elegant simplicity, and you will (I'm sure) learn to love the fact that you can fix pretty much anything on one of these.

Or, buy a small oil pan - they only leak to any extent when on the side stand...

Last edited by cas.vanderwoude; 10/30/16 3:36 pm.
#672941 - 10/31/16 3:33 am Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: John Alexander]  
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Originally Posted By John Alexander
Hi BSA WM20, if you go back to page 3 in these posts, you will see a question posted by Norton Neil about semi fluid grease and especially a person called Ally and apart from him, they are all in your ball park. All i can say is that the grease you used was not for some reason the right grease for your gearbox. Look up Castrol Spheerol Semi Fluid Grease, it was designed for veteran and vintage car and motorcycle gearboxes of that period, and it works. I appreciate the experience you have had but it was the grease you chose that did not work.
Goldie John.


John.
I buy a lot of light weight greases.
I repair lawnmowers and just about all of them with gears run in grease.
The 600 series Tecumseh- Peerless beloved by go cart rides being the only one that comes to mind that is oil filled.
Boxes that run in grease mostly use rollers with lots & lots of space for the thick grease to penetrate the bearings.
The BSA box has a pair of blind bushes, with a trough that collects splashed up oil that drains out through a small hole into the bush.
The fact that yours has not died yet is just a matter of time and perhaps useage patterns.
Next time you get your hands on an empty shell, put it on your bench and teaspoon some of the grease on top of these lubricating holes.
Six months latter it will still be there, sitting on top of the hole.
AS mentioned previously, if it is too thick to escape out of the very large worn out holes in the box , then it is too thick to get into smaller spaces between bushes & shafts.
It is plain simple physics & common sense .
If Castrol give you a 100,000 mile guarantee then I might start to think it might be appropriate.
The Box on the 1927 B2 I think is the last BSA box that used grease.


Bike Beesa
Trevor
#672946 - 10/31/16 4:37 am Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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John Alexander Offline
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the grease is not grease persay, but is what it says, semi fluid, so it does not sludge up.
Goldie John.

#673000 - 10/31/16 2:58 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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Allan Gill Offline
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I wouldn't recommend any type of grease in a box where bushes are used, the grease will get flung off anything and will never get hot enough to find its way onto the working parts. It's like hypoid gear oils, these are also not recommended where bushes are used in a gearbox.

When I worked as a mechanic, I used to grease my ratchets on a regular basis, I tried several types of grease and in end used WD40 to thin the grease down. I did find a grease which work work and is a grease designed for breakpad installation, but you still couldt fit enough grease in to provide any real benefit and it would eventually work its way away from the working area. Hence the frequent re-grease.


beerchug
#673028 - 10/31/16 10:00 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: Allan Gill]  
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MattL Offline
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There is also a small oilway down the centre of the layshaft that supplies lubrication to the first and second gear bushes on the layshaft. I don't believe semi fluid grease will get to these passages.

#673046 - 11/01/16 4:46 am Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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John Alexander Offline
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Look guys, my BSA M20 gearbox always leaked, as they did from new, due to their design.The Motorcycle Restoration Company, Dettling , Kent, England in doing work to my M20, being unused for over 25 years , used semi fluid grease in my gearbox and 6,000 miles later, the gearbox has not suffered the horror stories that i have just read. Maybe my gearbox decided that it preferred semi fluid grease to oil for some reason, or maybe my gearbox is unique and special and is indestructible.
Goldie John.

#673054 - 11/01/16 7:19 am Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: John Alexander]  
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No it has just not done enough miles or long trips.
Pull it out and have a good look at the laysaft and you might start singing a different tune.
I thought I was on a winner for about 4 years or so.
Box worked beautifully, stayed full of grease and one more oil leak gone.
Then I started having troubles selecting 3rd on the way up followed by not being able to select 3rd at all a year or two latter.
Then I could not seect first and finally pulled the box out.
These boxes are very very very tough and will take a lot of abuse but still continue to run.
Now if I was not doing the 100km weekends it probably would have been fine for a few years more.
As stated previously it is counter intuitive.
If the stuff won't leak out of big holes, how is it going to penetrate smaller holes to properly lube the box? The two are mutually exclusive.
The only person who seems to be running on grease with no problems mixes it 50:50 with oil and fills the box to the lower level of the inspection plate which is 3 times the level of the oil filling plug.

If it is working for you then more strength to your arm, and I wish you well but if you keep advising people to use liquid grese I will continue to advise against it.
Then at lease the other owners can read what both have said and make their own decision


Bike Beesa
Trevor
#673070 - 11/01/16 10:22 am Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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First of all let me confess my ignorance--I have never owned a bike which called for grease in the gearbox.
But over the years I have known many people who have and heard a lot of the pros and a lot of the cons.
FWIW here is my hypothesis:
Grease is solid or semi solid at normal room temperatures.
At higher temperatures it turns into a liquid.
My theory (?) is that in a gearbox the friction between the gear teeth and the torque being transmitted causes local heating of the grease giving good lubrication--almost like a gear oil.
I say local because the outside parts of the grease--particularly those parts in contact with the gearbox casing which is cooled by the air passing over it--remain in a semi solid state. And being in that state they do not cause leakage from the box---those leaks when they do happen must by definition be from near or at the outer gearbox casing.
Just my two centsworth!

#673077 - 11/01/16 11:05 am Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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John Alexander Offline
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Hi again WM20, i must bow to your experience, after a high mileage, who knows? the grease Spheerol is designed for vintage, veteran cars and motorcycle gearboxes, within the era of the BSA gearbox, and is produced by Castrol. I just hope that they are right and you are wrong. Did you use Castrol Spheerol Semi Fluid Grease?
Goldie John.

#673135 - 11/01/16 6:39 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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Allan Gill Offline
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If you think of oil, when it gets up to temperature it has a better pour rate. Thus it will feed bearings far better. When you heat a grease, its pour rate will still not meet that of a cold oil.

there are many things which go into testing; fuels, oils and greases and you wouldn't even begin to guess how any tests and under different conditions they are subject to. I wouldn't trust something that says designed for vintage boxes regardless of who makes it. If BSA stated to use oil, then use oil. They weren't guessing at it and they weren't thick either.

This might be good food of thought though. And will have the same subject of problem when applied in a gearbox.

Let's remember also that aluminium castings make a great bearing surface which is why
Many rods run the little ends and OHC camshafts run direct on the aluminium.

On the A65 of mine I had an idler gear bush decide it wasn't going to feed oil sufficiently anymore, it gripped the pinion and without problem began to turn with the pinion in the housing. It was only when I stripped it down that I realised there was a problem it knackered the bush and it knackered the pinion.
in the time it would take for ANY grease to heat up enough to become liquid enough to coat the surfaces and libricate the bushes are already turning in he box.

Anything can be built to be leak free (if you try) and if you aid breathing on the gearbox this will reduce leaks further.


beerchug
#673140 - 11/01/16 7:35 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: Allan Gill]  
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I think we have pretty-much beaten this topic to death. Just a final thought. The WM20s were built for a military contract and I suspect the War Department specified that the engine and gearbox oil needed to be the same grade. This would make for easier maintenance on the battlefield (only need one type of oil in the workshop). BSA may well have designed the box specifically for 50 weight oil for this reason. This would have meant the lubrication channels, clearances etc would be designed specifically for 50 weight. I'm only guessing but I think its a reasonable assumption.

On the whole there is no mechanical need to stop a bit of leakage - just buy a small drain pan to put under the bike and top-up regularly...

#673141 - 11/01/16 7:39 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: Allan Gill]  
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quinten Online content
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... some Food for thought ;

The M20 gear box was speced for 50wt oil .

Online specs for Castrol Spheerol Semi Fluid Grease 00 ,
list the base oils as 150/200 wt. ... with lithium as the thickener
.

#673144 - 11/01/16 8:06 pm Re: oil leak in bsa m20 1942 need help [Re: georam]  
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So--just to act as devils advocate--how did the old vintage gearboxes work using grease for lubrication?
Did they not have bushes?
Those that I have seen look very similar in terms of bushes etc to gearboxes using oil.

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