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Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

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Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: gautemap » Thu May 10, 2018 4:15 pm

Hi! Virago 535 23k miles.

When i engage the clutch the engine starts a high pitch whistle/whining noise. The pitch follows the rpms and is most prominent between 3-4k rpm, but can allways be heard at any rpm in any geat. It dissapears when de-accelerating.

It is not lack of oil to cylinder heads
Both cam chain tensioners are checked
Valve clearance checked

I figure it is coming from the transmission. I have read that these bikes have square cut gears that can give this sound. Is it possible though that something should be replaced, either gears or bearings?

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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: Eaglearm » Mon May 14, 2018 9:59 am

Hi gautemap. Does this whistling happen at stand still while the clutch is engaged & in gear?
You seem to have traced it to the transmission. ( gearbox ).
Has this just suddenly presented?
Is this bike new to you?

Please just take my opinion as just that... My ( remote assessment from what youve told us ) as an OPINION. I dont want to freak you out. It could be just a simple air leak. Carby & or manifold sucking air, air filter loose, a rubber tube split, casing bolt not secured properly, head gasket maybe or even a spark plug not inserted or secured fully?

This might take a bit to isolate the cause.

Rev it up to about 3k, in gear, clutch in & see if the whistling occurs. It may show up, which could be the clutch plates & not the transmission.
Engage second & third & test each. Release the clutch a little till you can feel it wanting to pull away ( with the front brake on just to safe.) Does the whistling occur under these conditions?

Does it only occur while moving along @ 3 to 4K or all through the gear range?

Straight cut gears can make a whining noise when under load and the noise can disappear when not under load ( as in decelerating ), but your saying this is more a whistling.
Gear whining most typically is because there is a misalignment or wear between the 2 connecting gear teeth.
My thoughts are, that if it is all through the gear range, the most likely culprit would be the main shaft or bearing out of alignment, perhaps failing. Hopefully Im wrong.

Another thought would be maybe a bearing that align the shafts of the gears has been damaged by no lubrication & developed a flat spot on one or more of the balls or needle rollers.

Do you do your own oil changes? Drain the oil & check to see if there is any silvering in the oil. If the oil is ok you can put it back in. After all oil changes use about 1.5 litres of oil & at $18.00 a litre $36.00 is better in your pocket...

If there is a silver colour in it, that would make me think something inside is failing & you need to change the filter too.

You might try a thicker oil to quieten it down?

These ideas are what a mechanic might ask you,
I hope these ideas help you along & you locate where it is coming from.

If its not a screaming loud noise I think you'd be ok to ride it for quite a while yet.
Good luck gautemap & let us know how you get on.
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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: gautemap » Mon May 14, 2018 1:16 pm

Appreciate the (long) input Eagle!

To make it easier i uploaded a video where you can hear the sound. (first some idle and revving, then clutching out in first gear.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwF5v0dhneo (or search for "gautemap" on youtube)

The sound can be heard all through the rpm range in any gear, but it is the loudest between 2-4k.
Will make an oil change asap. Can't see anything wrong with the oil besides being black.
Oil level is mid-window 5 mins after running.

More info that can be related:

Front cylinder gets hotter than the rear. Plugs imply that the front could be running somewhat lean.
Rear cylinder seems to be running rich, or does not burn all it's fuel. It backfires and the exhaust smell like gasoline.
The front cylinder has more exhaust pressure than the rear (can clearly feel it with my hands).

The engine was recently rebuilt, and all of the front cylinder head was replaced with an identical (used) part.
The front cylinder head gasket was not replaced, but re-used. (This i found out right now, as i have the new one sitting in my used-parts bin.....)

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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: gautemap » Tue May 15, 2018 4:19 pm

Changed the oil and filter (same oil type as before though) and the sound is just as loud.
Bike still runs just fine.

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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: Flyingdog » Tue May 15, 2018 5:33 pm

gautemap wrote:The engine was recently rebuilt


Those clutch plates are directional in the pack. Specially the steel plates. The tangs have a flat side (sharp edge) and a beveled side. Doesn't matter if they're all facing in or out. Just that they 'all' face the same direction. Some say the fiber discs have a certain direction too. I haven't noticed this other than some ribbing and some castle cuts on their tangs. Now this is on EBC plates, so don't know bout the fibers on other brands. I keep the cuts lined up anyhow. Really not certain if this could lead to the whine. Are your steel plates varnish free? I assume you got the correct free play on the clutch push rod, pressure plate bolts/springs torqued correctly, pack in the right order. Just a few stabs here.
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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: gautemap » Wed May 16, 2018 6:10 am

You believe it to be the clutch then?

I am sure the clutch marks/cuts line up, but wether they are facing correctly in or out i really don't know. I will dissasemble the side cover and check this asap.

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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: Flyingdog » Wed May 16, 2018 8:29 am

gautemap wrote:You believe it to be the clutch then?


Sorry, but no, I'm not totally convinced its just clutch pack related. Just my initial thoughts and somethings "I'd" check, before moving on to bearings and such. Sometimes, something like a whine comes down to a thrust washer worn or in the wrong place or something just not torqued right or in the wrong position.


Note from next day: Major Brain Fart..here. Just got back from running some errands. You know what? I've have that same sound. And now that I think about it, I "know" it's been like that since the 80's. Just never paid it any-no-mind to it before. Other bikes do it too. Sooo, personally...it's nothing. Probly wouldn't hurt for you to go over everything, just for your peace of mind, though. If it was something close to cam & main bearings/clutch..whatever...it would have let loose or blown by now. Kinda wonder if it's oil & cam chains and related gears, clutch gears loading up as the clutch engages. Oh well..not going to worry bout it.
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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: Eaglearm » Mon May 21, 2018 8:40 am

Thanks gautemap, I appreciate it was a long reply, but dealing with a remote diagnostics is not so easy.

An excellent video gautemap, most excellent & helpful.

That sound (IMHO), is clutch related & as Flyingdog suggests is nothing to worry about.

From 0.06 to 0.12 it is present then at 0.12 when you drop it into gear it becomes more clear & I notice the bike does jerk forward, just a little ( as they all do ). So my thinking is, the clutch is just a whisker too tight.

Your bike doesnt have any characteristics of internal teeth or bearing sounds related. Good clean Black oil is GR8, so no internal damage there.
The cylinders sound as they should, no puffs of smoke from the heads or oil fume residue. The front exhaust is typical blue on the bend from the heat. Just as you mentioned the carbs might need some fine tuning, but that has nothing to do with your question. (Actually I find on mine, one cylinder seems to have a higher output than the rear cylinder, but no backfiring.)

Simply the clutch engaging, ( & MAYBE, just maybe dragging a little. ) Personally I would live with it. Sounds like a good strong machine.
(If the sound annoys you bro... turn the music up louder Hahaha )

On a rebuild of any kind you have to get a new relationship with your ride. You have a good ear & I think in time if things dont sound right you will know it.

Sometimes clutch plates can experience overheating ( maybe from a previous owner? ) & end up a bit GLAZED, they will have a blue colouration. If you want to dig that far into it, for peace of mind, give them a rub with 120 grit sandpaper to give them a better surface to connect to.

I think its a good strong bike, well looked after & will do everything you ask of it.

P.S. I Love the highway bar with that nice relaxing foot rest position.

Eaglearm.
What would you like here? Something smart or funny? How about a BIO of me.
I wanted to be a graphic artist and after 3 yrs training the lecturers told me to try singing. :thanks:
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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: Cusstout 1100 » Mon May 21, 2018 9:55 am

I would concur with the above "normal sounds". I went for a ride yesterday and noticed the whining/whistling sound....and knowing that someone hadn't slipped a turbo on when I wasn't looking, thought "where's that coming from?. Then realized I had my hearing aids in - removed them at the next stop and all sounds returned to normal! :-) I remember the first day I had my hearing aids on and started the bike; I quickly hit the kill switch because of all the racket I heard - again, realized it was my new ears that was the culprit. Ride on.
My Ride, '97 XV1100, +14, 10" over forks, progressive rear, Jardine forward controls, cobra slip-ons, K&N Filter, Dyno Jet Stage 1, Kuryakin grips, heat demon heaters, custom fabricated seat, chrome side covers, bullet signals, risers, custom modified rear fender with modified FZ1 tail light, sectioned and reversed front fender, custom paint...

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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: gautemap » Tue May 22, 2018 4:12 pm

Thanks for the input guys!

After googling and watching videos for days i have concluded you are right, it isn't something to worry about. The sound is produced because the Virago have what is called a "gear driven primary", as opposed to the "chain driven primary" that most bikes have. As far as i understood the sound can also reverberate through the clutch basket, making it worse. The fact that i could hear the whining sound on most any virago movie on youtube reassured me.

I don't understand the engine parts etc, but i now know the sound is normal, and i can only try to dampen it. I read that a windscreen (which i recently added) can make the driver hear the whine better, might try taking it off.

As a side note: from various forums i read that the oil additive Motorkote can help a lot to dampen gear noise, so i ordered a bottle. If you are about to comment how oil additives are a waste of money, please hold on until i post my results in a week or three.

Again, thank you all for assisting through the process! much love - gautemap.

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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: Flyingdog » Wed May 23, 2018 3:52 am

gautemap wrote:I don't understand the engine parts etc


Then...I'd definitely would bone-up on wet clutches and friction reducers. Once that crap impregnates the friction material, you'll probly be replacing the pack...if not more. Your talk'n less than 1mm of material, both sides of carrier plate. It doesn't just sand or scrape off. Those plates will absorb 'anything' they're dipped in .

Sold alotta clutch packs when "Slick 50" was the big craze. :bg:
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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: gautemap » Wed May 23, 2018 4:48 am

Flyingdog, i was referring to the gear vs chain drive primary, and how these look/compare.

As for the wet clutch; Motorkote has stated that the formula i ordered will not affect it, hopefully that is correct.

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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: Flyingdog » Wed May 23, 2018 4:54 am

I understand..but all those gears/chains/clutch etc..are "all" bathed in the same oil.
I also saw that claim bout it wouldn't hurt wet clutches. But they also claim a limit on the amount added to the oil "before" it may start slipp'n. IMO..I would think it either "is" or "isn't" made for wet clutches. Not if you only add "this (?) much". Their contradictory statements is enough for me to doubt. Kinda like when oil says "Energy Saving" formula, people feel it's ok to use. Which it isn't. They just don't tell ya why. I just point out it says it right off the bat: 'reduces friction and heat'. Our clutches needs friction and heat to work.

WHAT IS MOTORKOTE?
MOTORKOTE Hyper Lubricant is a synthetic lubricant that molecularly coats all metal surfaces, not just engines to help reduce friction and heat in many different applications. MotorKote uses engine oil as a carrier host to get to metal parts and bond to metal.

This is just all my take and should not influence you on yer quest. Good luck with yer experiment.
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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: gautemap » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:24 pm

Update:

Tried Motorkote, following instructions i used about 0.8oz. After 100 miles i must say all the engine sounds (camchain, valves, whining) sounded softer, but still very much there.

Did not affect wet clutch whatsoever, but then again might have started slipping if i used more.

I am waiting for some gaskets before i open the engine again, i will try to tighten the flywheel and clutch basket to specifications, didn't have a torque wrench last time.

Will update further if i find a remedy that makes a noticable difference on gear whine.

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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: Flyingdog » Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:14 pm

gautemap wrote:Update:

Tried Motorkote, following instructions i used about 0.8oz. After 100 miles i must say all the engine sounds (camchain, valves, whining) sounded softer, but still very much there.

Did not affect wet clutch whatsoever, but then again might have started slipping if i used more.


Glad to hear it "semi" worked.
Got an idea: Get a louder exhaust. :bg:
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Re: Engine whine/whistle sound when clutch engaged

PostAuthor: gautemap » Sat Jun 30, 2018 3:43 pm

Update and more questions! (video link further down btw)

MOTORKOTE:
Upped to 2,5 OZ and still no problems whatsoever. Buuut then again it hasn't done very much more to improve anything either, except dampening the overall engine sound somewhat. (have not checked if there is any mpg difference)

ENGINE WHINE:
I have traced the engine whine to the primary drive gear connecting to the clutch drive gear, located on the back of the clutch housing. Of course these might not be the only ones, but i think they are the primary reason.

My clutch housing has some noticable play to it, even after tightened to specification. Is this normal or should it be rock solid? They play is 0,5 - 1mm, i can hear an audible "click" when i pull/push it straight in and out. They play is reduced when the clutch pack is assembled, but still there. Inner clutch hub has no play.

The outer surface of the primary gear (top side) is very rough compared to that of the other gears. However the outer surface shouldn't really connect with anything, so i suspect this is from production.

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/jXn1Ln_eSgI (or search gautemap on youtube)

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