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I've been following this thread closely because it reads like a good mystery novel. And the questions and suggestions have all been intriguing. I'm 70 years old and have hands on experience with internal combustion engines since I was about 10. My first bike(?) was a 1964 Honda supercub C90. I have to say that in all the years of observing used oil I have never seen that grey color you photographed. For sake of simplicity I burn the Honda GN4 10/40w. And I only burn non ethanol gasoline. My '86 250 has a little over 12,000 miles and I change the oil every 1,000 miles. The oil is dark at that point but not, say, coal black. Others on this forum have their own preferences for oil which I would not dispute. However, I'm very curious about the effect (of whatever is contaminating the oil) on the oil's viscosity since that will severely impact the life of the engine, transmission, and clutch. From what I've read so far, I would agree with Guba's point about the grey color resembling aluminum. But in the second and third pics there appears to be a mixture of what I consider to be the normal dark color of used oil, and the grey-ish color. As others have mentioned, it doesn't resemble typical moisture contamination. It will be interesting to see what your son says about clutch performance. Good luck Sherlock! :)
 

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7milesout, what weight do you suggest for the Rotella? Looks like they only have 15w-40 and 10w-30, I currently use 10w-40 and live in the northeast, so cooler climate.
I run 15W-40. The climate range of 15W-40 is -10°F and above. I live in the southeast so no problem. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be riding at anywhere near -10°F anyway.


7milesout
 

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Hi Lexiyntax, I have changed the oil I think 3 times in the past 6 months or so but will do it again and see if it starts improving. I have never adjusted the valves, could this moisture or whatever to get into the oil?
My general thought process is 'badly adjusted valves tends to cause other problems.' As one example it could be causing fuel burning or exhaust problems introducing unusual amounts of soot into the system.

As another excuse to check the valves; it would be nice to see what that engine looks like inside with the valve cover off. Might tell an interesting story.
 

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Lexiyntax - The vast majority of the time, when valves clearances become out of spec from useage, it is too much gap. The problems that arise from that are that the follower doesn't follow the cam profile and the opening ramp up becomes less of a ramp up, and more of a slam up. Which furthers wear and increases noise. And, since the valves won't push open as far, a bit less power too.

But there shouldn't be any way to affect the oil with an out of spec valve clearance.
 

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There is a small drain hole on the bottom of the alternator housing only about 1/8" square, housing may be full of water, I had water in mine because the drain was plugged. It will take a short piece of wire with a 90 bend.
 

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Looks like aluminum in the oil to me. Check the balancer chain tension. If it has too little tension the chain will rub crankcase housing and wear off aluminum to contaminate the oil. If you hold the oil in the light, you will see the glitter of metal flakes. After doing a little research it looks like you don't have a balancer chain in that model, but I'm not sure.
 

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Aluminum would be easy to check just let the oil sit and it will settle to the bottom. Also you could use a multimeter in the oil and check for continuity.
 

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if oil is grey it's getting water in it, i'm not sure how that works on a rebel but it's like white smoke out the exhaust. it's always water in the oil. it can also completely destroy your motor/anything else that oil touches. it's likely a seal somewhere, i'm not talented enough to tell you how to determine which one other than checking every one which means replace every seal after you check it. basically you have a defcon 6 issue with your lube off the top of my head i really can't think how water would get into that motor depending if you store it outside in a monsoon or not.
 

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if oil is grey it's getting water in it, i'm not sure how that works on a rebel but it's like white smoke out the exhaust. it's always water in the oil. it can also completely destroy your motor/anything else that oil touches. it's likely a seal somewhere, i'm not talented enough to tell you how to determine which one other than checking every one which means replace every seal after you check it. basically you have a defcon 6 issue with your lube off the top of my head i really can't think how water would get into that motor depending if you store it outside in a monsoon or not.
Gray oil is not caused by water, water makes oil a light brown or tan color or milky as previously noted, you can't see into or through it. Gray is caused by aluminum filings.
 

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in the oil? i'm a huge fan of sea foam but i've never heard of putting it directly in they oil?
To each his own, but the label on the seafoam product says it can be done that way. I generally use an ounce before an oil change and ride gently for about 25 miles and then drain and refill. I find it dissolves a good amount of very dark crud.
 

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To each his own, but the label on the seafoam product says it can be done that way. I generally use an ounce before an oil change and ride gently for about 25 miles and then drain and refill. I find it dissolves a good amount of very dark crud.
not doubting you at all i've just never heard of that. i'll have to do that next oil change and see if i notice the geat white smoke like when you pour in tank
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Quick update.. I put seafoam in and had my son put some miles on it and then changed the oil using the Rotella. After the change, he took it for a quick ride and about a week later (finally got the time) I checked the oil and same grayish look. Also noted the level when I did the change and a week later the level did not change (at least a notable change). I have recently found on other sites people having close to the same issue and it was due to having aluminum clutch plates. I changed the clutch last year but not sure if the plates were aluminum. Upon very close inspection of the oil, I think it does resemble super fine particles of some sort of metal. I am going to remove the clutch cover and see if I can see anything. The last time I replaced the clutch I only did the friction plates, not the steel plates, should I have done both? The plates I used was these https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KS735Y8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

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Never thought of aluminum plates wearing and causing gray oil, but that certainly could be it. If you open the right side case cover, put a magnet on the plates and see if they are ferrous or not.
 

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I can add a little more information to this.
I just changed oil yesterday and the magnetic plug (first time inspecting since installation) had some sludge on it. Magnetic sludge of course, wiping it off with a rag I noticed that sludge had very fine grey particulates in it (think 1000 grit dust kinda of fine), although the oil that was drained looked the normal dark brown. Now I have no clue what that was, but if it's magnetic, it's not aluminium, right?
 

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Sounds like normal wear of metal parts, leaving a mixture of fine magnetic particles mixed with oil on the magnetic plug. Those particles are small enough that they shouldn't cause any problems.
 
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