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OT - Need Transparent Motorcycle Coolant Tank.

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  • OT - Need Transparent Motorcycle Coolant Tank.

    So a friend has a Suzuki Boulevard which might be leaking a little coolant so we need to check the coolant level in the overflow tank. But for some strange reason Suzuki made the tank out of BLACK plastic. In order to check the coolant level you have to remove 4 bolts, take off the radiator cover and open the radiator cap. Which make your radiator now less than 100% full if it was already fine because the overflow tank is above the radiator. Thinking about getting another overflow tank, cutting a 3" x 1/4" slot (approximately) on the front, the cutting a 4" x 1" piece off the side of an oil container to get the see-through plastic and gluing it on. Not sure what kind of glue might hold the plastic (maybe polypropylene?) though the heat cycles. The overflow tank is right behind the rear of the tree under the front of the gas tank/frame mount and is about 70% covered with trim pieces. Only the front face of the overflow tank, maybe 4" wide and 3" high is visible. I already checked eBay to see if later models corrected this but all I can find is black ones.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks.
    Steve

  • #2
    Yep. Here's an old trick used on motorcycle oil tanks to check level.

    Put a T in the line out of the bottom the tank, make a fitting to fit at the top of the tank (above coolant level), then connect the two fittings with a piece of transparent vinyl tubing.

    Basically an aftermarket sight gauge.

    -js
    There are no stupid questions. But there are lots of stupid answers. This is the internet.

    Location: SF Bay Area

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    • #3
      Click image for larger version

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      Got room to fit something like this? It shouldn't need to be too big. I think this bottle is around 8 oz. Bigger ones are available though I believe.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Jim Stewart View Post
        Yep. Here's an old trick used on motorcycle oil tanks to check level.

        Put a T in the line out of the bottom the tank, make a fitting to fit at the top of the tank (above coolant level), then connect the two fittings with a piece of transparent vinyl tubing.

        Basically an aftermarket sight gauge.

        -js
        This is an easy solution that should take minimal effort to implement.

        Just wondering though why your friend is not simply pressure checking the cooling system in order to determine if indeed it does have a leak and repairing if necessary?
        An external leak should almost be a visual check while an internal one can get expensive if allowed to remain in the oil system undetected.
        Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
        Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

        Location: British Columbia

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        • #5
          Wait..... if it's a sealed system with the overflow/expansion tank up higher than the rad cap then why can't you just watch the liquid level in the expansion tank?

          Of course as the engine warms the level will rise to some amount. But then if there is a leak you'll see it go lower and lower. And after shutoff it'll suck back in and be lower than it started out.

          I'm also assuming here that the expansion tank is translucent and since it's connected to the cooling system that it is in fact visible for level so you can monitor the situation?
          Chilliwack BC, Canada

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jim Stewart View Post
            Yep. Here's an old trick used on motorcycle oil tanks to check level.

            Put a T in the line out of the bottom the tank, make a fitting to fit at the top of the tank (above coolant level), then connect the two fittings with a piece of transparent vinyl tubing.

            Basically an aftermarket sight gauge.

            -js
            this is what would have suggested, except for the vinyl tubing (i assume you mean pvc), because of the temperature.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jim Stewart View Post
              Yep. Here's an old trick used on motorcycle oil tanks to check level.

              Put a T in the line out of the bottom the tank, make a fitting to fit at the top of the tank (above coolant level), then connect the two fittings with a piece of transparent vinyl tubing.

              Basically an aftermarket sight gauge.

              -js
              That would be too easy. Unfortunately there isn't room to put something like that in (trust me on this folks, Suzuki jammed everything on this bike into the smallest possible space. Then buried parts behind trim pieces. It even has two separate air filters, one for each carb because there isn't room for any duct work above the engine), unless we wanted it to look like the picture Barefoot posted, which we really don't. Suzuki didn't even put a cap on the tank to add coolant. You're just supposed to fill the radiator and let the coolant flow up into the tank as needed. Now that I'm thinking about it I guess I could put a 90 degree fitting into the face of the tank near the bottom and have a vertical piece of clear tube going up the front of the overflow tank.


              Just wondering though why your friend is not simply pressure checking the cooling system in order to determine if indeed it does have a leak and repairing if necessary?
              We just swapped the engine because it's her first motorcycle and she thought you just got the bike serviced with oil changed, then happily rode for 3000 miles, then got the oil changed again. Had no clue how to check the oil level. After the engine started making knocking sounds she stopped and called me and we trailered the bike to my shop. Only 1/2 qt of oil left and lots of rod knock. Look at the sky on a really clear night. See all the pretty stars? That's what the inside of the oil filter looked like. So I would like to make this easier for her to watch in the future.

              why can't you just watch the liquid level in the expansion tank?
              Because the expansion tank (AKA an overflow tank) is black.

              Steve

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              • #8
                Originally posted by SteveF View Post
                So a friend has a Suzuki Boulevard

                Any suggestions?

                Thanks.
                Steve
                Which one?
                109? 90? 50?
                Len

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                • #9
                  2005 Suzuki Boulevard S50 VS800GL

                  Yeah, that was real fun in planning the engine swap and getting parts. Nice of Suzuki to change the name between Boulevard and Intruder and to offer several different engines along the way.

                  Steve

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                  • #10
                    Sorry Steve, I missed the part in the first post where you specifically mentioned that the expansion tank was black plastic.

                    Have you done any plastic welding? Most of those bottles are polypropylene that is dyed black. It's much the same as many of the plastic food savers and neither glues well at all. But it can be welded. I've fixed a couple of turn signals with plastic welding. But they didn't need to be water tight which might be a whole other level of "fun and frustration". If you're game to try putting in a view port with plastic welding I'd start on an old easily replaced food container to work out your skills. And hit up some YT videos on "plastic welding" or better yet "polypropylene welding". for hints.

                    The one saving grace is that the bottle is not pressured.

                    Another option if you want to go with a sight tube might be to fit the bottle with some 90* plastic or metal hose barbs. These can be sealed well if you can drill clean round holes (drill then ream?) a little under the size of some short lenghts of rubber fuel or vacuum tubing line which act as sealing grommets. Then when the hose barbs are forced in the line expands and seals. Then a piece of sighting tubing can be used to connect the two barbs. If you try this be sure to use line that does not have anti expansion fibers in it and which is smooth on the OD.
                    Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                    • #11
                      I've never done plastic welding but what the heck, until last month I'd never swapped engines in a motorcycle. Yes, no pressure helps. Might check to see if 3M has some super adhesive made just for this type of plastic.

                      Conveniently there are about a dozen of this exact Suzuki tank on eBay so I can experiment on one of those, thus making failure an option.

                      Steve

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                      • #12
                        I did a search to see if I could find out what the expansion bottles are made from. There isn't a lot of info out there but it's starting to look like they are nylon to withstand the high temperatures of the coolant. Might not be all that great for plastic welding. Plus it also means that you likely will want to pick up a transluscent expansion bottle from an auto parts scrap yard for the "window" if it is to have any chance of success so the plastics are the same material.

                        Keep that grommet and sight tube thing in mind... YOu may need that as a plan B.
                        Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                        • #13
                          How about installing a float switch set for low level.
                          Helder Ferreira
                          Setubal, Portugal

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                          • #14
                            Way too much work.

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