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Re: oil leak out of a breather hose
The breather hose always does that., before epa regulations the hose was routed out to bottom of the bike and driped on the ground. A lot of bikers take that hose off the breather, rerout it back down toward the ground and put a small breather filter on the end of the hose.
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You need to find out just were the oil is leaking from to start with .I have just done my Mercedes with the same problem valve cover gasket was leaking .Oil was leaking down the side and on the plugs that are hot ,, so it burns off the oil ,this is what you can smell. If other items are doing the same you will need to do that part as well..The breather system may be blocked up also if it is not breathing oil will build up . Good luck
On your '87 Softail, the engine breather vent is behind and below the oil pump. The air from the breather is routed into the engine air filter by a metal pipe and rubber tubing that runs from the breather vent to the air filter. It is common to get a bit of oil in the air filter because of this system. The system was designed to meet EPA regulations of the time. Since then, the breather system has been modified to allow the engine to breathe at the top of the heads instead of down low on the engine. This resolves some of the problem with oil getting into the air filter but it still does not eliminate it. The only way to eliminate the oil from getting into the air filter is to reroute the air from the crankcase breather vent to somewhere else. Most people just let it exhaust underneath the bike by putting a small breather filter on the end of a short piece of rubber hose connected to the breather vent.
Rick, since 1994, Harley has used what we call a "head breather" system in that the crankcase breathers are located in the heads. This was done in an effort to reduce the amount of oil that gets into the air filter. In earlier case breather model engines, the oil would pour into the air filter if the bike had been sitting for a few months. Prior to that, the bike would "puke" what looked like a quart of oil on the ground below the bike when first started after a long period of sitting.
If you'll remove the air filter cover and element, you'll see that the large bolts that hold the breather onto the heads are hollow. Inside the rocker boxes, there are small rubber "umbrellas" that are opened and closed by crankcase pressure. These are designed to allow your engine to breathe without an excess of oil being blown out. Still even though this system is better, a little oil still gets into the air filter. You can either keep this cleaned out or you can replace the "head breather" systems with an aftermarket system that changes the location the system exhaust crankcase pressure from. Also, you can change the "umbrella" seal and put in new ones. It isn't that difficult to do on the front head. The rear head can be tricky since there isn't much room to get to the bolts to take the rocker box cover off. The umbrella seals are located in the center section of the rocker box cover.
This is an age old problem for the Harley engine. In you 89 model, the crankcase breaths from behind the oil pump through a tube that runs to the backside of the air filter assembly. Most people that I know, simply remove the tube coming up to the air filter and block the hole in the air filter assembly backing plate. At the breather, they run a short hose to just behind the transmission and cut it off there. This is similar to the earlier Shovelhead engine and the way it breathes. In 1994, Harley went to the "head breather system" which was better but it still gets oil into the air filter assembly.
There is one thing I saw on the aftermarket assessories market once called a "CatchCan". The breather tube ran to it and it seperated the oil from the air and the held it in a small container to be emptied on a regular basis. I have never used one nor have I ever seen one so all I can tell you is what the book said. Matter of fact, I cannot remember where I saw it now. Custom Chorme catalog, maybe. Good Luck, Steve