Question about 2004 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster Custom

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My 04 sportster 883 is a converted 1200, seems to leak a quite a bit of oil from the vent tube on the left side of the bike. I get oil residue on my rear rim, belt guard, and unsightly drips and residue on the sides of the engine, under the motor and on the kickstand. Is it just a matter of lengthening the hose down further ?

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  • Anonymous Mar 20, 2014

    leaks oil out of a hose that runs from the lower part of the engine up to behind the oil tank the hose is open on the end, bottom end is attached to the motor/trany, top side is just open and pointing down. made it appear as if the tank was leaking but we watched oil come out of this hose when revving the bike up. Its a 2001 sportster 883


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Unless Harley has changed something, I'm not familiar with a vent tube on the left side of a Sportster. I've always seen the vent tube coming out of the cam chest on the right side of the bike. Even the transmission vent came up and over to just behind the oil tank.

On your Sportster, make sure that you're not overfilling the oil tank. There are two lines on the dipstick. When checking your oil, the top line is 'FULL HOT" and the lower line is 'FULL COLD". Keep the level between the two lines when hot. As long as you can see oil on the dipstick, ride the bike far enough to heat up the oil and then check the level.

Otherwise, trace the hose back to it's source and tell me exactly where it comes from.

Good Luck

Posted on Oct 09, 2010

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Gas leaking from the vent tube on the gas tank

The standpipe sits in the tank and connects the filter "sock". The only vents, or overflows, should either be from the carburetors (overflow) or vacuum vent (typically found on dirt bikes) on gas lid. You should have no lines that directly "vent" from the tank. It is possible you have the wrong tank installed on the bike. Just a suggestion. ^^ I hope this helps.

Apr 14, 2014 | 2002 Harley Davidson XL Sportster 883

1 Answer

I bought a 2005 XL 883 its been customized by the previous owner, it has a two into one exhaust, screamin eagle air cleaner, its always had a cough, it had a 200 mianjet, 42 low, what jets should it h

Hi Anonymous, the stock 883 came with a 160 main jet and a 42 slow speed jet. As far as the juggs go see if you can find casting numbers on the cylinder base. Does your bike have the power of a 1200 or an 883? As far as the coughing goes look for any telltale signs of oil like stains around the intake manifold to the heads or gun powder like residue at the exhaust ports, a sure sign of leakage.

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Jan 31, 2014 | 2005 Harley Davidson XL 883L Sportster

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I see a few owners of Sportsters asking about oil leaking from the breather tube behind the oil tank. In tracing this vent it is attached to the cases a little behind the starter and above the clutch...

Hi John, make sure there are no obstructions in this vent line such as kinks or collapsed portion and that it is indeed the tansmission vent line if it is you can put an extention on it and run it to the ground away from the rear tire. Good luck.

Mar 31, 2012 | 2000 Harley Davidson XL Sportster 883

2 Answers

I have a 1999 sportster 883 it's leaks oil out

Sounds like you're overfilling the oil tank. Always check the oil with the bike on the stand. There are two marks on the oil dipstick. The upper mark is "FULL HOT" and the lower mark is "FULL COLD". Keep the oil level between the two marks and never "top off" the tank when the engine and oil is cold. As long as you see oil on the dipstick, ride the bike until the engine is at full operating temp and the only add oil if it is below the lower mark. Never fill it to the top mark. Your Sportster holds three quarts of oil that is pumped into the engine and then back out. The 1983-1985 XR1000 Sportsters, the hot rod Harleys as they were called, on held two quarts of oil. I've seen hill climbers that had custom oil tanks on them that only held a pint of oil. As long as you can see oil on that dipstick, you have enough oil. If you're getting so much crankcase blow by that your blowing oil out of the tank breather tube, you need to run a compression or leak down test on the engine to check for ring wear. Also, I've seen bikes do that when the needle and seat in the carb was bad or the accelerator pump diaphragm bad. Smell of the oil. Does it smell like gasoline? If so, you have carburetor problems and gasoline is running into your engine diluting the oil and adding volume to it.

Good Luck

Jul 22, 2011 | 2000 Harley Davidson XL Sportster 883

1 Answer

91 sportster is blowing oil out the trans vent (under the seat) and down the side of the bike. I checked the fluid levels, and they are fine. Its an 883 converted to 1200. Bike has been lowered. It seems...

If all the lowering has been done in the rear of the bike, then your transmission/primary lubricant level may be too high back where the vent is located. If so, I'd be willing to bet that your reserve position on the fuel tank won't take you very far either. If the bike has been radically changed from level ride configuration, you must adjust the fluid levels in certain areas. Back when people would extend the front ends drastically without raking the frame, they had major problems with these issues. One other thing that will do this is fuel getting into the engine and primary case. I once saw a Sportster that the needle and seat was leaking in the carb. It filled the engine with fuel and it seeped over into the primary though the sprocket shaft bearings in the case. Smell of your oil and see if it has gasoline in it. If so, fix your carb and make sure you turn your fuel off whenever you turn the engine off. It's old school but it works.

Good Luck

Jun 05, 2011 | 2004 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster...

1 Answer

I have a 88 sportster 883 /1200 is what I was told .How can I know or tell for sure a kit was put in it ??without tearin it down ..It now also has a s&s short E carb and samson double tube exhaust...

There was a way the drag strips used some sort of instrument to determine the displacement of an engine without a teardown. Seems it was called a P&G tube or something like that. I've never seen one. The only way I know of telling if your engine has be bored to the 1200 cc. piston size is to take the head off of a cylinder.

The S&S carb is an old design but it's simple to tune, that's what most people like about them. The CV type carbs are much better but American riders don't like them much. Although Mikuni is making headway under the Screamin' Eagle trademark.

Now, if you bike was orginally and 883 and it was converted to a 1200, there are two ways of doing it. One, was to buy a complete kit with pistons and heads. The other was to bore the original 883 cylinders and use the original 883 heads but the pistons had to be special drop top type pistons to keep the compression to a reasonable amount. The combustion chamber of the original 883 heads are much smaller than the chamber in the 1200 head. If you don't use the special pistons, you won't be able to keep head gaskets on the engine. Wiseco makes the pistons for the conversion.

As long as the engine is running good, don't worry about it.

Ride Safe

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1 Answer

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Jun 29, 2010 | 2000 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster...

1 Answer

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If I understand you, the leak is coming from the inspection cover for the primary chain. There should be an O ring on that plate. If the cover is leaking when the bike is off you have way to much oil in the primary. The primary only takes 1 quart of gear lube, I use Mobile 1.

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