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Discussion Starter #1
Strangest thing. I've got my inner fairing off getting painted so I figured I'd do a fork oil change while I had plenty of room. On my 04' Ultra with 35,000 miles the left fork is cartridge, the right is conventional. I drain the left fork first. Nice red color. Not real dirty. I drain the right fork and get a nasty charcoal color for a few ounces and then the rest is a fairly clean carmel color like engine oil. It most definitely didn't have even a hint of a red base to it. Almost seemed to have a slightly heavy viscosity too. Kinda freaked me out. I was expecting red oil from both forks which is the HD Type E. So I grab the manual to see if the cartridge type fork takes a different oil than the conventional. Nope. Both forks specify the use of the HD Type E.

Anyone seen this before? Weird.
 

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Never seen that Tim but I've never run cartridge/conventional like you. Off hand I'd say the conventional fork works the oil harder, hence the color change. I would also think it wore out the oil faster too which is why the viscosity felt different. I'd recomend you change it more frequently in the future, but that's just me.
 

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@gree:
Do not know what the curent change interval is, it used to be 10k for conventional like on my "93. Wait for 20k and it comes out looking like you described on the right fork.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Per the manual fork fluid changes for the 04' Touring with the cartridge fork suspension is 50,000 miles. Hmmm. Considering the funky oil drained out of the right fork, I think I'm going to service them every 25k. PITA, but probably a good idea.
 

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I have noticed that before, i think its just a difference of the cartridge and convetional, where the one side is much more dirty(used) than the other side. Did you put in s/e fluid, as thats all i use for front end services. It stiffens up to a real nice rate, but not too stiff. I have also found that if the bike is lowered you cant use the o.e. oil, must be heavy duty s/e or equiv. Hope this helps ya out...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
TXCHOP said:
I have noticed that before, i think its just a difference of the cartridge and convetional, where the one side is much more dirty(used) than the other side. Did you put in s/e fluid, as thats all i use for front end services. It stiffens up to a real nice rate, but not too stiff. I have also found that if the bike is lowered you cant use the o.e. oil, must be heavy duty s/e or equiv. Hope this helps ya out...
I didn't put in the SE. I put in the regular Harley type E fork fluid.
 

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Try the SE next time, I think you will be very impressed with the change in the ride.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
cwo2lt said:
Try the SE next time, I think you will be very impressed with the change in the ride.
I actually thought about doing that. The only thing that kept me from it was that I didn't want to have to remove and disassemble the left side cartridge fork to pump out the remaining type E fluid. I figured it probably wasn't a good idea changing weights without removing as much of the old fluid as possible even though it's only a few ounces. I didn't want to risk running into funky handling issues.

You can do a fork oil change and get around the whole disassembly process for the left side. What you do is drain it and measure whats recovered. I had no leaks so therefore I replaced what came out of it which was what the book calls for in the leg at 11 oz. The left side cartridge fork will NOT accept fluid from the top. You must inject it from the bottom. Take a large 60 cc or greater syringe to draw up your clean fluid and inject it into the drain plug hole at the bottom of the leg with the top fork nut cover off to vent. Before removing the syringe, screw the fork nut cover back on a ways to keep atomospheric pressure from forcing the fluid out that you just injected. Then pull the syringe out of the hole and cover with your finger quickly. Repeat until you have injected all of the fluid. You'll maybe loose an ounce doing it this way. But just account for the loss by adding an extra ounce during the fill. And yes you still may have left a few ounces of oil in the cartridge that you can't expel. But, using this method and performing it every 25k, your basically changing it via dilution. I'm confortable with it. Especially seeing how the fork oil in the left side looked almost new after 35k miles. The right side of course was another story. Funky. But at least with the right side and no cartridge you can fill it from the top instead of injecting it through the bottom.

Before doing this procedure I recommend draping a large trash bag over your rotor and tire to keep the stray oil from getting on there. Have the bike on a frame lift with the front forks extended and the wheel in the air. And just remember that after each injection you need to put the fork nut cover back on the top to keep the pressure off the fluid when you remove the syringe or you, your bike and garage will take on a new shade of red!
 
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