Partially submerged Interceptor 650: Water gets mixed with engine oil

I could see the water level reaching almost the fuel tank and then the engine died. I was stuck with the water level well over the exhausts.

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Had an incident during the Sunday morning trail ride a couple of weeks back. The plan was to ride to a lake located 20 kms away from home and explore new trails surrounding it. We have already been to this lake a couple of times during the last 6 months so it wasn’t a completely new place.

Got to the bike to see my scooter’s seat being ripped by street dogs. Not sure if that’s a sign of what’s about to happen.

Started at 6am and was joined by my friend on his Meteor 350 at the meeting spot. With a tea break in between we reached the entrance to the lake. There was a cloud burst kind of rain a couple of days back and the water level on the stream at the lake’s entrance was higher than usual. I somehow felt that the water level would be manageable on our bikes. My friend suggested that we may have to walk down and do a level check. With a few minutes of eyeball measurement, I went ahead to cross the water on the bike. Soon after 10-15 feet of getting into the water, I could see the water level reaching almost the fuel tank and the engine died. I was stuck with the water level well over the exhaust.

Turned the ignition off and pulled the bike out of the water. Pushed the bike on a steep incline to see the water flushing out of both the exhausts. There is a tiny hole at the bottom of the silencer pipes just below the engine. This appears to be the lowest part of the silencer pipe and could see the last bit of water pouring out of these holes when the bike is placed on the main stand.

At this point seeing the water out of the silencers, I thought the worst was over until we laid the bike on the left side to see water dripping out of the air filter box. I feared of water entering the combustion chamber through the air filter and mixing with the engine oil.

Removed, cleaned and dried the battery, relays, fuses, air filter and spark plugs under the sun at the lake. Pushed the bike in gear from the top of an incline and could see water droplets spraying out of the spark plug holes so tried pushing the bike a few more times to get the water out. The engine oil looked fine through the inspection window.

After letting the bike dry for nearly an hour we reassembled the parts and the bike started in the first crank. Let the bike idle for a couple of minutes and rode back home at a steady pace. The bike behaved fine all the way back home. Once back home, checked the inspection window again only to face my worst fear, water had mixed with the oil and the engine oil looked white in color.

Left the bike to dry and went to get new engine oil, unfortunately, the two-wheeler spare shops nearby did not have any engine oil close to the recommended grade so ordered 3L of Candice 20W50 & 15W50 since it had faster delivery and was cheap since I wanted to flush the old oil. In the meantime, also got a couple of oil filters and air filters from RE spares.

Replaced the oil, oil filter and air filter and rode the bike for ~20 kms. Replaced the oil again with 15W50 and rode ~50kms and then replaced with Motul 10W50. The bike sounds and performs normally but I’m sure the engine would have taken a beating. Visited RE OMR service center and the service advisor rode the bike and found everything to be normal and advised me to continue riding since I’ve changed the oil multiple times. I guess for now it’s only time to see how the engine behaves and prepare for come what may. Learning point here is to make sure to check the water level. That said will continue to ride trails with the Interceptor until I get an Xpulse.

Morning sight just before starting the ride. Street dogs went rogue.

All the water coming out of the bike.

Noticed water dripping out of the air filter cover.

Fortunately, the Meteor 350’s tool kit had the spark plug deep wrench tool.

This sent chills down my spine.

State of the oil filter.

That’s how the oil came down at the start of the drain.

That’s how the oil was at the midway and towards the end.

Ordered these for the first oil change.

Second oil change after riding ~20kms.

Third oil change after riding ~50kms.

Here’s what BHPian sukiwa had to say about the matter:

That’s quite an ordeal and the way you handled it shows your technical competence, Kudos for that

This incident is similar to the RE Himalayan incident described by Nasirkaka (Triumph Scrambler 400 X Review)

Here’s what BHPian SnS_12 had to say about the matter:

Unlike two strokes with a four-stroke engine, water will never enter the combustion chambers when the bike is not running unless the valves have a leak.

Now, since you have already ridden the bike with that contaminated oil it would be better to open the head and check the valves just to be sure there are no possibilities of long-term damage because of the contaminated oil or any debris which would have entered with the water.

Here’s what BHPian jomson13 had to say about the matter:

Quite an interesting Sunday I’d say.

I’ve had water ingress into the crankcase of my RX once and I remember that my mechanic just flushed the crankcase with petrol and then put in the new oil.

This was back in 2009 so my memory is a bit hazy but I don’t remember multiple changes of oil.

I wouldn’t recommend this on the 4 stroke, since petrol would be too thin for the oil pump to pump upto the head of the engine.

You are lucky that the water ingress did not cause any electrical problems – that would have been a tough one to check and fix away from home.

Glad to know that the bike runs fine.

A couple of recommendations:

  • Check the brake oil as well as the pads – they may need a thorough cleaning and sanding.
  • Battery and air box – There may be some water / sludge remaining in the nooks and crevices. I would dismantle these just to have a look and put it back.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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