Fork oil substitute? - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Fork oil substitute?

I'm replacing my oil seals but I know I'm gonna get shafted if I go and buy "Motorcycle Fork Oil" and I am on the tightest budget imaginable right now.

I heard somewhere that you could use automatic transmission fluid as fork oil, specifically Dexron II. I was wondering if anyone has tried anything like this. My brother has a 5 gallon bucket of this stuff just laying around with nothing to do with it so as far as I'm concerned... as long as it will work, it's free fork oil.

I did some research myself on viscosity and whatnot, but it's quite confusing, especially since fork oil isn't really going to get hot.

I hear Dexron II simulates about a 7.5 weight oil when used in forks, and the repair manual says the front forks should take SAE 10W-20. So I figure I could put it in there and just put a little air pressure in the front forks to stiffen it up, since 7.5 weight would be a tad soft, correct?

Let me know if I'm about to do something stupid.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 05:00 PM
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I been using ATF (Dexron) for years, in my Harleys too...thing about ATF thats good, is that its non corosive, and anti-foaming, which can be a prob in forks. Try the ATF...if ya dont like it, easy enough to drain it out again and change. In the 70s, I used straight non-detergent 10 weight.



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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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All right, thanks! That's very reassuring. I'm sure it will be a fine substitution, at least for now.

Once I come into some money I'll probably get around to swapping it out with "fork oil".
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 06:35 PM
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We went through this whole subject awhile back.

The short story is... Yes you can use it.

The main issue is there is no standard testing to determine viscosity... Even 10w fork oil from one maker may not be exactly the same as 10w from another. ATF can be anywhere from 5w to 15w really, but the point here is that does not matter to you NOW, go ahead and use it.

The oil you use does not really make the forks "soft"...it's the springs that do that. Fork oil effects the dampening ... the rebound + compression speed.

Not knowing anything about how much you weigh or how you got your bike outfitted, I couldn't make a recommendation as to what would be best for you to use oil weight wise, but ATF will work fine in a pinch if you can't get any regular fork oil.....

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 08:00 PM
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I used hydralic jack oil. The brand I used was permatex, I think.

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
there is no standard testing
May not be a standard test, but I been "testing" it since 1975...rough roads, bish on the back, no air assist...never a problem....however, Id still prefer straight 10 weight if I could find it. Mebbe 20 with these japanese forks. My last forks before these were almost double the diameter.





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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-08-2012, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knifemaker View Post
Not knowing anything about how much you weigh or how you got your bike outfitted, I couldn't make a recommendation as to what would be best for you to use oil weight wise, but ATF will work fine in a pinch if you can't get any regular fork oil.....
Well I can say that I am a regular rider ~150 pounds, and I have no accessories on the bike really. It's mostly stock. I occasionally ride a passenger as well.

While I've got the forks apart I'm refinishing the aluminum base, stripping the clear coat and painting them a black semi-gloss. Should look sharp when it's done.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-09-2012, 12:05 AM
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I'm using Shield AW 32 Hydraulic Jack Oil, from Advanced Auto @ $5.99 a quart. ISO 32 oil is Equivalent SAE Grade of 10W.

AW – Stand for Anti-Wear; also protects against Rust & Oxidation, and contains AntiFoam additives.
AW32 is approximately a 10 weight oil with the additives
AW46 is approximately a 15 weight oil with the additives
AW68 is approximately a 20 weight oil with the additives

AW –provides many of the advantages of premium hydraulic oil at a moderate price. Suitable for use in applications where a Premium AW product is not required. All are blended with highly refined naphthenic/paraffinic base oils.

Q) What is the difference between AW32, AW46, and AW68 Hydraulic Oils?
A) The weights (10, 15 & 20) Sometimes called (ISO32, ISO46, ISO68)

Q) What is the difference between Premium AW32 and Quality AW32?
A) Quality AW32 is approximately a 1500-hour oil, whereas, Premium AW32
has increased oxidation stabilizers making it approximately a 5000-hour oil.

Source -> http://hollonoil.com/PDF/Getting%20t...c%20Fluids.pdf


Ma Kaw says change your fork oil every 24,000 miles. I'm doing mine at 20K just because that's a easy number to remember. So the AW 32 is good for 1500 hours or so and say you average 45 miles an hour, then that works out to be 67,500 miles, if you are only averaging 30 mph, then you should be good for 45,000. Plus I like the way it rides with the jack oil better than when I first put in some Yamaha 10 fork oil.

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Last edited by CW-4; 07-09-2012 at 12:07 AM.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-09-2012, 12:09 AM
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Im same weight as you, but 6'1" (skinny cuss)...try the ATF, unless by you you can find straight 10 weight...then go the 10, or if an older bike with tired springs, go 20...but use NON detergent...VERY important...the detergent oils (like reg 10-W30) will eat away at your seals slowly...
Check yer local Harley custom shop and ask about fork oil for Showas on an Evo (SAME FORKS ! lol)...bet they can sell ya some low buck stuff...dont go to a Harley dealer, go to a custom shop...



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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-09-2012, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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I think I'll go with the Dexron for now, since it would be free. This is all way more helpful than I could have imagined, thanks guys.
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