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Changing Head Gaskets - Ural Gear Up - Nov 2017

This was the first big wrenching I did on the Ural that wasn't regular maintenance. I ran into a few problems, but got the job done.

My bike had a seepage issue from the cover gaskets and head gaskets when I bought it, so I knew the gaskets would need to be changed. I bought the gaskets from Gene at Holopaw Ural, but waited to change them because I had NO idea what I was doing. I had a trip already planned and didn't want the bike in pieces when it was time to go. I'm glad I waited until after the trip because I ran into a couple of problems.

The first problem was apprehension. After watching several videos, though, I dove in on the left side. I changed the head gasket and proceeded to set the valve clearance. The feeler gage I bought was mis-packaged and didn't have the size I needed, so the project was halted until I could get back to the store and exchange it. Got the right gage and finished up the left side. The right would have to wait a couple weeks because life.

When I got around to the right side, I attempted to remove the head without removing the sidecar. There wasn't enough room to slide it out, so I leaned the bike away from the sidecar (thanks to my comrades on the Soviet Steeds forum for the idea). The next problem I encountered was setting valve clearance again - not because I didn't have the right tools though. On this side, when I torqued down the head nuts, the intake rod would not spin freely and there was no adjustment room. I made sure the engine was at top dead center for the right side and I felt that the rod was seated in the cup, but it still wouldn't spin. The project halted while I consulted with the experts.

In the Ural community, there's a phrase "What would Ivan do?" meaning sometimes a crude fix is the solution. At my wits end, I channeled my inner Ivan and made a shim of sorts from the old head gasket for the intake rocker arm. I torqued it down and set valve clearance and put it all back together. I started up the bike and it sounded amazing! I took it out and it ran great with no more leaks! I hope the next repair is a long way down the road, but at least I'll have a little more confidence then.

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