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Motorcycle Mayhem Caused by Dealership Hack

Hi, guys. I have a motorcycle problem and I need your help.

I decided I would adjust the valves on my V-twin 2005 Honda Shadow Aero for the first time. I’ve owned it since 2005, it’s got almost 58,000 miles on it, and motorcycle shop labor rates are so high in my area that I decided I would take this on myself. I have the Honda shop manual and I just bought feeler gauges, so I was feeling pretty confident. I got the cylinder head covers off without damaging the rubber gaskets, and when I removed the crankshaft cover, I discovered the crankshaft hole cap had been previously stripped … bad.

As you can imagine, I’m pretty upset about this. The only mechanics who have ever adjusted my valves were at Honda motorcycle dealerships. I know good help is hard to find in a motorcycle mechanic, but I didn’t expect this. I have had many nightmare experiences with Honda dealership mechanics in the Jacksonville and Fort Pierce, Florida areas doing sloppy work, but I figured if they stripped this thing or found it stripped, I would expect them to tell me so I could replace before it got to the point that it wouldn’t come out. Well, I can’t get it out.

In the enclosed diagram it is part number 8. I’ve also attached a picture. The blue tape in the picture is holding a plastic cover I’m using to protect the valves. I put plastic grocery bags over the cylinders and draped and taped a plastic garbage bag over the frame. It looks like it takes a 10 mm allen wrench, but it’s so stripped I can’t be sure. I just ordered a new crankshaft hole cap online, but I’m not sure how log it will take to get here.

So I have a couple questions. First the practical one:

  1. How do you recommend I get this thing out? I can’t adjust the valves until I get it out because I have to turn the crankshaft to the proper point before I can measure the valve clearances. It’s too stripped to use the tools I have, so I’m probably going to need to use some PB Blaster (I think that’s the penetrating oil you guys recommend over Liquid Wrench, right?) and some kind of device that is made for this purpose. What do you think I should do?

My other question is less practical and a little philosophical:

  1. Why do motorcycle shops have higher labor rates than car repair shops? I can tell you it isn’t because you get what you pay for. The car mechanics I use are far more professional and competent than the motorcycle mechanics I’ve used. I’m curious what you guys think about this.

Thanks for helping!

Any chance that plug may not be that tight? Just wondering if a slot could be cut into it with a Dremel tool and a large regular screwdriver used to remove it?

Offhand, it looks like a Torx head where someone used the wrong size driver so (knock on wood) maybe the threads are not ruined or stuck too badly. It might not be a bad idea to line up a new plug in advance.

As to the cycle shop labor rates I can’t speak for that too much as I’ve always done my own cycle work. One Harley custom shop owner I know does excellent work and another shop owner was a bit hit and miss as his business grew rapidly and some of the help he hired turned out to not be as proficient as the help claimed to be.

When I bought my BMW new years ago I discovered very quickly that the BMW/Honda dealer had a few hacks working there, including the service manager, after botching several attempts at initial servicing and warranty. Three attempts at setting valve lash and they still couldn’t get it right so I finally just did it myself and found the lash at double the spec.

The real hoot was when the engine developed a vibration that could be felt in neutral at 4k RPM and they insisted it was a wheel balance problem with the bike not moving… :wink:

I think it looks more like an Allan head fastener, like the one to the left of it…Maybe you don’t need to remove the plug to adjust the valves…Can you turn the engine over by some other means ? No kick starter? Put it in gear (4th) and push the bike. You might have to take the plugs out to relieve the compression…

If you are determined to remove the plug, a right angle Allan wrench is not the best tool to use…A straight-in tool, mounted in a socket which can be used with another tool called an impact driver (a hand tool you whack with a hammer) than can break loose stubborn fittings. Allan wrenches come in MANY different sizes, metric and standard, maybe you can find one with a tight enough fit to remove the plug…Another method, when you have a new plug in hand, use a small cold chisel and hammer on the edge of the plug and tap it in the direction to loosen it…Be careful not to damage the underlying part with the chisel… Let the chisel bite into the edge of the plug and the hammer taps will loosen it…

I’m pretty sure that’s a torx head not an allen head. When you get the new bolt get a torx socket to fit it. I’ve got a feeling if you take it easy with the torx socket, there will be enough bite left to unscrew it. If not, try the next size torx up and may have to grind a taper on it to jam it in the hole to turn it out. Looks like someone put an allen wrench on it instead.

And if the bolt is going to be replaced, left handed drill bits are a favorite way of drilling the bolt out - and it just might loosen the bolt in the process. For me so far, it’s always done that (Knock on wood!!)

It looks like the crank hole cap is softer metal than the tools used on it. You might hammer a slightly larger Allen head or torx head socket into it and the pry the cap off the tool after you back it out. Slightly larger might be 1-mm or a close SAE size.

Thank you for the ideas, guys.

I’m pretty sure it’s not a torx head cap, and that it takes an allen wrench, but perhaps hammering a torx fitting in there could be the best way to get it out. It does look and feel like soft metal.

I’m going to wait for the new part to arrive to confirm it takes an allen wrench before I do anything with the old one.

@Caddyman, I may give your method of turning the engine a try today so I can get the bike back in service. If I do that, I’ll let you know how it turns out. At least that way, I would have the option of taking it to a shop and asking them to get the old cap out.

A shop would remove this with an EZ-out, which looks something like a short, coarse-threaded bolt with left-handed threads, or they would cut a slot in the cap with a dremel tool as OK4450 suggested. They would then loosen it with a large straight-blade screwdriver bit in an impact wrench.

Don’t be too disappointed in the tech at the shop. This perhaps shows a bit of carelessness and they should have told you, but it is pretty routine.

Where do you recommend I shop for an EZ-out, a hardware store or an auto parts store?

They usually come in tap & die sets. Sears sells them.

I would agree that waiting until the new plug comes in to determine exactly what should have been used to remove it. Given that there is an O-ring to seal the plug, if it were installed dry, it essentially glues the plug into the cover (example: removing a new car oil filter for the first time %$#* tight!). A little heat perhaps, to soften the rubber?

Can you remove the cover it screws into and drill and tap the back side of the plug? Screw in a hex bolt and drive it out from the back…


This is what I use in the shop. And I have had very good luck with it.

Don’t attempt to remove it until you have the new bolt in hand.

If you go this route, you need to be careful. You have to predrill the bolt for the extractor. Every extractor says what size drill bit is needed.


Damn, now I wish I had also ordered a new o-ring with the new cover.

Unfortunately, the face of the housing doesn’t come off, so I’m not going to be able to get at this from the back side.


The straight-in allen wrench socket connected to a ratchet is what I used, not an actual allen wrench. I also tried putting the socket on a breaker bar, but there was nothing for it to grab on to.

I just went out there and tried to roll the bike in gear. It wouldn’t move, so I decided to remove one spark plug from each cylinder (it has two plugs per cylinder), and I discovered that the spark plug removal tool that came with the bike doesn’t fit the spark plugs. There isn’t enough room around the plugs to use a box end wrench or a long socket like you can use on a car. I’m using OEM plugs, so I figure the guys at the Honda dealership threw a tool kit from another bike in the compartment when I bought it. It looks like I’ll have to wait until Tuesday when the motorcycle shops open up to buy the right spark plug tool. 99% of motorcycle dealerships are closed on Sundays and Mondays. A local Advance Auto Parts carries some motorcycle items, but I just called and they say they don’t have the right tool. I’m not sure I believe them though. The guy on the phone insisted on looking it up by make, model, and year rather than tell me whether they carry spark plug removal tools for motorcycles. Their computer system has proven unreliable in helping me find the right battery and oil filter for my motorcycle, which they say they don’t have, but I always find on the their shelves. Anyway, also did an oil change on the bike yesterday, so I think I’ll head over there to dispose of the old oil and filter, and while I’m there, I’ll see what they have on the shelves in their motorcycle isle and among the tools.


That kit looks a little expensive. If I decide to go that route, I think I’ll see what Home Depot has in stock. If I don’t like what they carry, I’ll head to the nearest Sears and get the kit @knfenimore recommended.

Thanks for the help, guys. I’ll keep you posted.

I think that you have gotten very good advice so far, Whitey, and I would not be able to offer anything better for resolving the problem.

As to how this happened, my theory is that one of those motorcycle dealerships hired somebody who was trained at UTI, in Orlando. After all, when a school names itself after a Urinary Tract Infection, what good could possibly come from that school?

I just thought that you could probably use a laugh at this point…


Snapon isn’t the only one that sells a kit like that

Sears might be a good choice, because of the lifetime warranty


Right after I started at the Benz dealer, they started ONLY hiring guys that graduated from UTI here in California (Rancho Cucamongo, I believe). I was literally the last guy hired at that place that DIDN’T go to UTI. Some of them also weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. There was a wide variation, though. Some of the guys were extremely sharp, while others were probably just warm bodies in the classroom.

In the words of MrPete222, the Industrial Educator, “there is nothing easy about an EZ out”. Throw them away. A left hand drill will do the same thing and not risks breaking off a hardened China made tool to prevent any further work. Actually, an inside pipe wrench, available at the big box for $10 looks pretty similar to the ones in the set described. And it has a ratchet wheel on it that tightens up when turning the pipe. Just wait for the new one and find the right socket to fit it at the hardware store.

I just got back from shopping, and I’m feeling pretty good about this.

First, I went to Advance Auto parts to dispose of my old oil and filter. They didn’t have the spark plug tool I was looking for, but they did have spiral extractor/drill bit sets individually packaged, so I didn’t have to buy a whole set. I got a package that contains a 1/4" drill bit and corresponding extractor for $6.29.

Then, I went to Lowe’s to see if they might have the spark plug tool. After looking around the tool area for a while, a Lowe’s employee suggested I check next to the lawn mower spark plugs. Hot damn! He was right. Not only does the tool look like it’s the right size, it was also only $3.98! It fits both 5/8" and 3/4" plugs, and the 3/4" end looks like it will fit properly.

The sun has gone down, and I’m not up to setting up work lights or trying to do this with a flashlight, so I’ll take another crack at getting the plugs out tomorrow when I get home from work.

Thanks again, guys. I’ll keep you updated.

I like OK’s grind a slot in it approach, if you have a screwdriver or other tool wide enough to fit.

Since I don’t have a grinder, and the only screwdriver I own that large is in my mother’s garage four hours away, I’ll keep that as a back-up plan.