How to Replace a Head Gasket on a GL 1100 Gold Wing

Updated July 20, 2017

The GL1100 Gold Wing was introduced in 1980 and was based off the GL1000. The GL1100 was equipped with an 1,085-cc displacement, liquid-cooled opposed, four-cylinder engine. High performance valve timing and 30-mm bore carburettors contributed to its well deserved reputation of power and reliability. Performing engine repairs, such as general maintenance and routine adjustments, are in general not difficult on this motorcycle. However, replacing the head gasket is a challenging repair job. This repair job can be done without removing the engine from the motorcycle.

Lift the motorcycle onto its centre stand. Drain the coolant from the petcock at the bottom of the radiator into a drain pan. Dispose of the used antifreeze in accordance with local disposal laws. Remove the black bolts at the bottom of the radiator and slide the radiator forward. Remove spark plug wires from the spark plugs and set them aside.

Remove the eight bolts holding the plastic camshaft belt covers. Remove the camshaft belt covers and set them aside. Mark the position of the cam sprockets with a tic-mark on the cylinder block and a matching mark on the camshaft sprocket. Loosen the timing belt tensioners and remove the timing belt.

Remove the fuel pump if working on the right side of the engine. Remove the electronic ignition reluctor and cover if working on the left side of the engine. Remove the four bolts holding the valve covers and set the covers aside. Remove the four bolts holding down the intake manifolds.

Remove the six bolts holding the rocker shaft covers and remove rocker shafts. Remove the two bolts holding the camshaft pulley back plate. Tap the rocker shaft with a rubber mallet if necessary to assist in removal.

Remove the exhaust manifold bolts. Remove the six 10-mm cylinder head bolts and the one small 6-mm bolt at bottom of head. Tap the head off using a rubber mallet. Bump the engine with the starter if the head is difficult to remove. This method uses the natural compression of the engine to pop the head loose.

Remove the oil restrictor orifice from crankcase. Remove all traces of old head gasket with a gasket scraper and rag. Ensure the block and head mating surfaces are clean, shiny and all traces of the old head gasket are removed. Clean the oil restrictor and ensure no sludge or other dirt is in the orifice passage in the block. Clean all carbon from the head using a wire brush and scraper. Check the head check for cracks or other damage. Repair any problems with the head as required.

Install the clean oil orifice using two new O rings. Replace O rings on the head water pipe with new ones and lubricate them with motor oil. Install the head onto the block finger tight using a new head gasket. Do not use any kind of sealer on the gasket, it must be installed dry.

Tighten the six 10-mm head bolts to 40ft-lb with a torque wrench in a crisscross pattern. Install the 6-mm bolt at bottom of the head and torque to 10ft-lb. Install the intake manifolds with the correct bolts. Ensure the manifold O rings are in good condition or replace as required.

Install the camshaft in the head and tighten the six camshaft bolts to 21ft-lb. Install the camshaft pulley back plate using a new gasket and tighten the bolts to 9ft-lb. Install the new timing belts using the alignment marks from Step 2 as reference. Tighten down the timing belt adjusters when everything is lined up. Ensure everything is correct before proceeding to the next steps.

Install the electronic ignition reluctor and cover plate or fuel pump as required. Replace the exhaust manifold bolts. Replace the valve cover and radiator bolts. Fill the radiator up to the recommended level with new antifreeze. Replace the spark plug wires onto the spark plugs.

Start the engine and check for leaks in the cooling system. Add coolant as necessary when the engine warms up to normal operating temperature.


A plastic bucket can be used to hold all the parts removed from the motorcycle. This protects the parts from both damage and accidental loss.


Exhaust gasses may cause death or serious illness. Work only in a well-ventilated area. The GL1100 engine uses a very precise fit between the valve and pistons; failure to correctly index the camshafts when installing the timing belt will result in immediate and catastrophic engine damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Drain pan
  • Metric socket set
  • Marker pen
  • Rubber mallet
  • Wire brush
  • Shop rags
  • Gasket scraper
  • O rings
  • Torque wrench
  • Timing belt
  • Antifreeze
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About the Author

Michelle Schaefer began writing in 1998 for "The Pennsylvania Homeschooler" with advice for parents educating their handicapped children at home. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Kutztown University in 1991.