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How to Change the Oil on a Honda CL360

The directions for changing the oil on my CL360 aren't very clear, so I decided to take a step-by-step photo guide to help you!

How to Change the Oil in Your CL360

How to Change the Oil in Your CL360

Oil Change on a CL360

My bike (I call her Georgia) was manufactured in 1975. She sat around for years, and the previous owner never rode her. So, needless to say, Georgia needed some work. To pass inspection, the tires and fork seals were replaced, carburetors and fuel lines cleaned, and she got a new horn. What didn't happen at the shop was an oil change.

For some bikes, changing the oil properly is time-intensive. Georgia is a CL360 with a 4-stroke engine, two cylinders, two carburetors, and six gears. It's hard to tell from the dipstick of this bike how dirty the oil is. Since we know the bike sat around for years, I decided to give her a proper oil change. My buddy Jason and I downloaded the manual and got to work.

What we didn't know before we started was what exactly was involved in properly maintaining the engine oil. On cars and newer bikes, changing the oil is pretty simple: drain the oil, change the filter, and fill the oil pan with fresh oil. Not so with this and similar old bikes.

It's very easy to overburn oil and destroy the cylinders in an engine. Proper lubrication is essential for an engine's long life, fuel efficiency, and smooth running condition. A couple of days ago, I thought I could smell burning oil from Georgia's engine. Plus, she seemed to be running a bit rough. Hence the urgent decision to change the oil.

I looked all over the internet to make sure we did it correctly but couldn't find anything aside from the manual, which doesn't give too many images to help. So, I decided to write down the steps I took here and add some pictures.

The crankcase is where oil is stored.

The crankcase is where oil is stored.

Step 1: Locate the Crankcase

On a Honda CL360 (and CB360), the oil is contained within the crankcase, which is where all the gears are. To filter the oil, it runs through a centrifugal oil filter, which spins forcing sediment to stick to the sides of a rotor assembly. The filtered oil then spits out of the rotor to recirculate into the engine.

Larger particles sink to the bottom of the crankcase and are filtered by a metal screen. When the oil is changed on this kind of bike, both the rotary filter (centrifugal filter) and the metal screen should be cleaned. Otherwise, dirt in the crankcase will be recirculated and will bog down the engine.

Step 2: Drain Oil

  • First, warm up the engine. This warms the oil and loosens it so it drains easier. Be careful that the engine doesn't get too hot that the drain plug cannot be handled. The same goes for the oil; hot oil is dangerous and can give you a nasty burn.
  • Then, remove the oil drain plug with a 17mm socket wrench with a pan underneath to catch the old oil. Make sure you have the metal gasket (looks like a washer) with the plug. If the drain plug is too tight, try putting an iron pipe around the socket wrench handle or use a long-handled wrench for more leverage.
Underneath the bike

Underneath the bike

Step 3: Remove Parts

While the oil is draining, you can remove the parts that need to come off in order to get to the oil filter and screen.

  • Since these parts are inside the crankcase, the crankcase cover must come off.
  • To get the cover off, the rear brake lever, foot peg, and kick start lever must also be removed.
  • On a CB360, the exhaust pipe must be removed.

Are you beginning to understand why motorcycle oil changes can get expensive at a shop?

Tip: While removing these parts, it can help to take pictures of what you are removing to make sure you replace all the parts properly. Particularly, remember how the brake pedal is angled since it can go on at a number of different angles. Also, be careful that the brake light spring is not overstretched when you disconnect it.

Step 4: Remove Crankcase Cover

After the oil is drained, the crankcase cover can come off. Make sure your oil pan is underneath it as you remove the cover because leftover oil will spill out.

  • When you remove the cover, you might have to loosen it by carefully striking the cover with a mallet (we used a hammer and a bunch of newspaper folded up to keep the case from getting scratched or dented).
  • Also, make sure that you take the cover off at an angle, starting at the left edge. The gasket, which might be stuck to the cover can pull off the gear below the centrifugal filter. Make sure the gasket is in good shape. If it's torn or shredded, replace it.
  • If the gear becomes loose, make sure when you put the cover back on to realign it with the filter gear.

Step 5: Remove the Screen Filter

The screen filter at the bottom is held by a metal assembly with three bolts. In order to clean the screen, the entire assembly must be removed. Then the rubber housing framing the screen can be removed.

The filter screen assembly is located at the bottom of the crankcase.

The filter screen assembly is located at the bottom of the crankcase.

Step 6: Clean the Filter

Since there were sludge and metal shards from the engine in the screen, it needed to be cleaned off. We used turpentine to loosen the sludge, then rinsed it with water and let it dry.

Tip: Remove the screen from the metal assembly before using solvents to clean the screen. When replacing the screen, make sure that the rubber housing wraps around the metal frame all the way. I used a flathead screwdriver to ease the edges around the frame.

The CL360 has a centrifugal oil filter.

The CL360 has a centrifugal oil filter.

Step 7: Getting to the Oil Filter

Cleaning the oil filter requires dealing with several parts: the rotor cylinder, the rotor cap, a rubber gasket, and a metal clip holding in the cover.

  • First, the metal cover clip must be removed by pinching together the two ends with needlenose pliers and pulling it out.
Metal clip which holds the rotor cover in place.

Metal clip which holds the rotor cover in place.

  • Then, the cap must come off. Some say to use pliers to remove the cap, but this did not work for us. Instead, we got it off by inserting a flathead screwdriver into the holes in the center of the cap, gently leveraging it off by rocking the screwdriver little by little around the circumference. [Update from Bike Doctor who commented below: "The centrifugal filter is removed using a 6 x 40 mm bolt tightened into the center of the cap. Using a screwdriver to 'leverage it out' can damage the bearing surface." Thanks, Bike Doctor! Apparently, it's the same bolt that's used on the crankcase cover.]
  • Be careful not to shred the gasket, which is just behind the cap.
Inside the rotor.

Inside the rotor.

Step 8: Clean the Oil Filter

This is where the oil change can get time-consuming. Sediment from used oil collects onto the inside surface of the rotor, which should still be attached to the bike. This must be cleaned out, or else the sediment can continue to build up and cause the rotor to stick.

  • I used a thin flathead screwdriver to scrape out the sludge, then used a rag with some oil on it to wipe it clean.

Tip: Don't use WD40 inside the crankcase. Use clean motor oil.

Scraping off the sludge from inside the rotor.

Scraping off the sludge from inside the rotor.

  • After the sludge is removed from the rotor, put some clean oil in it so that when the engine is started, it will lubricate immediately.
  • Also, wipe down the rest of the crankcase, removing any sludge.
  • Replace the rotor cap with a good gasket pushing it in until you can see the ridge where the metal clip goes. Make sure the tab on the cap lines up with the line on the outside edge of the rotor. Then pinch the metal clip ends together to fit it against the cap to hold the cap in place.
Putting it back together

Putting it back together

Step 9: The Oil Change

Once the sludge is wiped off and the filter and screen are replaced, the crankcase is ready for fresh oil.

  • Carefully attach the crankcase cover. Be careful not to dislocate that gear beneath the rotor assembly, as mentioned above. If the cover doesn't seem to go back on, that gear might be out of place.
  • Once all the screws are back in the crankcase; the oil drain plug is replaced with its metal gasket; and the kickstart lever, foot peg, and brake lever are replaced; fill her up!
  • We used two quarts of oil for "older engines." The manual says to use an oil with detergent, and another vintage Honda owner recommended synthetic oil. I use synthetic oil in my CRX, so it makes sense to use it in these old classic bikes. [New note: Synthetics do not work in all old motorcycles. If you have an old Honda CX500, do NOT use synthetic oil. Only use old-fashioned 10W40 in those bikes or the gears will slip and oil will leak.]
  • Be environmentally kind and put the old oil in the empty oil containers and take them to a service station where it can be safely disposed of or recycled (we hope).

After the oil change, Georgia seems to run smoother. No more burning oil smell. Yay.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2009 Wing Girl Kim