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Common Tread

Save this Softail: Part 3

Feb 11, 2014

One step forward, two steps back is the expected progression of things for the old bike aficionado. Little is easy and nothing is cheap. Today's work proved to be no exception.

In part two, I borrowed a tool from Hutch of Roost Cycles to compress the clutch, which I put to immediate use.

Hutch’s tool worked lickety-split on the clutch diaphragm, allowing access to the snap-ring that holds the assembly together.

At this point, I was able to get a three-jaw puller on the hub and break it free of the transmission mainshaft.

So the good news is that I was able to free the clutch hub...

The factory service manual asked for the snap-ring to be removed with either snap-ring pliers (go figure!) or a flathead to remove the retaining ring from the clutch hub. My snap-ring pliers did not want to grab the ends of the ring. Harley-Davidson, in their infinite cheapness, used a snap-ring with milled slots rather than standard holes. I used a small screwdriver and scribe to remove the ring, and when I did, aluminum began breaking. Three fingers on the clutch hub snapped off as easy as pie.

...but the bad news is that some fingers broke in the process.

Oh well… at least the guts are free. I now had a bare inner primary to work from.

With all the primary drive pieces out of the way, the only thing stopping this bike from moving under its own power once again is the reinstallation of fresh parts. Note the missing cushion from the jiffy stand.

So at this point some decisions need to be made. Firstly, that broken hub is not cheap -- and a new one is in order! If you look at the picture above, you can see the jiffy stand has its welded locator loop broken off and there is no stand stop. This jiffy must have come off a different bike. As a result, it began beating a hole in the outer primary each time it was kicked up.

That missing loop caused the sidestand to begin beating a hole in the outer primary. It's just a matter of time before it cracks or wears through.

Believe it or not, that spot’s getting pretty thin. Who knows how many more beatings it will take before it leaves my beautiful bride stranded on the side of the road, feeding me beer and handing me wrenches?

The next item of debate is the clutch itself.

The clutch stack height isn’t too bad, but the wear is uneven on the fiber plates. Also, see that clutch spring plate up there, in the middle of the pack? Those can be ticking time bombs. We may replace that with two additional steels and an extra fiber plate. I’m undecided on that for now, but let it be said that those brass rivets can work loose, and when they do, all hell breaks loose with them. The factory offered an additional kit, consisting of the same two steels and a fiber plate, as a high-performance upgrade, so it may be a worthwhile endeavor to eliminate that from the stack.

So as it stands now, I need a clutch hub, outer primary, fibers and steels, and a new jiffy stand at a bare minimum. (And a gasket and fluid, but that can be sourced locally if I don’t have that stuff on the shelf in the shop.) What’s a broke bro to do?

A good buddy of mine, Jesse Stewart, proprietor of Dragstews’ Precision Motor Sports in Florida, helped me out. (I love their shop motto: “The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer!”) He recently did some work for a customer who had removed a whole wet primary setup and brokered a deal to move the parts. I was able to get from him, in good used condition, everything I needed and plenty of extra parts, all for less than the price of what I needed new. I’m happy to have the extra inner primary. I can use it for aligning motors and transmissions when building bikes and I won’t have to worry that my primary belt might not be tracking true.

Stevan in the Purchasing Department put an order in for me for a fresh jiffy stand. Now my wallet is empty, my hands are idle, and I am more patient with the snowy weather.

Stay tuned for next time!

Save this Softail: Part 1

Save this Softail: Part 2

Save this Softail: Part 4