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Hornsmith 26th October 2019 20:35

Sudden loss of clutch tension
Hello all! I was just test riding the Buell blast I'm building when suddenly the clutch lost effect. The lever was suddenly loose and I know it was perfect until just now. I removed the small clutch cover to look and sure enough the cable is totally slack. I can pull it and the cable is certainly not broken or anything. However, it doesn't return at all. I am currently chilling at a 7 eleven and am pretty much stuck here.
I suspect the tension spring is broken. That makes the most sense.
Can anyone think of any other reasonable possibilities?

Hornsmith 26th October 2019 21:13

I just tightened the primary to see if that made any difference because I already had a suspicion that it was loose. Blasts are notorious for their primary chain tension. Frequently they are too tight which causes lots of problems, so I made it sure it wasn't too tight because it's better to have it a wee bit loose than a wee bit tight or so I hear. I didn't think it would make a difference but it's an easy thing to do so what the heck why not.

Then I looked deeper into the clutch and removed the big round thing in the middle that the cable holder attaches to. The spring plate looked great, and I can't think of a reason it would go bad, especially since it's one I put in myself very recently (like less than 50 miles ago). Of course, I can always screw it up, but I usually don't. Anywho, I pressed on the clutch with the round thing manually with a lot of force and it budged just a bit like I would hope it does. I reinstalled the round thing (please tell me what it's called, I can't recall) and tightened the hex nut that goes inside it on the indexed shaft. I noticed that it's tightened much more than before, by a quarter inch at least. Maybe a half inch even. Probably 3/8ths.
After this the clutch lever felt great, probably better than before if I'm being honest.
I then started it in neutral. Then I prayed to God that it wouldn't suddenly lurch forward or explode when I shifted it. Making sure that it had space in front of it, I shifted the bike into first with the clutch in. Eureka! It didn't explode or lurch.
I then very slowly let the clutch lever out. Before the bike was able to move I heard a horrible grinding sound in the primary. I immediately pulled the lever back in, and it stopped. Oof. Not great.
Then I recalled that the primary was tightened, and if it is too tight it causes the chain to scrape the inside of the cover. I just loosened the primary tensioner and got back on.
Tentatively, I started the bike, in neutral, and pulled the clutch. I shifted to first. So far so good.
I carefully let the clutch out. I heard the revs go down a bit and the bike gracefully started moving forward!

So it looks good right now. I haven't left the parking lot though, so if I never write back on this forum, assume something went horribly wrong and I'm likely dead. Just kidding, I think.
Anywho, glad I packed my tool roll.

wedge 26th October 2019 21:49

I assume from the description that the clutch would not DISENGAGE due to cable being loose for some reason? Could be throwout bearing going bad or a broken spring plate if you have one. Whenever a clutch goes out of adjustment in this direction (grab rather than slip, it is ALWAYS some sort of mechanical failure). Slip is normal wear and can be adjusted out. Grab is a problem, it has to be found and fixed. The adjustment may get you home as a quick patch, but it's not a cure.

Hornsmith 26th October 2019 22:12

Yeah I never left the parking lot. It started making odd noises again. Whatever's wrong is pretty bad. Upon removing the clutch cover and looking closer, it appears the entire clutch hub has shifted a bit and the grinding is not the primary as I had suspected, but it is the knuckles clutch hub grinding against the case. I'm gonna go get another vehicle and bring it home. Luckily this was a test ride to check for things like this and I'm less than a mile from my house. However, I live on a massive Hill and won't have a chance pushing the bike home.

wedge 27th October 2019 00:05

Well, keep this thread going and let us know the progress. If you run into trouble you know everyone here has your back.

That piece in the center that the cable attaches too is the ramp assemble. It is what actually pulls the pressure plate back as the balls in the ramp ride up the grooves and separate the halves of the ramp.

After you remove that there is the throwout bearing in the center that the adjusting screw is mounted in the center of. That assembly is held in with a snap ring. There should be no in and out play in that bearing. and very little wobble side to side of the screw. The bearing can destroy itself in one good day of a lot of stoplights. Happened to me recently. I could feel it getting worse at every stop so I started putting it in neutral at stops to get me home.

I don't understand clutch hub shifting. It could be that you have it so maladjusted to make it almost work that the pressure plate is coming back so far it's rubbing the cover?

IXL2Relax 27th October 2019 00:45

Here's the Sportsterpedia section on the Sportster Clutch:

Although not completely the same, it is very similar...

Take a look at the Clutch Diaphragm Spring Snap Ring & the Spring Seat - The Spring Seat MUST sit on top of the Diaphragm Spring fingers when installed & the Snap Ring fitted into the Hub finger grooves - Then the Spring Seat is allowed to come up thru the Snap Ring (when the Diaphragm Spring is released from the compression tool) - This means the Spring Seat MUST prevent the Snap Ring from coming out of the Hub fingers...

IXL _______ >>>> My Motorcycle Chronicles Are Here <<<<
For FREE Sportster Tech Info from the XLForum:
Explore The Sportsterpedia - The Best Kept Secret on the XLForum!

Hornsmith 27th October 2019 02:03

Got the bike in my van and back home safe. Will be looking inside it to check, thanks for the notes, I'll make sure to check all those.

Hornsmith 27th October 2019 03:12

Found the problem. 100% my fault as well, of coure. The clutch nut loosened and the clutch moved out from where it should have been. I didn't have locktite last time when I removed the clutch hub. That's easily remedied though. Gonna pull the case off to inspect for other problems.

Hornsmith 27th October 2019 06:08

Got it back together. Everything properly torqued down and threadlocked. However, there are many tiny aluminum shavings in the primary. I removed all those that I can see, but there are likely a lot more inside the transmission, as it shares fluid (I believe?). Being aluminum and not steel, the magnet on the drain plug won't catch them, and since it not circulated through a filter or anything, I can't think of a way to reasonably remove them. I suppose I could just change my primary oil a couple times, and change it again early to remove most. There would still be a fair bit more in there though, yeah?

wedge 27th October 2019 22:23

You can run some kerosene in there for a few minutes (on a stand) as a rinse and dump it warm. If still flakes, do it again. Elevate the rear wheel so you can put it in gear to help flush it out.

Then just run the normal oil and you should be good to go. Aluminum flakes are not a real serious issue, but flushing them out is the best plan.

Hornsmith 27th October 2019 23:15

Sounds good. I figure aluminum flakes aren't nearly as bad as steel flakes, as they're much softer and all the moving bits are steel. But yeah, definitely don't want too much gunk swirling around in there.

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