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Rubber Mount Sportster Motorcycle Talk (2004-2006) This area is to discuss issues, problems and anything else unique to the 2004 and above Sportster motorcycles

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  #1  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
flainn flainn is offline
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Default Ugh -- looking at bottom end rebuild

Hi guys. My 16-year-old got his motorcycle license and this past weekend we did our very first ride together on two separate bikes.

We pulled over at some point so I could check to see how he was doing. Took my earplugs out and discovered that his 2005 883 is making a horrible clacking noise from the bottom end. It seems to do this once the bike gets hot and the oil thins; there is no noise when the engine is cold.

I'm guessing this is a spun crank bearing or, at least, something unhappy in the bottom end. I have done a top-end rebuild on a Sportster before but never a bottom-end, and the reading I've done seems to indicate it's quite an involved job (not to mention requiring specialized tools).

I don't really want to just get rid of the bike, so I'm kind of thinking about maybe just replacing the entire engine. Transplanting a tube-frame Buell drivetrain could be fun, or even just an 883 or 1200 out of a different Sportster. But I was wondering what your thoughts were.
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  #2  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
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That is a lot of assumption before pulling the primary cover. Must be some more facts here I am missing?
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  #3  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
flainn flainn is offline
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I have not diagnosed any further than hearing it make the noise.

The challenge here is that it doesn't start knocking until it's really hot (30+ minutes of riding). So I'd probably have to get it really hot, then drain the primary oil and remove the primary cover, then rotate the engine (or run it briefly) with no oil in the primary in order to duplicate the condition. Is there a better way of doing this? One that doesn't involve a lot of risk of burning myself?
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  #4  
Old 4 Weeks Ago
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Long sleeve shirt and gloves and you should be fine. Oil filter tells bunches if cut apart.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago
flainn flainn is offline
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Ahh, I hadn't thought of looking in the oil filter. Thanks for the idea.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago
flainn flainn is offline
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I attempted to duplicate the conditions under which the bike was making the noise, got the oil to 205-210 F after warmup and a 10-minute ride, but couldn't get it to make any unusual noises at all. I don't know what's going on with this thing!
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Quote:
I don't know what's going on with this thing!
Then I would leave it be if the oil filter looked good and primary cover when pulled had no parts fall out of it.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago
JunkyardDog JunkyardDog is offline
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The fact that it doesn't make any noise until it gets hot is an important clue, and rules out quite a few things. You didn't say what oil it has in it, hopefully 20w50. Sportsters with their long stroke engine and uneven firing order are hard on oil, and need an oil with a high film strength. They also have fairly loose clearances, which cause them to be mechanically noisy. Hopefully it also has enough oil in it. Many people seem to like to underfill Sportsters. I would just go ahead and pull the primary cover cold. My reason for that is because I don't like just ripping something apart as fast as possible. And if you do it right, it will have cooled down considerably by the time you get it off anyway. If there is a mechanical problem it will still be there. I wouldn't try to run it long enough to get it hot with the primary cover off. It can damage the primary chain, clutch, and transmission. The transmission is lubricated by the oil in the primary.

Before even removing the primary cover I would drain all the oil out, look for anything out of the ordinary in it, and if you don't find anything, remove the chain inspection cover and check the chain tension. Clean off a link with brake cleaner, put a paint spot on it, then turn the rear wheel until the paint spot comes around again, so you will be able to see the entire chain. Look for any damage, and check the tension in at least 4 places, then set it with it in the tightest position. Mine doesn't really have a tight position. Now remove the derby cover and adjust the clutch. Put the covers back and put in one quart of oil. Ride it till it is hot and see what happens. If the noise is still there, go ahead and pull the primary cover, take the clutch apart, and check the spring plate and release bearing. If they are ok, the chain is ok, and everything is properly adjusted, that is about all you can do under the primary cover.

Pull the right side cover and look in there for anything broken or any pieces of metal.

Does it sound the same when in neutral as it does in gear with the clutch in?

Ride the bike and see if anything feels wrong. Sportsters shake a lot and tend to be noisy, both mechanically and from the exhaust, which makes hearing and feeling things more difficult than on a smooth quiet bike, but then smooth quiet bikes are no fun to ride. Does it shift properly and does the clutch feel right?

If all of the above turns up nothing, and you don't hear the noise any more, then I would just go ahead and ride it. Sportster engines are tough if they have enough of the right oil in them. They are not indestructible, but bottom end failures are rare.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flainn View Post
Transplanting a tube-frame Buell drivetrain could be fun
A tube frame Buell uses a 91-03 generation Sportster motor. It's an entirely different engine mounting setup from a 2005 Sportster. I never say never, but you're be re-engineering the bike and be doing a ton of fabrication. I mean, it's really, really different.

You also would need to solve the ignition issue. A 2005 uses a crank trigger ignition. A 91-03 motor has no crank position sensor, nor does it have a provision to add one. Again, I never say never, but adding a crank position sensor to a 91-03 motor would involve splitting the cases and welding on them. The alternative would be to fit a cam-triggered ignition to the bike. But that's a giant step backward.

You'd also be going backward in terms of fin size and cooling capacity.

It's really a bad plan, in my opinion. But to each his own.

A 2004-2006 motor will drop right in.

A 2007+ motor isn't hard to install either. Swap out the throttle body for your carb, get a slightly wider intake manifold to reach the EFI heads, and you're golden.
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