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Ironhead Sportster Motorcycle Talk (1957-1985) For all those that wanna talk about Ironhead Sportster Motorcycles

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  #1  
Old 20th July 2018
JonesL JonesL is offline
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Default Setting starter bendix end play.

Ready to put the rebuilt starter back in the board tracker after repairing the solenoid.
Everything looks good now but I can't seem to find anything on setting/shimming the bendix. It's just as I disassembled it with one .050" bronze shim on the shaft that fits into the bearing in the primary case cover. Since I don't want to R&R the starter too many times, I'm wondering about light chatter marks on the overriding clutch shell. That tells me the bendix is engaging too far and the teeth on the clutch housing are marking the bendix clutch.
Using the starter assy to inner starter mounting surface seam as a datum line, it looks like it measures out to a .15625" gap between the bendix shaft thrust washer and the corresponding surface of the bendix shaft bearing holder on the inside of the primary.

As for clutch housing ring gear inner face to outer face of bendix gear teeth;
That works out to about .150" gap the bendix has to travel before it meets the ring gear.
All these dimensions were taken with the starter on the bench, everything powered down, relaxed, retracted.
It also looks like it could be a balancing act in getting the tooth engagement right while still letting the solenoid do it's job of closing the battery lug contacts.

Don't know if it'll help or hinder but here's a rough sketch of what I'm seeing/dimensioning.
Anybody got any suggestions, tips, words of sympathy?

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Old 20th July 2018
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I have never made any of these measurements, never even thought about it. I have just installed the parts and they worked. See what others may say.
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Old 20th July 2018
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I can do that Mick. I just like heading off problems before they surface and the tooth marks on the bendix clutch housing tell me something is hitting that wasn't part of the original design.
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Old 20th July 2018
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If there is room to put a second brass washer, which it seems so @ .15+" gap.

I would try that to keep the housing out of the ring gear.

I have seen this before on big twins because of the differences in aftermarket covers.
Some BTs also need a shim in the plunger so it presses the disc properly into the motor contacts.

Another problem with too much end play is the shaft gets pulled out of the reduction gear.
this can reduce the spline engagement between the shaft and the reduction gear and reduces the amount of engagement with both the needle bearings.
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Old 21st July 2018
JonesL JonesL is offline
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Mick, I know the manual shows only one thrust washer but .150" gap is like three additional washers' thickness. I asked the local Harley dealer only to be told that they have no one familiar with ironheads-- they don't even work on Evos anymore...

rick, I think I'm going to try one more thrust washer. I'm thinking 3 more would close up the gap but might lead to problems with the disc contacting the lugs.
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Old 21st July 2018
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The last couple seasons I have found riding more difficult. My back was always sore after . (Two herniated discs from to a head on collision courtesy of a drunk driver in 1979. In my car though. Otherwise I would have been DOA)

I wouldn't ride at night any more. Age does affect night vision and it happens surprisingly fast. On top of everything else I have asthma which got worse.

I was kiddng myself, really. Guess I really wanted to get one more Friday 13th run in. Now that its over I have a sense of closure. If I hadn't gone I think I would never have felt the same way.

Thanks all for the supportive comments!
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Old 24th July 2018
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Note to self: Never dismiss anything as "well, the problem couldn't be this".
All the wrestling with my starter engagement problems turned out to be the solenoid boot.
Turns out it was old, stiff, and had a spot where it was being pinched.
Starter assy out and worked by hand didn't give the same action/motion as when being pulled in by the solenoid itself.
Same principle applies to chain; chains must always be pulled (ever try to push one?).
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Old 25th July 2018
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when you finish with your project,and want to fiddle with something new,consider a kick start.they were pretty common in'71.
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Old 26th July 2018
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I'm already there, brucstoudt. My '71 iron head is equipped with both electric and kick.
Only problem with the kick start is that it engages about 9:30 and disengages about 7:15. I'd like it to have an earlier engagement and a longer duration where it stays engaged. I've got another gear and kicker shaft that has the square end clocked different. In the middle of building and fabricating, tinkering with the kick starter was low on the priorities but now that the bike is done, I may look into redesigning it.
I know, I know... I asked a what fits what question of a resident expert and the first two paragraphs in his response were; Harley has an engineering department and has spent millions of dollars on research and development and how dare you think you know better than them, etc. etc. etc. Didn't cure me of wanting to improve my kicker but it sure cured me of wanting to ask questions.

For all who have been following my posts and this project: Sunday is a kinda big day-- the first road test.
A buddy is going to ride along on his big twin and can get on all sides to watch and see things like; are both front and rear wheels running in the same path, is everything that's supposed to turn, turning and is anything that's not supposed be turning, turning?
He can also pick up and load his saddlebags with anything that falls off en-route.

Last edited by JonesL; 26th July 2018 at 22:34..
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