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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 25th October 2010
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Default Kickstart problem #1 - kicker gear - anybody else seen this before?

In my other threads, I've been relating my trials and tribulations in getting my ol' '61 XLH back on the road having been put out to pasture back in '99.

I got the bike from my brother, who told me his biggest problem was the kickstart - he thought it was the kicker gear assembly. I pulled everything down and replaced the kicker - this pic shows the newly purchased one and the old one respectively - notice anything odd???:



There are definitely some differences between the two - the square bore for the kicker shaft is different in relation to the gear teeth. In addition, if you look closely you can see the position of the gear stop slot on the backside is different as well.

The old gear:



The new gear:



I noticed the old gear caused the kick pedal to engage higher, but would disengage before the bottom of the stroke - I figured THAT was the root cause of his problem - using the new gear, the kicker arm engages just above horizontal and clears just at the bottom of the stroke, which I think IS correct - it sure FEELS better -

Also, turns out the old gear was thicker; when I measured the tooth clearance between the starter and ratchet plate by the book, it was way tight (0.020") - when I put in the new gear (thinner), the cam plate ends up holding the starter gear back a little further from the ratchet plate - now the clearance is about 0.050" - spec is 0.040" minimum, so now is in spec.

I inspected the teeth of the starter gear and ratchet plate - aside from a little wear, they did not show any damage.

The end result is, after installing the new gear I figured I had it licked, but no, every once in a while, the kicker slips like a cheap Craftsman ratchet - I found out the hard way, getting a case of Sportster knee!

My questions on this thread are:

How can there be so MUCH difference in machined parts like this? I don't know if the gear I pulled is factory or if it had been replaced at some point - there are no part numbers anywhere on that old gear.

Am I moving in the right direction with the parts changeout I did? Being a total neophyte when it comes to Ironheads specifically and kick-start bikes in general, I just don't want to have another repeat that would put me out of commission again!

PS - I will be posting up another thread on what I found with the ratchet gear set later tonite - any comments are more than welcome - I'm still learning!!
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Old 26th October 2010
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Hello and welcome to the forum.
Yes, most of us with kickers have been through what you are going through.
Hurts, don't it.

Looking at this and your other thread on the actual ratchet gears, nothing in the gear teeth look too worn.
The 18-tooth ratchet gear and clutch ratchet may be aftermarket? Unless earlier models used them, but I don't think so. Some of our early model members will chime in on that one I am sure.

The 1978 kicker gear had the re-aligned camplate and limit groove so that the kicker engages closer to horizontal, as you have found. I retro-fitted one of these to my 77 model because it seems to be less dangerous if the kicker does slip, and it seems to put less stress on the delicate 77 sprocket cover.
It works perfectley for me, so far.
Yours may well be aftermarket copy, which may be why it is thinner metal.

It looks to me like your ratchet teeth and kicker gear teeth are all ok.

But other areas that cause kicker slipping include:

Worn or poorly made bronze bushing inside the sliding ratchet gear allows the gear to bind and not slide far enough sideways to engage properly. Cure is new bronze bush.

Worn or galled spacer that the sliding ratchet gear slides on causes binding.

Aftermarket spring behind the sliding ratchet gear can be too weak to slide gear all the way. Cure is NOS or original spring.

Bent kicker shaft causes misalignment problems.

Worn bronze bushing in the rear of the primary case and/or sprocket cover causes slop, which misaligns the kicker gear with the ratchet gear, canting the ratchet gear sideways and not engage right.

Loose, damaged or misaligned sprocket cover holding kicker shaft out of alignment.

Incorrect spacing between the sliding gear ratchet teeth and the clutch ratchet teeth in the disengaged position. See factory manual for specs.
You might need a new spacer, or some shims behind the kicker gear etc.

Best to take primary chain off, assemble everything and check the alignment and engagement of those gears through the full swing of the kicker and make sure it is fully engaging every time, and work through and check all the above.

EDIT: another thing to check is that the new ratchet teeth unit on the clutch was riveted on a perfectly flat, concentric position. If they are off centre a bit, they can not engage right sometimes. Spin the clutch and measure the runout.
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  #3  
Old 26th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopper View Post
Hello and welcome to the forum.
Yes, most of us with kickers have been through what you are going through.
Hurts, don't it.

Looking at this and your other thread on the actual ratchet gears, nothing in the gear teeth look too worn.
The 18-tooth ratchet gear and clutch ratchet may be aftermarket? Unless earlier models used them, but I don't think so. Some of our early model members will chime in on that one I am sure.

The 1978 kicker gear had the re-aligned camplate and limit groove so that the kicker engages closer to horizontal, as you have found. I retro-fitted one of these to my 77 model because it seems to be less dangerous if the kicker does slip, and it seems to put less stress on the delicate 77 sprocket cover.
It works perfectley for me, so far.
Yours may well be aftermarket copy, which may be why it is thinner metal.

It looks to me like your ratchet teeth and kicker gear teeth are all ok.

But other areas that cause kicker slipping include:

Worn or poorly made bronze bushing inside the sliding ratchet gear allows the gear to bind and not slide far enough sideways to engage properly. Cure is new bronze bush.

Worn or galled spacer that the sliding ratchet gear slides on causes binding.

Aftermarket spring behind the sliding ratchet gear can be too weak to slide gear all the way. Cure is NOS or original spring.

Bent kicker shaft causes misalignment problems.

Worn bronze bushing in the rear of the primary case and/or sprocket cover causes slop, which misaligns the kicker gear with the ratchet gear, canting the ratchet gear sideways and not engage right.

Loose, damaged or misaligned sprocket cover holding kicker shaft out of alignment.

Incorrect spacing between the sliding gear ratchet teeth and the clutch ratchet teeth in the disengaged position. See factory manual for specs.
You might need a new spacer, or some shims behind the kicker gear etc.

Best to take primary chain off, assemble everything and check the alignment and engagement of those gears through the full swing of the kicker and make sure it is fully engaging every time, and work through and check all the above.

EDIT: another thing to check is that the new ratchet teeth unit on the clutch was riveted on a perfectly flat, concentric position. If they are off centre a bit, they can not engage right sometimes. Spin the clutch and measure the runout.
Spot on Hopper yourve nailed it with what goes down with kicker problems!! I have just changed out my 9 tooth clutch hub kicker gear on my 64 for what I thought was a factory delivered (knee preserving) 18 toothah version! Is this standard for pre 69 xlch it feels to engage more consistantly/ positively or am I in for the physcopathic ankle / knee hyper extension. !!!
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Old 26th October 2010
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Quote:
The 1978 kicker gear had the re-aligned camplate and limit groove so that the kicker engages closer to horizontal, as you have found.
FSM says the gear was changed in '77. The kicker shaft was ALSO changed in '77. The indexing on the 2 shafts is different. If you mix-n-match early and late, the kicker will engage lower. If you keep the shaft and gear matched (early with early, late with late) the kicker will engage in the same place for both early and late.
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Old 26th October 2010
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Many thanks for the very erudite reply Hopper! You have given me quite a few things to check out!

And rivethog - your information is totally new to me - as long as the kick stroke feels OK, I guess it's OK to mix and match that new gear to that old shaft - sure hope so!

I posted up my dimensional measurements for the starter gear, bushing and spacer on my other thread; am hoping a properly machined bushing will eliminate the slop I see and help insure proper centering and full engagement -

I had said something about a cheap Craftsman ratchet (I DO have one that does that), but I guess it is more accurate to say it feels like a dollar store ratchet right now - sometimes it works, but climb on it and it's gonna hurt ya!
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Old 26th October 2010
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More than likely your problem parts are as follows:



Item 7 and item 6 are going to be what you want to look at.
Here is the rest of the page set........



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Old 26th October 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rivethog View Post
FSM says the gear was changed in '77. The kicker shaft was ALSO changed in '77. The indexing on the 2 shafts is different. If you mix-n-match early and late, the kicker will engage lower. If you keep the shaft and gear matched (early with early, late with late) the kicker will engage in the same place for both early and late.
Hmm, Interesting.
My very early 77 came stock with the old-type kicker gear from the factory.
The 78 gear I installed was as shown in the Homer308's pics, about one or two teeth different in the cam plate location and limit slot location from the stock early 77 gear.

I never noticed any difference in the new shaft I installed - but did not look that close.
Main thing seemed to be that 77 shaft was rotated 180 degrees so the kicker pinch bolt notch was on the bottom, to match the 77 fold-out kicker arm.

IT does seem that with the 78 kicker gear and the kicker engaging at the near horizontal position, it is easier to kick over, but you can't spin the engine quite as fast. Still starts ok though, and seems less prone to slippage than it was when new in 77.
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Old 24th April 2012
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" Item 7 and item 6 are going to be what you want to look at.
Here is the rest of the page set........"


All very interesting, I am doing the kicker install on my '71 at the moment. Firstly I noticed that the clutch sprocket didn't line up with the engine sprocket.
Correct me if you think me wrong but I believe that the spacer ( Item 7 ) dictates where the clutch sprocket sits. That is, it seems that the only way to get the two sprockets in line is to machine the spacer to suite ( the engine sprocket cant bear against a shim or small spacer ) . After you get the sprockets lined up then you can work on getting your ratchets to have the minimum clearance.
Does this make sense or am I being too fussy?
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Old 24th April 2012
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side note: if you have a craftsman ratchet that slips, it is usually from the factory grease hardening up inside it. soak it in oil for a few days. or just take it back to sears for a new one. never had one slip due to wear, but bought a brand new set some old lady had in her closet since the 70's never even opened. all the ratchets did that until I soaked em.
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Old 24th April 2012
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kaveebee,are you talking about the motor sprocket,and the clutch basket sprocket on the primary drive?if so they have nothing to do with spacer,#7,which is for starter clutch gear to starter ratchet gear spacing.
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